Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition

Clark, Nancy. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 5th Ed. Champaigne, IL: Human Kinetics, 2013.

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook is jam-packed with all sorts of information, including eating disorders (anorexia & bulemia), which is something I didn’t encounter with other nutrition-for-athletes books I have read. While a great deal of the information is useful I also felt there was a great deal of repetition and common sense “fillers” that took up space (like her comment on plastic water bottles which has nothing to do with sports or nutrition, just her opinion). I enjoyed the clean and well organized chapters but didn’t try any of the recipes in the back. Although I initially borrowed this from a library, this is the kind of book I would buy to keep on my personal library shelves in order to refer back to it again and again.

Reason read: the Toronto Half Marathon is less than a week away. Talk about getting some last minute advice!

Book trivia: while most of the illustrations are interesting and well-meaning, some are downright goofy.

New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition

Fitzgerald, Matt. The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: a Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond “the Wall.” Boston: Da Capo Press, 2013.

Reason read: So. I have this little run of 13.1 miles in Toronto in less than two weeks. I’m just now thinking I should research nutrition for this jaunt.

As much as I love books that are designed to make me a better anything my eyes glaze over when the information becomes too out-of-my-league. Take, for example Fitzgerald’s recommendation that runners should know “basic” information: body weight and V02 max. I can jump on a scale and figure out BMI, weight, fat % and bone density… but V02 max? I’m a middle-aged housewife just looking for a little more information on nutrition for runners. Obviously, The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition is for consumers who are much more hardcore about running than I am! But having said all that, there was a plethora of take-away information that I could (and probably will) use. Pre-race nutrition was especially helpful, as was the nutrition training plans and the chart of diet quality guidelines.

Author fact: Fitzgerald has written a few other books about running, nutrition and the like.

Book trivia: Kara Goucher, two-time Olympian, wrote the foreword for New Rules. Ryan Hall, also an Olympian, endorsed the book as well.

Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee

Craughwell, Thomas J. Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Heming Introduced French Cuisine to America. Quirk Books, 2012.

How I would love to step back in time and follow Thomas Jefferson around! I just find him to be such an interesting character. I definitely agree that he is the most cerebral of our founding fathers. Despite Benjamin Franklin’s eye for invention I find  that Thomas Jefferson was more downright curious. He wanted to learn all that he could about the world around him.

But, enough of that. Onto the book review: This was a disappointment. I honestly expected the subject matter to match the title of the book on several different points. For starters, the obvious one – food (specifically bringing French cuisine to America). I didn’t see enough supporting evidence to believe that it was Thomas Jefferson who actually introduced the cuisine to America. Only a small handful of recipes prove that recipes like macaroni and cheese were introduced. Then there is the subject of James Heming. James Heming might have been the one who did all the work – taking the culinary classes, practicing the recipes at Jefferson’s elaborate dinner parties, and training the next cook to take his place so that he might experience freedom, but it is on Jefferson Craughwell focuses the most. Even then the focus isn’t primarily on his bringing French cuisine to America, it was on everything else.


Invitation to Indian Cooking

Jaffrey, Madhur. An Invitation to Indian Cooking. New Jersey: Ecco Press, 1999.

I have to start off by saying I love Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks. I own several and all of them are well-organized and beautifully illustrated (or have gorgeous photographs).

An Invitation to Indian Cooking might have been a more accurate title had it included the subtitle Getting to Know Indian Cuisines and Ingredients because Jaffrey not only invites you into the world of Indian cuisine she also includes history lessons and ingredient explanations in addition to recipes. While her tone is conversational I found it to be a little didactic at times. Her claims that Americans, on the whole, don’t know what well-prepared rice tastes like is one such example. Another drawback to An Invitation to Indian Cooking is its out-of-date information. Basmati rice, Jaffrey recommends, is readily available at specialty stores. That may have been true in 1973 when her first cookbook was published, but I expected the reprint to have some updated information. I also find it hard to believe that out of 50 states only 12 have stores that carry authentic Indian ingredients.
But, having said all that, I love the recipes Jaffrey includes in her first cookbook. I like her attention to detail and her comparisons between American and Indian products. For example, Jaffrey points out that American chicken is more tender than chicken purchased in India, therefore traditional Indian cooking techniques would not work well on an American-raised bird.

“The chicken available in American markets is so tender that it begins to fall apart well before it can go through the several stages required in most Indian recipes” (p 86).

If you are ambitious enough to make several Indian recipes at the same time Jaffrey includes a series of different menus to try.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust  in the chapter called, “India: a Reader’s Itinerary” (p 125).

Caught with You

I caught up with an old friend recently. Hunched over humongous burritos we hurled hilarious stories at each other. Catching up on each other lives, getting caught in the laughter. How is it possible I let weeks and weeks turn into months before seeing this person, I don’t know. I couldn’t get over how hard I laughed (to the point of tears) or how easily we bantered.
“What do you mean ‘winking at you?'” I asked, astonished.
“I mean, wink, wink. Couldn’t miss it. It happened on four different occasions”  came the reply.
“Winking? Not something caught in the eye?”
“Not a nervous twitch?”
“Not punctuating a funny story?”
“Not even talking.”
“Huh. Winking… At you.”
“Yes. Winking.”
“Your best friend’s spouse was winking. At You.”
“How bizarre.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Okay. Here’s what you do: wink back.”

I’m bold to suggest such a thing. Flirting with trouble. Wink back? Yes. We sat over big burritos until our bellies were full. Watching the rain whip sideways we let it go. We had nowhere to be. Bring On the Rain. I was happy to be caught just to catch up.

Too Good to Keep

I don’t care what anyone says. Summer officially started this weekend. To hell with the calendar. I’m ignoring the meteorologists, too. Summer wasn’t summer until the sun came out for more than an hour. For the first time in weeks I was able to weed the garden and the walk without dodging raindrops. I finally took up those giant prehistoric looks growths growing along side the driveway. I tackled the ground cover problem, too. Redistributing the gravel that has slid down the hill. This is Hilltop, after all. I moved rocks until my sun-bared arms ached. It felt good. I got in the pool for the second time this season and actually took a few strokes for the first time. Maybe I’ll learn to swim for real. It felt amazing. We got more of the back of the house painted. The gutter guys came. Progress is progressing.
Inspired by the weather I decided on a grill dinner. Pork marinated in lime, garlic, cilantro, and cumin. But, that wasn’t the best part of the mean meal. The salsa/salad was. Try this for yourself – play with the ingredients and measurements:

  • chickpeas
  • black beans
  • grape tomatoes
  • grilled corn
  • red onion
  • avocado
  • jalapeno
  • cilantro
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • champagne vinegar
  • sea salt
  • tri-colored fresh cracked pepper

Throw everything into a big bowl and let marinate for a few hours. Any ingredient can be left out or substituted for something else. Think about it – red beans instead of black, how about rice? Vidalia instead of red onion, scotch bonnet instead of jalapeno, red wine vinegar instead of champagne…these switches aren’t a stretch, but the options are limitless. Then, to really blow your mind, there is texture. Mince everything small and you have a blended salsa, puree it and you have a killer sauce for grilled chicken. Leave it super chunky and sprinkle it with tortilla chips and you have a great side salad. Add lettuce and grilled beef (sliced paper thin) and there’s a whole meal. I love meals like this.

This weekend felt like a holiday. We worked around the house and enjoyed the sun. Grilled on the deck and savored sweet cherries for dessert. Danced around the living room to Coldplay drums. Later, from our living room window we paused a movie to take in the second fireworks display of the holiday. Bedtime brought a book to bed with me. But, before long my eyes grew too heavy. Sleep came easy. A perfect ending to a perfect day to good to keep.

Christmas Spirit in a Cookie

c is for cookie

Typically, baking is not my bag. Hand me a jalpeno and I’m a much happier girl. Pie plates, measuring spoons, and proofing are just words I can’t be bothered with. Call it the Christmas spirit (or just plain crazy), but this year is just a little different. It all started with a resourceful review and a rug remnant. There are some people in my work life who have just gone above and beyond to keep my sanity. I owe them something – nothing short of my soul – for making my life just a little easier. So, I decided to bake cookies. Everyone loves a cookie, right? Never one to take the easy road I decided against plain old chocolate chip and ended up with:

  • mint chocolate chunk (2 dozen)
  • peanut butter chocolate chunk (2 dozen)
  • butterscotch (1 dozen)
  • butterscotch with almonds (1 dozen)
  • oatmeal with tuaca soaked raisins (2 dozen)
  • cinnamon chocolate chunk (2 dozen)…and finally…
  • plain old chocolate chip (2 dozen)

Luckily, I had really good company for this cookie quest – otherwise I would have gone insane. She and kisa sampled as I went, making sure my baking was on par with yummy. I could have easily gotten off track with the measuring with all the gabbing we needed to do! Here’s a teaser for an upcoming blog – I started the cookie quest on Saturday night because Sunday was another house hunting day. We were to visit the twin of the house I fell in love with in August! More on that later!

But, for now let me say I’m still not a baker. But, I have to admit – there was something very warm and homey about the smell of cookies baking in the oven; there was something very simple and childlike about being able to lick the big wooden spoon caked with dough; there was something very comforting and personal about creating something from scratch to say thank you.

Happiness is a fresh baked mint chocolate chip chunk cookie.

Cranberry Crazy

feastMy in-laws didn’t want me to bring anything to the Thanksgiving dinner. They are gourmet all the way so I wasn’t really all that surprised. “We’re all set. Just bring yourself” they told me. But, that didn’t mean I didn’t offer – Stuffing? Done. Green bean casserole? P has her recipe. Sweet potatoes? Covered. Dessert? Five pies and counting. Mashed potatoes? Check. Finally, finally it was decided I could bring the cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce! Instantly I thought: citrus, spicy and adult. One of each. Something raw (relish), something cooked (sauce). And…if they all sucked, I could always grab a few cans on the way out of town (hey, I used to eat that stuff straight from the can – STILL love it).

So, the citrus relish was in honor of my husband’s niece. Pineapple, tangerines, lemons, lime, maple syrup, and honey. If I had thought about it I would have added raisins and nuts since this was an uncooked, crunchy relish. Something for next year, maybe?

The spicy sauce was intended just to be a sauce for kisa and I – something a little kicked up. Cranberries, chipotles, Mexican cinnamon, sugar, ancho chili powder, and red wine vinegar. Simmered for a long time on really, really low heat. If I had thought about it I would have added shallots and garlic since this was a savory sauce. Something for next year, maybe?

The adult sauce was intended to be a port – a traditional cranberry sauce that everyone makes. I decided at the last minute to make a tribute to September 18, 2004 with some Tuaca – a vanilla orange liquor. Those of you who attended the festivities on that day will know exactly what I’m talking about! *wink*wink* So, it was a mixture of mustard, cinnamon, cardamon, cranberries and Tuaca. If I had thought about it I would have soaked dried fruit in more Tuaca for a really adult kick. Something for next year, maybe.
But, here’s the thing – they loved the sauces, all of them. Even the spicy sauce disappeared. Who knew?

So, I have officially been put in charge of cranberry sauce from here on out and my husband won’t stop calling me the Queen of the Bog. I’m already thinking of next year – sweet with strawberries? Spicy with jalapenos and tomatoes? Adult with sangria? Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

But You Love Me Anyway

Rock Love
New love has quirks that are considered cute and lovable. Those things that a new lover says and does that are oh so different and revealing and disregarded. Those things are even adorable for a little while. Then, reality bites. Hard. There comes that time after the dust of desire has settled and new love matures into you and me, not one without the other. A given that you and me will be together. That’s when quirky becomes quite something else. Confusing. Contradicting. Infuriating. How we deal with these things that were once so lovable is a good indication of new loves maturity into real love. For me, adding up the quirks and realizing you are still with me is how I know you still love me. Regardless.

I was on the phone with a friend so I couldn’t quite comprehend the conversation occuring without me. I heard something about shoes. Something about a wallet. You were laughing. I knew you could only be discussing my quirks. With my friends no less. Some of whom have a whole wealth of stories on their own. I brought this on myself. I know I did.

It started innocently enough. It was last week. I was cooking curry turkey burgers and had somehow put the buns together wrong. Top with a top, bottom with a bottom. Still edible in my mind – just not pretty to look at. I’ve done it a hundred times before. You came down the stairs in time to hear me swear, in time to watch me try to flip bottom bun for a top. I turned to you and hissed through gritted teeth, “I will always leave my shoes in the middle of the floor. I will always misplace my keys. And. I will ALWAYS put the wrong halves of the buns together! So. You’ll just have to deal with it!” Instead of taking the bait. Instead of picking the fight I was wanting to have, you smiled at me and said gently, “I know something else you will always do.” Forgetting to be angry I dropped the fight and stopped dead. “What?” I wanted to know. “I’ll give you a hint” you replied as you proceded to close every cabinet door in the kitchen. What can I say? I was cooking like a fiend and didn’t have time to close cabinets!

I like tallying the quirks. I like seeing the oddities add up. The longer the list, the more I know you love me. Despite it all you love me anyway.
For the record:

  • I take my shoes off wherever and just leave them for kisa to trip over
  • I leave cups of half finished coffee in odd places, fully intending to finish them later (until they mold)
  • I lose my wallet, keys and/or phone on a regular, sometimes daily, basis
  • I leave cabinet doors open
  • I cannot put burgers together correctly
  • I hand material objects to random people and won’t remember it later
  • I have to cover restaurant food with a napkin when I’m finished
  • I cannot open resealable bags without somehow ruining the ziplock

To the love of my life. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being my lover. Thank you for making me strive to be a better person. I may have my quirks but my life is perfect with you in it. Happy anniversary!

September is a Confession

Golden Days End
Golden Days End

I am all messed up. Turned inside out and tired. Really, really tired. Here’s the deal. I went home with a reading plan in place. I knew everything I wanted to read and even the order in which I would do all this reading. I even made a big deal about lugging all that stuff home. It didn’t happen. I got to Maine and everything fell apart.

In a stream of excuses here’s what happened: I didn’t bring the right books. I didn’t bring enough to books. I chased my nephews around instead of turning pages. I scoped out the neighbor’s new porch. I gorged on blackberries and crab apples. I couldn’t make time for the library let alone the internet. I held hands with my husband. Hiked huge hills with great friends. Watched sunsets with a glass of pino between my knees. Ate savory and sweet scones from Sweet Bob. When I did pick up a book it wasn’t one on my list (Islands by Anne Rivers Siddon comes to mind).

So, here’s the deal. I just escaped paradise. I’m just back and I’m just out of sorts. I don’t want to take a shower for fear of washing away my island residue. Last night I slept with the light on because the silence on the street was not the silence of the ocean. For once, the cat wasn’t the compatible companion. I have no clue what books I am supposed to be reading for September. I have no clue and right now I don’t care.

So, September is: slogging through tons and tons of email. (Yahoo = 234, Google = 565, LibraryThing = 3, work = 199, RealEstate = 66). September is Rebecca Correia on the 12th. September is Sean Rowe’s new album. Otherwise, September is slow to start.

Kobe Pizza

We won

It’s hard to be a Laker fan around my husband. Especially during the finals. Especially when it’s the do or die game for Kobe and the gang. Unfortunately for Jason’s aunt she’s not only a Laker fan, she had to watch the Celtics demolish the Lakers…in front of Kisa. She was a good sport, though. She didn’t have to be – it was her house. She could have kicked us out. Instead, she donned her Red Sox gear and yelled at the tv almost as loud as her nephew. Whenever the Celtics scored she yelled, “Go Red Sox!” cracking everyone up. But, that didn’t last long. As soon as it was obvious the Lakers were giving up the fight she was cursing Kobe instead. We had pizza and alcohol and the Lakers for dinner. I can’t say much for the Lakers, but when it comes to food Californians are different. Californians are cool about their cuisine. Their pizza comes on whole wheat crust with a fresh, lovely green, healthy salad on the side. Yummy.

The Celtics had the Lakers for dinner, but I had something better. I will miss California pizza!

Forest Gump Stumped


How many times have you seen the movie Forest Gump? How well do you know the story? How about the details? Well, if you ever go to Bubba Gump’s for lunch, you better bone up on your Gump trivia. As soon as we sat down our waiter pounced on us with “What were the name of Forest’s friends? What sports were played in the movie? What actress played his mother?…” All we wanted was to read the menu.
Here’s another thing. If you are trying to eat clean, Bubba’s is not the place to go. Almost every item on the menu was fried-fried-fried. Either that or it was drowning in mayo and disguised as a “salad.” The healthiest thing on the menu didn’t even have shrimp in it and sounded incredibly boring and tastless (I don’t even remember what was in it except the main ingredient was “iceburg lettuce”) so I went for the only nonfried, nonmayo’ed shrimp dish – the dipping pot. Crusty bread (white) and sweet, nutty Jasmine rice served with a pot of steaming hot shrimp “soup.” The shrimp were swimming in a stew of butter, garlic, fresh herbs, and seafood broth. The concept of the dish was to have fun with this very interactive meal. I needed to fish out the shrimp from the broth and eat it with a scoop of rice. The bread was for the dipping pot. Very entertaining.
When the meal was first placed in front of me I was impressed with its presentation. So much so that I took the above picture. What I didn’t know was that the lid to the “soup” was roasting hot. As I was innocently snapping my pic our flamboyant waiter approached and demanded to know who brought us our meals. Guy or girl? he snapped? Red shirt or blue? Bewildered, we told him what we knew and without another word took a dishtowel to remove the lid of my pot. “Seriously hot” he snarled as he walked away. Woah. We all looked at the pot in amazement. That would have hurt. Seriously. I snapped another picture.

Orgasmic Mesa

Heaven on Earth

This could also be called Ode To Bobby Flay or Where are the Damn Statues?! We went to Caesar’s Palace four times. Not for the gambling. Not for the shopping. For the statues. When my mother visited Vegas she had all these great stories of moving statues. I wanted to see them for myself. I had always told myself that if I ever made it to sin city I was going to find the statues in Caesar’s Palace.
The first time we went it was early morning. Nothing was really opened yet. Spotless and quiet, even the slot machines seemed muted. We didn’t find the statues.
The second time we passed through Caesar’s it was mid-afternoon. We followed signs to the moving statues and came up empty. So empty I felt lost. Where were the statues?
The third time we deliberately went to Caesar’s we asked someone for directions and were led to a cheesy, theatrical fountain show with mechanical puppets and lots of fire. Not what I was picturing. Not at all. Rather than wasting a trip I convinced Kisa to have lunch at Mesa, one of Bobby Flay’s restaurants.
Never before have I eaten at a place where the food is so good my eyes literally rolled back in my head. I ordered the southwest breakfast burrito with chorizo, scrambled egg, goat cheese, cilantro and three kinds of sauces.
On our fourth trip to Caesars I found the statues my mother had been talking about. Finally. I recognized them from the pictures she took. I was surprised to discover they are not LIVING statues but rather, moving mechanical statues. Just like the ones I found the day before. Admitting defeat I finally moved on from Caesars but I will never forget Mesa.


Mercy Me Mocha

Serious FaceCar Cat
I wanted to wait a little while before writing about Sean’s gig because, well, because I needed to take it all in. It’s funny how music works that way on me. Sometimes it just reaches out and takes hold and won’t let go. Sometimes it thieves my heart away and other times it just leaves me silent.
In the past I wanted to drag as many people as possible to see shows. Promote, promote, promote! It got to the point where I had exhausted the friend list and got nothing in return. It got to that been-there, done-that, same ole-same ole routine. Some fans didn’t stick while others have stuck around to this day. It use to stress me out – that line of lovers and haters. These days I go where I want to go and don’t worry about the fan base, the fanfare. It’s gotten simpler. Much.
So, seeing Sean started out as something unexpected. Back when I first heard his music I froze in the middle of the floor. I must have looked ridiculous and I’m sure I got laughed at. I’m going to skip the oft-mentioned review of how his voice sounds and tell you what really grabbed me. I hear drums in this one-man, one-guitar show. I hear a beat so loud and solid I can do nothing more than stop and stare; barely breathe. Combine that with absolutely amazing lyrics and I have been hooked ever since.

So, the four of us made the tiny trek north. We wandered around town, peering into shop windows, our minds tasting the menus plastered there, lazily looking for the best place for a bite. We settled on a new place – first night open to the public. Good food, better atmosphere, great service. I made a mental note to come back. I know someone who would think it perfect.
Mocha Maya’s. Just in time for music. Sean Rowe (Speaking of perfect). 

I have to admit I had to ask Sean for a set list because a) he has new music I haven’t heard before & new(er) ones I have yet to commit to memory. Here’s what he remembers:
Jonathan (the song I called ‘creepy’. I don’t expect anyone to understand that…It’s why I love Halloween). 
Rock me baby
why i sing the blues

I also think In the Diamonds was in there somewhere, but I have no idea why. We did listen to Sean on the way up to the gig…

My new favorite song: Wet. Beyond beautiful. Sean doesn’t have it on his website as a free listen-to, but it will be on the new album due out Sept 4th, 2008 (hopefully)…

My next gig: July 4th!

ps~ I’m including Mocha Maya’s website because the people there are really super cool. They”ve let me know they loved Sean and will get him back as soon as they can. As soon as they do, I’m there!
Pumpkin Lights