Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The longest ride to date…

Last weekend I completed a 73 mile bike ride. This is the longest ride I’d ever done, and honestly at the end of it I felt great. This made me feel even more great about my training regimen and my capacity to do the 100 mile ride in a week and a half. Here are some highlights from the ride:

1. The Waterloo Farm Museum is on the route. It appears to be run by the Waterloo Area Historical Society, and is pretty cool even from the road. When we biked past, there were signs for “Blacksmith, Soldier, and Log Cabin Day” at the museum. While that struck me as a rather odd combination of things to feature all in one day, who am I to really judge. We saw an assortment of interesting folks dressed up in interesting ways, but thought it might be rude to snap photos from the road.

2. Zou Zou’s was our planned lunch stop after the first 50 miles. I had a delicious sandwich with mozzarella, roasted peppers, and pesto. Alicia also enjoyed her sandwich, and their convenient bike rack makes it the ideal place for a stop.

3. Alicia mentioned an entertaining, but wildly functional new product they have at the store: DZ Nuts Bliss. I’ve known about the company for a long time, as they have a rather hilarious take on advertising their anti-chafing products (i.e., their slogan is “Protect your junk,” and the name of the company is derived from the founder's initials and their main focus). They’ve started making a women-specific chamois cream that, apparently, does not tingle like the men’s version. I have not ever tried the men's version, but I do not understand why anyone would want a tingly chamois cream. Their products also don’t have any petroleum derivatives in them, which is nice. The instructions for use start with “Slowly…methodically…shimmy riding shorts down to ankles (background music optional).” Looking forward to trying this out (but probably not to reviewing it in any depth here…)!

Monday, June 25, 2012

More greens

If you are under the impression that I spend a great deal of time thinking of things to do with greens, as evidenced in posts here, here, here, here, here, here and most recently here, you would be correct. I’ve concluded, as I am not the first to learn, that eating seasonally in Michigan requires equal parts creativity, dedication, and insanity. Or maybe there is a serious flaw in my logic and the insanity is not a pre-requisite, but rather a result of eating so much kale…

In any case, during our very brief stint of cool weather a while back, I made another soup. I ate a serving or two if it while it was cold, and then popped it into the freezer for next month when I’m working in the ICU and will likely have less time to cook (and will be eating in the hospital, where the vagaries of the weather are less likely to affect what I feel like eating).

Curry Broth with Whole Wheat Noodles and Greens
Adapted liberally from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

3 tablespoons neutral oil (I used safflower)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 quarts vegetable stock or water
Long, skinny-ish, whole wheat noodles to taste (I used udon, the recipe calls for spaghetti, so go crazy…)
3-4 cups spicy greens, sliced into thin ribbons (I had a combination of radish and turnip greens)
Salt and pepper to taste (this will depend a lot on the stock)

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, then stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Add the curry powder and a little salt and pepper (unless you are worried that your vegetable stock is a bit salty already – it is always easier to add more later) and stir it around in the oil for a moment while it smells amazing. Then add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until they are done – this will obviously depend on the type of noodles you have selected, but 8-10 minutes is probably a reasonable estimate. Turn off the heat and stir the greens into the soup. If you like, garnish the soup with fresh herbs (per Chef Bittman cilantro is a good bet, but I had already blended mine into some dal earlier in the week), or just enjoy!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cape Cod Redux

Not quite two weeks ago I had the pleasure of celebrating with Allison and Katie at their beautiful wedding in Provincetown, MA on the tip of Cape Cod. I will never cease to be amazed at the uniqueness of each wedding I’ve attended (and it’s been three this year so far, with one or two still to go) and the “rightness” of each for the couple getting married.

This one started with the rehearsal dinner of a lifetime, featuring none other than the one and only Melissa Ferrick. For those of you not in the know, she is an amazing folk singer. For those of you in the know, IT WAS SO EXCITING!!!!!! I’m not sure what agreements were made, so I’m not posting any photos of her on the blog, but I will reassure you that I have pictures, and it was amazing.

The actual ceremony was also stunning, and took place on the beach. It was simple and heartfelt, and included the dog, which I appreciated a great deal.

The brides dip their toes in the ocean after the ceremony, and Stella gets ready.

Lest you think my trip to Cape Cod was filled only with wedding-related events, let me reassure you that it was not. The remainder of my time was filled with two activities, riding bikes and eating lobster rolls. This made for a truly idyllic weekend. I had not had a lobster roll before, and I tried several across the spectrum. Based on my research, the more expensive the roll, the more lobster and the larger pieces; the less expensive, the more mayonnaise and vegetables on the sandwich. I actually enjoyed both a great deal, and came to the conclusion that my previous belief that I disliked lobster was incorrect. Revised conclusion: I really, really dislike the smell of crustaceans before they are disarticulated and the meat is removed. I like both crab and lobster meat, but if I had to extract it myself from the shell, I’d never eat either again.


The biking was equally wonderful. On Saturday several of us rented hybrids/cruisers and headed out toward the beach trails. Lots of lovely hills and beautiful scenery; it was the perfect pre-cursor to the wedding ceremony. On Sunday, I rented a road bike (!) and headed down the harbor side of the Cape. I made it down to Wellfleet, about 17 miles from the bike shop in Provincetown, riding part of the way with a nice real estate broker from Eastham who was doing his morning loop near Wellfleet as well.

Riding home I got a little lost, and added probably 5 miles and quite a lot of anxiety to my ride, but Google Maps saved me and helped me navigate safely back to the Inn and the bike shop! I thoroughly enjoyed a little foray into faster hill-climbing and awesomer first impressions on the road bike, but my fear of flat tires on my trusty hybrid is much less. Someday I’ll get a road bike, but only when I don’t have to sell my bike first…

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bikes, books, and bakeries

Cross-posted on Dose of Reality

As has been discussed here previously, I’m training for a large bike ride that is coming up in less than a month. As usual, I’ve been tracking not only my mileage and speed, but also my ranking on BikeJournal. I like to think of it as my keeping-up-with-the-crazy-cycling-Jones-o-meter. If I’m rising in the ranks, then I’m biking more than the average member, and if I’m falling, I’m not keeping up. Granted, in order to stay even one really only needs to bike about 2 miles per day, but it’s still an interesting metric, and plotting it over time makes it even more interesting.

Look how much awesomer I am than last year! So far my predictions about dermatology and research rotations as good for biking are bearing out. Check back in another month or so to see what kind of curve the ICU month generates...

My training schedule marches ever onward, and I’ve been looking for longer rides to fit into my training schedule. Luckily, I received a copy of Cycling Michigan: 30 of the Best Bike Routes in East Michigan by Karen Gentry for either my birthday or Christmas over the winter, and stuck it on my shelf for summer reference. I pulled it out a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised! It features lots of rides, as the title suggests, in the eastern part of our lovely state, and includes quite a few that start in or near Ann Arbor. Because Michigan has so many beautiful places to ride, it can be hard to find a book with more than one ride in any given place, but Ms. Gentry does not disappoint.

 The first ride from the book took us through some beautiful countryside out to Manchester and back. Here is my bike posing for the picture.

My one complaint about the book is that each ride is described in copious detail without a succinct cue sheet or list of turns, and the maps are not detailed enough to use alone. On the first ride I did from the book, I simply copied the pages describing the ride and stuffed them into my jersey pocket. I had to stop frequently to read through the text to figure out where I should turn next. Two weeks later, much the wiser, I went through the book before the ride, typing up a cue sheet and copying the map onto the lower half. It was much easier to just follow the turns and glance at the map for reassurance. I love the routes in the book, but would recommend a little prep work to make for a better ride!

 The second ride went through Dexter, Pinckney, Brighton, and yes, Hell, MI. 

Another thing that makes for a better ride: doughnuts! I could not write a post about my recent bike rides without mentioning the Dexter Bakery. They make by far the finest apple fritter I have ever consumed, as well as wonderful soft pretzles and regular doughnuts as well; I would highly recommend it as a cycling stop. It’s conveniently located about 11 miles from downtown Ann Arbor, making it an imminently reasonable cycling destination. Yum!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

And he returns home a survivor…

We won’t know the final pathology on Walter’s mouth mass for 7-10 days, but at least for now I’m letting myself hope that we’re out of the woods. I picked him up this morning following his surgery, and was pleasantly surprised at how normal he looks. I know I should just be glad that the cancer is gone (at least for now…), but I was really worried that he would go from being the ridiculous-looking adorable dog to the funny-looking lower-jawless dog. Turns out he’s still ridiculous looking and adorable, and now he occasionally sticks his tongue out a little by accident, particularly when he’s really tired. He’s got a little bandage where his IV line was, but is otherwise ready for a restful few weeks at home before our follow-up visit. He's still pretty sleepy. Here are some post-op photos to reassure you all that you’ll still want the Walter 2013 Calendar when it’s available…

 This is the best shot of his incision, which is the darker area on his chin. 

Here is Walter looking vaguely peeved that I am taking pictures of him during his delicate convalescence.
 The promised little tongue. He keeps it in his mouth pretty well for having just lost a chunk of his lower jaw. It's cute. 

 Surrounded by blankets, recovering on the couch.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Send the wimps* your love…

Some of you are probably tiring of hearing about this, but I wanted to post about it here because many of you love the dog and don’t see us on a regular basis. Here’s the quick(-ish) version of the story:

Two weeks ago I noticed that the dog’s mouth was bleeding a little bit after he was playing. I looked more closely and saw an ugly looking growth behind his teeth. Fast forward a few weeks and his biopsy showed that it was a malignancy, most like a sarcoma, but his blood work and chest x-ray suggested that it hadn’t metastasized yet. We met with the veterinary surgical oncologist yesterday, and scheduled surgery for today. I dropped Walter off at the vet this morning, and he was a champ through his surgery. They removed a piece of his lower jaw, slightly larger than anticipated because the mass ended up being slightly larger than they expected, but the vet said that he thinks Walt will bounce back quickly. Walt’s staying at the puppy hospital overnight for monitoring (as expected, not because something went wrong), so please send him your love this evening and for his recovery process. We’ll be awaiting the final pathology (7-10 days from now) with baited breath, hoping that it shows that the tumor was of a sort that is only locally invasive, and doesn’t require chemotherapy or radiation in addition to the surgery. Fingers crossed!

Of all of the things I knew I’d have to do as a pet owner, I didn’t think that talking about code status would be one of them. The staff at the vet were good though, and made sure to ask me whether, in the case of something really terrible happening, I would want them to resuscitate the tiny Walter. Of course I said yes.

These are some pre-surgery pictures from last night and this morning. As they will demonstrate to you, the dog is in no pain at all, and didn’t even whine that he couldn’t eat this morning (perhaps because I gave him a bonus dinner at 11:00pm last night).

*For those of you not in the know, the dog has a million nicknames. His given name is Walter. He goes by Waltini, Waltez, Wimps, Wimpenstein, Wimptini, Wimpsalloo, and pretty much anything you can imagine that starts with "W." 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chilled Arugula Soup

The CSA has started up again and as is apt to happen in the early part of the season, I have masses of salad greens. I like salad as much, maybe more, than the next person, but there is only so much one can eat. When I noticed that I had two bunches of arugula that were looking a wee bit sad in the fridge, I started trolling How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for a recipe I knew I’d seen Mark Bittman do somewhere. I think the recipe I was remembering was this one, for lettuce soup, but I was struck by the possibility of a creamy chilled soup that really featured some spicy greens. The recipe called for cream or milk, but I boiled some turnips (also courtesy of the CSA) in vegetable stock instead. Here it is:

Chilled Arugula Soup 
adapted slightly from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups (roughly) washed arugula or other spicy green (watercress, sorrel, and spinach are all recommended in the recipe)
3 cups vegetable stock
3 turnips, cubed
tiny, tiny drizzle of fish sauce (at the recommendation of Lynn Rosetto Kasper)
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, bring the turnips, vegetable stock and fish sauce to a low boil. While you do this you can wash the greens. If they are large, you can chop them, but if you have a decent immersion blender you really shouldn’t need to. Once the turnips are soft (about 10 minutes, but it depends on how small you chopped them), in a large soup pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; when it is hot add the greens. Stir until the greens wilt, then add the stock and turnips. Bring almost to a boil, and get out the immersion blender. Blend until smooth, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can chill the un-pureed soup and then put it in the food processor, blender, or food mill once it is cool. Esteemed Chef Bittman includes some cream or milk in his recipe at this point, but I opted to leave this out. You could try soy milk or rice milk for a vegan alternative, but I found that the turnips added enough creaminess for me. Enjoy!