Day Two

Good evening! How are you all this beautiful Friday evening? I for one could not be happier about being in bed and under the covers at 11:30 on a Friday night, away from the blustery cold and a long day.  I’m a little too comfortable… I’ll be very proud of myself if I make it through this whole post without nodding off!

We ended up making rich mugs of hot chocolate last night before we went to sleep (I’m not sure there’s a more perfect nightcap on the market) using Jacques Torres’ hot chocolate.

Ari was in charge of the preparation….

He did a pretty good job.

The chocolate was very thick and filling, almost like a pudding.  I topped mine with marshmallows and cinnamon.

It knocked me right out, and I fell asleep almost immediately.   Although I’ve been getting less rest than usual this past week, I bounded out of bed as soon as my alarm went off.  Must be the pre-work jitters!

I made another rich breakfast, hoping it would hold me well into the morning: 5 grain cereal with ground flax, cinnamon, 1 small banana, warmed frozen berries, almond butter and agave.

I got to the office right on time, ready to start Day 2 of training.  Did I mention I have my own office? 😀   Around 11:30 my stomach was growling pretty loudly, so I dug around in my purse for a snack.  Unfortunately I was a little distracted last night and didn’t have time to pack a lunch or snacks, but luckily I found a Date Heart Thrive hidden away!

We broke for lunch around 1:30 and I dashed out to grab a salad.  Hopefully I’ll be able to plan better in the future… I can’t spend $11 every day for a mediocre meal!  I had a mixed green salad with marinated mushrooms, tofu, avocado, asparagus, and chili lime vinaigrette.  It was pretty blah.

I needed a little pick-me-up, so I visited the fancy coffee machine in the communal pantry.

We’re running low, but there are so many flavors to choose from! Each cup is brewed “to order”, with the push of a button.  Pretty cool, hmm?

I spent the rest of the day trying to learn as much as possible from my trainer… I’m on my own starting Monday!

After work, I met my Little Redheaded Friend for dinner.  We went to Friend House 2 (I was very sad to discover that the original Friendhouse, one block over, had closed within the last month 😦 ) for Japanese.

We started with miso soup:

For my entrée, I strayed from my usual order (sashimi) and ordered a roll combination instead.  I must have been craving carbs!  By the time I finished my Sweet Potato, California, and Spicy Tuna rolls, I was thoroughly stuffed.

Kalle and I sat and chatted for a little while and let our tums settle before making our way to Whole Foods for dessert.  We’d originally wanted to go to a proper coffee or dessert shop, but it was so cold and windy out that we just decided to take refuge in the supermarket.  I got a “Caramelita bar”, which tastes like a cross between a Hello Dolly/Magic/7 Layer bar and Pecan Pie.

This was as big as it looks, and then some.  I’d broken it in half and had fully planned on saving the rest for later, but we were in the store for almost an hour and I ended up nibbling the whole thing. It was a little too rich for me, but it was still very tasty.

Well, I made it through the post without falling asleep!  I’m watching A Christmas Tale while I wait for Ari to get home, but it’s a pretty long movie my chances of finishing it are slim.  What are your favorite holiday movies?

Have a great weekend!


So, that’s my big news… I got a job! I got the call while I was literally on the way to the airport to go to Russia.  As you can imagine, it made the trip a lot more relaxing and stress-free.  Obviously I won’t get into any real details about the position, but I will say that it’s in the publishing field, which I’ve always dreamed of entering.  And guess what? Today was my very first day of work!

I thought breakfast should be special, so I used some of all of my favorite ingredients: banana, cinnamon, dark chocolate chips, lemon curd, pumpkin butter and flaxy peanut butter.

Mixed in with oats, it made for one rich bowl of oatmeal!  I actually found myself in the rare situation where I could not finish my meal.

I spent the day training with the employee who’d held the position before me. It was actually pretty fun! I do have to say, though: there is a lot to learn.   My trainer and I broke for lunch around 1:00 in the conference room.  I’d packed a sandwich made with Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread, hummus, a Dr. Praeger’s Texas veggie burger, mustard, spinach and sprouts.

I also had a Pineapple-flavored Chobani and a cup of hazelnut coffee with skim milk (our office kitchen has a fancy-shmancy coffee maker; each cup is brewed to your taste).  I saved the carrots and ate them at 4:30.

I left work at 5:30 and headed straight home to make dinner.  There hadn’t been time to do any prep work the night before so I knew we wouldn’t be eating for a little while; I snacked on a blueberry bar.

Ari just came home from tour last night (after being away for three weeks) and Ilana was coming for dinner so I wanted to make us a nice dinner.  We had mushroom lasagna (which we’ve deemed “Lucky Lasagna”) and steamed green beans.

There’s a rumor of hot chocolate in bed, so I’m going to sign off.  I’ve got to get myself onto a “working” schedule! I’ll try and be a better blog friend this weekend.

Bonne nuit 🙂

From Russia, With Love

Здравствуйте, друзья!  How have you been? It seems like such a long time, but I was only in Russia for a week.  It was a quick trip, but one that- if you’ll forgive the wording- was life-changing.  My dad and I traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg, packing as much into each day as humanly possible.  We soaked up culture, food, and a little vodka 😉

Although Moscow felt like one of the most “foreign” places I’ve been, there are, unsurprisingly, a number of American chains…

This is the biggest MacDonald’s in Moscow.

One day, while my dad was working, I ventured out onto Tverskaya Street (one of the biggest boulevards in Moscow) to explore on my own.  While the city streets are perfectly safe, the sidewalks are separated by 8 lanes of traffic that move at different times and speeds.

There is next to nothing that would convince me to drive here.  What would be a 10 minute walk can take over an hour in slow-moving traffic.

Instead of crossing, pedestrians use underpasses to get from one street to the other.

Underground, the walls are lined with stores that sell everything from tchotkes to malt liquor.

After getting turned around in the underpasses more than a few times (few people speak English), I finally made my way to Red Square, home of the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb, the GUM department store and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, among other sights.

What else does Russia have that the US doesn’t? For now, Sarah!

We had so much fun together.  We chatted, ate, frolicked at the Museum of the Revolution…

… at the zoo…

… she even took me to one of her classes!  I think I may have convinced her students to try mixing peanut butter into their kasha (oatmeal).

While Moscow did have a lot of beautiful areas, there was an undeniable shadow cast over the city leftover from Soviet times.  St. Petersburg, on the other hand, felt rich and luxurious; there were colorful buildings and palaces that, thanks to recent restorations, seemed almost untouched by war and dictatorship.

On our last night in Russia, my dad and I went to the famous Mariinsky Theater to see the opera “The Marriage of Figaro.”  While operas may not be quite my cup of tea (yet), it was incredible to be in such a beautiful, culturally rich space.

The pickings for a vegetarian (or pescatarian) were slim, and my snacks from home came in very handy.

Our hotel, luckily, had an amazing breakfast that held me for hours.

Soups were also a safe bet, and very tasty.

Traditional Russian salads are not made with leafy greens, but either tossed with mayonnaise or olive oil, like this one with tomato, cucumber, dill, and chives.

I encountered several “pancake” dishes, stuffed with cheese or mushrooms.  The dough was sweet, like a crêpe.

Vegetable and meat-stuffed pies are also a specialty.  They are ornate, and are made with a similar sweet-tasting dough.

Our best meal in Moscow was, ironically, at an Italian/Russian restaurant.  I had a rich bowl of homemade gnocchi with smoked ricotta, and ate every bite.

The best meal in St. Petersburg was at a Georgian restaurant.  The cuisine is almost Mediterranean, and uses more vegetables than traditional Russian fare.  This appetizer platter, for example, had lightly roasted carrots and eggplant, two kinds of nutmeats, and pomegranate.  A raw foodist would approve!

We also dined on hachapuri, a Georgian bread similar to pizza.

One of their desserts, made with grapes, tastes like a combination of jelly and pudding.

Speaking of desserts, we did not skimp in the sweet department.  We tried the Duke’s Ruins, a nut cake made with prunes, as well as many chocolate varieties.  The tap water isn’t safe to drink, so more often than not, the fruit garnishes went uneaten.

We sampled interesting juices, like raspberry, blueberry, and pumpkin!

And what’s more festive than hot mulled wine?

The food was interesting, and while it may not have been my favorite, it was fun to sample traditional Russian cuisine.  However, I’m looking forward to eating vegetables again and being able to hydrate at will! It was an amazing trip that I’ll never forget.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my dad recently, and it was so nice to travel and experience a new culture together.

I’ve got a busy week ahead of me now that I’m back.  Sunday is my 15k race; while I was able to use the gym in Moscow and complete two treadmill workouts (2 miles and 5 miles), I didn’t get my long run in on Sunday.  I did, however, wake up and crank out 8 miles yesterday… the farthest I’ve ever gone!  There were times when I felt like giving up and going home, but then I imagined how happy and satisfied I’d feel when I was done.  I’m a little nervous about Sunday’s race; I’ve never run 9.3 miles before! Running 8 yesterday gave me a little more confidence, though, and I’m not aiming for speed or a specific time, I’m running to finish.

Please accept my apologies in advance as I take time to get settled.  I do have some news I’m excited to share with you tomorrow!  Hope you’re having a great week 🙂

Whole Wide World

Important! While I’m in Russia, the site will be under construction for a day or two.  In order to stay in the loop, please update your readers to include  Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Morning!  So sorry about disappearing last night… I was so exhausted that I was in bed, asleep at 9:30!  I don’t know when the last time I woke up naturally at 7:30 feeling well-rested and ready for the day, but it was great 🙂

Yesterday I had a long run scheduled, so I fueled up with a slice of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin toast spread with almond butter, 1/4 banana and a drizzle of honey.

While I drank a mug of coffee and digested a little, I opened my prize from a contest I won over at my friend Meghan’s blog, Lila Puppy.  (You may recall that my mom and I went to Utah back in August to attend Meghan’s beautiful wedding.)

The prize? Hand-knit beer cozies and a wrist cuff!

As much as I wanted to drink beer at 10 AM, I didn’t think I was quite hardcore enough to chug before a run.   I cozied my water instead.

My 15K race is two weeks from yesterday, so it’s really important that I log my miles.  I set out with a good playlist, ready to run.  (Yes, I’ve had the song “Whole Wide World” in my head for the last month! And I am in desperate need of new music.)

I took a roundabout route through Riverside Park (up, down, and back up again) to make sure that I got my 7 miles in.  I ran at a slow and steady pace; when going on a long run, it’s more important to go the distance than hit a specific time. My energy started lagging and I got a little lightheaded around mile 6, so I stopped and sucked down half of a banana-flavored Hammer gel.  The flavor was pretty good and tasted like real bananas, but I think in the future I’d prefer something more natural (and cheaper), so it looks like I’ll be making Angela’s 50 Cent All Natural Homemade Energy Gel soon!

When I got home I felt completely drained and exhausted, but I did it!!! I used MapMyRun to calculate the approximate distance, and it turns out I ran closer to 7.5 miles!!!

Total distance: 7.5 miles

Total time: 1:15:41

Average pace: 10:05 minutes/mile <— not bad for a long run!

I was very pleased with my stats.  While my mom made lunch,  I somehow kept myself awake long enough to do an 8-minute abs practice.  Then I charged into the dining room to wolf down this salad (spinach, apples, cauliflower, walnuts, hard-boiled egg & leftover Brussels sprouts).

We were going to a Sunday matinee, so there wasn’t too much time to dilly-dally with my shower and dressing.  I really could have just put my head down on the table and gone to sleep, so we stopped on the way to the theater to pick up some coffee.  (Sorry about the blur; this was taken on a moving subway car.)

Good thing I was caffeinated, because we were sitting right in the front row of “The Story of a Childhood”, the first installment of Horton Foote’s The Orphans’ Home Cycle.

The play was really good.  I’d seen the last installment of the Cycle about 10 years ago, and it was was interesting to see it a little out of order.

My energy started to lag again, but we came prepared with clementines, dark chocolate, and slices of Criterion apples…

… and I did not fall asleep.  My dad has a theory about escaping jet lag that involves taking 1/3 of a tablet of Melatonin- what I take when I need a little extra help falling asleep- at 5 PM the day before a flight, and I’m sure that didn’t help my fatigue one bit!

By the time the play was over I was starving again (I guess a 7.5 mile run will do that to you!) so I dug around in my purse and came up with a Chocolate Heart Thrive Cake.

We stopped to run some last-minute errands for the trip on the way home, and as soon as I walked in our front door I made a bee-line for my bed, where I stayed until dinner was ready.  My dad made a fabulous dinner: Cajun-spiced grilled salmon with a cucumber accompaniment, kale sautéd with shallots

… and a sweet potato with brown sugar.

We had Deep Chocolate and Black Mission Fig goat’s milk ice cream for dessert…

… which of course was incomplete without a little hot fudge.

The dessert was like a lullaby, and I went right to sleep after dinner.

Well, we’re leaving for Moscow in just a few hours! I’m not quite sure what the internet situation will be like over there, but I know that posting will NOT be regular.   I will have e-mail, though, so if you send me your Russian questions I’ll do my very best to answer them!

Have a fabulous week 🙂

Keeping It Classy

Back again from a very short but lovely visit with Ari’s family in Maryland.   Of course I wish Ari could have been there himself, but his parents are warm, welcoming, and put me completely at ease.

As soon as I was picked up from the bus stop we drove to one of their favorite Italian restaurants for dinner.  We split an order of fresh bruschetta (crusty bread topped withtomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and what Ilana claims to be the best tomato sauce on earth).

I ordered freshly-caught Rock Fish from the Chesapeake Bay (with lemon and olive oil sauce on the side)…

… and a side order of linguine marinara.

This was the same restaurant we came to two years ago, when I was meeting Ari’s family for the first time.  Time flies!  After dinner, the girls went to see New Moon (the movie wasn’t quite Ari’s dad’s style).  I’ve only read the first two Twilight books, saw the first movie, and did not have high hopes for this one.  But… I really liked it!  My friends who have read all four books say that Book 2 is the weakest, but I really think Stephanie Meyer nailed Bella’s heartbreak in both the book and the movie.

This morning we all got up early, had breakfast, and got ready for a bridal shower.  The food spread was pretty grand.  We had Beth’s Famous Zucchini-Wrapped Salmon (I helped with the zucchini and dill garnish):

Three different kinds of quiche (spinach, mushroom & cheese), croissants, salad, pasta salad, cheese, crackers, hummus

I ate my fill and then some more.

We had a chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows, and pretzels for dipping…

And did I metnion there were Jello shots?

To keep things classy, we also had hot apple cider (warmed in a crock pot) spiked with Goldschlager.

This was my first bridal shower, and it was a lot of fun! I’m sure there will be many more to come.

I ate leftovers on the bus ride back to New York, and feel like I haven’t stopped eating since before the holidays!  It’s kind of nice, since these were all meals I spent with people I love and are thankful for even when it’s not a holiday.  The trip home was very productive… thanks to my good friend Mr. Dramamine, I read Elements of Style in its entirety and moved on to The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society. Nothing really signals that the holidays have arrived like having the time to curl up with a good book.  What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?

As some of you know, I’m headed off to Russia on Monday to spend 10 days with my dad and Sarah.  While I’m gone, are there any burning questions you have about Russian culture, history or food that you’d like me to try to investigate? I’m at your service! Sarah’s informed me that while there will probably be fish available at every restaurant, strictly vegetarian options will be harder to come by.  I’ll let you know how I fare.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

An Intimate Thanksgiving

Good morning and happy Black Friday!  Who’s shopping the sales? You know, in all of my 22 years (I’m ancient, I know ;-), I don’t think I’ve ever gone shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving.  The crowds sound terrible! I heard on the radio that some stores opened as early as midnight, 3 and 4 AM. Craziness!  I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings, whatever you did.  We had a very nice day, but by the time we got home last night I was so tired that I went right to sleep!

Yesterday morning I was up at 8, with the full intention to go for a run early in the morning.  Well… that didn’t quite work out.  I was really tired, and wanted to relax a little around the house.  Around 9:30, I made a protein shake using the Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Tera’s Whey Protein powder (which I won from one of Holly‘s contests), frozen strawberries, and skim milk.

It was good, but needed a little something.  Over-ripe banana it was!

The result was perfect: rich, chocolatey, and with the slightest hint of fruit.

Around 10:45 I finally got my act together: I laced up, piled on the layers, and went for a run.  According to my training schedule I needed to run 5 miles and work on speedwork.  Because my heart rate monitor doesn’t have GPS and not all of the streets are marked in Riverside Park, I had to approximate “2 x 1600 @ 8:47”.  Basically, I warmed up with a mile, ra really fast for 4 minutes, resumed a regular pace, ran fast around a mini-track for 3 laps, and ran slowly home again.  Not ideal, but it got the job done.  How do you concentrate on speedwork when you’re not on a treadmill or a calibrated path?

When I got home, I had a quick lunch: salad and miso soup leftover from my bento box.

I iced my knees (I’m trying to get in the habit of doing this after every run that’s longer than 2 miles) and helped my mom with our caramel pecan rolls.

We make these “sticky buns” every year (recipe can be found here), and they’re always a hit.

It was very hard not to dig in before the feast!

I wanted to bring something vegetarian, so I made Heidi Swanson’s Carmelized Tofu & Brussels Sprouts recipe.  I’ve made this a few times… I just love this.

Everyone (besides me) is carnivorous, so I wanted to make a sweet recipe that would make tofu a little less intimidating.

We got to George & Judy’s house, and went straight upstairs to look at the view from the top apartment in their building.

Note: when lusting after a piece of real estate, speak in earnest and rub your palms together with enthusiasm.

Fondle the exposed brick…

… and allow your photo to be taken, however camera-shy you may be.

We went back downstairs to partake in cocktails and appetizers.

I was very excited to see Cowgirl Creamery cheese, which I’d coveted from the re-caps of the Foodbuzz Food Festival.

I may have overdone it on the crudités… my stomach was upset for most of dinner 😦

Jack on the rocks made it a little better…

… and the company almost healed me.

The turkey was lovely.

We ate buffet-style…

… and I loaded my plate to the max with red cabbage with apples, rutabaga, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, my Brussels sprouts & tofu, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and a sticky bun.

I didn’t know if I’d be hungry for dessert, but I managed to pack in slivers of pumpkin and pecan pie, with a little homemade whipped cream.

It was another fabulous Thanksgiving.  Can’t wait to see how you celebrated!

I’m off to scrounge for leftovers and head to Ari’s family’s house (though he will not be there).  Have a great weekend!

LVP’s Thanksgiving 2008

Back In Time

As of 3 minutes ago, it’s officially Thanksgiving! I’m cozy at home in my bed, surrounded by my stuffed animals, Polaroids from high school, and hundreds of books, among other things. What was your childhood bedroom like?

Speaking of childhood, I got a fun e-mail from my friend Jenny at 8 this morning while I was sipping on my coffee. Jenny is hands-down my oldest friend; our mothers grew up together, and although Jenny and I have been separate by half a country for our entire lives and only get to see each other once a year, we’ve always been close. When my grandfather was still living, my parents and I visited him in Indianapolis every winter between Christmas and New Year’s; this photo is from the winter of 1988. (That’s me on the right, with the bowl cut.)

Here we are this past summer, in Lake Michigan.

I miss her so much during the year. We look forward to our week on the lake so much!

After my trip down memory lane, I made a quick breakfast: Ezekiel English muffin with almond butter and a banana, raspberry jam on one side and pumpkin butter on the other.

I went to the post office to mail something; it didn’t open until 10 (which seems a little later) but there was a machine that got the job done. Then to physical therapy I went! It as a particularly good appointment. I learned some new exercises to stretch my hips; I can easily do them from the hotel room in Russia. After PT I raced back home to eat lunch before I had to turn right back around and go to an interview. I made a quick salad:

In the mix:

It was one of the rare occasions where I could not finish my meal. Usually, once I’ve dished a certain amount of food out, I will eat every last scrap even if I’ve long since reached capacity. (Last night’s pasta plate was an example of this.) However, today I started getting a stomachache about partway through, and just picked out what I wanted (roast vegetables, tofu, hummus), leaving a fair amount of spinach.

I felt guilty about throwing the rest out (I won’t be back at the house for two weeks), but it was better than making myself sick. As it was, my tum hurt for the next two hours. My eyes are bigger than my head sometimes, and I think the most important thing I need to remember to do is slow down while I’m eating. I’ve been so rushed these past few weeks that although I’ve been eating foods I love, I’ve barely tasted them as I’ve had to practically inhale them to get from appointment to appointment on time. It’ll be nice to have a little break 🙂

There’s always room for sweets, though! I had a couple of these strawberry gummy candies from the Japanese grocery store in our neighborhood. Not bad!

I was starving after my interview. Luckily I had about four different snacks in my bag, so I ate one of the apple-flavored Heart Thrive bars that I was sent to review. I’ll do a formal review once I’ve sampled all of the products, but I liked this a lot!

When I got home I folded laundry and did some preparatory packing for my trip to Russia. I am one of the worst packers ever. I always take too much and forget crucial items, like spare contact lenses or pajama pants. Do you have any fool-proof (or LVP proof!) packing tips?

I snacked on some Concord grapes that were about to go bad while I waited for my dad to help me pack some things up. These grapes are really addicting. There are seeds, which I thought I wouldn’t like, but are actually kind of fun to work through and take longer to eat. Plus, these are the kind of grapes used to make grape juice, so they’re the perfect combination of sweet + tart.

While my dad was at a holiday party, my mom and I had dinner at watched Hannah And Her Sisters. Not only is this a really good Woody Allen film, but it’s told between two years’ worth of Thanksgivings! I ordered a bento box for dinner, which came with a spicy tuna roll, tempura, sashimi & shrimp shumai. (It came with rice, salad & miso soup as well, but I’m saving those for tomorrow.)

I also had a glass of Black Box Wine’s Sauvignon Blanc.

My mom brought home dessert from Billy’s Bakery, the same shop she ordered my birthday cupcakes from.

She bought one pumpkin cupcake and one pumpkin bar; we split them three ways. De-lish.

I’m off to bed. There’s a lot on the agenda tomorrow! Have a great night, a happy holiday, and safe travels wherever your day takes you.

Belly Full ‘O Pasta

Evening! How was your day?  Mine was just fine, but I’m ready to crawl into bed and call it a night!

This morning when I woke up at 8:30, I panicked for a few minutes before remembering that my boss (at my internship) had canceled work for the day. I was up and ready to go, though, which things to do and people to see!

I was excited to try these goji berries with my breakfast.  I’ve only ever tasted these chopped up and mixed into other things, but when I snatched them right up when I spotted this bag on sale for $2.19 at the food co-op this weekend (they’re usually almost triple that price).  Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, and among their many benefits they are touted to improve eyesight (they’re rich in beta carotene), boost immunity, and spice up your sex life 😉

I tossed them in with Greek yogurt, 1/2 toasted Trader Joe’s Berry Mango muffin, warmed frozen berries and flaxy peanut butter. The goji berries are firm but chewy; the texture really complemented the rest of the mess.

This held me over for a really long time.  The rest of the morning was spent reading, researching, and waiting until I was digested enough to go for a run.  I warmed up with a 20 minute hip opening flow, then set out for an easy 2 mile run.

Total distance: 2 miles

Total time: 20:09

Most of my runs are going to have to be in the morning now that it’s getting dark earlier; I’ll have to crank out some long runs on the treadmill when I’m in Russia, however.  I’m a little nervous that I won’t be able (psychologically) to run 7 miles on a treadmill…. What are you tips for making it through a long treadmill session?

Lunch was pretty basic (and very green): the last of the spinach and rice soup and a crunchy salad (spinach, broccoli slaw, celery, roasted almonds; sesame oil/rice vinegar/sesame seed dressing).

My interview was at 3:30; when it was over I hopped right back onto the subway and headed home.  I had 1/3 of a Key Lime Pie Larabar on the ride back:

I found myself in one of the rare instances when I didn’t have anything to read on the subway… it was completely disorienting.  I always have a book with me (sometimes two!); I would have brought one to prom if it had fit in my clutch!  Ari calls me his word nerd.

When I got home, I went straight to the kitchen to unwind and get dinner started.  I’ve had my eye on Martha Stewart‘s recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Pasta and Lemon Zest (in the November 2009 issue) for quite some time… a little too much time, because the head of cauliflower I’d bought in anticipation a couple weeks ago had started to mold.  But have no fear! I just sliced off the offending areas. I’m frugal, what can I say?

While slicing onion, I remembered what one of my cooking teachers always said: always cut out the middle greenish part of an onion.  I can’t quite remember why that is; I think it has something to do with it not being fully developed yet and causing stomachaches.

I was eager to try out this pasta… Nature’s Place is Hannaford grocery store’s natural, minimally processed brand.  Fresh (not dried) pasta always tastes so much better to me.

Plus, they look like little nests! Two “nests” make one serving.

When the veggies finished roasting (perfectly crispy!), it was all I could do to keep myself from eating them all right off the baking sheet.  I’d already made quite a dent in the cauliflower while I was chopping it… if I wasn’t careful, I wouldn’t have any ingredients left for dinner!

I tossed the roasted cauliflower with the pasta and added lemon zest, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil.

When it comes to parsley and other fresh herbs, I’m of the “more is more” mindset.

Lest you think this was a dainty, “ladylike” portion…

I had enough fuel to run a marathon with this baby.  Come November 6, you just might find me eating it!

There wasn’t too much room in my tum for dessert, but in the words of Tim Gunn, I made it work.  Dried figs and prunes stuffed with dark chocolate chips are so good… and they just keep me going back for more.  They kind of look like frogs, right?  I seem to have successfully eaten nuts in some form or other for every meal and snack today.

I’m off to seal my day with a lunar flow practice and hope to be in bed by 10.  I’ll make it work.

Bonne nuit 🙂

Edited to add: Kristina from Stonyfield Farm wants me to let you all know about a fun “Greek” opportunity!

“When consumers buy our quarts instead of single-serving cups, they pay less for their yogurt, but we know that a quart is not as convenient as single-serving cups for on the go consumption,” says our President and CE-Yo Gary HIrshberg. “The reusable yogurt cup gives our quart buyers the convenience of the Stonyfield 6 oz cups by providing a way to create easily transportable single servings for anywhere, anytime.”

Yogurt lovers just have to buy four Stonyfield yogurt quarts through December, and mail in the foil lids (describing this offer), and they’ll receive the reusable, eight-ounce yogurt cup made by Preserve®. Made from 100% recycled plastic, the cup is perfect for yogurt-lovers on the go, the ideal size for breakfast or a snack, with room to stir in fruit or granola. It’s dishwasher safe, BPA-free with a screw-on lid – and it’s made in the US.

Consumers will also get  $4.50 worth of Stonyfield and Preserve coupons along with the cup.

Our recycling partner since 2000, Preserve uses innovative methods to turn used materials (including used Stonyfield yogurt cups) into stylish, useful household products like toothbrushes, colanders, cutting boards and tableware. Preserve products are 100% recycled and recyclable too.

Consumers can mail clean foil lids, with name, address and phone number on an index card or 4” x 6” sheet of paper by February 28, 2010 to:

Stonyfield Farm
Reusable Cup Offer
PO Box 4840
Manchester, NH 03108-4840

Cups will be shipped starting in January, 2010 with delivery in 10 to 12 weeks. This offer is good only in the US, while cup supplies last, and is limited to one cup per household (to better spread the love around).

So save those lids!

Early Bird Special

Are you an “all or nothing” type of person? My body seems to be.  My internal clock is so out of whack right now!  For the past week, I’ve alternated between going to bed early and getting more than a full night’s sleep (10+ hours) and getting less than 6 and feeling completely wiped.  This morning was the latter.  Last night, even though I was exhausted,  I could not get myself to drift off.  I knew I had to get up early to get ready for an interview, and the pressure of knowing I needed to sleep only made it worse.  I dragged myself out of bed, bleary and blurry eyed (I’m blind as a bat), not even stopping to put on my glasses.  I had one mission, and one mission only.

Our house guest left this as a parting gift when he left.  I’m sure it’s delicious, but I really didn’t pause to smell or taste it before throwing it back.  I’ll let you know about that tomorrow 🙂

I replenished my supply of POMx to dissolve my Ester-C into.  I’m still so proud of myself for discovering this works!  (For new readers: I drink a little bit every day with breakfast to dissolve Ester-C, which aids the absorption of an iron supplement I take for low energy, but don’t photograph it every morning.)

I was excited to try out a new product with breakfast: Stonewall Kitchen’s Lemon Curd.  I’ve been curious about this for years, and my mom was nice enough to buy it for me this weekend.

Breakfast was a double portion of Sarah‘s pumpkin “cakes”, topped with a heaping cloud of 0% Fage, cinnamon, walnuts, and a scoop of lemon curdLemon Meringue Pumpkin Pie before 7 AM? Yes, please!

I had two back-to-back interviews starting at 9 (which I think went well); afterward I needed to unwind a little with some teasing retail therapy (AKA touch everything, buy nothing) at J.Crew and Anthropologie.  How is it that a store (or two) can be filled with only perfect things?  But my bank balance remained stable, and I left satisfied with the clothes on my back.

The tree is going up in Rockefeller Center…

I sat in the plaza and ate my Criterion apple.  Sometimes it’s okay to be a tourist in your own city.

After making sure there were no more stores I needed to browse through, I came home to get some done and eat lunch.  I heated up a bowl of Spinach & Rice soup and added lots of fresh parsley, and served it alongside a small sweet potato with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Perfect mid-Monday comfort food, if you ask me.

I thought I deserved a treat, so I had some 55% Dark Chocolate Peppermint Chococolove.

The rest of the afternoon was spent writing. Welcome to my “office”!  You may recognize it as the kitchen table, but during the day I spread out and use it for reading, writing, researching, and tea-drinking.  I tried the Sugar Plum Spice holiday teaso good.  I think this might have been the first flavor they came up with, because I remember having it a long, long time ago before they changed their packaging.

After successfully moving to decaffeinated tea, I didn’t want to go back to drinking coffee so late in the day.  Instead, I moved on to a cup of Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride.  I don’t know how they do it, but this smells so much like a cookie! It’s very vanilla-y, but it has a very soft taste without a hint of bitterness.

I finished up my work, then went into the city to meet my friend Ilena at 5:30 for an early dinner at FreeFoods NYC.

Tonight was another example of how many secrets this city has to offer, both food-wise and other.  I never would have suspected that a restaurant like this could exist (and thrive!) in Midtown Manhattan, in the heart of corporate offices and tourist attractions.  Was I wrong!  It goes to show that people do want to eat locally and sustainably, the options just have to be made available.

FreeFoods serves fresh soups, sandwiches and salads; they have raw, vegan and gluten-free options.

I built my own salad with arugula, avocado, spiced mango, shittake mushrooms, spicy shrimp and Manchego cheese with Thai basil dressing.

One of the staff members had made an extra Vitality Berry smoothie (sweet cherry, açai, blueberry- pomegranate juice, ginger-agave), so Ilena and I split it with our dinners.  It was really good, and helped ease the heat in my mouth leftover from my spicy salad dressing!

Ilena and I sat for a while catching up…

…and were treated to another smoothie sample! This time we tried the “orange creamsicle” (it’s new, and the ingredients aren’t listed).  As Ilena said, it really did taste like a creamsicle, “but not in the bad way”!

Since we dined early, I was back home by 7:30 to get some things done before Gossip Girl.  Sadly, it seems like most TV shows have already had their holiday finales, so I did some more work instead.  I did, however, make a fabulous dessert to fill my Chuck Bass-sized void…

My dad found a great deal on takeout containers of Tasti D-Lite, so he picked me up some peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I added frozen berries and Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.

Another sweet end to a good day.

What was the best part of your Monday? What are you looking forward to about Tuesday?

P.S.  Please vote for Lyle!  She is a talented, beautiful actress who deserves to realize her dreams.  Register, vote, and help here get there!

Dos and Don’ts

Hey there, strangers! How was your weekend? Mine was lovely… I spent the last few days relaxing in upstate New York with my parents.  Time seems to move slower there; I never felt like I was rushing to catch my breath or finish five things at once.  It was a nice change.  What did you do?

Here’s a quick re-cap of the weekend chez with Mom & Pop LVP, Do/Don’t style!

DO make Eggs In A Basket out of an open-face grilled cheese sandwich.  Thanks for the idea, Kaytee!

DO enjoy pumpkin whole wheat pancakes on a frosty fall morning.  The secret to their fluffiness? A little bit of vinegar.

DO support your local farmers and buy apples at the orchard…

…and while there, DO pick up an apple cider donut for your mama.

It will make her happy.

DO top your salads with Red Ants On A Log (celery with Sunbutter and dried cherries).

DON’T feel silly when you squeal with delight after finding holiday teas at your local food co-op, after searching every chain grocery store with no luck.

DON’T gloat about winning some fancy protein powder from your neighborhood Everythingtarian.

DO share Holly‘s pumpkin molasses cookies with those who gave you life… albeit grudgingly.

DO cozy up to a mug of Spiced POM Cider

DO have a nice dinner at Church and Main, a sustainable restaurant that supports local farmers and uses only the freshest ingredients (and DO go home and watch Food, Inc. afterward).

DO drink local Riesling

…eat wedges of bread

DO share two appetizers with Daddy-O to maximize tastings, like these bay scallops with parsley pesto over cappelllini...

… and this spinach and arugula salad with candied almonds, parmesan and goat cheese.

DO have the pan-roasted Atlantic monk fish with creamy white beans, celery root, warm baby winter greens & roasted beets for yourslef.

DO share three desserts (warm chocolate cake with caramel sauce, gingerbread crème brulée, semolina cake with roasted apples).

And, in case you were wondering, this is a salsify root:

…this is a celery root:

… and this is a turnipDON’T worry, these aren’t sea creatures!

Do warm up for your first 6 mile run since your injury with Yoga For Runners.

DO give your knees a break and run on a track.

DO utilize the Lap function on your heart rate monitor; DON’T feel bad for taking a year to notice it.

Total distance: 6 miles
Total time: 59:54

Mile 1: 9:49
Mile 2: 9:57
Mile 3: 10:07
Mile 4: 10:14
Mile 5: 10:03
Mile 6: 9:41

Average Pace: 9:58

DO refuel with a bowl of apple cinnamon raisin oatmeal.  Microwave a diced apple, sprinkled with cinnamon, for 90 seconds. Insta-baked apple.

DO enjoy an end-of weekend bowl of Marcella Hazan’s Spinach and Rice Soup.

DO buy packaged falafel based on the brand name alone.

And most importantly, DO take advantage of your boyfriend’s absence to load up on things like Garlic Lovers Hummus and raw onion.

For an added bonus for body and soul, DO a free Lunar Flow practice before bed, with your eyes closed and the lights off.  You’ll thank yourself.

What are your most recent DOs and DON’Ts?