Thursday, April 29, 2010

Strawberries Day 2: Shortcake

I accomplished my goal.  We didn't lose a single precious strawberry.  I did end up freezing one of the six pints from our CSA, but I know we'll enjoy those in a few weeks blended in smoothies.

After looking through various gluten-free recipes for strawberry pies, crepes, cobblers, and cakes, I decided that I had to go with the traditional strawberry shortcake for dessert tonight.

Recipes for gluten-free shortcakes were not hard to find, but Elana Amsterdam's almond flour Classic Drop Biscuit recipe looked so simple.  And simplicity is important after a long day.  Plus, every recipe I've tried from her cookbook has been a hit.  Oh, and I do still have about 18 pounds of almond flour in my refrigerator.  So this was an easy decision.

Strawberry Shortcake

Classic Drop Biscuits
(from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)

2 1/2 c blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c grapeseed oil
1/4 c agave nectar
1 large eggs
1 tsp lemon juice

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk together the wet ingredients and then stir them into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.  Drop the batter in scant 1/4 cups 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

I sliced three pints of strawberries, lightly dusted them with sugar, and then I actually made my own whipped cream.  Yes, Cool Whip Girl has grown up.  The Kitchen Aid worked extremely hard whipping the heavy cream.  All I had to do was add a dash of vanilla and a few teaspoons of powdered sugar.

The biscuits were gorgeous.

I split the them in half, and after suffering from shock that the two pieces didn't crumble to bits, as many other gluten-free baked goods do, I layered the shortcake, strawberries, and whipped cream until my creation was almost too gorgeous to eat.


The Husband and the Housemate decided that they would split this serving.  But I had a sneaking suspicion that they would eventually decide to split a second one.

I was right.

I'm glad that I have plenty of ideas for our next delivery of strawberries from our CSA as we'll get six more pints in May!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strawberries Day 1: The Challenge

I picked up my half share of CSA strawberries yesterday.  After excitedly bouncing up and down in the parking lot, marveling at their natural beauty, romanticizing about my farmers from Bountiful Blessings who lovingly picked six pints of berries just for me, I came back to reality.  What was I going to do with all of these strawberries?

So I went to the deep pool of wisdom.  Facebook.

Now, the Husband is very anti-Facebook, but he's a purest.  He thinks it's ridiculous that I have 160 "friends".  If I considered the true definition of "friend" he'd be right.  I would definitely have a much shorter list, but the concept of "friendship" on Facebook is more loosely defined.  I've enjoyed reconnecting with friends from the past, going a little deeper with people that I see for snippets of time throughout my week, and chatting weekly with people that I'd rarely get to communicate with otherwise.

Yes, so to my Facebook Friends I went with my deep question.

What are your favorite things to do with strawberries?

AnnMarie:  "If they are as good as you are making them sound, EAT THEM just by themselves. Put your feet up and savor!!!"

Did you notice that there are only five pints in the picture above?  I'm surprised that they made it home.

Becky:  "I like them in plain yogurt or on top of cereal!"

Breakfast this morning was gluten-free Corn Chex with strawberries and milk.  It was a sweet taste of the summer to come before running out the door to teach.

Courtney:  "Cut them up on a spinach salad with cucumbers (if I'm feeling healthy), dip them in chocolate if I'm not."

Spinach salad.  Of course!  Why didn't I think of that?  We had Strawberry Spinach Salad for dinner tonight.
Spinach, strawberries, red onion, avocado, feta cheese, pine nuts, and Briannas Blush Wine Vinaigrette.  Recipe?  Layer it and make it pretty.

And if I'd had any chocolate, a decadent dessert would have followed.

Karen:  "Freezer jam. Put them on dutch babies. Eat them hand over fist."

I'm going to have to do a little research on this.  The jam part, that is.  I'm pretty proficient at the hand over fist method.

Brittney:  "Collin make a mean strawberry crepe drizzled with chocolate as well as a YUMMY shortcake. You'd have to figure out a way to make them gluten free, but I know that is part of the fun for you! Oh, and what about margaritas? Duh!"

Oh my, two absolutely amazing options.  There has to be a way to make gluten-free crepes.  And I don't think I could make strawberry margaritas without sharing them with Britney and Collin!  Oh, wait, maybe I could try.

Sue:  "Shortcake.  My mom's favorite."
Shortcake is one of my mom's favorites too!  But my mom made strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream.  I'm talking about the whipped cream that comes from a tub, not a carton.  Cool Whip.  I was quite disappointed the first time I had what others called "real whipped cream" to find out that it was flavorless whipped up milk.  Ick.  When the the first ingredients in Cool Whip are water, corn syrup, and HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, and not a single mention of dairy, I'd definitely turn my nose up at it today.  But who knew better in the 70's?

Gail gave me one of my favorite responses.  "A farmer's truck full of manure broke down in front of a mental institution.
Resident shouts through the fence, "What ya gonna do with that stuff anyway?"
Farmer: "Spread it on my strawberries."
Resident: "I know we're crazy here, but we put whipped cream on our strawberries." -Jan Karon, "Light From Heaven" [Mitford series]

So, my Facebook Friends came through for me.  I've received some great suggestions, and I have a few ideas of my own.  But now it's a race against the clock.  How many strawberry treats can I make before the strawberries go bad?

I'll have to let you know.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…”  Although I love roses and kittens, I have a few other favorite things that make me smile even more.  And I got to experience four of these favorite things this morning.

1.  Fun
Today I got to participate in the Country Music Half Marathon!  Live music, excitement in the air, cheering crowds, strangers yelling encouragement, over 30,000 people focused on crossing the finish line...  What could be more fun?  My biggest fan, the Husband, traipsed all over town to document this fun.

We were under the threat of an impending tornado warning, which actually prevented some participants from finishing the Full Marathon, but standing in our corral with 1,000 other nervous runners, the temperature was perfect, and the forecasted rain hadn’t yet begun.

2.  Friendship 
Friendship just makes this life sweeter.  And this year I got to run with my friend, Andrea.  We’ve been friends for over ten years.  We’ve taught school together, laughed ‘til we cried, found amazing deals at the mall, prayed for each other, traveled to New York City, and now, we’ve run a Half Marathon together.  It was her first Half, she was still recovering from strep throat, but that girl did it!  She finished all 13.1 miles, and I couldn’t be more proud.  We committed to finishing together.  We didn’t care how long it took, how scary the weather forecast was, how many hills we might have to walk.  We were conquering this thing together.  Running by her side was an honor.

3.  Fitness
I’m so thankful for my ability to practice fitness every day.  I love teaching my fitness classes, training for events, and encouraging others to try things that they never thought they could do.  God gave us amazing bodies that are capable of more than we know. 

Sometimes those bodies say, “Hey, that’s enough.  I need a break.  Not this season.”  Sometimes they say, “Bring it on.  Give me one more mile.  Push harder!”  And when they speak, we need to listen.

The Husband listened this year after painful IT-band issues, and I could see it in his eyes starting at 5:30 this morning.  He was chomping at the bit at the start line, salivating as he jogged along next to us snapping pictures at mile 4., and riddled with angst as he cheered us on at mile 8 ½.  But when he surprised us on the final stretch at mile 12, I just saw love and pride on his face.  Yes, he wanted to be running this race with us.  But this was a different race, and he was there for us.  I love that man.

4.  Food

Nutrition is a key component of an endurance event.  So I started the day with my power breakfast.  This smoothie is the perfect combination of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, and because it’s blended, it’s easy to digest right before a run.

Pre-Race Smoothie
1 cup almond milk
1 T. peanut butter
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
ice cubes

Toss in the Vita-Mix, and you have quick, delicious fuel for the miles ahead.

After the race, we stopped at FiddleCakes (definitely one of my favorite things), because they gave out free cookies to anyone who ran the Country Music event today.  Sweet recovery treat!  Thank you, Tasha and Lindsay!

And then the grand finale.  Gluten-free pancakes for lunch.  I rarely make pancakes, probably because they instantly spike my blood sugar, I eat way too many, and then I regret it.  But after running a Half Marathon you deserve a few extra calories. 

Today I used Elana Amesterdam’s Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook and tried her pancakes.

Pancakes with Almond Flour
2 large eggs
¼ cup agave nectar
1 T vanilla extract
¼ cup water
1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 T arrowroot powder
1 T grapeseed oil

I used my trusty Vita-Mix (for the second time today) to blend the eggs, agave nectar, vanilla, and water for 1 minute on high.  Then I added the dry ingredients and blended until smooth.  I heated the grapeseed oil in a large skillet on medium-low heat and then poured about 1-2 tablespoons of batter in the pan for each pancake.  The outside of the pancakes browned much faster than the inside cooked, so it was challenging to tell if the pancakes were done.  Elana says to “cook until small bubbles form on the top of each pancake; when the bubbles begin to open, flip…”  Mine didn’t get bubbles.  Maybe my pan was too hot.

Regardless, they were delicious.  The Husband said that these pancakes were even better than “real” pancakes.  (I bristle at gluten-free not being “real”.  But what should we call the gluteny alternative?)  They were nutty, light, and incredibly tasty.  And despite the fact that I enjoy drenching my pancakes in maple syrup, I did not feel the spike in blood sugar that I’d normally feel with pancakes made with other flours.  Have I mentioned that I’m loving baking with almond flour?

So, it was a fantastic morning, filled with a few of my favorite things.  The rain (which didn’t start until mile 12) is coming down in buckets, I’m clean and warm on my couch, I have incredible memories, my tummy is happy, and I think I’m ready for a mid-afternoon…  (You thought I was going to say “nap”.  Ha!  Silly friends.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Running Traditions

 I've run the Country Music Half Marathon four years in a row, and this Saturday will be year five.  Hopefully.  Running the Half has been a yearly tradition that is filled with hard work, pain, joy, and anxiety.  The Husband has been my running partner every year, another tradition that I love.  A tradition that I don't love is the fact that just before the race, something usually goes wrong.  That's just part of the game.  We're already anxious about achieving a goal, but little things start becoming big things.  Walking on uneven pavement makes me worry about twisting an ankle and ruining months of training.  Tripping on a step would have just been embarrassing a few weeks ago, but now it's a major event.  Did I just pull something?  Walking past a sniffling, coughing child freaks me out.  I can't catch a cold this close to race day.

Year one, I had EVERYTHING to worry about.  Would I be able to run 13.1 miles?  Where would the portapotties be?  Was I the only one entering this race who wasn't a true runner?  What if I had to walk?  Thankfully, nothing went wrong.  We finished with a respectable 2:10:48.  It took me about 30 seconds after crossing the finish line to tell the Husband that I couldn't wait to run again next year.

Year two, the Husband and I trained faster.  And nothing went wrong until mile two of the actual event.  We made a major rookie mistake and went out way too fast.  So, from mile 2 to 11 I was plagued with a stabbing side ache that wouldn't quit.  It was the most miserable 9 miles of my life.  And to top it off, the Husband and I got in a fight at mile 11.  I wanted him to go on without me so that I wouldn't ruin his race.  The ever dutiful Husband pledged to stay with me as I limped along holding my side.  He FINALLY listened and ran ahead so that I could walk off the stitch guilt-free.  Amazingly, I still finished in 2:00:03!  I was thrilled with the huge improvement over last year, but the Husband finished in under 2 hours.  Without me.  I was jealous.

Year three, the tradition started even earlier.  Two weeks before the race I was logging a five mile training run after school.  There was no warning.  One minute I was running along happily bouncing through the playlist on my iPod.  The next minute I was stumbling as shots of pain reduced my stride to a hobble.  I thought I was done.  That's the year I met Josh Renkens.  Believe it or not, after Josh's fine work, kinesio tape (affectionately called "heebie- jeebie" tape by the Husband), and a whole lot of prayer, I was able to start the race not knowing how much of it I'd be able to finish.  Every mile was a gift.  The family came to town that year, so Mom's cell phone number was written on the back of my race number just in case I had to call for an emergency ride to the finish line.  I was thrilled to finish with a respectable 2:04:31. 

Year four, the Husband and I trained harder and faster than ever.  He made me run 400s in the dark every Wednesday morning for 12 weeks.  I hated Wednesdays.  Monday and Tuesday of every week were filled with anxiety because I knew that 400s were right around the corner.  I whined, I complained, I cried, I said some not so nice things.  But I wanted that under two hour time, even if I could just achieve 1:59:59...  That year we finished in 1:55:33.  Oh, it felt so good.  I even thanked the Husband for the 400s.

Year five, the Husband and I decided to train for the full marathon.  We trained through the coldest winter Tennessee has had in a very long time.  Outside.  We trained up to 12 miles.  Outside.  And we both got injured months before the event.  We healed, we tried again, we got reinjured.  The full marathon was not going to happen this year.  But running the Half was just not nearly as exciting as the prospect of completing the full, and there was no way we were going to start training for speed again on injured legs to beat the 1:55 of last year.

And then there was Andrea.  My sweet friend decided to run the Half and needed some company for her long runs.  It has been a blessing to train with her all spring.

But, the tradition lives on.

The race is in four days.  We're in the danger zone.  Anything could go wrong.  Today, it did.  Andrea came down with a sore throat and fever.  That's enough to knock anyone out for several days.  But to endure the fever, recover, and then go out and run a half marathon is going to be quite a feat. 

So, we are holding on to hope.  We're praying for a quick recovery.  It's all a part of the game we call "running".  I just hope we win this time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Olive-Rosemary Bread

I haven't been very adventurous with baking gluten-free breads as I'm not a fan of yeast.  (Actually, yeast isn't a fan of me.)  Most yeast-free, gluten-free bread slices either fall apart, which defeats the purpose of bread for sandwich-lovers, or they are dense enough to double as a doorstop.  I do enjoy the texture and taste of Anna's Gluten and Yeast-Free Bread Mix, but it was time to stretch my wings.

For the past few months, I've been experimenting with baking with almond flour.  Every single recipe I've tried has been a great success.  This recipe is straight from Elana Amsterdam's Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.  The loaf was beautiful, it was delicious, and no one knew it was gluten-free.

Olive-Rosemary Bread

3/4 cup creamy almond butter
2 T olive oil
3 large eggs
1 T agave nectar
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary

In a large bowl, mix the almond butter and olive oil with a mixer until smooth.  Then blend in the eggs and agave nectar.  In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt, and baking soda.  Blend the almond flour mixture into the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined, then fold in the olives and rosemary.  (Black kalamata olives would have been much prettier, but true to form, I didn't decide to make this bread until the last minute before guests were arriving.  Green olives were available and still quite tasty.)  Pour the batter into a greased 7x3-inch loaf pan.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven.  Let the bread cool in the pan for an hour before serving.

I've spread this bread with goat cheese and served it with a salmon dinner.  Amazing.  I've used it to make sandwiches, giving an ordinary turkey sandwich a gourmet flair.  And I just defrosted and toasted a piece as an evening snack.  Yum.

I haven't been able to find blanched almond flour locally, so I ordered from Honeyville.  Sadly, my hero, Bob doesn't make his almond flour fine enough for Elana's recipes.  I'll forgive him this one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Napping is for Cats...and Other Normal People

I don't nap.  I have never napped well.  I have never slept particularly well either.  As a child, I dreaded the announcement of bedtime.  Going to bed without feeling sleepy, just because the clock struck 8:00, was torture.  I wasn't sleepy at night, so why would I want to sleep in the middle of the day?

When I was a toddler, my mother took me to the pediatrician and burst into tears. "She never sleeps!" The doctor ordered my mother to install a lock on the outside of my bedroom door, lock me in the room for a few hours in the afternoon, and take a nap herself.

Cats have no problem napping.  In fact, they sleep anywhere between 14 and 18 hours each day.  They can fall asleep at anytime.  Anywhere.

On cozy laps.

In strange positions.
Even in the most uncomfortable places.

Snuggled together.

Or all alone.

I've never understood the need to nap.

When I first met the Husband, he would often fall asleep on a couch in the middle of the day.  I thought that was strange.  But I attributed it to the late nights of college students, especially college students in love who wandered the campus streets just to spend a few more moments together.  I have to admit that I thought maybe he was just being lazy.

And then I met his family.  At any given moment between noon and 8:00pm at least one member of his family of six was sacked out in the busy living room in an armchair or on the couch.  And that was amidst conversation, televised football, the clatter of dishes in the kitchen, and some sort of brotherly wrestling match just inches from the napper's face.  Maybe this strange need for napping was genetic.

I've tried to nap.

But I toss and turn.  Just as I am on the edge of the edge of drifting off a car horn blares, a phone rings, someone speaks in the next room, an ant sneezes.  I have just wasted an hour of my day, laying in a bed, without the refreshing end result of restful sleep.

On the one or two occasions that I actually fall asleep during an attempted nap, I wake up feeling horrible.  No, worse than horrible.  I feel like I've been hit by a truck and then run over repeatedly by the line of army tanks behind the truck.

My first thoughts are, "Where am I?  What time is it?  What day is it?  What am I late for?"  I think it's morning, and I'm thoroughly confused.

And then I try to move.

It's as if someone injected liquid steel into my veins while I was sleeping, and the bed is electromagnetic.  After intense struggle, I swing my legs off the side of the bed and attempt to stand.  Waves of nausea and dizziness make it nearly impossible to stumble across the room.

When I described this feeling to the Husband, his reply was, "That's how I feel every morning."

Not me.  Every morning, I wake up before the alarm goes off.  No matter what time it's set for, I am ready for that get-up sound.  I don't think I'd ever really need an alarm set for the rest of my life, but it's there as a back up.  So I lay in bed, waiting patiently, enjoying the final moments of quiet before the beep.  Then I spring up and start the day.

Apparently not everyone is like that.

Well, today I had rare napping success.  While reading, I felt the fluttering eyelids, and I took advantage of the freedom of an unscheduled Saturday afternoon.  I closed the blackout shades, armed myself with my Brookstone eyemask and earplugs, and I dove into bed.  I actually slept.  And I woke up without an nap hangover.  Victory!

But I wondered why.

An article called How to Nap from the Boston Globe helped me understand sleep cycles just a little bit better.  Apparently, short naps of 45 minutes or less keep you in a light sleep stage, leaving you feeling refreshed when you awaken.  Anything more than 45 minutes long takes you into a deep, slow-wave sleep stage, and waking up in that stage creates sleep inertia and that horrendous feeling of disorientation.  Napping for 90 minutes to two hours, however, allows you to pass through a full sleep cycle, waking without ill-effects.

The article also claims that we are programed to sleep twice a day.  The Husband will LOVE that research.  There goes the laziness theory.

Am I a napping convert?

No, I think I'll leave the napping to the cats.  But I sure do feel a little more refreshed today.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why Banana Blueberry Muffins?

"Oh, I'd be happy to bring banana blueberry muffins!"  Why, oh why, do we offer to bring freshly baked goods?  We work full-time and a half, we're leaving from work on a Friday afternoon for a weekend retreat, knowing that we won't even have the upcoming weekend to prepare for the following week of work.  What are we thinking???  We spend more time prepping food for the weekend than planning our clothing to be sure that we aren't accidentally poisoned by gluten, but we offer to take the time to make homemade muffins for the weekend event.  Why???

Because every other treat available at the event will make us sick.

Because our gluten-free alternatives will taste just as good, if not better, than any other item on the dessert table.

Because we know that baked goods made with almond flour are wholesome and more satisfying than products made with refined white flour.

Because we are committed to wellness.

Because maybe someone else will feel loved because a gluten-free option is available for them.

So, I bake on a Thursday night, knowing that I still need to pack, sleep for a few hours, and then teach 21 third graders all day tomorrow.

Thankfully, we have resources like Elana Amesterdam's Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook to rely upon.  It may be way past bedtime, but homemade muffins are essential for the weekend ahead. 

Banana Blueberry Muffins

3 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 T grapeseed oil
3 large eggs
2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 c frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil and eggs.  Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.  Stir the bananas into the batter, then fold in the blueberries.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 30 minutes, that is, after you've burned your fingertips and tongue sampling the first muffin out of the pan.

Fantastic 10:00pm snack.  Fantastic breakfasts all weekend long.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Christmas on Tuesdays

Every other Tuesday since October has been like Christmas in our home.  Imagine getting a Christmas gift every other week that was beautiful, colorful, delicious, and incredibly valuable.  For fourteen days it fed you, made you feel fantastic, stretched your creativity, and taught you something you didn't know before.  And just when the novelty of your gift wore off, it was time to get another surprise gift.  Who wouldn't love that?

We liked the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) when we first heard about it - supporting local farmers who grow organic produce.  But it took a few years and the testimonials of friends to finally take the step beyond looking for local, organic produce in Whole Foods and visiting the Farmer's Market on our occasional free Saturday mornings.  We joined the Bountiful Blessings Farm CSA as a little experiment.  Would we save money?  Would we be able to eat everything that came in the box?  Would we like the produce? 

Look at the gorgeous produce I picked up this afternoon.  And we just receive a half bushel.
Extra radishes were available for the taking.

Does anyone know what in the world this is?  Tomorrow I'll get an email entitled "What's In the Box?"  I'll read the description of every single vegetable and play the matching game.  Once I've figured out the name of each veggie in my delivery, it's time to figure out what to do with it.

We've roasted a lot of root vegetables this winter - squashes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, and onions roasted at 400 degrees with olive oil and sea salt.  Comfort food.

We've had a lot of stirfrys with kale, bok choi, collards, Swiss chard, turnips, and beet greens.  Thai Kitchen makes some great gluten-free sauces for stirfrying.

We've done a lot of research on what to do with salsafy, endive, escarole,  mache, sorrel, pac choi, tatsoi, mustard, kohlrabi, and the list goes on!

We've had a TON of salads.  Until we joined the CSA, I thought all lettuce tasted like...well, lettuce.  Did you know that lettuces actually have flavor?  And each type of lettuce has a different flavor?  Fresh, organic lettuce that was picked the day before you put it in your salad bowl is amazing!

We've also had a lot of smoothies.  Smoothies have always been a staple in our diet, but until this year our smoothies have mainly consisted of fruit.  A fellow gluten-free foodie, and the man who keeps the aches and pains at bay, Josh Renkens, turned me on to green smoothies last summer and gave me the website of the Vita-Mix Lady.  There are several veggies like spinach, kale, swiss chard, and collard greens that miraculously don't taste like vegetables when blended with other fruits.

So, this was our dinner tonight.  There is no way that the Husband would ever succeed in choking down that many vegetables in a meal, a day, or even two.  But he'll drink it.  Why?  Because it's delicious, not to mention incredibly good for you.

(The Husband's first taste test had to be done with eyes closed, because I'm not sure that he'd ever try a smoothie that looked like a shamrock shake.)

But doesn't this look delicious?

If you asked me for the recipe it would be next to impossible, because each green smoothie is different, but here's an example:

Green Smoothie
1 cup of milk, coconut milk, or almond milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/3 frozen banana
1 1/2 cups frozen fruit
1 tsp flaxseeds
10 almonds
two huge fistfuls of greens (start with spinach)

Blend in the Vita-Mix for a minute pushing the greens down with the tamper.  If you don't use frozen fruit, add ice on top of the greens.  It helps push greens down to the blades and makes a thicker smoothie.

I'd say that our CSA experiment has been a great success.  Have we saved money?  I have no idea.  I'd never buy half, no MOST of the produce that comes from our CSA.  I definitely buy less produce at the store.  Have we been able eat everything that comes in the box?  Just about.  There have been a few busy weeks when cooking hasn't been a priority.  And that's when the Husband says, "Throw it in the Vita-Mix."  Have we liked the produce?  Definitely.  What's not to like about fresh, delicious, organic vegetables?  I didn't expect to eagerly await Tuesdays.  I didn't expect to love the challenge of cooking new dishes.  I didn't expect to love our farmers, the sweet people who grow our food.  But Christmas on Tuesdays is full of unexpected and bountiful blessings.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

All Good Things...

It's all been good.  Very good.

Good food.
The gluten-free scene isn't quite up to par at Seagrove Beach, but I was very impressed with the availability of gluten-free pizza from Pizza by the Sea.  The dough was prepackaged and frozen, so I'm not THAT impressed, but at least it was available.  Based on the website claiming "best kid-friendly dining"...we opted to order takeout!

Our best gluten-free dining experiences actually  came from picking up fresh fish at Goatfeather's Seafood Market, and cooking in.

Although Fish Out of Water came in a close second.

Good company.

What a blessing it was for us to enjoy time with the Husband's parents and my mom.  Our short time together left us all wanting just a little bit more.  And isn't that the best way to end family time?

And what a trooper my mom was!  She rented a bike to keep me company on my 11-mile training run.  She called it "role reversal".  After running by my side while I learned to ride my first two-wheeler, it was my turn to run alongside her as she enjoyed riding her beach cruiser.

And of course, 35 mile bike rides, rooftop conversations, and walks along the beach with the most amazing, thoughtful, handsome, best friend a girl could ever ask for just makes any vacation...better than good.

Good scenery.

God's creation is astounding.  Sky, water, and land -- He uses those three things to create an infinite number of artistic experiences for His glory and our enjoyment every single day.  How many combinations can He come up with?
I'm in awe.

Good training.

Miles and miles of beauty in which to run, bike, and play.  The half marathon is two weeks away.  I missed my training partner this week, but Mom did a great job as road crew!
 Good times.

GBud and Alley's Taco Bar - What beach vacation would be complete without a little Mexican fiesta time?  None, according to these California girls!

It was my turn to ride alongside the Husband as he got in his training run.  Some people like to sleep in on their vacations.  I know.  I don't get it either, but it's true.

Good resting.

Okay, so I did very little sitting on the beach, although the beach was only 150 yards from our house, but sitting is not my forte.  I did truly rest.  I did truly "let down", and I know many of you who know me well will be proud of me for that.

But during the times I did sit on the the beach, I saw dolphins breach, I looked at the perfect horizon and was not at all surprised that the people of 1492 thought Columbus was a total freak, and I thanked God for who He is and for His incredible blessings.

But all good things...mmmmmmm.

 But if they have to come to an end, what a good ending.