Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cooking Wish List

Photo from the NY Times.
I know everyone says you should appreciate every day of your life, but this semester I am extremely guilty of looking toward the end of December and hoping the days in between go as quickly as possible. It may have to do with the ridiculous work load I got myself into this fall, but there is something else as well: I miss cooking!

In my other life I was obviously meant to cook elaborate meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am so lucky to have Aaron to make sure I eat more than canned soup and toast while in grad school (or, ahem, frozen fish sticks, a staple of my undergraduate diet), but one of the things I miss the most about working full time was how I could come home and NOT do homework, but cook a nice dinner (even if it was just for myself). I try to keep recipes easy and cheap for Aaron, since we are often tight on dinner making time and I guess its not really fair to give him a 20 step recipe just because I think it sounds fun.

In the mean time I have been saving recipes like crazy and dreaming of December 20th when I will be finished with all of my course work and can cram as many recipes into winter break as possible.

We already have plans to make cinnamon rolls and cranberry upside down coffee cake (the best brunch/dessert that has so much sugar in it it can only be eaten once a year). The cranberries are already in the freezer, purchased at the Farmer's Market over the weekend. Did you know Wisconsin is a big cranberry producer?

Also on my cooking wish-list are the following recipes:

Chocolate Pie: I love chocolate pie and this one is made with tofu, so its totally appropriate as the main course for Christmas dinner right?

Chilaquiles: I ate these all the time in Mexico and want to try making them at home. There are just no substitutes at the Mexican restaurants in Madison. I saw them made on the Food Channel a couple of days ago while I was at the gym and I was practically drooling on the machine.

Shepard's Pie: I made this once in my life and topped it with sweet potatoes (vegetarian/vegan versions typically use some combo of lentils and veggies instead of beef). I want to try it again with a more complex recipe with regular mashed potatoes on top... there is something so appealing about a casserole topped with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. I have two recipes in mind: Swiss Chard and Lentil Shepard's Pie and Vegan Shepard's Pie.

Squash on Toast: This recipe is from the ABC Kitchen in New York. Ruth and I ate lunch there and had their "crab toast." They just have a knack for putting stuff on toast and making it delicious. We have about 7 squash on top of our fridge right now begging to be roasted, mashed, mixed with carmelized onions, and heaped onto toast.

Something with Farro: I've been eyeing farro for a long time and have never bought it or cooked with it. I'm thinking a risotto like dish is the best option, or using it in a salad.

There will also be waffles, but that is more of Aaron's specialty. Maybe we'll even try our hand at bagel making. Admittedly not the healthiest of cooking wish lists, but there will be plenty of exercising and green smoothies happening as well.

All of this food talk is making me hungry. Time to get back to work and stop day dreaming about cooking and baking. Looking forward to Thanksgiving when I will have dairy and beer for the first time in over a month (thats right I gave up beer and dairy in Wisconsin and survived a whole month, be impressed).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Indoor Bike Racing

A couple weeks ago I convinced Aaron to sign up for an indoor bike race with the team we road with quite a few times over the past season. My friend Becky said it was "super fun" because you get to put your bike on a trainer and see how fast you can go. I was convinced (I'll take any chance I can get to ride my bike in November). It was a 24 hour team relay with members taking hour longer shifts, so Aaron and I signed up for one hour each on Saturday afternoon.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to take my hour since I had been so sick. On Saturday my antibiotics were kicking in and I was feeling a little better, so I decided I could handle an hour bike ride. After all, I had ridden for twice as long many times and this would be a flat course. 

Well, I was totally wrong. This was not like hopping on the bikes at the gym for a little cardio. This was not even close to a leisurely bike ride and what I thought would be super fun was actually super hard. Within ten minutes of my hour I was exhausted and thought I was going to have to get off. I am proud of myself for pushing through the whole hour and challenging myself to keep my miles per hour up, although in retrospect it probably wasn't good for my healing body. I thought I was going to die, but I didn't, and it only took 45 minutes for me to say that I would be willing to do it again.

Not so sure about Aaron though... he got a hilly course.

Someone is a lot happier than the other... 

The screen keeping track of how fast and how far everyone has gone.
It was a cool event and great fundraiser and hopefully I can convince Aaron to do it again in the winter. I don't think I will be taking more than one shift though... my butt still hurts. 

Our team finished in 4th place, which they called "the best of the rest" (because the top 3 teams were serious/professional/tri-athelete crazy in shape people). Also I was probably the only person ever who has done this race without real biking shoes.

Saturday morning was also the last outdoor Farmer's Market of the year! It will be nice to sleep in a little bit on Saturday mornings, but I will miss all of the great deals. We stocked up on honey, jam, and squash.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My First Z-pak

The elusive z-pak.

I woke up very early Tuesday morning because my throat felt like it was on fire. It only got more fun when I starting running a fever, combined with being super sore from TRX the previous day. I couldn't tell what was body aches and what was sore muscles. It was rough! My fever finally broke around 9 p.m. which I assumed was a signal that Barack Obama would be re-elected president (and he was!).

Well, Barack Obama's re-election somehow didn't heal me and my throat continued to throb away. Anyway, I tried to be an adult about the whole thing and continue with my school work (although I missed two classes). Given the fever I assumed my flu shot had not actually worked and I was suffering from a mild flu.

It has only been getting worse and I had a rough time being at work today. My co-workers were sure I had strep-throat and I decided it was time to go to a doctor as what I had imagined to be the worst sore throat ever on Tuesday had somehow gotten worse and worse every day.

Surprise surprise, I do not have strep-throat (but they still had to stick cotton swabs down my throat to be sure). I also don't have mono. What I do have is some bacteria living in my throat. I think the fever and red throat gave it away. The doctor offered me a z-pak, which apparently has magical abilities that I have only heard about from others.

A couple years ago I was sick for over two weeks and had a terrible sinus infection but they still wouldn't give me a z-pak. All I had to do this time was have a sore throat for 4 days. The sore throat also earned me a fast track at the clinic somehow and I didn't have to wait for an hour like everyone else. Magical!

If the z-pak is as awesome as everyone says it is, I should start feeling better by tomorrow. Here's to hoping. Now I need to go buy some coconut milk ice-cream to eat for dinner.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weekend Instagram

 Badger Hockey Game vs. Colorado College- we lost in over time. Bummer, but it was a good game!

 Coffee shop on our street finally has almond milk (AND they have decaf chai).

 First batch of spiced walnuts for the holiday season.

Split pea soup, cooked all day in the slow cooker.

What did you do this weekend? I refrained from taking photos of my books/computer screen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sparty vs. Bucky Badger

This time last Saturday we were at a cold football game at Camp Randall. Michigan State was playing the Badgers, so a group of Aaron's family came to see the game. The game was boring and low scoring, but they were rewarded with an overtime win! Luckily we were seated in the MSU section, so we got to enjoy the excitement. 

It is always great to show family around Madison, since we've been living here for two years and haven't had too many visitors. Besides the football game, the weekend was rounded out by some time drinking and dancing at the Essen Haus (not every Grandma can handle a boot... but she was still under 80 and letting loose) and a great dinner at Harvest. I had an exam to study for so I couldn't join in all of the rest of the fun, but it was great to finally get to a football game this year.