10.12.2010

Lapsed Athlete



Today was my first workout in almost a week, and I was dreading it.  Last week, in the throes of a mysterious bout of exhaustion, I decided to forgo my Zumba class in favour of getting to bed really early and getting some sleep.  And sleep I did, for almost 24 hours, getting up only to use the bathroom, and eat a couple of bowls of soup.  And after a frantic Friday spent catching up on my backlog at work, I was grateful for the long Columbus Day weekend, most of which I spent in bed, in a near-comatose state.

You would think that I would have leaped from my bed this morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take on the world.  But alas, my tail was not the least bit bushy, in fact, it was dragging.  It dragged all day, impervious to all the caffeine I consumed and all the internal motivational speeches I gave myself.  I forced myself to the gym tonight, and pounded out my hour on the treadmill, fighting all the way.

I'd like to thank my fellow gym-members for not calling the guys with the butterfly nets to come get me, as I cursed, grumbled and begged myself not to quit, while visions of fluffy pillows and plush blankets danced in my head.  Even after I left the gym, I continued to grumble still, as I slogged through the grocery shopping, and shoved some randomly selected food items into the oven (not at all sure how that little experiment is going to turn out).

But hey, if I've got enough energy to do all this complaining, I can't be that tired, right?  I guess I'm making progress..

Today's magic number : 59

10.10.2010

Dinner : Ghost Pepper Chili



In a large, heavy pan over medium-high heat, soften a large chopped onion, some minced garlic and a chopped green pepper.  Add 2 pounds of ground meat (I used a mixture of beef and lamb), salt, a tablespoon of ground cumin, a tablespoon of paprika, 3 or 4 tablespoons of chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon of ghost pepper flakes.  Stir, breaking up any lumps with a spoon, until the meat is browned.

Add an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, and the same amount of water and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender.  Then add 2 cups of butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes, and a 29 oz. can of black beans (drained and rinsed), cover and simmer until the squash is cooked through.  If you find the chili becoming too dry and in danger of scorching during the simmering process, add some water  (or beer if you're feeling wild).  Serve over brown rice and top as desired with sour cream or Greek yogurt, shredded cheddar, sliced scallion, diced fresh tomato, etc.

Warning:
Ghost pepper is the hottest pepper in the world (as of this writing), and if you're not sure how you will react to it, add just 1/4 teaspoon at first.  If you find that it's not fiery enough for your taste, add some more in very small increments and allow time for the flavours to permeate the chili before tasting again.  The heat can be very mild a few seconds after you add the flakes yet you may find that 10 minutes down the line, you're stuck with an incendiary, inedible mess, so please proceed with caution!

10.09.2010

Dinner : Pork Chops with Whole Wheat Pasta and Broccoli


Cook some whole wheat pasta in boiling salted water, remove from heat and drain while still slightly undercooked.  While the pasta is cooking, season some thin-sliced pork chops with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Cook in a bit of olive oil, in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side.  Remove the pork chops and set aside.  Add fresh broccoli to the same pan and cook for about 5 minutes.  Then add the drained pasta and a 15oz. can of diced tomatoes and cook until the pasta and has reached the desired texture.  Serve the pasta mixture topped with the pork chops.

If you have any leftovers, this is great the next day as a pasta salad (dice the leftover pork chops and mix in with the pasta).  Tastes delicious hot or cold.

10.02.2010

Some Like it Hot

It all started out as a rather ordinary Saturday afternoon, as my sweetie and I decided to take advantage of one of the long-standing seasonal events in our area, and made our way to the Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brookyn Botanic Garden.  Knowing that the fiesta is usually very popular regardless of the weather, we decided to get an early start, in order to avoid the inevitable crowds.  This turned out to be a wise move, as we were greeted not only by an entrance free of lines snaking around the block, but also by the lovely Pepper Sisters (later christened Belle Pepper and Holly Peño by the loopy MC at the main music stage).

 
As far as sweetie was concerned, our first order of business was to secure some Brooklyn Chili and a good spot on the lawn, both of which were accomplished with minimal fuss, since the gardens were still fairly empty at this point.


We lay around on the lawn enjoying what turned out to be a wonderfully warm day, listening to all the great music and clearing our sinuses with some fiery chili, then after an hour or so we decided to venture into the music tent to get a closer look at the band on stage, the fabulous Red Baraat.  It was at this point that our afternoon took a turn for the bizarre!

One of the MCs was making his way through the crowd and he approached my sweetie with a large plastic bucket, and asked him if he was willing to simply hold on to it for a while until they asked for it during their intermission show.  It seemed like a reasonable request, but of course my curious eye continued to follow the man as he continued through the crowd, handing out buckets.  And even though the spectators were a very mixed bag indeed, he seemed to be selecting a certain 'type' for this bucket-minding duty : young, tall, athletic-looking men.  I began to suspect that he had a bit more in mind than simply collecting the buckets from these men and proceeding with his show, and I anticipated that there was something far more interesting in store for my sweetie than what he had in mind, so I did what any good girlfriend would have done - I kept my mouth shut!

A few minutes later, my silence was rewarded as I witnessed a hilarious demonstration of a 'trust exercise' starring my darling (first man on the left) and three other unsuspecting young men.  Please forgive the shaky video, as it's very difficult to hold a camera steady when you're doubled over with laughter.

video

Needless to say, being recruited to perform some acrobatic stunts with a group of strangers while a couple of fire-eating clowns perch above you is not what you expect from your ordinary Saturday afternoon.  But lately, Saturday afternoons don't seem to be very ordinary around here, and I'm quite grateful for that!