Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saving Seeds - Melon

I've been buying some delicious and flavorful melons from the farmers market lately.  They're delicious, but kind of expensive, so I thought, why not save the seeds and try to grow some next year?

I start by cutting open the melon and harvesting the seeds.  This is easier with a melon where all the seeds sit in the middle like the White Sensation Melon or French Orange Melon I started with.  This example happens to be for a Yellow Dole Watermelon.  I'm collecting seeds as I go.

Then I rinse the seeds off to remove any stickiness or fruit residue.

Next I let the seeds dry for at least three days on a paper towel.  I change the paper towel every day.

When they're dry enough that you can't bend the seed, I put them in a labeled bag and store them in a cool, dark place with low humidity.

I got a cute box from Papersource and mini file folders to organize seeds that I've bought and harvested on my own.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Latest Harvest

It's not much, but I've got a pretty sizable cucumber, a zucchini and some lemon boy tomatoes.  There's more garden fresh produce to come!

I'm so glad Eric picked the squash.  The pics without it were a bit too phallic.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CrossFit Games Recap

Last weekend we were pretty busy, but I found time to watch a good amount of the CrossFit Games on the live webcast.  This was a first for the games.  This year 14 cameras allowed for a pretty dynamic production.  In previous years we've had to depend on twitter updates and composite videos after the fact.  Another first was the location.  The Games were at the Home Depot Center in L.A. (Where the L.A. Galaxy plays), a far cry from the Aromas, CA ranch where the games have been held in the past.  There was even a fly-over!

The feats of athleticism I witnessed were incredible.  I have quite a few new CrossFit crushes.  The WODs were very well designed and just brutal.  The individual competition consisted of 6 intense workouts over three days.

This recap video made by Again Faster gave me the chills:

Event 1 (Friday Evening)
This is where I fell in love with Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet.

9, 7, 5
Muscle Ups
Squat Snatches (135/95)

Event 2 - "Hell-In" (Saturday Morning)
This event was basically a diabolically re-arranged double Helen followed by an overhead lift.

Run 1,200
63 Kettlebell Swings
36 Pullups
Run 800
42 Kettlebell Swings
24 Pullups
Run 400
21 Kettlebell Swings
12 Pullups
90 seconds to establish a 1RM shoulders to overhead.

These two events begin to show an all around athleticism with the sprint like nature of the first event (if you have muscle ups) and the longer endurance nature of Hell-In.

Event 3 (Saturday Afternoon)
This WOD combines reps of a heavy lift with a rarely practiced pistol and the highly used, but easy to screw up double under. So you have to have brute strength, agility, coordination and gymnastics ability to be successful in this WOD. Oh, and you're already smoked from Hell-In.

As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) in 7 minutes
7 Deadlifts (315/205)
Sprint across stadium
14 Pistols
21 Double Unders
Sprint back across stadium

Event 4 - The Sandbag WOD (Saturday Evening)
This was an awesome event to watch. It not only involved many aspects of athleticism, but a lot of strategy as well. This event was about your ability to do work and certainly speaks to the functional aspect of CrossFit.

Athletes had to move 600/370 lbs of sandbags from the top of the stands on one end of the stadium to the top of the stands on the other end (this involved getting them over a wall about 7' high).  They did have wheelbarrows to move the sandbags across the stadium.

Event 5 (Sunday Morning)
Most people can't do a single full range of motion handstand pushup. This WOD is going to favor gymnastically inclined athletes.

7 Rounds
3 Cleans (205/135)
6 ring Handstand Pushups/4 Handstand Pushups

Event 6 (Sunday Afternoon/Evening)
This is one of the most punishing WODs I've ever seen. One look at the course and you know you're in for a pretty fun time though. This WOD makes me want a scaling wall to practice on!

Event 6a
3 rounds of:
30 push-ups
21 overhead squats (65/95 lb.)
Wall rope climb between each element
(7-minute cap)

Event 6b
3 rounds of:
30 toes-to-bar
21 ground-to-overhead (95/65 lb.)
(7-minute cap)

Event 6c
3 rounds of:
5 burpee wall jumps
20-foot rope climbs (3/2)
(12-minute cap)

I'm so proud and excited to be a part of this sport.

My Turn to Cook Again: Crispy Baked Chicken with Teriyaki Sauce

I was challenged to cook again last night.  I went to another recipe from Annie's Eats, which is quickly becoming a go-to for dinner recipes.  This time I tried her Crispy Baked Chicken with homemade Citrus Teriyaki Sauce and made a take on my summer favorite, caprese salad on the side. 

Crispy Baked Chicken with Citrus Teriyaki
I'm thinking this dish may make it into Eric's rotation.  It was relatively simple and delicious.  The panko was light and crispy and the garlic powder added a nice flavor.  The teriyaki was flavorful, but not to sweet.

For the sauce:
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp. sake
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. mirin

For the chicken:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 large eggs (I just eyeballed some egg beaters)
1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3)
Nonstick cooking spray

To make the sauce, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, sake, sugar and mirin in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 6 minutes, until slightly thickened.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.  In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  In a second bowl, lightly beat the eggs together (or use egg beaters).  Place the panko in a third shallow bowl or pie plate.  Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

The directions said to butterfly the chicken breasts into halves.  I don't really know what that means, so I just cut them into strips.  Lightly season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Using tongs and working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture to coat both sides.  Shake lightly to remove any excess.  Then dip into the eggs and shake gently to remove any excess.  Finally place in the panko, turning to coat well.  Transfer to the prepared wire rack.  Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.  Once all the chicken pieces are in place, spray lightly with cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden.  Let rest a few minutes before slicing and serving.  Serve with the teriyaki dipping sauce on the side.

Mini Caprese Salad
I'm obsessed with tomatoes this summer, and especially with caprese salad.  I could eat it every day.  The ingredients I used for this couldn't have been any better or fresher.  Tomatoes fresh from JT's garden and the farmers market (mine isn't producing enough yet), Mozzarella from a local farmer at the farmers market and basil from my garden.  The Balsamic Vinegar is just a normal vinegar from the grocery store.  I would love some really good balsamic.

Cherry Tomatoes.  I used a mix of cherry black krim, sun sugar and yellow pear.
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
Fresh Basil leaves
Balsamic Vinegar

Slice the tomatoes in half and the mozzarella into small pieces.  Cut the basil leaves into strips.  Put ingredients into a medium sized bowl and gently toss with balsamic vinegar.

Keep Away

I've learned that using room temperature butter is very important in baking unless the recipe says otherwise.  Room temperature butter makes a huge difference in texture of the final product.  Unfortunately room temperature butter also means having to keep the butter out of the fridge until you need it.  Out of the fridge is cat territory.  Apparently cats like butter.  I've come back to use my room temperature butter to find cat tongue sized parts of my butter missing.  That's right, Duff will lick through the paper to get to the butter.  Now when I'm allowing butter to come to room temperature I set up a contraption that looks something like this:

Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 CrossFit Games

This weekend the 2010 CrossFit Games are at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.  A real venue this year!  I'm so excited to watch this weekend in between various other activities.  Live footage will be streaming online at  I plan on watching from our new TV setup upstairs where we have a new 55" LED LCD with a 1080p computer attached.  I'll also be watching from my iPhone (Don't tell Eric).  So excited!!!! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My First Harvest

OK, so it's just a tomato and a green bean.  But I'm still pretty excited about it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Turkey and Green Bean Stir Fry

About a month ago I was lamenting to my riding girls about how Eric was going to make me start cooking on Wednesdays.  I'm not known for my fine palate or culinary prowess so I asked for help.  My friend Autumn, proprietor of Covet in Arlington, suggested I try this recipe from Food and Wine Magazine.

This took a few tries for me.  Apparently I don't know how to tell if oil is "simmering" or if additional ingredients are ready to be added.  I learned that you don't want to wait too long or things will burn, you'll get splattered with hot oil and your house will smell like smoke.  Take two went much better and though my kitchen was already a mess, the meal turned out to be very good.  The flavors were spot on.

Turkey and Green Bean Stir Fry

3 tbs vegetable oil
1 two inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks (I didn't have this on hand so I used prepackaged crushed ginger instead)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb ground turkey
salt and pepper, freshly ground
3 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs Japanese Mirin (a sweetened Saki that can be found in the grocery store near the soy sauce)
1 lb green beans, ends snapped off
2 c loosely packed basil (I used a mix of sweet basil and African blue and probably reduced the amount.  I shouldn't have)
1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped

In a large skillet, heat 2 tbs of oil until "simmering."  Apparently the oil doesn't actually simmer.  Throw a few drops of water in there and when THAT starts simmering you can move on to the next step.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the turkey and season with salt and pepper.  Stir fry, breaking up the meat until it is almost cooked through

Add the soy sauce and mirin and cook for another minute or so until turkey is cooked. 

Transfer turkey to another bowl and wipe the skillet.

Heat 1 tbs of oil until "simmering" (see number 1!)

Add the green beans and stir fry about 5 minutes, until the beans are crisp, tender, and a little blackened.

Add the beans to the turkey and let cool for a little.

Add the basil, toss and serve!

Leftovers approved!  Use fresh basil after reheating for leftovers.


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