Spring Salads, Songs, and Spirit Squads

Spring, I think you’re here. Finally. Why did you make us wait so long? You’re going to stick around for awhile to make it up to us, right? We’ll now be blessed with endless 70 degree days with light breezes and lots of sunshine.

Sweet relief from the cold means I’ve been celebrating in lots of ways. Running in shorts (miracle!) and with the Indy Runners group. I like having running companions to keep my mind of off the actual run some days. Yesterday I showed up for the Tuesday run at Hinkle Field House on Butler’s campus ready to do four, maybe five, miles. Thanks to the girl I ran with, I ended up going six miles!

 

May is Race Month in this fair city and the Mini-Marathon is the kick-off for a month of festivities leading up to the Indy 500. Biggest half marathon in the country, what what? I opted for the role of cheerleader this year instead of runner, which I thought would be very difficult. I’m a pretty competitive person, especially when it comes to races. But I remembered how much I appreciated the support of my friends along the race course last year, and I was excited to cheer extra loudly in the places where I remembered feeling the most tired. My friend Sam and I biked to around mile 9 and then maybe .25 mile before the finish line. Extra perk? En route we go to see the wheelchair racers and the insanely fast top finishers (can you imagine running 13.1 miles in just over an hour?!), a part of a race that I never get to see as a participant. The sheer athleticism of these men and women blew my mind.

 

Our posters (yes that’s Ryan Gosling and Bob Dylan) got plenty of head nods and smiles from random runners, but we cheered extra hard for our friend Marnie and her fiance Jannson and my two other friends that we happened to see run by. We even ran along the sidewalk for the last .25 miles with Marnie, screaming her name the whole way. I am beyond proud of these two!

Can we talk about driving with the windows open and music blaring? It’s one of my favorite warm weather pastimes. Right now I could listen to Patty Griffin’s new album American Kid all day. The first song feels like the perfect summertime folky anthem to me.

Back to running. It’s cool, it’ll lead to epic spring food. In starting to think about training for the marathon I’ve signed up for this fall, I’m considering my diet. I know that the more miles I log, the hungrier I’ll be, but I do not want to just stuff myself with tons of pasta, as amazingly appealing as that sounds. So I’m focusing on fueling with lots of fruits and veggies and healthful proteins like beans and lentils. To kick start this fresh new diet I did a really great three-day juice cleanse from Natural Born Juicers. If you live in Indianapolis I highly recommend checking them out. I’m now a few weeks out from having finished the cleanse and am back to my marathon fueling diet. I’m actually really missing my morning juices and how awake and strangely full they made me feel, so I’m thinking of going in on a juicer.

On top of that spring has brought the most magical produce to the farmers markets. Slowly at first, but surely. A few weeks ago radishes and pea sprouts started to show up, and so I rejoiced. This time of year is perfect for buying lettuce and any other awesome vegetables that catch your eye and making a huge salad.

I’d love to give you a recipe for this, but I feel like that would just be limiting, so here’s a basic guide.

Pile your plate with lettuce (mine, year round thanks to hydroponics in greenhouses, is almost always from Eden Farms). I like a mix of lettuces to give my salad a little more flavor and depth.

Chop up a variety of vegetables, whatever is pretty and bright and catches your eye at the store or market. I went with pretty pink and white radishes and sweet pea shoots from Harvestland Farms. Never had pea shoots? Me either until this salad! They taste like peas, not surprisingly, but before peas come around. Like a pea preview. Maybe add a squeeze of lemon over things now. Add some fresh herbs if you have them on hand.

Any good salad, or meal in my opinion, is topped with a soft yolk fried egg (my eggs always come from Schacht Farm, I love them, eggs and people, so much). Fry one up with a bit of salt and pepper, or poach it in olive oil like Oh Joy, which is what I tried out for this salad. I liked this cooking option, because it a nice amount of olive oil to drizzle over the salad as dressing.

Break open that egg and let the yolk get all cozy with the lettuce. Heck yes, spring!

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Soup Days: Vegetarian Chili

This winter has been a very soupy one. Soupy in a food sense for sure. I cannot get enough of making soup. You can let it simmer in a big pot as you walk the dog, it can cook all day in a slow cooker, and it’s good for lunch for days and days.

If snow could be soup, then winter has been soupy in a snow sense too. I haven’t seen grass in what feels like an eternity, but is probably more like two or three weeks. Winter will never end.

We got hit pretty hard by the Storm of Doom last week. First, two inches of ice, followed up by five to six inches of snow. I happily did a little sledding on Saturday. My bum did not happily sled. It is in fact largely bruised now.

Now as the ice was falling last week I thought about how this amazing chili recipe would be the perfect thing to be trapped in your house with. Then it occurred to me that when you’re house-bound, you can’t leave to get ingredients for chili at the grocery. So I would just be taunting you.

Now that the roads are passible and there’s still quite a bite in the air, I say have some chili! I’ve been looking for a good and flavorful vegetarian chili all winter and I think I’ve found a winner! It’s spicy for sure, a little sweet, thanks to the barbecue sauce, sticks to your ribs, and Joy the Baker says the steak seasoning is the secret to all the wonderful flavors. I trust Joy. She’s got taste and she’s funny.

Uh, also, I tried to take a photo, but it looked not so great. I’m trying to get the hang  of this food photo thing. It’s tricky! Any tips?

Recipe post-jump.

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Southwest Lentil Burgers

Two Piebelly posts coming your way. And neither are a baked good. Holy shitballs. Though, I did have this conversation with my friend Bette today.

Me: I’m going to the grocery to buy stuff to make raspberry lemonade pie.
Bette: How long has it been since you made a pie?
Me: Awhile! Like….a week and a half!
Bette: laughs and groans

I didn’t yell at her because, after all, she sent me some stuff I left in North Carolina and snuck a chocolate Zebra Cake into the box. Yes. Please.

So anyway, I’ve added Food Gawker to my Google Reader recently. It definitely bumps my unread post count up twice a day, but all those recipes are worth scrolling through. I’ve found two new blogs and lots of awesome recipes. These southwest lentil burgers are such a one. (Is that even a phrase?)

My suggestions are these. Use the lentil/egg/breadcrumb/cumin/garlic part of the recipe as a base. Add any combo of vegetables to the burger mix that you have around. Make the yogurt sauce and slather it on top of your burger. Melt a tiny bit of cheese on your burger. Place your burger on a toasted bun or eat it straight up bunless. Make extra patties, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze them to use as a quick dinner or lunch.

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Roast Chicken with Fennel and Veggies

Sundays are good days to bake. Sunday nights are not always my favorite nights to cook a big dinner. I know this seems weird. Most people use Sunday night to make a good, sit down meal. But by Sunday night, I’m just so exhausted that I can hardly convince myself to make some pasta.

This Sunday, though, I’d planned to make roast chicken. The recipe calls for barely any ingredients, has very little prep, and so I figured it’d fit the bill. Of course, last night rolled around, and Adam, who was recovering from a camping bachelor party the night before, announced he was eating leftover pizza. Oh how tempted I was to join him. But no, I made my roasted chicken damn it. And it was good. Juicy, flavorful, tender….mmmmm. In fact, I gave Adam a bite, and his reaction was, “Oooh I like how you do chicken.” He then finished his pizza and disappeared into the kitchen to make himself a plate of my dinner.

Tragically, I did not take any pictures of this recipe. Note to self: bring camera into kitchen more often. Blog readers will surely appreciate photos of raw chicken parts.

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