Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For the Love of Fresh and Local

If you haven't seen the article about Alice Waters in this week's NY Times, it now! There's also a fabulous video on 'how to work a market' from Ms. Water's trip to NYC's Union Square Green Market.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

No Excuses

Over the past few years Brad and I have been excitedly telling friends and family all about our CSA shares and the wonderful vegetables and fruits we get over the season. So often we get the same response, "Wow, that sounds great! I'd love to do something like that but I wouldn't know what to do with all those vegetables...what's bok choy anyway?" Well, if this is you, you no longer have any excuse.

Our CSA started 3 weeks ago and already the goods are bountiful. This year I am the Recipe Coordinator and every Thursday I get to share my recipe findings with all the other members in our newsletter, The Garic Press. Each week I collect 3 or 4 of the greatest recipes I can find to cook what's coming from the farm. You can find my seasonal recipes on our Turnip Talk Blog, and please feel free to pass them on!

If you live in New York City, you can find your local CSA through
Just Food. No matter where you live there is likely to be a farmer's market nearby where you can go and load up on the week's produce treasures.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's Summer in Brookyln

My life has taken a turn towards chaos, positive chaos, but it is crazy nonetheless.

Brad and I have been very busy this Spring turning what were my independent design projects into our own business. About two weeks ago we moved into our new office space here in Brooklyn! My daily routine no longer includes sitting at my desk in our apartment, but instead, a pleasant 4 minute bike ride to the office, where we have set up shop. The space feels really productive (we share it with some friends who also have a small creative business) and has enough room for us to collaborate. We're still in the process of decorating and organizing, but soon I'll post photos and our new website.

The approaching Summer months will continue to feel hectic due to our frequent weekend travel plans. It seems half of our friends are getting married this summer, which calls for us to leave town often. I also have bike training and a few upcoming
centuries I plan to ride. One of the travel precedents we have set early on this season is camping and I couldn't be happier. With so much work and goings-on it is nice to occasionally go away and unplug - no computer or cell phone and lots of outdoors is just the cure for stress relief. So far our camp outings have included the Catskills, complete with a hike to a waterfall, and just this past weekend, Fire Island (photos to come). Late Summer and early Fall are guaranteed to host a few more.

Something about New York Summers makes makes everyone hyper-social and we are no exception. As the temperatures climb we find ourselves attending more and more parties and hosting more frequent dinners in out beautiful back garden. Which brings me to my final topic in this post, the food. For anyone who has been around this blog you must be asking by now if I am still cooking. Well the question is not if, but what - we have been cooking and eating like crazy!

The farmer's market and our local CSA have kicked into gear and I just can't get enough of the start of this season's bounty. I am reading a book by Barbara Kingsolver called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, that is making me more aware than ever of the importance of eating locally and seasonally. I am excited about my own efforts to make a little difference doing something I love and today I found out that have been awarded the role of Recipe Coordinator for this year's CSA season. Each week I'll be collecting four new recipes for our members based on the offerings from the farm. For anyone who has been saying that you just don't know what you'd do with all the goodies you find at the farmer's market, well, I'll have the answers for you. As soon as we have the recipe archive up and running I'll be sure to link to my collections from this blog. But in the meantime, here's a little teaser recipe to get you started:

Fresh Pea Soup
(makes a lot and freezes well)

3-4 pounds peas, shelled (reserve peas and shells separately)
8-12 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
3-4 spring onions, including stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
handful basil leaves
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon

In a stock pot, cover pea shells with water and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes. Strain shells and discard, reserving broth.

Melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion and reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, until soft for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and potatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes longer.

Add 4-5 cups of reserved broth and peas and bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and cook for 2 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste and allow to cool slightly.

Working in batches using a blender/food processor, or with an imersion blender, pure the soup until smooth. Either boil to thicken or add water to thin to desired consistency if necessary. Stir in lemon juice and serve.

*This soup goes down even smoother with a dollop of basil on top. It is delicious served either hot or cold.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

HRIDE: Crossing the Finish Line

I am writing this as I sit, knees sore and muscles cramped, on a flight from Denver International Airport to LaGuardia. Today I woke up at 6:30 AM to take my bike to the shipping truck (not the earliest of my wake up times in the past few days) before having one last meal in South Lake Tahoe –Red Hut Waffles are NOT to be missed – before heading to the airport in Reno, Nevada. Yesterday was an incredible day in my life, the culmination of four wonderful months and an entire weekend that celebrated them, and I am still in a bit of awe at what I have accomplished.

Since my last post on this blog, I put my bike on a truck parked on a city corner in Manh
attan, not to see it (or ride it) again until eight days later on the border of the Nevada and California state line in Tahoe. The past week was a hectic one, even minus the bike rides, during which I rushed around trying to pull together the other parts of my life while simultaneously resting my body (otherwise known as "tapering") and mentally preparing myself for what was to come. Then, last Thursday, Brad and I flew to Reno accompanied by my teammate and friend Lauren (yes, you've heard her name before) and her boyfriend. We drove together to Tahoe and our jaws dropped at our first view of the awesome lake, which, if you don't know, is huge, surrounded by mountains and full of crystal-clear water. At about that same time we all noted just how long we had been driving uphill for, certain it would be part of Sunday's route, and Brad gave us some words of encouragement, something like, "Oh man, you guys are dead!". Yep.

Anyway, at about 6,000 feet base altitude with 3 days to go, the theme was "HYDRATE!" and soon I was peeing like a pregnant lady. Friday we shopped for some last minute gear (arm warmers were quite a nice thing to have in the chilly, cloud covered Tahoe morning) and checked out the town until the rest of the team arrived and we finally were reunited with our bikes. Friday night we hit the casino, where Brad won 100 bucks at blackjack and together with my riding partner, Kurt, and the team's youngest member, Erica, he and I set the dance floor on fire!

Saturday we went on a team warm-up ride in the interest of acclimation (although we had a head-start from all the dancing) and to give us a taste of the hill climbs to come. We rode to the top of Inspiration Point, a grueling climb with a breathtaking view as reward, and only about 13 miles into Sunday's course. After the ride I had my bike tuned just one last time by some very competent mechanics at the local bike shop and the carbo-loading kicked into high gear. For lunch we had some great local pizza (and um, some nice dark beer), which was soon followed by a generous plate of pasta at the TNT pasta party (an event tradition with all the national chapters present). I learned that not only did our New York City chapter of 45 strong raise over $285,000, but the combined effort of all the national Team in Training teams for our event raised $8.5 million dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's mission.

The last event of the Saturday night before what we all hoped would be a good night's rest was a team meeting. We were advised on the course to come, decorated our jerseys with our race numbers and little dedications to those we all ride in honor of, and each individually shared our reasons and stories for why we were there. If it hadn't been for Lauren's father's illness, I never would have joined TNT, and as she reminded me on the drive in, it was a difficult commitment to make. As I told my teammates that night, it feels great to have reached my fundraising goal (and THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!, I did!) and I am proud of the progress I have made through my new dedication to cycling. But the incredible part is how much I have gained through this experience – new friends, a support network of teammates, and the chance to be a part of a greater thing, in which everyone involved has a personal motivation and as a team we can really make a difference.

Sunday morning the alarm went off at 4:30AM. My team's race start was scheduled for 6AM and we planned to meat in the hotel lobby at 5:30. I had bought some healthy food for the morning, but had trouble swallowing much of it. I cannot appropriately explain how nervous I was at the start of the ride. In fact I think it took about 20 miles and the most thrilling downhill of my life to calm those uneasy nerves of mine.

3,000 cyclists rode America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride yesterday (2,000 of them TNT participants) and it seems like an understatement to say that it lives up to it's name. I have been lucky to see a lot of beautiful parts of this country, but watching the sun come up over the lake as I pedaled along was one of the most incredible things I have witnessed. The hundred miles were challenging and some of the climbs I could not have dreamed of summiting 4 months ago, but I as continually looked out at the lake (from some really great heights), surrounded by beautifully aged, tall trees, I would breathe in the mountain air and surprise myself with the emotional weight I felt from what I was doing and how far I would go that day.

The 100 mile course was truly a blast, with my riding partner, Kurt, either in front, back or along side me just like we had trained to do all season. He took a pretty hard fall – or what I called a Hollywood Slide – and came down on his wrist somewhere around mile 30, but it didn't slow down our peddling for the remaining 70. It was a great feeling being part a team when we would ride up on each other, or high five at rest stops, pushing each other forward. I have some irritation I call "monkey butt" from an 8 mile climb that started at mile 79 and was nearly an hour of peddling uphill in the saddle, but could care less because riding across the finish line, with 12 of my teammates was the most exhilarating feeling of accomplishment I have felt in my life. Looking back on the lake later, it's still hard to believe I rode the entire way around it. It was a 9-hour day on the course (with the fall, lunch, and some very long waits in the bathroom line included), but my actual ride time was just under 6.5 hours, which I am quite proud of with all that climbing!

I should note that Brad was waiting in a homemade, duct-tape-lettered "Go Heather/Go Team!" t-shirt both at the 70mile lunch stop and the finish line. He even whipped up some turkey sandwiches for Kurt and I while kneeling in the finish line parking lot, just when I was about ready to eat my arm.

As the rest of my team crossed the finish line, Brad, Kurt, my coach Josh and and I went, on the advice of the on-site paramedics, to the Emergency Care center for an x-ray of Kurt's wrist. We all crowded into the exam room, had some great laughs with the doctors, and learned it was only some severe bruising (a week to heal while the bikes travel back to New York). Later that night, there was a victory party and my entire team ate and drank together, sharing stories of the road as our eyes all sunk into the same tired bags that had hung there when we met each other 5:30AM that morning. As I said before, it was an incredible day.

I have already signed up for another century ride in Tucson this fall, where I will serve as a mentor to all the new participants and hopefully help them have as great of an experience as I have had. Already, I can't wait, and am itching to get back on my bike, which won't be back from it's cross-country trip for another week. I will also continue to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in hopes of a cure, and I will also continue to encourage Brad to buy a road bike! I cannot thank those of you who have donated and supported me along the way enough (and if you still would like to support the cause, please do!). This experience has changed my life, and the money we raised will hopefully change the lives of others. None of this could be accomplished by any of us alone.

You can see more photos from the weekend here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

HRIDE: Week 13/14+ Training Report

I confess that I have started to lose track of weeks as training time has been flying by this month. Since my last post I have reached my training peak for the event and can honestly say that I have surprised myself in what I am now capable of.

My last three weekend training rides have been:

May 5th: Sandy Hook NJ - 85 miles
(40 miles of which we rode in fast pacelines on the flat coast)
May 12th: East Clinton NJ - 40 mile hill climb extravaganza
(500 feet more elevation in climbing than the 100 mile Tahoe course, crammed into 40 grueling miles)
May 19th: Rockland County NY - 60 miles with hill repeats included, in the rain

*Not only have I completed these rides, but I have graduated to
comfortably riding them with the "fast group". Wahoo!

I should also note that my progress over the past month would not have been as great without teammates and coaches, and most importantly, my riding partner, Kurt, aka Hollywood - a teammate who lives just two blocks from me in Brooklyn. Having someone to commit to work out with, travel to rides with, compare progress with, complain to and ride with while watching each other's backs on the open rode, has made me a stronger and more confident rider that I could be on my own.

So, basically, I am ready - which is an awesome way to feel as I enter into the "taper" part of training (more on that in my next update). It might actually be more appropriate to say, I am kicking ass. So stay tuned for my story about America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride. Tahoe, here I come....

Sunday, May 20, 2007

HRIDE: A Note on Fundraising

In February when I signed up for Team in Training and committed to riding the Tahoe Century, fundraising was the most daunting of the many challenges associated with this undertaking. How would I raise $5,000 dollars? With a lot of faith, I set out asking friends and family for their support and generosity, hoping to help raise awareness of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's mission, while sharing my personal story of growth through the process.

I have been awed by the generosity and support that has returned from my letters. As I write this post I have
$4,745.00 in my TNT donation account, an amount that once seemed an impossible goal. Knowing this money will be received so gratefully by a society that makes a difference in people's lives, I am truly at a loss for words. As I type, I keep deleting my sentences because they don't seem to be appropriate enough expressions of my gratitude. So I will simply say, Thank You to all of you who have given, and know that this comes from the bottom of my heart.

It has been a lot of work to raise awareness and money, but it has been fun too. Sharing my story and asking for support has lead to corresponding with so many great people from my past, now a part of my present again. There have been days when I am greeted with mail that holds checks and letters,
wishing me luck from far away, and makes me feel thankful and loved, over and over again. And just last week, Brad and I, with the help of our friend Steve Plant, hosted a Wine and Food tasting party to which many of our Brooklyn friends came with great appetites and donations.

To leave you with a laugh, below is an email I received from a friend in Portland that Brad and I met last year in Mexico - by far the most humerous of ways that funds have been given...


I have finally picked a new organization to receive the money from the auction of the infamous Chenis:

Below is an email from a friend who I met in Mexico last year. She's raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as attaining a personal goal of participating in a 100 Mile Century bike Ride around Lake Tahoe. The Chenis' love spreads far...

I've made the donation in Jaqueline's (the winning bidder) and my names. Good luck Heather on your trip and happy cheeto eating!


And because I can't say it enough - to all of you, Thank You.

Love, Heather

Friday, May 11, 2007

Belated Birthday Tales

This past Sunday, May 6th, Brad reached the ripe old age of 31. Yep, pretty darned unexciting. The day itself however was not short of activity.

Brad and I have been in a chaotic and sometimes stressful phase lately, the result of many things going well for us and keeping us very, very busy. So being the newly hyper-productive people that we are, we made the most of May 6th. After a bike ride and the usual morning dog walk we had brunch at our favorite spot, Cousin John's, and then strolled the neighborhood while drinking more coffee and window shopping. In the afternoon I joined the Dark Rainbows for a hockey game. I had resigned from my spot on the team this year to tackle cycling instead, but a number of girl players were missing so I got to fill in and get a little taste of the old times with Brad - oh, and we won.

The real excitement came later that evening when we headed south in Brooklyn for Brad's Bowlerama-Dama-Ding-Dong. We met friends in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for what are rumored to be the city's best tacos at Tacos Matamoros (they were deeeeeelicious, and only $1 a taco!) and then, we bowled. At Big Apple
Bowling & Fun Center @ Melody Lanes, 10 of us drank endless pitchers of beer and bowled our hearts out while wearing matching shirts. Nothing like a little team spirit, and I just couldn't resist making them when Brad sent around this work of art:

I bowled a whopping 33 on my third game and the whole event could best be described as rowdy. It was wonderfully fun. You can see all 429 photos from the night here. Happy Birthday Brad!

Friday, May 04, 2007

HRIDE: Week 12 Training Report

Yesterday marked the beginning of the last month remaining until I ride 100 miles in Tahoe. I am finally feeling like this is a realistic feat. April was slow, but May training is off to a great start. I am now logging 100 miles or more on my bike each week and am no longer saddle soar! My teammates told me this day would come but it was hard to believe it until now.

This past weekend, in beautiful weather, I joined the team for a 55 mile ride upstate in Rockland County. There were some tough hills to climb, but the open road has taught me why uphills are worth it - downhills! The Tahoe course will be a blast if not for the scenery, then for the feel of racing down after several grueling climbs up. I also attended not one, but two 6am team rides this week during which I am now working out for an average of 25 miles. This is what it feels like at 7:30 AM when you and your fellow riders have just raced each other around the park on the heaviest gears you can handle.

No pain, no gain - right?

My fund raising goal is also now within sight. At this point I have raised almost $4,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This too is something I was told would happen but had a hard time believing until now. Just over a thousand dollars and a few more weeks to go!

She Smiled the Whole Way Home

Spring is finally here!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fire, Wine and Sunshine

Outside it is pouring rain again in Brooklyn, as I am sorting through my recent vacation photos. Over the past few weeks/months design business has been good. Steadily increasing and so good in fact, that I am moving my little operation out of the house and into a studio/office here in Brooklyn in just a few weeks. I can't wait! But that's a topic for another time. Business has been so good that I desperately needed a vacation.

Brad and I headed out to San Fransisco, home of Amanda, for a camping, wine drinking, sunny, adventure filled week. We also marked out 2 year wedding anniversary while we were there, but that too is a conversation for another time. We flew out Thursday night and on Friday morning, after stocking up with more food, beer and wine than we would ever consume, we headed to Big Sur with Amanda and her gang of friends. Over the next three days a music festival took place at the Fernwood camp ground where we stayed, but we didn't pay much attention to that. We were too busy playing, feasting, drinking, hanging by the fire, doing yoga on the beach, hiking and enjoying the epic scenery of Big Sur to stop and listen to the music. It was a fantastic weekend.

After we returned to San Francisco on Sunday night, Brad and I unpacked, repacked and headed out the next morning to wine county. But not before loading up on pastries and espresso at Tartin, mmmmmmmmm. Over the next two days as we traveled through beautiful, sunny Napa and Sonoma valleys, the stress of my Brooklyn life could not have been farther away. We spent the days going from vineyard to winery to vineyard, having a blast collecting a case, bottle by bottle, of our favorite wines to bring home. In between the drinking, we ate! The first day we had lunch at Mustard's Grill and then dinner at Cyrus (thanks to a reservation from John Holdredge, who also entertained us and shared his delicious wines earlier that evening) before falling asleep with very full bellies at a bed and breakfast in Healdsburg. The second day we picnicked on deliciously local, gourmet sandwiches while looking out over Lake Sonoma as we made our way through Dry Creek and the Russian River Valley on the recommendations of our new wine country friends. We hit a farmer's market in Sonoma and treated ourselves to some Tamales en route back to the city. That night we gathered Amanda and headed to Berkeley for a wonderful dinner at Chez Panisse. A most memorable finale for a really great trip.

Did I mention we had breakfast at Tartin AGAIN, before heading to the airport Wednesday morning? (WATCH THIS VIDEO!) Yes we ate a scone.

We finally returned to find this article in the Times, after trying to spotlight Organic and Biodynamic wine makers for out own collection. Fantastic!

You can view all the trip photos on my flickr stream HERE!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

HRIDE: Week 10/11 Training Report

My apologies to any of you who may have been waiting for an update over the past two weeks. Unfortunately I had nothing to report. Week 10 fell victim to yet more bad weather! Spring might be here, but warm temperatures don't prevent rain storms and my team rides were canceled. And then...Brad and I ran off to California for a MUCH needed week-long vacation.

It's a little scary how much I've been "out of the saddle" this month with the event fast approaching. I am planning to get back into the swing of things, I'll be attending a team ride in Central Park this evening, with as much enthusiasm and energy as I can muster. Tahoe, here I come!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

HRIDE: Week 8/9 Training Report

Sorry to keep you all waiting on an update, but with these darned winter temperatures that just don't seem to want to warm and the Passover/Easter holidays, training slowed again over the past two weeks. However, there were a few milestones to report on.

Two Saturdays ago the team hit the open road. After meeting in Central Park, we cycled in pace groups over the George Washington Bridge and into North Jersey. This first time out was a little hairy, with riders of varied levels of experience being lumped together with traffic and city streets to navigate, but it was a welcome change from the park. Each weekend from now on we will ride out of the city, increasing our mileage by the week.

Another thing of note is that my bike has finally been fitted to me, thanks to my coach, Felix. What this means is that Felix, who knows a heck of a lot more than I do made a ton of miniature adjustments to the bike and components, so it is the perfect size for me and the way I ride. I am feeling more comfortable on my bike now and will be even more grateful for this following the lengthy rides to come.

The highlight of weeks 8/9 was my alternative training ride in New Jersey last weekend. My friend and teammate Lauren has been on leave from her job and, sadly, weekday training rides for some time now. She has been spending time with her dad, Al (for who we ride), as he is undergoing some massive treatments for his leukemia and is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant in the coming weeks. So I joined Lauren for a 25 mile NJ ride over the holiday weekend, that had just enough hills to make us complain (look out Tahoe!) and more scenery then we could have asked for.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Finger Lickin'

Yesterday Brad and I celebrated Easter with friends by hosting yet another BBQ dinner party. Armed once again with the recipes from last year's New School class, we called on our food-loving friends and organized a pot-luck style feast. As the menu pulled itself together over the coarse of the last week, my excitement grew. I worked up the biggest appetite I could, but none of us were prepared for the belly buster this meal turned out to be.

•Green Salad
•Roasted Veggies
•Deviled Eggs
•Buttermilk Biscuits
•Fried Chicken
•Collard Greens
•Mac and Cheese
•Barbecue Brisket
•Souffléed Cheese Grits
•Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
à la mode
•Peeps and chocolate bunnies and things

Can you believe anyone ate all that? Neither could we and some of us even had seconds! We washed it down with plenty of beer then laid back and watched a Brooklyn-lovin' screening of The Warriors on our digital projector. What a day, Happy Easter!

Oven Barbecued Brisket
serves 8-10

for the barbecue sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup tomato purée
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic

for the brisket
5 pounds "thin cut" beef brisket in 1 or 2 pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚ and make the sauce: Mix the dry ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir in the remainder of the ingredients, and simmer slowly until slightly thickened - about 20 minutes.

2. Dry the brisket thoroughly with paper towels and salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over moderately high heat. Brown the meat about 3 minutes on each side.

3. Tear a piece of aluminum foil 3x the length of the brisket and lay it on a baking sheet. Spoon 1/2 the sauce onto the center of the foil then lay 1/2 the onions on top. Lay the brisket on the foil and then top with the remaining onions and sauce. Fold the foil over the brisket and crimp the edges closed to prevent leakage. Cut a second sheet of foil and wrap a second time.

4. Bake 2 1/2 hours. Let rest briefly then carefully open the packet and let the sauce run onto the baking sheet. Slice the brisket thinly across the grain and transfer to a platter. Spoon the sauce and juices to cover and serve. (I like to make a little extra BBQ sauce and serve on the side like gravy!)

*Brisket can be prepared up to 4 days in advance. Reheat in a heavy covered pot in a 300˚ oven, adding a bit of water if the mixture looks dry.

Friday, March 30, 2007

HRIDE: Week 7 Training Report

Well, let me tell you. A week where none of my rides are canceled sure does fly! It seems that Spring has finally sprung here in Brooklyn, and this past Saturday's 5 laps (30 miles) around Central Park felt great. The day was warm and sunny, and despite the fact that I felt on laps 1, 2 3 and 4 that I would never make it to 5 and climb that damn Harlem hill yet again - I did. Thankfully that is the last time I will have to ride in Central Park on a Saturday, as people traffic picks up significantly with the warming temperatures. This coming weekend we hit the open road.

My 6AM rides are also becoming more manageable. The mornings are a bit warmer and the dark does not last as long. Most surprisingly, I am actually starting to get used to how it feels to wake up so early! I hit a spin class at my gym this week for a little cardio boost on a windy day when Prospect Park was not seeming so tempting. Riding on the gym spin bikes made me realize just how comfortable I have gotten on my own bike over the past month.

You could say I am hooked. Continually intimidated by the increasing distances, I am greatful when I complete them. I am having a blast and feeling healthier and stronger by the week and also starting to make some great new friends withing my team. I have just learned that my application to act as a mentor on the upcoming Fall team - El Tour de Tucson - was accepted. The cycling will not end with Tahoe and I think by the end of this whole experience I'll be eager to stay on my bike and share what I have learned with the next team.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Like A Message From Above

For those of you who check this blog regularly, you might be starting to wonder what I have been doing besides riding bikes. Well, the cycling and fundraising have been keeping me busy, and in addition, working for myself as HM Project has begun to be quite a lot of work. Business has been flowing in, it's almost overwhelming at times, but great to have so many design projects in the works.

In the past week or two, having little time outside of work and biking, I have begun to feel uninspired about dinners. My usual routine of reading cooking magazines and books in my downtime has been sacrificed and I have been opting for quick and easy. Just the other day I had realized there were no dinner supplies in the fridge and just couldn't call up the creativity for a menu for that night, when I came across this article in the week's NY Times Food and Wine section. Titled, In Case of Emergency, Extract Sausage From Freezer and Enjoy, it was as if a little food angel came down from heaven and snuck up behind me at the computer.

The article begins by talking about what cooks keep on hand in case of emergency. My answer to that poll would in fact be sausage. I love sausage. I am forever collecting it from the various sources I have available to me in all forms – chicken sausage, sweet Italian sausage, African brand sausage and most recently wild boar sausage to name a few – and freezing it for future use. I forwarded the article to Brad, who occasionally claims that he is "sausaged-out", asking if it sounded good for dinner and he responded, "Wow, did you write that article?"

Well, no. I didn't. But that night I did make the recipe, and as I just enjoyed the leftovers for lunch, it occurred to me that this little gem really must be shared. So, for those of you who will read this blog post when the article is no longer available, the recipe is below. But I do recommend that you read, and then cook!

Chorizo with Sweet Pepper and Onion Stew and Fried Croutons

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

5 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed for frying
2 pounds spicy fresh (uncured) chorizo, pricked all over with a fork
1 8-inch baguette, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
2 large red onions, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 Spanish onions, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped.

1. Mince 4 garlic cloves and reserve. Mince remaining garlic clove, put it in a small bowl and cover with 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a very large skillet or Dutch oven. Add chorizo and cook until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer chorizo to a plate.

3. Add as many bread slices to pan as will fit in one layer. Cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer croutons to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Heat a little more oil in pan and repeat with remaining bread slices, frying them in batches if necessary.

4. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pan. Add both paprikas and let cook for 20 seconds. Add onions and reserved 4 cloves minced garlic and cook until limp, about 3 minutes. Add bell peppers and sauté until onions are golden and peppers soft, about 7 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes, chicken broth, black pepper and bay leaf to pan and bring to a simmer. Cut chorizo in chunks and add it to pan along with any drippings from plate. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and let cook at a low simmer for 25 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar to pan and simmer uncovered, until stew thickens slightly, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

5. Remove bay leaf and stir in reserved garlic-vinegar mixture and cilantro. Serve stew topped with croutons.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

HRIDE: Week 6 Training Report

Thursday Evening Ride: CANCELED rain and low temperatures
Saturday Morning Ride: CANCELED snow and freezing rain
Tuesday Morning Ride: CANCELED freezing temperatures

I did manage to squeeze in a solo ride in Prospect Park when the temperature warmed to the mid-40s on Tuesday afternoon, but otherwise the week in training was uneventful. I have had a bit of anxiety about the work still ahead of me, since the weather ruined my first opportunity to hit the 30 mile marker on the weekend ride. I am quickly approaching the 2 month countdown to Tahoe and still am a long way from 100 miles!

I am also approaching the 2 month countdown for my fundraising deadline and am only at 10% of my goal. Sadly, I have not had as much response as hoped to the two lengthy email letters I sent thus far. With unexpected, non-training downtime this week I have been trying to concoct new ways to encourage donations in support of my ride and the L&L Society's cause. I'd tell you, but then that would ruin the surprise, wouldn't it? If you haven't already donated, what are you waiting for? Go to my site and make a 100% tax deductable donation now!

Week 7 is looking brighter and warmer already - hopefully I'll have more cycling progress to report in my next update.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

HRIDE: Week 4/5 Training Report

The past two weeks have hosted several milestones in my training progress. Most notable, I have finally hit the open road! Well, the open park drives at least. Despite the spring temperatures that have teased me in the afternoons, 2 of first the 5 team rides were canceled due to bad weather. 2 of the remaining 3 team rides happened in chilling morning temperatures, but riding outdoors still beats spinning class any day. Having learned my lesson the hard way, I have some thermal tights and protective boots on order for this coming Saturday's 35˚ ride.

And what, might you ask, have I been riding on? Well, my new bike! That's right, and she's a beauty. Light, comfortable and easy on the eyes, I am definitely in love. On my bike I have learned yet another important lesson through discomfort - thanks to advanced technology, "boy seats" and "girl seats" are definitely different. And so, also on order is the "Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow" saddle, which I hope will ease the pain.

But enough about the gear (there is certainly a lot of it) and more about the riding! It's great, I'm hooked. The weekend park rides are approaching 30 miles, and so far I haven't felt any soreness, just exhaustion. Naps have become a routine on training days, especially after this week when I attended my first 6AM ride. It wasn't easy getting out of bed in the dark, but circling the park as the sun came up was blast - especially while I was riding the back of our little pace line, sailing on the effort of my teammates. I am getting comfortable with clip in pedals and have been schooled in gear strategy so even the uphills are manageable. Now when I walk with Francine in Prospect Park and see other cyclists doing laps, I can't wait to hop on my new pony and ride!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HRIDE: Week 3 Training Report

As my coaches have reminded me, "As of Saturday, ALL our training sessions will be outside, on our bikes. There are no more spin classes!" February and the days of indoor training have come to an end, but we sure went out with a bang.

This week's spin classes were absolutely grueling. Because we are preparing for the Tahoe course, and because we are getting into shape where we need to maximize the hour class, we have been training hills, and hard. I'm talking - as much resistance as you can handle, climbing uphill for an hour - hard. We've talked about heart rate and maximizing effort, but that sure goes out the window when all you're doing is climbing. My coach's Thursday night class was hard, but Saturday's was taught by a pro spin instructor and what I remember most is her yelling, "Come on! If you've got more to give, TURN IT UP!"

Also in the week's news is the purchase of my new road bike! I don't have it yet, hopefully it's being built up as I type this post, but I went shopping to two different bike shops and consulted one of my coaches, who is also a pro fitter, on the purchase. I also have pedals, shoes and other equipment on the way, but that'll be in next week's update. Check back soon, photos to come!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HRIDE: Week 2 Training Report

There's not much to tell in these early weeks of training. The schedule is light and the mileage is low - I call it confidence boosting. After 2 weeks, the 15 miles or so that we log in spin class twice a week is starting to feel easy. 100 miles is long way away but I am starting to see that I might actually work my way up to it.

During team riding my coaches' focus was on cadence - pacing ourselves for distance and using our energy and muscles efficiently. This week I also added some padded knickers to the routine. You might think that bike shorts looks like diapers, well the FEEL like diapers. I was truly unprepared for how uncomfortable and unflattering the things were, but on the bike none of that matters. A little cushion goes a long way.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Country House Dream

Recently Brad and I have spent a lot of time talking about what we would like to do if we could just discipline ourselves to save some of the money we make. Having acknowledged that we are rooted here in Brooklyn enough to stay a while, we have put off our fantasies of returning to New Mexico. The thing we now dream of most, to give us an escape and an outlet to the outdoors, is a vacation house in upstate New York.

This past weekend a friend, who recently purchased a similar dream, invited us to enjoy a taste of the great upstate at her cabin in the Catskills. Brad and I gladly made the drive and of course it fueled our own desires. It was a relaxing getaway and also the first chance we have had to take our car for a road trip since we purchased it this past fall (it handled wonderfully on the snowy country roads). We went for just one night and had a homemade pizza party while we watched movies and kept ourselves warm with whiskey. We spent lots of time playing in the snow and, as you might guess, Francine had the most fun of all. She also gave us the greatest surprise of all.

It seems our little Francine is a wealth of untapped talent. We had no idea that she too, is an artist. I think you'll be as impressed as we were at the likeness she achieved in this work she created. We call it, 'Self portrait in snow'.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Soon to be Mrs. Green Clean

Yesterday a new stove was installed in my kitchen. (Sadly, the old one was never the same after it was serviced to save Thanksgiving dinner. ) The delivery crew of four arrived while I was walking the dog. In my absence they moved all of our furniture out of the way and started walking back and forth from the truck outside, through the snow and all over the apartment, in boots.

When the crew and my landlords finally departed the wreckage was aweful. The foyer and living room had been turned upside down. The kitchen was full of packing and other trash, and the beautiful wood floors throughout our apartment were a see of muddy bootprints. I had not planned on spending my afternoon cleaning the apartment, but I had no choice.

Around 2pm I finally sat down to work. Everthing was back in it's place and the floors were sparkling with murphy's oil soap, the smell of cleaning products filled the air. The first email I saw was from Brad, containing
this article (that's your cue, read it now!). Funny timing as I sat inhaling the scent of chemical clean.

We already use eco-friendly dish soap and toilet paper. Our laundry detergent is perfume and die-free, but cleaning the bathroom is a toxic experience of bleach and steam. I use the kitchen so heavily that Brad and I are always spraying and wiping counters with Fantastic - in fact, I dare to say we couldn't clean without it. But maybe this is not so good for us and it is time for a change.

A while back an article in Dwell magazine provided some sources for non-toxic cleaning products, including this site. I am personally not a fan of seventh generation products, but I intend to start searching for a Fantastic replacement. Two brands I am considering are Mrs. Meyer's and Earth Friendly, whose dish soap I recommend. If you find yourself inspired to consider what you clean your living environment with I am curious to know what works for you. There is never any harm in living a little bit greener.

Monday, February 12, 2007

HRIDE: Week 1 Training Report

I passed one of the biggest obstacles on the H˚RIDE this week - finding the courage to sign up for the challenge! I have been working my way towards committing to TNT for weeks and now I've done it.

I also attended my first spin class. We hit the road, weather permitting, March 3rd and until then we'll be building our endurance and general bike knowledge in team spin classes at a cycle studio on the Upper West Side. During the class I was introduced to proper bike gripping positions and clipping my shoes into the petals. We practiced a few hill climbs and rode for nearly an hour. Afterwards my legs were tired and soar, it is definitely a long road ahead.

I will be facing this eventually, so I might as well start preparing myself mentally now. Check out the Altitude map for the Tahoe course:

The Long Road Ahead

I am proud (and a little bit terrified) to announce that I have made a very big and very important commitment to a cause. As of last Wednesday, February 7th, I am officially a member of the NYC Team in Training Program to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. What does that mean? Over the next 3.5 months I will embark on a vigorous training program in preparation for a 100-mile Century bike ride around Lake Tahoe on June 7th!

Last summer my friend Lauren's father was diagnosed with Leukemia and in an effort to be proactive in her support of him and others like him, she joined the Team in Training program for a Century Ride in Tuscon, Arizona where
collectively all of the Team in Training chapters raised over $2.5 Million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on that ride alone. This season I have decided to join her in her cause. Lauren and I met each other 10 years ago when we attended The New Jersey Governor's School of the Arts as dancers. Once again we'll slip into some spandex (this time they're padded, although I hope still pink!), and train to cross the finish line in Nevada this coming June.

As a member of TNT I have a personal fund raising goal of $5,000 for Tahoe that I will be asking for your support to meet during my training period. In addition to supporting the cause of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, part of the fund raising for Team in Training goes to support the athletes and help them complete their endurance sporting event of choice. As a part of my cycling team I now have 4 expert coaches with a training plan to whip our team of 60+ into shape for Tahoe. TNT also host clinics throughout the season to familiarize us with the gear, fitness, nutrition, and injury prevention knowledge we'll need to complete the ride, as well as making the necessary arrangements and accommodations needed for us to take part in race day.

Over the next 14 weeks we will train as a team 3 times a week in addition to daily fitness maintenance. I know I'll be grateful to stretch in my yoga classes after 60 mile training rides. This routine involves me participating in a weekly 6am ride in my own Prospect Park (6am! Have you ever seen me in the morning?) as well as group rides throughout the tri-state area as we work our way up in weekly mileage. Half of my team is training for a Century Ride in Montauk, Long Island and the rest of us will continue on to Tahoe. However, the Tahoe contingency will be completing The Montauk Century ride as well. For us this will be just another training ride because it's not only distance but altitude and terrain that we will battle in Nevada this June.

I will be sending more detailed information about how to support me on my ride to all of you friends and family in the near future, but if you're eager to donate, you don't have to wait - you can visit my TNT donation home page now. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Because I Think Everyone Can Cook

My friend Alexis can't cook, or so he says. He eats dinner with Brad and I often and I think the majority of his meals come from restaurants or kitchens of friends if he's not eating instant oatmeal. On the rare occasions where he has been inspired to cook and shared the experiences with me, he has described the food he makes (and eats) as terrible, awful, and at times, inedible.

The other day, after many work hours, Alexis joined Brad and I for a quick weeknight pasta dinner. This pasta is so easy that I think even the most terrible and incapable cook could do it justice and it only takes about 20 minutes. But don't get me wrong, this aint no poor man's pasta - I could eat this all the time because it is delicious. So, go ahead. Give it a try.

Pasta with
Sausage, Garlic and Greens

1 lb box pasta (penne, rigatoni, farfalle, or campanelle all work great)
1lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
3-4 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls hot pepper flakes (give or take depending on your taste, I like mine spicy)
4 cloves garlic sliced
1 bunch kale, swiss chard or broccoli rabe, coarse stems removed and cut up into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)
salt and pepper
fresh grated parmesan for serving

1. Heat a pot of boiling water. Cook pasta to al dente and drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil and brown the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks - about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes, stirring until fragrant (about 1 minute more).

3. Add the greens and toss/stir until the color brightens and they are all wilted (about 2 minutes). Stir in the broth or water and cover. Allow to steam about 3-5 minutes more, until greens are tender.

4. Uncover and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta and distribute to bowls. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.

You can do it!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Very Potlucky Indeed

This is Brad's interpretation of potluck, sent to friends as inspiration along with an invitation titled "Do ya feel potlucky, punks? Well, . . . do ya?" to join us for a birthday dinner party this past Saturday:

And this is what actually happened:

Not bad, huh? Not bad at all.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Yummy, where are the recipes?" This little appetizer is not featured above, but it sure was a hit and I highly recommend it for your next food gathering:

Brad and Heather's Salmon Corn Cakes

Corn Cakes:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
pinch baking soda
generous pinch of salt
2 Tbls cream cheese
1 egg
3 Tbls buttermilk
4 Tbls fresh or frozen corn kernels
canola oil for frying

4oz fresh smoked salmon
créme fraiche (or sour cream)
small handful of chives, chopped

1. Mix cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt in bowl. Crumble cream cheese in another bowl and beat in egg and buttermilk. Stir this into the cornmeal mixture and add corn. The batter will be stiff.

2. Heat 1-2 Tbls oil in a frying pan and drop tablespoonfuls of batter, flattening them with the back of a wet spoon to form silver dollar sized rounds. Fry 2-3 minutes per side until golden.

3. Transfer the cakes to a platter. Slice the salmon into 1"x3" strips and fold on top of cakes. Top the salmon with a dollop of créme and sprinkle with chives. Serve to your happy guests!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Today's Forecast Is Cloudy, But Happy

You'll have to pardon me. I'm suffering from a food hangover this morning, never mind all that wine . . .

Yesterday I celebrated my 27th birthday, and what a day it was -
appropriately sprinkled with lots of birthday wishes, including 2 flower deliveries from both my family and Brad's and even an ecard from my Allstate agent!

Both Brad and I took the day off from work and all things practical, and started it off with blueberry pancakes.
After a leisurely morning we made our way over the the Brooklyn Museum for the Ron Mueck show. In the evening Brad took me out for an awesome birthday date. We walked over to one of my favorite girly boutiques in the neighborhood where I got a new dress after trying on many. And then . . . we went to dinner for a meal that can only be described as epic.

Al Di La is one of our neighborhood favorites that we save for special occasions and last night's 4 course Italian extravagnanza was nothing short of amazing. We had wine paired to each course and the menu included truffle ravioli and cuttlefish risotto with squid ink to mention just a few. I hope every year's aging will taste so good.

And did I mention the fun hasn't ended? We're hosting a birthday potluck dinner party on Saturday night. What a great occasion for a fancy new dress.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Where I Spend My Days

Just got a whole lot nicer with the addition of my new desk! Pretty, isn't it?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just When I Thought It Might Never Happen

It finally snowed!

And guess where the record accumulation in the city of 2.5" occurred? Right in our own Prospect Park! It may not sound like much, but 2 inches of fresh powder was enough to make my little snow bunny, Francine, the happiest prancemeister in the park.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tell All Your Friends

Self-employment has been good to me, so far, this second time around. I've been nice and busy, and happy to be in control of my own schedule and workload again. Projects have been rolling in with the new year and to make sure it stays that way I have been working on a wave of self-promotion materials including new business cards, promo mailers and an update to my website.

What are you waiting for? Check it out and pass it along!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

If I Were A Pimp

You can be a rappa too. Just try tha Baller fo` yoself – Try da textilizer!


Dur'n tha month of Shot Calla Brad n I were mackin' fo` a total of 16 days out of 31. We returned home on tha 2nd of January, n gangsta all tha food we consumed in restaurants while out of tizzown, I wanted nuttin' more than ta cook n eat at hizzle with my hoes on my side, and my strap on my back.

While tha rappa has yet ta be as brutal as one would expect friznom a New York City winta so far this season, it has been consistently grey, wet n now finally cold. So, as you can guess, tha food I've been crav'n has consisted mainly of soups, stews, hearty pastas n chilies . I started yo shit and i'll end yo' shit. This pleasantly spicy
Chickpea Soup wit Arugula was a goodie frizzom mah January issue of gourmet, as was this stewy beef recipe I found while chillin' online last week like a motha fucka. I had some success wit pulled pork this pizzle weekend using a tha BBQ sauce Brad learned last year , but tha biggest surprise – easy, delishizzous n sure ta be a motherfucka – was this vegetable chili I adapted from a recipe I found on epicizzle.

Do not fear, this is simple n sure ta pleaze. The bulgur is a pleasant n healthy addition, T-H-to-tha-izzat gives you tizzy T-H-to-tha-izzick "meaty" texture you crave in a good bowl of chili. We ate it wit cornbread coz Brad had mizzle some tha night before - but you don't need mizzle more than a salad fo` a bootylicious mizzy tizzle wizzill warm you frizzay tha inside fo' sheezy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's Good To Be Home

During the month of December, Brad and I were traveling for a total of 16 days out of 31. We returned home on the 2nd of January, and after all the food we consumed in restaurants while out of town, I wanted nothing more than to cook and eat at home.

While the weather has yet to be as brutal as one would expect from a New York City winter so far this season, it has been consistently grey, wet and now finally cold. So, as you can guess, the food I've been craving has consisted mainly of soups, stews, hearty pastas and chilies. This pleasantly spicy
Chickpea Soup with Arugula was a goodie from my January issue of gourmet, as was this stewy beef recipe I found while scouring online last week. I had some success with pulled pork this past weekend using a the BBQ sauce Brad learned last year, but the biggest surprise – easy, delicious and sure to be a repeater – was this vegetable chili I adapted from a recipe I found on

Do not fear, this is simple and sure to please. The bulgur is a pleasant and healthy addition, that gives you that thick "meaty" texture you crave in a good bowl of chili. We ate it with cornbread because Brad had made some the night before - but you don't need much more than a salad for a great meal that will warm you from the inside.

Spicy Vegetable Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 large poblano pepper, seeded, chopped
3 large jalapeño chilies, seeded, minced (about 4 1/2 tablespoons)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find 'em)
4 cups chicken broth
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup freshly chopped cilantro

1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, sweet potato, poblano and jalepeño and sauté until onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes.

2. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring until spices are fragrant evenly coated on vegetable, about 2 minutes more.

3. Add tomatoes, broth, beans, bulgur, white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until bulgur is tender and mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.

4. Stir in cilantro and ladle chili into bowls to serve.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

End Times

As we rung in 2007, Brad and I were stranded in Colorado for nearly 3 days thanks to snow storms that blanketed the deserts of New Mexico like I never could have imagined. Less than a week later, having returned to Brooklyn, we experienced a taste spring fever when temperatures topped 70˚ on January 6th. And now, only 4 days later, I looked out the window this morning and saw the first snow flurries of the season.

Apparently, the few minutes of snow flakiness I witnessed was the latest recorded first snow in New York City in 129 years.
What's going on?