Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hearty Lentil and Ham Soup

I bought a ham before the retreat so my husband would certainly be able to feed the girls while I was gone. However, secretly I bought the ham, actually any ham, to make this recipe. I love it. LOVE it. It's an easy recipe to prepare. It tastes great. To me, it's so tasty that I don't care if the girlios don't like it. They can have a sandwich. More soup for me.

Unfortunately, they've come to like it, and I have to share. Bummer. I only put in one large onion because although onion flavor is not objectionable, onion pieces cause whining at the table. If I were cooking just for myself, I'd add them all. A perfect winter soup.

Hearty Lentil & Ham Soup

1 leftover smoked ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
1 pound lentils (about 2.5 cups), picked over and rinsed
0.5 pounds mushrooms, chopped (about 3.5 cups)
3 onions, chopped coursely
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
3.5 cups beef broth
8 cups water

In 6-to-8-quart kettle combine all ingredients and simmer soup, covered partially, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick and remove meat from bone and hocks. Chop meat and stir into soup.

Makes about 3 1/2 quarts. It freezes well.

All ingredients in the pot

A couple hours later, all done

 Enough for at least 2 family meals

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Four by Four

I just came home from my church's women's retreat. It was wonderful time at the Lutherdale retreat center in Wi. The theme was SeaSide Escape which was a lovely contrast to the February snow. It was unusual for me because I only packed two pairs of shoes, my mountain boots and my Birkenstocks. No running shoes. In fact, I haven't worn my running shoes in five days. This is the longest I've gone without running last summer or even last spring.

It's been almost two weeks since my last post. It's been busy. Crazy busy.

Today's post is brought to you by the Number 4.

4-1: My baby turned four this week. In regards to her personality, she refused. She's a hoot. With the help of an ice cream cake and some gifts, she has relented. I can't believe that she's four. Four. Always my baby, but no longer a baby.

4-2: There are four children in our house. We are working with a Christian organization called Safe Families. When families are in crisis, a safe family will temporarily watch children until the family is out of the crisis. Placements can last from one night to two years. It's not DCFS. It's volunteer. The need is great. Huge. On Monday, another little girl arrived at our house, and we have had to adjust to a 'new' normal. It has been really stretching for us as family. Blessings and sacrifices. 4 girls, 8 and under for a while.

4-3: Grandma's Marathon is marathon #4. And it's coming up. My bucket list was to run one marathon by the time I am 40. This year I will turn 40, and I'm planning to finish marathon #4. Wow! And I've already hit my goal of having a 4 in the front of my marathon time. Yes, it was a 4:57, but it was a 4. Anything else is a bonus.

4-4: Four-ced running vacation. After the Chicago Polar Dash Half Marathon, my hip hurt and after doing some research, it appears to be an overuse injury. Three marathon in 13 months takes a toll on the system. So feeling fairly confident in my base (not really), I am taking a week (or two) off. After five days off, my hip pain is decreasing, and my desire to run again is going up. But I rest, because I have to. Running is such a part of my life. It's hard not running and with the crazy week we've had I want to run. My hip pain turned to an ache and now is a tightness. My training plan will be shorter, but I don't want to hurt myself more. Making good choices. I want to heal and enjoy the run. My shoes will wait for me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Two Runs for Sherry Arnold

Saturday was the Virtual Run for Sherry Arnold, the fellow mother runner and teacher that went for a morning run and never came home. The running community wanted to give her a fitting memorial, a run. Another Mother Runner encouraged runners to do three things: Run in Sherry's honor. Donate for her family. Reflect on what you have - your family, friend and the ability to run.

On Friday night snow came to our area. Our running club had a run scheduled on Saturday morning and a youth baseball team pancake breakfast afterward. It was fun the previous year. I had volunteered to make the bibs for Sherry's Run. With the help of Office Max, they were done and ready to go. However, it got cold in Chicago on Friday night. Bitter cold. Through a flurry of texts on Friday night, several of us backed down from running on Saturday morning. Even I didn't want to run outside. I was disappointed, but with the aches and pains I've been having, running in the deep freeze didn't seem like a good idea. I had made arrangements to run on a local indoor track. T-shirt and capris sounded good to me.

The family slept in on Saturday. I had one of those sleep headaches from too much sleep rather than not enough sleep. It was something to savor, and made me think of Sherry. The family headed down to the pancake breakfast together. It wasn't all Leave It To Beaver. My youngest cried from the moment she got her pancakes, but I love that we get those times together. My oldest had to lay down she's eaten so much so fast. And my middle was a bottomless pit, eating more than my husband. They loved looking at the ambulance and the rescue boat. Family time. Relishing what I have.

The running club was there, many braving the cold. It was a sunny day, and until the wind picked up it looked perfect. I felt guilty for no getting my run in already. I had to keep an eye on my pancake count. The club did have a chance to take a picture with their bibs. Thank you GRC.

In the afternoon I ran with several other ladies from the running club on the indoor track. Originally we thought it was going to be 12 times around for a mile. No, 14. I didn't really have a plan. I thought I would max out at 10 miles. Just run. Run for Sherry. Run with Chris. Enjoy the run. Watch the hip. Feel it out.

Chris, Me & Meechi
I got a chance to learn more about Chris's story. She got to hear me gripe. I'd rather be running and chatting than eating and chatting or out and chatting any day. Chris stopped at 100 laps and I figured I could pull out 40 more. My IT band on the other side was bothering me a bit, but I pressed on. Chris stayed around to cool down, stretch and have her recovery drink. She didn't have to stay but I'm so glad she did. The last 20 laps were getting repetitive. Chris joined me for the last two. 140 laps (10 miles) for Sherry Arnold.

After 140 laps
My legs hurt in weird places from going around the oval over and over again. Yes, I ran in circles. I stretched when I got home. I iced at night. This morning there were definitely some kinks.

I'm not a fan of the wrinkle run. I'm a fan of the sit around and recover. Today, in the sunshine, I decided to run alone for Sherry outside. It was warmer. I worried about my body, but in the spirit of her run, I put in a few miles. The first two were fine, but the last mile was rough. Things tightened. I tried to adjust my gait. When the Garmin hit 3.1, I was done. As I came home to my adoring fans, who do still yell "Mommy!" when I walk in the door, I remember how blessed I am. I've foam rolled and iced. Tomorrow, I'll be sore. But I can run, so I did.

Rest in peace Sherry Arnold. From one mother teacher runner to another.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We Love These Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes!

I've made these pancakes two days in a row so I thought they are worth posting. Today while eating the last pancake I realized I didn't add eggs. I was wondering why they didn't hold together so well. That didn't stop us from eating them all. Maybe the chocolate chips held it all together.

One of the reasons I like these pancakes is because it fills the kids up. Often with cereal or white flour pancakes the kids are hungry an hour later. I normally don't hear hunger complaints until 3 to 4 hours later, even for myself.

Kathleen Booher introduced me to these pancakes. She said they came from a Runner's World recipe called America's Healthiest Breakfast. I looked but couldn't find the original recipe to source. So thank you Kathleen and Runner's World for my full tummy.

The recipe for me is on a post-it note stuck to the cabinet next to my stove. See picture below.

I make half batches when it's just me and the girls. When I make them for all of us, I make the full batch. As far tweaking, I add vanilla regularly. Sometimes I add applesauce or shredded apple. I also have added blueberries, chocolate chips or made buttermilk from 2% milk and a teaspoon of lemon juice. For flour, I've used all whole wheat flour, but I've had to add more baking powder. Lately we've been experimenting with white whole wheat. I used it in part and in whole for the flour. I've also made them gluten-free substituting Jules gf flour for all the flour. I generally use buttermilk because I like they way it tastes better than mock-up buttermilk.

Oatmeal Buttermik Pancakes (Full Batch)

1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (I use brown sugar)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (I add a bit more)
4 eggs (or egg white equivalent)
1 1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 tsp vanilla

Soak oatmeal in buttermilk for 15 minutes. I know you are supposed to mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another, but that's another bowl to wash. I just add the dry ingredients, add in the soaked oatmeal and then the wet ingredients. Then I give it a good mix. Cook on a well greased skillet. It can stick. Lately, I've been using coconut oil. Smells fantastic.

Enjoy! Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Rhythm is Off!

I'm trying to squeeze a post in during Wild Kratts.

My life rhythm is off. I'm having a hard time managing time. It makes me cranky, nervous and tired. I know I just posted a blog about my irrational fears and now I'm saying I am cranky and nervous. I sound like a basket case. I love that on a run, my mind clears.

There was an awesome article "The Painful Truth" in Runners World that really spoke to my fear of injury. Thank you Marc Parent for saying how I was feeling so much more clearly. And for making the next step to not be worried about every little bump or sprain in the road. It was perfectly timed. I love his quote "It gets better. You don't stay hurt forever. Bodies heal. Three Voices of Truth." I've even done some speed work since then. And I didn't break. I found some new sore spots, but oh well.

Today I took the girls out in the double jogging stroller. We looked like a big grape. Everybody was in purple. I love it when people look sort of wide eyed. It was sunny and just above freezing. We put in 4 miles stopping halfway to do those fitness walk activities that I'm pretty sure no one does. We did them, but not correctly. There was lots of jumping and swinging. Pushing 60+ extra pounds did change which muscles I used so I'll have to see tomorrow what gives. Or doesn't give.

So my life is full at the moment. To add to my already full plate I've take on teaching an after school literacy program two days a week. Today we add on gymnastics for my two little ones. I'm so happy it's at the same time. My first calculus test is tomorrow. I do love the class, and the teacher is amazing. However, my brain shuts down at about 8:30, and the class ends at 9:20. You do the math. This with working, tutoring, teaching, homeschooling, and planning our church's women's retreat, I'm spent. Running is getting squeezed out, and it's making me crazier. I need my run!

I signed up for my 4th marathon, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Mn on June 16th. I'm looking forward to it but training starts next week. I think. I'll also be running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May with my stepsister, her husband and my step mom. The race is between my last calc exam and the final. It might be a good way to blow off steam.

Anyway, the pot stickers are done, and I have to make everybody a green smoothie before gymnastics. I'm on the run...