Weird but Tasty Food Combinations?

I remember as a kid getting harassed for putting mustard on my tuna fish sandwich from the school lunch.  I can also remember my father getting me to drink milk by putting Coke in it.  I enjoyed both thoroughly as a kid but now wouldn't consume either.  This is not because I look down on them but as a vegetarian, the tuna fish is out (yes--it's meat) and that the combination of Coke and milk sounds way too sweet a drink for me to actually enjoy (but clearly explains my early established and still present sweet tooth).

But that has me thinking about food culture and the defaults that food culture directs us toward (tortialla chips and salsa; .  I grew up on peanut butter and jelly as well as fluffernutters.  I would even go so far as to do jelly and fluff.  But peanut butter and pickles never crossed my mind.  Pickles were to have with sandwiches that included meat or cheese or other stuff.  That is, we learn or are trained to pair and connect certain food groups but not others and that establishes our food choices.

So I'm looking for some new ideas and to break out of the mold of my traditional food pairings.  To that, I challenge readers to provide (in the comments below) unique and interesting food combinations. Food pairings that we don't culturally associate going together but in your experience, you find particularly tasty.  I'm looking for a curious array of food pairings that might inspire me to think about certain foods differently.  So give me your best!

The Rules:
1.  Vegetarian-based combinations (I don't eat meat; but I will do dairy & eggs).
2.  Be clear with the recipe/food pairing but the recipe/food pairing shouldn't be too complicated.  If you're beyond 5 steps, you'll probably lose me.
3.  They must be submitted to the comments box in this post.

The Return
Depending on how many recipes/food pairings I get, I'll either return with a poll for people to vote for the top 5-10.  Regardless, I will follow up with a post after having tried the different combinations, along with pictures and commentary.



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More Tales of Running: The Season Line Up

Contrary to the weather here in New England, spring is upon us and that means stepping up my running game.  I've been doing better in the last two weeks with the running than when I did my 2 month check in but if I'm going to achieve my goal for a marathon this year, it's time to get ready and get running a lot more.  Last year, I signed up for a bunch of runs and that did a lot to help me build up to a half marathon, a 25K, and a 30K.  With the extra time afforded to me on this snow day, I took the time to sign up for a series of runs throughout the spring, summer, and fall, culminating in a marathon in October.

Below is a list of the races that I've signed up for.  Further below, I've listed ones that I might still sign up for.  If you plan on signing up for any other them do let me know and maybe we can coordinate transportation and training.

In the course of looking at rides, I came across the 17th Annual Ultra Around the Lake in Wakefield.  I don't think this is likely to be this year, but I've got my eyes on it.  Maybe next year's goal!

RUNS I'VE SIGNED UP FOR

Sunday, April 7th
37th Annual Cohasset:  10 Kilometers
1:00PM: Cohasset Common
http://www.roadracebythesea.com/

Saturday, April 20, 2013
5th Annual Dan Ford 5 Mile Road Race
11:00 AM:  Fireside Restaurant and Pub
http://www.danfordroadrace.com/

Sunday, April 21, 2013
Energize The Earth 5K/10K
10:00AM: Beverly, MA
http://www.bnseventmanagement.com/events/EnergizeEarth.html

Sunday, May 5, 2013
5 Mile Run for HAWC
12:00 PM: Salem Common
http://www.active.com/running/salem-ma/5-mile-run-for-hawc-2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013  
Newton 10K
Newton, MA
http://www.fattmanproductions.com/cork10kRaceInfo.html

Sunday, June 9, 2013
Xtreme Urban Run
10:00AM: Salem Willows Park, Salem, MA
http://www.xtremeurbanrun.com/Registration.html

Sunday, July 14, 2013
Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and 5k
7:30AM: Thames Street, Portland, Maine 04101
http://www.oldporthalfmarathon.com/

Saturday, August 3, 2013
Triple Threat
9:00AM:  24 Jerdens Lane, Rockport, Massachusetts 01966
http://www.yukanrun.com/TripleThreat.html

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Wicked Half Marathon
7:00AM:  Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, Massachusetts 01970
http://www.bnseventmanagement.com/events/TacheHalfMarathon.html

Saturday, October 5, 2013
31st Annual Applefest Half Marathon
10:00AM:  Hollis, NH
http://www.applefesthalfmarathon.com/

Sunday October 20, 2013
BayState Marathon
8:00AM:  Lowell, MA 01852
http://www.baystatemarathon.com/

Saturday, October 26, 2013
Devils Chase 6.66 Miler
8:00 AM:  Soccer Field, Salem Willows, Salem,MA
http://www.active.com/running/salem-ma/devils-chase-666-miler-2013

RUNS THAT I MAY SIGN UP FOR (or Registration isn't open yet).

Sunday, April 28, 2013
Groton Road Race 10K
10:45AM:  Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School, 344 Main Street
http://www.grotonroadrace.com/

Sunday, June 16, 2013
Rockport Fathers Day 10K Road Race
9:00AM Rockport High School, 24 Jerdens Lande, Rockport
http://www.northshoreymca.org/getattachment/Programs/Healthy-Living/Road-Races/FathersDay-5k-and-10k/Father-sDayRegistration.pdf.aspx

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
54th Yankee Homecoming Races 10 Mile
6:10 PM:  Newburyport High School, Newburyport, MA
http://www.yankeerace.com/

Monday, September 2, 2013
Around Cape Ann 25K
9:00AM OMaley Middle School, 71 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA
https://www.runreg.com/Net/3381

Sunday, September 8, 2013
Seasons Acton Half-Marathon
Acton, MA
http://marxrunning.com/2013/02/acton-half-marathon/

Jiminy Peak Hardcore Mudd Run
(8 mile mud obstacle course with 18 to 20 obstacles.)
8:00AM: Jiminy Peak Ski Resort, 37 Corey Road, Hancock, MA
http://www.jiminypeak.com/events



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For No Other Reason...

Than to illustrate that being a turkey has long been a tradition of mind.

In truth, this is in part a fulfillment of an assignment for class to which I will probably take down shortly. But this image is me, circa 1996 or so at the Brooksby Farm Harvest Festival. Enjoy!



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When The Lightbulb Flickers

These are inevitably my two favorite moments in a given semester.  I experience one as an instructor and I experience the other as a student.  I should note that both of these moments are not restrictive to the semester--they are bred into our lives in many ways.  However, it's the instructor and others in those places of studying and engaging in human development that are so moved and driven by these moments.

We, educators, all crave that moment.  The transcendental moment when a student goes from not understanding it to "getting it."  It's a wonderful moment for instructors to experience the tell-tale signs:  the prolonged blink, the widened eyes, the shake of the head, the mouth drawn open, the head jilted back, the ejaculative sigh as if exorcising a demon of ignorance.  It's a validation of the lesson; it's a validation of the work we do.  We leave the classroom that day and we want to do our own celebratory touchdown dance.  

We do our best to plan for it each class and of course, the actual moment may not happen the way we anticipate.  But in every class, it lingers in the back of our heads in the hopes that it will surface.  We're astronomers out in a field during an asteroid storm, waiting for each and every epic streak across the sky.  Bearing witness to such events are wonderful.  A testimony to learning and its value.  A recognition that learning is not just an internal experience but one that can vicariously lift many of us.

This brings me to the other favorite moment of the semester as a student.  At some point in a given semester, I always hit the point where I can feel my brain expanding.  Granted, I have a large cranium and I don't mean this literally, but while engaged in a mixture of reading from different courses and of course, my own ceaseless knowledge quest, I can feel what Steven Johnson refers to as "ideas having sex" in my head.  It's this awesome swirling mix of ideas and thoughts, some new, some old, some reconfigured in ways previously unrealized.  This isn't the same as the light bulb turning on--though plenty of that tends to follow.  This is the point where I feel my understanding has just been pushed a bit further.  I've been opened to few different ideas that are quickly interlacing with the other thoughts in my head.  The neural web spreads, widens and thickens simultaneously and I feel it.  The learning itself is powerful but the to be cognizant of it happening is even more potent.  I feel simultaneously small in the face of so much I do not know and large in that I have just taken in so much more.  I've drank my body's worth of water but still look amazed at the lake before me.

As a life-long learner and self-professed nerd, these are epic-win moments of my life; where I see someone else get it or that I feel my own learning happening.  It's what I hope I always bring to my classes--an energy and excitement about learning that is authentic and engaging.    

What about you?  What does it feel like when you are engaged in learning or observing someone else's inner world expand?



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2 Months - Where are Those Goals?

So now that we're into March, I figured I'd come back and take a look at my goals and thoughts for 2013 and see how I'm measuring up to them.  The current track record is a bit lackluster to say the least.    But I also think a reflection like this is apt to keep me on track or at least reviving some of these.

So where am I on track?  Well, after my most recent run, I feel like I've created a good benchmark to put me on track to run a marathon this year.  If I can reasonably run 10 miles with 10 minute miles, I feel that a marathon is certainly on track.  With regards to pull up?  I'm up to 5 or 6 though that's more of work of the last two weeks than it has been a systematic process.  I've also been keeping up with my blog and overall have seen a consistent increase in visitors to the site over the last two months.

So what goals have been in the middle of the road in terms of progress or very little progress?  If I set a pace of running 20 miles a week to meet the 1000 miles run in 2013, I would be drastically under the count since to date, I have only run 41 miles in the last two months (that's not the only exercise I've done--just the only running I've done).  However, since I acquired a treadmill in late January and have gotten into a better habit of running on it, I feel that number  will pick up soon--especially now that I've got my first season run under my belt and am quite happy with the results.  Success begets success.  So though I'm somewhat behind I feel like I'm heading int he right direction.

Filling the Thankful Jar I was going strong for much of January and part of February but got distracted.  I may give up on trying to backdate the last 2-3 weeks and just focus on regrouping to start putting in notes today and moving forward.  The good-deed jar I kept up for most of January but have trailed off.  I find it problematic to decipher between what's a good deed and what I'm thankful for as well as what constitutes a "good deed."  Rather, I find myself asking "is that good enough"?  For instance, if I help someone out because it's part of my job, but I also take pride in helping in such instances, is that jar-worthy?

So where am I close to failing or haven't worked out the right approach to enact?  I've been clearly horrible at eating out only once a week.  I haven't been successful with this for any week that I can think of.  This leads me to think there needs to be a better way to enforce it or prime myself to aim for it.  I'll have to play with this a bit more.  I don't think I've made significant progress on the book though or done much with it.  I've been focusing more on my blogging and of recent, I've been engrossed in writing a short story that is working its way through me.  But again, this might mean it needs some better planning and focus.  Mayhaps, I aim for a certain word count within the book as I've seen others do.  Equally insubstantial is the progress I have made on using my car less.  Like the writing, I need a clearly and more quantifiable benchmark.  As for the last goal I set out, learning to program, I think I'm likely to bench that for this year as I'm considering going for a degree in programming at a future date.  After all, I'm still working on a Master's degree and teaching.  I can put one of these goals on hold and that seems the most feasible one.

So that's where I am with my goals for the year.  Some progress and some flatlining.  But it's still early in the year and the opportunities are still out there.



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33 Books for February: 365 Books a Year Challenge

So with February's end, I accumulated another 33 books for the year.  I did just as well as January despite there being 3 fewer days.  You can see the full list with my ratings on Goodread.  I'm pretty happy about this though concerned about the challenge I've set up for myself in terms of trying to accomplish 365 books for 2013.  Largely, because I know that March, April, and May (and then September, October, November, and December) will be busy months.  However, I'm 66 books along in the challenge, so just 300 more books to go right?  Let's hope.

So for this month, I have the sadly distinguished accomplishment of not reading any physical traditional books.  All of my reading this month for the list came in the form of audiobooks (14) and graphic novels (the remaining 19).  However, in my defense, I think I should have a higher portion of traditional books read as I'm ab out 1/2 to 2/3 through about 6-7 books.  And none of this reading accounts for any of the articles (journalistic and academic) that I've read this past month (classes started so I'm doing more of this too).  So we'll see what March holds.

Best Reads of the Month

Beyond a doubt, Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson was the best book of the month and thus far of the year that I have read.  Like many of my favorite and most compelling books that I've read, Tavris and Aronson walk through an entire series of assumptions and misunderstandings that we have as individuals that generate the belief that we are correct, when we often are not or hold biases inaccurately present a reality that is unlikely to actually exist.  I appreciate such books because I see it happen so much with others and myself.  As individuals we hold a view of the world that is informed by our (limited) senses and influenced by others' views that we find ourselves predisposed to align with and thus make it extremely see beyond.  The authors show a variety of ways that this consistently happens with humans and offers some help on trying to contend with this persistent challenge for humans.

A runner up for another good read was Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful by Beth Noveck.  Noveck's approach and view of the ways in which in the digital age government can be more collaborative than at any time before is pretty impressive.  It reminds me also of Steven Johnson's Future Perfect.  Given the nature of the last week of politics and the 2013 Sequestration, it's a timely book that should have all of us looking at the ways in which we can maintain the fundamental rights of the citizenry repair what increasingly feels like a broken system.

All right, I need to get back to more reading I guess.  Keep an eye out for my March reading list in a month and of course, my other posts along the way (really, you should sign up for the RSS feed or get an email when new posts are released--I mean, who doesn't want to read my miscellaneous writings on running, cats, and childfree living).

AUDIOBOOKS

  • My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky
  • Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World's Information by Andy Greenberg
  • I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern
  • On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
  • The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia by Andrea Lih
  • Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
  • Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation by James McQuivey
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Car Talk: 25 Years of Lousy Car Advice by Ray & Tom Magliozzi
  • The Frost-Haired Vixen by John Zakour
  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tarvis
  • Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
  • Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful by Beth Noveck

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Global Frequency by Warren Ellis
  • Blue Beetle, Vol. 1: Metamorphosis by Tony Bedard
  • Green Arrow, Vol. 2: Triple Threat by Ann Nocenti
  • Green Lantern, Vol. 2: The Revenge of Black Hand by Geoff Johns
  • The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett
  • Dark Matter by Joseph Mallozzi
  • Grifter, Vol. 1: Most Wanted by Nathan Edmondson
  • Invincible, Vol. 17: What's Happening by Robert Kirkman
  • Higher Earth Vol. 1 by Sam Humphries
  • Justice League Dark, Vol. 1: In the Dark by Peter Milligan
  • Wonder Woman, Vol. 2: Guts by Brian Azzarello
  • Green Lantern, Vol. 1: Sinestro by Geoff Johns
  • The Savage Hawkman, Vol. 1: Darkness Rising by Tony Daniel
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: On Your Own (Season 9, #2) by Andrew Chambliss
  • Batman: Arkham City by Paul Dini
  • Danger Club Volume 1: Death by Landry Walker
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption by Scott Lobdell
  • Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death (Rachel Rising, #1) by Terry Moore
  • Supergirl, Vol. 1: Last Daughter of Krypton by Mike Johnson


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Returning to Running: Black Cat 10 Miler

So today was the first long run I've done in a while.  With winter setting in, it's just hard for me to gather the time, energy, or courage to head out into the cold to run.  The last distance run was the 9 mile leg of a relay I did with the North Shore Striders in December.  Since then, I've been hitting the treadmill in my stand-up living room, but even then, I have trouble doing more than 5 miles or so before I just grow tired, distracted or get blisters (more on that later).

Did someone say black cat?
Back in January after I did the Wicked Frosty Four on New Years Day, I signed up for the Black Cat 10 or 20 Miler.  I'm aiming for a marathon this year and doing the 10 miler would be a good baseline for the rest of the year to build up my endurance.  I knew I couldn't be ready for 20 miles in march given my schedule and the weather.  Just not feasible.  But 10 was do able.  By the end of last season, I was doing 10 mile runs as part of my training for the half marathon and 25 & 30Ks.

This week came and I started to get nervous.  I felt drastically unprepared.  I wasn't doing as much running as I felt I should and the distances I was running were abysmal.  I anticipated failure to some degree either in not even showing up, walking much of it, or even calling it in somewhere along the path.  Surprisingly, none of that happen.

I got my things ready last night for the run and in the morning got up with enough time to get some food, stretch, wake up and take care of other necessities.  I got there early (as usual) and got my shirt and number.  Luckily for this run, the registration and starting area was at a school so that I was inside until just a few minutes before the race.  This made a lot of difference.  The biggest challenge that I have with races in the winter is that I wear the Vibram 5 finger shoes and being out for long durations (20 minutes or more) standing around before the race, really do a number on my feet.  They hurt or go numb, making the start of the run a bit hard until the running breaths some life into them.  I have socks that I do wear for this, but it doesn't do enough.  This improved my disposition greatly to the race as a whole.

The race took place in Salem along some of the similar routes of many of Salem's runs.  However, this run took people down Rte 114 into Marlbehead and back.  It was actually a great route for different reasons.  The first is that I was familiar with the area so I knew how to pace myself better and knew when I was closer to the end.  In many races, we get markers, but that I knew the terrain and could see in my head the distance, made my endgame much better.   The route was also nice because most of its uphills were in the first half of the race, so on the return, there were some nice downhill portions.  The weather was also amendable--not warm, but sunny.  It was in the mid-30s as the race started but may have gotten warmer during the race as the sun got higher in the sky.  It certainly felt warmer!

I came in at just under 1 hour and 40 minutes.  This was actually quite exciting for me.  10 minute miles for a 10 mile is good for me and I had set my goal to be 1 hour 50 minutes (essentially 11 minute miles).  For me, it's a strong starting base to go with for the next year.  I felt good during the run and for the most part, kept a steady pace.  I only faltered towards the end.  Just after the 9 mile mark, I decided to walk for two minutes as that just seemed to be what my body was telling me.  It was what I needed and as my time hit 1:32, I put myself into high gear and crossed the finished line before 1:40.  Overall, I came in at 530 out of 679.  Considering that this race was filled with the more serious long distance runners, I was even happy with that result too.

One tired (and sweaty) boy.
So as I mentioned above, I have had trouble with running on the treadmill because I keep getting blisters with the longer runs.  This has happened in part because I started running differently on the treadmill than I generally have in the past.  Very shortly into starting on the treadmill (in my apartment--not at a gym), I realized how loud I sounded.  I felt like the Karloff Frankenstein with the platform boots.  In response to this, I changed from the lumbering full-foot step I was doing to just placing the ball of my foot but not the heel.  Typically, my foot would come down initially on the ball and then along the side and not the entire heel but a portion of it.  Running on the treadmill changed this because it made too loud of a sound, so I would land on the ball but not allow the rest of the back of the foot to come down.  This seemed in general a lighter running step than I had previously been doing, but I have found that I have gotten a few blisters and calists as I build up my tolerance and my body adapts to it.  The reason I mentioned this is that within the race, I found myself naturally sliding into this new running style initially but somewhere around mile 5 needing to abandon it and revert to the older style.  I'm hoping with time, I'll be able to keep my form longer.

Overall, I was quite happy with the run.  I completed it and did so in a time that was quite good for me. I didn't feel overwhelmed and I feel like it has offered me a good start to this year's running which makes me more hopeful about not only doing a marathon this year, but doing it well.



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