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Paddlers, Pitters, and Pipers, Oh My! August 21, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Dragon Boat, Recipes and Food.
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This weekend we had our final dragon boat race of the season in Victoria BC. The Inner Harbour is an amazing venue for a race, and Victoria is a beautiful city. It’s truly one of our favorite races of the year, so we were amazed when three of our paddlers dropped out of the race and we weren’t able to replace them.

We ended up racing with 17 people instead of 20, which certainly put us at a physical disadvantage compared to the competition. It’s easy to get spun up about the fact that you’re not going out with a full boat, and to feel defeated before the race even starts. I decided, though, that there’s no sense in popping a sprog about something that wouldn’t change. Because here’s the deal: my dragon boat team is comprised of a bunch of fierce, bad-ass, sexy bitches who are going to give 100% no matter what. Whether we had 17 paddlers or 20, we were still going to race our race.

We talked about that before our first race. Everyone seemed to shrug off the fact that we only had 17 and embraced the fact that we are a team and we paddle as one. Through our first three heats, I saw that focus and drive come through on the boat and reflected in our times. Before our final heat on Sunday, we agreed that we were paddling hard enough; everyone was giving 100%. The only way to speed up was to focus even more on cohesion on the boat. Nail that timing. Use that leg drive. Focus in the boat. To paraphrase: paddle smarter, not harder.  If you look at our times below, you’ll see that we sped up in each heat…except for our second race on Saturday.  I knew something was happening when I saw our tiller gesturing to starboard, and then lean hard on the till.  I thought maybe it was a dead body, but it turns out to have been just a rather large log floating in our lane.

Here are our times:

Race 1 – 2:24.04
Race 2 – 2:27.05 (there was a log we had to go around)
Silver Semi – 2:22.03
Silver Championship – 2:18.92

We finished fourth (out of 9) in our division, and just missed getting a medal. We were really happy with our results, and we did it by focusing in and getting our heads on straight.  That’s pretty darn awesome considering the other teams had three more paddlers than us.  So they should feel good about their medals, but not that good.  Next year, it’s on.

This experience just goes to show that the mental part of any sport is just as important as the physical.  One of my team mates recently mentioned that he has started thinking power 10’s on his bike when going uphill.  I do the same thing when I run. Often, the voice in my head calling those powers is one of my former coaches, and it motivates me to keep running just like it motivates me to reach it out another two inches and dig it in on the dragon boat.

But this weekend wasn’t all about paddling.  We ate.  A lot.  One of the great things about Victoria is that everything is in walking distance, including Chinatown. I tried congee for the first time.  Not only was it the only migraine-safe food on the menu, it turned out to be the most ultimate comfort food I’ve ever eaten.  I’m going to have to learn to make it myself.

Another benefit of Victoria’s Chinatown is the produce stands where you can get all kinds of exotic fruit and veggies. I made these up as I went along and eyeballed all of the ingredients, so your guess is as good as mine on servings and nutritional info.  But, if you can get your hands on some longan fruit, I highly recommend giving these combos a try.

Chocolate Covered Balls of (Longan) Love

Servings: I dunno

Ingredients

However much longan fruit you have the patience to peel and pit
A bunch of dark chocolate chips or melting wafers
Enough blueberries (preferably little ones)

Peel longans and remove pits, taking care to leave fruit intact. This is extremely tedious, but worth it. The trick is to detach the top of the pit from the flesh of the longan with a very sharp paring knife and then carefully pry it out. Stuff a small blueberry in each longan to help it keep it’s shape.

Heat chocolate in microwave, 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between, until it’s melted and smooth. Roll each stuffed longan in the chocolate and place on a cutting board, or baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate for a while or overnight to allow chocolate to harden. Eat and be amazed.

Longan/Berry Fruit Salad

Servings: Depends on how hungry you are

Ingredients

The longans that didn’t get used for the chocolate longan balls
The blueberries that didn’t get used for the chocolate longan balls
About the same amount of strawberries as longans and blueberries (so, one part longan, one part blueberries, one part strawberries)
A fistful of fresh mint

Peel longans and remove pits (this is a less tedious process than the previous recipe, because you don’t have to keep the longan fruit whole, you can cut the pit out). Wash and cut up strawberries into bite-size pieces. Wash blueberries. Mix all fruit together. Finely chop mint and mix into fruit mixture. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow flavors to combine.  Consume and marvel.

Aside from the actual race, the highlights of my weekend were sitting in the hotel room with my team mates, peeling and pitting longan fruit and talking about everything (like Southern ladies shelling beans), and the bagpipers who showed up at our team party Saturday night. We party like rock stars in Canada, eh?

Eat Meat, Bitches! August 5, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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When I was 13, I somehow got my hands on a copy of Mother Jones magazine. It didn’t take long for me to join PETA and announce that I was becoming a vegetarian. My mother’s immediate reaction was to fret about the chops she had in the freezer, and next to take me to the doctor to make sure I wouldn’t become malnourished. Protein is so important, and there are B vitamins that you really only get from meat.  I seemed to do just fine with B supplements along with eggs, dairy, nuts and beans for protein.

Fast-forward about 10 years, and I’ve started dating the man who is now my hubby, the most meat-and-potato-eating-est person I know. Honestly, the path of least resistance was to start eating poultry and fish again. Although widening my dietary selections did make our lives easier, I think he felt a little guilty about it.  He once commented that he felt like “the heroin junkie with a curious friend.” He’s the junkie, I’m the friend, and the heroin is dead animal flesh.

Anyhoo, fast forward another 10-years-ish, and I discover that I have many, many, many migraine triggers including beans, nuts, cheese, and a huge list of other very common foods. I quickly realized that sometimes, particularly in restaurants, my only safe choice would be some form of red meat. I hadn’t taken that plunge yet, but I figured since I had so many restrictions that I couldn’t control, I should drop the ones that were self-imposed.

So I discovered that I like meat.  Preferably, as rare as possible.  This still freaks out my friends and family who haven’t seen much of me since I was staunchly veggie. Hee hee. 😛

This is my current favorite way to prepare steak, and my current favorite go-to meal.

Company Steak and Spicy Broccoli with Fresh Corn on the Cob

Serves: 4

For the steak (based on a Weight Watcher’s recipe)
12 – 16 oz of top sirloin (Depends on how big you want your portions. 3 – 4 oz per person is technically plenty, but we have learned to expect bigger portions.)
5 big cloves of garlic (or lots and lots of little ones)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano leaf (less, if ground)
.25 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the broccoli
2 cups broccoli florets
.25 tsp red pepper flakes (or more/less, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the corn
Four fresh cobs of corn (the fresher the better, corn gets old fast – still edible, just not as good)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Separate garlic cloves, but don’t peel them. Wrap garlic cloves in aluminum foil, and bake for 15 minutes or as long as necessary to make them soft enough to mash up. Cool garlic enough to handle, unwrap and peel (they will be squishy and sticky!) and mash in a small bowl with oregano, salt and pepper. Prep meat (cut any yucky stuff off) and rub all over with garlic mixture.  Refrigerate anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours (the longer the better).

Before cooking the steaks, prep the broccoli and corn.  Put clean broccoli florets into large bowl and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Toss with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake. Spread in single layer on baking sheet prepared with aluminum foil and non-stick cooking spray.

Pre-heat grill pan on stove (or bbq), and broiler.  Spray steaks with non-stick cooking spray, and grill for 4 – 6 minutes per side, depending on thickness of steaks and desired done-ness (I like rare to medium rare). Let rest for at least 10 – 15 minutes.

While steaks are resting, cook broccoli and corn.

Slide broccoli into the oven on the middle shelf, or 6 – 8 inches under broiler. Roast broccoli until bright green and starting to brown around the edges.

Dump corn in boiling water (yes, I boil my corn, get over it), boil for about a minute and then turn down to low and cover. Remove corn from heat after about 7 -10 minutes and drain.

Slice meat into .25 inch slices.  Serve with broccoli and corn on the side. Enjoy!

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