and i’m jammin’

August 11, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Posted in food, plans | 2 Comments
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so i’m back! but more on that later. first things first.

jam. in my profile, i mentioned that last year, i started experimenting with jams and preserves. i went a little wild (my cold store had a ginormous shelf, covered with half pint jars, lined up like colourful, fruity soldiers) but it was a success. everyone got a jar at christmas and now my friends and family keep asking for more! i knew i had to do it again. besides, the fruit at the market is too hard to resist. (shhhh…. i did spend $30 on cherries one week!)

i documented bits and pieces of my process of a few different batches so here goes:

the boring parts are jar sterilization and the boiling of the jars after. i did not photograph this. everything else is beautiful, vibrant and positively delicious.

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first cut up the fruit into chunks. you only have to do this if you have big fruit, like these apricots. raspberries can remain whole. cherries should be partially cut (you have to leave at least 25% whole so people can see all your hard work pitting!)

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in a pot, with the sugar (about 40-50% of the total). did you notice that i switched to plum?

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and boil and boil

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wrinkle test. put a white plate in the freezer right as you start your jam. when it seems like it might be done, spoon a dollop onto the plate and put it back in the freezer for a few minutes. if you can push it with your finger and see wrinkles, as above, your jam is done. stop boiling and proceed. if it’s still too liquidy, carry on.

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take a sterilized jar out of the dishwasher or boiling water bath. the funnel is invaluable. you have got to keep the rim of the jar clean for a proper seal.

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spoon your jam carefully into the jar, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace at the top.

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grab a lid out of the boiling water bath (for sterilization) with your magnetic wand. place it on the jar and tighten your ring.

then put the jars in boiling water, covered by at least 1 inch of water and the lid of the pot and boil for 5-10 minutes, as directed.

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plum and apricot soldiers

so i’m going to the healthy living summit in boston this coming weekend. i am beyond excited! i love boston and it has been a handful of years since my last visit. plus the conference sounds super fun and i’m really looking forward to meeting all the people behind my favorite blogs and making loads of new friends. caitlin sent out an email to attendees the other week, asking for donations for a silent auction “bake sale” to raise money for her Team in Training for the Disney Marathon at the summit. i thought of all the things i could bake that would transport well by plane AND be different from what everyone else would be bringing. all the usual suspects came to mind: trail mix, granola, bars, cookies, blah blah blah. but then JAM! caitlin thought it would be a great idea, so i picked a selection from my so far hoard to package up for bidding. if you are a lucky summit attendee, this is what you can get your hands on:

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the labels aren’t super clear from this photo, but from top left, going clockwise: apricot-thyme preserves, plum and vanilla preserves, apple butter (i made this in the fall), and strawberry-basil-lemon preserves. all fruit is locally source from small family growers. herbs were picked from my backyard. yum! all for the highest bidder

i’ll be blogging at the summit and i have a few awesome(ly funny) posts lined up. i’m going to try and have much less time between posts. life keeps getting in the way.

take care!

and we’re off

July 30, 2009 at 5:09 am | Posted in food | 1 Comment

holiday until tuesday! jon and i are making an escape to the cottage and his parents’ farm for a few delightful days of relaxation and deliciousness and playing with horses and kitties (plus hiking, biking, canoeing, etc). there’s no internet there, but you’ll hear from me soon after!

back to reality

July 25, 2009 at 8:13 am | Posted in food, hobbies | 3 Comments
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so last weekend, i went camping. seems the last time jon and i actually camped was in 2007, when we rented a tandem and biked from waterloo to the elora gorge, which was a pretty crazy adventure in itself. this outing was much less hardcore.

1) we had the enormous tent (it is crazy easy to set up, but doesn’t exactly fit in a bob trailer on the back of a bike

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2) we had not one but two stoves to make supper on. a real backpacking stove and a table top coleman.

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we boiled the pasta water on the dragonfly and cooked the sausages on the coleman. someone (probably me) forgot to pack salt for our pasta water, so instead we had the brilliant idea to dump in the contents of a few hammer endurolytes, which are basically salt tabs. well. that didn’t work out so well. in fact, it was kind of gross.

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endurolytes don’t dissolve all that well.

we went to bed early so we could wake up and get to the bike race early. well. there was a pretty steady pitter patter of raindrops on our tent in the morning and that slowed things down a bunch. additionally, the triathlon whose T1 was in the middle of the road we were on made us even later. we hustled and jon started his race with only a short warmup.

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he had a good race and podiumed for the second time this season (third if you count the team effort at the 24 hour race). goooo singlespeed!

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(next time i’ll remember to pack a clean, dry jersey to wear for awards after, just in case!) check out the cutie with the truck on the right.

after the race, i hung out at the feedzone to give bottles to our other racing friend and we checked out some neat stuff at the race site.

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check that baby out. it’s like a unicycle with a giant wheel, plus some help with balance. no drivetrain. looks like it’d be fun to ride, but maybe also a little scary!

back to work this week. 3 more days and i have a mini five day holiday when we plan to spend some time at the cottage and on the farm. it’ll be a good getaway.

on thursday, i scored 10lbs of sweet and sour cherries (5 of each) which i pitted all of for future projects. 1/2 a cup of the sweet ones have gone into a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread (which was only a minor success. i wouldn’t say it was really that delicious). the rest are in the fridge, waiting for me. what will their fate be? probably a bunch of dehydrating, since dried cherries are awesome in everything. maybe some more jam? (i promise an upcoming jam post some time) maybe a slab pie even.

life really is like a bowl of cherries. mostly sweet, some sour, generally delicious!

super week!

April 29, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Posted in exercise, food, plans | 3 Comments
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it’s only wednesday and so far my week has been filled with at least 14 days worth of awesome.

1) two days totally off from work, and at least one but maybe two (or three) more days of nice, quiet empty office, perfect for me to get tons done.

2) booked vacation tickets to colorado and have a hotel room in a place that looks like a castle and also has excellent reviews on the interwebs. i plan to pretend to be a princess and be rescued from a dragon at least once.

3) extra extra good news at work. will discuss more later.

4) FUN package from marianne for winning the coconut BSI. not only did i get two lovely big bags of the absolutely amazing coconut mango lime biscotti (they will be gone before i know it – guess i’ll have to learn to make them myself), she also threw in an awesome bar of fair trade + organic chocolate (pineapple, coconut, banana & lime. how appropriate!) and a super cute card. thanks marianne! i have decided that the world definitely needs more mailed baked goods.

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my tempo run this evening was good. i’m down to only being 2 seconds per km slower than my target pace which is completely negligible. i am happy about that. feels like i’m getting back on track, after the bike race. tomorrow morning, i’ll do a swim workout to give my knees a break before the weekend’s 11 mile run.

and before i hit the pillows, i will make note of a few more awesome things i found this week:

yoga is yummy! *love* yogadownloads has a new rival in my life.

live simple – bobbi’s challenge after my own heart for you to greenify yourself

and finally, the craziest bag that i absolutely *must* get for the biker in my life. i see it making our race mornings smooth and easy.

take good care!

point of no return

April 12, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Posted in exercise, food, hobbies | 2 Comments
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i registered for next weekend’s 35km bike race (my first ever!) so now there’s no going back! well, i guess there is, but it’ll cost me $45. it’s a pretty unique race in that it’s not a mountain bike race and it’s not really a road race either. it’s 11km of gravel and dirt roads, 8km of rail trail, 6km of singletrack (1-3km sections) and 10km of paved road. i have no idea what to expect on the rail trail and i’m a little worried about the single track, but i think i’ll be okay.

today we practiced drafting again. it’s hard! at least i’m fairly comfortable with the shoes/pedals and being clipped in now. it’s amazing what a difference that makes with my speed and climbs especially. we also practiced changing tubes, in the event that i flat in the race. it will cost me a whole lot of time, since i’m pretty slow, but i’m just doing this for fun so it’s no big deal. i’ll try it a few more times tomorrow to make sure i’m completely comfortable with all the steps and using my CO2 inflator.

easter weekend was pretty lovely and continues tomorrow! thumbs up for 4 day weekends. i plan to do my long run in the morning, go grocery shopping (since the stores were closed today) and then spend the rest of the time chilling at home (watching tv and making turkey stock). my almost-last-minute easter dinner was a huge success. luckily i had a turkey in the freezer that i pulled out and most of the ingredients for the awesome stuffing recipe (with dried cherries, maple syrup, pecans and sausage) i’ve been dreaming about for a while. we had mashed sweet potatoes on the side. dessert was some homemade butterscotch pecan ice cream. i’m pretty sure i’ll be eating leftovers all week, though i did send half of everything home with the boy.

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happy spring!

a few eats from the week

April 10, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Posted in food | 2 Comments
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to start, the world’s most unhealthy incarnation of white cheddar mac & cheese. it was incredibly delicious.DSC00430.JPG  

i started by frying up a few slices of bacon in a pan, while i cooked the mac in the ‘wave. when the bacon was done, i extracted the slices from the pan and reserved the tasty bacon juice. when the macaroni was done, i poured the bacon fat over the noodles, added the package of powdered cheese and a big scoop of homemade apple butter and stirred vigorously. when i was satisfied with the mixedness of my supper, i added the bits of bacon that i had shopped up. this is illegal in at least two states and several countries. it was that good. i take no responsibility for your high cholesterol.

i made my cocotropiveginugraice (coconut, tropical {pineapple} vegetable{edamame+peppers} grain {quinoa} + rice- what a mouthful!) again because i had new dehydrated pineapple to use and jon brought home my old stash of coconut milk. this time i used 2/3 cup white rice, 1/3 of a cup of white quinoa (i do not like the red stuff), a few rings of dried pineapple, chopped up, a handful of frozen red pepper, a big handful of frozen shelled edamame and 1 can of coconut milk.

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i put everything into the rice cooker, pressed start and went grocery shopping. when i came home, it was ready to be served into a bowl of creamy, sweet, protein and vitamin packed goodness:

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i really liked the extra bit of texture that the quinoa gave it.

and last week’s coconut sorbet had some smoothie action:

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frozen strawberries (that i picked last summer!), a banana, a scoop of the coconut sorbet, a few lychees from a can + some of the light syrup they came in.

it was a good tropical contrast to the winter wonderland outside.
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the cranapple leather seems to have worked out. it’s a pretty colour. i think next time i will spread things out less thinly. will post more after it has been reviewed by my discerning taster. i definitely want to add some pureed banana to the next lot.

a good friday

April 10, 2009 at 7:46 am | Posted in exercise, food, hobbies | 1 Comment
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what a crazy week! i am certainly glad for a glorious 4 day weekend. hurray for easter!

recap

the week started with snow. i rationally know that it almost always snows in april, but this was enough to throw me off! i went from wearing shorts on my run last thursday to having a pair of long johns under my pants on tuesday. what what?? not cool. it also made my tuesday speedwork run impossible (the sidewalks were covered by a few inches of slushy white that wasn’t getting cleared like it would have in february).

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then there was this work deadline, that we had exactly 3 days to meet. my group was handicapped by 1/3 (passover holiday) and by the fact that i’m still new to this stuff. my coworker and i put in a lot of long hours and overtime days, but in the end, we did it! we were not the last group across the country to be done AND we had the most stuff to get through. given that it was just the two of us, i’d say we did pretty awesomely. the long weekend is extremely well deserved.

the weather totally turned around by friday thursday morning. spring showed its face again! i pulled out my bike and the cute new swimsuit i bought to leave at work (for on-a-whim lunch time swims) and did a backwards tri brick workout (biking 8 miles, then swimming 600m). the 10 minutes of stretching in the therapy pool felt amazing! i’d like to start more of my days with a swim. the bike ride home was a bit challenging because of some wind, but i zoomed here as fast as i could. i’m a little sore today and holding off on my tempo run (scheduled for yesterday but after my other workouts, i just didn’t have it in me). we’re still not sure what we are doing for easter because jon has a paper to finish and a bunch of exams to mark, but whatever we do, even if we can’t make it to the farm or to the grandparents’ for turkey, i plan to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

a new experiment: dry me up

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we saw dried kiwi at the grocery store the other day and it looked intriguing. it was super sugary and expensive though, so we passed, but i had to try it for myself! i think i left these in a touch too long – they turned out slightly crunchier than i’d like on the outside, but the inside is still chewy and the seeds give a really interesting texture. i’ve got a pint of cranapple sauce i made in the fall in the dehydrator now, potentially to become fruit leather. i’ll let you know how that goes!

happy easter!

R&R

April 4, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Posted in exercise, food | 6 Comments
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for an only 4 day week, this one was intense! just when i thought it was at the peak of insanity, work got just a little crazier. i cry a little* when i think of all i have to do in the next month or so.
i did get an awesome voicemail message on my phone. it went something like this “hi. we need our report from you. we’ve got our contractor and are ready to go. thanks. bye”. it was golden! she didn’t leave her name, her number or give any indication of the title of the project she was referring to. as far as i know, it could be one of at least 10-15 different reports.

in addition to all the work crazy, my week was also pretty exercise-heavy:
monday – 13km long run
tuesday – pyramid speedwork
wednesday – 45 minutes of biking on my new pedals
thursday – bike 16 miles + 8km tempo run
friday – 30 minutes of swimming
saturdays are supposed to be the day for my long run, but i’m giving my muscles a rest. besides, it is COLD. and also very windy. i’ll wait till tomorrow to bang out the next 15km.

swimming was fantastic. i discovered an olympic size swimming pool a 5 minute walk away from work. admission ranges from 2.50-3.00$ which is a whole lot cheaper than for me to pay $52 a month for the gym membership of which i was only interested in the pool (since i loathe working out at the gym on machines. i just can’t make myself do it) which turned out to be silly small (18 metres??) and not that nice. a 50 metre pool is far more awesome AND there is a lovely big hot tub/jacuzzi thing and a sauna (which i didn’t have time to check out). it melted all of the friday morning stress right away. i plan to go at least once a week from now on. this will be good for cross training and also for any potential triathlons i decide on a whim to do.

i am finally happy and safe with the clipless pedals. if you bike a lot, you should really give these serious consideration. it seems scary at first (and you’ll fall off a couple times, like i did) but once you get it, you’ll have twice as much power! thumbs up.

the boy requested coconut sorbet and roasted pineapple for dessert tonight, so that’s what i’m working on, in addition to the weekly batch of cookies (martha oatmeal/chocolate chip/skor bit) and some granola. we got a bunch of not-so-jumbo pineapples on sale for $2 this week, so i’ve got the dehydrator stacked, and the rest in the fridge waiting for roasting time. i piña coladaed-up the sorbet recipe with a little malibu rum.

the recipe made approximately 1 quart

even though we’re going back into negative celsius territory this week, we’ll be able to pretend we’re in the tropics. coconut sorbet is so freaking easy. 3 ingredients! no ice cream maker required (though i will obviously use mine). i have made it no less than 10 times to varying degrees of fancyness/whimsy (like here). when coconut milk was 57 cents a can, it was by far the cheapest, creamiest treat we could have. cans are up to $1, but for at least 5 servings of delicious sorbet, that’s still pretty good.

my grocery challenge is not going so well. it seems like every time i go to the store, things are more expensive than they were the last time. sticking to $30 has been hard! i am keeping it close to 40 though, which i think is not too bad.

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they turned out a little thin this week. maybe i’ll up the flour and dial back on the butter as per these instructions

dried pineapple rings waiting to be used in homemade meusli, coconut rice, more muffins, or just eaten plain!

*it’s not because i don’t love my job, it’s just that there’s only so much one girl can handle. you know?


what’s the story, morning glory?

April 1, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Posted in food | 2 Comments
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it’s my favorite oasis album AND a really yummy muffin. ever since i saw them on kerf a couple weeks ago, i’ve been wanting a really good morning glory. i’ve never made them myself and i’ve only actually had them on a few occasions so i didn’t have much to work with besides kath’s brief list of ingredients and vague memories. i only consulted one recipe before setting to the kitchen. as i am very loyal to local eats, foodland ontario is a good source of everything for me, so this is what i turned to.
i suspect i had approximately double the amount of shredded carrot and diced apple required, though i followed their instructions for 2 of each. i skipped the cinnamon/sugar topping and made a few other substitutions (skipped the raisins and threw in dried cranberries instead, no pecans, and added diced dried pineapple). the batter was extremely thick. fruit/veg only thinly bound together by the wet flour mixture. i wasn’t banking on success.

as it happened, the muffins turned out extremely delicious and probably super healthy, given all that fibre and fruit/veg. next time i’ll cut back on the oil because i doubt it’s necessary (apple sauce sounds great). they are extremely moist and super flavourful and have been the perfect wake up second breakfast for when i arrive at work. (yes, i did use ontario apples and carrots, as specified). i only ended up making 10 large muffins and i had to cook mine for a lot longer than the 22 minutes suggested, but still. thumbs up, foodland. you win!


another day, another lesson learned

March 31, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Posted in exercise, food, plans | 2 Comments
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when you make cookies, you gotta mix up the dough properly, even when it’s really stiff 😉 cookiefail. they were delicious though, but not quite as good as the second batch that i made using martha stewart’s blackforest cookie (sour cherry chocolate) recipe. i didn’t have enough sour cherries so i made half the batch black and white.

i iz cuuuuuute. that shirt generated a lot of comments at the office. i’d say we have a 70-30 split on raisin haters and lovers. i must say: it’s not that i don’t like raisins. i don’t mind them that much. especially in trail mix. and especially if they are my home-dried concord raisins, from niagara. but in cookies, i find that anywhere there is a raisin, a chocolate chip could probably have done the job better. who’s with me?

road trip this weekend was super fun! the boy and i hit up our big (little) capital for a separate but together vacation. we were visiting different friends but somehow we ended up staying 5 minutes apart and eating breakfast at the same restaurant (though different locations). we BOTH ordered the waffle 😉 i didn’t take any pictures while i was away – highlights of the trip included a hike around a bog and an evening at a comedy club, which was surprisingly hilarious (i never thought i’d really be into that humour but i laughed pretty hard). it was great to catch up with old (and one new!) friends. a possible move there is in the works for the future, and if things work out, i think i’d really love it.

today’s speedwork run, as per the plan, was awesome. caitlin wrote about speedwork today, so if you’re curious, go find out more info about how this training technique will make you faster. today i did 400, 600, 800, 1200, 800, 600, 400 at consistent speeds with varying rest intervals (i used my heart rate as a gauge). it was hard. the whole time i really had to push myself but the rewards at the end were worth it!

i had hoped to bike to work tomorrow for the first time this year but it looks like rain is going to get in the way. i’ll wake up early to reevaluate. baby jake wants to hit the roads!

is anyone getting up to any monkey business tomorrow? i can’t think of a really awesome april fool i’ve ever pulled off. i suspect it’s because i don’t have a good poker face.


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