Since you been gone.

The night before Ian and Sophie got back I had a dream that the house was instantly filthy and cluttered.  When I told Ian, he said, "Not really a dream if it is reality."  Apparently, Sophie is "garbage blind" (her words)--a condition characterized by the inability to see overflowing recycling bins.

The fun has been non-stop since their return.  "Book of Mormon" was irreverent, hilarious and completely worth the ticket price.  We had a great post-theater meal at Kapnos Taverna.  Unbeknownst to us, they have a crazy cheap happy hour, and we ordered and ate the entire happy hour menu.  I want Maddy to make me the ceramic tray they use for their dip trio.  Mike Isabella is opening Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda this fall, and I plan to be first in line.  Yesterday after my call shift, we watched "Wild."  There will be no thru-hiking of any trail by my children if I die young and tragically.  On the upside, I am pretty sure nobody will experiment with heroin either.  The bloody toenail scene was worse than any horror movie for Sophie.

While they were away I made a stunning blueberry cream cheese coffee cake that I had to take to labor and delivery or risk eating the entire thing single-handedly.  It was very well-received.  I baked in a 9" pie plate instead of an 8x8.  Bring to your next breakfast pot-luck and win.  I also made some Paleo-ish bars with raisins/unsweetened coconut/nuts--process into a paste, press into dish, chill and cut into bars.  Add chocolate chips as desired, but highly recommend.

Speaking of Paleo, I have a new split jerk PR of 113#.  One of my Crossfit BFF and I tied for first in the partner WOD this weekend, but since we were older than the other pair, Ian said, "So basically, you won."  Long run clocked in at 9 miles this weekend.  Got to get the weekday mileage up.  I am dragging Sophie to watch my workout today with the promise of Paul afterwards.  We will pick more blueberries tomorrow--maybe they can be featured in my birthday cake.

Tent Revival

Finally, a day with relatively low humidity, and I'm not going to let last night's thunderstorm ruin my outdoor coffee break.  I was dismayed to find the tent in what appeared to be ruins when I got home from work last night, but this morning after Crossfit I was able to "fix" it.  

Sophie is at Camp Letts for the week, and Ian is on yet another work trip to Ft. Hood.  I have been enjoying a relatively clean house and having things like salad and half a bag of kettle corn for dinner.  I am weighing the risk-benefit ratio of cleaning Sophie's room while she is gone.  I'm looking forward to "Book of Mormon" on Saturday and having everyone back home.

The garden is doing well with all the rain except for my big tomato plant that got knocked down last night.  I think my gardening woes of years past have been due to under watering.  I planted the radish seeds too close together this year and got a bunch of greens and some crappy, woody radishes.  I'm going to make some Saag Paneer with the greens substituting tofu for the paneer because it's what's available.  I picked blueberries and tart cherries again this past week.  The cherries became jam and cheesecake topping.  The blueberries remain in the bucket I picked them in, awaiting Sophie's return.

Crossfit at the new gym has made for a lot of gains.  I can now clean 93#, rope climb without fear and do the prescribed weight for the workouts at least 50% of the time.  The only weight I'm no longer worried about is the one my bathroom scale.  When my scooter battery died last week I pushed it home 2 miles, mostly uphill without too much trouble.

Still lots to look forward to this summer--my birthday, Sophie's trip to HI, Otakon, driving school, trip to Richmond, camping in Virginia Beach, the Spartan Sprint, but I know it's going to be over too soon.  The marathon looms in October.  Long run currently ~12 miles.  We will see if all this cross-training will keep me injury-free.

 

Ch-ch-cherry bomb.

I found a recipe for sour cherry cobbler that is older than Maddy.  It is dead simple, and you can find it here.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why it calls for boiling water.  I subbed cold whey I had leftover from yogurt making.  We picked enough cherries to make two cobblers and cherry bounce.  The food section of this week's Washington Post had a recipe, and like all the other recipes I found on-line mentioned that it was one of George Washington's favorite drinks.  At least he didn't waste all those cherries when he chopped down that tree.  If my calculations are correct, it should be ready in August.  Don't worry about piercing the fruit with a knife.  If you remember correctly, sour cherries are easy to pit by simply squeezing the pit out the stem hole.

I found that cookbook stand on the curb on my way to Crossfit the other morning.  It's one of those things I would never buy, but if somebody is throwing one out in pristine condition I'm not above bringing it home.  Maddy was so proud.  Curb mining has contributed to her apartment furnishings in a not insubstantial way.  UVA students have a reputation for ditching excess stuff at the end of the academic year to her benefit.  Sophie's academic year drew to a close this past week.  She is now a rising junior and has already purchased Strunk & White for her summer reading list and filled in her calendar with a schedule for reading and running.  I wish I had my kids' organizational skills.  Writing this blog post may be the only productive thing I do today.  I'm post-call, it's too hot to run and I'm too tired anyway.  I got a ten mile run in last Saturday--hoping to get 12 in tomorrow before 9 a.m.  Hoping my dinner date tonight with Ian at The Pursuit doesn't crush those dreams.  

Who'd throw a thing like that away?

Who'd throw a thing like that away?

Finally, adios.

We spent the last 24 hours in San Juan visiting the rainforest--packed with turistas, I got a migraine, and a city beach--delightfully uncrowded with plenty of sea life.  

As I write this post, the weather has turned on "full summer" mode, and I am slightly dreading our Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon this Saturday.  There is an actual wine stop at the halfway point which I will not partake of.  Like my friend Kerrie says, "Running + heat + wine= no bueno.  I am so angry at the race organizer who is charging folks an extra $15 to pick up packet on race day morning.  If you pick up the packet at a local running shop on Thursday, it's an extra $10!  It's all a ploy to get you to pick it up "for free" at the expo on Friday to ensure that the vendors get plenty of traffic.  I will be complaining when I pick up my packet for free and buy a new pair of shorts that I need like another hole in my head.

Stay tuned for our Memorial Day highlight reel from our trip to Charlottesville last weekend.

Take the wheel and steer.

I'm getting so far behind on the Puerto Rico posts that I'm just going to show you some beautiful beach pictures, give you a brief description, and talk about other stuff that has happened since we returned.  I'm pretty sure this is a picture of Crash Boat beach.   I am putting in the food truck picture because Sophie and I were at the farmer's market today and they were charging $6 a piece for some tiny empanadas.  She said, "we're not in PR any more." We got pizza empanadas there at this truck--2 for $3.   We did succumb to the lure of a Nutella-filled churro at the farmer's market ($3).  Sophie finally got her driver's permit, and she drove us to and from the market with minimal palpitations on my part.  This included backing out of a parking spot and avoiding some squirrely cyclists.   Over the course of the next 9 months she needs to accrue 60 hours of supervised driving (10 of those hours at night), attend 30 hours of classroom time and have 6 hours of professional driving instruction.  Then she can sit for her provisional license.  Per Sophie, "Mom is weak, she can only last 20 minutes of drive time."  I am hoping to increase my tolerance as Ian will be away on and off all summer for work.    Our student driver magnets have dramatically increased the following distance of the cars behind us, and I am tempted to leave them on 24/7 to prevent tailgating.   

South By Southwest

Playa Sucia is at the southwestern-most tip of Puerto Rico.  No bathrooms, dirt road access, but still crowded with families.  Next time we go to PR I'm going to rent a cooler so we can take a picnic.  I saw a giant conch shell while I was snorkeling and then couldn't find it again when I tried to show it to Sophie. 

On our way back north we stopped for lunch.  They handed us what I think was the gringo menu--all in English, all expensive.  When I asked for empanadillas en Espanol, they were happy to bring us a variety at $2 a piece.  Thanks Señor Farfan for all that tough love in my Spanish 3 class way back in 1983.

Eye Candy

Our first beach experience in Puerto Rico was on Good Friday--traditionally a holiday.  All of Puerto Rico is at the beach on Good Friday.  There was the requisite beach weirdo--feeding pelicans, lots of Medalla and salsa music and very little personal space.  These photos were taken a few days later in the early morning.  Just a few fisherman dotting the pier and plenty of good snorkeling.

For our penultimate dinner we traveled to Isabela and ate at Clmdo.  A newish restaurant whose chef, Wilson, a Brooklyn transplant, taught himself to cook and is serving up some seriously delicious food.  Note his spartan kitchen.  We were disappointed that he had run out of ice cream.  It was easy to forgive him; he makes it by hand without an ice cream maker!  I was not surprised that in his former life he was an engineer.  I know an engineer that up until I visited didn't own a spatula.  We settled for some ice cream in the town square where Ian had limited time to get a quick shot of a couple of Paso Fino horses.

Yes, that is a Mr. Softee truck shortly before it was beset upon by beach-goers at Playa Jobos. Surfers love a post session chocolate malt.

They're walking the nose....

Rincon was a winding drive down the west coast, past a traffic-stopping flea market where we did not purchase a live chicken, a giant machete, or shampoo.  The town square was largely deserted.  Even the ice cream shop didn't open until 1:00.  We spent a little time at the public beach and drove north to "Domes" named for the adjacent nuclear power plant.  Ian did a little boogie boarding; Sophie and I drank smoothies prepared by a local with a blender powered by his truck battery.  

We had considered eating brunch at La Copa Llena the next morning for Easter, but realized that would necessitate a really early wake-up and drive so we stopped for an early dinner on the way home from the beach.  If you ever find yourself hungry in Rincon we would highly recommend a stop here.  Per Ian, "the best BLT ever" and steps away from the beach.  Enjoy some happy hour libations and watch the sun set.  I would steer you away from Puerto Rico's national beer, Medalla, unless you drink PBR unironically.

Defunct nuclear power plant looming.

Defunct nuclear power plant looming.

Baleanario Rincon

Baleanario Rincon

Jose Enrique

I knew before we went to Puerto Rico that we really needed to eat at Jose Enrique.  Tucked away in a nondescript bungalow adjacent to La Placita, it's off the beaten path.  The hostess stands on the porch and whenever somebody walks by and peers into the restaurant she scoops them up with a friendly "are you looking for Jose Enrique?"  We ate there twice. 

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The menu is ever changing, and the first night we had some incredible prawns and an octopus tostada.  Straightforward, pristinely fresh seafood with a nod to Puerto Rican flavors.  The other standout dish was the fried pork--basically a confit of pork shoulder with caramelized onions.  On our second visit we branched out from the appetizer menu and enjoyed the beef stew, and the salad--a pile of mustard greens, expertly dressed and showered with parmesan was a welcome relief from all the fried foods we had been indulging in all week.  They brought a round of anisette shots gratis at the end of the meal.  Sophie had a tiny sip, nearly spit it out and decided she is still not ready for adult beverages.  The drinking age in PR is 18 and there were numerous occasions when she could have easily scored a full-octane pina colada.  We wandered around La Placita for a bit listening to the salsa bands and then called it a night.  The next day we will head west--stay tuned.

Old San Juan

The Google maps lady lost a lot in translation, but we made it from the airport to the hotel in spite of her hilarious Spanish pronunciation issues.  Ignoring the many warnings in the guidebooks to avoid driving during rush hour we found parking and spent our first afternoon walking around Old San Juan.

We fortified ourselves with $3 ice cream (coconut and passion fruit), chorizo, pulpo tostones and ceviche.  Lots of feral cats, stunningly beautiful architecture, brand name American stores (think Ralph Lauren) and tacky souvenir shops--the latter primarily near the cruise ship docks.

How wonderful to sit outside on a breezy patio sipping homemade limeade after our cold, cruel winter.  It was the first of many al fresco dining experiences during this trip. Aside from the giant palmetto bug I saw in the bathroom one night, Puerto Rico is remarkably bug-free; we only ate two meals indoors the entire trip.

Pie Are Round

A very belated Pi day post, showcasing my first attempt at a British picnic pie complete with hot water crust.  I filled mine with a combination of curried carrots and cauliflower, but I used Chetna's crust recipe.  My bottom might have been a bit underdone,  but overall a "good bake."  This dough was a pleasure to work with and is definitely more "sturdy" than "flaky."  

Speaking of no soggy bottoms, after the 72 thrusters of the 15.5 Crossfit Open Workout I am happy to report that my bottom is especially firm.   I scaled it because I'm old, my shoulder hurts with 65#, and mostly because I wanted to crush it.   We will have to wait until Monday to find out where I ranked in the shallow pool that is Master's women, 45-49 years old, Mid-Atlantic, scaled division.  I will be hitting "refresh" on the leaderboard hourly.  Just kidding.  I meant every 15 minutes, okay, every 5.

In other sports news, Maddy and I got into the Marine Corp Marathon.  Luckily my body has seven months to remember how to run that far.  I will end this post with a recipe for a sauce I invented.  It would not be good to eat during a marathon, but it's excellent on seared ahi.

Gochujang mayo: take some mayo--maybe a cup? add ~1 tbs. of gochujang, a little rice wine vinegar and a drizzle of sesame oil.  Salt to taste.  

Someone left the cake out.

While making room for the Costco merch, Ian put my Tarte Tropezianne on top of the freezer and forgot about it.  Damn you, box of individually packaged guacamole.  I had been able to score a couple of pieces of this brioche-creme patisserie sandwich, enough to make me equally relieved and dismayed by its early demise.  Do not skip the pearl sugar topping, it adds just the right amount of crunch.

Only two more weeks of the 2015 Crossfit Open!  I am predicting burpees and/or thrusters for 15.4. I'm currently in 12th place for Master's Women 45-49, scaled division, in my region because my single under game is strong!  Spring track has started for Sophie, and it looks like I will be able to go to all the meets and embarrass her with my cow-bell ringing.  She and a friend have been watching "The Biggest Loser" after practice.  Their combined weight is less than that of the average contestant, but somehow it motivated them to do sit-ups and planks one afternoon.  I am signed up for a Spartan sprint obstacle race in August with some other Crossfit Daily Medicine peeps.  A 3-5 mile race with 20-23 obstacles in 85 degree weather?  As long as the obstacles don't involve bees I've got this thing.

Shooting the curl.

 A weekend trip to see our old pals in Richmond, packed with food, fun and friendship.  Our kids were in kindergarten when we met in Ft. Riley, Kansas, and many a night was spent by the bonfire on Scott Place.  Military families can pick up from where they left off with ease.

This is how we raclette.  There's no such thing as too much cheese.  Combined with the marjolaine, we were well-fortified for the Curling Club of Virginia.  The learn to curl session was a mixture of lecture (booooorrrring) and ice time (not boring!).  It would have been inadvisable to take a nice camera on the ice, but if you're my Facebook friend there is some priceless cell-phone video of me "delivering the stone."

Sunday was legitimately the warmest day of the year and we walked around in shorts, first through the Hollywood Cemetery, then Carytown.  I tried on a vintage halter dress at a boutique that I gladly would have paid way too much money for if only I could have zipped it up without having to surgically remove a couple of ribs.  Seriously, people in the 70's were waifs! Obviously I can do way more pull-ups than the original owner.

Basically a giant Mounds bar.

Basically a giant Mounds bar.

Apples to Oranges.

The great Bethesda bake off continues unabated.  It's 5:00 a.m. and I just finished making the creme patisserie filling for Dorie's Tarte Tropezienne.  Successfully using all of the left over egg yolks I had after making the marjolaine from Flavor Flours makes me happy.  I had to double the recipe and I suspect I can convince Sophie to make some eclairs tonight when I get home from clinic.  The cakes pictured below are Odile's Fresh Orange Cake from Baking Chez Moi and the Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake from Flavor Flours.  I went the extra mile and poached some orange slices to top Dorie's cake, but next time I would go another mile and supreme the oranges.  It was very difficult to cut the cake through the orange rounds and ruined the aesthetic of the individual slices.  You could completely omit them and still have a delicious cake.  Medrich's apple cake doesn't involve any fussy caramel making, you just plop your sliced apples atop the brown sugar/butter layer and let the oven do the work for you.

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Both cakes were wonderfully moist and flavorful,  but the orange cake was the first to go--advantage Dorie.  

In other news, my Crossfit Open journey continues....current standings after two workouts.  I was really worried about the overhead squats in 15.2 but the pull-ups proved to be the rate-limiter.  I fear 15.3 will involve wall-balls, but at least all the snow has melted and we will be able to do them outside.  

Next post, Richmond, raclette, curling!  

Phogeddaboutit

I guess if I wanted to eat cleaner I shouldn't have ordered Baking Chez Moi and Flavor Flours and had Amazon deliver them the same day for an extra $5.99.  But that's the plan, at least until our trip to Puerto Rico where I plan on drinking a lot of rum drinks.  I'm going to call it "March Sadness."  It won't stop me from baking--I made two cakes, brownies and savory crackers within the first 36 hours of ownership.  What I really need to stop is the random handful of chips, the doughnuts at grand rounds and mindless eating in general.  It will dovetail nicely with the ongoing Crossfit Open.  Luckily for me (older, new to Crossfit) they have a scaled division this year.  As of this writing I am still hanging in the top 50 for women 45-49 years, scaled division, Mid-Atlantic region, but there is plenty of time for folks to submit better scores.