We like the nightlife, we like to boogie.

Ian had his first Uber experience in Charleston.  He and our young driver talked "Call of Duty," and he was pleasantly surprised by both the speed and value.  Maddy encouraged us to rate our driver with 5 stars--apparently they have to get a certain number of good ratings to retain their jobs.  That, and not assault anybody.  

We arrived at The Gin Joint just in time to snag the last table.  The craft cocktails were surprisingly reasonably priced and delicious.  They had a selection called "bartender's choice" where you  chose two adjectives, i.e. fruity and nonalcoholic (Sophie) or spicy and smoky (Maddy) and they created something original.  I wish the food had matched the quality of the cocktails, but the ricotta stuffed meatball was dry and the donuts clearly suffered from underproofing.

Meatball disappointment aside, it was magical to wander the streets on an unseasonably warm December evening (coincidently our 19th anniversary).  We planned to rectify the substandard donut experience with a trip to Glazed Gourmet the next morning.

Make Mine Milk Bar

Maddy's 24th birthday was last week, and per tradition, she got to pick her meal and cake.  This cinnamon bun pie from Momofuku Milk Bar definitely skews breakfast so we killed two birds with one stone.  Or at least Sophie and Maddy did, Ian and I ate our share all at once after dinner.  We spent the day in "Koreatown" enjoying endless samples at the Shilla Bakery, scoring cosmetics at the Face Shop and coveting everything at a little shop that sold all the adorable Korean stationery we remembered from Seoul.  

While the girls binge-watched "Ink Masters," I finished the first of three pairs of ancient stitch mittens.  I lined them with some seriously spendy faux fur we got at G-street fabrics.  Super soft, but sheds like a chinchilla in a sauna.  I am waiting to vacuum until I have lined the other pairs.  My in-laws arrive this Friday and this is my deadline.  Currently in contention for Thanksgiving desserts are apple pie, chocolate haupia pie and grapefruit cake.  This sweet potato recipe also looks intriguing.   

We have yet to tire from eating recipes from Lucky Peach's " 101 Easy Asian Recipes."  It is easily my favorite cookbook purchase in recent memory.  Put it on your wish list. This is good weeknight cooking without sub recipes, and once you have acquired the basic ingredients, truly easy.  

Looking forward to Whitman Drama's production of Sweeny Todd, the Turkey Chase and the annual persimmon harvest.  Tonight it's leftovers and Project Runway since Ian is in Ft. Polk (they put the armpit in Army).  

You got peanut butter in my chocolate.

I felt like it would be hard to top our 2014 post Army Ten Miler meal at Le Diplomate, but our friends pulled out all the stops and put on an amazing brunch complete with bottomless champagne, foie gras pate, a bloody mary bar and an amazing charcuterie board.  I had promised to make a dessert, and this Dominque Ansel Paris-New York  pastry fit the bill.  I skipped the glazed peanut garnish. The other reason I chose this pastry was because our dear friends who have a daughter with a peanut allergy were visiting sans daughter!  

Luckily there was plenty of "do-ahead" and assembly was manageable with Ian and Sophie's help.   I texted Sophie from the Metro on the way home from the race and she sliced the pastries in half. Ian helped fill the piping bags.  That peanut butter mousse was really stiff!  I should have told Sophie to take it out of the fridge a bit earlier.  I think I would also stick with the traditional "cream puff" shape instead of the rings--they just didn't puff up as nicely.

The ten miler went much better than I had anticipated.  I was just under two minutes slower than 2014--good enough to be the second fastest on my team.  We placed 4th in the mixed master's division.  Ian and I hiked Old Rag with some new friends the next day, and I think that made me more sore than the race, to be honest.

As I write this post I have <3 hours til my call shift is over and "I get my life back."  I delivered 5 babies this week, including 2 that I had originally thought might need c-sections.  With a job like this, it's hard to complain about the loss of sleep.  Still hoping that phone doesn't ring though.....

The full manti.

I took some liberties with Gabrielle Hamilton's manti recipe.  Pictured below are the adult sized dumplings.  I made a few dozen of the regulation sized (1/4 of a wonton square!) before I realized I needed an assistant that would be willing to roll meatballs the size of a pea.  That assistant was not Ian.  Luckily the meatballs were very simple--just ground lamb.  I did not have any College Inn beef broth in the house so I subbed in TJ chicken broth and served on a bed of lettuce from the garden.  They were very, very delicious.  I made enough for a second round which I served with Prune's braised green cabbage with anchovies and garlic.  Don't be afraid of the anchovies, even Sophie couldn't discern any fishiness.

Ian is "happy to have his life back" after finishing his semi-annual physical fitness test this morning.  He and Sophie can celebrate with the Spam fried rice I left them for dinner.  I won't have my life back til Sunday with all the L&D time coming up.  Homecoming and the county cross-country championships are on October 24th.  Then Sophie can have her life back.  Maybe she can work at Williams Sonoma gift-wrapping for the holiday season and getting us a sweet employee discount.

Harris has started this year's persimmon harvest prematurely.

Harris has started this year's persimmon harvest prematurely.

Overproofing. Good for bourbon, bad for buns.

Good news. I don't have a rotator cuff tear.  Bad news: I might have a nerve injury.  Worse news: the way to diagnose a nerve injury is a an EMG.  Whilst Googling away, I discovered this youtube video which made me feel a lot less anxious.  I love how Dr. Smolinski jauntily places the needle in his own bicep!  Of course he's in the Army!  

My cardamom buns got slightly overproofed because I forgot to turn the oven off after setting it to the lowest temp.  Much of the butter leaked out as well.  I gave the better batch to the PT clinic and sent the one pictured with Sophie.  I figured a bunch of XC runners on a bus to Manhattan fall into the "beggars can't be choosers" category.  She will be gone <48 hours, but this is the list of food she packed:  the buns, 14 old-fashioned donuts, 2 apples, a pear, a peach, a granola bar, a large bag of cheddar popcorn, a ziplock bag of cereal, a granola bar,  half-eaten bags of Swedish fish and chocolate covered almonds, an airline snack leftover from Ian's latest trip, a mostly eaten bag of Oreos, 2 bottles of tea and a bottle of sports drink. She wanted to make sure I gave her enough money to buy "meals."  Additionally, she is hoping to make a stop at Momofuku Milk Bar.  Her glycogen stores will be on fleek.

The fabric of our lives.

Sophie and I checked out the Dominique Ansel cookbook and made this intermediate level recipe.  Very light, as advertised.  Make sure you allow to thaw completely as directed or the texture will suffer.  We renewed said cookbook, and at this point I don't have another bake planned.  It is beautifully photographed and pretty intimidating.  

Needless to say, I stuck with the Fika cookbook and made my physical therapist some cardamom buns.  I will bring them to my follow up appointment today, and hopefully she won't tell me I have a rotator cuff tear.  Nearly three weeks of no Crossfit.  It is depressing.  My running has benefitted greatly.  Maybe the Army Ten Miler this weekend will give me a much-needed morale boost.  

I also checked out Prune--very favorably reviewed by Jennifer Reese, and likely my next cookbook purchase.   So far we have enjoyed the bacon marmalade sandwiches, the soft cooked zucchini with green onions and poblanos, and the sesame biscuits.  Maddy was in town for a photonics conference, and she gave her Chinese co-worker some of the sesame biscuits.  He loved them and said, "I can put the whole thing in my mouth."  I think referring to the fact that they are not too sweet.  She sent him the recipe.  You can find it here.  I did not have to mist the dough to get the sesame seeds to stick.  Honestly, I wouldn't have anyway.  Next on my "to make" list is the manti--impossibly teensy dumplings filled with lamb.  How teensy?  You make each dumpling with 1/4 tsp. ground meat and 1/4 of a wonton wrapper.  I will try to get a photo if I pull it off without explosion.

Pain, pain go away.

I had a set back Monday night complete with another tearful early morning trip to the ER.  This time I had to drive myself so no narcotics--just IV toradol and a lidocaine patch.  I am unbelievably grateful for the Army physical therapy clinic who expedited my appointment for later that day.  Maddy drove back up to help out and my coworkers stepped in and covered a shift for me.  The pain has been intermittently severe and unpredictable.  The general trend has been improvement, but when I feel it start to escalate in the slightest I find myself increasingly anxious.  It is the kind of pain that is all-consuming--when it's there, I feel like it will never go away, and when it's gone I am just waiting for it to come back.  It is exhausting.  I find myself napping almost daily--partly due to poor sleep at night, but mostly because I feel wrung out.  I have not been back to Crossfit (the thought of lifting anything overhead makes me shudder), but the PT cleared me for running.  Interestingly, the pain is almost completely gone after the first mile.  I get 45 minutes of normal each day during my run.

My physical therapy treatment has included dry needling with and without e-stim.  For someone who is a pretty significant needle-phobic, I signed the consent form for treatment with no hesitation whatsoever.  The needles are so thin you barely notice the insertion.  When they hit a trigger point it's like an instant charley horse--this fatigues the muscle and allows it to relax.  The final read on the MRI was good news--all just age-related changes, no acute process.  I am hopeful that this pain will continue its downward trajectory.  It's been >48 hours since I've had a Percocet, and I'll be done with my steroid taper tomorrow.  

Things that made me happy this week: cashew cheese, vegan chocolate cake (I ate two pieces), running, Maddy, Sophie and Cyrus binge-watching Project Runway with me, my rice sock, and the love and care from family and friends.  I will leave you with this picture that probably needs a trigger warning....

The good, the bad and the really bad.

We had a great time at the Hershey RV show, and I think we have decided on our future new RV.   It will have to wait until Ian is out of the Army, and by then the house in Hawaii will be paid off along with the car.  Pictured below is the Itasca/Winnebago Navion 24J.  This had the best floor plan, and we hadn't even considered it initially because we thought the corner bed would be too small.  I quickly determined that the U-shaped dinette was a must-have, because, Bananagrams.  It has a cab-over bed, and I anticipate we could sleep up to 6 people.   The Winnebago Minnie Winnie 31K was a close second until we talked with somebody who owned a smaller model.  They loved it, but the 6-7 mpg fuel economy was a deal-breaker.  The Navion is built on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis and gets 15-17 mpg.  It has optional solar panels and a generator for camping off the grid.  We will replace the toilet with a composting model.   Our hope is to spend a year off traveling North America before heading to Hawaii.  The RV would stay in the mainland and be used initially for vacations with the kids and possibly for extended travel once we are totally retired.  

We got home from the show in time to go to Sophie's XC pasta dinner.  The Milk Bar cookies we brought were well received.  I was so looking forward to attending her first meet, but I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating neck/shoulder/arm pain.  When 800 mg of ibuprofen and a 5 year old Vicodin that I had hoarded from a previous ER visit did't touch it we decided to go to the ER.   As we suspected, the MRI showed a disc bulge at C6--confirming our working diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy.  After a total of 10 mg IV valium, 3 mg of dilaudid and some IV decadron I was functional.  By functional,  I mean I was able to go to sleep for a couple of hours while awaiting the MRI results.  The ER team was great, especially my nurse who expedited my pain meds and got my IV with the first try.  There are likely some baked goods in their future.  I was sent home with valium/percocet/ibuprofen and a medrol dose pack.  I will hold off on Crossfit for a few days until I get in to see the doctor/physical therapist.  My personal physical therapist left for Alaska on Sunday and won't be back for a week.  

Maddy and a few of her friends were in town for the Small Press Expo, and I felt well enough later in the day on Saturday to cook some Korean food (kalbi, samgyeopsal, chap jae).  We had champagne to celebrate our family.  Sophie had a bad day at the races (her time was still 33 sec faster than last year...), Maddy just missed passing an important test, and I had been through the wringer, but we were all together and, aside from my neck issue, healthy.  

As I type this, I suspect the IV decadron has run its course because the neck pain is back.  I had to take a percocet on top of the ibuprofen and steroid pills.  Counting the hours until I can call for my appointment and remembering weird dreams about being in the hospital with a c-collar made out of socks.  There was a petting zoo in the hospital atrium with guinea pigs, chickens and rabbits.  And that was before I took the percocet.

Are you even Paleo?

Rustled up some caveman pancakes recently.  From Juli Bauer's Paleo Cookbook, these are the "mini cinnamon pancakes."  They were surprisingly light and delicious.  I am not sure if they are in any way better than regular pancakes with respect to their effects on blood sugar levels, but I did use less maple syrup on top possibly because I knew they were allegedly healthier.  

Am I healthier?  Who knows.  I'll probably recheck my hemoglobin A1C in November.  I improved my time on a recent workout by >1 minute (3 rounds of 10 thrusters/10 burpees over bar) and got a new 5 rep max on my bench press (78#).  I had a particularly hideous call on Labor Day.  At one point I had two patients in labor, one in triage and one on prolonged monitoring for a worrisome fetal heart rate tracing.  That's when I ate 1/2 of a salted almond dark chocolate bar.  I gave the rest to my colleague who totally saved my butt by delivering a "stop and drop."  That's labor and delivery speak for someone who comes in and shoots a baby out rapidly.  When someone asks me "how do you stay up for 24 hours and function?" I can honestly say it's the people, and sugar + caffeine.  People who work in hospitals aren't Paleo.

I came home, ate some turkey and then went to Crossfit.  I spent the rest of the day on the couch sleeping on and off during a Project Runway binge.  

I am looking forward to the following: Kelly Clarkson at Wolf Trap, the Hershey RV show, Sophie's first XC meet, and Maddy's arrival with a bunch of her friends for a small-press book show.  We are going to have beef and leaf.  Paleo.  We are also going to have some fantastic dessert to balance things out.  Sophie and I checked out Dominque Ansel's cookbook at the library.  He's the cronut inventor.  The book is divided into beginner/intermediate/advanced recipes.  We are firmly in the beginner-intermediate category.  I'm not sure what we are making, but it will be cheat-worthy.

Tostones. Green plantain fried in coconut oil.  Will make again.

Tostones. Green plantain fried in coconut oil.  Will make again.

Keep on runnin'

Ironically, now that I decided to defer the marathon, I have actually enjoyed my last few runs.  Sunday I did 8.5 miles and then a Crossfit partner WOD.  Up until yesterday, the cooler weather had also been more conducive to a run at a decent hour of the morning.  I still have that Army Ten-Miler coming up October 11th.  Still semi-dreading it.  My achilles has finally calmed down, but I am reluctant to add any speedwork at this point.  Hoping the high intensity stuff at Crossfit will keep me quick.

I am very interested to see how the dietary adjustments I am making play out in relation to my fitness.  I grudgingly admit that (mostly) eliminating the white sugar and white flour from my diet this last week has made me crave them less.  I had a post-call cheat day yesterday.  It was initiated by a 4:00 a.m. snack of 2 slices of bread and 2 graham crackers, stress-eaten while watching a troublesome fetal monitor strip.  Dug the hole deeper with won-ton strips and some of the honeybee cakes Sophie and I made last week.  Back on track this morning and making a Buffalo Chicken casserole for dinner tonight.  I also threw together the sesame-peanut bars from this month's BA.  I subbed almond butter and almonds for the peanuts because peanuts are legumes, not Paleo.  Obsessive.  This will surely change.  There is no way I am giving up dairy, or BEER!

Sophie's XC time trials were this past Saturday and she equalled her time from last year despite not attending running camp this summer.  Maybe it's the new haircut.  Ian got some (100+) good pictures, and we are all lamenting the possible loss of a beautiful space.  The property has been sold to a developer, and I am sure the latest McMansion development will be a death knell for this course that the team has been using for >15 years.  It's sad to think about future generations of Vikings who will miss out on the tradition of time trials at "the Towers." 

Hook 'em horns

Maddy and Michael came for the weekend, and we enjoyed a trip to the Montgomery County Fair complete with pig races, quilt competitions and fried Oreos.  Michael actually ordered one of those hamburgers that have Krispy Kreme donut buns.  It was OK.   The rabbit barn was awesome--but you cannot bring balloons into the barn.  Rabbits hate balloons.  We watched a woman use a chainsaw create some sort of log art.  We did not eat funnel cakes. We did not ride any vomit-inducing rides.  

Sophie had her cross-country BBQ later that night which allowed the adults to eat poke and pork dumplings for dinner.  We almost destroyed my three tier steamer by allowing it to boil completely dry.  The pork dumpling recipe was beyond delicious.  I got the pork at a Chinese grocery, and let me tell you, it was FATTY!  The dumplings fairly exploded when you bit into them.     I did omit the shrimp and just added more pork, and we steamed instead of boiling due to concerns about their integrity.  

After the debauchery of the weekend I logged onto my healthcare website to discover that my hemoglobin A1C was 6.1%!   That is pre diabetes range.  WTF.  I am currently finishing my 4th day without bread.  I had a chicken biscuit without the biscuit today.  I bought two Paleo cookbooks.  Sophie got a haircut.  The apocalypse is nigh.

One last picture of me eating carbs.

One last picture of me eating carbs.

Little Creek Camping Weekend

We finally dragged the old Scamp down I-95 to Norfolk and the campground at Little Creek for Ian's birthday weekend.  For $22/night we had sun, fun and a mud run.  After setting up camp, we discovered they had a gym with a complete Crossfit rig and a beach less than two miles from the campsite.  We had dinner at 1608 Crafthouse, arriving in time for happy hour oysters and local beers.

Literally the best weather we had the whole trip.

Literally the best weather we had the whole trip.

The food, with the exception of a mediocre bread pudding, was great--fried green tomato BLT for me, pork shoulder Cuban for Sophie, and a lamb burger for Ian.  Ian and I woke up early and hit the gym where I convinced him to do some Crossfit with me for two days in a row-including Fight Gone Bad!

Click here to find the one trick to staying this pale....

Click here to find the one trick to staying this pale....

Maddy and Cyrus decided to stop by on their way back from the Outer Banks and enjoyed some beach time with us.  The weather went downhill from there with intermittent wind and rain.  We bought a Nerf football and a frisbee to occupy ourselves and signed up on the spur of the moment for the "mud" run.  There was a lot of sand involved.  Sophie placed first in her age-group, I placed second in mine, and Ian placed third.  Podium for all the Lees!  We ate enough pizza to recoup some of our entry fee, and to be honest, the weather was perfect for running.  The last morning we snuck in some beach time before packing it in.  Every time we camp I think to myself, "why don't we do this more often?"  and "why did I make so many Spam musubi?"  I think Ian finally has me convinced to spend some time post-retirement in a bigger RV.  Maddy can install solar, and we can go off the grid.  We can travel around the country visiting family and friends, do Spartan races and be totally ready for the zombie apocalypse.

Mud-free and eating his 6th slice of free pizza.

Mud-free and eating his 6th slice of free pizza.

Drove my Chevy to the levee.

If you are not a shaved ice dessert fanatic like the Lees, the following picture of Ian's frozen treat may not make you feel simultaneously jealous and joyful.  I would have done 50+ burpees to slurp one of these down after the Spartan Sprint we did yesterday.  I did chug down a Muscle Milk + banana + Clif builder's bar before I even washed my muddy mitts.  Despite being on the course 2X longer than anticipated, I really, really enjoyed this race.  I need to work on those monkey bar skills.

There were a lot of up and downs in the woods, and our hike to Hazel Falls the previous weekend was good preparation.  We got an early start and were almost the only people on the trail.  If only  it hadn't been all downhill to the falls--I might have taken the plunge.  I was definitely hot and sweaty by the time we got back to the car and that parking lot was totally full.  

These Target photo studio backdrops look soo realistic!

These Target photo studio backdrops look soo realistic!

On the way home we stopped at Copper Fox Distillery for a tour and whiskey tasting and left in high spirits, with a bottle of spirits (rye).  Since The Inn at Little Washington doesn't do lunch we made do with burgers and fries at Cooter's.  A "Dukes of Hazzard" themed restaurant which, frighteningly, is a chain. I am very, very glad we weren't there this weekend for "fly your rebel flag day." 

Those good old boys drinking whiskey and rye.

Those good old boys drinking whiskey and rye.

Fantastic.

Fantastic.