Mai 24, 2018. A Moroccan tajine finds a new home in KY. RUNNING with JOY at 52. Keeping the half marathon under 2 hours. BIGGEST medal on earth! GEIST Half Marathon Review.

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The gift of the tajine

Warning:  I use the word JOY a lot in this post.  As it perfectly describes my friends and my weekend run.

The gift of the tajine –

I watched as my two friends (one lives in Morocco and one lives in Paris) prepared our noon meal in my Kentucky kitchen in MY new tajine, hand carried all the way from Morocco.  I  watched as they carefully cleaned and chopped the fresh ingredients, all with JOY.  As they laughed and smiled, I was transported to Morocco.

The aromas – out of this world!

And the JOY they shared in preparing this meal – amazing.  From turmeric to saffron, my kitchen was alive.

The gift of the tajine made me feel so special.  What a sweet and thoughtful gift.  Hand carried and delivered with love.  These moments are the moments that make my life rich and full.

Here’s to one of the best meals I’ve had in my life And here’s to good friends who live life with JOY filled hearts – CHEERS!

Running with JOY and keeping the pace at 52.

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Ginormous Medal

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, Ninety-nine bottles of beer…  My go-to running song.  I sing to distract my self from the distance.

Although I love to feel the miles, running 13.1 miles does takes a while.  And keeping it under 2 hours has been my mission.  I’ve completed numerous half marathons over the last 10 years, and only two have been over 2 hours.  The first and second were 2:05 and 2:02, since then I’ve been able to stay under 2 hours.  The fastest in 2013 at 1:53 and the latest, this past weekend at 1:58.

Having not run a half marathon in 18 months, I was afraid and anxious to take on last weekend’s race.  I was afraid of the distance / pace ratio, and I was afraid of what the last 18 months of age might have dealt me.

Not only have I aged (luckily as the alternative is…not aging), in 2016 and 2017 I took on the ultra run.  I ran a marathon, a 60K and a 50 Miler.  I also completed a half ironman (70.3 miles – swim, bike, and run).  These longer distances presented new challenges – but the challenges did not include speed.

Returning to shorter distance this year, I found myself with questions.  Could I maintain, a 9 minute per mile or less pace for 13.1 miles?  Could I still run fast (my fast, not your fast)?  And why is staying under 2 hours so important to me?

As I ran the Geist half marathon, I found myself running with JOY.  I simply ran and I felt good.  No aches and pains.  No knee pain for the first time in several years.  I was however – cognizant the entire time of the pace I needed to maintain in order to meet MY goal.

I stayed in the mile and I truly enjoyed each mile.  When I reached mile 11, I knew I was going to come in under 2 hours and I was SO relieved.

The course was hilly and I love hills.  None of the hills were horrible, and each hill climb was followed by a downhill.  Sweet rewards.

Why is staying under 2 hours important to me.  Is there really a difference in running a 1:59:59 versus a 2:00:00?  I have no profound answers, I just know that I feel better when I stay under 2 hours.

I’m not setting any land speed records.  For me, it’s just what motivates me – it’s what keeps me running.

I also can’t run a sub 1:50 (YET), goals people – we all need goals.

My current goal is to simply run each half marathon under 2 hours.

Does it matter?  Nope.  And what happens when I eventually go over 2 hours?  Life will go on.  C’est la vie.  

BIGGEST MEDAL EVER – Geist Half Marathon

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As I crossed the finish line and the sweet girl handed me the finishers medal, I hoped I wouldn’t fall over from the weight of the medal.  This medal is HUGE.  If you are into hardware – this is your medal.  It can also be used to serve tapas (small Spanish dishes, served at bars).  This medal is my all time favorite.  It’s pretty, it’s sparkly and  the back can double as a mirror (according to my grandaughter).

The Geist half marathon in Fishers, Indiana was simply amazing.  The course was beautiful as was the weather.  The logistics were well thought out and the volunteers were top-notch.  I rarely do a half marathon twice – this one, I look forward to doing again.

I met an angel at mile 11.  Thank you to the runner who ran the last 2 miles with me.  I know we helped each other meet our goals and that’s what the running community is all about.

For all I know you were a real angel sent to save my day.  If so, job well done.  If not, congrats on meeting your goal!  I however, prefer to remember you as an angel.  More fun this way!

Mon Amie –

Your visit brought JOY to my life and house.  Your laughter, kindness, and child like heart have taught me much.  You live life with such happiness.  I admire you.  And I seek to imitate you – as the highest form of compliment.

Your family is beautiful.  Your love for each other radiates.  YOU are always welcome.

Thank you for your patience as I spoke French.  And thank you for several new phrases – I’m looking forward to using them in France.

My brain was exhausted from speaking French, but in just a few days I improved so much.  Conversation is the key – I hope we have many more.

Until we meet again – on the trails in Morocco or in the streets of Paris.  I will practice LIVING.  I will seek out new trails, paths, streets and adventures.  I will focus on JOYFULL living and I will learn to use my tajine as a way to recall our time together.

À bientôt,

Suz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avril 4, 2018. Exploring Crêpes And The Crêpe Suzette. Cultural Kitchen Clashes From France to Kentucky.

 

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Crêpes And Crêpe Suzette – 

It’s only fitting I explore the Crêpe Suzette.  Since it’s named after MOI and full of sugar and butter and brandy.  Comme moi sans brandy.

Exploring the recette / recipe, I watched several videos including the Julia Child video on Smithsonian.com.  What a character, she so seemed to have lived her life full.

Last month while my husband was visiting France sans moi, he and his Mother, bought me (upon my request) the most awesome crêpe  pan.  Crêpes are a French food that we really have never explored in our home.  I’m sure my husband had them many times growing up, but to be honest, we just make pancakes – even when ma belle mère visits.

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I remember one of the first times, I made a BIG American breakfast for my French in-laws.  Canned laughter plays in the background of this memory.  I made fried eggs, bacon, sausage gravy and biscuits and of course American pancakes topped with peanut butter and syrup.  Most likely it was the peanut butter that provoked the grimaces and looks of confusion – although, it could have been the biscuits smothered in thick milky sausage gravy.  All served with a side of ketchup.

One of the major cultural differences between us was and still is – la cuisine.

Blending – 

I grew up in the late 60’s and 70’s in a suburban area just south of Detroit, Michigan with a Irish, German and Polish Mother and an Irish, Scottish Father who had been born and raised in Kentucky.  This common for the time classic American mixture and coupling made for extremely exciting childhood memories – mostly involving love, laughter, quick tempers, obsessive cleaning, cabbage, kielbasa and scotch whiskey.  It also yielded my fiercely protective Mother and my know-it-all Father who eventually flew the coop.

In addition, many interesting foods were made and shared over the years as I visited each uniquely distinct set of Grandparents.  On any given Sunday, we might enjoy pierogis at lunch, then beans and corn bread in the evening.

Flashing forward, I see how my personal cooking style was influenced.  As the years passed, I continued the traditions by sharing family recipes and flavors with my children and grandchildren all the while tossing in my half French husband’s roots and tastes.

I recall many happy Saturday mornings – watching Tom & Jerry cartoons and Abbott and Costello re-runs, and waiting for the pancakes and peanut butter.  Then heading out on my bike for the entire day.  Hours later, arriving back at home, I’d run into the kitchen, grab a spoon and thrust it into the peanut butter jar – just a little snack before dinner.

No one can make a steak, BBQ a pork butt, or roast corn on the cob, like an American.  There is also fine cuisine and many fantastic chefs in America and I personally love our eclectic menu.

Kitchen Cultural Clashes –

However, after 30 plus years of blending mine with his – I still can’t get ma beau-père (father-in-law) to try corn on the cob.  When I make it – he will occasionally (very occasionally) slice it off the cob or skip it all together.  And it’s not a denture issue.  For him, it’s more about the actual practice of eating corn on the cob.  And the fact that he is 86 and set in his ways.

Mostly he revels in new experiences – having traveled the globe.  But the peanut butter and corn on the cob (not eaten together, although… I might give it a try) have proven to be too much for him.  Oh and my use of ketchup, doesn’t everyone put ketchup on scrambled eggs and steak?

Buerre De Cacahuètes / Peanut Butter –   

Shown below, made with my new crêpe pan, delicious Crêpes avec et sans le beurre de cacahuètes / peanut butter.

We did not flambé le crêpes today – we are reserving the Cointreau for the weekend.

Crêpes with peanut butter and hazelnut spread and we may or may not have added a bit of maple syrup.

Délicieux / Delicious.

Bonne Appétit – Suz!A333A23A-A732-4CB8-A231-5BA5AE597B7F

 

Septembre 16, 2017. Le fromage – I like it best when I can taste it in my nose. Et cette semaine…nous allons faire des baguettes…because I can’t run.

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Resting the legs, making baguettes and then a return to running.

Bonjour mes amis.  Comment ça va?  Moi?  Je suis très fatiguée.  Alors, je me repose.  Cette semaine je vais faire des baguettes.  Je ne peut pas courir parce que je suis fatiguée.

As you read through this – I have but one comment – Running is easier than baking.

Our family is truly blessed to have a close connection with France and my children love all things French, especially la nourriture et les repas longs / the food and lingering meals.

I’m proud to say they’ll pick a good cheese over a piece of cake any day.  Shopping for, eating, and enjoying cheese is a bond and connection our family enjoys and a bond many of our friends don’t quite get.

I love that as a teenager, my youngest daughter would say “I like the cheese best when I can taste it in my nose.”  And still today, she’ll call to tell me about the cool cheese she found at the supermarket.

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But we can’t find a good baguette to go with the cheese, so we’re making our own.

Ma belle mère recently sent us a French baguette pan.  Reading the recette / recipe on the back of the new baguette pan box AND ah hello…what the heck is a cube of yeast?

Turns out 1 cube equals 42 grams.  And 42 grams equals 2 packets of dry yeast.

Continuing, I reviewed the recipe (in French and English), organized the ingredients and set to work.  I had so much fun with my apron.

Day one making baguettes:  J’ai fait trois baguettes / I made three baguettes.  Les baguettes tasted like biscuits and they didn’t have the wonderful crispy, crunchy crust of a baguette. 

Results:  Not a baguette

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Day two making baguettes: J’ai fait trois plus baguettes / I made three more baguettes.  Kneading more and resting the dough longer, and still the taste of a biscuit.  And, although I increased the cooking time the crust still wasn’t crispy or crunchy.

Results:  Still not a baguette.

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For the first two attempts, I used the recipe on the back of the new baguette pan box, which called for milk; I’m thinking that maybe this is why the baguettes tasted like biscuits.

Day three making baguettes, a different recipe and finally a run:  J’ai fait une baguette avec une nouvelle recette / I made one baguette with a new recipe.

I also managed to get in a four mile run after five days of rest.

I worked through the recipe then set off on the run as the dough was rising.

The dough had an awesome rise, a spray of water and into the 400 degree fahrenheit oven. 

Thirty minutes later, I opened the oven to find a HUGE baguette with a crispy, crunchy crust.

The interior texture was somewhat improved as was the flavor, but the giant baguette still lacked the tell tale air pockets of a real French baguette.

Results:  Almost a baguette!  and HUGE.

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Carbs anyone?  Free bread, j’ai beaucoup!

Again, running…way easier than baking.

So – 

How’s the 50 mile ultra marathon training going?  Well, I wasn’t able to run the full training schedule this week as I needed so much rest after the hardest trail half marathon of my life (you’ll be happy to know – I did get 3rd place in the 50-55 female division).

It was an incredibly steep and technical trail.  I ran every section I could, but there was no running up the hills (there’s a difference between a hill and an incline).

I ran all the inclines, but the hills…these hills were made for walking…

Let’s just say that this was a once and done race.  Not going to do that one again.  No, not even if you give me a coupon.

The 50 mile race in November is really going to be a mental challenge for me.  I’m sure it will totally tax me physically (as long as the knee holds up), but it will exhaust me more so mentally.  I’m going to want to quit.  I know how I am.  I’m not as tough as I claim to be.

How are the knees?  After experiencing a lot of knee pain last week, I was actually able to do the hardest half marathon of my life with no knee pain.  My knees did not hurt at all during the 13.1 mile run from hell.  Afterwords, they ached.  I’m hoping the knee issue will soon pass.

It’s the weirdest thing.

Je ne sais pas pourqoui.

What’s up with your toe nails?  I lost a toe nail as a result of the full marathon last month.  Not pretty, but no new damage.  The toe socks are awesome.  But I’m going to need a good pedicure come November.

How’s the French coming?  WOW on the words I learned this week by simply following a recipe.  And our weekly sit down lesson went well.  Adding the videos to the audio is really paying off.  I’m thinking immersion trip in 2018.

Nouveaux mots / New words.

  • recette / recipe
  • farine /  flour
  • sel / salt
  • beurre / butter
  • lait / milk
  • levure de boulanger / yeast
  • sucre / sugar
  • emiettez / crumble
  • ajoutez / stir
  • incorporez / mix
  • recouvrez / cover
  • pâte  / dough
  • pétrissez / knead
  • faites cuire / cook or bake
  • moule / baking tin

Belle journée à vous tous!

Suz