Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Food Time!

Recently I have been put on certain restrictions to make me healthy. As a result, I've received a list of foods that, I am told, I am sensitive to.

Amidst that longer-than-expected list of foods I eat on a regular basis, were tomato and wheat. So this evening, I was on a quest to make a pizza sans both of those ingredients. Which was a slightly daunting task, being that I tend to judge a pizza on the sauce and the crust. But, always up for an excuse to make up something new in the kitchen, I decided to go a completely different direction taste wise. So for those of you who like to try new things, I have documented the process.

The crust was obtained at Whole Foods - a gluten free creation made up of Tapioca and White Bean - in a frozen section specializing in non-wheat products. Not incredibly glamorous sounding, I know, but I was hoping that it would do the job.

From the fridge I grabbed a some ricotta, fresh mozarella, onion, yellow squash, and orange and red bell peppers. Grilled veg is always delicious, so I thought this would be a good way to do something different, with the squash giving the pizza a heartiness worthy of dinner.

Ricotta is a bit bland without seasoning so I rummaged through the spices in my pantry and came up with cumin, oregano (regrettably, dried oregano, not fresh, as I long ago killed that plant), and of course, some freshly ground salt.

Using the grill pan, coated with a touch of olive oil to prevent sticking, I grilled all the veg. Easy easy way to make veg delicious.

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While I was watching the vegetables cook, I got to work on a balsamic reduction. Having never done a reduction before, at least not on purpose, I overdid it a bit - which resulted in more of a balsamic caramel than a drizzle. Hopefully this would be salvageable.

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Once the veg was done, I threw a couple of dollups of the ricotta mixture on the crust, several slices of the fresh mozz, squash, peppers, onions, and tossed it in the oven at 350. Part way through the cooking process, I figured J would want some kind of meat on his pizza, so I took cut up some smoked ham and tossed it on during the last 5 minutes.

When the pizza was done, I finished it with the balsamic "caramel", which turned back to a nice glaze when it met with the heat of the pizza.

The end result? It was actually really tasty.

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The next time I make it, I would opt for fresh herbs (oregano and basil) and a nice pancetta in lieu of ham. And I wouldn't overdo the reduction.

Listening to whilst cooking: the 80's station on the TV

Monday, August 04, 2008

Bring on da' Pain (Bring on da' Funk)

Day one of the Couch to 5k is upon us.

And I have to admit, I didn't think it was going to come to fruition.

But first, for any of you who have stumbled upon this blog and are not familiar with my relationship with running, let me start by saying this.

I hate to run.

Really. Hate. Loathe. Despise. Abhor. Detest. Me no likey.

Got it?

Buuuut...I did run a 5k not too long ago. Yes, I am quite the enigma. And I did, on some level, enjoy it. Maybe it was the sense of accomplishment I felt when I ran through the finish. Maybe it was my inability to move my legs several days after. Whatever it was, it did pique my interest in doing another 5k in the future. However, I promised myself that should I go down this path, I would do it the wiser way; I would actually train for this one.

My sister-in-law's decision to start the program upon the arrival of her new fancy stroller was the motivation I needed. A long distance partner in my madness.

So today, after shopping this weekend for some appropriate shorts, sneakers, and a stopwatch, I decided I was ready to begin. Being that this is Florida and I occasionally feel like I can't breathe when standing absolutely still, I decided that it would be best to schedule the walking/jogging regimen for either a) early in the morning, before sun up or b) in the evening, when the sun wasn't quite so strong. While the morning would have been the cooler option, that would have also meant giving up sleep. I'm not quite committed enough to this project yet to give up precious minutes away from my pillow, so I opted for the hotter early evening.

As I left the house, stopwatch and iPod around my neck, I thought to myself, I wonder how bad this will be. After the 5 minute walk to start, I began my jog. A slow, lumbering jog. I imagine that if I ever saw a sloth run, it would look something like this. (begin the youtube search for a running sloth now...I'll time you)

I was suprised at how quickly 60 seconds went by. Not that I enjoyed the 60 seconds of jogging, but they seemed to pass faster than I expected. The downside of that, is that the 90 second walk in between jogging stints went just as quickly. I was proud of myself for jogging the full 60 seconds several times - but at about the 16 minutes mark, the alternating between jog and walk became more like 30 seconds of jogging, 2 minutes of walking.

At one point when crossing the street, I wondered what would happen if I were to pass out in the street. Maybe it would look something like this.

I returned home (23:06 on the stop watch) face bright red, shins feeling like they might snap at any given step, soaked in sweat, and wondering who was the brilliant man that created air conditioning and that he couldn't have possibly been paid enough for the invention.

After a bath and several glasses of water, I am feeling refreshed and somewhat normal.

Since I am truly going from couch to 5k, I decided that this was an acceptable first go at the routine. We'll see how I feel about it Wednesday, Day Two.

In other non-running related news...

Also acquired this weekend - a Le Creuset Dutch Oven - which I am incredibly excited about. My interests appear to be in conflict maybe, no? I am considering its first use for braised short ribs, which I have never made, but have had and would love to master. Cooking excitement awaits me!

And also, I'm a dork.

In frighteningly large bird news, this crew has been hanging around the house lately:

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They are Sandhill Cranes. They are HUGE. And could probably peck my eyes out. So I risked life and limb (or at least eye) to get you this shot. No fancy zoom here. I just had to get this close.

Currently listening to: the sounds of nothing good on TV