Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Staying Active

Since I've started working from home, it's been really important to try extra hard to get outside in the mornings, and my days off. I have been volunteering a lot, sometimes two organizations a day, on my days off.  A couple weeks ago, Elizabeth and David and I decided to spend a sunny day up at the Portland Japanese Gardens. Elizabeth is a much stronger cyclist than I am, and riding up the hill to essentially, the top of Washington Park, with her was quite challenging. I was happy to have made it up without dying. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Six a.m. in the airport

Here I am in the airport at six a.m., sharing a table with some weirdo who just threw away his whole breakfast.   I flew up to Vancouver to spend the weekend with Phil, but now my weekends are Thursday through Sunday.  This means I'm hopping the seven a.m. flight back home, in order to be at my desk, clocking in, by noon.  

To avoid any sort of Valentine's Day crowd/rush situation, we found the perfect solution! We ate at a sushi restaurant that does not take reservations.  The wait was probably no worse than any other Saturday night in Vancouver, and the food was increeeeedible.  After our first plate of seven different slabs of fresh fish, and two tuna rolls, we ordered more fish, barbequed eggplant, and squid with garlic and lemon. But then I was still feel nibbley, as usual, so then we ordered another bottle of sake, and some tempura. Incredibly fresh fish, and the best part of the meal - the biggest motivating factor for Phil taking me - was the real, fresh wasabi. If you're not aware already, the wasabi you get in restaurants, and with your to-go sushi at Safeway is really horseradish, Chinese mustard, and a lot of green food coloring.  A fun part about eating the real wasabi, is surprising way they sneak it in on you.  It has to be served between the fish and the rice, so as not to become oxidized, which would cause it to lose flavor.  Between the fish and rice means you don't see it, don't know how much of it is there until you're chewing, and then BAM. Wasabi heaven. 

Phil and I also went skiing while I was in town.  It hadn't snowed in three days, so we opted to go night skiing, figuring the snow wouldn't be any better paying for full day tickets. I brought my boots, but left the skis at home in order to fly carryon, and this meant demoing some fun, shaply skis from Cypress Mountain. Even though we got to the mountain around seven p.m., we had an excellent time, and got some good turns in. 

Saturday, February 07, 2009

New new new

For those of you who I haven't caught up with in a while - I have a new job now!  I am a Health Educator (or health coach), and I work from home. It's an actual job, with actual benefits, with a crazy schedule I have to stick to and everything. I'm just about to start my third week working after the two weeks of training in January, and it is wonderful.  I work from home and talk to people on the phone, who's employers have added health coaching to part of their wellness packages, or benefits plans.  

The purpose is to help folks identify their risks for negative, chronic health conditions, and begin to modify their lifestyle in order to reduce their risk for those conditions or diseases.  It's not my job to change people, it's my job to help people identify what it is they want to change, how it is they can do it, and help them transition through that process, and understand how it affects their health.  Some folks have a lot of health information (I talk to people who are nurses, or have a PhD, every day), and some folks have a low level of health education and need help understanding what their cholesterol numbers mean, and why exercising a little bit can help lower it.  

It's great working from home, and kitty gets even MORE spoiled now because she knows I'll scratch under her chin whenever I simultaneously shoo her off of my workspace. Working from home also means I have to go extra lengths to make sure I get outside and do stuff. When it was a bit sunnier a few weeks ago, riding my bike ten miles to run errands or just get out in the morning was pretty easy, but I know the spring rain is going to come any minute.  

As a partial solution, I've signed up to volunteer at Free Geek as a regular intern.  Free Geek is AWESOME. They recycle electronics by refurbing them if possible and getting the stuff back into the community, into the hands of people that really need it - or by sending to a local, recycling company, which can take care of the nastier, toxic stuff. I'm training to be teaching the computer adoption class, which just means a class people take to set up their new computers once they have earned a computer through volunteering for 24 hours.  I don't really need to lug another computer home (apartment is too small), but I am very interested in helping people get computers in their homes, learning more about linux, computer software/hardware in general, and helping out at a sweet place like Free Geek. It's a really cool space, and fun to walk around and see folks ripping stuff apart, and resassembling it into full blown computer systems. More on that as I get more time in. I was just signed up to teach, but tonight I signed up to start on the "building computers" part, so I can learn more about the insides. My first shift isn't for three weeks, so I'll keep you posted. 

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Quick 'n Healthy

With my new work schedule, I get off of work at 9pm, and like to have dinner when I get off instead of on my break.  I like to get the food prepped during my 30 minute evening break, or right after I get off, but still eat well.  Tonight, I tried this new "simmer sauce" from Tasty Bite, and it was gooooood. I roasted the eggplant in the oven for a while first for about 15 minutes, then added it to the zucchini and red peppers when I added the simmer sauce. Served it over some nutty, short grain, brown rice with some nutritional yeast and tamari on top. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Beef Stew

It's very hard to make beef stew look good in a picture, which is why I left this one itty bitty. My mom gave me a cookbook for Christmas with some of her recipes in it already, and blank cards to add my own favorites.  I've been looking forward to eating some beef stew for days, and kept running into timing problems. But finally, I made the stew, two nights ago, and now I'm eating stew every meal. I used mom's beef with barley recipe and adapted it a tiny bit.  I grab and chop eveyrthing in handfuls, so I'm not even going to try to put amounts on the recipe.

Beef Stew with Farro (adapted from mom's Crybaby Stew)
  • Stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
  • Strong red wine
  • Garlic, diced
  • Bay leaf (x2)
  • Herbs de provance
  • Flour
  • Salt, pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Beef stock or boullion 
  • Onion, cut very coarsely
  • Carrots, chopped coarsely
  • Potatoes (waxy yukons, or russet are fine), cubed
  • Farro or barley
  • Frozen peas
  1. Place stew meat in a shallow pyrex and cover in a couple cups of red wine (I used a Malbec). Add bay leaves and a few diced cloves of garlic to the mix. Cover and let sit for a few hours, or refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, some salt, pepper and herbs de provance. 
  3. Heat up a few tbls of oil in a heavy pot (oven safe) or dutch oven to medium. Preheat oven to 300F. 
  4. Coat each piece of meat in the flour mixture, then brown on all sides in the pot.  Reserve the wine marinade. 
  5. Add the onion and sautee for another 7 minutes or so, then add the carrots and potato. Deglaze the bottom of the pot, adding the wine mixture and scrapping the bottom well. Add the broth, a couple hand fulls of farro or barley, and put in the oven for 3 hours or until done. Check at about 1 hour and stir the pot well, making sure it's not boiling and causing things to stick on the bottom. Turn heat down to 275F if it is. 
For a thicker, more gravy like stew, when you check it at one hour, slowly mix in a flour/water mixture to thicken. When it's done, the meat will fall apart on your spoon, and you wont be able to stand the yummy smells anymore. When you take it out of the oven, stir in a few hand fulls of frozen peas. Serve piping hot with some hearty bread. Yumm!