2013 Palm Beach Turkey Trot

I haven’t posted a running update for way too long. That is because I haven’t been running regularly for way too long. (And, I’m sure you have noticed I haven’t been blogging as often — life has been way too crazy lately.)

But I really am going to make an effort to get back on track with both running and blogging. As the weather is about perfect in South Florida now, the treats and food temptations are at an all-time high and any likelihood for depression is greatest being away from my family for the holidays, I really need to focus on running and getting back into a routine. And that started today with the Town of Palm Beach United Way Turkey Trot 5k.

Supersoft T-shirt for the 2013 Town of Palm Beach United Way Turkey Trot

Supersoft T-shirt for the 2013 Town of Palm Beach United Way Turkey Trot

Sleepy Val before the race

Sleepy Val before the race

I had never done this race before, but I thought it would be great to get up, run around the Island of Palm Beach and start my day. Little did I know it wouldn’t even be 50° at race time. (I know, I know, it’s November. But it’s Florida. And I don’t have warm running clothes. And my lungs aren’t used to exercise in this weather. So there is all that.)

It was a well-organized race with a great, easy route. There were about 600 to 800 runners, so it was a nice size, not too big and not too small. And because it is the town of Palm Beach, the shirt is supersoft and nice, on par with the one I got at my Fourth of July 8k this year. Yes, this is my second holiday race this year, and I’m really digging these holiday races. Great way to start probably my two favorite holidays.

As I said, I haven’t been running much; it was two weeks since my last run, in fact! But I was really happy with my time considering the weather and my lack of preparation.

What’s next

I still have an arch ache a lot when I run. I had it about 1.5 miles into this run. ¡No bueno! So I need to stretch more every day, and I need new running shoes. This will be my third pair ever, and for my second pair I got the same I had before (Adidas Supernova), but I kind of want to try new shoes. I have overpronation and flat feet. What running shoes/brands do you love?

Also, it’s that time of year for fun runs in full effect in South Florida, and I need to find some new runs. What fun races would you recommend in South Florida?

Hearty vegetarian Thanksgiving offerings

Can you believe Thanksgiving is in two weeks? Growing up, I always loved the family and togetherness aspect of Thanksgiving. Gathering around, spending all day together, eating a meal and playing family games together.

But honestly, I love the food now more than I did a turkey growing up eating meat. Now that I”m an adult and know there is more for a vegetarian main dish beyond a fake meat patty, Thanksgiving dinner has gotten much better.

Still not sure what I will make as my main vegetarian offering, these are at the top of my list, hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main, or great as a side for the turkey-lover at the table.

Rice-stuffed acorn squash from Chow.com

Rice-stuffed acorn squash from Chow.com

I’ve made this amazing acorn squash with a wild rice stuffing. And really any stuffed squash would work, including this nut-stuffed delicata squash or eggplant stuffed with walnuts and tomatoes.

Quinoa and squash pie from Eating Well

Quinoa and squash pie from Eating Well

Or what about a great quinoa and squash casserole or (what I am leaning toward making) a savory butternut squash tart.

Mushroom roll

Mushroom roll

If you want something different from squash, something with carbs(!), a stuffed mushroom roll might hit the spot. Or a potato, onion and cheese tart. Or a portobello Wellington. And you can’t go wrong with (and it’s totally worth the effort) a stuffed seitan loaf.

Whatever you pick, it’s really about the people you spend it with. What will you serve your meat-free guests?

Friday links

Very cool idea: 25 regional recipes for Thanksgiving. Broken down by region and side dish.

Five great vegetarian main-dish options for Thanksgiving.

Craving pumpkin flavors? (YES!) The marketing is working.

The science of cooking: Tips from America’s Test Kitchen. I love this PBS show, radio show and magazine.

Simple secrets to enjoy a lifetime of running. Sweet read.

And who can so no to a taco cannon? Nobody!

Have a great weekend!

My first green bean casserole

I’ve wanted to make a from-scratch green bean casserole for a long time. I don’t remember liking it much as a child; maybe it was too salty or I didn’t like the onions, but wanted to give it a try now. While searching Thanksgiving recipes, I came across one that featured mushrooms and fried onions. It looked easy and has only a few ingredients. Perfect!

I was worried about making the cream sauce, but it was very simple. The key is spices, since the cream base can be bland. If cayenne pepper is too hot, just use a little or use cumin perhaps.

I keep getting fresh beans from my CSA, so I tried this recipe. I think it was my favorite food I had for Thanksgiving. It was so good, I made it again when I got another delivery from my farm.

Creamy Green Beans with Fried Onions

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2½ pounds green beans
  • 2 quarts cream (I used Silk Creamer the second time and it worked great)
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 ounces fried onions
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot of salty-tasting water to a rolling boil and blanch the beans for about 20 seconds. Quickly drain them and transfer the hot beans to a bowl of ice water to cool down quickly. When cold, drain again and set aside.
  2. Heat the cream at a gentle simmer in a heavy bottomed pot and reduce it to just less than half its original volume, being careful not to scorch the cream or let it boil over. Remove from heat and reserve.
  3. Slice mushrooms In a large pan, heat the olive oil until shimmering and add mushrooms. Jostle the pan so they fall into a single layer, and allow to caramelize by searing undisturbed for a minute or 2. (If the mushrooms don’t fit in one layer in the pan, remove some and do this in batches.) Now toss the mushrooms around to finish browning on all sides, then remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and reserve.
  4. Make a roux by heating up the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat and whisking in the flour. Keep whisking it until it is golden brown all over, then slowly whisk in the reduced cream. Once the cream has come up to a boil, remove from heat and season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic.
  5. Toss the cream mixture with the beans and mushrooms and place in a roasting pan. Top with fried onions and bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning.

What was your favorite Thanksgiving dish?