Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trail runs, fooding, and other recaps

So training is in full swing.  Its 10 weeks from POTH and 18 from IMNZ.  So I've been super active.  I have K2 November 2nd just a little jaunt around the Coromandel Peninsula, approximately 200km.  I did a lengthy write-up of it last year.  Wait, I've been in New Zealand how long now? 

Backside of the ridge from Thames
Our Tuesday Night run went on a new route last week and it was filled with hill work.  I saw a few new places in this small town.  I thought we were running down someone's lawn, but it was a trail.  Then Garth, Manu, and I did a 3 hr trail run on Thursday in the valley behind Thames.  The trail leaves from a side street which I lived closed to when I was in the Edward Street house.  You have the capability to go all the way out to the Kauaeranga Valley (Pinnacles and mtb trails) or to come back down a 2nd track which exits on the edge of town.  That is what we did.  It was a good run, but I worried about my ankle in a lot of spots as it was pretty uneven.  Go figure it was a trail run.

Last weekend, Beth and I went up to Auckland to do a few errands and we hit up 2 different festivals.  It was supposed to be 3, but I couldn't eat any more.  Shocking I know!  Saturday morning, I did 2000m in the pool then took in a Maori food festival and the Diwali festival.  We also planned on hitting up the Auckland Night Market, where they have 60-80 food stalls.  Its still on my to-do list.  At the Maori food festival we started with a cupcake. 
So tasty.  Easy to make to boot.

Then I had a plate of boil up, its like a soup of potato, water cress, doughboy (think dumplings), and pork bones with meat) with 2 pieces of Maori bread.  I wanted to have some hangi, but it was sold-out.  However, a very kind guy stopped by Beth and I and said he overheard we were asking for hangi, but were turned away. 

He gave us, I mean me, one of his helpings of hangi.  We had an interesting conversation with an older lady at the festival.  I got the typical, what are you question.  Which led to explaining how this is a typical conversation.  Now that I think of it, I should just make a t-shirt and wear it all the time.  I said I get my dark skin from being half-vietnamese and she chimed in "and the other half is American!".  I just had to agree with her.  She talked about eating nettles and sea urchin and how in the past they were embarassed to do it in front of foreigners.  Now she doesn't care.  I said I've eaten both and she was surprised as she thought only Kiwis did it.  At this point I had plowed through both portions of food and turned down her offer for some uni as I feeling full.  She said that we should be on Amazing Race because I eat anything.  We told her we had applied years ago, but sadly we weren't chosen to compete.
Yes, $20 for HoHos

Then we went to Martha's Backyard which imports American goods and sells at a significant markup.  I've been using pop tarts as a nutrition source while on my long rides.  Also picked up some corn meal for corn bread muffins and graham crackers for s'mores.  We then drove back up the street to pick up a bike trainer we got off of TradeMe.  Then off to the North Shore to pick up a water bottle seat mount and to drop off my wetsuit which had a seam tear.  Sad because I only probably wore it 6-10 times, but as I had bought it at the end of the September and didn't wear it until June of the following year it was out of warranty.  Then we were off to Diwali where we met up with Shiv.  We took in some music and more food before heading back home.  We had curry puffs, samosas, mango lassi, vegetarian takoyaki (cheese and corn or onion), chipati with bread, fried fritters with chocolate sauce, and a sprite.  Then I topped the night off with a mystery dessert from a place on Elliot Street of panna cotta and chocolate mouse parfait. I don't think I could have forced myself to eat at each of the 60-80 food stalls at the night market, so we just drove back home.

Shiv next to a MN State Fair booth?

Don't be fooled, its not takoyaki
Then on Sunday, I did a solo 50 mile ride against a head or cross wind the majority of the time.  I didn't have the greatest average, but I worked hard.  I also found out that my friend Martin had had an accident on his K2 training ride a few weeks earlier.  The ride, I missed because of my hurt wrist.  He is in the hospital still recovering, but he has a fractured pelvis and 5 ribs.  I'll get down there to check on him at some point, but this weekend is Labor weekend.  We'll be crashing at my friend Phil's bach on the best beach in New Zealand.  I'll be taking my bike, so I can ride the 70 km back to Thames after our little vacation.  Monday is supposed to be a worker bee day at the mtb trail and if I spend most of the day there we might get a good chunk done.  We had 7 people out working last week and got about 20 meters done.  We are working on a technical switchback section of a downhill that requires a lot of platforming and removing of stumps.  If all goes to plan, the trail will be done around Christmas. 

Today we went back up to Auckland to get our refinance documents certified at the US Embassy.  It was our first time, visiting an embassy.  It was nothing like the movies.  Where were the heavily armored guards walking around the massive complex?  Nope it was tucked in a Citi building on the edge of the CBD.  We then talked briefly to an accountant to see how screwed up our taxes may be.  Then we picked up my freshly repaired wetsuit.  Time to get some open water practice.  I was called on Monday about scheduling a job interview.  It took place after all the other activities for the day.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Some recipes cause I love food

Tonight I made the following; a Caramel Cake for Leith's birthday, a chocolate chip cookie pan, and  quinoa spinach goat cheese fritters.  So much for not baking while on my training program.  Then again, I rode 17 miles on the trainer this morning.  My wrist still isn't feeling that awesome.  Even on the trainer my wrist caused me unbelievable amount of grief that lasted for hours.  I also have wicked sores on my heels from my new-ish trail running shoes. 

So I've been cooking and baking here and there for years.  What can I say I love food.  I've worked as a cook back in college for a short time.  I've even taken baking orders for friends from time to time, but never professionally.  Sometimes I hear that I'm in the wrong industry or I hear the comment that I should own my own bakery or what have you.  I wont claim that I do it all as sometimes I start with a recipe from this place or that magazine and then modify it.  Other times I just whip things together.  Not everything I do turns out, but it almost always gets eaten.  I can only recall a few major disasters where it was utter crap.

Recently I made a modified Pumpkin Whoopie Pies but I roasted my own pumpkin and hand mashed it for a chunkier consistency.  Then I basically disregarded the entire spice section and put in a combination of ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves.  This is my typical spice concoction when dealing with pumpkin, which I love using.  Also made some wicked pumpkin pancakes the other day with a faux buttermilk.  I've yet to find buttermilk in New Zealand, so I learned a trick of curdling milk with white vinegar.  I don't really have a ration that I adhere to, I just taste the batter and add whatever I feel like that day or night.  Then I changed the filling to be one that I've used for my Cream-Filled Pumpkin.  This is a recipe I found over a decade ago while working for the airlines.  I don't recall the magazine, but I have several sure fire cupcake hits from that issue.  So straight from recipes files so of my crowd favorites.  My current and former co-workers, Beth's former co-workers, and our friends and family approved pants tightening goodness.  This is another big winner that I made back home.  I have yet to find the mini-kisses over here so if you are coming to visit, bring a couple bags and you might get a batch to yourself.  My instructions for the Choco-pucks.

Enjoy baking and eating, cause I know I do.

Cream-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes
4 eggs
2 c sugar
¾ c vegetable oil
1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin
2 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
(See above for my spice concoction)

1 T cornstarch
1 c milk from
½ c shortening
¼ c butter softened
2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes, for the filling you mix the cornstarch and milk over medium high heat and bring to a boil while constantly stirring.  Remove immediately after coming to a boil.  Let cool to room temp.  While that is cooling, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar.  Now add the vanilla.  Slowly add the thickened milk mixture to the creamed ingredients while mixing on high.  You are looking for a fluffy mixture.  I've never used all the milk mixture when creating the filling.  After the cupcakes have had a chance to cool cut a cone divet in the top.  Remove the section, fill with cream mixture, and then replace the cut-out section.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Cupcakes
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese softened
1/3 c sugar
1 egg
1/8 t salt
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c peanut butter chips

1 ½ c flour
1 c sugar
¼ c baking cocoa
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
1 c water
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 T while vinegar
1 t vanilla
Back at 350 for 25-30 minutes  Cream the cream cheese, sugar, and egg.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Mix the cupcake ingredients together.  I've never been a big fan of using multiple bowls and slowly adding the wet and dry together.  Then again, this is something I do for fun not a job.  Fill the cupcake paper about 1/2 full with cupcake batter and then take a table spoon or so of the filling and plop it on top.
Caramel Sauced Cake

Caramel Cake (Gourmet, January 2008)
2 c plus 2 T flour
1 t baking powder
¾ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter softened
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 c shaken buttermilk

1 c heavy cream
½ c brown sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1 t vanilla
Bake cake in an 8 inch square cake pan at 350 for 35-40 minutes, cool for an hour
Boil glaze until it registers 210 to 212 for 12-14 minutes, cool for 30 minutes