Friday, May 11, 2012

Smells like teen, err, Indian spirit

This week, I am that co-worker. You know the one. The one who brings in unattractive leftover and uses the microwave to warm it to the point that its aroma permeates the entire office.

Yep, that's me. Me and my Indian-spiced lentils.

I bought lentils awhile ago to make ... to make ... well, I was going to make something and I never did. The dried legumes have been henceforth sitting in the pantry. Mocking me. Taunting me, each and every time I opened the cabinet to fish for something to occupy Miles while I cooked dinner.

Finally fed up (well, maybe just the opposite) with the appearance of the bag, I decided to finally use them. I went over to The Perfect Pantry, typed in that I had lentils and came up with Indian-Spiced Lentils made ... wait for it ... in the slow cooker.

Sweet Jesus, I was in love.

Now, I must disclose that after selecting this recipe that it took me a good three weeks to remember to pick up ginger at the store. I blame our new grocery routine - I do the bulk of the shopping at Aldi and fill in at Kroger. Aldi has no ginger and Miles is cranky by the time we hit Kroger.

Anyway, I got the ginger, I had my lentils and I had a slow cooker free (yes, I have more than one). That recipe was going to be mine!

Slow cooker Indian-spiced lentils
Barely adapted from The Perfect Pantry

2 cups small lentils, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (not optional)

In a 3-quart slow cooker, add all ingredients. Stir to combine, and cover with water to within 1 inch of the top of the cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours, or cook on low for 6 hours, stirring once or twice during that time and checking that there is sufficient water in the cooker. If the lentils have absorbed most of the water before they finish cooking, add enough water to cover the lentils again. After the cooking time, taste, and season with salt as needed. Add cilantro and serve hot. Or, pack into small containers, let cool completely, and freeze. Serves 8.

Note: The original recipe said 2 hours on high, 4 hours on low. I tried this. It didn't work. I cooked mine for 2 hours on high, realized they were not done and cooked it on low for 2 or 3 more hours.

And if you want to know how they taste? Better than they look because, well, they look like baby poo. I like the flavor and find it to be a filling lunch when served with a 1/2 cup of basmati rice. Miles has tried them, too, and though he was was a bit hesitant at first, he ate them with enthusiasm.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Running toward the horizon

I finished the Martian Invasion half-marathon. BODYPUMP instructor training is over. And while I am registered for the Columbus Marathon, training doesn't officially begin until late June.

Like it or not, it seems I've found myself in a "what's next" kind of phase.

[insert gratuitous self portrait of me looking perplexed here]

I have been scoping out a small half-marathon here in Fort Wayne that marks the end of the city's Smallest Winner program. Despite hearing horror stories about the course (loops, hilly, out and back), I'm drawn to the race by its low entry fee ($30) and the timing. The half marathon falls on July 7, Miles' one-year birthday, and I can't help but love the idea of celebrating this past year and all we've gone through by running 13.1.

But I'd be alone. Literally, I'm sure. The field is small and the event is fairly new. While I'd love to celebrate the birth day with 13.1, I'm not so sure I want to do it on any empty road.

And that's exactly how L is tempting me with her most recent race registration blitz. In one morning, she registered for not one, not two but FOUR half marathons. I'm already participating in two of the races - just different events (Columbus Marathon and Fort-4-Fitness 4-miler) - leaving Chicago Rock 'n' Roll and the Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon open. RnR is out if only because of the registration cost but the Women's Half ...

Oh, the Women's Half. It is only $10 more than the Smallest Winner, and it is a quick drive to Indy. I could share a hotel room with L, run with my friends and kick off Labor Day Weekend in a healthy way. Its September date gives me a chance to have a bit of fun working on some other running goals this summer and might be a nice break during marathon training. And, most importantly, it's just for me. Or so they promise.

So you see, I'm in quite the pickle. And not in the good "there are fried pickles waiting for you on your desk" sort of way. (Don't knock 'em till you try 'em: Fried pickles are ah-mazing and I might kiss you on the mouth if you showed up with some right now. Girlfriend is hungry.)

Anyway, I am a bit torn as to what race to do. I can go for sentimental or I can go for fun. I guess there is a third option and go for cheap and do nothing.

Wait. That's not really an option.

What would you do?

Monday, May 7, 2012

A gift guide, except not

I am an assistant editor for a newspaper, as some of you may or may not know. It's a fact that's not inherently interesting but it does pertain to today's post.

As part of my job, my work email is inundated with press releases for various events, products and books. Most of these emails are deleted because they don't hold broad appeal for our readers. However, with Mother's Day approaching, I've been opening many emails to see whether I can create a Mother's Day gift story from a number of sources.

It turns out that I can't - at least not a story about what to get your mom. A story about what not to get her? That I can do.

The email that started it all: "Whether purchasing gifts for a fitness fanatic, busy, or active mom, the Shake Weight is sure to please all this Mother’s Day."

I'm not joking. Seriously. Not. Joking.

Obviously, I do not think this is a good idea. I have a fair amount of reasons as to why but I am going to keep them to myself since I received the release in a professional capacity. However, feel free to guess my thoughts in the comments.

The whole release got me thinking about Mother's Day. I know I'm new to the game but I believe there are just things not to get a mom.

A barbell. I'm sorry, Mark, but I have to dog you on this one. My loving, well-meaning husband made reference to getting me a barbell set for Mother's Day in an effort to support my Body Pump endeavors. It would be nice to have, yes, but it's just ... it's just not ... well, it's not pretty. I don't know about you but I think moms want something nice to look at. How about a pedicure to disguise a runner's black toe?

Yoga pants. Unless they are from lululemon - and I only say that because of its status, not experience - I don't think mom wants something with an elastic band. Not so much because she won't like them or they won't make her feel comfy while eating ice cream after putting the kids down but because the giver will inevitably complain that Mom always wears elastic-waist pants and never dresses sexy.

Doughnut pan. I'd be lying to say that I haven't been dying for one of these, and I'd happily take one for Christmas, my birthday or because I just happen to carry one around Bed Bath & Beyond for 30 minutes while we look at blackout curtains. However, a doughnut pan for Mother's Day just screams, "Get in the kitchen, woman. And while you're at it, take off your shoes!"

A box of chocolates. Maybe I'm alone on this one but a box of candy is not really a gift to me. It's either a gift to my hips or a gift for you because you know I won't eat the whole thing by myself.

Makeup. The Huffington Post's Catherine Moellering suggests buying Mom a brightly hued lipstick, specifically J. Crew's Poppy King (which supposedly complements all skin tones), to be in trend. However, since Mark and I still have discussions about whether our living room chairs are blue or green (they are blue), I don't think I'd trust him to buy me the perfect shade of lipstick. How about a gift certificate for the spa, mmkay?

On a side note, the Huffington Post story said that $18.6 billion is spent on Mother's Day, or about $152 per mom.

Wouldn't that be nice? Sort of like a day at the spa. Just sayin'.

Sunday bliss

Sunday was the best kind of day.

There was no long long run on the schedule. There was no laundry list of errands to run. We didn't have anywhere to be or have anyone to see. For the first weekend day in a long time, Mark, Miles and I could just be.

And, I'm not gonna lie, it was glorious.

We started our day with breakfast at Spyro's, our favorite Greek spot in Fort Wayne. After my Olympic skillet settled, we went for a decent 5.4-mile run and came home for showers, snacks and more. While I did have to run to Target for diapers, a trip to Tarjay never really qualifies as an errand :)

While that might seem like enough to make a day good, the best was yet to come.

Miles and I took a much needed nap (!!) and then it was off to the library.

Mark took Miles to the library when I was Indianapolis, and he has spent the entire week raving about the experience. The children's section has a play room, with a specified area just for non-walkers.

There are tactile toys, board books, tummy time mats with mirrors and a giant rocking chair. There's even a mother's room with changing area and a rocker and Boppy for nursing. Seriously fantastic.

Miles' favorite part was playing with the beads with a close second being chasing the 7-year-old trying to play trains with his dad.

We did read a little bit and even thought it was a Sesame Street pop-up book, Miles was less interested in Elmo and more interested in getting into things he shouldn't.

Side note: He did spend enough time with Elmo to rip off his hand. Yeah, that was a fun trip to the service desk.

Afterward, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee.

Wait, maybe that was my favorite part.

How was your weekend? Low key or busy?

And a big congrats to every one who raced this weekend!