Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Did you know you could be passive-aggressive on a bicycle?

I was biking home from school yesterday pretty content with the fact that I was on a bike, it was not raining, it was not yet dark (I was, literally, riding into the sunset), and I'd just turned in my first major class assignments for the quarter. Yet, for some reason, I decided to get all cranky on a ped walking a bike across the street I was waiting to cross. He started crossing the street (very slowly, I might add) just as the light was about to turn (ignoring the "do not walk" sign flashing and the traffic light turning orange). My light turned green just as he was about to cross in front of me. I started to ride, then slammed on my brakes (as I'd travelled all of 2 feet I wasn't going very fast) to "avoid hitting him." Since it rained a lot earlier in the day, the brakes were still pretty damp and squeeled. He, of course, stopped in his tracks and mumbled some sort of apology, and I started off again feeling very guilty.

Later, I got my payback as they changed the open lane on the Fremont Bridge yesterday and I got very confused and cut off some cars while trying to cross to a bike lane that was no longer there. Quote of the day for cyclists crossing the Fremont Bridge: "this is very confusing."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend Report (And It's Not Over Yet!)

The best part of the weekend can be summed up in 4 words: Rat City Roller Girls. We attended the Roller Derby finals last night, and the experience everything I'd hoped for and more.

The rest of the weekend was fine except with a lot more work than usual. Jeff and I both spent the afternoon at our respective offices on Saturday between a filling-and-tasty 5 Spot Brunch and the RCRG's Experience. This morning, Jeff returned to the Hills of the West bike ride and I went for a run. I jogged about 5 1/2 miles on my own (Gasworks to Green Lake down Ravenna to Husky Stadium) and then joined a friend in jogging the Dawg Dash 5K. We have a picture perfect fall weekend here, which made for great cycling and running weather. It's particularly welcome after a very rainy week (which had me wondering if we'd seen the last of the sun for the year). Now it's back to work with Jeff back at the office indefinitely and I'm trying to complete my first papers of the quarter. Oh, and disappointment on football fields all around as our flag football team went to 2 and 1 (joining my Redskins and Seahawks in losses).

Happy Fall!

Monday, October 16, 2006

It must be next to Springfield

Jeff and I have been fans of the show My Name is Earl since it first aired (I was won over the first time I saw that it stared Jason Lee) and we have been postulating about the exact location of the shows' supposed setting, Camden County. For some reason we had assumed that it was in MD (I think because of the references to crabs), but the other day while researching another topic, I discovered a Camden County in North Carolina. Turns out, there are several Camden Counties:

New Jersey
North Carolina

And those are just the ones I found through a quick google search. So, where is it? Let the debate begin.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Trail Note: Race, Rain, and Pain

I ran the Woodinville Country Slough 10K this morning, my first ten K race in a very long time (so long that I can't remember one in the last 5 years). Today was also the first really rainy day of the rainy season. We've been having gorgeous weather here up until yesterday: sunny and warm during the day with crisp evenings. So I broke out the tights, gloves and running jacket for the first time this year. There were several people running from my office, so I was committed to this race. We stood around getting wet before the race, ran through the puddles and rain for 6.2 miles, and then stood around comparing notes in the rain at the end. Despite the weather, I had a great race. My goal was to finish in 47 minutes, which was sure to be a PR (I don't remember what my previous best has been). I wanted to run negative splits, but I started too fast (we didn't get any mile markers until the 3 mile point, so it was hard to judge). Despite slowing down significantly after that, I still met my goal finishing with a chip time of 46:27.

The rain let up by early afternoon, which was good as I had my second ever flag football game at 2:30. Last week at the first game, I had a blast trying to figure out the rules and blitzing the quarterback. This week I think I pulled my groin the very first play. I kept playing, but wasn't very fast or as aggressive as I'd like to have been. I was extremely sore last Monday (and Tuesday and into Wednesday) after that injury-free game; I don't even like to imagine how I'm going to feel getting out of bed tomorrow morning. Now I know why Brett Farve is considered the old man of the sport: football is not meant for us 30-somethings...

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Under the Spreading Chestnut Trees..."

Our neighborhood made last Sunday's Washington Post. I love running around the top of the hill this time of year and seeing the ladies pick up the chestnuts. There are at least a few out every time I run around the block, whether it's at 7 am or 7 pm. I always wondered what the relationship was (or was not) between the residents and the pickers.

Have I mentioned that October is my favorite month? We're gearing up for the great Falloween Party. By gearing up I mean that we've sent out the evite and have started at least thinking about costumes and decorations. The problem is that we've had such amazing (in my humble opinion) pumpkin porch decorations in past years that the pressure is on to out-do the year before. This year I think I'm going to make some scary snacks, ala Kris.

And now, back to research...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Things

Trader Joe's Greek Yoghurt: I bought the fat free kind and for 100 calories, I get an amazingly thick and creamy cup of delicious goodness, complete with active cultures, protein, and calcium.

Flag Football: I played for the first time on Sunday and despite my total cluelessness during and intense soreness afterwards, I had a blast. (It helps that we won big, but I think I would have had fun regardless of the score.)
23 Down, 27 To Go

Jeff linked this a few days ago, but it wasn't until today that I read one of Dean Karnazes' posts about his quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days. It's not the superhuman effort of Karnazes that is so amazing to read about, rather it's his account of the runners that join him at every race. Yesterday's entry perfectly captures the joy and community found when running a race, a marathon in particular. Every person running has a story and every person who completes a marathon is a victor, so this blog is the account of dozens of personal victories every single day for 50 days straight. Pretty cool.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Campaign Season's Heating Up

Bumber sticker seen yesterday: "Republicans for Voldemort"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Lost in Translation

Late in our honeymoon trip to Germany, we were having lunch on a sunny afternoon in an outdoor cafe in Baden-Baden. We'd been eating a lot of meat recently, so I was pleased to see and order a "vegetarian" item listed on the menu: vegetable-filled pasta with salad. It turned out to be a lovely dish, but I was a little surprised to find little bits of "speck" (bacon, in English) in the salad.
Adventures in the Kitchen: Weekend Edition

We've received a lot of fun cooking toys as wedding gifts (no one should get married for the presents, but they sure are a nice bonus), so were pretty excited to get home and use some. (Okay, so we used some before we got married, but not a lot). Since we received a pasta pot in addition to the pasta maker we'd already broken in, we planned a pasta dinner for Sunday night.

First, however, I decided to get all fancy with figs on Saturday. I've never cooked with them before and have been seeing them and reading about them everywhere recently. We were invited to a barbecue potluck, so I decided to bring a salad. We ate an amazing salad at a wedding we went to last month that had figs and a raseberry champagne vinaigrette, so I was anxious to try something similar. I found this recipe and used the vinaigrette, but served it over mixed baby greens with more fresh figs, blue cheese, and toasted pecans. It was amazing. I made the dressing at 11 am and couldn't even wait until noon (or the party in the evening) to make a salad to try it out.

Sunday morning instead of going out to brunch (or going on the bike ride we'd originally planned), I made brunch at home using a variation of a recipe I'd seen on Giada's show earlier in the week. Instead of a whole foccacia we had half of an herb baguette, I used truffle oil instead of meyer lemon oil, didn't use basil (only becuase we didn't have any and I wasn't shopping), and used only half of the milk (because of the reduced bread surface area). It was pretty great. It's more of a bread dish with a little egg than a true egg dish, but I was fine with that. And the truffle oil just made everything smell and taste amazing.

Sunday night we decided upon a recipe from a Mario Batali cookbook I'd gotten last year but never used: a ravioli with white beans and balsamic vinegar. We were really unclear as to how much to make. In his book, Mario states that one recipe (that makes a pound of pasta dough) is enough for 4 people for a starter or 2 for an entree. Since we always cook for 4 to have leftovers and have fairly hearty appetites, we made 1 1/2 recipes hoping to have enough for 2 meals.

The difficulties began with the Mario method of making pasta. As anyone who watches his show or one of his Iron Chef battles knows, Mario (or his assistant) makes his pasta by hand, starting with a pile of flour into which he adds eggs and a smidgen of oil. Then one must knead the dough. This is nothing like kneading bread or pizza dough, which is soft and pliable and friendly. Kneading this pasta dough was hard. I was putting my entire weight into every motion, trying to get the stupid dough to fold. By the time I'd put the requisite 6 minutes into the stuff I was exhausted and sweating. My forearms are actually sore this morning.

Anyway, the dough went to rest and I began on the simple filling. It was pretty simple, but by the time the bean/vinegar/olive oil/egg mixture was mixed, it was a liquid (becuase of the massive amount of olive oil), rather than the bean-dip paste I had expected. Instead of placing large spoonfuls on the pasta squares to be folded into ravioli, we ended up having to have one person hold the square by it's edges and have the other person poor a spoonful of filling into the square as the first person quickly sealed up edges before the liquid could drip out the sides. It was a little messy.

The pasta, however, rolled out beautifully, we didn't squidge out too much filling, and we cooked the whole mess up and served it with the 1/2 pound (!!!) of butter w/ balsamic vinegar sauce. We ended up having plenty (read 2 times what we could reasonably eat in 2 meals), and since we had leftover salad ingredients from Saturday, we were able to get dinner on the table pretty quickly once the ravioli was made. We actually sat down to eat at 8 pm, only an hour later than the originally planned time. And it was pretty tasty, which was a relief after the effort involved. By the time we were done, our raviolis were looking pretty professional. We might actually try this again (although if we make this particular recipe, I'm not using most of the olive oil in the filling or butter in the sauce).