Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All the miles

I've always been proud of my feet.  When asked what my favorite part about myself was, my standard answer was always my feet.  I liked that they were not too big or too small for my average-sized body.  I liked that I had short toes, or "Fred Flintstone feet" as my mom would call them.  They were not long and craggy; they were petite and cute.  I liked my high arches and grasping toes.  When I looked down, I thought my feet were pretty.  What I liked about my feet was my preconceived notion of what it meant for them to be beautiful. 
Years later, I was still proud of my feet, but things had changed.  I was proud of the colors I could paint on my toenails. I was proud of the softness I felt when I touched my heels together.  I was proud of the ridiculous shoes in to which I could cram my feet. Red patent heels, black suede pumps, turquoise peep toe wedges.  The higher, more insanely colored, and outrageous the better.  My feet could take the pain; the beauty was worth it.  My feet were my favorite part of myself because they could conform. 
These ideas are no longer what I think about when I look at the things attached to the bottom of legs.  Yes, I still paint my toes.  Yes, I still love to pinch and cram my feet in to stilettos on a Friday night.  However, my feet represent something greater.  They are not a vessel of beauty.  My heels are cracked. Blisters are forming under the balls of both feet.  The tips of each of my toes are calloused.  It is unclear if my toenails are black or blue or a clean, healthy pink because they always have a somewhat chipped coat of opaque polish.  What my feet are is strength.  They stand up every morning when my brain says "three more hours of sleep." They walk with me to the shower, to breakfast, and to my car, my bike or the bus.  When my feet aren’t supporting me through the mundane yet necessary aspects of my life, they can do the extraordinary. 
I woke up one morning during my sophomore year of college, laced up my gym shoes and walked outside.  I didn’t really know why I was outside before 7:00 am, while everyone else was still asleep, but I knew my feet would show me.  When I started to run, my feet transformed.  They were no longer cute little things to stuff into shoes or something to pamper on spa days and girls’ nights.  My feet powered my, one in front of the other, until the steps turned in to miles. I’m still not sure when this change happened.  I didn’t notice it at first.  Sure, my feet were on the road with me.  My feet ran the trails, the hills, the pavement, and the track. Of course they were there; they were attached to the rest of my body.  My feet got ugly.  The blisters popped up, the calluses emerged, and those toenails occasionally started to turn.  As the evidence of my mileage was written on my soles, I felt proud.  Not proud in the old way.  The beauty of my feet was no longer in the way I could perceive them outwardly.  The beauty of my feet was in their story.  I could dress them up in heels, dress them down in loafers, or lace them up in my new favorite running shoes.  No matter what I did, my feet have a story. They have carried me every step of my journey, through two marathons, five half marathons, a sprinkling of 5k races, and across the stage at my first graduation.  My feet are on to the next journey of graduate school, blisters, calluses, stories and all. Hopefully they can still be well dressed.

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Too Long to Come Back?

How long is too long of an absence? Should I just start a new blog? It may have been two years since I posted, and so many things have changed, but it doesn't mean I'm not still passionate about the fuel of my days and the miles in between. Here's a quick update:

I've made a lot of food.
Cupcakes, scones, brownies, cookies, pizza, stir-fry, bread, candy, pesto, risotto, you name it. 

I ran some races.  Some short ones, some long ones, some trail ones, and some even longer one.  

I've been thrilled with my progress, and disappointed with my setbacks.  I've been vegan for months, given up sugar, and crashed hard when the sugar found its way back. I got in to graduate school, and am about to start the next chapter of my life as a runner, a student, a self-proclaimed foodie and an aspiring chef and baker.  I have new critics to test my creations and new victims to infect with the running passion.  

I'm ready to share this new adventure!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What to do with pumpkin puree?

So many things happen when you puree your own pumpkin.

You get the warm roasted smell of pumpkin wafting through your house.

You get a rich, orange, smokey puree.

You get a nuanced pumpkin pie.

Sometimes, you get a little extra pumpkin after you're finished baking whatever you pureed the pumpkin for.

So what do you do with that pumpkin? As a lover of such squash flavored baked good, you can never have too much pumpkin.  Scones, pies, cookies, muffins, the list goes on, and the deliciousness continues.

(Side note: I really need to be more deliberate about taking pictures for this, these are just sad)
Muffins are the focus of this extra puree.  Rich, spicy, and topped with a streusel crumb, they are the perfect excuse to eat baked goods for breakfast. Or lunch. or an afternoon snack. Or really, a snack anytime.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/3 cup oil
2 tbsp ground flax seed in 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners. (I used extra tall ones, mostly because I wanted to get rid of them, but they ended up being fabulous for holding the streusel topping)

Whisk together flax seed and water first.  In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, pumpkin and flax seed mixture.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices, and whisk until relatively smooth.

Fill liners 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Streusel Topping

6 tbsp cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together all ingredients until crumbly

Sprinkle over the filled muffin cups.

All ready for the oven!

(I will admit that I can't totally verify the amount of topping this will make, as I started out with 1/4 cup butter, and then started adding things to it, so play around with the amounts until it looks right.  I thought I has a little extra, but then the muffins rose and the topping was a bit sparse. )

Bake muffins with streusel topping 25 minutes, and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tomato Soup and Dinner Rolls

I love cooking, and even more than that, I love cooking something and having other people truly enjoy what I've made.  I think this meal has potential for that. Nothing says love like homemade soup WITH homemade bread.  That says I love you enough to knead this dough by hand, wait for it to rise, shape it, wait some more, and then bake it.  
That says I love you enough to plan this meal hours in advance so I could wait for the bread to rise.  
That says I love you enough to want to know everything that goes in to our meal, and not simply pour soup from a can and pull rolls from a bag.  
Really, what says I love you more than that? Unless maybe we added a salad to the side, but that's a different story.   

Dinner Rolls (from Bakingdom)

I used the recipes linked above, but used about 2-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed with about 1/4 cup water instead of the egg, and omitted the egg wash.  I will admit that I tried to halve to recipe in my head while making it because I didn't need 20 rolls. I failed. I put the full amount of water and sugar and halved everything else, so my recipe was a desperate attempt to save that. I tried to follow this, and managed to make a pretty delicious roll. I'm guessing if I had done it right the first time they would have been even more amazing.  
Dough rising

Nice and baked! 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

6 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Dash Cayenne pepper
freshly chopped basil
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth 

1. Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for around 45 minutes. 

2. In a large pot, heat about 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and cook about 2 minutes.  Add garlic.  

3. Add canned tomatoes, basil, and broth. Add roasted tomatoes and dash of cayenne.

4.  Simmer about 30 minutes, then blend.  (I transferred my soup in batches to a food processor, which worked fine and just required some extra heating time at the end. I'm sure an immersion blender would be much more fabulous, but work with what you have). 

5.  Serve and bask in the glory that is homemade soup. 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap, Part 1

So many things to be thankful for this week, so many things that I want to share, and just not enough time or space.  Here are the top things right now

I am thankful for:

1. Having a real kitchen to cook in this past week at home.

2. Tomato Soup and Homemade dinner rolls

3. Being able to appreciate runs in the rain

4. Appreciating even more the runs when it finally stops raining

5. My amazing horse who never fails to forgive me for having to leave him for weeks/months at a time to go to school

6. Being able to wake up in the morning to a new day. Never forget that every second is a gift

I plan to post photos of the soup and rolls soon, because I just can't get over how perfect of a fall meal those were.  Also in the works, vegan pumpkin pie from scratch (but not Carl Sagan style, because I didn't first invent the universe, sorry...)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Running, for your mind and body

Here's a little bit not about food. Click away, that's fine. But I want to talk to you about moving your booty. Get out of that chair. Not because you feel guilty, not because someone told you to, not even because you ate that other half of a burrito last night, or because the chocolate cupcakes in the kitchen are screaming your name.

What's that? Why on earth would you exercise for reasons other than guilt or food? Let me tell you.

Because it feels good. 

Because physiologically, you will feel better.

Because at some point in your life, you might get chased by a bear, and wouldn't you rather be able to run from it?

All kidding aside, I finished my first half marathon almost a month ago, and I really think that running has saved my brain.  Some people run with partners, some people have support groups for exercise or take group classes. My runs are me time. It's my chance to kick anyone and everyone out of my space, and just be alone, me, my legs, my running shoes, the pavement.  It's methodical, it's serene on the outside.
It's never not a struggle.
But I can't say this struggle is because the running itself is difficult. It's because of everything it has come to mean to me, and all the daily stress I work through on these runs.
I can't say I'm not guilt-driven.
I can't say I didn't choose to get out of bed this morning and run so that I could have the fro-yo after dinner.

It's all true, I did those things. (Ok, I haven't eaten the fro-yo yet, but I fully intend to)
But starting to read the stories of others, first marathons, forty-first marathons, first 5ks, first workouts, they are all so inspiring.  Every work I read makes me want to run.  I want to see how far I can go, I want to be amazed at the work my body can do when I ask it. I want to marvel at the fact that my legs can carry me 13.1 miles one day, and still let me get out of bed the next day, no matter how hard my head objects.  I love that the body can mimic a warrior, cobra, dog, or eagle in a yoga pose, and then carry the warrior spirit miles and miles from where it started.

It is this inspiration that makes me want to keep running. To push myself, to save myself, to know myself.  I am determined to run my first full marathon next year, and I love to try and improve my times in shorter races, possibly planning some 5k, 10k, 15k, and half marathons in there.

I have been blessed with a body that is capable, and I appreciate everything that it can do for me.  I'll take care of you and you take care of me, ok?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

As promised, cookies and cream and cupcakes

Have I steered you wrong before? I mean, really, chocolate with coffee and coconut, diet coke slushies?

Ok, so I haven't really posted enough for you to trust me yet. I understand. We haven't had a chance to build up the relationship. But really, if you can't trust a mix of chocolate and oreo into the best thing since sliced bread, maybe I'm not the one to blame...
(plus, who really wants sliced bread when you could be eating a cupcake?)

So here it is, again from the lovely ladies of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. If you don't own this, well that helps me because you're reading this instead of baking their cupcakes!

Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes
1 cup soymilk
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup crushed oreos

Whisk soymilk and vinegar, set aside to curdle. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla. Separately, mix together dry ingredients. Add in two batches to wet ingredients. Mix in oreos.
Fill liners 3/4 full.  Bake 18-20 minutes at 350.

Frost with your favorite buttercream, but add crushed oreos in!

Enjoy =]