Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Easy Potato-Leek Soup

The last couple trips to the grocery store have caught me buying leeks galore. For some reason it's all about the leeks right now. Tossed into an omelet, used to whip up a Bacon-Leek Tart or as the inspiration for my most recent adventure, Potato-Leek Soup. For some reason every now and then Mike will ask me if what I made came from a recipe, implying that maybe I just threw a bunch of ingredients together. I guess the food looks suspicious. And maybe I did. This version of Potato Leek Soup I most certainly made up as I went but it did in fact turn out pretty tasty and now I have another reason to pick up more leeks on my next trip to the store.

Easy Potato-Leek Soup

1-2 Tblsp. butter
1-2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/2 c. white wine
4-5 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped, peels left on (or peeled if nonorganic/preferred)
2 c. broth (I used ham but chicken or veggie would be good too)
2 c. milk
1-1/2 c. corn (canned or frozen)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese

In large saucepan, saute leeks in butter over medium heat until tender. Add wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add potatoes, broth and milk to saucepan, cover and allow to gently boil until potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in corn. Add salt and pepper to taste and heat through. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese for topping.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

From Couch to Warrior

Ok, so I'm not exactly a couch potato. And I definitely don't plan on becoming a hard-body warrior-type anytime soon (or ever) BUT for my purposes I'm thinking big and going as all-out as a girl in my shoes can do. The Plan: begin to run, train for a 5k, build upper body strength that presently resembles that of a T-Rex and in September achieve the goal of completing the Warrior Dash. It's basically a 5k trail run/obstacle course of mud pit, trenches, cargo nets, hundreds of tires, hay bales, rappelling... you get the idea. Sounds like ridiculous amounts of fun, right? And this coming from me, having never run in my life. Really: Nev. ER. I would get winded after 30 seconds of running and think my heart and lungs were going to explode out of my body. Which wouldn't be pretty so I've just avoided the whole thing altogether. Until now. A little over a month ago I was chatting with my girl Crystal, whose friendship I place in that category of amazing-friends-that-stay-a-best-friend-whether-you-talk-daily-or-every-few-months. Crystal and I "get" each other and not only that, we had fairly similar experiences growing up in the whole body image/physical part of childhood and youth. We matured early and struggled with being the "big" girl. We commiserated when it seemed other girls could eat whatever they wanted, not exercise and never gain an ounce and we on the other hand had to actually watch what we ate and exercise (or not, but with the obvious expected, undesirable results). We also (post-college and post-babies) have both come to enjoy the fruits of a relatively healthy, active lifestyle and love encouraging each other in it. All of that to say it was Crystal who cued me in to the Warrior Dash and I excitedly jumped on board, required team costume and all. (Yep, people wear costumes- my fave pic was of a guy with a doll strapped to him in a Baby Bjorn carrier- both he and the doll were completely covered in mud and he was polishing off the last of his post-race beer). I'm loving this challenge. I've always thought runners were crazy. I mean, seriously, who would run 3 hours for fun??? (Okay, who would run any amount of time for fun?) Plus most runners I know have injuries since running can be pretty hard on your body. So prior to this I've been pretty staunchly opposed to running and instead a committed walker. You know, the saner choice. The exercise plan I can keep up with even when I'm pushing a walker down the street. But after actually trying it (for longer than the afore-mentioned 30 seconds) I think I surprised myself more than anyone! I am LOVING it!!! I love the sense of challenging my body and realizing not only can I rise to the challenge, but things that used to be almost impossible I can do now- and still feel good doing it! I haven't died and my last run was my best one yet. I just started the 5th week of my interval training plan, the Couch-to-5k-Plan and so far, so good! I honestly did not think I would ever be able to run for 5 minutes straight but surprisingly I had a harder time running for 3 minutes (okay, even 1-1/2 minutes... 1 minute...) than the 5 minute stretch. I think my body is acclimating and it's such a boost to do something I honestly never thought I could do. I also wouldn't have believed I'd actually look forward to each time I get to run... I know, I know! It's the runner's madness, I tell you!! I am feeling pretty intimidated by the thought of 20 minutes without a walk break after my next run but I guess I'll just keep taking it one day/one run at a time and see how it goes. Ultimately (once I'm up to running 3 miles regularly) I hope to start more cross-training on the off days in hopes that I just might be able to hoist myself over mountainous obstacles. I've never been able to do a real push-up in my life either. Maybe that will be my next challenge. Or maybe I'll just stick with the girlie ones and embrace the upper T-Rex.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Selah's Turn

This backpack has been one of the greatest garage sale finds EVER!! Eileigh put it to good use (and I actually caught Mike toting her around in it about a week ago... afterwards he protested so much about his aching back I suggested Eileigh may have slightly outgrown the weight/height limit on the carrier. Or maybe just the limit on his back). :) He stored it up in the attic for: An Entire Week. Then, Hello Sunshine and out it came again, this time for Selah. She loved it- gave me the biggest wrinkled-nose grin pretty much the entire time she was riding around. Mike won't be able to mow the lawn by himself for years to come. :)

Mike and Selah, April 2011

Mike and Eileigh, July 2009

Friday, April 1, 2011

Myrtle the Spurtle

Alright, so it's not really made out of myrtlewood but "Walnut the Spurtle" just doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as well. Spurtle: a Scottish spatula-like kitchen tool dating back to at least the fifteenth century. From what I've gathered it was originally the flat shape (like mine) and then over time became a rod-like shape used for stirring porridge and soups. Eventually I hope to get the dowel-shaped spurtle as well but for now I'm enjoying the flat shape for flipping pancakes, crepes, etc. My favorite answer to the question of "why a spurtle instead of a regular spatula?" is: Because it's old and it's cool, that's why! :) If you care to pick one up for yourself, send $10 (includes shipping) to a fellow native Oregonian:

John Hehn
PO Box 726
Sutherlin, OR 97479

You can request light or dark wood although I'm not sure he's always able to grant said request. However, I did request a dark spurtle and received a lovely black walnut. I'm thrilled with it and looking forward to discovering many more uses for this fun little piece of history.