Friday, November 30, 2012

Heirloom Cooking

Sincere apologies for not posting a recipe last week. My laptop is on the fritz and I was too busy on Thursday running with friends, getting in the holiday spirit, eating Thanksgiving dinner with my boyfriend’s family, and watching friends run the Seattle Marathon.  

A couple weeks ago, I saw this article on NPR’s food blog The Salt. It’s the story of two sisters and their memories of their Aunt Ida and her goldeneh hendts, Yiddish for golden hands. It also includes a recipe for Poppy Seed Cookies that I’m excited to try. This story is not unique, however. We all come from families and cultures that pass along memories in the form of food from one Thanksgiving dinner to the next. Or Christmas or Independence Day or New Year’s.

So, I’d like to share with you a recipe from my Grandma Knutson that I’ve enjoyed every Thanksgiving since I can remember. And as a bonus, it’s on the healthier end of the spectrum of holiday treats.

Cranberry Ice by Grandma Margie
1 quart or 1 bag of fresh cranberries
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar (I skimped this year and used 1.5 cups)
1/4 cup of lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
1/2 cup of orange juice
2 more cups of cold water

1.       Boil cranberries in 2 cups of water for about 10 minutes.

2.       Put water and cranberries through fine sieve to squeeze out a smooth pulp (I also add a spoonful of squished berries to the pulp)

3.       Add sugar, juices, and cold water.

4.       Stir to dissolve sugar

5.       Freeze, stirring after several hours for icy consistency

6.       Share family stories and enjoy compliments graciously
I made a batch last week and I’ve been enjoying it every day since. It’s also the only food that sounds good to me these days with the sore froat that has been bothering me for weeks. Although I missed being with my parents, siblings, and cousins this Thanksgiving, I’m making my own traditions. My friend Hallie put together a really fun swim set for Wednesday and a few friends and I have started our own Turkey Trot. We were frustrated with the only options being 5ks, so we run an 8-ish mile route and then go out for coffee.

In my late teens and early 20s, I figured by 30 years old I’d be married with a big house, a dog, and at least a couple kids. But as I look at my life now, I’m really content with the “family” of friends and runners and triathletes who surround me. We’ve made our own traditions of meals, drinks, and workouts. And as I change and life changes, I hope these are the heirlooms that I can pass down.

With Thanks,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stick to Your Ribs

After a tough track workout last night (but fun and awesome with my PauoleSport teammates) the only thing on my mind was this soup. I wanted something with a little salt, a bit of kick, that would calm my belly, warm my body, and stick to my ribs. My mom and I discovered this soup at Pequot Lakes’ Sibley Station in Northern MN. Years later she sent me a newspaper clipping with the recipe, because when you're a mom in the Midwest that's what you do. I also found it here from the Moosewood cookbook. Everytime I make it, I think of my parents and wish they lived closer.  
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 4 T. Butter
  • 1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 t. dry dill weed
  • 1T. Paprika
  • 1T. soy sauce
  • 2c. beef broth (you could probably use veggie)
  • 1c. milk
  • 3T. flour
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a large pot, saute chopped onion and butter.
  2. Add mushrooms and then stir in dill, Paprika, soy sauce, and beef broth.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and flour.
  5. Pour into soup and stir well to blend.
  6. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Stir in sour cream and season with salt & pepper.
  8. Enjoy after cold, hard workouts.
Recipe card sent from my mom
And since this soup doesn’t quite go with my healthy living month theme, here’s the recipe/instructions I use for roasting vegetables (which I can’t seem to stop doing these days). Potatoes, yams, squash, carrots, Brussel sprouts, onions…lots of starchy vegetables down the gullet these days. So warm, wholesome, and delicious.

Roasted Winter Vegetables
  • 1 lb Brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved lengthwise
  • 2 sweet potatoes or 4 medium parsnips, halved lengthwise and sliced about 1/3 inch thick
  • 4 medium waxy potatoes (gold or red or whatever you have on hand basically)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • olive oil or melted butter
  • coarse salt
  • fresh herbs, roughly chopped (optional) - I'd recommend thyme, rosemary, or marjoram
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Bring large pot of generously salted water to boil. Blanch the Brussel sprouts: Cook the halved Brussel sprouts until just barely tender. Drain and run under cold running water or plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. When cool, set aside.
  3. On a sheet pan, toss the uncooked vegetables with a good glug of olive oil or melted butter (enough to lightly coat the vegetables). Salt generously. Roast for 20 minutes.
  4. While the other vegetables are roasting, toss the blanched Brussel sprouts with olive oil or butter to evenly coat. Salt generously. When the potatoes and onions have roasted for 20 minutes, remove the sheet pan from the oven and spread the Brussel sprouts over the other vegetables and toss all together. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  5. Toss roasted vegetables with fresh herbs, if using, and serve hot.
And finally, here is the track workout we did: 10-15 minute warm-up, 6x1000m at 10k to 1/2 marathon pace with 200m recovery jog, 10 minute warm down. And the team even joined me for another 10 minutes of core work. It was a fun night under the clear, dark skies. The only thing that would have made it better is the food above, preferably cooked by my mom.
Enjoy with loved ones!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Tale of Two Chilies

While the other coast has been through hell this month, the Pacific Northwest has been surprisingly pleasant. It wasn’t until the onset of Hurricane Sandy that I didn’t have some envy for the people who were registered to run New York. The New York City Marathon will ALWAYS have a special spot in my heart. The first year I ran it (2005), I set a PR. The second year I ran it (2007), I set a PR and so did two of my friends. And the third year I ran it (2011), I was able to pace my best friend to a smashing PR (3:18 – go Sydnie!!). That year affirmed the notion that it’s not always your own personal goals, but seeing the people you care about reach theirs that can mean more.
I had several friends signed up to run NYCM this year, so I was disappointed that they didn’t have a chance to enjoy the 26.2 mile party after months of hard work. But despite the waffling that took place last week, I know it was in everyone’s best interest that Mary Wittenberg and Mayor Bloomberg made the decisions they did. My thoughts and prayers are still with the East Coast, as well as a runners’ prayer for all the racers to conserve their training and energy for an even better marathon in a month, a year, or when the timing is right. For a personal account from a Oiselle friend who was in NYC, check out this post.
With my November theme of sharing wholesome foods, here are the two chili recipes that I have made for the Holidazzle the past two years. Both will keep you warm. Enjoy with friends.

Vegetarian Chili
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 2/3 cups coarsely chopped red bell peppers (about 2 medium)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, drained, 1/2 cup liquid reserved or one can of garbanzos instead of the 3rd can of black beans
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce or a can of diced tomatoes.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté until onions soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne; stir 2 minutes. Mix in beans, 1/2 cup reserved bean liquid, and tomato sauce. Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with chopped cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, and green onions separately. This recipe is pretty spicy, so if you can't take the heat (insert bad cliche or bad hip hop song), take it easy on the chili powder and cayenne. I'm not sure where I found this original recipe, somewhere online years ago.

Turkey Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained (could also use 1 can white beans, 1 can black beans, and 1 can kidney beans)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with red onion, cilantro and yogurt separately.

(Both can be prepared a day or two ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)

Clockwise from top left: 2007 NYCM, double rainbow on
UW campus taken at work, UPS trucks on Staten Island in 2011,
pretty fall day on UW campus taken by JJ

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hello November!

Hello November! Every month I’m thrown at how quickly time goes by. Where did July go? Where did August go? Where did September go? You get the idea.

Years ago when I worked in public accounting, at the beginning of every month I’d tell my audit team: “it’s the start of healthy living month.” Sometimes the impressionable young auditors (they were like 2-3 years younger than me tops) would get on board with me and they’d take the stairs, stay away from the candy dish and occasionally eat a sensible meal. Most times they’d just laugh and order a full fat venti mocha with whipped cream. It was all fun and games until their business casual got a little tight.

My point is: November is healthy living month, even if I said it in October and will say it again in January (not December, because let’s be real). Actually, cleaner eating has been on my mind a lot lately and putting it up on this blog makes it a little more real. I joined a cooking class in late September that focuses on healthier, more wholesome options and habits. I don’t talk about food or nutrition much on this blog (or in person), because I’m certainly not an expert, nor can I prescribe what is best for each athlete. But I can share some recipes and tips that I learn along the way. So, with healthy living November, I’d like to share weekly recipes that you might like to try.

Here’s a little number that has become a fall and winter staple in my kitchen. I posted the link last month, but I think it deserves its own post. I first tried it in October 2010 when my friend Tesia made me a post-Kona feast to hear about my race. She also introduced me to Orangette, one of my favorite food blogs. Molly Wizenberg and her husband live in Seattle and have two restaurants. Reading her book, A Homemade Life, I developed foodie crushes on both of them. (And I am by no means a foodie.)

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
Adapted slightly from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, by Melissa Clark

4 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional good oil for drizzling
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
A few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne or Aleppo pepper, or more to taste
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
If you use veggie broth, it’s both vegan and gluten-free (if you’re into that sort of thing).
2 cups red lentils, picked through for stones and debris
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional for a garnish

In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, and the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Using an immersion or regular blender, puree about half of the soup. It should still be somewhat chunky, not completely smooth. Reheat if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted very lightly with cayenne, if desired.

It says it yields 6 to 8 servings, but I can usually make it last for a week or longer (sometimes I freeze it), which will include one girls’ night dinner, 2-3 solo dinners, and a couple half servings as part of my lunch. It also is good drizzled on leftover rice and lentils.

Also, I should add that hot liquids expand when you blend them. (Sydnie learned the hard way when she tried this recipe – one burn mark and several soup spills later…Sorry Syd!)

And while I’m at it, here’s the kale salad that I usually serve with it when I have guests (typically girlfriends over after a rainy run). I believe I found it here. It’s probably not the healthiest, with the large amounts of ricotta, but you can feel good about getting your greens.

3/4 to 1 pound lacinato kale or tender regular kale, stems and center ribs discarded
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces coarsely grated ricotta salata (1 cup)

Working in batches, cut kale crosswise into very thin slices. Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well. Toss kale and ricotta salata in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat well, then season with salt and pepper.

I like to toast pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts for some added flavor and texture. I should also note that I usually end up with extra “dressing”(the ricotta, olive oil, shallot mixture). You could probably half the "dressing" ingredients and end up just fine. Or you could save the ricotta mixture until you buy more kale.

I'll try to post new recipes and tips as the month wears on. Until then, stay motivated with your healthy habits and workouts during these short, late fall days. If you're like me, you'd rather be parked on the couch watching Breaking Bad versus doing track workouts in the rain. At least this soup will warm you up when you're finished running! :) 

Happy November!