Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cook the Book: Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

Recently, I've mentioned that I picked up Ellie Krieger's book, The Foods You Crave. I've seen her show sporadically on the Food Network, but I hadn't really read through her recipes.

That is until my car broke down. Goodyear needed 5 hours to fix it and the mall was within walking distance. When in doubt? Shop!

Well, 3 hours later I felt like the crazy bag-lady you invariably see at the mall clutching an extra large Macy's bag and her purse. The Macy's bag was to hold the various purchases she's made during her visit that has lasted soooo long that their individual bags have worn and broken. So she piles them all into an extra large Macy's tarp and sits on the bench by the fountain drifting off into bored sleep.

She? Yup, she was me.

So, in order to pass the rest of the time, I ventured to the iddy biddy book store tucked next to the Footlocker and bulk candy shop. And picked up Krieger's book. And I'm happy I did.

I've been looking for interesting foods that pack nutrition, but not a lot of calories. I've found in my quest to manage my eating and weight that I search for flavor, not necessarily fat. Since fat often is a vehicle for flavor, it's easy to mistake the two. Twenty pounds later, you begin to wonder why evolution couldn't be just a little more specific.

The first dish I made was the Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth.

A total risk in my house.

Mighty M is a picky eater and, while he fancies himself to be adventuresome, he's really a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He knows when you've added a little lemon and fresh thyme to things and wonders why it couldn't just go back to salt and pepper.

Fine for him, but a world of salt-n-pepper'ed salmon filets with steamed broccoli was NOT going to solve my search for flavor.

I've now cooked a number of dishes in the book and can say I'm openly in love with Ellie. Her food is easy to prepare, full of flavor, and surprisingly acceptable to M's (ahem) refined palate. So, I'm sharing with you the recipe (pulled from the Food Network site, but also in her book) and some notes I have for the first dish. I promise to do some picture taking (a la Pioneer) for future editions.

For now, though...go and make this. And eat it. It's delicious. Delicious.


Thai-Syle Halibut with Coconut-Broth

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 shallots, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste*, or 2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning
4 (6-ounce) pieces halibut fillet, skin removed {1}{2}
Steamed spinach** {3}
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving {4}

*Available in the Asian section of most supermarkets
**Steam or microwave 5 cups of washed baby spinach for 2 minutes

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.

Season the halibut with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the fish in the pan and gently shake the pan so the fish is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 7 minutes.

Arrange a pile of steamed spinach in the bottom of 4 soup plates. Top with the fish fillets. Stir the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice into the sauce and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. {5} Ladle the sauce over the fish and serve with rice.

Nutrition Information
Nutritional Analysis per Serving Calories 418
Total fat 8.7 grams Saturated fat 3 grams
Protein 43 grams Carbohydrates 41 grams
Fiber 2 grams Sodium 600 milligrams

{1} I was shocked at how expensive halibut was! I never really cook with it and it was clear why -- too expensive. So I found out from the fish guy that there were less expensive flash-frozen filets in the freezer section. They were a good deal less expensive and I didn't have any complaints on the taste.

{2} A quick note on portions. I made this dish with only two large filets, not four. Mighty M and I lurve sauce, so I figured it would be fine to have leftover sauce and avoid the likelihood that leftovers would go wasted. Let me tell you -- we ate every drop of the sauce. Would have licked the pan if it weren't so hot. If I had friends coming over for this dish? I would definitely double it so everyone could enjoy the sauce, too.

{3} If you like spinach, definitely double this. I love spinach and would have loved to have had more. It was a little treat hiding in the bottom of the bowl for me, and I wanted more. Not a spinach fan? 5 oz will do you just fine for 2 people.

{4} I recently noticed that my g'store started selling the microwavable brown rice cups again. (Sorry, I can't find a link for them!) I would definitely recommend using these...they cut back on prep time and dishes to wash, without loosing out on taste or nutrition.

{5} Definitely wait to the end for these aromatics. They were an amazing addition to the flavor and simply made the dish. But we noticed that over time (while we were noshing) they grew more muddied and less bright. If there were put in the sauce more than moments before serving, I think they would lose their punch.

Where art Thou, mojo?

I've lost my mojo.

There, I've said it.

No major drama -- I'm sure I left it around here somewhere. I looked behind the couch and in the recycling bin. Nothing yet. Although bulk trash was Tuesday. Crap.

I can't seem to get into the groove again.

This morning? Beautiful, sunny, cool. I had all my gear laid out for a morning run. One that had to happen because I may have evening plans to do a dress fitting and veil shopperoo with the FMIL. One that had to happen because I was stuck at work late yesterday, got bogged down at the grocery store getting ingredient for (another delicious Ellie Krieger recipe) dinner, and missed ALL my planned workouts. Scratch that....*skipped* all my planned workouts.


Just have to start from where I am and work forward. As usual. Part of what is making it hard to get out there is the knowledge that it just plain hurts more when you step back into regular training. It only lasts a week or so, but I'm being avoidant. I don't want to hurt. But I do. But I don't.

And so goes the conversations I have in my head at 6:45 when the sun is up and I should be running.

This morning was not a win. Time to turn things back on, or around, or whatever.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I've heard nesting is an instinct. Like some biological imperative that compels things like organizing linen closets and making the kitchen all matchy matchy.

I'm here to confirm that thesis. It is an instinct.

Last week I was off. Like OFF, as in don't need to go to the office for a whole week. Usually this freaks me out. I do not vacation well. I get antsy and aimless early and then bug the begeezes out of Mighty M until I slide into a puddle of ice cream and self loathing by the end.

It ain't pretty.


This time, I got the art of vacationing down with the addition of this nesting instinct. Oh, and planning a wedding. And, as with many things, there are good and bad sides to it.

First, the good sides...

I (finally) picked up my wedding dress!! It was frustratingly late and we were unable to do The Big Fitting Extravaganza as planned, but it's in my little hands now.

Picking up said dress meant I was able to spend a whole day with my FMIL. For all of those who don't speak wedding speak, that means Future Mother In Law. Crafy, no? There's a whole lotta those new things I've learned. Anyway, it was fun. We drove to slower Delaware and shared stories and gossip and plans together. I'm very lucky to have her -- this process would be terribly lonely without her.

I spent an afternoon with my nieces. We giggled and danced and ate cherries and oranges and giggled some more. I miss them when they're gone.

Bought a bazillion yummy vegetables, washed and prepped them all, and made a vat of gazpacho. And them promptly ate the vat of gazpacho. Yum.

I addressed (by hand), organized, stuffed, stamped, and triple checked 110 Save the Date cards for the wedding. And, yes, that's a lot. And, yes, I'm excited to finally put them in the mail today. Woot!

Purchased and started cooking out of a great new cookbook by Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave. DELICIOUS. I love the book -- I love the recipes. Even Mighty M, the pickiest eater known to man, loved what I made out of it. Go. Buy it.

I got my wedding shoes, my wedding locket (for pictures of my mother and maternal grandmother) for my bouquet, and a strapless "foundation" garment that I will likely never wear.

I tried my dress on for my best friend before a luncheon excursion so she could convince me that -- yes, indeed, a seamstress can make that bodice fit at the fitting and -- no, you won't be spilling out onto the table when you great your guests.

Dancing in it is another story.

I went running and mountain biking with Mighty M and learned that he's a MUCH stronger runner now and I'm a MUCH stronger biker.

We have built from scratch two huge flower boxes, filled them with plants, planted innumerable other planters and flower beds, and mulched everything we could lay our hands on, hedgetrimmed our jungle of a backyard, and put out SEVEN massive contractor bags of mess for bulk trash. And yes, it was exhausting, but terribly satisfying, too.

I spent an hour watching three baby birds be fed by momma bird with our 4-year old neighbors. It was fascinating watching the girls discover about baby birds and see it all unfold.

I washed every stitch of clothing I own.

I bought a new spring wardrobe, albeit from the sale rack at New York & Co.

We picked up our newly minted wedding bands. Mighty M has lost a bunch of weight, so his doesn't fit. But gorgeous. He won't let us keep them in the house, knowing I'll try mine on every second I'm in the room. So, I'm begrudgingly letting them go to his parent's house for safe keeping. I guess I'll just have to try my wedding dress on a million times, instead.

I spent 5 hours waiting for my car to have four tires replaced and a whole lotta alignment stuff done. She is now safe and sturdy. And I'm broke again.

And, onto what I didn't really do...

Train all that much.

Yup, I'm behind. I know, I know. I lost some steam after parting with the Elf and all the wedding stuff kept me ridiculously busy since. But I've now made some wedding progress, lots of progress at the home, and ready to get back to my regular life. I've missed it. Maybe that was the miss it.

Anyway, I'm still on board for the Oly in July, so I've built a plan around that. I have some news about my running and persistent knee issues, but that can wait. For now, I've gotta get moving on my day.

Monday, May 19, 2008




guess what?



not too loud.  they may hear you.

time for a long run and wedding shopping.

(giggling with delight)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Because I am JUST. THAT. COOL.

There's a little race coming up in our (general) neighborhood soon.

Something to do with an Mdot. And talk of iron, or half thereof.

And I'm going to be there. Booyah.

Got word today that I'm going to be a volunteer in body marking that morning and a finish line catcher from 10 until noon.


I've never been more excited about volunteering in my life!

Plus, I hear they let you have a really, REALLY big sharpie.

Love it.

So...butt crack of dawn on June 8th, I'm so there. If you're racing, come find me in the pit and I'll gladly mark you up and sooth your nerves with my rendition of "You are my sunshine."

Who could ask for more?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Next stop?

Thanks to everyone who wrote such great comments last week. I needed that. I mean, I knew it was the right decision, but it's nice to have two dozen internet friends confirm for you that, no indeed, your mama didn't raise no fool.


Even my Dad stepped up and sent me a note about being very proud of me and how this will be a great decision for our future.

Which, of course, means that he read that part about 'sucking monkey balls.'

And likely my in-laws did, as well.

Oh. My.


Now, to put your fears at rest, I will not go quietly into the night of triathlon moderation.


I warbled around the house for about 2 days, getting all weirded out by not having anything to do at 7:00 at night. Asking whether I could go to bed that early. Sleeping so much I woke up feeling (gasp) rested. And generally feeling completely unmoored from my roots.

Because I didn't have a plan.

People, I NEED A GOAL.

I know this much is true. I always need a goal. I need something to look forward to, to plan for, to get ready for, to just plain have in my sights.

I don't fare well bouncing around the house.

So, I'm off again. Next stop? Diamond in the Rough -- an olympic (yeah!) tri that's under an hour (yeah!) away from my house. It's affordable and close. So close, in fact, that my future mother-in-law is coming to see what all the fuss is about (yeah!) and it should prove to be a fun day.

I read "technical" and "hilly" in the bike course description. Bring. It. On.

I've reached back into my library for a new plan to get ready. Honestly, I feel much more at ease with the advanced plans now that I've spent 6 months working with a coach. She forced me to test my boundaries, so I'm a little more at ease with complicated plans.

I just have to make sure I'm not SO at ease I just start skipping my workouts. Um...cause I've never, ever done that before. Neeeeevah.

So.... I'm back on the training tip and have a double session waiting for me tonight. And another two singles tomorrow. And a full week of intervals and base swims and fartleks and short rides and long runs and (of course) a brick for good measure.

Oh, and some core work. Because this little chica has her first wedding dress fitting over the weekend.

I know.

I peed myself just a little, too.

Plus, I'm going wedding shoe shopping with said FMIL tomorrow night...and we're going to bust out all girlie like and try on veils and tiaras and pretty things in the name of matrimony. And being girls.

I just hope they don't mind me showing up in training gear.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Me, We, Three

I’m going to make light of this, because it’s the only way I can come to terms with it. I’m disappointed. Very disappointed.

So, last year I decided that it was about time I buckled down and got serious about this sport. A new bike, a new coach, a new attitude, and a lot of great races on the horizon. Soon I added a nutritionist and an ART therapist, piles of gear, and lots of traveling.

And it was a good. I was happy and wise. But somehow not so wealthy.

Seems that when you spend all of your free money on training and racing, there’s no money fairy that replaces it in your wedding savings fund or the ‘I’ve gotta move out of this dang neighborhood’ bank account.

Like, seriously....where is the freaking fairy?

Two nights ago, Mighty M and I had a heart to heart. He’s a man of few words, and being that man of few words, I know that when he says something in one of our “grown-up” conversations, I should listen.

We talked about our wedding. And our mortgage. My student loans and his outstanding obligations. We talked about needing to move before making babies (thankyouverymuch) and how much house we could afford. And when we could afford that.

And it was scary and a reality check for me. You see, all Mighty M needs for entertainment is an Xbox and zombie movies. Seriously. I wouldn’t joke about this.

Me? I’ve picked up a habit that’s a wee bit more pricey. And it’s not totally fair, you know.

And every husband or wife out there reading this probably remembers the moment the “me” became the “we.”

Well, we just had a moment.

So, I decided to pare down. EVERYTHING. And it was hard. Being responsible sucks monkey balls.

Of course, the Elf understood when I explained it all to her, and was more gracious than anyone I know. A consummate pro, in more ways than one. And you’ll see my race schedule has DRASTICALLY changed on the sidebar. I’ve pared it down to just some local races that I want to keep so I stay motivated and in shape, but won’t break the bank. I’m going to skip the rest of the halves this year and, instead, continue to build my own fitness with lots of cross training.

And maybe I’ll start needlepointing again.

Cause I have no idea what I’m going to do with all of this free time.



I’m sad, but I know it’s the right decision. I’m part of something bigger than just my own wants and needs, now. And for that, I’m very lucky. So it’s time for a little sabbatical from my favorite hobby so, one day, Mighty M can carry me across the threshold of our brand new house and we can start making the “we” the “three.”

And that is worth it.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I came, I saw...

I came, I saw, I did not conquer. Or did I? I guess it depends on how you define conquer.

A full race report to come -- because this one deserves the full treatment -- but it was a hard day for Able out there yesterday. Actually, it was just a hard run. The swim was strong, the bike was okay, and everything crumbled at mile 7 of the run.


But I finished, through sheer grit and determination. They were going to have to pull me kicking and screaming. I was not stopping no matter what. And thanks to thoughts of fellow bloggers (Megan, Monica, and be precise) and my unwillingness to live an unfinished life, I managed to cross a nearly vacant finish line hours after when I planned to.

DFL. Again.

Double sigh.

There were some very funny moments to the day, I promise. And some really thrilling parts of the day that remind me why we all train and work so hard to do this. So when I have a little time and can manage to move without pain, I'll write it all down. Because seriously, when you have a police escort for a pee break? You just have to write it down. Somewhere. Anywhere.

For now, pass the Aleve and my coffee. And maybe a cane.