Thursday, May 24, 2012


Still AMAZED how beautiful bread comes out baked in a Dutch Oven:

That crisp golden crust and its chewy insides--I could eat that whole loaf in one sitting with my bare hands. I've been making these sourdough loaves every week. Good thing I'm carbo-loading for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hill run

So yesterday, I motivated to do a 4 mile run:

The good news is that I maintained my average 10 minute pace while adding hills into the run.  I routed my path on gmap-pedometer to figure out the elevations:

It looks like at a couple of points I climbed about 80-90 feet and goodness knows my pace above reflects that (as well as when I was careening downhill at the end when I was clocking an amazing 9 min pace).Of course this doesn't come close to the 450 peak run at the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, but I hope, hope, hope it helps!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Crust pizza

We decided to try this mobile pizza bakery, Crust, that makes artisan pizzas when it parked at our local Rosewood Market.  The girl and her friend were treated to some fancy natural sodas:

We got an assortment of their specialty pizzas: a few Plain Janes, Pepperoni, and the Green Goat:

And since they didn't offer a vegan pizza toppings, they kindly agreed to use the Daiya vegan "cheese" I bought inside the market and make a Plain Jane with it:

And it tasted as good as it looked! Rumor has it that Crust will be opening a "bricks and mortar" store here in Rosewood. Fingers crossed!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Countdown to the Camp Pendleton Mud Run

I'm pretty sure I've recovered from most of the bumps and scratches from the SC Mud Run last month.  Again, I am grateful for the great team who stuck together from the start:

SC Mud Run Team BEFORE

til the end:

SC Mud Run Team AFTER

Now I'm trying to gear up for the Mud Run next month in San Diego at Camp Pendleton.  That one is less obstacle-driven (7 obstacles to the 36 here in SC) so I won't have to worry about the cargo net:

And I believe it's slightly less muddy, or at least it doesn't have a chest-high mud pit to slog through:

Unfortunately, for me, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run is a lot of running.  If I'm reading the course correctly, it looks like the first half (about 3 miles) is all running and pretty much UPHILL to a peak of 450 feet. My co-workers in SoCal have been running not only regularly (2-3 times a week), but also have been increasing their mileage (they're up to 7 miles per run).

I haven't been running nearly as regularly.  Or killing the mileage they are:

Obviously RunKeeper was NOT working correctly on 3/29

To boot, running hasn't gotten any easier or enjoyable. In fact, as I mentioned to my co-workers, I'm pretty sure I'm looking forward to the day after the Mud Run so I can STOP RUNNING.  When I run, I'm out of breath immediately and by the end my lower back aches--apparently because my hip flexors in the front of my body tighten up.  But most annoying of all, I have lost NO weight for all this running.  In fact, to my imagined chagrin of my team, I've actually gained a few pounds and back up to 155 (after hovering around 153 for a while).

But what I've really been getting anxious about is the uphill portion of the first half.  On the positive side, at least it's pretty much downhill and flat in the second half.  And I don't really dread the obstacles since the Camp Pendleton run allows individual competitors (unlike the SC run which is teams only), the obstacles are reasonable for an individual and should be quite conquerable as a team.

Tomorrow I plan to do another run.  Tomorrow is also 4 weeks away from the Camp Pendleton Mud Run.  The countdown begins...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Avocado Soup

I love, love, LOVE avocados. And I found this great recipe in The 10 Things You Need to Eat that really maximizes an avocado and in a fairly guilt-free format. It's a soup that is mostly vegetables and comes together quickly once you've cleaned the leek. Yeesh, how do leeks manage to get so much dirt between EACH leaf? I tweaked it somewhat by adding some garlic and pureeing it and I love it. It's cheap, tasty, and healthy. Interested?

You'll need:

- 1 large leek (trim off root end, cut leek in half, and rinse each leaf to remove dirt/grit, then roughly chop)
- 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 quart vegetable (or chicken) stock
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 large ripe Haas avocado, pitted, peeled, and roughly chopped
- scallion, finely chopped, for garnish
- cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish

Heat olive oil in pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped leek, celery, and onion and cook about 5 minutes until they soften. Add bay leaves, stock, coriander, garlic powder, cumin, and lime juice and simmer for about 10 minutes. REMOVE bay leaves and then add avocado and stir for a minute. Puree soup with immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls topped with chopped scallions and cilantro.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bread baking and a Dutch Oven

I've been making extra-tangy sourdough bread with a sourdough starter I had gotten from King Arther Flour company but it wasn't quite as perfectly awesome as sourdough bread should be.  It had good flavor but I was getting these dull loaves.  Though I'm sure my kneading skills still need work, when I visited Linda and had the bread she baked in the dutch oven, I knew I had to try it as soon as I was gifted with a dutch oven for my birthday.

The recipe makes two loaves so I baked one in a preheated dutch oven (put it the oven while it preheated) and one on the baking sheet as advised in the recipe.  The baking sheet loaf was done first after 30 minutes so we started eating it, then at 45 minutes I checked in on the loaf in the dutch oven.  My jaw dropped when I opened the lid.  Look at this beauty--it's like a magazine!

Here's a little side-by-side comparison (sorry, we obviously still ate the less amazing loaf when it came out of the oven).  The one baked in the dutch oven just had an amazing golden crispy crust--I just wanted to tear it apart with my hands--unlike my grayish other loaf.

It's hard to tell but I think it may have rose a little more than the baking sheet loaf as well.  I would still love it to be even more holey but this was an excellent loaf.

If you're not convinced to try baking a loaf in a dutch oven, I highly recommend trying it out. I'm definitely a convert. I can't imagine not baking bread in the dutch oven again!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's day

For a Mother's Day dinner out (that wasn't on Mother's Day), Paul and Velina took me to Burger Tavern 77. They've eaten here before and they really loved it.  And since they featured veggie burgers and cocktails, I was certainly game to try the place.

They featured beer cocktails, so I tried their Bear-varian (Glenfiddich Scotch, Barenjager honey liqueur, and lemon juice topped with Shock Top Wheat Beer):

It was a cocktail that I realized a little too late would have really benefited from a bit more stirring--either that or the honey liqueur really sinks to the bottom.

I had the Long Beach which featured their vegan black bean and corn patty, avocado, and balsamic vinaigrette.  The patty itself was tasty alternative to the usual Boca or Morningstar patties I get at the grocery store--unfortunately, they were a bit stingy with the avocado and vinaigrette--I only enjoyed the full combo for a few bites.  Their Jo Jo fries are excellent--thin and crispy.

Paul enjoyed the Devine Chicken Burger:

And Velina enjoyed the brisket burger with cheese:

Plus she enjoyed their SOB cheese sticks that feature tri-color tortillas breading:

Overall, the atmosphere has a very mellow tavern vibe, good burgers, and friendly staff--it's a good burger place that's perfect for happy hour. I'm sure Velina and Paul will enjoy coming here again when I'm away!