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The Simplest Kheema and some Olympic Lifting

October 29th, 2014 · Fitness, Indian

Kheema beef with peas

I cooked tonight! I know, I know, I cook most nights. But I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite pantry and freezer meals for the past few days, and this one made me proud of myself – long on flavor, short on effort. My friend AA is moving back to Colorado, and thus I managed to inherit a large haul of freezer and pantry items. Bittersweet, but getting the spoils of a sad situation is enough to perk me up a little bit. Plus, these friends are food lovers, so we’re talking homemade frozen Momofuku buns, honeymead, a black truffle, a full jar of maple syrup…

Before we get to dinner, here are a few of the things I ate today. In the morning, I made myself an aeropress of a wonderful coffee – espresso from Karma Roasters. It was a splurge at Whole Foods, and I don’t regret it one bit. It’s a stellar coffee.

Morning Black Coffee in Muji Cup

For lunch, I cracked open some of the home made liverwurst from my Walden Local Meat share. I’m always looking to add a little offal to my diet – it’s highly nutrient dense, and delicious! Given that I prefer my food as would best be presented to a five year old, I opted for little cucumber boats.

Cucumber Boats with Liverwurst

In the afternoon I was hungry, so I roasted a delicata squash from Volante Farms. Delicata are by far my favorite of the fall squashes! They are super sweet, and I personally have no problem eating the skin.

Delicata Squash from Volante Farms

Roasted Delicata Squash

In the late afternoon, I headed to the gym for Olympic Lifting class. It was the previously mentioned AA’s very last Wednesday Oly class before she moves away, and I didn’t want to miss it. Plus I’ve been out of the gym for so long with marathon training, that I was itching to get my hands on a barbell and lift something heavy! I hopped on the rower to warm up, and we ended up having a lot of fun in class – practicing clean complexes and working to some max heavy cleans. I was pretty sure that I was going to have to drop some serious weight from my usual bar, but things actually didn’t go so badly, all things considered. I worked up and got in multiple lifts at 95, but couldn’t for the life of me break the mental hurdle to get past 100. The worst part is that my lack of being able to make this lift is 100% in my head. I can lift the bar easily. I can high pull and just hold it there. I can’t for the life of me drop under the bar. Despite my frustration, I left thrilled to have gotten sweaty, and it felt so good to be back in the gym.

At home, I set to work cleaning my kitchen, as it was needing a little love. I cleaned and seasoned a cast iron, and the wok (see the top picture) that I inherited, which was looking a little rusty. Dinner needed to be something easy, and I always love some basic Indian spices in my cabinet for making something warm and comforting. I opted to do a really simple kheema – ground beef and peas – which requires little more attention than browning the beef, stirring in the rest of the ingredients, and letting things simmer.

Bowl of Kheema Beef with Peas

Simplest Kheema (Ground Beef with Peas)

1 pound ground beef (highest quality you can get)
1 tablespoon fat (olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s Curry Powder)
a knob of ginger, minced
1 15 oz.can diced tomatoes, and their juice
pinch of sugar (optional, but helps reduce acidity of tomatoes)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup low sodium chicken stock (homemade, preferable)

In a large skillet, heat the fat, and brown the ground beef with a big pinch of salt and pepper. When beef is almost browned, add the curry powder, and ginger, and cook for two minutes. Pour on can of diced tomatoes, peas, chicken stock, and stir. Bring to a simmer, and cook, partially covered (leaving an inch or two for steam to escape), for 10 minutes. Top with a spoonful of yogurt if you’d like.

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Barbecue Beef with Sauerkraut

October 26th, 2014 · Meat, Uncategorized

Barbecue Beef with Sauerkraut

The second month of my Walden Local Meat share arrived on Thursday, and I find myself with a freezer full of meat of all types that need to be used. Every month Walden sends out a survey that allows you to mention your preferences and order any add ons. You can order the amount of meat that you’d like – starter packs start at $49, and I pay $129 a month for a full share with 10-11 pounds of meat, with several pounds of ground meat (lamb, pork, beef), sausages, bacon, and other charcuterie. This month I added a few extras: two dozen fresh eggs, a pound of chicken livers, and a tube of home made liverwurst. Liver and other offal are such nutrient dense foods, and I’m a firm believer in eating the best quality you can find – it’s a relief to be able to source high quality from my CSA!

Dinner tonight was with some of the leftover beef from last month that I reluctantly took out from the back of the freezer. (My first month I opted not to specify what cuts I wanted, and just hope for the best. I was 90% satisfied, and made sure to make requests this month!) I wanted this to work a little bit better than it did – I think I’m just not a fan of certain roast cuts of beef – despite cooking in the pressure cooker in a good amount of liquid, the meat always ends up a little bit dry. Alas, not every dish is a winner. Nevertheless, this was an easy dish to make, and with better beef, and a great barbecue sauce, it makes for a decent dinner.

Barbecue Beef with Sauerkraut. I started with a few pounds of beef (I had a 2 lb. thawed round roast, but this would be much better with brisket or chuck roast) which I seasoned with salt and garlic powder, and put it in my instant pot with a cup of barbecue sauce, a cup of apple cider, and a little bit of stock.  I set it on high pressure for 45 minutes on the meat/stew setting.

To eat, pull the meat out of the liquid, and serve with extra barbecue sauce, sauerkraut, and pickles.

Pro-tip: eat your meat stew with pickles! (Turks do this, and it’s one of my favorite additions to stew or beans. You immediately get something salty, crunchy, and sour to help balance out what might be a lackluster stew, or take a great one to even greater heights. I like sauerkraut with pickles, because of the added fermented benefits!)

Walden Meat Share

Walden Local Meat, Carlisle, Massachusetts.

Free delivery to the Greater Boston Area. If you commute into Boston, you could get the shipment delivered to work, and it’ll stay conveniently cold in the reusable freezer bag packed with your frozen meat and some dry ice.

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Fresh Shell Beans

October 25th, 2014 · Blogging, Kitchen, Writing

Fresh Shell Beans

Late night kitchen. I stand at my countertop, shelling fresh beans. It’s one of my favorite kitchen activities. Meditative. I also like cutting the tops off of string beans with scissors, squeezing limes, folding dumplings, and any other task that allows you to dip into that drowsy state as your hands and muscle memory take over the work.

Tonight, I listen to a podcast – Balanced Bites – Diane and Liz in an older episode, talking about how imposing order on yourself, be it strictness of diet a few days a week, a minimal wardrobe, or other arbitrary rules every so often can help reduce stress and anxiety, and help you do more, successfully. I know that I feel this way – imposing limiting structure every so often actually helps me be more productive – the key term being “every so often”. Abiding by food rules during specific times of year to reset my habits can help me recalibrate more quickly – it’s why I’m so fond of programs like Whole30 – they focus on crowding out your diet with real, whole foods, and encourage you to build good habits, such as cooking at home, which occasionally fall to the wayside of our busy lives, even those of us who love to cook! It’s not about restricting yourself from all the foods you love, it’s about committing to nutritious food, and letting your focus shift to other things. This also fits with the Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin’s theories of Abstainer and Moderators. Some people function better when abstaining totally, others are naturally capable of moderating themselves. I find that I alternate between both, usually preferring abstention when my life feels a little out of control due to external factors, moderation for all other times.

Tonight I’m savoring the last of the warm evening air with a mini pumpkin whoopie from Volante Farms. Maybe it’s just shy of 60, and the window is still open. The World Series is on. Funny how this Giants team feels so dear to me even though I’m so far from my temporarily adopted city. Soon though, to bed. Tomorrow is my last half marathon in Newburyport, before the big one: 26.2 in Savannah.

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October 15th, 2014 · Books

I Am Malala

Some reading tonight: I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai. This book has been sitting on my nightstand for a few months, and after hearing that she won the Nobel Peace Prize this week, the youngest person to do so, I finally cracked it open. Another article I read today was a piece about trans men at Wellesley, my alma mater. Regarding the article, which I’m still processing – gender and gender identity is inherently a difficult topic to discuss, and it’s always difficult to look critically at your own community. Ultimately I believe strongly in the role women’s colleges have played in supporting women in a society that is built to stifle. But I also care deeply about all members of my community, and dream of a world of love and radical acceptance. It’s not an easy road. And of course, I learned my lesson yet again today: when you care about other human beings, do not read the comments on the internet.

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One Weekend, Two Races + a PRO Compression Giveaway!

October 14th, 2014 · Fitness, Giveaways

Hi all, interrupting my usual programming to come at you with a great giveaway thanks to the kind folks at PRO Compression. They provided me with a pair of compression sleeves for review and another pair of sleeves or socks for a giveaway, and given that they’ve been a life saver through marathon training this past month, I thought it’d be a good match for this here blog. Of course my opinions, and you know that I have MANY, are my own. 

Two Races in One Mizuno Sayonaras

This weekend I endeavored on a double header – running two races, the B.A.A. Half Marathon, and the Tufts 10k for Women. In planning my marathon training this fall, I opted to do two back to back races instead of the 18 miles originally on the plan. This spring I managed to snag a coveted B.A.A. Half registration, and this is my third year running Tufts – a tradition I want to keep alive as long as I can!

BAA Half Map

The B.A.A. Half Marathon is the third race in the Boston Athletic Association distance medley. One of my goals this year was to sign up for the medley and earn the sweet swag (an extra medal for completing all three races), but somehow I managed to miss the registration by a day, despite having put it months in advance on my calendar! Bitter about my mistake, I still ran two out of three this year – the 10k and the half.

When: Sunday, October 12th, 2014. 8:30 am start.

What: 13.1 miles through Boston’s beautiful Emerald Necklace, with the last mile winding through the Franklin Park Zoo.

What this race isn’t: flat. I don’t know why I assumed it was flat, but aside from the brief downhill at mile one, it was pretty much uphill the entire second half of the race!
BAA Half Elevation Chart

Challenges: getting to the zoo! Parking was nonexistent at the race location, so there were shuttles and drop-offs. Traffic was altered so we had to do some detours to get to the race start. Overheating! Although it was in the 40’s when the race was starting, it quickly warmed up, and I found myself totally overheating in my long sleeved tech t, even though I was wearing shorts! At one point I had to stop by the med tent so I could get an ice pack to stuff down my shirt. This ended up being my slowest half, but the animals, sweet medals, and great looking race shirt made up for it.

Highlights of this race included: running with several of my coworkers (Chris, Matt, Rebecca, Terry, and Mike) – okay, not technically “with”, but at the same time! Animals! I took pictures of zebras, a camel, and a selfie with a giraffe sign. A flat track finish. The end of the race is actually run on a track – this was perfect as I kicked it into gear at the last straightaway to pass a dozen people at the end of the race.

RunKeeper Team BAA Half

BAA Half Zebras at Franklin Park Zoo

Tufts 10k Map

After getting a good night’s sleep, I headed into downtown Boston to race with 5000 other women at the Tufts 10k for Women, which races from the Boston Common, on the river, and back again. It’s a beautiful and relatively flat course, and the positive energy is awesome. It was my third year running this race, and there are so many women who make this an annual occasion.

When: Monday, October 13th, 2014. Noon start.

What: 6.2 miles from the Boston Common through downtown Boston, over the Mass Ave. bridge, on the Charles, and back again.

What this race isn’t: coed. Except for about a hundred Tufts Health Plan gentlemen braving the estrogen wave! (Only one was in the top 50, and there were no male elites.)

Challenges: so many. At the end of mile two, my race belt fell apart, and I spent several minutes attempting to find the extra pins I had, and pinning my bib to my shirt. Tired, the aspirin I took didn’t kick in until midway through the race. At mile five, I saw my friend Ryan giving out water, and he seemed concerned that I was walking – this was actually good incentive to kick back into gear and finish the race strong! 300 meters before the finish line, I nearly ran into a girl puking, got a strong whiff, and almost lost it. On the plus side, I picked it up to sprint through the finish, because I was feeling sorry for being passed the whole race!

Highlights of this race included: running with two of my coworkers, Karla and Erin (even though I didn’t end up seeing them!!), and one of my oldest friends, Amanda. She ran with me for the first few miles last year, but is too speedy for me to keep up! Running the same race three years in a row. Getting to high five Joan Benoit Samuelson at the end of the race. At 63, she came in first in her division (60th overall this year), and then spent the rest of the race giving people high fives. Love her!

Tufts 10k starting line

With two races in one weekend, I did my best to promote recovery, and in my book that means coffee (George Howell at Formaggio Kitchen!), and a few extra hours post-race wearing compression sleeves. What does compression do? A tight sock or sleeve adds pressure to the leg and can improve blood flow, preventing soreness, cramping, and more serious afflictions, such as clotting, blood pooling, and swelling. After a race, wearing sleeves for a few hours helps to promote recovery! And now, the couch.

PROCompression Giveaway Second Lunch

PRO Compression Giveaway + Discount Code

Discount Code: use  the discount code FALL at for 40% off Marathon Socks and Sleeves 

Giveaway: One lucky reader will win a pair of PRO Compression Marathon Socks or Sleeves of their choice. Enter the RaffleCopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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