Sunday, June 27, 2010

Am I green??

(baby spinach)

Jeff and I watched "Food Inc." a couple of months ago. It talked about food as "big business" in the United States and was actually a little scary. No, it didn't say everyone should be vegan, but it did say that the fact that our food comes from only a handful of sources that are HUGE and have major lobbying power in Washington D.C. is something to be concerned about. If one of these mega-businesses decide that some sort of quality control issue isn't important to them (or isn't as important as their profit margin) their customers are probably the ones that will take the hit health-wise. That's all I'm going to say, but it's an interesting movie. If you decide to watch it you won't get bored that's for sure. Anyway, they mentioned CSA'a : Community Supported Agriculture. Right afterwards (it seemed like the next day, but probably not) my sister-in-law came over and told me about Jacob's Cove . This is an organic farm located right in Orem that sells "shares". You buy a "share" in the beginning of the season, and then get produce every week for three months. This isn't "Bountiful Baskets" which frankly is probably a better deal for more produce but gets its produce from a distributor (google it and look it up if you're in the area though --everyone I know that's done it has been very happy). The point of this is that it's all locally raised, for sure is organic and sustainable practices, and you're directly supporting the farmer.


When this farmer brings you his produce, you know it was picked this morning and didn't spend a couple days on a truck, and a couple days in the distributor's cooler. Think vitamins and flavor. Here's another reason I'm doing this: I was at Ream's the other day and picked up a bunch of asparagus and whistled at the price: "2.99 a pound?" geez. An older gentleman next to me said, "how much would they have to pay YOU to go out and cut asparagus for an hour?". He had a point. We've all got a budget to worry about, but it seems like we're willing to make the farmer take a little less and a little less to compete with farmers in Chile and New Zealand (which bugs me that that they're getting the shaft anyway), or to compete with the lower quality soy or corn-based processed product that gets government subsidies for its huge mega-producer. Sorry, I wasn't going to get more political --I just lost control. :)

(lettuce mix)

Anyways, we bought a couple of shares this year, and then we had a cold, wet wierd spring, and everything is behind season, the farmer is struggling to organize his pickup sites and contact everyone (his messages keep getting lost in spam) and basically we're the guinea pigs this first time around for him. He sent out an email last week (which I didn't get by the way) saying the greens were ready now although nothing else is yet, and if you want some to come on up and cut them. OK, greens are my diet mainstay, so I was all over it as soon as my sister-in-law told me. I was prepared to kinda give this guy a tongue-lashing when I got there with all of the mistakes going on, but once I met him it shut me up right away. He's just this nice guy who seems swamped. His "office" looks like a snowstorm hit it (with paper), and he seemed pretty distracted (kind of like a chicken with its head cut off). I did tell him he needed to get someone to help him, and he said "there IS no one else". Well maybe the bugs will be straightened out by next season. when I went outside though, you could tell this guy was a farmer.
(beautiful red-speckled lettuce)

(Lola Rossa --Sam's front lawn)
Me and the kids got a little hack saw from the barn, and walked out to the field with bags to cut us some greens! We wish we had more bags. There were gorgeous rows of lettuces, collards, kales, chards, mixes, you name it. We went crazy. When we got home, I split it with my neighbor who is also signed up, and washed it up, put it in the frisge, and then immediately took it out again for a big salad dinner.

I peeked in the greenhouse to see how the tomatoes were coming along, and it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen! If you close up on the picture, you can see that each tomato plant has a little rubber collar around its vine, and is tied up with twine to trusses in the ceiling. It was so cool! You'll notice he grows the plants directly in the ground though (none of that water-slurry base crap) for extra flavor and nutrients. He just built the greenhouse on the ground, and the sides are a soft plastic to roll up in warm weather, and roll down for protection in cool. The greenhouses cover 1/3 acre --the size of my whole lot. There were also cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplants, and lots more. These greens are the freshest, crispest I've ever had (except out of my own garden!). I can't wait to taste the rest.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Ragnar Post

Ok, I'm finally going to write the Ragnar post. It took a while because I was a real slacker in the picture taking department, and only snapped a couple with my phone, and the lost my download cable :( so Carolyn, one of my teammates, hooked me up with her pictures. So nice of her. I wish I had pictures of the other teams and their vans. My neighbor summed it up for my husband: "your wife may think it was just hard now, but she'll look back on it and see how fun and crazy it was later" It DOES seem better and better the further away it gets.

I found my download cable! But this was the only picture I got worth saving, and even this one is kinda lame. Do you see the viking on the front of the car, and all the writing on the windows? Almost every team decorated their vehicles, and dressed up in some sort of "costume" (hence the sweatbands and tube socks for us in our team picture). There were over 1,000 (no typo --I'm serious) teams of 12 people (except for some ultra-crazies who split up the legs between only 6 people). It was a MADHOUSE. There were teams of superheroes, a "where's waldo" team, a "viagra" team (don't ask me about the stuff written on THEIR van --but it was hilarious), bunnies (they ran in full fur suits), gorillas, a devil van with lit-up traffic cone horns, and my favorite: The Bone Crushers: "Trample the Weak and Hurdle the Dead" --they played heavy metal music from loudspeakers mounted on the roof of their vans, so we always knew they were coming. A couple of their guys were really nice to us (one with a 2 foot mohawk, and the other with a couple of facial piercings).

Our team then had two vans with 6 people in each of them. The other van had the first 6 "legs" of the race, and then handed off to the first of our runners. Each van had three sets of legs for a total of around 24 hours race time. The baton is more like one of those "slap bracelets". Here I am getting the hand-off from our team captain Darelyn.

My first leg was my easy one. It was supposed to be 3.5, but was closer to 3.75 miles by the Garmin. I had a really good run (for me) since it was so hot --about an 8:29 minute mile pace.

So fast I was blurry. See Mom? It doesn't matter what you look like when you're fast enough. Nobody can see through the blur :)

Yeah --I wish this was me. It is Olivia my niece. Isn't that beautiful form? My form didn't look super great, it was more of a hobble, since my foot was of course acting up. After the first leg, when I was starting the second, I honestly didn't know if I'd make it it hurt so bad. My Dad's words " crippled for life" kept going through my head. After a mile it started loosening up, but then I got a sharp, hot pain under my heel. Uhoh I thought, that can't be good. I started doing some serious praying, and it just "went away". Whatever --I can't understand it. Before the third leg I figured out the miracle of icy hot :) It got me through at least. I'm still hobbling today.

This is me on the hill of death: The Ragnar leg. This is arguably the hardest leg in the race. 4 miles uphill. The climb is over 3,000 feet. I wasn't so fast I was blurry HERE obviously; I just wanted to make myself keep going. At this point in the race, I had already done my first leg, and an 8 mile leg at around midnight, all on a total of 1 1/2 hours of sleep. I was really hoping to do this whole hill without walking at all, but there were two times I stopped. I told our van to go halfway and see how I was doing when I got there. They went about a mile, and honestly I was doing fine until I looked at the garmin and saw we were at 1 mile instead of two. Killed me. I had a really tough pull just then, and bagged it and walked for 100 feet or so. I picked it up again, and stayed steady until about 1/4 mile from the end (I KNOW! why? when I was so close!) when there was some photographer lady sitting under her umbrella TAKING PICTURES of the runners as they came up the hill. I want a picture of myself when I look the worst I've ever looked in my whole life? I didn't ask a photographer to join me when I was in labor with my babies, so why would I want a picture now? Threw off my groove, and I took a short walking break again. As disappointed as I was, I was happy to say I "roadkilled" 5 people on that hill, four of them being men. Yay! We chalked up our kills on the side of our van just like most of the teams (except for some team that said kill counts were for communists?) . Kills are passing someone.

At the end, everyone had to take a tram or gondola up to The Canyon's Resort to meet the last runner. We all got in costume and ran in with Carolyn --our "anchorman" to cross the finish line together. "Run Sweaty Chix Run" ,our team, ROCKED the Ragnar. Out of 127 all-woman teams, we came in 25th, and 16th in our division.

Here's the fam and me at the end. Kai wouldn't face into the sun for the picture --little baby.

I took the sweatband off for the picture with Jeff --he said it was scaring him. Little baby. :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sandy wedding luncheon.

This is a week late being post, because as soon as it was over last Saturday, I had to pack up and leave for "Girl's Camp" with my church congregation. I was in charge of the food, and basically it was really stupid of me to take on both right on top of each other. You know me though, and the chance to make beautiful food for a beautiful event is too much of a temptation to resist.

The bride and groom are a young couple; he is the son of a friend of mine, and she is just a lovely girl from the next city over --think Audrey Hepburnesque. They were married in the temple right near my parents' house which was nice for me to have a last minute prep station near the venue.

We started out with an appetizer station for everyone (picture above), because as per usual with these sorts of things, the bride, groom, and photographer arrived quite a bit later than everyone else, and people were ready to eat their hats. Great idea from the groom's mother. Of course being extra hungry always makes the food go over better with a group:)

I did my little crudite basket with Tuscan roasted pepper dip, and also a hot artichoke cheese dip with torn French bread cubes,

But this was the hit. It was an "Italian Torte" which had layers of sun-dried tomatoes, a type of cream cheese mixture, and pesto from my own basil. I pressed fresh herbs around the outside for pretty. That platter was scraped clean.

The main luncheon was then served when the bride and groom arrived. The colors were mauve (ashes of roses ) and burgandy. It's hard to tell with my cheap camera, but the topper on the table is a sheer pink.

We started with Strawberry-wonton salad with candied cashews and strawberry balsamic dressing, and a variety of fresh rolls.

The centerpiece was from my perrenial garden, where my irises were at the height of bloom. I had some the perfect color: a mix of mauve and burgandy.
We also did balsamic roasted vegetables, and a herbed wild rice which I stupidly didn't get a picture of.
Main dish was Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with preserved lemon slices, and a Lemon Rosemary Cream sauce. I thought when I made it the other night it could really use some sort of sauce, and so used some marinade as a starter for this sauce. I think it went over much better.

We waited to put out the brownie assortment until the last minute, because people were eating them before lunch started, and so I didn't get any pictures. I'm so bummed because they turned out really cool! I did Raspberry White Chocolate (raspberry jam and white chocolatew chunks baked into the brownie, and topped with the same, and fresh raspberries at the last minute); Andes mint (chopped Andes mints baked into the base, and topped with from scratch chocolate icing, and more Andes mints); Turtle Pecan (pecan brownies topped with chopped chocolate, pecans, and from scratch caramel sauce); and Pecan Coconut Blondies topped with pecans, and caramel. Just imagine for me OK? I made myself sick eating edges and toppings, so I can assure you they were good.

I just got back from girl's camp Friday afternoon, and Jeff and I took a night together in a hotel. We got back this afternoon, and I'm thinking I could use a good long break from everything. I do have the race coming up this weekend, but until then, you can find me puttering around in my garden. Yum.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meet my Hill.

OK, it's not nine I'm supposed to do today, it's six of hills. Yay --I'm tapering! Makes me feel a little better about NOT DOING IT. The last two days, my feet have felt worse and worse. I'm on my feet a lot lately for catering prep (I'll have to post my practice flower arrangement later), and yesterday late afternoon, it started to turn into a sharp pain at my heel which scared me. I taught a bootcamp - type class yesterday morning, and did some jumping, and calf raises which could have aggravated it. It made me start thinking, I wonder if it's just tightening up too much. I haven't been stretching it out lately. This morning, I did this stretch (I tried to crop out as much of my butt as possible --sorry):

Just leaning forward and letting my heels get as close to the floor as they will. It hurt, but everything felt so much better afterwards, I was able to do my 60 minutes on the stairclimber --my pretend hill. At least there was no pounding on the joints.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

16 on Saturday, none today.

Well, I think I pushed it a little hard Saturday. It's Tuesday and I'm still feeling the effects. I went to a Wasatch Back meeting last week and met some girls there who were running up Squaw Peak to train for the Ragnar section of the race, and on my team that's my job. We were supposed to meet at 7:20 or so, and they would leave a car at the top so we could ride down. I got there at 7:09, and there are three cars at the bottom of the road, and no girls in sight. I figured maybe they were a little early and decide to start on my own and try to catch up. About 1.5 miles into it, I had 4 girls pass me going downhill that must have been them. I got to the top (4 miles total at a 7.5% grade) and no car. To say I was disappointed would be understating things. It was really hard for me to get up there. 12:05 was my average pace over the 4 miles, but my goal was to just not stop, which I met. I turned around and went back down the mountain (not so good for the joints); later in the day I did my last 8 miles.

My knees and foot are still feeling it.

Sunday was rest of course, and I spent yesterday with family, so the biggest workout I did was about a 2 mile walk, but I did carry my 5 year old on my shouldersabout half of the time. So I woke up today, hoping to get in the 8 miles of hills on my schedule, and no dice. I was all set up and started walking my block as a warm-up to start, and it hurt so bad I just didn't feel good about tearing my foot up anymore. I did 80 minutes on the spin bike instead. I really hope I can just maintain my levels until the race. I think, if I tear up that fascia any worse, I will perform worse the day of. It's uncomfortable for me to make these decisions on my own. I really want a coach, trainer, Jeff, or someone to tell me --here is where you stop, here is where you suck it up. I'm realizing more and more though that I'm the only one who can make these decisions for me. I'm the only one who really knows how I feel, and what I think my body can handle.

SO anyway, I did my 80 minutes, and did a great green drink from my garden today!

I didn't have my usual spinach left in the fridge, and originally thought I would have to pick the lettuce out of the leftover salad, and just have a mini shake instead of the green monster I was hungry for. Then I remembered....GARDEN! All of that hard work is finally starting to pay off. I cut 3-4 cups of butter lettuce leaves,

Stole a few "Nero de Toscana" Kale leaves,

and pulled some handfuls of parsley, and lemon balm (from the top picture). Finally, I added a full bunch of cilantro from the fridge drawer (it's green right?), some Sun Warrior protein,

and a scoop of this that Jeff bought and keeps pushing for me to use. He bought the lemon flavor, which went better with the lemony greens anyway. It's an NO2 supplement, that is supposed to help with muscle recovery, and red blood cell production (which I'm going to need since the race is at altitude I'm not used to). That shake was a little....exotic tasting, but (I apologize for my enthusiasm), I was so excited anyway since I'd grown all of those greens.
Maybe by Thursday I'll be up for my nine miles....I hope so. What a roller coaster this training has been.