Sunday, July 28, 2013

Farmer's Market Food - Roasted Radishes

We've been going to the farmer's market almost every week now that we discovered there is a vegan food truck there!  Finally they are starting to have more and more produce.  Last week I bought some nice radishes but I kept forgetting to pack them in my lunch so a week later I still had almost all of them still sitting in the refrigerator.

Several years ago I read online about someone roasting radishes.  I couldn't even imagine what that would taste like since I had only had them raw.  It is amazing the change they go through after roasting for about 30 minutes.  The flavor completely mellows and they turn a pretty pink color.  Usually we go through stages with radishes where we all eat a ton of them and then all of a sudden stop.  That is when I go back to this recipe and serve them as a side dish with dinner.

I've never actual measured my ingredients since it depends on how many radishes I have on hand so this is more of a technique than a recipe.

Roasted Radishes

Cleaned radishes cut into bite size pieces (usually quartered)
Vegetable oil

Lightly coat the radishes with oil then add salt and pepper to suit your taste.  Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The family that exercises together...

Or at least at the same time!  This evening it made me feel good to see Kayleigh heading of to cross country practice and Bill on a bike ride as I was heading out to run.  I'm slowly catching on to working and exercising on the same days.

This was my first day at work that felt like real work, not just walking around meeting people.  Half way through the afternoon I got a headache and it is still there.  I came home and immediately put on work out clothes.  After eating, I really wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV but I didn't.  I made myself get up and go for a run.  I figured I couldn't skip it when everyone else was out exercising and the weather has miraculously dropped down to the 70's! 

So as much as I wanted to stay on the couch, I didn't.  I went to the track and ran a lap, walked a lap, etc until I reached 3 miles.  My lap times were better than I thought I could do.  And now I'm back home, it isn't even 8PM yet, and I can watch TV without any guilt!
This picture has nothing to do with anything.  I just thought it was pretty and hate to have a post without a picture!  We saw this flower this weekend and thought it was so pretty, we went and bought one to plant at home.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Working and Weather and Running

I survived my first week working.  I wasn't nearly as tired at the end of each day as I thought I would be. Even though I used to work full time, it has been 10 years since I had to work until 5 PM.  Usually the stress and nervousness of a new job wipes me out but this time it well pretty well.  I owe a lot of that to Bill and Kayleigh who really stepped up with general cleaning and laundry and cooking dinner.  To add to their week, my niece is staying with us so Kayleigh spent her day fixing 3 meals a day and keeping her cousin entertained.  By Friday night, Kayleigh looked like an exhausted housewife!

Even though I felt relatively good all week, I didn't get one second of exercise in with the exception of walking all over the place at work meeting everyone.  I kept planning to do something in the evening but the time would get away from me.  It didn't help that our weather was in the upper 90's and 100's all week. There was no way I was going outside so I'd have to do something inside and I didn't want to kick everyone out of the family room.  I realize these are terrible excuses because Kayleigh had practice 4 nights last week and when I picked her up at 8:30, it was still 95 degrees most days yet she still did it!

Finally Saturday morning, it was a little cooler so while the girls slept, I headed to the park to see if I could do something.  I ended up running two miles at my easier pace.  Overall I was happy with that.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to run more than a few minutes.  Plus, even though it was cooler, it was still quite hot and humid.

Later in the day, I noticed that several of Kayleigh's teammates had posted on Instagram and Facebook that they got their runs in early in the day trying to beat the heat like I did.  I told her that she really needed to get some kind of run in.  Around 8 PM it fell down to about 80 degrees and the humidity was much lower so I was finally able to convince her to get out there.  My niece and I went with.  I wanted to get another mile in so I asked Lily if she wanted to run with me.  We all started off together but Kayleigh soon sped away from us.  I needed to do 1 1/2 laps and about 1 lap in Lily was looking tired but she kept going.  When I got to my usual sprint point to finish my run, I asked if she wanted to race me. She didn't think she could but then she ended up staying right with me as I ran as fast as I could.  She collapsed at the end but she did it.  I should point out that she is 11 years old and was wearing a dress.  I wish I had that youthful energy!

Kayleigh felt really good during her run but at the very end she tripped on a part of the bridge where the wood was starting to pop up and hit her knee.  Lily and I had spotted that earlier so we knew exactly where she was talking about. By the point she came through there it was dark so she didn't see it.  She seems ok now though and wants to go out again tonight at around the same time.  She said she was feeling better and better as she ran even though she started out not wanting to run at all.  I know that feeling!

My hope for next week first of all that it will cool off a little, and then that I can motivate myself to exercise during Kayleigh's practices each night.  I'm thinking the combination of weather, new job, and Lily visiting this week was just too much for me to squeeze running into.  At this point I'm optimistic that I'll get back on track next week.  We'll see!

 Can you guess where this picture was taken?  Back to the Munster Farmer's Market to eat some vegan food truck food!  Kayleigh and Lily got chocolate chip waffles and Bill and I had brats & kraut.  Yum!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Musical Motivation For Running

I'm not sure how I feel about listening to music when running.  I've seen people in races listening to music but it always surprises me.  In a group like that, I think the music would distract me more than help.  Even when I'm on the treadmill, I sometimes listen to music but other times I prefer to watch TV and other times I just run.

I usually don't take my music with me for outdoor runs.  When I used to run on the track, I started using it every now and then just to break up the boredom of those short circles.  Still,the benefit of being outside is all the sights and sounds and I find music just gets in the way.

Lately though my motivation has been lacking so this morning when I headed to the park, I decided to take my music with me.  My plan was just to run and not focus on my time or distance and thought the music would distract me from my watch.  Surprisingly, even though it was 8:30 on a Saturday morning and only 72 degrees when I got there, I was all alone.  There wasn't even anyone at the playground.  So I put my ear buds in and started my purposely slow run.

I felt really good even when I reached the 2 mile mark.  My lap times were consistent and a little slower than usual which is what I was going for.  At around 2.5 miles I started to get a little tired and I was thinking it was really starting to warm up but I still felt good (by the way, it wasn't warming up - it was still only 74 when I got to my car!).  Usually when I turn the corner and can see the 5K point, I sprint.  This time I chose to keep running steady and see how far I could go.  I did look down to see my 5K time though.  It was 36:43 which isn't too much slower than usual.

I decided at this point to run to my car which is about 1/3 mile away.  When I got there, I thought I should really run to the point where I started running to make it an even 5 laps.  Then I thought, I should run to the next corner, but then I was almost to the shade.  You get the picture.  I just kept moving the finish line down the road until I realized I was about to reach the 4 mile mark.  Hurray!  At that point I decided to drop to a walk but I finished the lap to get in 4.67 miles total in almost exactly 1 hour.

When I was about 3 minutes from my car, I came to the end of my music.  Who knows why I originally put almost an hour of music on my playlist when at the time I was only doing 30 minute workouts but I'm glad I did.  The music kept playing and that kept me going.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Menu Planning

With my new job starting next Monday, my mind has been all over the place the past two weeks.  Not only have I been unemployed for 8 months, before that I worked part-time for 7 years, and before that I had 4 years of working 6:30-3.  My husband and I started out pretty equal in our cooking and housecleaning duties but once I started getting home earlier than him every day, I slowly started taking over more and more.  It didn't make sense to have all of us cleaning on weekends when I could do that in the afternoons, leaving our family time for more fun activities.  It also didn't seem like a good idea to wait for him to get home and cook dinner when I was getting home 2-3 hours earlier.

Now that is all coming to an end!  We are all a little nervous about how this is going to work.  Bill and Kayleigh both realize that they've had it rather easy over the years but I also realize that I've been able to do everything exactly how I want it.  So we are all preparing to make adjustments.

I am quite organized so that should help with the transition.  One of the most important tools for working parents (but also something that I used even when I wasn't working) is a meal plan.  As soon as Kayleigh was born, I started planning our meals.  I just didn't have the mental capacity to work all day, survive my long commute home, take care of a baby and figure out what we could eat based on what food was in the fridge.

Not only does meal planning save you time during the week, it also saves you money because you can buy only what you need at the grocery store and be sure that you will actually use all of it during the week.

My first meal plans looked like this:

Yep - we had a 4 week rotating menu, one for summer and one for winter.  The meals actual rotated even more often than that because there were some duplicates.  A few things make this menu really nice to use.  First of all, you don't have to write a new menu each week.  Also, I kept several of the days somewhat general such as "pasta" or "breakfast food".  That gave us some room to personalize the menu but still took a lot of the thinking out of it by giving us a category.  Believe it or not, we used these menus for 6 years.

When I first got married, I didn't really know how to cook but by the time Kayleigh was born, I had a few basic meals down.  After several years, I took a stronger interest in cooking and started expanding my recipes so that is when I decided to create a new menu each month like this:

These menus always had at least 2 days a month that were reserved for trying new recipes.  By changing the menus monthly, it allowed me to add in any successful experiments.  It was also nice to be able to work in holidays, birthdays, or any time something unusual came up and give them their own special meal.

After a couple years of that, my cooking really started changing.  I was making more and more new recipes and creating several of my own.  This was also around the time that I started getting home earlier so I had more time to prepare the meals.  I made the choice to plan my meals one week at a time.  Sometimes they are nicely planned out and include side dishes and desserts.  Then other weeks they look like this:

I usually post them on the fridge so everyone knows what to expect.  We are so busy now with our various activities that it makes sense to plan only one week at a time.

Whatever way you decide to plan your meals, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Add a "leftovers" day in at least once a week.  Even though I take leftovers to work for lunch we still end up with little odds and ends in the fridge.  If  by some miracle you don't have any leftovers, you can always use this as a "restaurant" day or "eat out of the freezer" day.
  • Check every recipe on your list and make sure you have all the ingredients.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting half way through cooking and realizing you are out of chili powder!
  • Be flexible.  Some days you just don't feel like having what is on the list.  There is nothing wrong with switching two days as long as you eventually get to all the items.  This is especially useful if you have some evening event come up changing your available time or when the weather becomes unseasonably warm and you had planned stew.
  • Don't be too flexible.  The menu becomes useless if you decide to have sandwiches every night instead of what you planned and all that fresh produce you bought goes to waste.
  • This may be too much organization for some but if you have a lot of recipes to choose from, you might want to develop a spreadsheet listing all recipes and where they are located.  My list is divided by type of recipe (main dish, side dish, dessert, etc).  It took awhile to put together and I'm always updating it, but if it all of a sudden disappeared, I think I'd cry!  I couldn't function without it any more.

The few times I've been lazy and not made a menu plan, I have always regretted it.  People (meaning my mom!) often tell me they can't plan a menu because they aren't organized but I always say that having a menu plan keeps you from needing to be as organized during the week.  Spend 10 minutes planning out your meals on the weekend and you don't have to think about what to eat for the rest of the week!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Cobbler

I'm always excited when I see bing cherries in the grocery store because it means I can make one of my favorite desserts.  I used to eat this all by myself which is a little gluttonous!  A couple years ago I finally convinced Kayleigh to try it though so now I have to share.  I wish I could give proper credit for this recipe.  I cut it out of a magazine several years ago but there is nothing indicating which magazine it was.
This is what you start with.
On the top of the clipping I wrote, "completely worth pitting all those cherries" so that gives you an idea of how good it is but also the pain involved.  This year the cherries were even harder to pit.  I think we are a little early in the season and they weren't as ripe as they could be.  Still, the cobbler turned out delicious.
And this is what you end up with after what seems like hours!

Chocolate Cherry Cobbler

2 pounds fresh bing cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 cup ground almonds/almond meal
1/2 cup margarine
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Combine the pitted strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon juice.  Pour into a 11X7 inch baking dish.

Combine the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and almond meal in a medium bowl.  Cut in the margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Sprinkle the topping over the cherries, squeezing some of it to form larger clumps.

Bake 35 minutes or until the cherries are bubbling.  Cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bad Attitude

I was tempted not to post this because it doesn't seen to provide many answers.  I'm mostly just venting my frustration.  But then I realized that it is good to remember that everything doesn't always go well and it isn't always easy but that is no reason to give up.  So here is my rambling post!

Our run last Friday.  Where am I?
I mentioned the other day that I went on a run and struggled the whole way but then ended up with my best time.  I've been thinking about this a lot the past few days trying to figure out what was going on.  It wasn't only that one run either.  The time before that I was not able to run the whole 5K.  I walked several times and felt terrible by the end of it.  I can't remember when I felt that bad during a run.  So when I again struggled this last time, I had doubts racing through my mind.  I went right back to my old pattern of thinking I couldn't do it.  There is something to be said for sticking with it and finishing but still, I'd like to feel better about the process. 
There I am - walking.  Even though I knew Bill had the camera, I just couldn't run.

Lately exercising in general has been a chore.  I did yoga today for the first time in a week and a half.  I can't remember the last time I did the elastic bands.  Mostly I've just been running a few times a week and doing a few general exercises like sit ups in between.  I have a feeling that is why I struggled with my last couple runs.  I already know that I feel better when I combine all the exercises but I just couldn't get myself to do it.

Another issue is that I'm spending too much time in my head.  I did finally get offered a job and I'm really excited about it but it was a long interview process on top of many months of being unemployed.  I think I spent too much time thinking (and stressing) about that instead of living each moment.  My natural comfort zone is sitting on my couch doing nothing and the second I let my guard down and allowed my mind to wander, I slipped right back into that bad habit. 
Friday night we went to the restaurant where Kayleigh works.

The third problem was something I could have prevented somewhat but not completely.  I ate too much restaurant food.  I never feel good when I eat out and over the past weekend I did it over and over.  My aunt was in town so we went out to eat with her on Friday night.  Then Bill had a race (cycling) in Milwaukee on Saturday so we ate lunch and dinner out.  Then on Sunday I ate my leftovers from the restaurants.  So by Sunday night, my body was in full revolt!
Before Bill's race.   Yes, Kay is wearing a coat.  It was cold!!

Actually I just thought of one more thing but this seems to be a constant in Chicago lately.  Our weather went from 95 degrees to 60 degrees in a day and now it is supposed to head back up towards 90 this weekend.  We've had heat, humidity, thunderstorms, and freezing wind all in one week.  That messes up my body and my mind.  And just as I typed this, it started pouring outside just to prove my point!

I'd like to find an easy solution to these recurring motivation problems but really there is only one answer.  I have to get up and just do something.  There isn't any magic to it.  As soon as I started my yoga this morning, I felt such a sense of peacefulness.  My runs (usually) make me feel proud and accomplished.  I just have to remember those good feelings and get off the couch!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Is it a good day or bad day?

My mind is all over the place today.  First I was going to post a cherry cobbler recipe.  But then I went on a run and although I had my best 5K time so far, I was battling negative thoughts the whole way.  So I thought I'd write about pushing through that and what may have caused my problems.  BUT THEN, I came home and I was offered a job - FINALLY.  It has been exactly 8 months today since I lost my job and I have been interviewing for the particular position for 2 months now.  I'm really excited to just have any job at all at this point but I'm also very enthusiastic about this specific position.

So my mind is a jumble of emotions.  I can't get my thoughts straight right now so the other posts will have to wait for another day!