Day 64 – Artichoke, originally uploaded by bexadler.

Trying to get back into cooking so I bought a ton of groceries. For fear of them going bad, I’ve been cooking vegetables like crazy the last couple of days. The artichoke was the first to get thrown in a pot… and it was delish!


Day 58 – Groceries!, originally uploaded by bexadler.

For the first time since I moved into this apartment (six months ago), my refrigerator contains actual food. It cost me a fortune so I’m hoping it doesn’t go to waste.

Hung out with of my old friends from my newspaper days. We had a couple of drinks and then got the munchies, so we hiked it over to Willie’s. Best Chilli Cheese Fries you’ll ever have.

Monday was spent pretty much going from one of my favorite food/drinks places to another. The highlight of the day though (as is always the case when I make it all the way to the other side of the grid) was stopping by Rick’s Dessert Diner for a delicious slice of pie. There’s seriously no better place in Sacramento to get dessert (although last time I was in Tower Cafe, I was definitely tempted).

Day 26 – Sushi at Kru, originally uploaded by bexadler.

I’ve been craving sushi for weeks, so Christa and I headed out to our favorite sushi spot, Zen Sushi, yesterday. Unfortunately it was closed for between 2 and 5 (we were there for a late lunch at 3:30), so we headed over to Kru instead. Usually, I avoid Kru because it’s a bit pricier than Bexadler can afford, but it was just our luck that Kru has happy hour from 4 to 6 every day. I got some delicious salmon sashimi and an awesome tempura sushi roll (the Red Lotus – spicy and delish!) for only $5 each. They also had $2 beers, but I still had a 6 mile run to do later in the afternoon so no alcohols for me. I’ll definitely be keeping Kru in mind in the future, especially if I’m craving sushi anytime between 4 and 6 p.m.

I tend to go through phases. There was the shopping addiction, the year I was obssessed with knitting, my rock climber days, the time I took up painting, and let’s not forget that awful time when people had to see me in pink tights and a leotard when I tried to learn ballet. Some of these things stick around and some of them are quickly forgotten as I pick up some other ridiculous hobby. The one phase that I miss most though is my crazy gardening and cooking phase.

I took up gardening a couple years back because I had the space for it and I wanted to grow the food I ate. I knew it was a weird thing to decide to do even then, but I really took pride in my homegrown herbs and vegetables. What I loved most though was being able to whip together all kinds of amazing meals for my boyfriend and my close friends. One of my roommates during that phase used to call me Becca Crocker because every time he walked into the kitchen I’d be chopping, mixing, dicing and sauteing like a mad woman (of course, with a glass of wine always at arm’s length).

This was one of those phases I thought was going to last forever. I loved coming up with creative ideas for dinner and seeing the surprise on people’s faces when I told them I’d made everything from my garden. But when Tony left me it was one of the first things to go. I couldn’t bring myself to cook a full meal just for one person. There was always too much leftover and it was depressing to remember that I used to cook for him every night and now there was nobody else at the table with me. People told me I should still do it for me, that I didn’t need someone else to cook for, blah, blah, blah. Those are easy things to say, but not easy things to follow through on when you don’t even feel like eating half the time and you definitely don’t feel like preparing a gourmet meal. So, for the past year I’ve been eating a lot of junk. There has been a lot of Mac N Cheese and pasta in my life throughout the last year.

Then, this weekend I rediscovered my love for cooking. I’ve lived in my apartment for two months and haven’t cooked a single meal there yet. It’s kind of depressing, really. But this weekend my hiking partner came down from Sonora and stayed with me for a couple of days. Since I knew I was having company, I figured I should have more in my refrigerator than a bunch of Propel Fitness Waters, wine, and milk. I went to the grocery store and stocked up on fruits, vegetables, and stuff to make easy meals. I only made two meals while he was visiting because we were so busy the rest of the time, but it reminded me how much I used to love chopping up vegetables and making something from scratch. I made my own salad dressing and pasta sauces, just like I used to and I was really glad that I still remembered how to do it.

Now I’ve got enough food to cook myself dinner for the rest of the week and I’m excited to start experimenting again. Last night I cooked Brussels sprouts for only the second time ever (the first time they turned out terribly), and they were actually pretty decent. I had the girls over for dinner, wine, and of course lots of gossip. Maybe I don’t need someone else to cook for after all. Because, really, the best part about cooking for one is the leftovers – lunch the next day with minimal effort sounds fab to me. 🙂

Now I just need to get on that offer from Christa to use her backyard as my own personal vegetable garden…

This blog is part of Take It and Run Thursdays, which is put together by The Runner’s Lounge. Each week they put together a new theme to help those of us with writer’s block. It also helps start a conversation about important topics (like last week’s all-important topic of overtraining…).

This week’s theme is about food! That’s something easy enough to talk about. And since I’m just sitting here with ice on my leg, I figured there’s no better time to blog than right now. (I must admit though that I tried to go for a run this morning. I didn’t get far though. If I tried to go above a walking pace I began limping all over the place. It was really horrible. So I guess I really am going to be taking some time off. Oh, and it’s definitely the shoes. They aren’t old shoes, but after I began thinking about it, I remembered that I’d been complaining about the extra strain I felt in my shin muscles when I first got these shoes. I thought it was just something I’d get used to, but I guess it’s something I should have changed in the first place. Note to self: Bad fitting shoes are never an option.)

OK, what were we talking about now? Oh, yes, FOOD!

As far as pre-run fuel, I don’t do much. I have a super sensitive stomach and if I eat much more than a banana before a run I’ll be running straight for the nearest bathroom, rather than finishing up my long run. This is why, for me, it’s important to have a well-balanced dinner and lots and lots of water. I drink a ton of water before running in the mornings too. Because I know I can’t eat much before a run, I make sure to have yummy, nutritious snacks ready for when I get home. I’m a major fruit-a-holic so I’ll buy a basket of strawberries, cut out all the stems the night before and put them in a tupperware. This way I can just pop the top off and dig in when I get home. I’ll usually eat a bowl of multi-grain cereal as well.

But my most favorite after-run treat is fresh-squeezed Orange Juice. Making fresh-squeezed OJ is a habit I started last fall and I nearly never miss a day (unless I run out of oranges!). It’s super easy if you get an electric juicer. I don’t have anything fancy. It doesn’t do vegetables and all that jazz. It just does citrus and takes up minimal counter space. I use the black and decker one, which costs $20 at Target. You just need two oranges and an 8 oz. glass. You can add sugar if you want to, but California oranges are sweet enough not to need it. For a change of pace you can also try grapefruit (which definitely needs a little bit of sugar) or, my personal favorite when they’re in season: blood oranges.

My favorite summer meals are the things I can get from my garden or from the farmer’s market. We have to enjoy fresh produce while it lasts, right? What I love most is making tomato-basil-mozzarella salad. And I’ll pretty much eat anything with avocados in it. Last night I put together a new salad that was delish:

Tomato-Avocado Salad

5 garden-ripened tomatoes, any variety (mine are russian black and lemon boy), quartered
A handful of cherry tomatoes (about 10-20), sliced
1 Avocado, peeled and cubed (I secretly use 2 because I love avocado)
3 green onions, sliced
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Feta Cheese

2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a shaker jar and shake vigorously (or put in a bowl and combine with a whisk). In a medium-sized bowl, add the tomatoes, onions, avocados and bacon. Drizzle with dressing and toss. Sprinkle feta over salad just before serving.

You can add more tomatoes, avocado and green onions to your own tastes.

One other thing I haven’t been able to get enough of lately is sweet potatoes (yams). I found this fab recipe at MyRecipes for Sweet Potato-Chipotle Gratin. It’s AMAZING. If you’re sick of pasta, seriously consider making this. You won’t regret it.

Speaking of MyRecipes. If you haven’t checked out this site, you really should. I’ve been using it a lot this summer because it’s my first summer with a garden. I’ve got more summer squash and tomatoes than one couple can handle. I’ve also been frequenting my farmer’s market and buying weird stuff that I don’t really know how to cook. Just because I want to try new things. And that’s where My Recipes comes in. You can enter in any food item and it will come up with hundreds of recipes containing that item. This really helps me from having fresh produce go to waste (especially fruit!). I’ve made cherry barbecue sauce, strawberry cucumber salad, and a host of other dishes I would have never thought of on my own. Definitely check it out if your stumped for new ideas on the cooking front.

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