Friday, July 20, 2012

Food, travels, cemeteries and more food!

I think I've been MIA due to the heat the state's experienced. I also try to think of how I ever survived my childhood on the farm. . . during the drought of the late 1980s. I recall those hot summer days, enjoying running around, taking a soak in the freshly filled cattle tank on a hot day, the nice breeze from the south in a house with no a/c. Yes, you read that right, people survived this weather before there was air conditioning! Heck, even my high school had no a/c. . . though teachers were allowed to turn off the heat producing lights, open the windows and run fans for air circulation (and there was always the 'get out early due to heat' excitement). 

Last week I had some chicken breasts I needed to use. We didn't have a lot of groceries in the house, as we'd just been out of town and were going out again, but The Mike realized we had ham and some cheddar cheese, so I made these chicken rolls. I layered the chicken breasts between two pieces of parchment paper (I've read that wax paper is suppose to work, but it usually rips on me) and pounded away with the item on top of the cutting board.  The cats were scared to come in the kitchen for a while.  I placed two pieces of nitrite/nitrate/preservative free ham on each flattened breast, as well as a few slices of cheddar cheese (I'd have used Swiss if I'd really been planning this dish).  Next I folded in the edges and rolled them up, tying each with some kitchen twine/yarn (that stuff is awesome).  

To finish off the dish, I added a can of diced tomatoes and topped with some oregano and basil from the patio herb box. 

As it came out of the oven.  I wrapped in a foil packet, baked for about 45 minutes and then let the roll ups rest on the cutting board for a few minutes. 

Presentation is everything, right?  Sliced and served with fresh basil which was a great way to finish off the dish--each bite of the roll up could have a little bit of the fresh basil. Yummy!  

Last weekend we were near the center of the state. Mike had a gravel road ride to do, I think it was 120 or 140 miles, with some other folks.  I had a 15 mile run to do (but only managed to get 14 in).  I ran through the town and out to the country . . decided to follow the 'short hilled' road instead of the long climb I could see.  Interesting path, as it took me on the edge of the town with country landscape on one side and new houses on the other, including near a new lake.  It was a great place to run, a small breeze managed to come up and I was feeling good jogging along until I had to do the 'heeby jeeby' run/dance step.  A GIANT frog, dead, on the side of the road. Only his hind end was damaged and this thing was larger than my hand, probably larger in size than the bottom of my clothes iron!  Then, of course, the little girl who played in mud went back and had to stare at the frog. I just couldn't believe it was so big. One of the cyclists said it was probably a "bull frog". I had no idea they got so big! I've only seen toads and frogs the size that fit IN my palm. 

Coming back towards the hotel, I ran on a loop road through the industrial park to get some more mileage in.  Back there, between the road and parking lot for the businesses were huge fields of Queen Anne's Lace, clover, and a few different types of yellow flowers.  So very pretty to see. I could imagine a miles and miles of fields looking like this. 

Later, for a birthday present,I went for my second massage, and first hot stone massage. The Mike's been trying to get me to do this for about five years (yeah, I know!, what is WRONG with me that it has taken me soo long?).  I could have stayed home this day, since it was my birthday, but I knew if I stayed home I'd never do the massage.  Instead, I went with him to this town, then drove thirty miles to the casino/spa and for a Hot Stone Massage (nothing like stopping on your long run to call the spa for an appointment as soon as they open, HA).  On my drive up I took in 'the road less traveled' and enjoyed a spot of the Lincoln Highway.  If you ever travel coast to coast and want to see real America, and the towns that are and were, drive the Lincoln Highway, or U.S./Federal Highway 30. It's a great road that reminds you there are more important things than getting from point A to B asap.  President Abe also owned two pieces of land in Iowa. He never visited either one, but it's a nice bit of history.  You can check out the information here

As I was driving up the roadway, I could see the clouds building north, but figured they'd all go north (then I got excited, thinking that at home we just *might* get some rain finally). However, as I turned onto the highway it was evident the dark clouds weren't the rain producing ones.  Rather, the light colored ones had a large amount of water to let down.   

Thankfully, I had left my rain coat in the car!  I donned that and sprinted into the spa (does that count towards my workout?). I hung up the coat and then went to play the slots a little (up/down, up down, even!) and then headed for the massage. 

Oh MY GOODNESS. What took me so long with getting that hot stone massage?  (probably knowing I'd want one once a month!) 

I had passed two signs for "Prairie Cemetery" on my way north. As I headed south, I stopped at one (the other was through a farmer's pastureland).  I was so saddened by what I saw.  A relatively--for the time--large lot of land being mowed, and only about 1/4 of it had any headstones.  This one had been fixed. 

But others weren't, including the next photo, where the pieces had been stacked atop each other. Some had the name scoured away by time. Others had such amazing detail that is rarely seen today. 

On my way back into town I stopped by the cemetery to take a photo of this headstone I saw on my run.  All sisters buried /to be buried together, with their spouses. I have never seen anything like this and it was large and quite nice with detail.  

I got back to the hotel just after The Mike did.  We decided to head out with a couple of the cycling dudes he was with during the day for the Mexican restaurant up the street. I'd heard fabulous things about them and was quite hungry.  I managed to not eat anything real all day!  I was out of Tanka bars (none in my purse) and I had chocolate milk, white milk, and a protein shake after I finished my run, and  didn't eat in the afternoon.  The cycling guys, meanwhile, had stopped at convenience stores along their route and a sandwich shop for lunch.  All I know about my dinner was that it was "combo 35".  Steak slices, bacon wrapped shrimp, chicken, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, cheese. YUM.  The Mike took over with the rice, as I focused on getting protein in the body. (and why do I never make bacon wrapped shrimp at home--soooo goood!).

Afterwards, we tried to go to the ice cream parlor in town, it was closed, we tried going to Dairy Queen (photo below). .  and it was "closed for the season".  Seriously, that is what the sign in the window says.  

Thus, we wound up at the golden arches next door. They all had various concoctions (cafe drinks for two, a mcflurry for hubby--and the spoon broke through the bottom of two different cups while being mixed); I had a hot fudge sundae with caramel.  Afterwards, I recalled driving past another local ice cream shoppe on the way into town, but the guys didn't want any more ice cream.  Back to the hotel for chatting and then called it a night.  The end to a fabulous day about nothing outside a run, a massage, and food for the body. 

Many thanks to my fabulous hubby who got a wonderful present for me and a fabulous birthday. There's no way I would have relaxed at all on my birthday had I stayed at home. I would have been cleaning, gardening,  doing everything except relaxing, probably.! 

This week the temperatures have gone down slightly.  I still got up early (5am) to run this week:  it was 73º to 75º Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I believe Thursday was a chilly 68º. Then, I awoke today, Friday, to DEW on the cars and the phone/weather saying 60º! WOOHOO! It was cool. A great morning for a run around the lake.   I spied a Blue Heron and tried to take a photo. Those things are quite attentive to the complete surroundings. he flew low and to the right as I took the photo, and I don't think any portion of his wings were visible between the water and prairie flowers. 

 Sadly, the water is down about two feet, minimum, due to the drought of the state/country.  Hopefully we'll get some much needed rain in a gentle form before the next few weeks are out. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heat waves are unbearable if you're an adult. I think as a kid I was pretty immune to the high temperatures. We could tell if it was in the low 90s from humidity, but at a certain point above 96 or so, heat feels like heat.   [it probably should be noted, I grew up in farming country during the 80s drought, it's not like we had a lot of humidity anyway!].  These last two weeks we've had high 90s, low 100s days. Last weekend I stayed inside most of the time.  I did my long run on Saturday, up at 4:30 and it was foggy/humid and out I went, attempting to knock out 12, but I only got a tad over 10 in.  I was pretty spent, the humidity backed off by around 7, at which time I was already whipped.  Back home I got some Cyotmax in and stretched, then headed to the local Jaycees 5K for the 4th of July fundraiser.. . . That's right, I didn't get my 12 in that was my goal and I was going to do the other 3.1 I had planned for the day (15 was total mileage goal, but many folks say time running is just as important if not more, than distance--if you can't get your total distance in, but your time was on target or over for what you anticipated spending, i..e don't over strain the body).

Since I preregistered for the event, I showed up about twenty minutes before start time. . .and wondered where the heck everyone was!!! Wow. what a community let-down. ONLY 24 people registered/showed up for this event! There were more people at it three years ago when it was raining!  Considering we often have a few hundred show up for other races in the area, I was shocked. shocked. shocked shocked.

As we gathered at the top of the hill/starting area, another woman came up to peak a look at my age category and then apologized for thinking I was in her age bracket. Ah, funny thing, I have more gray hair than many people, and since it is primarily at my temples I have given up on coloring the gray, it's not like I have some 'here and there' in my hair. I had my hair pulled up in a clip, plus a visor for the sun/sweat and she felt sooooo bad. No worries at all! I've got more gray hair than my siblings combined (and I'm the youngest!).  Since I'd already gone out for my long race and was whipped, I did not expect/anticipate anything happening this day for the 5K. I did a few walking breaks on some of the hills (straight concrete, in the sun, with heat/humidity). I felt like I was being a little lazy out there, but still trying to not overwork my body that had a long run earlier in the day.  I finished in about four minutes slower than my fastest 5K time. I was good with it. It was faster than my out and back 'easy' run time.  Surprisingly, I was the ONLY person in my age group, and so, when I finished fourth from the bottom, I was surprised to see my name line containing 1/1 for age group! [the woman who asked my age at the beginning of the race, she was the only one in her age group too]. What they say is true. I'm faster than those who didn't finish, didn't show up, didn't registered, or stayed home!  I have my first [and probably only] age medal win! LOL.

The Mike, meanwhile, was pedaling crazy in the hot heat of midwest Nebraska at a bike race in the 'sandhills" of Nebraska . . .completely forgot that term that mom would say when I was growing up, until i saw pictures of the race. Oooh, I felt like a bad wife, not being able to mention that term to him before.  He finished third over all, about 16 hours of pedaling and he said it was the toughest ride he's done, even if he's done mileage longer than that before.  The race organizer volunteered a spot for the Mike in an a/c room Saturday night (instead of the KOA camp again). Thanks to the race organizer for being kind (plus, all the other people who bailed on the race and were staying with him had already headed home).

in case you're not aware, this is a new stamp the US Post Office released this year (kid's bike, road/touring bike, road/tour de france bike, and BMX bike--no mountain bike the guy at the USPS didn't think that was funny, but the guy behind me did!)

After my race, I came home and made this not so fabulous looking omelet.  I made another the next day that was fluffy, perfect, but didn't take time to take a picture--this is regularly what it looks like. Organic eggs from . . .the organic store, ham, spinach, a little cheese, basil and oregano from the deck planter garden, and stopped with  just a little cheese (I'm cutting back).

Saturday was a lazying around kind of day, according to the cat who was missing her human. Unable to catch up on my Runner's World due the ten pound paperweight.

I made lasagna for Mike's welcome home meal.  I figured he'd still be hungry from burning all those calories on Saturday --I was right, though envious that he ate at Runza two days in a row. . . no GF options there :-( I miss the fold over Runza sandwiches. Runza is a hamburger joint, but their original sandwich is an all bread enclosed sandwich with ground beef, onion and apparently cabbage, but I don't think one would really know that unless you were told. Anyway, they're not GF and I miss them.

Sunday night was Lasagna. GF noodles with a jar of sauce. I normally make my own sauce, but I wasn't heating up the house with humidity from simmering sauce all day long, and the last of my homemade meatballs I found in the freezer (half sausage, half beef, some GF breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, onion).

Monday we had a fillet of salmon with carrots for a side.  I cooked the salmon in a foil packet with lemon, oregano and some basil.  In a skillet, I browned some about 1/2T of butter, then added some white wine and  lemon juice, along with some dill at the end. This went over both the salmon and the carrots.

(left overs for lunch, then Tuesday night I had GF pizza from Mama Mimi's take n bake. They had a buy one, get one free option --GF was $2 for the "free")
Last night Mike emptied the refrigerator and we made this:

Since we weren't all that hungry on the 4th from snacking on veggies and leftover items, we had the hamburger to cook up.  Hamburger cooked with onion, layered over spinach and mixed greens salad, tomato sliced/diced, Wholly Guacamole, a little rice that was in the fridge, and a small amount of cheese.YUM, with tortilla chips on the side.

Hopefully you all had a safe and fabulous Fourth of July (Unless you were in San Diego and missed out on the fireworks there!).

I was catching up on some blog reading today and laughed when I came to Beyond Fatigue, Pain & ACTN3's recent post.  He writes, "If you're like me, you probably plan your vacation destinations based upon the quality of nearby trail running spots. " 

People laugh at the Mike and me, okay, they chuckle, because we'll do exercise/training/racing on our vacations.  We've gone to Leadville, CO several years for vacation for the 100mile bike race for The Mike. We even picked which island to see in the fine state of Hawai'i based upon which one had a 5k or 10k for me to do.  This winter, we're heading to California for a  trail race for me, my first as of now, and I'm worried for the mountain/hills/climbing. . .and I won the entry from this man's blog. Yup, we're planning a vacation around a $70 race entry ;-)     Just look at his blog's photo and tell me that doesn't inspire you to at least try!