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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?

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I’m an Evil Genius June 30, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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For over a year, I’ve been having low back issues.  Last year, I thought my back pain was a side effect of a migraine medication that I was taking.  I quit taking that med, did some PT, and it got better.  I was able to run again, and worked my way up to longer distances, peaking at 5 miles.  Then this past winter it became a problem once more.   Back to the doctor I went, and this time she ordered x-rays.

The x-ray didn’t reveal much, other than some minimal lumbar spondylosis (aka spinal osteoarthritis).  Yes, it’s minimal.  Very, very minimal.  Also, 20 years early.  But minimal.

When I whined about it to anyone who would listen, a friend of mine told me her father’s story.  He was diagnosed (at a much older age than me, just saying) with spinal osteoarthritis, and started taking gelatin.  Every morning he stirred a spoonful of plain gelatin powder into cold juice, and drank it down real quick.  Next time he went in for tests, they found that his condition had been reversed.

I’m so into gelatin now.

The problem is, it’s revolting.  Trying to stir it into cold liquid is impossible; it never dissolves, and just swirls around in the glass.  Between the time you stop stirring and start chugging, it’s already all fallen to the bottom, no matter how fast you move, and at the end you get a mouthful of gooey ground up cow hoof. Lovely.  The whole thing is just gross and I’d rather eat sea urchin.

But I’m an Evil Genius.  (I’m reminded of this by the button I wear on my jean jacket, a gift from my honey about 15 years ago.) Accordingly, I experimented with several concoctions until I found one that made the gelatin drinkable. It covers up the taste and texture completely.  And, when I calculated the nutritional info, I was surprised to find that it’s actually kind of healthy.

This drink even makes a good snack.  It’s surprisingly high in protein (thanks to the gelatin), and keeps me feeling full for a while.  Plus, gelatin is supposed to make the hair and nails stronger.

Mwah-hah-hah Mocha

Servings: One

1-2 heaping tsp instant coffee powder (I use an espresso powder, you may need more if it’s regular coffee)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp xylitol
1 tbsp unflavored beef gelatin
cinnamon, salt, vanilla to taste
1 cup hot water

The key to making this a nice drink instead of  a lumpy disgusting mess is to mix the dry ingredients together in a mug.  Nuke a cup of hot water and then slowly add the hot water to the dry ingredients 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly until you have a nice smooth slurry.  Add the vanilla, the rest of the water, stir and enjoy.  Try not to think about the fact that it’s the powdered bovine foot that makes it creamy instead of the more traditional bovine additive of milk.  See?  Evil.

Calories 65.3
Total Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 7.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10.0 g
Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
Protein 11.1 g

Note: I didn’t use salt in mine, so didn’t include that in the nutritional info.

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