Sunday, April 20, 2008

Things I Learned this Weekend

1. It is a bad idea to eat three bourbon blondies with dark chocolate chunks before I go running. Even if they're really good. My run was pathetic Friday evening -- only half as far as usual, and it was misery every step of the way. But BOURBON. In BAKED GOODS. How's a girl supposed to resist that?

2. I've been gradually falling in love with Massa Organics short grain brown rice for a couple months now. I get it at the Marin farmer's market on Sundays and at first I was in too much of a hurry most days to spend the 45 minutes it takes to make. But then I made it once or twice, and found myself thinking about it for two days after eating it. And I discovered that if I make a nice big batch all at once, I can toss a scoop in with scrambled eggs in the morning, and that it reheats way better than regular rice, so it's good for several days. And then, this weekend, I discovered that it also makes damn fine risotto, and now it's totally love. Massa Organics rice and I are totally going to be together forever. :-)

I've never tried to make risotto with anything besides plain old arborio, but I'd noticed that Massa's rice cooked up pretty creamy just on its own, so I thought I'd give it a shot in risotto. Yum, yum, yum. It turned out just as creamy as any risotto I've ever made using arborio, though it did take a bit longer to cook, and it absorbed more liquid than I'd usually use. Definitely a weekend meal, not something my grumbly tummy would have the patience for on a weekday, after working all day, going for a run, etc. Anyway, I started with a base of some leeks and garlic, white wine, and the last of the homemade chicken stock I made a few weeks back. At the end of the cooking time, I added in some shitakes, sugar snap peas, and super-skinny asparagus from this morning's farmer's market. The veggies got just barely crisp-tender, and the rice was toothsome and tender and rich all at the same time. SO GOOD. I'd post a recipe here, but I don't really use them. I learned the basics of risotto from an issue of Cooking Light a few years back, and I've always just winged it (wung it?) since then.

3. It is, in fact, possible to play soccer on severely blistered feet, without dying, as long as you layer your poor heels and toes in about 18 layers of moleskin and athletic tape. In fact, I scored a really pretty goal, and assisted on two others, so it was totally worth it that I couldn't feel my toes because the tape made my feet about a size too big for my cleats. (By the way, no moles are harmed in the making of moleskin -- it's this special sticky-backed flannel blister padding, for those of you who've had the good fortune to never need it). Thanks to a tip from Jemima, I've laid off the Neosporin, and my multitude of blisters are healing pretty well. Good thing, too, as D. and I are headed to Big Sur in less than 4 days for a long weekend full of outdoorsy hiking fun. And, of course, marshmallows and bourbon next to a roaring campfire :-) Do you think bourbon blondies mix as poorly with hiking as they do with running?


Jemima said...

1) Mmmm...booouurbon. Delicious brown sauce. Come to momma.

2) Gotta check out the Massa. And I like to think that the appropriate past tense of "winged it" is "wanged it."

3) Ooh! We just got back from Big Sur. If you need any good spots, lemme know. We've been a couple of times now when it's too snowy in the Sierras, and this past weekend at Pine Valley was by far the best. Easy peasy hike in, scads of wildflowers, not too many people, extremely cush campsite near the river (soft and flat, sheltered from wind), plus a 90-year old geezer who has lived in his cabin in the woods for years. There are tons of rocks for bouldering, and Sim and I are talking about top roping next time we go. Oh, and waterfalls nearby.

ChrisC said...

Jemima -- thanks for the advice a few days ago about the blisters -- such a help!

In answer to your question about the hot springs in Calistoga, the springs are part of a resort, not out in the woods. Here's the web site: They do a $10 "night swim" -- you show up at 6:30, put your name on the waitlist, and then at 7 they call you and you trade $10 for a wristband that lets you enjoy the mineral pools from 7-9. They have 4 pools -- a kiddie pool, a lap pool that's like 85 degrees, a big hot pool that's 95 or so, and an enormous hot tub that's at 104 degrees. Very relaxing after a day of hiking in Calistoga -- the trails in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park are full of scree and not terribly well-marked. Obviously, developed hot pools are not quite as unique as being out in the wilderness in a natural spring, But no naked hippies allowed. :-)

As for Big Sur, I'd love recommendations! Our current plan is to car camp at Pfeiffer Big Sur Thursday and Friday (my boyfriend wants showers - wuss!) and then probably do just an overnight backpack Saturday-Sunday -- The Big Sur Marathon is on Sunday and we want to avoid the crowds. We were originally going to hike to Sykes Hot Springs, but when D. heard about the naked hippies, suddenly he wasn't so keen on that idea :-) Pine Valley sounds lovely -- bouldering, yay! Which trailhead do you start at to get there? And have y'all done any day hikes in Big Sur that were really great?