Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Honestly, I was a little freaked out, given that I hadn't been on my bike for the two months leading up to our "tour de Tejas". And, it did take me almost this whole past week just to recover.
Last weekend, my sister Caitlin and I completed the MS150: a weekend bike tour from Houston to Austin to raise money and awareness for the National MS Society.
I just kept thinking about how many miles 150 are:
But, it was awesome! Seriously, last weekend was such a great experience! Word on the street was 13,000 people participated. I seriously had no idea that many people existed in the state of Texas who own a bike and like riding it.
We started bright and early Saturday morning:
Can I just take a moment to shout out how awesome B was helping us out??
He drove ALL OVER the city of Houston to help us out: picking up our packets ahead of time, picking both Caitlin and I up from hotel's and airports on Friday, driving back to Katy Saturday morning for the start, and then to La Grange Saturday morning to set our tent up so it would be ready and waiting for us when we pulled in exhausted later that day.
Ok, so back to the ride. Like I said, tons of people everywhere. I was a little worried because bikers can be quite the snobs, especially if you put thousands of them together with all their gear. The atmosphere was surprisingly positive and no gear bashing! Amazing. Everyone was truly there to have a good, positive experience and to raise awareness of MS.
The ride went through gorgeous Texas country side and the wildflowers were in full bloom. Unfortunately, trying to take pictures while you're biking is kind of unsafe...and those we did pull off were through plastic bags because of the rain, so we didn't get the best pictures during the ride.
Rest stops and one lunch stop each day were set up every 8-14 miles so we could refuel with water, gatorade, snacks and the ever-present Port-a-Pottys!
Saturday night was spent camping at in La Grange at the Fayette County fairgrounds. Every corporate team had huge tents and were BBQ-ing; plus tons of individual tents set up as well. There was a great celebratory atmosphere (heck, we had all accomplished riding 85+ miles that day!) complete with BBQ, fair food, live music, and plenty of free beer. Things didn't get too crazy though, we still had a full day of riding ahead of us to get to Austin. One thing that just feels wrong to pass up when you burned thousands of calories that day and are at a small town fairground: Funnel Cake!
But then the British couple next to us made some crude comment about how the funnel cake was great athletes food. I wanted to say something about the pitchers of beer they were drinking being great athlete food, but instead Caitlin and I just got really quiet and stopped eating the cake.
Sunday morning was another early morning with loudspeakers and music starting around 5. Thousands of us had to leave through one exit this morning and if anyone has clipped into a bike, you can imagine how dangerous that could be. They had everyone line up and then regulated the exit, only allowing a small amount to leave at a time. They didn't let anyone leave until 7, but some people began lining up at 5 to make sure they would be the first to leave...Crazies!
We didn't even get in line until 7:15 and finally got on the road around 8:30 or so.
By the time we were riding into Austin, we were both ready for the ride to be done. Whether it be a knee, bike chains acting up, or some seriously sore butts; it felt good to ride through the finish line. Caitlin celebrated a little more than I did =)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I spent most of Saturday with my cousins, laughing and gossiping about their highschool woes. We saw Dreamwork's How to Train Your Dragon. It is so good I highly recommend it for all ages. And even though it's a funny, feel good movie I still managed to shed a few tears. Shocking. When I dropped them off at home the piano was calling our names. My cousins are so good and since they weren't really old enough to remember when I used to play this was my debut performance in front of them and I managed to gain their full approval. Phew! I also stole some awesome music from them, including Chopin's Nocturne in C sharp minor and it's been keeping me very busy.
Last night I went to niosa-Night In Old San Antonio. Maybe it was just the good company but I had a great time. +1 San Antonio! I'm not sure how the tradition started but it was basically a huge square downtown divided into several regions including but not limited to a German section, French quarter, Irish area and last and definitely least, scariest, why does this section even exist?....Clown Alley. Sufficeth to say we avoided that part. There are tons of booths set up with food and drinks and crazy hats. It was really cool to see so many people in one area all just having a good time and getting along. Plus the weather was incredible which was an added bonus.
We have a 3 day weekend coming up that I'm really looking forward to. So far I'll be spending a day in Austin for a concert but no plans other than that. I leave you with this recipe which I conjured up last night, after some serious research of course. It's so easy and pretty tasty too!
3-4 super ripe bananas, mashed.
1 egg, room temp
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinammon
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to somewhere between 325-350. Thats a little vague but it worked! Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Pour in a buttered loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (depending on your oven). The top comes out with a nice bite to it and the inside is moist and delicious. No picture, just imagine the deliciousness in your mind. Hope you like it!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Here's what's been cookin in the Ben/Jamie kitchen.
We got the recipe for this Halibut and vegetable rice in the Cooking Light magazine. We ended up using mahi mahi instead and I couldn't believe this recipe only took the 30 minutes they claimed it would. The fish was prepared with olive oil, salt & pepper. The rice is long grain white rice with grape tomatoes, corn, basil, etc. I would be more specific, but I lost the recipe! My apologies, but my point is--Cooking Light is legit. So tasty and quick.
After the endless wasted hours of watching Man vs Food we have something to show for it--the Juicy Lucy. We were inspired by the show to create our own version. All we did was put sharp cheddar and pepperjack inside the meat patties before we threw them on the grill. You really need to put WAY more cheese than you think you do for these to be successful.
I've been wanting to try my hand at this salad I keep having at restaurants. Some mixed greens from Central Market tossed with Granny Smith Apple pieces, goat cheese, candied nuts, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.
We were on the hunt for Bison ribeye, but this top sirloin did the trick. I love me some beef.
So don't think I've been slacking on the restaurant front. Here are some SA shout outs:
Below you'll find some deliciousness from Godai. It's some kind of country/sushi fusion and all kinds of wonderful. I was skeptical at first, when we were only choosing from the happy hour menu, but since being back I can say the Heart Attack Roll, the Galleria roll and the Eve roll are to "dai" for. They are also opening a second location in the upcoming 1604 area.
I also visited Sugarbakers for some me time on Saturday and got taken on a date to Jason Dady's The Lodge. I can't say that Sugarbakers rocked my world, but I like what they are doing there. The Lodge was a (pricey) hit. I won't even try to re-cap what we ate, as you may follow the link to the menu, and because I don't know how to spell most of what was served. I liked getting surprise courses from the chef and the nutella dessert made my night. The restaurant building is actually an old house built in 1929 and we were seated in what was probably once an upstairs bedroom with a neighboring table of three middle aged ladies gabbing about their marriages and Catholic guilt, ay.
Stay tuned for reports on my Friendship bread. Sweet Jenni from our class thinks I am domestic enough to carry on the "bread starter" she gave me. I have very clear instructions so I think I can handle it. In four days I'll have a yummy loaf of homemade bread and some batter to pass along to three more friends.
Yes, it's the "green" thing to do, and if everyone did this, think of how many paper cups we wouldn't be using? But really, paper will decompose eventually so that's not my driving reason.
Lets look at this: Dental school cafeteria small coffee: $1.74 (and probably rising).
Coffee refill in any reusable cup you bring: $0.89. Plus, my cup is huge!
Well, today I had to be over in the Medical School (ugh) all morning and they have a little place that will make latte's, so naturally I brought my handy mug. Things didn't go as easily as I thought it would:
Me: (holding the mug out) "Hi, could I have a skim milk latte please?"
Barista: Umm, what is that cup, is that glass?
Me: No, its just a reusable mug for coffee.
Barista: Well, I can't use that because it might break with our machine or the hot coffee.
Me: Oh no, it will be fine. I use it for coffee all the time!
Barista: I'll just make your latte in a paper cup and then you can pour it in, ok?
Me: Uhhh, well that doesn't really make sense because the whole point of using this is to save the paper cup and not waste an extra cup.
Barista: Oh, so you're doing this because it's Earth Day, right?
Me: (NOOOOOO stupid! Earth day isn't even until tomorrow! I just like my cup, ok? Can I have my latte now?) "I don't think it's Earth day, but I might be wrong"
Then when it's all said and done (the mug didn't break!), she's ringing up the register. She charged me the full price of a large latte.
Lesson: stay away from the medical school.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The trees are in bloom!
The wildflowers are in bloom!
Bluebonnets in bloom!
Even the weeds are blooming!
Seriously, the blooming Mountain Laurel trees are about the only good thing about our campus right now...anyone else get intoxicated from the grape koolaid bouquet?
Especially since this has been the story of our days:
So, in other outdoorsy news, everyone in San Antonio needs to get themselves out to the new Medical Center running trail! It is so nice right now before its too hot and all the weeds are blooming. Seriously wonderful running through fields of yellow and purple.
And lastly, back to the Mountain Laurels.
If anyone loves these little darling trees as much as I do (weird, right?) here are my recommendations of where you must go around here.
Government Canyon State Natural Area
It tells you something that there is a creek and a trail in the park that is called Laurel Canyon. B and I went last year just for an afternoon hike and one of the front country trails went through a little valley and it was blanketed with blooming mountain laurels. Seriously intoxicating.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
I would recommend this park for so soo many reasons before mountain laurels (It is currently my favorite!), but since we're on the topic, they have them too. Also, at the top of one of the hills (I forgot which trail) there are several trees of a rare type that has white flowers instead of purple.
So get yourselves outside! We only have a few weeks left before 100 degree weather prohibits you from getting too far from the swimming pool.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Before I show you where I ended up....let's see where it all began. Our second-night seder was a success if I can say so. We had 9 guests and lots of food--brisket, charoset, matzah, gefilte fish, tsimmes, chicken, matzo ball soup, etc. Last week was absolutely crazy and not being able to eat bread made it even more insane.
Yasi brought some beautiful flowers that added some color to the table and I've been enjoying their scent ever since.
Last night we checked out a restaurant that was recommended by our classmate, Sheridan. SoGo is advertised as, "Market, Cafe and Takeout." I unfairly assumed it would be like Luby's or something, but it was so so good. I only got two pictures before Ben's iPhone died, so we'll just have to use our imagination here.
First off, the market has lots of little goodies you can buy to take home. I got some lavender soda water and banana butter--plus that delicious red velvet cake you can barely see in the carry out container. SoGo claims to use organic and sustainable products when possible, but bla bla bla, let's talk about the food! I ordered the PELT--a prosciutto, fried egg, lettuce and tomato sandwich on sourdough bread. It was so tasty! It was hearty and juicy, but somehow felt light. Ben got the braised pork loin with creamy polenta and cabbage. I'm not into mixing sweet with savory, but his dish was straight up good. The hummus we had as an appetizer was spot on as well--just the right kick of salty and zingy. It was quite the hike to get up to this Stone Oak cafe, but we'll definitely be making the trek again.
While I'm on the subject, we visited another Stone Oak eatery a few weeks ago. Cielito Lindo has a decent atmosphere with both a dining area and a lounge. The food and clientele were definitely authentic Mexican. I don't know enough about Mexican geography or Spanish language, but I know this food was more serious than the border area tex-mex food I'm used to eating and the Spanglish I'm used to hearing. I had chilaquiles and I think Ben ordered chicken fajitas (big surprise there). The food had an abundance of flavor and the temperature and textures were on point.
Here's another place I visited where the jury is still out---Green. This place is structurally and theoretically ideal, but I am not sure the final product really works. I brought my sister and dad to this place when they were in town because they are vegetarians. The boisterous manager greeted us and wouldn't stop chatting us up. My dad loves this kind of stuff and was egging the guy on, fist bumping and laughing/joking back and forth. Alyssa and I decided to get a "green machine" vegetable drink to start off. It straight up tasted like a burp. I mean I know it was our own fault for thinking a drink made of kale would taste delicious, but I know it's possible (hello Naked juices). I really wanted to get the Quinoa burrito, but I let that crazy manager talk me into getting the Carne Guisada, made with something called, "TVP". That's textured vegetable protein and it's weird.
I think Alyssa liked her fake meat Philly and my dad enjoyed his Portabella burger, but that carne guisada was NOT good. My dad ate up all that I couldn't stomach, but I think that stuff was only good to someone who hasn't eaten meat in a very long time. I can say with confidence, however, that the onion rings were delightful and the vegan cupcake (made from an outside bakery) was one of the best I've ever had. (And I'm very serious about my desserts).
The final straw with this manager (or maybe owner?) guy was what he was saying when an Orthodox Jewish family came in. We watched the people go wash their hands in the wash bins that were set out as part of the accouterments that make this place legally "kosher," and my dad started asking questions about the "koshering" process. Although my dad isn't Jewish, he obviously knows his stuff, being married to our Jewish mom for thirty-something years and raising us, but this guy didn't know that. He started saying, "oh boy are those people hard to please! I mean, I can please my mother-in-law and can't please them!" I guess he thinks all Jews are strict Orthodox Jews. All I have to say is, a guy who's trying to build a business catering to Kosher Vegetarians shouldn't be customer bashing while wearing an Arkansas Razorback embroidered on his shirt pocket. (If you are unaware, a razorback is a big ugly pig).