Friday, August 02, 2013
This week felt like treading water but actually I'm getting somewhere! I am fighting hard and winning the fitness fight! There was one day I actually had mac 'n cheese with shredded lettuce on top. Very unglamourous. It tasted rather like nachos. Another day, I mixed a tiny bit of maple syrup into my low-sugar yogurt. On the fitness front, I've been running, walking, doing stability ball exercises, pilates while watching TV, and playing basketball. I have a new NIKE basketball. Never tried their brand before. So far it's bouncing well. The WILSON was awfully tempting for the grip, but at the end of the day it just doesn't bounce as well. I think of it as similar to mountain bike tires. Road bike tires are smoother. That's what my Nike Basketball is like. For the first time, I have a women's size basketball (28.5" circumference). What a difference it makes in the control of the ball! Men's size is 29.5" circumference.
Cooking tip of the day: LONDON BROIL: Sear in cast iron pan on stovetop prior to sticking in a preheated oven with your herbs of choice.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Over vacation, I stopped at a friend's house where there was a massive amount of basil in bloom. Not being shy, I wasted no time in asking how much I could take home. This was to my host's relief and my delight. I placed the basil on top of the dash while we drove home. Let me tell you that if you've ever got a stressful drive coming up, or a strange stench in the car, that basil works wonders! It kept me calm, fresh and alert during a night drive. The smell actually overpowered DH's coffee. Together, the coffee and basil smelled like an herbal Irish cream until he finished up the coffee. The basil took over the car and made me smile when we were at stoplights. Back home, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this basil. I've been using it for several days in smoothies and iced tea.
Fill an ice cube tray 1/2-way with water. Add 2-4 leaves of basil to each cube. Top with lemon and lime juice. Freeze!
Monday, July 29, 2013
I'm back from coastal vacation this week. Cooked up a hearty Indian-themed dinner tonight. It's a cross between Rogan Josh and Beef Korma. The actual recipe is beyond American in its bastardry from the true Rogan Josh or Beef Korma. The ingredients are everyday items found in the pantry. For me, it's a close enough approximation to postpone my longing for the Kashmiri restaurant in the neighborhood that has closed. The family that owned the restaurant still has a mini market business going strong. If they open another place, I will be sure to make a visit. They had a poor location, tucked in between too many "fast casual food" choices. A slightly more upscale location would be perfect for a new restaurant. The family that ran the place were Sikhs. For those that may not know, the Sikhs are a very peaceful and welcoming people, akin to the Swiss. They are easily recognized by the wearing of turbans by the males. The females wear beautiful tunics with gold embroidery. Lush persian carpets and portraits of mountainous regions decked out the restaurant. Because of the peaceful nature of the Sikh culture, I have been told that local Indian nationals of various sub-ethnicities have embraced the Sikh business ventures in the States. Also interesting about the Sikhs, from what I understand, is that they believe that men and women are created equal. A lot to think about, too much for making one dinner! Here's your recipe:
1 lb beef tips or tofu (*** Sub with lamb or venison. I used goat. Tastes like lean beef chunks. Baste well to prevent toughening. That's why this recipe works. ***)
Jasmine rice (*** Sub with brown rice ***)
Tandoori spice (***Sub with taco seasoning***)
Oil and butter (50/50 combo)
Honey BBQ sauce
Green beans on the side
Heat skillet to medium high and add little bit of oil and/or butter. I prefer a 50/50 combo. Give a dry rub of spice to the meat and begin to brown in skillet. The meat requires liquid added back in to keep it stewing or it will toughen. Add a touch more oil / butter, a trickle of light cream, and a good squirt of Honey BBQ sauce. Stew the meat until brown, tender, and juices run clear. Serve with jasmine rice or brown rice. Serve green beans on the side. Preferred is to use French long beans.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Hi everyone! Has anyone been to see Highland Games before? Last weekend was my first time to see them up close. Friends who came with me said they saw more Celtic activity in general at the local Celtic festival than any of their trips to Scotland or England. Go figure! There were bagpipes, Irish dancing, kilts, sheep-herding, and our two favorite things:
1. SHEAF TOSS. Men and women use a pitchfork to hurl a weighted sack (22 lbs - Men; 14 lbs - Women) over a bar set high in the air, just like a pole vault. The bar is successively raised. According to the Chief Kilted Asian Sheaf-Tosser (who says you have to be 100% Celtic to participate?!), the secret is all in the lifting and hurling technique. Strength is not the biggest factor. However, I gotta say, most of the Tossers were firefighters, male and female.
Sheaf Toss in action
A sheaf is a bundle of grain like you see in artifacts of Midwest Americana. Pennsylvania is not the grain capital of the world so we have much more haystacks than sheafs!!! Although there are plenty of place names here using "Sheaf".
2. MISTING FAN. This was our second favorite thing at the festival because it was so darn hot!
NUTRITION TIP OF THE DAY:
OLD FASHIONED (American, not really Celtic) TIP FOR KEEPING SUGAR SOFT:
I don't have a Celtic recipe to share today. So, I'm sharing a good old fashioned tip for keeping the sugar in your sugar jar nice and soft. Take a coffee filter and pour some corn grits into it and fasten shut. I am comfortable using a stapler for this because I've got a hefty stapler (think "Office Space", the movie). Others might use tape or a twisty tie instead. I favor this method lately over Bread, Apple Slices, Orange Peel or Marshmallows because there's nothing rotten left directly in touch with the sugar. Quick Grits are fine to use. I don't buy the Instant Grits, so I can't opine on that one. "Slow Grits" (LOL) would be fine though. This sugar tip helps me use up the carton of grits sitting in the pantry.
So long until tomorrow!
Monday, July 22, 2013
I have so many things to share from last weekend that it's going to take me a few days to get to them. First up is a professional tennis match of the PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS team!
What fantastic spectator sport is tennis when one is up close! The hoopla of the U.S. Open is always out-of-control in the northeast United States in August. I have a better way of seeing the pros! Every July, the pros of men's and women's tennis battle it out in exhibition matches here in Philly prior to hopping up to Long Island the following month.
My plan was to see SLOANE STEPHENS. She could not play that day. Up-and-coming tennis star Victoria Duval took her place. If you want to see Sloane, I highly recommend her webpage. It is totally slick. I am have a crush on her web design right now because it's really gorgeous! She's got an ONLINE WORKOUT posted.
The July tennis games used to be played outdoors in a shopping mall parking lot converted to a stadium. Nowadays, there is an agreement with Villanova University to play indoors in the Wildcats basketball gymnasium. That's right, the games are played in the same space where NCAA fans go wild. I know what you're thinking right now: Tennis fans are much more subdued than NCAA fans. That's true. However, the play is just as intense!
The game included men's singles and doubles, women's singles and doubles, and mixed pairs (male-female). By far, the star of the show was LIEZEL HUBER. She really knows how to keep her cool! Her head is always in the game. Wow, can she hit the ball fast! The women's teams stood out for the level of their play and their good humor. The men's teams were less enjoyable because they pouted (a lot!) and were a bit lackluster in their energy. They could have gone for the shots a whole lot more.
The pre-game festivities had giveaways galore, including free tennis racquets (fits age 8 - 10) for all kids under the age of 12. The racquet alone was equal in value to the price of one of the tickets. Mingling with other tennis aficionados led me to make some new acquaintances. It was a pleasing experience altogether. For a hot summer night, it sure beats sitting outside in the heat or in a tent really far away from the action at the U.S. Open. I've had opportunities to attend in the past and turned it down mostly due to the heat. It's on my "bucket list" so I'm sure I'll get there one day!
SUMMER TENNIS TREATS : Make treats that look like tennis balls or racquets:
Carve frozen juice bars into shapes of tennis balls or racquets. Flavors suited for this include pineapple, lemon, or, my favorite of the month, coconut water. Use food gel to decorate the shapes with lines.
WORLD TEAM TENNIS - Matches near you
VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY WILDCATS BASKETBALL
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