Harris's New Do

We are getting used to our shorn dog.  He got a lot of attention on our recent trip to Asheville, and was definitely lower maintenance post-hiking. 

Its MY birthday

It was a day to remember replete with Spam musubi for breakfast, burgers on the grill for dinner and a beautiful birthday cake from a local Korean bakery.  Sophie and Ian were gone for most of the morning preparing, and other than the text asking me "what was the name of that Korean bakery," the day was full of lovely surprises.

Not pictured is the afternoon spent on the river at Riley's Lock, my favorite place to drop a kayak in for a serene paddle.    Just shy of my 5th decade and feeling grateful for my health, my family and friends, and the adventures to come.

Guava chiffon cake from the Shilla Bakery

Guava chiffon cake from the Shilla Bakery

I went to visit Maddy at the farm to continue the birthday celebration at the Abundant Seed where she is interning for the summer.  I weeded, collected eggs, herded goats.  We kayaked, antique shopped, had dinner in Charlottesville, and browsed at Anthropologie.  Maddy bought me "Around The World in 80 Dishes," and I made the mussels steamed in Guinness for Ian and I when I got home. I stopped at the Barboursville Vineyards on the way home (my stomach nicely lined with a Waffle House breakfast) and wished I had time to enjoy a full tasting session.  I came away with a few bottles for the "cellar"--2 each of the 2013 Chardonnay Reserve, 2011 Nebiollo Reserve and 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve.

Spam musubi, it's what's for breakfast.

Spam musubi, it's what's for breakfast.

July 4th

I will detail the Crossfit Daily Medicine July 4th smack down in a separate post, but suffice it to say, I was working on one hour of sleep post night shift.  These crazy sunglasses were mostly to hide the giant bags under my eyes.

'Murica

'Murica

After the workout, I powered through without napping fueled by friendship, wine and a sparklingly clear day.  We sipped Brad and Angelina's crisp rose while watching the kids try out Sophie's new throwing knives.  It took them no time at all to destroy two pizza boxes taped together, but I fear we are not yet ready for the zombie apocalypse. 

In the kitchen with Kerrie.

In the kitchen with Kerrie.

The dinner menu was a mix of American and Korean with kalbi, Brookville Hotel coleslaw, potato salad, burrata with tomatoes, pumpkin cheesecake and blueberry slab pie.

Blueberry slab pie.

Blueberry slab pie.

Even though we were able to get to and from the fireworks last year in under 3 hours, I was way too tired to contemplate the slog on the metro this year.  We settled for sparklers in the backyard.

Happy Birthday America!

Happy Birthday America!

Western Maryland Weekend

Just two weeks after the Ragnar Trail debacle, we headed west again to spend a weekend with our friends at their condo in Deep Creek Lake.  The weather was much more conducive to hiking, swimming and enjoying the great outdoors. 

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My favorite hike was at  Swallow Falls State Park where an easy 2 mile loop passed by multiple waterfalls and swimming holes.  Famished after dropping nearly all our Chex Mix, we treated ourselves to ice cream at the end of the trail.    

I cooked up a batch of  carnitas  and brought all the fixings.  Avocados are in short supply, possibly due to the Mexican drug cartels, so here is my recipe for socially conscious green salsa:

1 Poblano chile

2-4 tomatillos

2 large cloves garlic

1/2 large white onion

one cup cilantro, lightly packed

olive oil

salt

Preheat grill or broiler and roast chile and tomatillos until well charred.  Remove skin from chile.  Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until evenly pureed.  Adjust seasonings as needed.

Crepes for Dinner

We haven't been camping yet this summer due to a variety of other commitments.  Cooking and dining outdoors is one of my favorite things about camping.  Our new tradition this summer has been Sunday meals in the backyard.  The weather and bugs have been much improved vs. summer 2013, and we continue to pat ourselves on the back for keeping the canopy up.

Sophie left for Camp Letts today, and I will head down to visit Maddy at The Abundant Seed on Tuesday.  We had a great visit with good friends from Kansas, en route to their new duty station in Richmond.  Our children have known each other literally more than half their lives.  There are no friends like old friends.  Pictures will be forthcoming.  It made 4th of July (our nation's birthday) and 5th of July (my birthday) extra special.

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Tonight Ian and I had a salad that included our first tomato and zucchini from the garden.  Seems like summer is already passing by too quickly.  Looking forward to our trip to Asheville later this month and reconnecting with another great friend from Korea while Sophie attends the Nike Smoky Mountain running camp.  

Freshman year, check!

Freshman year, check!

The Return of the Ginito

Alas, mulberry season is over.  We had enough to make a sweet cocktail, but the yogurt mulberry cake will have to wait til next year.  You could easily substitute blackberries.

That's a white mulberry in there, not some sort of grub.

That's a white mulberry in there, not some sort of grub.

I made a mulberry simple syrup by adding about a cup of mulberries to one cup water + one cup sugar, simmering until the berries broke down, then straining.  As you can imagine, do not wear white while preparing or drinking these cocktails.  

Gentle muddling with a tiny rolling pin.

Gentle muddling with a tiny rolling pin.

Mulberry Ginitos

1.5 oz gin

1 oz mulberry simple syrup

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

6 mint leaves per drink, along with a few berries

Seltzer or sparkling water

Muddle berries/mint.  Fill glass with ice. Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Top with some seltzer.  

Catch and release fireflies.

Catch and release fireflies.

Virginia Wine Country

Ian and I took a little trip to the Little Washington Winery in Virginia one weekend to use our Groupon for "wine boot camp."  They provided us a small lunch along with generous tastings of at least a dozen wines.  The proprietors were warm and friendly, and we walked out with several interesting bottles of wine.  We shared the bottle of Sawtooth Skyline Red with my mother and father-in-law on a recent weekend, and I am wishing we had bought another already.  

Ian has caught the wine bug and now has an iPhone app and Kevin Zraly's Complete Wine Course on order.  Keep your eyes open for a wine section in the blog soon where there will be tasting notes and possibly many pictures of yours truly holding a glass of wine and looking happy and slightly buzzed.

Virginia in Virginia.

Virginia in Virginia.

Fathers Day 2014

No pictures of Ian, his awesome hammock or our brunch food at DGS.  Just his two favorite women, voluntarily posing for a photo.  A Father's Day miracle.

Ragnar Trail Race Report

We should have realized that standstill traffic on I-70 and a police car towing a raft did not bode well for course conditions.  After a white-knuckled ride to the Ragnar Trail Appalachians,  there was a break in the rain that allowed us to set up our campsite on a beautiful patch of mud.  

Base camp.

Base camp.

Friday morning dawned wet and cold.  We rustled up coffee and PB&Js at the campsite and headed into "the village" to check in our teams.  Pam and I did requisite volunteer shift as transition tent security.  The free Ragnar beanie we earned became my constant companion for the remainder of the trip.  It kept my head warm, and concealed my hair that would not see a shower for more than 48 hours.

Why so cold June?

Why so cold June?

Looking for mud in all the wrong places.

Looking for mud in all the wrong places.

Just in time for my first and shortest loop it was all sunshine and lollipops.  The trail was still a bit sloppy from the previous day's rain, and the race director was forecasting an end of the bad weather by 5 p.m.  I would have enjoyed feeling overheated and sweaty a bit more if I had know what was to come....We were all sitting around the camp, our third runner on the course when a volunteer drove by our campsite and said "a storm is coming."  It came and it kicked our butts.  We spent the better part of the next two hours shivering and holding onto our canopies and tents.  

My second (and longest loop) went off at 10 p.m.  I spent 97 terrifying minutes running 6.7 miles through the dark.  The trail would have been technical in daylight and without all the mud.  It took me almost 20 minutes to "run" the 2nd mile--and, no, I didn't spend 10 of those minutes in the fetal position rocking and moaning.

I was able to get a little shut eye (thank you Big Agnes down sleeping bag) before my last loop despite the fool who thought it would be a good idea to bring their baby camping.  One of my teammates had to withdraw due to a fall that caused a stitches-requiring knee laceration, allowing our team to DNF gracefully.  I completed my last loop in brilliant sunshine through knee-high ferns and pine-needle cushioned comfort.   After our drive home I went to bed at 7:30 and slept  all night.  And just like child-birth I'm already remembering the good parts and forgetting the cold and misery.  

Victory!

Victory!

Chocolate Cherry Scones

I checked Thomas Keller's "Bouchon Bakery" out at our local library.  Sophie wants me "to make everything in it."  It is a monster.  See this two star review on Amazon:

Bouchon Bakery, January 2, 2013 

arlene - See all my reviews

Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Bouchon Bakery (Hardcover)

The recipes are wonderful but I am elderly and the book is too heavy for me.
I have visited the Boucheon Bakery in Napa.

If you have never cooked from one of Keller's books, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, or in the case of these scones, waiting around.  I baked this hurriedly before my call began a few weekends ago.  Macerate cherries overnight?  Nope.  Chill dough for 2 hours prior to scooping?  Seriously?  And then chill it again for another 2 hours before baking?  I chilled the scooped dough for like an hour prior to baking.  Didn't glaze them either.

Stunning results even sans all that chilling....

Stunning results even sans all that chilling....

I paired them with smoothies in our garage sale Ed Hardy glasses, appropriate because I have been to the Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas.  They were delicious.  If I had done all that chilling these scones would have been ready about the time I had to go to the hospital and labor somebody into the next day. 

Swanky garage sale glass.

Swanky garage sale glass.

Memorial Day Murph

In case you don't have a Crossfitter in your life, here's an explanation of why we Murph.  I was lucky to have a supportive husband to come document a Crossfit milestone for me.  Thanks as well to Tough Temple Crossfit for hosting.

Jenni and I pre-Murph.  The last time I smiled until it was over.

Jenni and I pre-Murph.  The last time I smiled until it was over.

Pre-Murph briefing.

Pre-Murph briefing.

Following Coach Steve's suggestion, I scaled the workout.  No 20 lb. weight vest for me, each exercise broken up into a number of rounds, and band-assisted pull-ups.

It begins.

It begins.

Bodies in motion.

Bodies in motion.

My buddy, James, pictured above mid pull-up did the workout straight through: 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air-squats.

Coach Steve in his appropriately patriotic Chubbies.

Coach Steve in his appropriately patriotic Chubbies.

The shirt is off so we know it just got real for Andy.

The shirt is off so we know it just got real for Andy.

Andy, now known as "Speed Monkey" can be seen in the foreground crushing a set of push-ups.  I'm about 3 rounds behind him on my squats in the background.

I can be seen tallying my latest round.  I don't know how people kept track without a tally.

I can be seen tallying my latest round.  I don't know how people kept track without a tally.

Pam making sure she doesn't get "no repped" for her push-ups.  Crossfit push-ups call for the chest to touch the ground every rep.

Pam making sure she doesn't get "no repped" for her push-ups.  Crossfit push-ups call for the chest to touch the ground every rep.

When all was said and done, Andy and I were the first male and female to finish.  He went 35:01, and I went 42:12.  I was sore for days.  I can't wait to do it again.  I couldn't have done it without Coach Steve and all of my Crossfit Daily Medicine peeps who made all those mornings suffering in the Loft so worth it.

Post-Murph and able to smile again.

Post-Murph and able to smile again.

Foxy

Riding to Crossfit yesterday morning I spied what I initially thought was a cat sitting in a driveway.  On closer inspection, it proved to be the adorable gentleman pictured below.  He allowed me a couple of photos before dashing under a nearby parked car.  Foxes are TINY, and seriously cute.  I hope I see him again, unless he's rabid.

You're fantastic!

You're fantastic!

At Crossfit I tried really hard for the first 5 rounds of the workout to do double under jump ropes (rope passes under you twice with each jump) before I gave up.  I will practice my jump roping at the hospital on Saturday where I am likely to be imprisoned all day.  We have a cook out to attend on Sunday, and I'm probably going to bring that old standby broccoli salad.  I know I won't have the energy for a more creative effort.

I bought David Lebovitz's cookbook, "My Paris Life" last weekend at the farmer's market because he was there on his book tour.  At last, some inspiration.  My family is officially done with leftover taco fixings.  I made the caramel pork ribs yesterday and served them with fattoush.  I did substitute Stacy's pita chips for the pita bread crisps in the recipe, and I totally forgot to add the sumac.  Sophie said, "This is all so good," in a seemingly surprised tone of voice.  Subtext: finally, a real dinner.  She was right, it was a delicious meal.  Worth having to turn on the A/C because the ribs took two hours to cook in the oven.  Tonight before I leave for my overnight shift we will have the chicken with mustard.  

For those of you wondering what an anime convention get up looks like, Sophie's birthday presents arrived.  Sans wig, but still impressive.

Convention-ready.

Convention-ready.

Mother's Day Brunch

I am sitting outside under my white trash gazebo and wishing my girls were inside repeating last Sunday's brunch menu.  There was hushed discussion, a semi-secret trip to the grocery store, and banishment from the kitchen culminating in the best meal a mom could have.

No stressful reservation-making or trying to decide whether I wanted to go sweet or savory.  I had it all last Sunday: smoked salmon Benedict, home-made pop-tarts, perfectly crisp bacon, and Virgin Marys.  When your kids have the kitchen chops to make a great hollandaise, they are also more than capable of doing the dishes.

My presents included a scented geranium plant, farm fresh eggs from Maddy's farm and a bagful of mint.  Oh, and the absence of a chicken, because a live chicken(s) apparently didn't make the short list.  The best present of all was their presence.  We hung out all morning, reading the paper, doing the crossword, picking out boots and an anime convention dress for Sophie's birthday, and I crushed everybody at Bananagrams.  And, no, they didn't let me win.

Birthday Baked Goods Part Deux

Sophie finally decided on a dress and boots for her birthday, and she didn't let me forget that we had yet to do a birthday cake for her.  At her doctor's appointment for her camp physical yesterday, she officially outgrew me.  

The taco party was a huge success, if by success you mean nobody left hungry, children didn't want to leave, and nothing caught on fire.  We set up our camping gazebo which saved us from the intermittent rain.  We left it up and bought another one for the camper after we realized how nice it is to sit on the patio in the shade.  Maddy made the carnitas for me, a huge help since I spent a good part of the day cheering Sophie on at her last track meet of the season.  She ran a PR in the mile (6:13), probably due to my vigorous cow bell ringing.  Our menu this year also included the best and easiest tres leches cake I have ever made.  The recipe is here, and I am proud to say it was contributed by my friend Abby from Austin.

Birthday Muffins

Sophie's 15th birthday was this Thursday, and she requested a sweet breakfast treat to bring to school with her.  Have you made donut muffins?  You should, but you shouldn't fool yourself that they are in any way healthier than donuts.  I used this recipe, and I did dunk them in melted butter.  I think they are probably best warm, but this tray came home empty so day-old is likely just as delicious.

In preparation for our Taco party 2.0 I have been keeping the refrigerator pretty bare.  I took this opportunity to throw out a bunch of stuff including a quart jar of preserved lemons.  Note to self, make a smaller jar next time.  I took a picture of the interior of my newly cleaned and organized shelves.  I can't tell you how many times I opened the door just so I could gaze lovingly at my handiwork.  The garage fridge remains a mess, stuffed with pounds and pounds of pork shoulder destined to become carnitas, queso fresco, tortillas, tomatillos, hibiscus tea and beef for bulgogi.  I hope people show up.  I hope not too many people show up and I run out of food.  I hope it doesn't rain.  I hope all the avocados I bought are perfectly ripe.  This will all seem easier with that first margarita in hand, right?

Mmmmmmmmm

You have a few hours in NYC before your bus home, what do you do?  Duh, donuts.

Don't be fooled by her expression, this is Sophie's Valhalla.

Don't be fooled by her expression, this is Sophie's Valhalla.

This is the Doughnut Plant in Chelsea, and we chose to spend another morning acquiring fried dough.  No long line, plenty of flavors to choose from.  Don't pick the coffee cake donut if you don't like coffee, by the way.  I thought it would like a streusel coffee cake.  I was wrong. Sophie was angry, then happy because she got to buy another donut.

Gramercy Tavern

I'm going to let the pictures speak a thousand words, because it would be hard to do Gramercy Tavern justice with words alone.  The best meal we had in NYC.   From the service to the decor to the food, everything was on point.

Combined with our morning trip to the Frick Museum, this was our classiest day.  

A change in the weather and a bowl of noodles.

I am woefully behind with my NYC posts, so I am going to knock out a bunch in one sitting, quality be damned.

After our trip to the 9-11 Memorial, we split up with Ian heading to a TKS outlet in South Street Seaport and Sophie and I braving the Century 21 store with its 5 levels of designer bargains.

Sophie got the long black trench coat she has been dreaming about, and it served her well for the remainder of the day as the weather deteriorated into a blustery steady rain, ultimately ending with driving sleet as we walked home from our Broadway show.  Despite the cruddy weather, we managed 9.6 miles of foot travel.

We all ordered the Hakata classic ramen at Ippudo.  Probably the best bowl of tonkotsu ramen I've had since Hakata Bunko in Seoul.  Like most ramen joints we were greated with shouts in Japanese, and gently encouraged to finish our meal ASAP.  We rounded out our afternoon with a trip to a baking supply store, Dylan's Candy Bar, and the corner store where we bought a giant bottle of beer to share in our room while waiting to see "Rock of Ages."

We were pleasantly surprised that the Helen Hayes theater was small enough that even our discounted seats afforded us decent views of the production.  This was the perfect show to take our teenager to see: we enjoyed the music that brought us back to our high school days, and she enjoyed the sophomoric humor.  Actually we all enjoyed the sophomoric humor because who doesn't like a good fart joke?

Katz's Deli

After scoring cronuts on Monday morning, we went the savory route for breakfast on Tuesday.  It was the beginning of a downward weather spiral with grey skies and drizzle, and we set off early on the #6 train to get a head start on the hoards I was sure would be lining up outside Katz's.

No hoards, but the food was plentiful.  Ian and I split a Reuben and bowl of matzoh ball soup, and Sophie had latkes and a chocolate egg cream.  Hearty and filling, yes.  The best I've ever had?  No, and not by a long shot for the Reuben.  That award goes to DGS deli in Dupont Circle.  In my humble, non-Jewish, non-New Yorker opinion, this sandwich should be grilled.  We didn't even finish the matzoh ball--it didn't live up to the ones at the Parkway Deli in Silver Spring.  Maybe there is a reason it wasn't crowded.

Walking back to the subway we stumbled on this beautiful thing on the side of a random building.  A goofy interlude before our trip to the 9-11 Memorial site, which was somber and grey and emotionally draining.