Sunday, October 19, 2014

When life gives you green tomatoes, make....

…chutney.  This is a recipe from the You Grow Girl blog.  I followed it faithfully, but the recipe came from a Canadian blogger and I think she has a different idea what constitutes a normal-sized apple. The recipe called for three.  I used Newtons and they were probably 4-5inches in diameter. The recipe made about 6 cups instead of 4.  I chickened out and only added ½ a jalapeño so it wasn’t all that spicy although I added about a tsp. of allspice.  It’s good but I would only use 2 apples next time because it has more apple than green tomato flavor. 

 …and…green tomato pickles. This recipe was described as being “not as sweet as a bread and butter pickle” but I wanted the bread and butter flavor, so I compared it to some other traditional cucumber bread and butter pickles.  The difference was an equal amount of brown sugar, so I added that. I also just used an equivalent measurement of prepared pickling spices, since I had them on hand, instead of the individual spices.  The results are excellent.


…and what to do with the tomatoes and peppers that actually ripened?  I had lots, so I made this recipe.  

Roasted Tomato/Sweet Pepper Bisque
3 sweet banana peppers
2 sweet peppers
6-7 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ medium onion
1 T. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel papery skin from garlic cloves, wrap cloves in foil with a tsp. of water and place on over rack to roast while preparing peppers and tomatoes.
Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place peppers on foil and broil about 4-5 inches from heat, turning as skin blisters and browns.  When all sides are brown, put peppers in a paper bag and fold down top to hold in steam.  Once peppers are cool, remove skin, cut in strips and remove seeds. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into quarters and remove seeds. Cut onion into wedges. Toss both tomatoes and onion with 1 T. olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Spread mixture on foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When tomatoes start to brown, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Place pepper strips in a blender with about ½ c. vegetable broth.  Blend until pureed, adding more broth if needed.  Squeeze roasted garlic cloves into mixture and blend. When tomatoes are cool, add to pepper mixture in blender and blend until smooth, adding salt and balsamic vinegar.  Add more broth to bring soup to consistency of bisque. Warm soup in microwave to serving temperature.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Running on empty

All the research shows that regular exercise is one of the keys to living a long and healthy life. A recent CDC study found that people who practice four behaviors: eating healthy, maintaining healthy BMI, exercising regularly, and not smoking were 80% less likely to have any major chronic disease. 80% less chance of having diabetes or heart disease.  Exercise is found to have mental health benefits, too, fighting depression and stress.

Our first half - Missoula 2007
Being one of the least coordinated people I know, I find walking and running* to be my exercise of choice.  No complicated or expensive equipment, other than good athletic shoes, and the instructions are simple:  right…left…repeat until you can’t breathe any more. Of course, this simplicity also means running is boring. Unless you are a Zen master or Secretariat, the monotony will eventually win.  A good way to overcome the repetitiousness of running is to have a partner or group to run with.  Having a goals also helps maintain motivation.  I frequently run with friends, and we participate in a variety of runs:  Bloomsday, the Hot Chocolate Run, Color Runs, and half marathons.  There really is nothing like having a 13.1 mile race on your calendar to motivate you to get out and run 2-3 times a   week.  

At the trade show for our most recent half, the Disneyland Half marathon, one speaker said “you run the first 5 miles of a half marathon with your head, you run the second 5 miles with your legs, and you run the last 3 miles with your heart.”  Personally, I find a running a half marathon is more like Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief and loss:

This year's runs - Missoula and Disneyland

  1.  Denial – My first thoughts are “this isn’t really that bad.  It’s less than two Bloomsdays, and I’ve run about twenty of them– just not back to back.”  Also, I notice all the people around me who seem (to me) to be less fit than I am.  “If they can do this, so can I! “
  2.   Anger – this is the stage when I blame my running partners for getting me into this mess.  I also spend a considerable amount of this stage mentally kicking myself for not training more, not losing those 10 pounds, and not treating my body like the temple I now wish it was. This starts about mile 4, when I remember how hard and sucky this is going to be.
  3. Bargaining – at this point, I start to revise my expectations – I just want to finish, not PR.  If I can just beat that one chubby person ahead of me, I will be happy.  Next week, I’ll start eating right and training more.
  4.  Depression – About mile 6 – 7.  I realize that the only way to get to the end is by continuing.  It’s now just as far to turn around and go back, so that’s not an option.  This is the point where I wish I’d worn the T-shirt that says “If found on the ground, please drag across the finish line.”
  5.   Acceptance – Now I remember that I could walk 13.1 miles if I had to. I’ve done this before.  Also, after mile 7, I count backwards so that after each mile marker, the distance is shorter.  It’s a mind game, but oddly, it helps.

At the finish line, there’s always people cheering and yelling.  Some of them are my faster (now former) friends.  We celebrate together with Poweraid, trail mix, bananas and watermelon, whatever refueling snacks are provided.  Later there will be beer and more food – and no one will feel guilty about what they’re eating.
At the end of the day, it’s about going after a challenge and achieving it…and the friends….and the food. Oh yeah, and the medal.
All the bling - 11 half-marathons

*To be clear, I use the term “running” very loosely here –my running pace is nearly a shuffle and I alternate with frequent brisk walk breaks. I know people who walk faster than I “run”.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I's a dry heat...

…and yes, I’ll take that over your East Coast humidity – the kind that feels like stepping out of a nice refreshing shower and wrapping yourself in a hot, wet wool blanket or crawling inside a dog.  Still, we’ve had the highest high temps in 5 years and the second hottest July on record. And August has been following suit. My tomatoes are loving it, but I’m wilting. 

I just read some research done on major league baseball pitchers that showed they were more likely to retaliate nastily for their teammates being hit when the temperatures were higher.  In other words, hot weather makes people cranky, so you climate change deny-ers are going to be double pissed-off when it turns out you were wrong. (I'm just sayin'.)

When it’s extra toasty outside, I like to stay cool inside – say, “cool as a cucumber”?  I’m starting to get a few cukes in the garden, and I found a nice salad that is incredibly easy and tasty at  Even the preschool grandkids liked it – much to my dismay!  They ate all of it, so I had to make more when the next cucumbers were ready.

Cucumber Sunomono
Yield:  5 servings
    • 2 large cucumbers, peeled
    • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
    • 4 teaspoons white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
    1. Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out any large seeds. Slice crosswise into very thin slices.
    2. In a small bowl combine vinegar, sugar, salt and ginger. Mix well. Place cucumbers inside of the bowl, stir so that cucumbers are coated with the mixture. Refrigerate the bowl of cucumbers for at least 1 hour before serving.
 This salad reminds me of the veggie salad that the Mustard Seed Restaurant serves with their rice bowls, so I’m also giving you our copy-cat Osaka sauce recipe.  You have to use real, fresh-squeezed lemon juice in this to get the taste right. It’s great on grilled or sautéed shrimp, chicken, or tofu...or you could just drink it!
Osaka Sauce
    • 3 T. soy sauce
    • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (3 lemons)
    • 2 tsp. Coleman's mustard
    • 3 T. sugar
    • 2 T. sesame oil
    • 2 T. rice vinegar
    • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
Whip all ingredients together in blender until well mixed.