Monday, March 30, 2009

What to Do With Leftovers

Matt posted recently about his extreme love of the [obligatory] St. Patrick's Day corned beef, so this post is for him ;).

Mike and I like corned beef. Typically, however, we are like most people, and only cook this in March, usually once or twice. This year, after the first cooking, we had leftover corned beef and cabbage. Instead of the usual sandwiches, Mike came up with homemade corned beef hash. DELICIOUS! We liked it so much that we made the second corned beef just to have the homemade hash! Makes a yummy breakfast on a rainy Sunday morning.

1 large corned beef, cooked
3 lbs red potatoes, diced and cooked
1 onion, diced
Leftover cabbage (optional)
BBQ sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs (for breakfast version - optional)

Cook the corned beef in the crock pot (we found that putting the meat in, adding a bottle of Harpoon Hard Cider, 3 bay leaves and some curry made it taste pretty darned good). Low setting for approximately 4-5 hours. Cube the beef when done.

Boil the potatoes until not quite done.

In a large saute pan, heat oil and saute the onions. Add the cubed corned beef to the pan. Mix with BBQ sauce (to your liking - we didn't measure, but you don't want it too moist). Add potatoes and cabbage. Saute/brown all of the ingredients.

For the breakfast version, I first scrambled 4 eggs and then added leftover corned beef hash to the pan to heat/brown, and served with english muffins.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Overdue Visit

Mike and I had planned to travel to my mom and dad's at Christmas, but Mother Nature had other plans. As we drove north on roads that were snow and ice covered, knowing the worst was yet to come, we turned around and came back to Bedford. So, before the race season gets underway, and our weekends are filled, we took a quick (and I do mean quick - up Thurs and back on Sat) trip home this weekend.

I have lived in the Boston area now for almost 15 years. In all of that time, I have only ever traveled to the Ottawa area using one route - through both Montreal and Ottawa via Burlington, VT. If any of you have ever driven through Montreal, you know that this can be both hair rasing and scary. It is unpleasant at best, and regardless of what time of day you choose to drive through, there is ALWAYS bad traffic.

We decided this trip to take a different route - one that would bypass both Montreal and Ottawa completely, and take us instead, through NY state. It was a MUCH easier drive this way, as well as faster! You can bet we will be using this route again in the future - as long as we're not in fear of snow squalls coming in off of the lakes... Our drive up took us through Amish country, a giant wind farm, and over the 1000 Islands bridges - much more scenic than Montreal ;).

We had a great visit with my mom and dad. Friday, we took a trip out to Temple's Sugar Bush to get some tasty syrup, and then a nice drive before some yummy lunch and a great dinner at home. While mom was busy cooking dinner, Mike and I went out for a bike ride with my dad. It was his first ride of the year on his bike (which, we later discovered, he did with a broken spoke in the rear - he got a great workout!), and he was pretty tired when we were finished, but rode like a trooper, only complaining that his butt was sore (mine would be too, dad, if I rode in jeans!). Spent some quality time with my brother and niece as well to round out a short visit.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

First Ride of Spring...Is it Really Spring?

According to the calendar, Spring arrived on Friday, March 20. Mike and I were in Maine, where Winter wasn't quite finished with us... The morning temp was 18 F, and we still had enough snow on the ground for one last snowmobile ride of the year (for Mike).

Despite Winter's grip on Spring's arrival, we headed out once the temps hit above 25 for a quick tandem ride. What was supposed to be an "easy recovery" ride essentially turned into a TT ;).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bonking, Tandems and Dancing?

Work has been keeping me busy enough that given any spare time, I have been choosing not so much to sit at the computer. That means there is an abundance of content that needs to get posted to this here blog.

Colin recently noted that people have been spouting about the weather and training. I will attempt to do neither here, since no one really wants to read about those things anyway ;). Instead, I will take last weekend's rides, and put a different "spin" on them...


Last year at the Hodges Village Dam race I experienced my first big bonk. Historically, I have been able to go out and ride/race with little in the way of hydration, and usually very little food, if any. At the Hodges Dam race, I ended up as far from the start/finish as possible on the final lap, thinking it would be a superb idea to just lay down in the field and stay there. Then came the dreaming of food and water - I had run out. Needless to say, I didn't lay down, and did finish the race, but at a pretty big expense.

One of my goals this year is to learn to balance my nutritional needs with the efforts I expend on the bike. Sounds easy, but what many people can stomach while riding, I cannot. I don't really care for sweets as a general rule, and chocolate is out all together. I can't eat GUs or gels - too much like frosting for me. Bars are ok in some flavors, but tough to chew/digest on the bike. So, I am trying new options this year, and have hit on Clif Bloks - these seem to work well for me, at least they did last weekend!

Sara, Kate and Jane were heading to Otis for an MTB ride and invited me along to chase them around for a few hours. I was eager to be out, finally, on the dirt, and took up my usual spot on the back of the group. I hadn't ridden Otis in years, and had forgotten how nice the singletrack was, and how much up and down one could achieve on the relatively flat Cape!

Kate and Sara; Jane on the new 29'er

About an hour and a half into the ride, we stopped for a snack. I didn't feel hungry, but decided to eat the Clif Bloks I had brought anyway, since I was presented with the opportunity (and knowing this crew, wouldn't be presented with another!). What I didn't realize was how tired I had become before stopping. It really wasn't until Sara pointed out to me that I rode faster after eating that I realized I really did need the fuel to keep going. Did I bonk? Not entirely (this time), but it did show me that even if I don't feel hungry, I certainly need to give my body some fuel to keep on performing.

For several years, Mike and I have ridden a tandem bike. We started out on the dirt and used to ride some pretty technical singletrack reasonably well (including winning a race!). After many broken components (hubs, cassettes, chains), and a few tense experiences, we traded in the fat tires for skinny, and took to the road. We've put thousands of miles on our tandems, and enjoy the opportunity it provides to let us ride together.

Sunday we met up with a big group for an advertised "hilly" ride of about 65 miles. I'll admit, I was worried. You see, tandems are GREAT for downs, flats and even short rolling hills. Any significant climbing or loss of momentum, however, and the anchor comes out the back of the boat. Mike had been talking about a couple of the climbs we would encounter, and I figured we would be off the back, spinning in the granny pretty quick.

The other challenge with the tandem is group dynamics. From a physics perspective, you have to think about the combined weight and forward momentum of the bike. Remember that an object in motion stays in motion - especially true when that object is a combined weight of about 400 lbs traveling at 20 - 50 mph! What that typically means for us is that we need to be at the front of a group so that we aren't constantly using the brakes. It also means a pretty decent draft for anyone with us ;)

The group starting out; Our ride host, John M.

Cresting the hills of Sterling

Scott and Steve; A great view and fast descent

We ended up doing a pretty good job with all of the climbs on Sunday, attempting to maintain as much speed and momentum as possible for the steeper pitches, and rolling and even coasting some of the rollers. Our undoing came on the final steep hill coming back into Boxborough - Old Bay. We both felt the lactic acid build in the legs, and neither of us could put in the sustained power required to get us up and over. In a small gear, anchor dragging, we spun our way up the final climb to finish off a really fun ride.


Jean, Michele A, Kathy M, Catherine, Teri, ML and me
Missing: Susan A and Michele H

No - we weren't out clubbing, or taking ballroom dancing lessons. This dancing was "Dirty", and shared with my Weds trainer group.

It all started with the "Nobody puts baby in a corner" quote and watching the movie one night while riding. Then I sent out the link to the review of the musical, and next thing we know, last night we are all in the Opera House, reliving the 1987 chick flick, and "having the time of our lives". It was a fun distraction for March, and the production really was worth seeing if you enjoyed the movie. Of course, the male:female ratio in the theatre was a bit skewed ;).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Up, Up and Away

With the onset of DST, my evening training sessions headed outside this week. Outside and UP! Two nights in a row of hill repeats on Oak Hill in Littleton/Harvard. On Wednesday, it was me and the iPod for three climbs, all at LT effort - fastest effort of the night came on the final interval, which sort of surprised me...

Thursday I was joined by my friend Michele (who WILLINGLY came out to play...). Maybe it was the competitive spirit, or maybe the training is paying off, but I took 21 seconds off my fastest Weds interval the first time up on Thurs. In fact, all three intervals (although progressively slower each time up) were faster than the previous night. Again, surprised me given that my legs were pretty sore, and I felt tired.

I'll definitely take it though, especially since I have always claimed that I am not a hill climber, nor have I ever played one on TV ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Now, Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Monday - one foot of snow!

Tuesday - cross country skiing at Weston - temps in the 20s.

Wednesday - awoke to a temp of 4 degrees F. Good night for the trainer!

Thursday - temps creeping back up into the 20s, but still damp - another trainer night.

Friday - finally, some warm weather! Temps in the 50s. Lots of snow melt, but that's why we have fenders.

Saturday - sunny and temps in the 60s. Lots of people out riding! Is it spring?

Sunday - another sunny day with warm temps. Add DST, and life is good!

Monday - snow. Mother Nature stinks.

It is New England, and it is still March...

Friday, March 6, 2009

The End ... For Now!

Jean, Michele H., Michele A., ML, Kathy M, Me (and missing Susan :( )

This winter, a group of friends has been helping motivate me to ride the trainer indoors, by joining me in the basement one night a week for a "trainer party". I think it mostly has been an excuse for all of us to get together, watch chick-flicks and eat too much food, but it has been really fun regardless of the motivation.

With the onset of DST this coming weekend (woohoo!), this week was our last formal get together. So, we did what we always do - insert DVD, spin for 1.5 hours and then eat WAY too much food!

And the food part has definitely been interesting as well. First, despite no Italian in my veins whatsoever, I have a mentality of "Mange, Mange!". If someone leaves my house hungry, it is generally their own stinkin' fault - there is ALWAYS too much food. I also was in a giant food rut before this winter - eating the same old, same old week in and week out (open bag of salad, cook meat on grill - dinner). With vegetarians in our group, and other food allergies and dislikes, I was challenged out of my rut to come up with some new recipes. I'm compiling all of the winter's recipes into a "cookbook" now so that we can share, but some of the meals have included:
  • Veggie Lasagna
  • Moroccan Couscous
  • Veggie Stew
  • Mac-n-Cheese
  • Baked Beans
  • Pasta Primavera with Miso Dressing
  • Fiesta Chili
  • and a host of apps and desserts
Now I'll start to ride outdoors after work, but will probably quickly languish back into my old food rut, despite some new culinary adventures the past two months.

Thanks to all of you who helped the winter training seem more "palatable"! I'm still looking forward to "having the time of my life" though ;)

Monday, March 2, 2009

So Much for Spring...

We went from the lovely warm temps on Friday, to colder temps Saturday, but still with nice roads for riding...

Then Sunday, the first part of New England's 1/2 punch started, covering everything (including the ice on the trails) with a coating of snow. I started out with Mike and Wayne on this ride, but after 3 crashes in 10 minutes, reverted to the basement to finish my ride.

And this morning, this...

It could stop snowing and warm up here anytime now!