Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic Spirit

I have been glued to the television for a significant portion of the past 24 hours.  The London 2012 Olympics have finally arrived and I simply cannot get enough of the sporting festival!  I'm most looking forward to soccer (USA Women are leading their group after two dominating victories!), gymnastics, swimming, and triathlon.  Did anyone catch the table tennis today?  Seriously now, how is that possibly an Olympic sport?  Will video games be the next addition?  I'm not saying that their ping pong prowess isn't impressive, I would just hardly consider that to be a "sport" in the same sense as basketball and cycling.

I attempted to summon my athletic energies for a progression run this morning.  It was a little easier to get out the door than usual thanks to these beauties that arrived on my doorstep two days ago.

New shoes!  I absolutely love the Mizuno Wave Inspire and was excited to discover the most recent model was on sale over at National Running Center.  The plan for the workout was 2 miles endurance, 2 miles steady state, 2 miles tempo, and 1 mile cool down.  Fortunately, I had a little entertainment during the tough miles thanks to 24 Hours of Booty (a local bike race) that was simultaneously occurring along my route.  I'm definitely feeling the fatigue in the legs after a couple weeks of solid workouts and am looking forward to my taper in a few days.  I'll be racing Stumpy Creek International Triathlon on Saturday, where hopefully the consistent training was produce results.

After a quick shower, stretching, and rehydration, I made my way to the farmer's market.  Today the market was busier than I've ever seen it and the vendors were stocked to the gills with fresh produce.  I filled my bag with an athena cantaloupe, two tomatoes (one heirloom), peaches, sweet potatoes, avocado, monster okra, broccoli, and kale.  I could have bought so much more, but kept reminding myself that I was providing for a family of one, not four.  

And what better way to re-energize after a tough morning workout than with a nap followed by a tasty lunch.  Today's eats included a hummus and veggie wrap, carrots, and cherries.

Before I leave you, just one small word of advice.  Dishwashers are very particular and desire only dishwashing detergent or the comparable detergent capsules to function effectively.  After placing the last few dirty plates in a very full dishwasher, I discovered I had run out of Cascade tablets.  Using my industrial instincts, I substituted two tablespoons of liquid dish soap instead.  Two hours later I made myself into the kitchen for a late night bowl of ice cream and with my first step into the kitchen found myself slipping, sliding, and landing on my rump.  After collecting my pride, I discovered that half my kitchen was covered in a one foot depth of soap suds.  Great thinking, Crystal!  An hour of clean up and a sore bottom later, I now have Cascade tablets on my grocery list.

Time to go watch the USA battle it out in the pool!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vegan Taco Casserole

I promised I was going to cook a real meal this weekend, and that is exactly what I did.  While I love the vegetarian lifestyle, one thing I miss are savory casseroles with lots of great flavors blended together.  I've been craving Mexican food ever since they were sampling taco seasoning on tofu at Trader Joe's last week.  So, with those thoughts in mind, I combined Mexican flavors and a casserole technique and created this Vegan Taco Casserole.  Give it a try, it's pretty darn fantastic!

Vegan Taco Casserole
1 tbsp EVOO
2 cloves garlic
1 package tempeh
1/4 cup vegetable broth
3 tsp taco seasoning (try to find one without preservatives and bucket-loads of salt)
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (no salt added)
3 whole wheat tortillas
1 can refried black beans
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

An assortment of toppings: arugula, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes

1. Add EVOO to hot skillet, followed by garlic.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Add crumbled tempeh to skillet and cook for a couple minutes.
2.  Add vegetable broth, taco seasoning, and tomatoes.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
3.  In a greased glass dish, place a tortilla on the bottom.  Top with 1/3 cup black beans.  Then add 1/3 of the tempeh mixture on top of the beans.  Sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
4. Continue to layer: tortilla, beans, tempeh, nutritional yeast.  You will have a total of 3 layers.
5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
6. Serve on top of a bed of arugula.  Top with avocado, cilantro, and tomatoes.

When I mentioned my trip  to Florida last weekend, I failed to share the funniest pictures of the trip.  I though for sure that Bailey would enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool after our 9 mile run in the heat.  As you see, she wasn't exactly keen of the water.  She quickly shimmied up to the highest point and clung on to me for dear life.

What a big baby!  Certainly not the water dog that we hoped she would be.

In other news, check out my vegetable plants.  A week ago they were struggling to survive in the dry heat.  Now, after a week of rain, they are flourishing.  Any tips for controlling my squash that is growing in all sorts of rogue directions?

This morning I enjoyed a perfectly lazy Sunday morning.  Ideally, I would have been reading the Sunday paper.  Does anyone else find great excitement in all of those ads?  Instead, I made a dent in my rapidly growing magazine collection.  I sipped on a glass of chestnut tea, perused the magazines, and soaked up the crisp morning air.  If only every day started like this . . .

After lounging around, I got to work on breakfast.  Thirty minutes later I had a steaming hot plate of cinnamon pumpkin pancakes topped with fresh blueberries.  Yum!  And the bonus that comes from a little extra effort in the kitchen  is lots of tasty pancakes tucked away in the freezer and ready for consumption on a busy morning.

My legs are officially trashed tonight!  As I mentioned in my last post, I had some kick-butt workouts planned for the weekend.  And kick butt they did!  You've got to love those workouts which hurt so bad, but leave you with a sense of accomplishment once you're done.  I hopped on the scale this morning prior to starting my workout so that I could calculate just exactly how much sweat I lost in the summer heat.  After a ninety minute bike and 3 mile run, I found myself 4 pounds lighter.  Crazy!  Have I mentioned how much I dislike the heat and humidity!  I guess that really highlights how much water we need to drink to stay hydrating during workouts.

And last, but not least, in the post full of scattered thoughts, the best benefit that comes from high-quality workouts - food for refueling!  Did I mention that I really love to eat?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Random Friday Musings

1. The weather here in Charlotte has been crazy this week.  Almost daily, we are greeted with rumbles of thunder, howling wind, flashes of lightening, and torrential downpours.  This afternoon the rain was so heavy that the South Park mall roof collapsed.  While it may have been frightening outside, the rainy afternoon was the perfect excuse to curl up on the couch and enjoy a nap.

2.  Last weekend I flew to Florida to spend the weekend with my family as we mourned the loss of my grandfather.  While there were plenty of tears and sorrow, there was also a celebration of his life and lots of story-telling based on the memories that he created over his lifetime.  A boat ride down the intercoastal waterway led us to his former "beach house," and the location for a small service in his honor.  It was a beautiful morning for saying goodbye to Grandpa.

3. Any guesses on how I acquired this nice bruise?  You can guess all day, but I guarantee you'd never be correct.  When I arrived in Florida on Thursday night, I was greeted by Bailey, who was very happy to see her "sissy".  In all of her excitement, I recall her tail whipping back and forth on my legs but didn't think much of it at the time.  A short time later my calf was hurting, and I looked down only to find a rapidly expanding hematoma.  Crazy, right?!  I can't even make this stuff up!  One week later and my calf still looks like it was assaulted.

4. Second year of residency has completely changed my outlook on life.  One month ago, I was miserable on a daily basis and seriously contemplating, at times, whether I had chosen the correct career path.  Now, twenty days into year two, and I'm a happy girl again.  No more general surgery, intern scut work, or trauma nights.  Hello ortho!

5. Meals have been a random assortment of leftovers, freezer odds and ends, and pantry staples.  It's all been good, but I'm ready for a more well composed hearty meal.  Hopefully the farmer's market will provide a bounty of fresh produce to inspire a week of dinners.
Lentil Mushroom Spinach soup + sweet potato wedges + watermelon and mango

Hummus and veggies sandwich + watermelon + carrot

Salsarita's salad: black beans, lettuce, tomato, pico, guacamole, cilantro, and salsa

A Working Lunch
Roasted potatoes + squash and mushrooms + cabbage slaw + peas and corn

Lunchtime Snack Plate
Quinoa and corn relish + pasta salad + carrots + cherries + grapes + cracker and hummus

Kitchen sink salad + a peach
The peaches are SO good right now!
6.  I've got to get serious about workouts this weekend.  As of tonight I'm officially registered to race Stumpy Creek International Triathlon on August 4th.  That will be followed by Red Top Mountain Olympic Triathlon on August 26th.  If this afternoon's 90 minute torque and power bike workout was any indication, it's going to be an intense training block.  The remainder of the weekend will include 10 x 200m swim repeats, a progression run, and a 90min bike + 4 mile run brick.  You've got to train the way you want to race.  Time to do some work!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Memoir of a Lost Grandpa

Lloyd Perkins, Sr
1929 - 2012

The world lost a special man today - Lloyd Perkins, Sr.  To me he was "Grandpa", but to others he was a husband, son, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, cousin, and friend.  He was a businessman, a fisherman, a do-it-yourselfer, an entrepreneur, a man who loved his grill, a happy hour expert, and an all around good guy.

Grandpa and Grandma with the 3 kids - 2009

Graduation from Agnes Scott College - 2006

Royce and Grandpa

All of the boys.
I love this picture!

Husband and Wife
I remember the summer vacations my brother and I enjoyed as kids at Grandpa and Grandma's Englewood, Florida beach house.  It was literally a child's paradise.  The memories I have are endless:  long afternoons at the beach, skiing and knee boarding, fishing from the dock, cracking peanuts on the deck, watching a wild pig run through the back yard, sitting around the grill and chatting while dinner cooked, late afternoon movies and naps, playing Lego's underneath the staircase, watching sea turtles lay eggs on the beach, and playing endless rounds of solitaire.  

Enjoying dinner at Sharkey's

A Dad and his sons
Are you taking another picture of me?
Grandpa wasn't a fan of cameras.

Mom and Dad with Grandpa and Grandma
The guys take on all of the world's problems after dinner.
At some point, Grandpa likely chimed in "Do you want to be right or happy?"

Enjoying Spring Break 2008 at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

My favorite part of this picture is Grandpa sticking his tongue out at the camera.

I love you Grandpa, and will miss you terribly.  In addition to all of the memories you have created, I am most thankful for the loving, strong, thoughtful, and entrepreneurial son you raised who I have the pleasure of calling Dad.  You may not be around for me to share a happy hour beer or glass of wine, but rest assured I'll carry you closely in my mind and continue to celebrate the life that you charted.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Firecracker Fun


Regardless of whether you ran the Peachtree Road Race, soaked up the sun on the water, grilled a tasty meal, gave thanks to those who have served our country, watched fireworks, or simply enjoyed time with friends and family, I hope you had a fantastic day celebrating the USA!

Here's a look at how I spent my Independence Day

A late breakfast after I slept in until nearly 9:30am
Patriotic pancakes and eggs
Someone thought it was a brilliant idea to go for a 10k run at 11am.  
What was I thinking??  It was hot as Hades out there!

Salad greens topped with quinoa and tofu.
Served along side of an incredibly sweet and juicy Georgia peach.

An ice-cold root beer and some shades
 For dinner, I created my own summer grilling feast - minus the outdoor grill.
Mushroom brown rice burger with all of the fixings, corn salad, and watermelon
The corn salad was very simply and incredibly good.  Add this to the menu of your next summer meal.  

Tangy Summer Corn Salad
Simply saute a chopped red onion, 1/2 cup chopped banana peppers, and 3 cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until they are soft.  Add three ears worth of corn and continue to saute for three additional minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  For the dressing, combine the juice of half a lime with one tablespoon of dijon mustard and a hearty amount of freshly ground black pepper.  Toss the corn mixture with the dressing and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Taking a step back to yesterday, I joined some of my ortho family at a Summer Pops Concert in the Park, featuring the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.  The park was packed to capacity and we all enjoyed a festive night with lots of patriotic themed tunes.

Tacos from the Harvest Moon food truck - all local and organic ingredients.

I brought my new camera along with me with the intention of trying my hand at capturing fireworks on film.  I alternated between many different settings to try to get a feel for all that the camera is capable of doing.  I think I took a few good ones.

One last firework erupting over the South Park amphitheater