Fresh-From-the-Garden Salsa, Two Ways

Over the summer, without us doing anything in particular to make it happen, our garden exploded.  The squash and zucchini died without warning and without having produced anything, but the tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers went absolutely nuts.

So, in order to use up large quantities of these vegetables without having to do any intensive cooking, I made a LOT of salsa.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh tomatillos, husked and washed to remove weird sticky sap
  • 3 fresh fresno chiles
  • 1 fresh banana pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 onion, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt to taste

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Instructions

  1.  Place the whole, husked, washed tomatillos on a cookie sheet in a single layer along with the peppers.  Place in the oven and broil on high for 5-8 minutes, or until blistered and slightly blackened on top.
  2. Remove from oven and flip the tomatillos and peppers over with a spatula.  Broil for the same amount of time on the other side.  Remove from the oven and let cool
  3. Using a food processor, add the clove of garlic and process until minced.  Add the roasted peppers (stems removed), onion and cilantro and process for a few seconds until finely chopped.
  4. Add the roasted tomatillos and their juice, lime juice, vinegar, cumin and salt and process until smooth.  Enjoy with chips, on tacos or enchiladas.
  5. Note: This will make a lot of salsa, so feel free to halve the recipe.  Also, after it’s been refrigerated, the salsa will congeal into a strange jelly-like texture.  To help it regain its salsa nature, just add a little bit of warm water and whisk it until it is liquidy again.

Garden-Fresh Tomato Salsa

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cherry or roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 onion, roughly chopped.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 fresh jalapeno or 2 fresh fresno chiles
  • Juice of 1 small lime
  • Salt to taste

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Instructions

  1. Using a food processor, process the garlic and the pepper(s) until minced.  Add the tomatoes, onion and cilantro and process to your desired consistency.
  2. Add the lime juice and salt to taste.  Enjoy with chips, on tacos or a burrito.

Summer is for Playing Outside, in Oregon

My husband and I took a whole week off (something I hadn’t done since 2013) and spent it running around in the great outdoors in my second favorite state (behind California, which is inarguably the greatest): Oregon.

Colin will perhaps disagree with me, because having grown up in Oregon he fosters a deep, nostalgic love for his home state.  I joked that when it was time to leave he was going to climb up into a fir tree and refuse to come down.  He didn’t, but he did buy this bumper sticker for his car:

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Weirdly, this is less a photo of the bumper sticker than it is a photo of me photographing the bumper sticker. So meta.

I, too harbor significant nostalgia for Oregon, mainly because of a somewhat magical few weeks I spent there visiting Colin the summer I was seventeen.  I hadn’t been back since, and I was a little worried that the Oregon of reality was not going to live up the Oregon of my memory.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did.

One of the main things Oregon has over California is the weather in the summer, which is fabulous.  This is in contrast to the weather during the rest of the year, which consists of rain, clouds, and more rain.  We had postponed our trip by a month, because of a terrible heat wave that hit the Northwest the week we had originally planned to go.  This worked out perfectly, because the week we did go it was sunny with highs in the mid-80s, which, if you are accustomed to 100 degree central valley weather, is just delightful.

We did some incredible hiking:

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In Eugene, we rented bikes and spent a day riding on the river trail, which is where Colin taught me once and for all how to ride a bike that same summer when I was, yes, seventeen years old.  My failure to master the bicycle as a child was once a deep, dark secret of mine, but now I’m older and I give a lot fewer f*cks, and I’m also pretty okay at riding a bike.

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We did lots and LOTS of beer tasting everywhere we went, one activity that was not available to us as teenagers during my past visits to Oregon.  Colin is kind of obsessed with craft beer, so he did a lot of tasting.  I’m not so into beer, because gluten, but I did a little tasting too.

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My favorite was Stormbreaker brewery in Portland that had beer and whiskey pairings:

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And some excellent regional wines we tasted in Eugene:

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We ate awesome food too, which I didn’t take pictures of.  However, one of my most favorite Oregon memories from that one magical summer involves a specific ice cream flavor at Prince Puckler’s ice cream parlor.  I was beyond thrilled to find that they still had it, and that unlike many things in life it was JUST AS GOOD AS I REMEMBERED.
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We also ate Voodoo Doughnuts, which are not gluten free but are kind of amazing:

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And we saw a lot of beautiful, beautiful views:

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Back In Action

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For a while, I haven’t been posting much of anything at all.  Truthfully, this is because for the last few months,I haven’t really felt like I had anything worth writing on my fitness blog because I haven’t really felt, well, fit.  My post-running fitness routine of biking, pilates and ballet was fun at first, but after a while I found myself in a bit of a rut.  I wasn’t really getting the level of cardio that I had become accustomed to when I was a runner, which didn’t feel great, physically or mentally.

It didn’t help that during our outdoor adventures in Oregon, it seemed like everyone we encountered, regardless of their age, was a super toned, super tanned trail runner in boutique activewear.  Every woman who passed me in a sports bra with a six pack (at a sprint, while I was struggling up a steep, rocky incline) heightened my insecurities just a little bit more.

But then I thought about it, and realized that (duh) this blog is supposed to be a regular person’s guide to fitness, and that regular people have ups and downs and get injured and recover and sometimes they feel bad about themselves, and I still have things to say, damn it.  The blog is back in action, and so am I.

After we got back from Oregon, Colin and I decided to join a local fitness club.  It’s not super fancy, but it has indoor and outdoor pools, machines, weights, and group fitness classes, which is all we really wanted.  Also, the clientele is non-threatening, mostly families and older people instead of the weight-dropping bros and juice-cleansing trophy wives which we were a little afraid we would find.

I’ve started swimming laps in the outdoor pool, doing yoga and working out on the elliptical, which gives me the low-impact cardio I really needed.  I don’t think I’ve had this much variety in my workout routines since before I started long-distance running, and it’s really refreshing to mix things up a bit.  Even though there are still a lot of things I can’t do because of my hip, there are enough options that exercising feels less like a chore and more like a fun activity.  Which is how it should be, whether or not you have a stupid six pack.

Summer is for Playing Outside

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Even now that I’m an adult and I have to work full time year round, summer is still a magical time.  A time of vacations, BBQs, fireworks, ice cream, sunburns, flip flops, patriotism, wildfires, bikinis, bug bites, minor league baseball, and most of all, lots of time spent playing outside.  As usual, it is hot as all balls in the valley, but as long as you’re not trying to go running (which I’m not, for the first time ever!) there are tons of fun things to do outdoors.  Biking!  Hiking!  Swimming!  Rafting!  Stand up paddling!  There are as many possibilities as there are flavors of ice cream at Gunther’s, which you will have earned after a day spent burning calories while getting fresh air and having fun.

I’ve spent the past few weekends going on long, amazing bike rides out on the river trail, and last weekend my husband and I went stand up paddling on Lake Natoma.  The weather was gorgeous, the lake was beautiful and it was nice and cool on the water.  I was even cooler because (more than once) I lost my balance, fell in and had to scramble back up onto my board.  There was quite a strong wind that pushed us waaaaay out into the middle of the lake and made it something of a challenge to paddle back in, but we made it and it was a really, really good workout.

It seems like any time Colin and I go away in the summer, instead of lying on the beach relaxing with a cocktail like we’re supposed to, we spend the whole time running around getting scraped, sunburned and dirty outdoors.  It’s not what most people consider a vacation, but it’s what we do.  Our honeymoon featured an all-day, partially-off-trail-because-we-got-lost hike through Waimea canyon and an incredible but exhausting and sunburn-inducing 16 mile sea kayaking adventure.  Our usual formula for an anniversary celebration is long hike + shower + good food, and it always turns out to be a good time.  The shower part is key, though; while I enjoy the outdoors, I equally enjoy washing off the dirt, eating a hot meal and sleeping in a real bed safe from rattlesnakes and bears at the end of the day.

The big vacation we planned for this summer was a trip to Oregon, including two days in Portland, a day in Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood, and two days in Eugene.  Because the weather in Oregon is so nice in the summer, the plan was to spend almost all of our time outdoors, biking and walking around the cities, visiting beautiful parks, and hiking.  We going to drive up this week and we couldn’t wait to leave.  Yesterday, I called and confirmed my hotel reservations and was getting ready to pack when I checked the weather so I could decide what to bring.

I opened my weather app and typed in “Portland, OR.”  When it showed me temperatures over 100 degrees every day of our trip, I assumed it hadn’t registered and was still showing me the Sacramento forecast.  I tried “Eugene, OR” with similar results.  Then I saw the article about the horrendous, horrific, historic heat wave hitting the Pacific northwest and the “extreme heat warning” in effect for Oregon and Washington.  They were urging people to stay indoors out of the sun.   Our much-anticipated outdoor vacation was going to be a sweaty, miserable disaster.

So we made a last minute executive decision, and three hours and lots of phone calls later, we had cancelled all of our reservations and rescheduled everything at the last minute to the first week of August.  We couldn’t get any decent hotel reservations, so we booked everything on Airbnb and it will be an adventure.  We also decided to screw it and take a whole week off of work this time so we can also spend two nights hiking, biking and drinking beer in Bend.  It’s also our wedding anniversary that week, which will make it all the more fun.  Let’s just hope the weather cooperates the second time around, because summer vacations are for playing outside, and playing outside is what we’ll do.

Transitioning to a Low-Impact Life

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So I got a repeat MRI and saw the ortho specialist again, and my hip still hasn’t really healed.  I am supposed to keep resting, so I can bike and do yoga but I can’t run or jump at all for another three months until the next MRI.  But even after it heals, as we know I can never return to long distance running or any frequent high impact activities like boot camp or kickboxing.

The doctor also told me that the neck and head of both of my femurs are about the size of a child’s, which is not only very weird to imagine but also pretty scary in terms of how easy it would be to sustain a serious fracture.  So, I have to do two things:

  1. Learn to stop tripping over my own dumb self/accidentally smashing my body into things
  2. Transition to low-impact exercise.  For life.

Accomplishing #1 might be impossible, but #2 has actually been pretty fun so far.  Before I got injured, I had thought about starting adult ballet classes, but I didn’t have the time or money because of all the damn running.  Now that I’ve healed enough to start exercising more, I actually started taking classes at The Ballet Studio in Sacramento.

These are not Ballet Beautiful or Barre exercise classes, but actual classical ballet, which I adore.  I did ballet for 8 years as a kid/teenager, and I loved it, although I wasn’t very good because

  1. I’m just not very coordinated (see #1 above)
  2. I have serious flexibility limitations, which I was made to believe were a personal failing by mean ballet teachers (“you just don’t stretch enough!  Now do ten splits as punishment”), but which I now know are because my bones are just put together wrong.

But even with the above facts, plus the fact that I haven’t danced at all in 10 years, I called up Heidi at The Ballet Studio and she encouraged me to come in to the adult beginner class.  I’ve been going for three weeks, and I am in love.  It’s a hard workout, but one where you get to wear a pretty outfit and do pretty dances while listening to pretty music.  It’s elegant and orderly and relaxing.

I am still really, really not good at ballet, but I don’t mind looking like a fool because I’m having so much fun. Heidi always encourages me to modify wherever I need to so I can keep from jumping or doing any of the many things I’m not supposed to do, and I think all the stretching and leg exercises we do will actually be really good for my hip.

So with ballet, plus yoga, plus weekend bike-ride-and-picnics on the beautiful part of the American River trail which I now live near, I do not really miss running.  Sometimes when I’m biking on the trail and it’s already 80 degrees at 9 am, I see someone who is clearly at mile 19 of a long training run and feeling like they are going to die 10,000 deaths, and I yell “You’re kicking ass!” to spur them on through the final slog, and I do not feel jealous, not even 1%, because I’ve been there and deep down I don’t really care to be there again.

Despite having a blog called HungryGirlRuns, I think I can learn to live with a low-impact life.

HungryGirlGardens

As you may know, I have never been very diligent about caring for plants.  I like plants that can take care of themselves, because there is maybe a 50% chance that I will take care of them.

But, I bought a house that already had a beautiful yard, and I am trying my best not to mess it up.  My best still may not be very good, so it’s lucky that my husband is trying even harder.  The timing is not ideal for this undertaking, given the extreme drought conditions in California and the Level 3 water use restrictions, but we are being creative.

As it turns out, gardening is kind of great for a few reasons.

1.  It can be really, really, really good exercise.  We had about 30 cubic feet of gravelly sand delivered in a pile in our driveway, which we (by which I mean mostly Colin) shoveled into a wheelbarrow a little at a time and trucked to the back of the yard where we raked it across 75 square feet.  According to my new Jawbone UP, I got 26,000 steps that day.

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2.  You can grow things that you then get to eat, assuming you (or more likely your husband) take care of them and they don’t die.  Such as:

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Olives!

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Figs!

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Approximately a jillion pomegranates!

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Tomatoes!

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Tomatillos!

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Zucchini!

3.  You can grow things that you can’t eat, but that look and smell amazingly pretty.  Such as:

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Hydrangeas!

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More hydrangeas!

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About a million roses!

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A gargantuan lavender!

It looks lovely now, but check back in August after another horrifically hot and dry summer and we will see what remains.  Until then, happy gardening!