About Me

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I'm a 24-year-old student scientist, budget gourmet, novice cyclist, long-distance girlfriend, and avid amateur runner. I always said I couldn't have a blog because I didn't have anything worth blogging about. Turns out, I may have been wrong...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two Beautiful Love Affairs

For those who have been curious about what my incredible Valentine's Day present from my incredible Other Half is, I will give you three guesses...  Ready?  Go!

Any ideas?  No?


 How about now?  Getting warmer...

 

He gave me himself!!!  A "surprise" visit for Valentine's weekend!!! 



He booked the airplane tickets secretly months ago, but finally couldn't hold it in anymore and told me at the beginning of the month that he was flying across the country to visit me.  Such a romantic guy... I still can't believe we were able to spend Valentine's Day together!  The weekend was truly dreamlike.

My V-Day gift to him was a special "surprise" brunch (I told him about it beforehand, too... we are both terrible secret-keepers).  On Saturday morning, I whipped up a number of rather healthy masterpieces from my culinary imagination:

  
Lobster, Crab, and Asparagus Crustless Quiche
  • 1 lobster tail, diced
  • 1/2 cup crab claw meat, cooked and shredded (mine came canned in a cool tub from the seafood dep't)
  • 6 asparagus spears, cut into 1" pieces, points reserved
  • 1.5 cups liquid egg whites
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash each salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
In a cooking spray-coated pie dish, layer lobster, crab, and chopped asparagus evenly.  Whisk together all other ingredients except asparagus points and cheese, pour over seafood into dish (should come 1/3 inch below dish rim).  Arrange asparagus points into fan, sprinkle with cheese.  Bake @ 375 for 25 minutes or until firm.  [Makes ~6 servings!!!]
 
Brie-Stuffed French Toast
(Inspired by my hometown's Carriage House Cafe's signature dish)
  • 3/4 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 tbsp skim milk
  • 1 capfull vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp honey
  • generous sprinkle cinnamon
  • sprinkle nutmeg
  • 6 slices whole grain bread (I used Honey Wheat Berry)
  • 3 1/4" wide, 6" long slices light brie, halved
  • Fresh strawbs, sliced
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
Whisk together first 6 ingredients while heating a large skillet.  Thoroughly dip bread slices in egg mixture and lay on sprayed skillet for 1 minute until lightly browned on bottom.  Flip 3 of the slices, top each flipped slice with two brie slice halves, cover with non-flipped slices, cooked side down (yes, this is like grilled cheese).  Cook ~3 minutes until browned and cooked through on bottom, then flip entire sandwich, cooking another 3 mins.  Serve topped with fresh strawbs and warm maple syrup on the side.  [Makes 3 servings - or 2 servings if I eat one and my Other Half eats 2 :-P]
 
 
Asti Mimosas
  • 1 small bottle Asti Spumani (it only comes in small bottles, enough for 2 glasses of the sparking wine)
  • 2 cups fresh OJ
Divide both ingredients evenly into 2 glasses, mix, drink! [Makes 2 servings]
After special brunch, we went on a looooooong walk with a fun stop on the way!


We decided to partake of a complimentary (that means free!) Valentine's Weekend wine tasting event at the local winery, which was a 2-mile walk away.  The winery provided live music.  These guys were really jamming!


Also, there were ample snacks!  I had a turkey and cheddar on a croissant with two of these grilled veggie skewers.


And, of course, chocolate-covered strawberries.  Very sensual, hehehe...


If I remember correctly, the wine tasting went something like...

Chardonnay...


Rose...


Syrah...

 

And then two barrel tastings... red blends, they both were.  Mediocre wines, but excellent event overall!  And perfect for the (dare I say) poor student's budget!  We were so glad we decided to check it out.

After the tasting, we took the long route home, another three mile walk, totaling our distance to 5 miles.  Whew, after that walk, we definitely needed to refuel with a great dinner! :-P

So, that night, my very sweet Other Half brought me on a romantic date to "our" restaurant - the first restaurant we visited together when I moved to California, which remains, IMHO, the best restaurant in town.  [The camera stayed in its pouch during this meal - I chose to avoid such distraction while enjoying our limited time together.]  Suffice to say, it was delicious!!!  I just finished the leftovers... so, delicious times two!

This afternoon, he loaded his bags into my trunk and I delivered him to the airport for his return flight.


I am suddenly a very lonely little blogger...

... :'(

Well, before I get too wimpery, I should probably relay what ensued earlier this week, before my Weekend o' Love.

The night of last Sunday's half-marathon, I had a pizza and couch party (guest list included me, myself, and a bowl of frozen yogurt).

 Small veggie deluxe pizza delivered right to my door.  Note the blanket underneath...

 Nonfat tart frozen yogurt with frozen strawberries and Kashi GoLean Crunch.

For lunches this week, I threw together roasted chicken breasts, zucchini, and red peppers with some cumin on top.  Very fresh, very light.  One whole medium-sized zucchini went into every portion!


Dinners were awwwwwesome!  Like lunches, they were lean and involved lots of veggies.  I felt I needed a bit of a detox after last week's race-related eating (e.g. couch pizza).  I made curry fish on baked sweet potatoes with lightly fried eggplant and steamed artichokes on the side!

While cooking, I appreciated the aesthetic value of my side dishes, the eggplant and artichokes.  These pictures are so artistic, aren't they?  Oh yeah, gorgeous.


The single eggplant was sliced into 3/4 inch rounds and lightly browned on each side in some EVOO.


Four artichokes were trimmed, cleaned, and topped with some lemon juice, then steamed for ~25 minutes until soft before being individually wrapped.


 Curry Fish
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb cod filets (frozen or fresh, mine were frozen and thawed)
  • 1 jar Indian curry simmer sauce (from Trader Joe's, of course)
  • 5 roma tomatoes, large diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 baked sweet potatoes (I clean mine and microwave them in a moist paper towel for 5 minutes)








In hot oil, brown fish on both sides.  Add sauce, bring to simmer.  Add peas, return to simmer.  Cover, reduce heat, cook ~5 mins.  Add tomatoes, cook uncovered, stirring, for 3-5 minutes.  Spoon over opened baked sweet potatoes.  Enjoy!!!  [Makes 4 servings]
This dinner was so easy and so so good!  It might be my favorite home-cooked meal since I came to CA!  I will definitely be making it again. 

 

 For other snacks/desserts, I had Greek yogurt and raspberry sorbet (separately, not mixed together, that would be gross).

 
 

In my most recent mid-week post, I announced that I will be riding 100 miles on my bicycle, known as a century ride, at the end of April!  In the week since my half-marathon, I've been taking a break from running (which hurts my heart but heals my knee - which is feeling great now, by the way, thanks for asking), while preparing, both physically and mentally, to begin my ambitious century training plan next week.

On Tuesday, I followed a cyclist's core strength routine as detailed in a recent issue of Bicycling magazine.  The workout was three sets of:
  • Side planks, 1 minute each side
  • Elbow front planks, 1 minute
  • Supine bridge (a.k.a. butt raises), 20 reps
  • Reverse crunch, 20 reps
  • Prone cobra (a.k.a. Supermans), 15 reps
By the second set, my core was shaking!  And, the next day, I could definitely tell I had done some work, especially in the ribcage region.  This routine will be incorporated into my century training on "strength" day.

When I checked the mail on Wednesday, I found a very exciting package!


My Road ID, a Christmas gift from my Boyfriend's sister Emily, had finally arrived!!  The Road ID contains important personal information that could save an endurance athlete's life if he or she requires emergency medical attention.  Mine displays my name, DOB, location, drug allergies, blood type, and emergency contact numbers.  Also, it says my mantra and it's purple :)


Thank you, Emily, I love it!!!  I promise to wear it when I run and ride my bike - safety first!  Such a thoughtful gift!!

Thursday was a big day!  I woke up extra early and, after a light breakfast of Greek yogurt and Kashi GoLean Crunch, strapped on a very silly-looking outfit.

Something about this look makes me think of horseback riding...  Also, you probably can't tell, but, over leggings, I'm sporting bike shorts with a built-in "chamois."  If you just Googled "chamois," to allay your confusion, no, I am not wearing a goat, nor any other kind of horned or hooved animal.  I am in fact wearing a protective butt pad!  Awkward at first, but then surprisingly comfortable, and definitely appreciated on longer rides!

Then, I wheeled my bike outside, straddled it, and snapped my right shoe cleat into the corresponding pedal.  OK, no problem, I told myself, you can do this - just remember: clip-in is forward and down, clip-out is a Dorothy-style ankle turn (there's no place like home).  Holding my breath, I pushed off, took a one-legged pedal stroke, and, with momentum helping me balance, somehow managed to press my left foot down on the left pedal clip and - *clunk!* - I was officially riding clipped-in

First of all, before, with just platform pedals, I had no idea what I was missing!  Rather than just pushing down on every pedal stroke, clipped-in, I could push, pull, lift, and generally crank those pedals for the entire rotation!  Plus, with my foot stuck to the pedal, I didn't have to waste any power keeping my foot in place.  Riding was just so amazingly more efficient!  I kept an eye on my new bike computer and flew through the streets and bike paths around my neighborhood.
  • Distance: 10.07 mi
  • Time: 35:10
  • Average Speed: 17.0 mph
  • Max Speed: 26.5 mph (downhill)
  • Falls: 0!
And let me tell you.  Words cannot express the happiness.  The elation.  The unbridled joy that flowed through me as I soared forward.  I was literally and figuratively connected to my bike.  We were one machine - the bike as the streamlined frame and me as the engine.  Basically, it was love at first ride

So, Happy Valentine's Day, Brian.  I love you more than you can imagine, and I believe unequivocally that the challenges we face now will only make us stronger in our future. 

And, Happy Valentine's Day, Bike.  I look forward to spending much more quality time getting to know you on a deeper level very soon.

Well kids, century training start tomorrow - follow my training log here.  I have plans to bike with my avid cyclist research advisor all the way to the brain imaging center... 17 miles away!  Luckily, there is a shuttle I can return on at the end of the day (35 miles per day miiiight be overdoing it at this juncture).  The ride does not exactly conform to the mileage specified for Monday on the plan, but I may be adjusting the plan if I start doing this commute two days per week.

My advisor, on the other hand, commutes by bike five days per week, so I just hope I can keep up!  My goal is to maintain a 16.5 mph average split.  We'll have to do some city riding once we get close to the medical campus... so, I'm a little nervous about that, too.  Without a doubt, I'll be wearing my helmet (always always!), my butt pad chamois shorts, and my new Road ID.


Today's question:  On a completely unrelated note, what is your favorite fruit?  Please include an argument either for your fruit of choice or against other fruits :)

6 comments:

Gina said...

I'm sorry if you have stopped by my blog before, but I don't think you have, so I'll say...thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed the supplement post.

How nice that your bf came and surprised you for V-day, I bet that was such a wonderful surprise.

Favorite fruit: Blueberries, frozen!

RitaR said...

Hey Libby!

Great blog and glad to see you're having an amazing time in CA! I'm def going to try out the brie french toast next weekend.

My favorite fruit is a tie between the Trader Joe's frozen mangos (very nice with yogurt and granola) and bananas. And I'm going to argue against pomegranates, too difficult to eat.

Cheers!
Ratty

Madeline - Greens and Jeans said...

Yay cycling! I've been riding forever and I always get excited when other people love it as much as I do! I could eat mango all day every day if they weren't so crazy expensive!

Emily said...

Thanks for the shout-out! I'm glad you got your Road I.D.! I hope you and Brian had a great weekend. I've really been enjoying your blog, and I'll be sure to keep reading!

And my favorite fruit is probably strawberries :)

Jin said...

Wow, sounds like you had a most exciting weekend! Oh and that quiche looks absolutely amazing.

I love all fruit, though many times I don't care for some of those "fruit salad filler" fruits like melons and cantaloupe. But I think I particularly like pineapples, watermelon, and strawberries! They're very summery and just all around good. Strawberries go with so many good stuff. I also love bananas but am more particular about what stage of ripening it is in. I'd prefer to eat them almost green than to eat them when there are any black dots on the skin. Anyway, that was way more than you needed to know, haha. Keep up the good blog!! I really enjoy reading it.

Laura said...

Wow, the fruit question is a hit!!!

My favorite all-time fruit is strawberries. But in salad form, I would most enjoy a combo of strawbs, pineapple, kiwi, and other mixed berries... banana could hang out in there, too. Unless it's too mooshy.

Thanks for all your comments! You guys are the best!!!