26 August 2012

After All That, I Didn't Run

That’s right. I didn’t run the half marathon. I developed an infection that had me in bed for a few days this week. Between the symptoms of the infection and the side effects of the antibiotics I was not a happy camper. And I was nowhere near optimal health and training condition. So I decided not to run. Running while being a little less than perfectly conditioned didn’t seem so bad, but running while being exhausted before I even started the race seemed like a stupid thing to attempt. If this were the only half marathon available to me, I might have done it anyway. But with another one coming up in a month I have time to get healthy and get back on track. Mike lost a whole month of training due to illness, so he didn’t run either. We are a little sad that germs brought us down.

20 August 2012

Chinese Peanut Sauce

This was originally published at What I Eat on 13 September 2007. We were living in Walnut Creek, California at the time. 

Muffin is the only toddler I’ve heard of who likes broccoli. Although she likes it simply steamed with a bit of lemon juice (Lemon-eze here in Hyderabad) and ground black pepper, I like to make this peanut sauce for her everyone once in a while as a treat. 

Look for Local Notes at the end of the post to see how I modify the recipe for Hyderabad. 

All this produce from Planet Organics is sending me on searches for new recipes. When I first saw the price of their broccoli, I thought it was outrageous. But I decided to get some anyway. Holy cow! The amount of broccoli they give you is enormous. It's about 3 times the amount I usually buy for a week. Even though I don't love broccoli, it's good for me and I'm trying to eat more of it. And Mike loves it. So, since one of the points of getting this produce delivery is to introduce more fruits and veggies into our diets, surely I can find a palatable way to serve all this broccoli. I add it to stir-fry, I add it to quinoa, I add it to rice. But I need more.

Recently I remembered that a couple years ago I'd made a peanut sauce that I really liked. But I hadn't liked the veggies I'd prepared with it so I put it out of my mind and never thought about making it again. Until yesterday. I found the recipe in my Moosewood and made Chinese peanut sauce and steamed broccoli for lunch. And it was delicious.

1/2 cup good peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. sugar
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 to 2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
cayenne, to taste
salt, to taste (if peanut butter is unsalted)

1) Place peanut butter in a small bowl. Add the hot water, and stir patiently with a spoon or a small whisk until uniformly mixed.

2) Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Let come to room temperature before serving.

I used a chunky peanut butter for some crunchy texture. For soy sauce I use San-J Organic Tamari Wheat Free Soy Sauce.

This peanut sauce keeps in the fridge for a couple days and can be used on a variety of grilled or steamed vegetables. Or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or fried tofu or something like that. Or even as a salad dressing. Add a little water to thin it to your needs.

Now we are down to about one serving of broccoli left. However our next produce delivery is today. We will have a broccoli surplus on our hands.

**Gotta go! My produce arrived as I was giving this post a final edit.**

Local Notes 
I have not been able to find gluten-free soy sauce in Hyderabad, so every time I come back from the United States I bring a bottle or two of San-J Tamari Wheat-Free Soy Sauce with me. You can order gluten-free soy sauce packets from Minimus.biz. If you are ordering through the pouch, the packets are small enough that you can order quite a few and be within the liquid restrictions. They offer international shipping as well. I've bought cider vinegar from HyperCity, in the Waitrose section.

19 August 2012

Motivation Monday -- Role Model

"One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for."

Instead of a picture, this week my inspiration comes from a quote at the end of an opinion piece in the New York Times. Since Muffin came along part of why I run is to be a good role model for her. And I've realized that being a healthy, active role model is one thing, but running has become part of a larger role model plan. With Mike's career, we're not always going to be living in places where women are equal to men. It's up to me to show Muffin how to be a strong woman while navigating through those difficult areas, also while trying to figure it out myself. It's safe for me to run in certain parks at certain times of day wearing certain clothes. That's better than not being able to run at all, right? I'm showing Muffin that we have choices, even when society seems oppressive.

I'm running a half marathon on Sunday. I'm running a half marathon on Sunday. I'm running a half marathon on Sunday. I must have a healthy eating week. I must finish all my homework before the weekend so I don't have to worry about staying up late Saturday night or awake Sunday night to finish it. I have some friends running the race, I have some friends running aide stations, and I've got a few places along the route in mind for Mike and Muffin to stand, so I'll have encouragement as I go. I'm going to run slow and steady. I know I can do the distance. If I run slow enough then I'll have a time to beat in the second half marathon next month. I must stop thinking so much and just do it.

It's not a pin, but it's a "run happy" moment that I must keep in mind.


13 August 2012

Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin

This was originally published at What I Eat on 6 September 2007. We were living in Walnut Creek, California, at the time. With my recent trip to the Minerva Pork Shop in Secunderabad, we have a lot of pork tenderloin in the freezer so I went through my old posts for some ideas of what to do with it. Look for Local Notes at the end of the post to see how I modify the recipe for Hyderabad. 

A couple years ago I came home with a handful of fresh, beautiful rosemary from farmers' market and had no idea what to do with it. (I tend to make impulse produce purchases.) A Google search for rosemary recipes led me to this one on About.com.
INGREDIENTS:
2 pork tenderloins, about 2 pounds [1 kg]
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, or about 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION: Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking pan with foil, spray with cooking spray and place in oven. Trim fat from pork tenderloins and butterfly the meat, cutting them nearly in half lengthwise. Open the pork tenderloins and lay out, pounding to flatten with the palm of the hand or the bottom of a heavy skillet.

Chop rosemary if using fresh. Rub pork tenderloins all over with cut sides of garlic halves then olive oil, then sprinkle rosemary on both sides.

Remove baking pan from the oven and place pork on hot tray. Return to oven and roast for about 20 minutes (about 155° to 160° internal temp). Remove and let stand 5 minutes, then slice.

Rosemary roasted pork tenderloin serves 4 to 6.
We've modified it a bit for ourselves. Last night for the first time we did just one tenderloin, and it worked out much better for our dinner and leftovers needs. I always forget to spray the aluminum foil with oil and it doesn't seem to matter. We love garlic, so we use several cloves sliced into spears, and stick them into the meat for roasting.

On the side I had a small plate of red pepper slices and cucumber spears; it's still summer after all, so we should be eating lots of cool, crisp veggies. I also roasted some potatoes -- a handful of fingerlings, a purple one, and a sweet potato -- with salt and pepper, and I tossed in one of the rosemary sprigs.

Local Notes 
In Hyderabad I’m more likely to throw in some carrots and small onions for roasting (they look sort of like shallots to me, but are called madras onions I think) along with whatever potatoes I find at the store. During the winter I love the pink local carrots that come into season but throughout the year I can find very tasty regular orange carrots. The tenderloins I get here are much smaller than what you’ll find in the United States. Rosemary can often be found at Qmart, Nature’s Basket, or Tarkari.

Motivation Monday -- No More Time for Excuses

From Pinterest.
I do love running, even though it hasn't been a top priority for the last couple weeks. All that changes today though. Later this afternoon. I didn't quite get all my homework finished before I went to bed last night so when I woke up early this morning I headed for my laptop rather than my running shoes. But I have a plan for today. More homework while Muffin is at school. A nap while Muffin naps (I was up late trying to finish up my work, too.). And then a three-mile run around the park with the jogging stroller this afternoon. I posted my intention to run to the playgroup I belong to so between that and the blog, it's out there for everyone to know about and hold me accountable to showing up and doing it.

Have the driver do the grocery shopping and have the housekeeper make something hearty and healthy. I have these resources, yet after how many years of living abroad now (four going on five?) I still haven't mastered using them to my full advantage.

I'm running against the clock. On Monday morning two weeks from now the half marathon will be over. I still plan on doing it, just running my best slowly but surely.

12 August 2012

Super Mommy

I'm pretty proud of myself this week. I prioritized my time, I delegated tasks, and I made this:

and I finished making this:

all for Muffin's birthday party on Saturday afternoon.

How to Make a Very Hungry Caterpillar Party in India
I have to thank Pinterest for the cake idea. I pinned it months ago and kept the idea tucked away in my head, thinking about how to make this in India.

First, when the Consulate placed an order with the commissary in Delhi, I ordered "one" food coloring box. Due to the confusing nature of the order form, I ended up with "one case" of food coloring boxes. I also bought one case of real vanilla extract (intentionally -- I use it a lot for baking) because you can't buy real vanilla in Hyderabad and the fake stuff sold here tastes awful.

Next, when we where on vacation in the United States in May, I tried the King Arthur flour gluten-free cake mix and I liked it a lot better than the Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mixes I'd been using. I bought several boxes of chocolate and yellow -- which actually comes out more like angel food cake -- and did a couple test batches once we were back in Hyderabad to see how the cupcakes would work in my oven. I also tested frosting recipes. I'd been using the Pamela's frosting mixes, and while I love the chocolate, the vanilla always tasted funny to me. I ended up using a butter frosting recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

I used Heritage unsalted cooking butter for the cake and the frostings. I've found it in HyperCity and at the Heritage markets. It freezes well, so I buy several boxes whenever I see it.

I did a little bit of work each day. On Tuesday I made a batch of green frosting. On Wednesday I made a batch of red and kept both in the freezer. On Thursday I took a break. On Friday, with our housekeeper helping to keep Muffin entertained, I made one box of chocolate cupcakes (one box yields 24 cupcakes), one box of yellow cupcakes, and another box of chocolate into 12 cupcakes and one nine-inch round cake. I also made another batch of frosting, dividing it into half blue and half yellow. I moved all the frostings into the refrigerator to defrost for Saturday morning. I sealed up all the cupcakes into Tupperware, blasted the air conditioner and kept my fingers crossed for the electricity, and left them on the kitchen counter overnight because there wasn't enough room in the refrigerator for them.

On Saturday morning, while Mike kept Muffin busy, I started frosting everything. I locked up the cat. I kept air conditioners blasting in the kitchen and the dining room. I ate a good breakfast and a good lunch and didn't drink too much coffee so I wouldn't have shaky hands and drop anything. I cut out little feet and antenna from black felt. I placed the cupcakes on a piece of white fabric (an old tablecloth that had a couple stains in it so can't be used for fancy dining anymore, but works well as a cupcake canvas) and the felt stuck to the fabric nicely. I kept the caterpillar's head in the refrigerator until the very last minute to keep his face from melting.

Several weeks ago I'd ordered official Hungry Caterpillar party supplies from the Eric Carle museum and some cheaper plain green supplies from Oriental Trading. I also found some party stuff at HyperCity and the party store next to Qmart.

Mike and I spent Friday night sealing up the goodie bags and I also finished Muffin's dress that night. Each day for the last two weeks I'd been working on the dress in about five-minute increments whenever I could. It's the Oliver + S Seashore Sundress in Michael Miller Lolli Dot from Fabric.com and red "matching fabric" from a sari shop.

All the work culminated in two hours of insanity. Nineteen kids and sixty cupcakes. We bought samosas from a kiosk around the corner for a savory snack and we had plenty of juice, water, soda, and beer for guests of all ages. We just let the kids go crazy with Muffin's toys until cupcake time, then they went crazy with cupcakes. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Muffin was a little subdued but she loved her birthday cake and she didn't cry when everyone sang "Happy Birthday." That's about all you can ask from a two-year-old.

And we had our housekeeper come in for the afternoon to help with cleaning up. That is a key element to throwing a party in India.








It was a pretty good party, but I'm glad birthdays are only once a year. I can't be Super Mommy every week.

07 August 2012

Hyderabad Highlights and Lowlights

It’s bidding season in the Foreign Service, the time of year when people start to think about where their next assignment is. The FS bloggers are getting together to provide information about their favorite and least-favorite things about their locations. Jill is graciously compiling everyone’s blog posts at The Perlman Update in a couple weeks. I’ve chosen to put together some of my blog posts from our time in Hyderabad. 

Pros

1. Yes, there is steak in India.

2. Baby loves motorcycles.

3. Fresh poultry and fresh produce.

4. Holidays! Diwali! Can be a "con" if you don't like fireworks. Holi! Kite Festival!

5. Vacation in India can be great.

Cons

1. Vacation in India can be exhausting.

2. The dangers of running outside. And here, too.

3. Mold. This post is from last year and I am frantically trying to stay ahead of the mold this rainy season.

4. Shopping isn't always fun.

5. Getting our cat in was a hassle.

There are a lot of difficulties here and I preferred Burundi, but there are a lot of things about life here that I like. While I wouldn't choose to do another tour in India, I don't have any regrets about being here either. 

06 August 2012

Motivation Monday – Ham and Birthday

“Ham on biscuits, ham on toast. Ham is the thing that I like most.” Muffin’s favorite parts of Bread and Jam for Francis are the songs that she sings about jam. Replace “jam” for “ham” and you have our weekend. Between a trip to the Minerva Pork Shop, where the butcher fills Muffin up with so many free samples of ham and salami that I feel obligated to buy some each time we’re there, and Mike bringing home a pack of parma ham from the Swiss Butchery in Singapore, I was feeling like Francis by Sunday afternoon. “I know how a ham jar feels. Full… of… ham.”

And we have a lot of cupcakes coming up later this week. I need to run more.

I DVR’d the women’s marathon on Sunday and was able to watch most of it this morning. Muffin woke up early but Mike got her back to sleep. I was already awake so I got up to drink some coffee and watch the marathon. I can’t believe they ran a whole marathon in less time than it will take me to run half that distance.

I woke up this morning with the nagging feeling that I should be running, but then I remembered that I wanted to be home when Muffin woke up because it's her birthday and we'd put out her presents to surprise her.

Here’s the two-year-old birthday girl:

We’re having a quiet birthday today. She opened presents and requested a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast. I don’t feel the need to do anything too elaborate for someone who doesn’t know more elaborate things exist. I'm confident we've done just the right amount of what she can appreciate. She has a notion of what a birthday party is but I don’t know how much she understands about one coming up for her this weekend.

I think a run in the park with Muffin is in order for this afternoon. After we both have ham for lunch and then take naps.

03 August 2012

Green Smoothies and Excuses

This is my Pin-spiration for the week.
Last Saturday night Mike had to go out of town at the last minute and we didn’t know how long he was going to be gone. As of this writing, he’s booked on a flight for tonight. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but we know how things can change. He was supposed to come home last night, so I had to face a disappointed little Muffin this morning when she went through her list of who is home and who is not home when she woke up.

In the past week I’ve been frantically trying to keep up-to-date with my schoolwork (thanks to a generous extension from my professor) while providing Muffin with at least the minimum requirements of food, clean clothes, school, and fun time. She is tired of being passed off to our housekeeper for a couple hours every day, but she’ll survive. I have not been running. I have not been sewing. I have not been formulating the plan I need for making dozens of cupcakes and multiple colors of buttercream frostings for Muffin’s birthday party next week. (Mike will be home from work for a few days next week, so I’ll be putting him to work making goodie bags. He can also assemble her birthday present.) I think I can manage to finish sewing her party dress, too, if things go back to a more normal version of normal with Mike's return tonight.

I’ll have to slowly work back in to the half marathon training. I know I can do the distance and the first of the two races is still over three weeks away. I know I could have taken Muffin to the park with the jogging stroller or left her with the housekeeper for going to the gym to run on the treadmill. But I didn’t. It was the last thing on my mind. If I wasn’t working on my schoolwork or doing something wholesome for Muffin, I felt guilty. Even with our housekeeper’s help I was exhausted by the time Muffin went to bed each night. If she was asleep by 8:30, I was asleep by 9:00. I think I would have passed out in her bed each night if I’d added running to my daily schedule.

My first green smoothie.
Despite the stress of the last week we kept up with our healthy eating for the most part. Annie’s gluten-free macaroni and cheese made a few appearances throughout the week, but so did green smoothies. Muffin sipped from them (and she actually asked for carrots with dinner last night!). I don’t know if the Indian spinach has a stronger taste than American spinach or if everyone who says you can add enough fruit juice to cover up the spinach taste is a liar. Regardless of what I do, I always taste spinach. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s there. So, green smoothie drinkers, I dare you to tell me if you really don’t taste the spinach, or if you just don’t mind the taste of it, or if you suck it up and drink it anyway whether you like the taste or not.

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