Saturday, January 31, 2009

Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars - Week 5

This week was my stock-up week. I posted the farmers market trip earlier this week, but here's my regular shopping. I'm not sure how long I can wait until my next market trip. Four weeks is a long time, when you get spoiled by the massive selection of produce that's fresher than at Publix/Kroger and far less pricey than at Whole Foods. I think I have the rice, nuts and grains right for this month, though I'm iffy on the flour. Will probably need to double the quantities for next time, but I did manage to get at least two weeks' worth in one trip, which is an improvement. Also, I bought extra beef, lamb and ground chicken and turkey, which is in the freezer. Should mean lower protein costs over the next week or two, depending on how I plan, and a faster drop on the weekly average, I hope.

The numbers:
Regular Shopping & Stock-Up Week
Costco - $20.98
Dekalb Farmers Market - $124.65
Publix - $50.03
Whole Foods - $39.19
Week 5 total - $234.85

Weekly Average - $164.03

Year To Date - $820.13

And, in this week's supper line-up:

Hoisin Lamb Stir Fry w/Snow Peas & Cashews, Spicy Bean Sprouts, Rice
The lamb was a big hit. None of the three cared for the water chestnuts, or the side of bean sprouts, but otherwise, it was liked. (I couldn't tell my daughter this was lamb. Luckily, she didn't ask, so I didn't have to lie.)

Cheddar Packed Turkey/Chicken Burgers Homemade Honey Wheat Buns Roasted Sweet & Russet Potato Wedges Salad
Modified from the cheddar & tomato packed burgers we had a couple weeks ago. Kept the onions and fresh herbs, dropped the chopped tomatoes. Big Success. (Batch of the burger mix is in the freezer, waiting to become meatballs for the next noodle night.)

Boeuf Bourguignon, Green Peas in Butter Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips
Made straight from Julia Child's cookbook this time. Usually, I keep the mushrooms on the side, but I mixed 'em in. Boys wouldn't eat them, but admitted to liking the flavor of the beef & sauce when the mushrooms are added - which is a step in the right direction.

Orange Pan Glazed Tofu, Veggie Fried Brown Rice & Kale
Other than one kid (out of the blue) fussing about brown rice, and one adult fussing about the chopped kale, went well. Everyone loved the tofu & orange sauce.

Chicken Breasts w/Paprika, Onions & Cream Risotto, Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower
Called Supremes de Volaile Archiduc in my Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia Child). The chicken always comes out perfect, though I usually go with the tarragon version of the sauce.

Portuguese Potato & Kale Soup Cheddar Packed Turkey/Chicken Burgers Oat/Whole Wheat Bread
We thought the soup was wonderful; the kids just liked the broth & potatoes. Combined the spicing from one recipe and the bacon slice start from another to make it. If I had sausage in the house, I'd have gone with the first. Knew the kids wouldn't eat it as the main course, so I pulled out the leftover turkey burgers from Monday (in freezer for Saturday's lunch) to serve with smaller cups of soup. Since the bread was straight out of the oven, dessert was a toasted slice drizzled with honey. (Mmmmm.)

Macaroni & Cheese, Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower
Ditalini with a homemade cream sauce. Let little people grate parmesan, asagio and cheddar cheese. I'm pretty sure they grate about twice what finally ends up in the pan - there was much giggling over the sneaking of cheese samples.

Working on a couple of comfort food nights during my menu planning for next week. We may or may not have snow, but we will definitely have colder temps and wet weather, so that stew beef I cut from the london broil will be showing up with some barley and/or potatoes soon. Not sure if the kids might like wheat berries better, but barley is what I have, so that's where we'll start.

2009 Grocery Challenge
Supper Wars

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Peter T. Dog (T is for Troll)

My running buddy (9+ year old lab) has been on a daily aspirin regimen for a couple weeks now, and it is really making a difference! He'd been slow getting up from the floor, tiring quickly on runs, and generally mopey, so it was time to try something for the arthritis. He's 80 pounds, so the vet said one pill is a good dose for him. Started slow, with a tablet every other day, while we waited to see if it caused stomach upset. It didn't, so he's now a one-a-day dog. He's eating normally, diving through shrubbery while chasing squirrels and birds, and is generally back to his normal cheerful Petey-self. I'm really glad this is working, because the stronger options the vet mentioned all required regular bloodwork, to check for organ damage. Aspirin is far less scary. (And less expensive.)

Anyway, since Saturday's long run w/out proper wrapping of knee, I've been having a tough time with inclines. I can make it uphill okay, but coming back down is not fun. Wednesday's 3.4 miles with inclines were not so fun, so I drove over to Riverside Park, for the long, FLAT path & crushed gravel trails. Seeing as how Pete's back to being the running fiend, I brought him along. Figured we'd go a bit slower, and I'd loop back early if I noticed him wearing out. He didn't. In fact, he was pulling me along, off and on, throughout the entire 6.3 miles, which hasn't been the case in a while. We greeted other runners, walkers and cyclists, stopped at every trail sign and about half the trees, and chased geese. (Technically, Pete chased geese. I was dancing around, avoiding goose poo on the grass.)

Biggest burst of towing capacity came from him as we approached his favorite spot (okay, one of hundreds of favorite spots) along the trail. He raced down the slope to his watering hole, underneath the bridge (see above). Not only did he drink, he wallowed. Climbed in the water and inched along on his stomach in a crouch, so he could be the wild water dog he knows himself to be. I was very glad for the elastic in the waist leash, because he scooted on his belly with amazing speed to get under the bridge. Once there, he proceeded to plop himself down on the sand, and rest his paws in the water, waiting.

Waiting for what? His keen "wild doggie" senses detected the approaching older couple with smallish dog. As soon as their feet hit the bridge, he let loose with the barking. Bouncing, tail wagging, but still...

My dog, the bridge troll. I'm so proud.

And, a regular old snapshot from the bank by the trout fishing area:

Unexpected Results: Orange Pan-Glazed Tofu

Unique experience in the Supper Complaints Department (SCD) tonight. (The SCD is open daily, between 5:30 - 7:00pm; Noon-1:00, Saturdays & Sundays.) The children loved the orange pan-glazed tofu (modified slightly from Heidi at 101cookbooks), but there was a complaint from the adult segment of our market. Not about the tofu or the veggie fried rice, but about the chopped kale added at the end. (Wuss!)

I fully expected complaints from the kids about the sauce and veggies. Did not get one. Letting them run orange segments through the juicer and slice the carrots & green beans must have helped avoid the "What is this?" question which sets off so many whines. The sauce, by the way, was amazing. Sweet and slightly sour, and just begging for me to toss in a bunch of chilies when I want to make a non-kid version, sometime in the future.

I still have a bunch of the organic kale, so I'll be finding another way to serve it in the next few days. Maybe a Portuguese stew with potatoes like I saw on Anthony Bourdain's show on Travel Channel the other night - though that was technically a dish from the Azores. (Not sure if I grabbed the right video clip for the link. It's a sketchy day for the cable modem today, and I couldn't wait through the lagtime.)

Finished up my weekly shopping early this week, with a post run (3.4 miles - sore hilly miles) stop by Whole Foods yesterday. $39.19, plus $10 for a bottle of Sustainable White. I'll put together my full list for this stock-up week and the totals tomorrow, ahead of schedule, but here's a snap of the goodies. I didn't originally plan to buy more strawberries, but the big boxes of Driscoll's just looked soooo good. Between snacking on whole strawberries with my daughter last night, this morning's breakfast, and slicing several to mix in my spinach salad at lunch, we've gone through more than a pound already. It's cold season though, so I fully support any way of getting extra vitamin C into our systems.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Belated Yoga Day

Saturday (25th) was National Yoga Day. Yeah, I didn't know there was an official day for it either. Found out from MizFit's weekly poetic Friday post. I was on a long run Saturday, so hot yoga was on Friday and Sunday for me. The belated yoga day was Tuesday (27th), when I had a yoga buddy. We struck a deal for mid morning, mid week yoga. (No babysitting issues.) Since it would be taking up his lunch break, I was going to have to cater the post-yoga meal. No problem.

Three hours before class - Vanilla whole milk yogurt on blueberries and half a banana, topped with two tablespoons of ground flax. Was slightly under four ounces of yogurt, and the fruit portions were fairly small, too. If you've not taken the hot bikram classes, the room is kept around 105 degrees, so you really don't want much in your stomach when you walk through the door into the studio. As for the whole milk yogurt, I know. The fat content is higher, we can get the same nutrients and calcium in the lower fat versions... blah, blah, blah. Don't care. Just like with ice cream and cooking with butter - having the whole version, we're satisfied sooner, and eat less.

The 90 minute class was great. I think I'm finally starting to get my knee comfortably stretched back out from Saturday's 8-miles of unwrapped knee. Yoga buddy liked the class, so much that he wants to go again. If I can drag the teenager out of bed early enough to watch his younger siblings, the early Sunday morning class is probably a go.

As for the food? Lunch - avocado and mango in honey/ginger/lime dressing, with chopped cilantro and celery. Topped with roasted cashews for protein (and salt - definitely needed salt after class), and a clementine.

And, because I'm being photo happy today, supper. Boeuf Bourguignon, cooked straight out of the Julia Child cookbook. Served up the mushrooms to the kids too, as their "try something different" for the day. (Technically, a "try it again, maybe you'll like it this time" for the day. And, it may be working. DD ate not only the mandatory single half a mushroom, she also chose to eat a second. Yea!) Sides of green peas w/butter and mashed potatoes and parsnips with garlic. And, a glass of Cab from Argentina.

Overall, a good day. Looking forward to (fingers crossed) another class with the yoga buddy on Sunday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Grocery Challenge - Week 5 - Farmer's Market Stockup!

I love being in the kitchen after a trip to the farmer's market. Did my stockup shopping. Didn't get a picture of everything together, as the bounty didn't fit on the counter all at once. I do have photos from the couple hours after getting everything put away. Starting with this happy bowl of fruit, right by my aprons. Peaches, valencia oranges, pink lady apples, bananas, limes, avocado - and a bag of dried pineapple chunks, which are candy substitutes for my daughter, the resident sweet-tooth.

Supper! Lamb, marinating in garlic, ginger, honey, red wine and soy sauce. Red and sweet onions, cilantro, water chestnuts and snowpeas (trimmed by little people), ready to be stir fried with more ginger & garlic, with rice and bean sprouts on the side. Sure I could make this from the supermarket, but the snow peas and bean sprouts would not have been anywhere near as crisp, and the lamb would have been older, more expensive, and from sheep loaded with antibiotics and hormones. (Recipe from Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper cookbook.)

Now that I'm stocked back up on whole wheat & oat flour, it's baking time! Oatmeal breakfast muffins, honey whole wheat buns for Monday's cheese stuffed turkey burgers, and bread for sandwiches in packed lunches. Between this and the Lamb Stir fry in Hoisin, the kitchen - no, the whole house - smelled amazing!

I'll need to get a few items at the supermarket, like Very Vanilla Silk and the evaporated milk I use when cooking. It doesn't make sense to pay almost $2 per can at the int'l market, when it's only 87 cents at Publix. (Total reverse of the coconut milk pricing.) I'll post a full list at the end of the week, but here is the shopping list from the main trip:
Spent time dividing the lamb & beef for multiple meals. The turkey and chicken will also be doing double duty. I'm mixing with minced onion, garlic, parsley, basil and chopped scallion - a little over half will be used for cheese stuffed burgers Monday, the rest scooped into balls and frozen for a meal next week. Another plus to the meat & poultry from the farmer's market? Never been frozen, so it keeps far better when I do things like this.

Half Training, 1/19-1/25

Monday 1/19:
Hot yoga, 75 min

Tuesday 1/20:
Easy Run, 3.12 mi, 28:35
Hot yoga, 90 min
Reward for running on 22 degree morning. Was 20 minutes into class before my toes & fingers were no longer chilly.

Wednesday 1/21:
Power yoga, 75 min
I'm counting this as strength - lots of core & upper body work.

Thursday 1/22:
Easy Run, 6.75 mi, 1:12
On the treadmill, so I guessed by run time, as opposed to the 7.5 miles on the computer. Played with inclines while running, to approximate terrain, but I don't know if that makes up for the stride difference on the belt.

Friday 1/23:
Hot yoga, 90 min

Saturday 1/24:
Long Run, 7.98 mi, 1:22:06*
Knee started to hurt pretty bad at about 6 miles.

Sunday 1/25:
Hot yoga, 90 min
Skipped the recovery run. The knee was unhappy. Heat & stretching was good.

*This route is a little hilly. I like it, since each uphill is followed by a longer downhill. The downhill seems to be the tough part for me, as my knee hurt worse on each downhill. It's the patello-femoral thing, with my kneecap not tracking correctly. Doesn't bother me on shorter runs, flat terrain runs, or in warmer weather. When it's below 60 degrees on hills, I have a sleeve... which I chose not to wear. Won't make that mistake next week.

Stopping by Big Peach Running Co. to sign up for my first race of 2009. The Chattahoochee Challenge 10k, February 7, over at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Don't think the kids will be running with me this time. My oldest is holding off for a 5k, and I haven't been able to get a straight answer from the little ones about the 1 mile fun run.

It was a toss up between this and a 10-mile race in Greenville, SC. Travel aside, I'm not sure I'm ready for a 10 mile race yet - though I'm seriously considering trying the Run the Reagan Half Marathon on Valentine's Day, just one week later. If I do, the kids will be running or run/walking the 5k with Dad. After all, what better way to celebrate than to do something good for our hearts?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars - Week 4

Regular Grocery Shopping
Publix - $34.22
Dekalb Farmers Market - $51.52
Publix - $43.70
Week 2 total - $129.44

Weekly Average - $146.32

Year To Date - $585.28

Shopping Lists:

I kind of blew it this week on the whole grocery budget thing. A little lax in general, but here are a few big red flags:
  1. The $15 in meat for one meal.
  2. Running short on flour, again.
  3. Blueberry B Monster Smoothie
  4. Ice cream, when I had a perfectly good batch of cookie dough stashed in the freezer.
Attempt at justification:
  1. Tried out a honey peppercorn steak recipe with the kids. Tough to do without steak. We don't do it that often... so there.
  2. I'll be better about this for the next four weeks, as I have a much clearer idea of how much flour we go through now.
  3. I knew I had less than an hour between yoga class and Friday reading at the elementary school (2nd & 4th grade classes). Enough time to shower, no time to fix lunch. The $3 smoothie waiting in the fridge prevented a fast food debacle.
  4. It was Red Velvet Ice Cream.
Will be heading over to the International Farmers Market this coming Sunday, for the stockup shopping trip. No froufrou coffee, no crazy chocolate confections. Staples. Fruits. Vegetables. Protein.

For a bit of a lark, here are photos of my haul from two of this week's shopping trips. First, the farmers market ($51.52):

Next, the regular old grocery store ($43.70):

Less than $8 between the two register tapes, but what a tremendous difference in the quality and quantity of food!

2009 Grocery Challenge

Overall, the plan is still going well. The kids are helping with more food prep on nights where there's not too much homework. As an example, on Sunday, B2 mixed up the cornbread muffins and peeled parsnips and garlic cloves. DD sliced apples for the pie. B1 (14 y.o.) offered his younger siblings loads of advice on proper technique... given his vastly superior experience, gained over his "many years of cooking." Supper line-up for Week 4, with lunch from Monday (MLK Holiday):
Green - Hit; will make again
Red - Miss; try a new variation, or not
Black - Mixed results; tweak & try again.

Black Pepper-Honey Steak
Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips
Green Beans, and Cornbread Muffins
Apple-Cranberry Pie
Recipe for Black Pepper-Honey Steak was from The Splendid Table (NPR). It. Was. Delicious. The whole meal was a hit, except for the pie. Two children were put off by the cranberries in with their beloved apple slices. (I'm beginning to think those two may not actually be my children, but strange little alien pod people, put here to test the limits of human patience.)

Turkey Tacos & Black Bean Salad (Lunch)
Butter Chicken, Brown Rice, Green Peas (Supper)
Kids were a little iffy on [not-so?] mild curry this time. They ate it, but went through more ice water than usual at supper. I didn't notice a big difference, but the jalapeno I used in making the curry paste may have been a bit hotter than last time.

Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame & Tofu
Picked up the recipe from RunningWithFood. Different flavor and consistency than the way I usually make it. Was tasty.

Leftover Night:
Mexican Pizza, w/meat from Turkey Tacos
Fried Rice w/Scallions, Edamame & Tofu
Butter Chicken & Green Peas (OK, this was just me)

Chicken with Lentils & Couscous
Kids picked out the yellow & red pepper, but I didn't get a lot of whining. I'm going to take that as progress.

Linguine w/Italian Sausage & Veggies,
Cheesy Toasted Flatbread, Broccoli
The onions were chopped small enough to get past, but the red peppers were picked out... again. Halved grape tomatoes, no problem. I've upped the amounts of fresh parsley & basil to get them used to extra green in pasta. I plan to sneak in fresh chopped spinach next time. One likes it, but the other two will only eat spinach as long as they don't know it's there. (Again... pod people.)

Had planned chicken breasts sauteed in butter with tarragon, rice pilaf and salad for Saturday... which was scrapped in favor of a meal at Tijuana Joe's Mexican Cantina.

We spent extra time at the park, playing a imaginative version of space-pirates-meet-intrepid-explorers, incorporating elements from Stargate SG-1/Atlantis, Firefly, Captain Drake (hence the pirates), and the many incarnations of Star Trek. Oh! B2 made sure we knew all of our close quarter battles were with light sabers, so Star Wars was in there too. The playground was empty, except for us. Not sure why, as it was a sunny day with temps in the 50s, but we took advantage of all that extra space.

Supper Wars

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beating boredom on the treadmill

What can keep me from complete and total brain death during a long run on the treadmill?

Burn Notice marathon on USA. Grabbing my water bottle and running shoes, and heading off to the YMCA.

Considering the public health hazards of the gym I've been learning from Charlotte's post today over at The Great Fitness Experiment, maybe I should take a bottle of lysol and a travel size bottle hand sanitizer, too.

Update: Somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 miles. I'm guessing closer to 6.5, given the faulty math of the typical treadmill. Had to reset the computer on the treadmill, as it frowns upon workouts over 60 minutes. Total time - 1:12:35, due to having stepped on the treadmill 12 minutes before the top of the hour. Great run today, even if it was inside.

Fun with fried rice

Whether it's veggie-fried rice as a side dish with skewers of marinated & grilled chicken or loaded up with cubes of baked tofu or chicken, fried rice is a weekly dinner favorite in our house. To be honest, I think I could serve it every other night for a few weeks before getting any complaints.

It's easy to make, and cooking the rice in the morning while packing lunches means super speedy prep for dinner. Just 15-20 minutes to a homemade one-dish meal. What more could a mom ask for on a busy sports / music / homework night?

Last week, I saw a photo of Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu over at Running with Food. It looked delicious. I've served tofu fried rice, with edamame succotash on the side, so this sounded like a good fit for the family.

The combination for the liquid was a little different than what I usually fix. I usually use a little bit of chicken or vegetable stock (ice cube form, stored in freezer), and add a bit of soy sauce and ginger. RWF's recipe uses soy sauce and more ginger than I use (garlic and red pepper flakes optional), so the flavor is just a little different. Without the extra broth, the rice was ready a few minutes faster - and I can't say I noticed any lack of the flavor for skipping it.

There were only a couple of things I changed in making this. First, I used an egg, not egg substitute. Second, the kids prefer tofu with a sturdier texture, so the tofu was pressed for an hour or two, to remove some of the water, then cubed and stir-fried in garlic sesame oil.

It was really tasty, and will probably be repeated around here sometime soon. Now, to see what else RunningWithFood is cooking.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Anticipating the "Ouch!"

Yesterday, when I said hot yoga was good, but not as exhausting as a 2 hour bike ride in August? I take that back. I went to a Power Yoga class today, and I can already tell it will be tough to roll out of bed into the cold tomorrow morning. Up dog, downward dog, planks, and a bunch of positions I couldn't begin to pronounce. I haven't done so many pushups at one time since 6th grade. (Broken arms, followed by 4 years of marching band meant no gym class after that.) The muscles of my upper body and core will be screaming, if the whimpering I'm hearing from them now are any gauge.

Putting away a stack of towels on the top shelf of the linen closet, my triceps trembled. From lifting bath towels over my head.

I think it's time to consult the trainers at the Y for an upper body / weight regimen. The running and cycling have given me lovely legs - it's a shame to keep them paired to these arms.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Half Training, 1/12-1/18

Monday 1/12:
Hot yoga, 90 min

Tuesday (w/dog):
Easy/Trail Run, 4.03 mi, 42:39

Unplanned Rest Day (School Stuff)

Easy Run, 3.12 mi, 28:31
Hot yoga, 90 min
Bike Commute, 2.5 mi

Hot yoga, 90 min

*Long Run, 4.25 mi, 45 min

Rest Day (Birthday Party w/kidlets)

*Long run on Saturday was planned as a 6 miler. My toes were going numb 30 minutes in, so I looped back home. Am wearing thicker socks for the below 30 degree runs.

The temps are still rather low this week, so I'm not pushing myself too hard on the mileage. I have the hang of layering and am now keeping my toes warm in the right socks on cold days. It's breathing in the cold air which gets me. The inside of my nose and my throat feels as though on fire once I get the heart rate up. Shooting for more running days, but shorter runs, which should help me get used to the cold... just in time for Spring, which won't be long, here in Georgia.

I started a 10 day pass with Atlanta Hot Yoga last Monday. I'm taking as many classes as possible, to get a feel for how crowded different class times are, and to experience the different styles of the instructors. After the 10 days are up, I'm going to work two classes in each week, either on stretch/strength days, or for crosstraining. I can't begin to explain how heavenly it is to hang out in the 90-95 degree room. It's not quite as exhausting as a two hour cross country ride on the bicycle in August, but it's doing good things for my chilled limbs and Winter Blahs.

Inaugural Day

There are so many people commenting on the inaugural speech, and our new President, from all points along the political spectrum. I'd like to take a minute to highlight a different speech from today. Senator Diane Feinstein, a woman who I respect, though I disagree with her often, spoke of the significance of today's historical event - which happens in our nation every four years, before her introduction for the new President & Vice President. The transition of power from one leader to the next which the US celebrates. No violence. No civil war.
In a world where political strife is too often settled with violence, we come here every four years to bestow the power of the presidency upon our democratically elected leader.

Left or Right, it doesn't matter today.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars - Week 3

Regular Grocery Shopping
Publix - $85.51
Trader Joes - $24.62
Whole Foods - $20.45
Week 2 total - $130.58

Weekly Average - $151.94

Year To Date - $455.84

Not a bad week. The average is now close to the $150/week target of my "normal" shopping patterns. With one more week to go, it looks like the once-a-month stockup is going to make a big difference. I'll need to get better about the quantities I need for each month, as I've needed to purchase replacements for several staples already. I seriously underestimated the brown sugar, rice, flour and oats, along with a few other items. We're eating a very good variety of fresh fruits and veggies, and organic where the cost isn't too prohibitive. The budget planning and ongoing attempt to keep the kids trying new foods, as well as familiar foods in new types of cuisine are tying together nicely.

Starting next week, I'll also be posting my actual shopping lists w/costs. I'm working on a pricebook-type record, so I can get a better handle on quantities needed during the stockup trips.

2009 Grocery Challenge

Odd week with menu planning. Ended up juggling a few days around, to accomodate project boards for one child, internet reasearch for another, and a couple of birthday parties. Started the week with the disasterous introduction of rutabaga, but ended on a pleasant note with what the kids are calling a chinese spaghetti dinner.
Green - Hit; will make again
Red - Miss; try a new variation, or not
Black - Mixed results; tweak & try again.

Casserole Roasted Chicken w/ Winter Veggies
Chicken was tasty. The lentils & leeks got past the kids. Carrots and potatoes were also good. The rutabaga was a sticking point for all of us. It will not be included in the future.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts, Peas,
Risotto w/Roasted Butternut Squash

Kids picked out mushrooms, and were less than enthusiastic about the butternut squash.
I loved the risotto, and will be making again. Probably with barley next time. Will just scoop out the kid portions before I add the mushrooms.

Cheese Pizza and Salad

Chicken Fried Rice, Garlic Green Beans
Using extra two chicken breasts cooked w/lemon pepper on Monday.

Breakfast for Dinner, a.k.a Brinner
Whole wheat & flax waffles, applewood smoked uncured bacon, cheese omelet (w/spinach, onions & peppers in grownup version), yogurt & berries for dessert.

Mac & Cheese, Florets Polonaise
Broccoli & cauliflower, blanched and tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, sauteed minced garlic, fresh bread crumbs and chopped hard boiled eggs. Need to dice the hard boiled egg finer next time. DD finds hard boiled eggs "creepy", so they need to blend with other crumbly bits.

Chinese Ginger Scallion Meatballs,
Noodles in Hoisin w/Spinach

Combined sweetened cranberries, shallot, garlic and fresh ginger with an egg yolk, then mixed into ground chuck with chopped scallions and 5 spice powder. The sauce for the noodles: sauteed yellow onion and shallot, thin sliced carrot, 1/4 cup red wine, 1 cup chicken stock, 1/8 cup soy sauce and hoisin sauce. I think it was about 1/8 cup hoisin, but added to taste. Dropped several handfuls of spinach into the sauce when adding the browned meatballs. I've been asked to use sliced green beans next time. Maybe I will, maybe I won't.
Supper Wars

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Too much of a good thing?

I overdid it on the exercise today, by 2.5 miles. Didn't mean to. I missed my workout yesterday. Had planned to go to a 90 minute yoga class. Dropped the morning class plan in favor of the 4th grade Biography Fair. (Seeing my Wilbur Wright was more important, of course. B2 was fantastic!) The evening class plan went by the wayside because of rush hour gridlock. Even with a make ahead dinner, and a helpful teen, it would have meant 90 minutes in traffic to get there. I checked the traffic reports at 60 minutes. Sigh.

Figured slacking off during my first week of a half marathon program would set a bad precedent, so today turned into a make up day. Hit the road for my regular three mile hill run, then came home and changed for the 10:00 am hot yoga class. Only took 15 minutes to get there, seeing as how it's not rush hour. Gotta say, hot yoga after a 30 degree run (19 with windchill) was bliss.

Home for a shower, some leftover lentils & couscous, then work. Only a couple things promised today, so I wrapped up mid afternoon, with plenty of time to make a Trader Joes run. (There were several requests this morning for an eggs & bacon breakfast, but no time - so we're having "brinner" tonight. Needed a few things for the waffles, veggie omelet and... bacon.) Grabbed my bag & basket, pulled on gloves and coat, headed out. I run lots of mornings and follow with an afternoon ride to the bank or store. No big deal, right?

Started out fine. Little tough going uphill, but I think I still had residual warmth from yoga in my muscles. Did my shopping, unlocked Patty from the shopping cart corral, and started home.


I don't know if it was the added weight, but the trip home was agony. I was cold. Everything hurt.

Everything still hurts. Even my pinky toes are complaining. That could just be the cold, though.

What I already knew:
A day with both run + bike/store = GOOD
A day with both yoga + bike/store = GOOD

What I learned today:
COLD run + HOT yoga = VERY GOOD
COLD run + HOT yoga + COLD bike/store = QUIT WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD, NITWIT!

I'm tossing back ibuprofen, and wondering how I'll stay awake through fixing supper, music lessons (x3), multiplication tables and spelling, laundry and breakfast muffin baking.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time. At least the flowers are pretty?!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Running Buddy

When we got back from the riverside trails today, Peter T. Dog spent a few minutes rolling around and shedding all over the carpet, then passed out for two hours. He was so wiped that he snoozed right through mail delivery. I forget sometimes he's hit the senior years, especially when he's dragging me after random squirrels and birds. Maybe our cold weather runs should be limited to the three milers?

Butternut Squash Risotto

It's cold outside. I have a 4 mile run today, but am putting it off until the temperature hits 40 or above. I'm waiting for changes for a map from a client, my kitchen is clean, and the laundry is switched. I can't pick up my copy of Nation of Sheep by Andrew Napolitano, or I'll keep reading and miss the run. It's a good book. Plus, it will make me cranky, and then I'll spend most of my run grumbling, since I'll be pushed for time and cranky. So, I'll blog last night's dinner.

Modified from a recipe in The Farmers Market Cookbook
(bought at Costco several years ago... or was it Sams?)
1 cup Brown Rice
1/3 cup Lentils
Rice cooked according to package directions; lentils tossed in about 1/2 way through cooking.

Butternut Squash
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Peeled, seeded and cut. Roasted in olive oil with seasonings at 400 degrees for 30 mins or so.

Leek, sliced
Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
Fresh Parsley, chopped
Carrot, rough grated
1/2 cup Vegetable Broth
2 Tbs Butter
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Handful of chopped walnuts
Handful of chopped walnuts
Cook onion, leek and garlic in butter over medium high heat. When onions start to color, add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms start to fry, then add carrots. Cook until carrots start frying, then add rice, lentils, parsley and vegetable broth. Cook for five minutes, then stir in half of the grated cheese. Serve, topped with walnuts and remaining Parmesan.

39 degrees. Woo hoo - almost there! I'm off to get changed for my run, so I can get back home & heat up the leftovers for lunch.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Officially In-Training

With the kids back in school. I spent last week adjusting back to a "normal" schedule. Ran four times, a total of about 14 miles for the week. Hadn't quite decided what to do with my late winter / early spring, so I spent a bit of time thinking about it while I was getting back up to daily official exercise. (Lugging laundry, ironing, cooking, cleaning, etc. - exhausting, but not officially exercise.)

While putting my Saturday run into my Runners World training log, I noticed the calendar. I'm 11-12 weeks out from the ING Atlanta Half Marathon. Just enough time to start an intermediate improve-your-time program. I don't see why I can't tackle the "run a half marathon faster than 2008" goal right now.

There are a couple of 10k races between now and March 29th, so I stand a good chance of checking the P.R. for that distance off the list, too. Any 5k races over the next few months will likely be with my kids, so it's their fun that counts. (Times count too, but in an neener-neener I run faster than you, you stinky boy/ snotty girl way, common to siblings everywhere.)

I'm reading up on Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half Plan (12 week), as well as the Long Program - Half Marathon Training (10 week) at Runner's World. I'll probably end up with a mash up of the two, but here's what I have come up with for this week:

Monday - Stretch/Strength
Tuesday - 4 mile, easy
Wednesday - XT / Rest
Thursday - 3 mile, hill
Friday - Stretch / Strength
Saturday - 6 mile, long
Sunday - 3 mile, easy

The Rutabaga Revolt

"It's not fair! Why don't YOU ever have to try anything new?"

This is what I was asked last week, during one of the Try Something New suppers. That I've been alive a lot longer, and have already tried many of these foods, doesn't occur to them. I'm just a big meanie, forcing them to eat unpronounceable dishes. So, I decided to join the kids in the trenches of our Supper Wars.

I took a casserole-roasted chicken recipe I've used (a variation of) for years now, one we all like, and followed it to the letter this time. Instead of choosing to use a few root vegetables, I used all the veggies on the list: potato, sweet potato, carrot, onion, leek, onion, and... lentils and RUTABAGA.

I didn't have anything against the rutabaga, I have just never felt the need to tackle one in my cooking. I'm sure my mom told me stories of her own childhood traumas, probably meant to allay the trauma she was inflicting on me with overcooked, previously frozen, brussels sprouts. You know, after the starving children would be grateful to have what you are turning up your nose at... at least I don't make you eat what my mother served us... blah, blah blah.

Peeled, chopped and roasted the veggies, along with the chicken breasts. Smelled fantastic. People were hungry. Scooped out the chicken & vegetables and turned the pan juices into gravy. Couscous was to be on the side, and I even made pilsbury crescent rolls, figuring I might need a bribe to get them past the lentils in the gravy.

The chicken was fantastic. The potatoes, leeks, onions, carrots - all delicious. There weren't even complaints about the lentils. There was only 1/2 cup in the whole dish, so the kids probably assumed those were bits of herbs and not a big deal. But the rutabaga? Nope.

The texture was about halfway between a potato and a carrot. The taste was about what you'd think carrot/potato would taste like, too. Pretty good start. But the aftertaste? Hard to describe. Not cabbage, but something like it. I ate mine, because I was setting an example, and really hungry. But I didn't like it much, either. I moved the bar lower than usual, and set one piece of rutabaga as the target. Two children made it. Middle child (B2) chose to go without a crescent roll, rather than finish the second bite of his rutabaga chunk.

Not every battle can be won, and it this case, I'm not sure I'd want to win. Tonight will be a peace offering. Chicken breasts, plain old green peas, and some pasta tossed in olive oil & garlic.

I'll stick with my original meal plan, but they can try butternut squash and barley risotto some other time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brussels Sprouts & Me: A Hate/Love Relationship

As a kid, I HATED brussels sprouts. I know that's not uncommon for kids, but I had the kind of hatred which leads one to declare "when I have a daughter, I will NEVER make her eat brussels sprouts!"

My mom always made sprouts from the frozen brick. She'd boil until falling apart, which she did with most vegetables, now that I think about it. Sometimes, the brussels sprouts would go fancy, with a bit of butter, or sprinkle of cheese. Didn't help; they were always nasty.

When I was about 20, I had a boyfriend who liked the darn things. Being the loving girlfriend I was, I cooked them. Not frozen. Fresh from the produce section brussels sprouts. Blanched, then tossed in with butter, salt, and some sort of citrus. They were pretty good. 17 years went by without me repeating the side dish, though.

This year, while working on my day after Thanksgiving meal plans (official holiday dinner on Friday, due to Thursday half marathon), I came across a recipe for Oven Carmelized Brussels Sprouts with Autumn Fruits. Pears, apples, fresh thyme... I had to try it. And it was amazing. Have fixed Brussels Sprouts this way a couple of times since then, and loved it just as much as the first.

Late in the week, while thinking about my bin full of sweet potatoes, I read Hangry Pants' write up on colorful food on a gray day. (On a side note - love the She Says / He Says of Hangry Pants! Taste tests of new Trader Joes products, grocery shopping, healthy cooking, and ice cream.) The colorful food was sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. And I thought:
IF Sweet Potatoes + Fruit = Good Stuff
AND Brussels Sprouts + Fruit = Good Stuff
THEN Sweet Potatoes + Brussels + Fruit = Really Good Stuff

So, I picked up a pack of fresh brussels sprouts at Trader Joes. Cut them in half, and tossed with:
Sweet potato
Sweet Onion
Apple (McIntosh, I think)
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Whole Grain Mustard
Sea Salt & Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Brown Sugar (teaspoon)

My daughter helped with the prep, and we popped it in the oven at 425 degrees. 45 minutes later, the kids had a little of the roasted veggies alongside their mac & cheese and steamed broccoli... but no brussels sprouts. I was okay with that.

Anyway, dinner was delicious, and I will definitely make this again. Thank you again to She of HangryPants for the inspiration!

Supper Wars - Week 2

This week went pretty well. Only six days this week. Power was knocked out for the neighborhood on Wednesday, so we ventured out for dinner.

There was one day when I was sure the kids would love dinner, and was totally wrong. Fortunately, knowing I'm keeping tabs on what they like and don't like, they're more open to discussing what exactly it is they don't like, if it's just a part of the meal. Making them food critics and part of building the family cookbook is putting the stops on the general "yuck" complaints.

Green - Hit; will make again
Red - Miss; try a new variation, or not
Black - Mixed results; tweak & try again.
Ginger Chicken & Noodles (Old favorite)
Vegetable Stir Fry w/Zucchini
Kids still not into zucchini. Sticking with celery, carrots, broccoli and onion.

Beef Tacos, Black Bean Salad
Leave out the mango next time, and use mild salsa.

Baked Teriyaki Tofu & Veggie Fried Rice
Steamed Broccoli & Carrots

Tomato & Cheddar Packed Turkey Burgers

Oven Roasted Potato & Sweet Potato Fries,
This is where making the kids food critics helps. They liked the overall flavor, as they're used to me putting diced onions and chopped herbs into burgers. The diced tomato pieces were the offenders. I'll be leaving them out next time.

Mac & Cheese, Broccoli & Carrots
Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/ Sweet Potato
Kids tried the sweet potato & carrots in the sprouts. I count myself a lucky mom there's never any battling over broccoli, so I didn't push them too hard on the sprouts.

French Onion Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Cheddar & swiss on homemade egg bread? Instant win.

Supper Wars
2009 Grocery Challenge

Saturday, January 10, 2009

GC 2009 - Week 2

Regular Grocery Shopping
Publix (1/5) - $75.64
Trader Joes (1/8) - $19.54
Week 2 total - $95.18

Weekly Average - $162.63

Year To Date - $325.26

Mostly produce, dairy and meat this week, plus a few items for packing school lunches. If I had to guess, I'd say I'm about halfway through many of the staples (rice, couscous, sugar, tea). I underestimated how quickly we go through flour. Between bread, rolls, waffles, muffins, cookies, it's a lot more than I realized. Will increase the quantities during my next stock up trip, in two weeks.

2009 Grocery Challenge
Supper Wars

Friday, January 09, 2009

Time for a haircut

I realized something odd this evening. I have used writing instruments as hair accessories three times this week. Happens at my desk, when I lean back in my chair. My hair is officially half way down my back now, the longest it's ever been in my life. Even a ponytail gets caught, these days.

It's been six months since my last trim. (Was putting it off, out of fear I'd ask for a pixie cut.)
Avoiding tangles requires nightly braiding.
I've felt the weight of the ponytail, bouncing, on longer runs.
The ends are practically strawberry blond, from sun, sweat and chlorine.

Will schedule cut for next week. Taking off about four inches, and getting a couple of recommendations for future style change. Will not be talked into any color treatments, though.

Of course, my hair will know exactly what I'm up to, and begin several days of "perfect", just to mess with me.

Grumble, grumble

Back up to speed today, after a couple of crazy days. The heavy rain in my area moved out late Tuesday, pushed by strong winds on Wednesday. Tree limbs were dropping all over the place. Power lines were knocked out in two or three spots in my neighborhood, shortly after lunch. Headed to the YMCA, figuring it was safer than being on the constant watch for flying sticks and overhead wires. Enjoyed my time on the treadmill, watching Stargate Atlantis on SciFi.

Thought the power would be back by the time I got kids picked up and home. Nope. As of 3pm, Ga Power estimated restoration by 8 pm. So much for cooking. Packed up for dinner at Ted's Montana Grill. 8 pm - no power. The younger kids had a blast taking showers by candlelight and turning bedtime reading into creepy ghost stories by flashlight. Lights popped back on right as children were drifting off to sleep... of course. Reset clocks. Checked batter backups and computers. Tossed the ice cream. Emptied the ice bin. Counted our good fortune, everything else was still frozen and/or cold.

Thursday morning, while making breakfast and packing lunches, I noticed the frozen produce. The freezer/fridge kicked into overdrive when the power came back on. The strawberries and blueberries could be cleaned and popped into the freezer to use in smoothies, but the lettuce, herbs, celery, cucumbers, etc., all had to be tossed, or used immediately to make vegetable stock. Ugh. So much for the grocery budget.

Got out the stockpot. Cleaned the fridge. Added Wednesday's bread & cookie baking to Thursday's muffin batch. Tackled the laundry which had been halted mid-cycle. Finished the map work which had been promised Wednesday afternoon. Then, school pickup, homework, dinner, music lessons (x3), homework checking, kitchen cleanup, bath/storytime/bed, ironing...

Whew! With only a hill run and volunteer time at the elementary school, today is practically a holiday.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Playing in traffic

I haven't officially exercised since Christmas. I've hiked, walked, played tag and field hockey, done kid yoga, and bowled while the kids have been home from school, but nothing official. I went for my first run of 2009 today, and it was wonderful!

It was misting heavily, with temps in the low 60s. I had on my favorite nike skirt and salt crusted hat. I was outside, cruising along at grown up speed, happy to be keeping my eyes on actual cars and dodging puddles, rather than keeping an eye out for orange juice puddles and dodging matchbox cars in the house.

3.2 miles @ 8:56/mile

It was a great start to the year!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Supper Wars - Week 1

Working to expand our "try something new" meals beyond just a couple times each week, by adding new side dishes with old favorites, or alternating days between the familiar and the unusual. When I'm fixing something terribly spicy or truly odd, I'll still fix a separate kid and grown up meal, but I'd like that to be the exception, rather than the norm. Tying the planning necessary to keep the kids trying new foods to the planning for reducing the average grocery bill seems like a no-brainer.

Green - Hit; will make again
Red - Miss; try a new variation, or not
Black - Mixed results; tweak & try again.
Pan Fried Deviled Eggs, on Mixed Greens
Kids did NOT appreciate at all, unfortunately. I thought it was delicious.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup w/Rustic Bread (Old favorite)

Adobo Chicken w/ Rice & Salad (Variation)
The kids don't like dark meat. Prepared a couple of skin-on split chicken breasts, in addition to the thighs. Worked like a charm.

Baked Tofu w/Fried Rice (Old favorite),
Edamame Succotash w/ Roasted Red Pepper (Variation)
Figure if I keep putting bell peppers in dishes, I will eventually stumble upon a method of cooking and presentation they like. This wasn't it. Not only would they not eat the peppers, they wouldn't eat the corn and edamame when cooked together. They eat both on their own, quite happily. (Ack!)

Turkey Burgers (old favorite) , Couscous Salad (Variation)
I'm upping the parsley, mint, and vegetable content of the salad each time I make this. Overdid it this time. Will have to keep the chopped red peppers on the side and add just to grown up plates. Kids picked out peppers and ate rest of salad, but there was much grumbling.

Flatbread Pizza
Build-your-own pizzas. Choice of either italian sausage & cheeses or shredded adobo chicken with sauteed onion & garlic slices. You can guess which kids picked.

Butter Chicken w/Basmati Rice, Nan and Green Beans
Two kids loved the mild curry chicken; one did not. He was extremely opposed to the entire concept. Will try this again, but let him add coconut milk, instead of the yogurt.

Pho Bo (Vietnamese Noodle Soup) w/Basil-lemongrass Meatball (Old Favorite)
Big bowl of rice noodles, topped with ladles of fragrant broth (beef, chicken & ginger). Toss in a couple of the basil meatballs, and let everyone pile bean sprouts, fresh leaves of thai basil and cilantro on from the salad plate. Can't go wrong.

GC - Week 1

Stock-up Shopping
International/Farmers Market - $155.04

Regular Grocery Shopping
Publix (2 trips) - $61.98
Trader Joes - $13.06

Week 1 total - $230.08

This was the stock up week. Refilled the spice cabinet, bought organic basmati rice, oat flour, wheat flour, flax meal, barley, whole wheat couscous, and more, in bulk. Spent at least $30 more at the farmers market than I would have, had I not had helpers (note the lower case h) clamoring for dark chocolate dipped ginger cookies, anchovy stuffed olives, large containers of pistachios and 1/2-lb bags of exotic coffee (the $40/lb stuff).

Made three smaller trips to the grocery stores through the week, for milk, meat/poultry, and for produce at the end of the week. (Included the wine for New Years Eve/Day)

This week's spending will be lower. Don't know how much yet, since I'm still working out the plan. I'm on day two of week two, and haven't needed to go to the store yet, so it's looking good so far. I'll be heading out when I get the rest of the meals planned for this week. Only needed half of the pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs Friday for Butter Chicken, so the other half soaked in ginger/soy/honey and became Sunday's stir fry.

2009 Grocery Challenge
Supper Wars - Week 1

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Boycotting resolutions

I don't do so well with New Year's Resolutions. For starters, I can never actually come up with them in time to make them officially part of the New Year. Then, there's the matter of specificity. If the resolution is too vague, there's no way to measure it, and I get discouraged. Too specific, and I feel locked in, and my natural rebellion to anything resembling authority kicks in. (Yes, I realize I'm technically staging a self-revolt.)

I do love a challenge though, so setting a goal works for me. Fitness goals for 2008 were:
Train for and complete a 5k, a 10k and a half marathon.
  • Completed two 5k races on my own, and two with my children. This was spaced through the year.
  • Finished two 10k races. One at the beginning of summer, one at the end.
  • This October, ran my first half marathon. Thanksgiving Day was my second.
I also wanted train for and finish a half century, but trying to increase cycling mileage at the same time I was working up to 10+ mile long runs turned out to be a bit too much - both from the physical and schedule standpoint.

My stats for 2008:*
Cycling: 1,082 miles
Running: 502 miles
Hiking (with kids): 49 miles
*all the miles I remembered to tally - often short bicycle commute trips and kid hikes miss the training log.

This year, I want to kick my own butt. I'm going to go farther and faster than last year. And climb higher.
I'm shooting for:
2,000 miles, between running and cycling.
Beat my 2008 P.R.s (5k - 31:27; 10k - 1:01:56; half - 2:18:09)
Train for & complete an autumn half century
Finish a trail 10 mile or half marathon.

There are a few trail races not too far from home which should fit that last challenge. If the rescheduled holiday trip can be worked out for mid-June (which would make two grandfathers VERY happy), I'd love to try the Garden of the Gods 10 mile in Colorado. It's on paved roads and paths, so isn't technically a trail race. I'm pretty sure the higher altitude and big hills will be tougher than our little trails here in north Georgia, so as far as I'm concerned, it counts.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Grocery Challenge - 2009

For one month of 2008, I challenged myself to keep the grocery bill for five to $125 or less. Did it. We cut back a little, but it wasn't too difficult.

Once I finished the month, I figured it would be a cinch to keep my bills lower, without extra work. I stopped planning a few days in advance, and returned to my normal pattern of "what do we want tonight?" I was wrong. The weekly spending in October and November crept up a little each week, until I hit $200/week. Reigned spending back during December, by $40-50/week, simply by going back to planning 3-4 days of meals before heading to the store.

I'm going to see how low I can keep my average weekly spending this year. I know the under $150/week target is easy to hit, with plain old, ordinary shopping at Kroger, Publix, Whole Foods & Trader Joes. No cut backs required, just that little bit of meal planning. But, what happens if I go for the bulk items at the international markets? Rice, flour, oats, pasta, beans, coconut milk, tofu - all cheaper than at standard stores. Same thing for many of the root veggies, which last quite a while when stored properly. Can setting up a vague monthly meal plan for staples, in addition to the weekly planning, make $125 or less the new "easy"? Can I get it down to $100?

We're also working to expand our "try something new" at meals beyond just a couple times each week, by adding new side dishes with old favorites, or alternating days between the familiar and the unusual. Tying the planning necessary to keep the kids trying new foods to the planning for shopping seems like a no-brainer.

The first week of shopping, the stock-up week, was split between 2008 & 2009, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. Here's my rules:
  • Weeks will run Sunday to Saturday, and I'll be posting my weekly total for the previous week on Sunday nights, after prep for Monday morning lunchbox packing. (Or Monday mornings, after the kids are at school and I have my coffee.)
  • After the weekly amount, I'll post the updated weekly average.
  • This is only grocery items. I handle shopping for most health, bath and home products during a once a month trip to Costco, Target or CVS. I will include any food items purchased on those trips with the grocery total. Even if that item is a bag of dark chocolate twix bars. (Which it won't be, ever, because I never do anything that unhealthy.)
If you're interested in what we're eating, you can take a look at Supper Wars.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Off to a good start

All three kids managed to stay awake past midnight this year. (Usually, my daughter falls asleep.) We slept in a little, had breakfast together. A little bit of housework and chores, followed by video games. After lunch, headed out for a couple hours of semi active sport:Then back home for construction. Legos, modeling clay and a build your own pizza supper. Italian sausage, sauce & cheese(s), on flatbread crust. There wasn't time to make the dough from scratch after bowling.

I had helpers, though only one who was willing to be photographed. That's only partly true. The boys were willing to be photographed, but only if I'd accept shots of them imitating alien monsters - or was it zombie alien monsters?

Tossed out my plan for shakshuka for two, and chopped up leftover Adobo Chicken to make pizza, along with sweet onion, shallot, scallions, thin sliced garlic and red bell pepper (see cutting board). My official cheese grater helped build two samples of our Adobo Pizza:
  1. with smoked applewood and mozzarella cheese
  2. with smoked mozzarella, mozzarella, parmesan and asagio
Both were good; the second version was my favorite.

Watched The Mummy Returns with our supper, and followed it with mugs of hot cocoa. Not too much fighting on a not-to-late bedtime, which left quiet time for reading Neverwhere with a cup of herbal tea before bed.

I'm not a terribly superstitious person. I don't collard greens and black eyed peas on New Year's Day. My trash does go out, and I do not hesitate to do a load of laundry, in light of the mountain created by three children. (New Year's superstitions at Snopes). I do think you can set the tone for, if not the rest of the year, at least the immediate future, with what you do during the day of fresh starts.

Given our New Year's Day, I think 2009 is looking pretty good.