Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Salmon over Asparagus


I've got some big news (starting that sentence makes me break into this of the only country songs I know...). After three wonderful years at Pride Foundation, I am moving on to run the Major Gifts Program at YouthCare. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, YouthCare is the largest provider of effective services to homeless youth in the Puget Sound. YouthCare employs a comprehensive approach in preventing and fighting homelessness and utilizes an anti-oppression social justice lens (yes!).

Here's are a just a few things I'm particularly excited about with this move:
1 - Getting to work with an amazing dedicated team of people, committed to a cause about which I care deeply
2 - Being able to bike to work!
3 - My new office is across the street from one of my absolute favorite watering holes in Seattle
4 - The opportunity to work with an organization that understands the continuum of care necessary to break the cycle of homelessness

Now we can add to that list that, thanks to my fantastic commute, I can be home in time most days to cook dinner at a reasonable hour! Last night's selection was salmon over asparagus topped with creme fraiche. 

It's really simple, I didn't follow a recipe...but I did use this tips of don'ts from Bon Appetit for cooking salmon (and actually had time to cook it an appropriate amount of time with the appropriate levels of heat). I brushed the salmon with a little olive oil, some lemon, and added a small dash of salt before cooking.

After washing and breaking off the bottom non-greens of the asparagus stalks, I laid them on a baking sheet (covered in tin foil for easier clean-up). Then, I took a small can of anchovy fillets in oil, poured the oil on top of the asparagus, then began to wrap and weave the anchovy fillets around the stalks. Into the oven at 400 degrees F for 15min and they came out delicious.

Salmon on top of the asparagus, creme fraiche on top of the salmon, cayenne pepper and paprika and cracked pepper on top of everything - perfect dinner in 25 minutes.


Work has been very busy since I started (this is my first whole week), but hopefully my evenings will remain a bit free so that I can keep up nightly home-cooked dinners. Not to be hokey, but they're great: we put music on, use our cloth napkins for added effect, and I don't even have to do the dishes (thanks, Ben!)

xoxo | cimmer

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Shrimp and Veggie Fried Rice - With Eggs!

This dish is brought to you (partially) by me (partially) overcoming my fear of rice.

I know, it sounds crazy to have a fear of rice, right? Well, growing up surrounded with Italian cooks, we never had rice. Our starch of choice was a macaroni or a very crusty bread. I could probably count on my hands how many times I had rice before the age of sixteen...if I could remember *any* of the times (maybe there was once or twice...?).
With the advent of quinoa being *everywhere* and other awesome grains and seeds to try (bulgar, barley, wheat berries, etc.), learning to love rice has not been my priority. However, brown rice is a perfectly acceptable thing for me to eat - and the idea of "fried rice" has sounded really good as of late (I've become an accidental cook of Asian dishes lately...I know, a broad phrase... - making, very Americanized versions I'm sure, of dishes with spices from all over the continent).

Like most all my recipes, it's super simple and made up on the go:
**Cook brown rice (as much as you want!)
**Cook/steam veggies (whatever you like, peas, carrots, peppers, broccoli - as much as you want!)
**Cook shrimp (I seasoned with some spices I had in my cabinet - really whatever is to your taste - cook as much as you want!)
**Combine all ingredients, stirring with desired spices or marinades (I added a little orange sauce)
**Divide into portions
**Top with fresh spinach
**Refrigerate up to five days until ready to eat
**Stir fry each portion in a small (preferably cast iron) pan
**Once the rice and shrimp are heated, add as many eggs as you like to the top
**Cook eggs (I let them cook for a couple minutes uncovered, then I cover them, then a couple more minutes uncovered)
**Once the eggs were sufficiently set (why I'm always worried about under cooking eggs and getting sick, but eat raw cookie on the regular I'm not sure...), I took it off the burner, added a bit of tamari, and ate it out of the pan.

This was my lunch every day for a week (because I was home every day last week for a much needed use of vacation time from work), and now I wish I could make it for lunch *every* day!!! I've been making it in batches and eating it at work egg-less, but the fresh egg(s) on top just really make the difference!

It should be noted that this has been one of my many adventures of late of cooking-eggs-into-things. So far I've also tried and been successful with: Chinese mustard greens (from my dad's garden - Ah-mazing! Dash of olive oil, pepper, and then finished with hot chili sauce, so good!), quinoa, spinach, tomato sauce, kale, avocado.

Future adventures hope to include: asparagus, sweet potatoes, veggie hash.

(note: You can make things really easy by picking up Trader Joe's frozen shrimp fried rice and adding more shrimp and vegetables to your liking, plus eggs).

Today's Workout

Oh how badly I didn't want to go to the gym this morning. After a couple of days of feeling like I was on track (some stuff in my personal life has steered me toward taking it one day at a time - two or three days of feeling good about myself is a big deal at this point), I totally binged. On food, on negative thoughts. Ugh.

Really, I didn't binge *that* much. I didn't make myself sick, but I certainly was compulsively eating instead of listening to my body.

However, instead of pressing endless snooze, I got out of bed (a half hour after I wanted to, in an effort to be generous with myself) and headed to the gym. I'm glad I made that decision. Sometimes I need a rest day, and sometimes I need to get up and keep going. I'm glad I kept going this morning.

Here's what I did at the gym:

**30min HIIT

**Leg Press-12-130lb
**Modified Push-Ups-15-Body Weight
**Leg-Lifts-15/15-Body Weight

**Lunge into Reverse Lunge-15-Body Weight

**Pull-Ups-8-100lb Counter Weight
**Bridges-20/20-Body Weight
**Bicycle Crunches-40-Body Weight

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Quinoa Comfort Food

I've been sick the past six days which has been the absolute pits!!!
I hate being sick. I don't really get to work out, my taste buds are all off, breathing messed up, and just overall feel off. I'm very fortunate that I don't get sick that often.

This bout with a nasty cold inspired me to whip up a bunch of quinoa and add some more protein and greens to it in a different way than I have in the past. 

My Italian half of me doesn't much like cutting out basically all forms of pasta (but my body is very thankful for it - so that's how it goes). Quinoa isn't baked ziti, but I'm regretfully one of those people who does better with a little less baked ziti in her life (tragedy).

So instead of a macaroni, I cooked up two servings of quinoa, added 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce, a bunch of handfuls of arugula, and a new sort of veggie sausage I found, a quarter cup of mozzarella - and voila: two days of lunch!

So simple! So delicious! So nice to my tummy :) 

I hope you have good comfort food go-tos whenever you are ill - and wish you much more health than otherwise in general!

xoxo | cimmer

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How About We: Archery Lessons!

On Sunday I had SO MUCH FUN! Yes! I'm serious! Do not read into anything less than pure enthusiasm from these sentences because there is no hidden sarcasm, just pure appreciation for a fantastic date utilizing How About We Couples at Next Step Archery.
When I first moved to Seattle and was doing everything I possibly do to make friends, I signed up for the site How About We in the vain hope that the dating site, founded on the principal that people should get paired up by what they like to do together, would offer a platonic or friendship option. I'm pretty sure I even gave the feedback requesting this option via an old help forum.
In anycase, I survived - friendwise - and three years later received an email from the site inquiring, "In a relationship in Seattle?" Well, yes! I am in a relationship in Seattle.  It seems that How About We decided to corner the market on couples too!

So far, Ben and I have gone on three dates with How About We and each one has been superb. There's such a wide variety of activities to do: Concerts! Drinks! Tasting Menus! Personal Training Sessions! Shows! Dinner! Distillery Tours! City Tours! Photography! Coffee Sampling! City Tours! Archery Lessons!

You can join for free, but when you purchase a monthly membership ($18/month) you get access to members only dates, and you get a free date every month from a variety of options. You can use this referral link to also get $50 toward the date of your choosing for signing up.

Even for (self described) creative, social couples like us, How About We has been really amazing as a catalyst for us to try new things and set aside date time. Sanctioning it out as date time seems like nothing, but every time we experience the time it leaves both of us so happy (I know, I sound schmultzy).
Next Step Archery is located in a mostly nondescript gray-vinyl sided building in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. We found ourselves in a world of the sport, which (intensified by the Hunger Games) has been and is going through a resurgence of popularity.
We informed an employee in the pro-shop why we were there and he introduced us to John, our instructor for the hour.

I had been a little worried that the "private lesson" would not be as advertised and that we'd wind up jockeying for the instructor's attention up against other participants. I was happily surprised to find that this was truly a private lesson: our very own range, John, our very own instructor, and nothing hidden to purchase. We just showed up, signed our waivers, and were set to go!

Neither Ben nor I had shot an arrow in years, but John was a great teacher with a hearty sense of humor and we were able to pick it up quickly.
We did the basics: range safety, technique, shooting from varied distances - and then moved into some fun competitions. First we played tic-tac-toe, then 21, then we shot to see who could get the highest score. John let us go over our range time, right up until a birthday party was arriving (I loved that they do birthday parties).

The last game we played was a surprise and incredibly sweet. John went back to his office to retrieve the surprise: a target not only shaped like a heart, but labeled "DATE NIGHT" and decked out with heart stickers.

John told us that if we were game he'd like to propose a bet. He said we could bet on whatever we wanted (but that he didn't want to hear about it if it was "personal" - ha). The best shots would win. We decided to determine who paid for dinner.
my arrows from the betting round

Ben's arrows from the betting round
It turns out we tied - and I won the guessing game tie breaker (thanks for dinner, Ben!).
We had the best time - I can't recommend Next Step Archery, or How About We more.

How About We Couples is currently in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle. If you're there, you should check them out :) If you're not - hopefully they will expand soon. You can tweet at them to tell them so!

xoxo | cimmer