Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's Cookin' Wednesday - Sliders

Tonights dinner consisted of....

Cajun Rubbed Chicken Thighs....

Eggplant fresh from the garden......

And sandwich thins....this picture is of the large size. I found some mini's on the store shelves today.

So I cooked everything on the grill, placed the eggplant slices on the bread first, a chicken thigh next then topped it with some Swiss cheese.

Yummy little sliders with some great taste. Delicious does not need to be complicated. Sometime simplicity is the best way to go.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Who Connecticut

Work took me to South Central Massachusetts/North Central Connecticut. As I drove from CT to MA each day I passed several crop fields. I've never seen tobacco plants before. The person I was working with told me that CT used to be a big producer of cigar tobacco. The fields I saw weren't that big. Most of the old tobacco fields are now sod farms.

But I did get a picture of this field.

I also saw this barn where they hang the leaves to dry. It's pretty cool design how the barn opens up to let in fresh air.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Going at it Alone

I have read many articles pertaining to the virtue of running/cycling/swimming in a group. The pressure to keep up. Training with people better than yourself. Getting outside your comfort zone. Learning from others with more, or different, experiences.

My group training has mainly consisted of two or three other people. Sometimes even a group of six. Now we are talking about a party.

Group running has been out for me because I am slowly getting back to a respectable load. Then some friends are ramping up for A races and are churning out some speed work. I'm still not looking for speed right now. I've been working on tempo runs instead.

One the bike I have been out more often with several people. And yes the efforts have been good. Chris is training for IM Florida and has a great base. Last I rode with him I was just trying to hang on. It was a good 55 miles but I was toast. I also rode with some other Snakebite teammates for 40 miles. That was fun because we contested some city limits and had some hard pulls.

But for the most part I have been a solo trainer. Mainly because my schedule is sometimes chaotic so I train when it's convenient for me. When I was being coached I usually had specific workouts for specific goals. It's hard to incorporate specific workouts in a social gathering.

Well last night was one of those times I needed to go at it alone. I called Mike and asked if he wanted to go because we have been riding together on Wednesday nights. Our schedules weren't matching up very well and I wanted to go pretty hard.

With a good amount of cloud cover, steady winds and the threat of rain I set out for a 40+ mile bike ride. My goal was to warm up and then hit it hard on West River Road. This is a great 8.5 mile stretch of rollers where I wanted to bury myself. Unfortunately there are two major roads that break up the road. It was the last 1.5 miles that forced me to drop below my average due to one long steep uphill.

Getting into Valley City I had completed 20 miles in 1 hour. I knew where along my route I would push the pace and where to spend some time in recovery. The wind would be smacking me in the face but I never got rained on. I got wet mainly from a misty rain and the road spray.

I was very happy with the results from my ride. I completed 44.64 miles in 2:15:35.

But the most important aspect of this solo could be done, and done well.

As great as it is to be pushed and motivated in a group training session..I find more satisfaction when I go it alone.

It is a mental test to push yourself to the edge.

Fighting the urge to slow down despite your legs screaming at you.

Your response....."Shut Up Legs."

Your mouth is hanging open to get as much oxygen into your lungs as possible. Partly to feed your muscles but also to keep your brain from stalling out.

Suppressing the queasy feeling in your stomach as your body redlines....."Please don't puke."

Being on a lonely stretch of road with no one around. No one to prove anything to...except yourself.

Never knowing when your legs will blow up and you get yourself.

Struggling to get home from the furthest point of your ride at a pace you feel with make you fall over.

Knowing that this suffer fest will simply make you a better rider down the road. Surprise your friends the next time you ride together.

Mainly because it shows you have Game. And tonight it was On.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What's Cookin' Wednesday - Tasty Food

I had an epiphany over the weekend.

I really like to cook. And I like cooking for people.

Aimee spent Friday afternoon with the girls relaxing around the pool at our friends house. Actually it was too hot for the pool so they socialized around the basement bar.

Guys were allowed to show up after 5PM and it was my task to cook for the women, I volunteered. I bought all of the necessary ingredients to make four grilled pizzas. Scott picked up stuff to make one of his pizzas also.

I was ready to make:

  • White Sauce Seafood pizza
  • Chicken BBQ
  • Mexican
  • Traditional Pepperoni and Mushroom
Since Scott had a pizza to make so I only made the first two. His pizza being the third was enough for dinner. Scott's pizza was interesting to say the least. He used:

  • White Sauce
  • 1 can sauerkraut, drained.
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, drained.
  • 6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled.
  • Mozzarella cheese
Despite the odd ingredients it was very tasty.

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to serve up my pizzas. They were quite tasty and everyone said they really enjoyed the flavors. Scott had never grilled pizza so I provided some instruction as he cooked his recipe. I think he is converted over to grilled pizza.

So my new mantra in the kitchen is

It really put a smile on my face seeing how much everyone enjoyed the food I prepared. There is comfort and friendship when we share a meal with those we love.

Of course I love cooking for or with Aimee. We make a good team in the kitchen. We aren't afraid of trying new things or changing up a recipe.

I made some great burgers Monday night for Aimee and I.

I shall call them: Ultimate Taco Burgers

I chopped up mushrooms, shallots and a seeded jalapeno. I used shallots because I didn't have a regular onion.

Saute the mixture until everything is softened. Combined the mixture with one pound ground beef and bread crumbs. I used Panko because...well...I didn't have any regular breadcrumbs.

I didn't measure any of the ingredients. Why bother? That's half the fun of cooking...being spontaneous.

I chopped until I thought I had enough.

I dumped in the Panko until I thought I had enough.

Then I added some homemade taco seasoning, recipe found at I used about half of the recipe and also coated the outside of the patties with the seasoning when I placed the burgers on the grill.

Over high heat I seared the burgers for 2 minutes. Of course the thickness of the burgers determines how long they should cook.

When I flipped the burgers I turned down the heat to medium-low and added raw spinach and cheddar cheese on top.

The lower heat would still cook the burger but also wilt the spinach/melt the cheese.

When I pulled the burgers from the grill we topped them with guacamole.

These were some tasty burgers. Honestly they were the best I have ever made.

So even in the kitchen I like to get my Game On.

Bon Appetit