My Super Suburban Weekend

You know you’re getting older when you spend an entire weekend acting out the life of a suburban housewife and you find it to be AWESOME.  You see there was a time not too long ago where I would be so pumped each week to spend the weekend getting dressed up to go out and about, stay up late, dance, etc.  Now I’m finding that what I really enjoy about the weekend is the time it provides for relaxation as well as actually getting some stuff done, all of it close to home.

On Friday night I attended a soup swap at the home of a neighbor.  In preparation, I spent Thursday night making an unreasonable amount of soup:Grown Up 001That’s five quarts, and there had to be at least another quart or two still on the stove at this point.  I had both of my largest stockpots going simultaneously to cook it all and it still barely fit!

Each participant in the soup swap brings 5 quarts of frozen soup and puts it on a big table in the middle of a room.  We had 25 people (so, 125 quarts of soup!).  Then you draw numbers and take turns picking a soup off the table.  Whoever’s soup is gone first gets a prize.  Also, whoever’s soup is gone last gets a prize.Grown Up 007

I chose to make my Easiest Lentil Soup for the swap, because it is one of my favorite things to eat in the world and  everyone loves lentil soup, right?Grown Up 006

My humble entry (1 of only 5 vegetarian options, only 3 of which were vegan) did not come in last (thank goodness), though it was near the end.  People seemed much more interested in the bacon- and cream-filled soups.  Oh well. [Oh, and that Carrot Soup with Lemon and Ginger next to mine?  Sounds veg-friendly, doesn’t it?  But it’s not.  It’s made with chicken broth.  This was actually the case with like 50% of the soups there.  Why do people insist on ruining perfectly good soups with chicken broth?  Food for thought: if you used vegetable broth, it would taste pretty much EXACTLY the same AND it could be enjoyed by more people.  K end of rant.]

I actually had a wonderful time at the soup swap and it was a great chance to meet some ladies from town.  And drink wine.  Plus, the lack of veg options worked out to H’s advantage because I ended up using all of my turns to pick out stuff for him!

On Saturday, H was out helping his brother move and so I had some time to do some work around the house.  In addition to cleaning and grocery shopping, I also got a new rug for our sitting room and a fun new apparatus for my kitchen:Grown Up 011

It makes the whole kitchen feel so much more organized.   I’m in love.Grown Up 008Yup, organizing my kitchen is what excites me these days.

We stayed in on Saturday night and enjoyed Netflix and this:
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On Sunday morning, I got in a Ragnar training run (in short sleeves!!) before we headed out to have brunch at Walnut Grille with friends who were visiting from out of town.

I got the Mighty Greek omelet (veganized as a tofu scramble with Daiya):Grown Up 014It was tasty but definitely benefited from the liberal addition of hot sauce and ketchup.

After brunch it was time to get ready for the Superbowl!  To get in the Seattle spirit, I enjoyed a homemade iced mocha:
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To make: nuke 1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond-coconut) with 1 tbsp. dark chocolate chips for about 1 minute and stir until chips are melted.  Add 8 oz. cold coffee and lots of ice cubes.  If you’re feeling feisty (and I usually am), throw some Kahlua in there and go to town.

We went to a party at our neighbors’ house (not the soup swap neighbor) and brought Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Cashew Cream OBVIOUSLY, and Skittles for Marshawn and also guacamole.

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This was the best guacamole I’ve ever made.  Seriously it was outrageously good.  I mean really how can you fail when you’re working with something as gorgeous as this:Grown Up 018
You can’t.

Well, maybe you can if you’re this guy:
Grown Up 022So, in summation, my suburban weekend consisted of a soup swap, cleaning, grocery shopping, staying in, running, brunch, and a neighborhood Superbowl party (complete with small children).  I’m not even mad.

How was your weekend?  Any good Superbowl eats?


I’ve been struggling with how to start this post and what to write, and after all the struggle I’ve come up empty.  So I’m just going to jump right in and you’ll have to forgive me if anything seems disjointed or irreverent.  [There is food at the end of the post, to avoid offending any who might be turned off by an off-topic blog post.]

Last Monday, exactly one week ago, was Patriots’ Day/Marathon Monday here in Massachusetts, a state holiday.  As a state employee, I had the day off, and so I kissed my privately-employed husband goodbye as he headed to work and then traveled into Boston on my own to take in some of the festivities surrounding the city’s best day.

I had loose plans to meet up with a friend or two, but I’m also the kind of person who’s completely satisfied with her own company, plus everyone is in a good mood on Marathon Monday and in the five years I have been involved in its celebration I have yet to not make a new friend, or several.  I strolled around Fenway for a while, contemplated buying a ticket to the morning Sox game but decided against it, walked down to Kenmore Square to watch the first wheelchair racers coming through, walked back up to Boston Beer Works to take in the first couple of innings of the game, then left and began what I figured would be a stroll that would ultimately end up at the finish line.

I stopped on Comm Ave. somewhere between Miles 25 and 26, where I happened to notice a street-side gap in the sea of spectators.  There, I made friends with the people around me, who were from France, Texas, Guyana, you name it, and especially with one lady from Georgia, who was in town to watch her husband and a friend run in the crown jewel of all marathons.  We had a blast cheering for runners, snapping photos, and high-fiving all of the servicemen and women who marched past us.  She gushed to me about how much she and her husband loved Boston, what a beautiful city it is, how friendly everyone had been, how amazing and encouraging the atmosphere is along the entire length of the race.

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That’s Marathon Monday.  It is a day like no other.  It is a day when everyone is happy, everyone is friends, everyone loves America and supports their fellow human beings.

Eventually my new friend and I parted ways with hugs and smiles, and I continued my journey down the marathon route, toward the finish line.  It was just about or slightly after 2:00 by this point, and after a few hours of standing and cheering, I was in the mood to sit down and relax for a bit.  I figured it might be fun to post up at one of the bars along Boylston Street where I would be able to see people running down the homestretch of the marathon.

To say it was crowded over there would be the understatement of the year.  The sidewalks were thronged with spectators and all of the bars and restaurants were full to capacity with lines out the door.  It wasn’t anything more than I had expected, but once I was in the vicinity of the finish line, I decided I wasn’t so into the idea of waiting in a line by myself, so I set out to go further downtown, away from the crowds.

On my way there, I saw scores of runners who had already finished, wrapped in foil and smiling broadly as they strolled the streets around the Prudential Center.  I passed police officers who kindly held up traffic to allow runners to cross the street, smiling and saying things like, “You’ve run enough today! Take your time.”  I walked by bars with clapboard signs outside advertising that they were serving Samuel Adams’ 26.2 Brew and inviting runners and their families in for a cold beer and an appetizer on the house.

By the time I reached my destination, a small, very out-of-the-way pub downtown, I was feeling totally content with my day and, as always, full of love for the city.  I sat at the bar and ordered a drink.  Just as I finished paying, I got a frantic phone call from H.  “Are you okay?!?”  “I’m fine…” I began.  This is when I found out that two bombs had just been detonated at the finish line of the marathon, the second one on the corner where I had been standing no more than 15 or 20 minutes earlier.

All I could think about was my friend from Georgia.  Not being familiar with Boston, it would only be natural for her and her group to meet up at some landmark at or near the finish line.  I was haunted by the fact that I would have no way of knowing her fate.

I left the pub and made a beeline for North Station to get on the train and get out of the city.  Outside there was just a cacophony of sirens.  As I ran past bars and restaurants, I saw people huddled around TV’s, shock and awe etched across their faces.  At the train station, there was utter calm, which terrified me more than anything had up to that point.  There were no police, no dogs, nothing.  It was about 3:40 and there was no guarantee that more explosions were not imminent.  I got on the train and prayed furiously that it would leave as I fielded dozens of text messages from concerned family and friends.

The rest of the week went by in a blur.  A mind-numbing, nauseous blur.  I still feel cold all over as I’m writing this a week later.  And I still don’t know what I really want to or can say about it all.

Wednesday night we went into Boston to attend the Bruins game.  On the ride in, I could physically feel the tension of the city closing in on me.  I was nervous and unhappy.  I enjoyed the game, and was moved to be one of the 18,000 voices singing the National Anthem in unison.  I tried to smile, but things still didn’t feel quite right.

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Friday was the worst day.  H and I do not live in a town that was locked down, nor do either of us work in such a place.  It felt so weird and wrong, going to work and knowing that, a ten minute drive away, a force of thousands pursued a suspected terrorist despite immediate and lethal danger. I was disturbed not just by how imminent that danger was, but for how long it was imminent.  Following that manhunt was so incredibly terrifying, exhausting, and psychologically draining for us all.

When I left work on Friday, they still hadn’t caught the guy.  This terrified me.  With that much time elapsed, if he had managed to slip the net despite all of that police force and had been traveling all day on foot, it was entirely possible that he could have reached the suburban areas outside of the lockdown zone, including my town.  I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t frightened and that I didn’t go into my house, draw all the blinds, and lock all the doors and windows, but I was, and I did.  That may have been the worst part.  I felt like my terror meant that, despite everything, those bombers had won.  It was sickening.

Friday night, when it was FINALLY over, I felt nothing.  Because it’s not over, not at all.  So many people are still in the hospital.  Krystle Campbell’s funeral is today. Families have been destroyed.  Marathon Monday will happen again, of course.  It’ll be bigger than ever, most likely.  But it will never be the same.

On Saturday, I didn’t feel like doing anything, really.  H and I went for a run and then I made brunch for us.  This was my first attempt at reclamation of some shred of normalcy.

I made Fettle Vegan’s Corned Bean Hash (recipe here) as well as Isa Chandra’s Perfect Pancakes, featured in both Vegan Brunch and Vegan with a Vengeance.  We ate these with maple syrup that we bought in Vermont last month, when it had literally just been bottled, such that the jug was hot to the touch.

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I really highly recommend both of these recipes.  I am not a big believer in “comfort food” in the sense of eating to make oneself feel better, but in this particular case, the comfort was absolutely there.  The hash makes a great dinner too.  I actually made it for the first time on Thursday night for dinner (because I had a potato that was screaming SOS) and repeated it for brunch Saturday because I loved it so much.

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Served with collard greens that were steamed and then dressed up with a little garlic salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon juice:

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The postscript to this story is that I got a text message from my Georgia friend on Tuesday morning wanting to make sure I was okay.  I was so thankful to hear from her and expressed my apologies that her visit to Boston had been marred in such a hideous way.  She responded as follows: “We love Boston and we will come back! We will not let this horrible tragedy keep us away.  Praying for your beautiful city.”

And that, rather than the t-shirts and the chanting and the countless reassurances from politicians, is how I know that we will go on.

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Sunshine and Rainbows

Happy spring everyone!!!

Check out the beautiful magnolia blooms that appeared on this tree in my yard over the weekend!

Last week was absolutely incredible in Boston (and pretty much everywhere else, too, I’m told). It actually reached 83 degrees here last Thursday, shattering the old temperature record, set in the 1940s, by 11 degrees–amazing!

Last week also marked the first week in my half marathon training program.  This will be my third half marathon and it feels great to be “in training” again.  I love being active and getting to spend a lot of time outdoors, and even more than that, I love how easy it is to eat a clean, wholesome diet while training–my body just craves that sort of food!

Despite that temperatures are back to a normal Boston March level today, it certainly feels like my life has been all sunshine and rainbows recently.  Check out some of the bright and colorful things that have made their way across my plate!

Normally, I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but when in training this meal becomes a crucial part of my day.  I try to find things that are quick and portable, but also contain a respectable balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

Banana Flapjacks from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
This has recently become my go-to weekend breakfast, mostly because I never seem to run out of must-be-used-now bananas.  For this batch, I added shredded coconut and spread a smidgen of Earth Balance on top.  This recipe is a sure bet any time you are making breakfast for non-vegans who cannot imagine what vegans eat for breakfast if not pig patties stacked with various globs of eggs and cheese.  The recipe produces pancakes that are soft and creamy from the banana and just the right amount of sweet.  Very highly recommended.

Later in the week, I used leftover flapjacks to make breakfast roll-ups.  I spread a small amount of pecan butter in the center of each, rolled it up, and just like that, it was ready for me to take along on the train!
Freakin’ so delicious, and filling too!

Homemade Yogurt Parfait
It is rare that I eat strawberries so early in the season, but I found a carton of incredibly fragrant, perfectly ripe specimens at Russo’s and couldn’t resist.  I cut them up along with some banana and layered it with Whole Soy & Co.’s Strawberry Banana (which has replaced Apricot Mango as my favorite flavor) yogurt for a sweet treat of a breakfast that was pleasing to both the eyes and the palate.

In keeping with what I mentioned in my last post about trying to fit in more high-volume cooking, I’ve been buying produce that looks good and cooking it up on the weekends, then finding random ways to use it throughout the week.  My latest experiment involved roasting a small butternut squash with maple syrup and olive oil, as well as a batch of gorgeous beets that I found at Russo’s (where else?)–they were only 98 cents for the whole bunch, leaves and all!  The result was this delicious concoction, which I’ve dubbed The Rainbow Sandwich
Look at those beautiful colors! Earthy roasted beets, sweet maple-roasted squash, baby spinach, and incredible fresh-baked Russo’s “rustic bread” make for the most delightful and spring-appropriate sandwich imaginable.  Sunshine in every bite!
I would be lying if I said I did not eat this same sandwich for lunch 5 out of the last 8 work days.

I have a lot more cooking to chronicle and recipes to review, but time is short, and this post is already very long!  Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far.

A final thought: we all know that life can’t be all sunshine and rainbows all the time.  But that is exactly why I treasure weeks like these so much when they do come around.  I hope you all do, too!Photobucket