Monthly Archives: May 2011

Doughman is My Homeboy

I am officially one satisfied Doughman volunteer.  The race went off according to schedule on Saturday morning (Mother Nature cooperated!) and I was lucky enough to be stationed at the VIP tent, which was right in the middle of all the action!

From the start line…

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…to the food tables…

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…to the super heroes and hospital patients having gown issues…

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…I saw it all.

I spent my morning serving corndogs, vegetarian tamales, vegan spaghetti and meatballs, lamb sloppy joes, cupcakes, brownies, bread pudding, and popsicles to the VIPs.  And they started eating all this at 8am.  

Not my cup of tea, but hey, Doughman only comes once a year.  The VIPs were smart and bought tickets so they could not only watch the racers, but also eat while the racers ate.  Very cool.

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Here are some of the eats:

CorndogsHuge corndogs from Dain’s Place.  Racers ate a full one, not half.  And a fun fact:  Dain and his team are the founders of The Doughman!

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Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs from Four Square….as in spaghetti squash, quinoa meatballs, and a tomato salsa sauce.  Really yummy.

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Hello, Gorgeous!  A variety of cupcakes from Nosh and Daisy Cakes.

The foods I missed pictures of were Six Plates’ famous Lamby Joe Sliders, a tamale from Dos Perros, bread pudding from Piedmont, and gourmet popsicles from Locopops.  All in all, a fabulous showing of all the foodie offerings in Durham!

And the best part about volunteering?

Attending the banquet Saturday night that featured even more local restaurants, breweries, and food trucks!  Talk about heaven in a parking lot.

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My favorite items for the night were both from Four Square — a watermelon slice topped with arugula salad and a white bean ratatouille.  (I think that means that I should visit the restaurant soon as I also loved their vegan meatballs from the race!).  All that finished off with a Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale from Fullsteam Brewery (which uses basil from local farmers!) led to a very happy belly.

I think I’m still digesting.  See ya next year, Doughman.

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**If you’re interested in dough-nating to The Doughman, there is still time to do so!  Just click this link, and then on the orange button that says, “Dough-Nate.”  Your money will go to two local charities that help keep kids busy after school by teaching them how to grow an inner-city garden (SEEDS) or design works of art (Seesaw Studio)!

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SatDOUGHday

It’s Doughman day!  The Doughman is an annual charity eating/exercise quadrathlon that brings smiles to the faces of everyone in Downtown Durham.  It is a ridiculously fun day — filled with teams dressed in silly costumes, stuffing local delicacies down their faces and then running, biking, or swimming different portions of the race.  Eating comes before exercise, so the #1 rule in The Doughman is:  DO NOT THROW UP.  If you do, you are disqualified.

I competed last year, and my team and I dressed as Richard Simmons.  We actually won the Best Costume award out of 70 teams!

 

This year, I am volunteering instead due to an injury that’s keeping me out of the race.  But, it will still be fun to see all the teams and be in the midst of the competition.

Have a great SatDOUGHday, and if you want to donate to the causes (two awesome local charities:  SEEDS and See Saw Studios), here’s where you can do so:  http://www.seedsnc.org/.

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Flying High

This weekend I went indoor skydiving at Paraclete XP in Raeford, NC.  It was my second time doing this, the first being at a family reunion in Pigeon Forge, TN, many many years earlier.  I really didn’t remember my first experience that much, so I was excited to try it again with some friends.

The verdict?

SO FUN. 

I’m a little sore still in my shoulders and lower back (so don’t do it if you have any major problems in those areas), but it was so worth it!  Just imagine…you’re in a wind tunnel with your arms and legs extended, and you just float.  It’s quite peaceful.  Of course there are 105+ mile per hour winds engulfing you, but it’s still relaxing. 

And that’s actually the trick to doing this well.  As my instructor said about 20 times during the training session, “Just chill out.  Relax.  And breath.”  Sounds like a yoga class in the air.

If you do “chill out,” you tend to catch on faster.  I did really well according to the instructor and learned how to spin and fly up higher and lower on my own, all within 3 minutes of total flight time. 

The best part?  At the end of my last minute of flying, the instructor asked (or really gestured and mouthed the question to me since I was flying about 15ft. above him and couldn’t hear anything) if I wanted him to take me up to the very top of the tunnel.  Obviously, I mouthed back a “Yes.”

**Side note:  This is probably making my mom really nervous as I have a penchant for jumping (and now flying) down from great heights.  I will never be forgiven for cliff jumping off of 60ft. cliffs in college.  And though I don’t have plans for jumping off ledges anymore, I may have a new love for flying in 56ft. tall wind tunnels.  Sorry, Mom.

Anyway, I said yes to the question, and before I knew it, I was catapulted to the top of this tunnel by 105+ miles per hour winds.

And then dropped.

And then catapulted, again!

And then dropped.

And then catapulted, again!

And then dropped.

My instructor was with me the entire time in the air, and the speed at which this took place was incredible.  Such a rush.

If you want to see what the pros are capable of, here’s a fun video.

I didn’t do any flips or walking on walls like the instructor does here, but who knows…maybe I will one day.  I just won’t tell my mom.

(Kidding.)

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Fiesta Friday

For the past week or so, I’ve been trying to think of some cheap, easy-to-make “fiesta” decor to decorate buffet tables for a themed dinner I have tonight.  Thanks to those that helped (L.Bo), but unfortunately I ran out of time to use any of my arts and crafts skills.  Instead, I made a stop at Party City today and immediately became transfixed on this…..

Oh yes.  I will make one of the groups I have group tonight for dinner break open an ice cream cone pinata.  Ice cream cones are not very “fiesta-ish” but I’m just going to roll with it.  The candy is sure to be a hit.  I can see the group in my mind already fighting over candy as soon as it pops open.

I almost bought this one…

But then I realized that other people probably don’t find unicorns as hysterical as I do.  This one honestly just looks like it’s in pain.

Hope you’re having a fun little fiesta Friday!  Enjoy the weekend!

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Celebration Scampi

This past weekend, I watched many friends celebrate their graduation from business school.  It was really nice to be a part of their happiness because I’ve seen them progress throughout their program for the past 18 months, and I know how excited they are to move on from school. 

While managing the various celebration receptions, I recalled a meal that I threw together a few years back when I concluded of a certain facet of undergraduate business school:  financial accounting.  I had two good study buddies in this class, and I still remember our late-night meet-ups to go over practice problems and concepts before any exams.  When we all passed the final and the class, we decided to celebrate with a delicious home-cooked meal.  And by that, I mean that I cooked and my friends (two guys who did not have the best kitchen skills back then) provided the home for it.

Celebration Scampi
Serves 4

8 to 10 oz. whole wheat pasta (linguine and penne both work well)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter*
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
1 Lb. medium, uncooked shrimp (veins removed)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese, garnish

*For a more traditional scampi, use 2 Tbsp. butter instead of 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta cooks, heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat.  When melted, add garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly so as not to burn the garlic.

Add wine to pan and stir to combine.  Let cook for 1 to 2 minutes so that the wine begins to reduce.  Then add the shrimp and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until shrimp are bright pink.  In the last minute of cooking, add in salt, pepper, and lemon juice, all to taste.

Pour pasta onto a large serving platter and top with the scampi sauce.  Garnish with parsley and/or freshley grated parmesan.

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A “Happy-Medium” Cookie

Do you ever turn into Cookie Monster?  I know I do.  There are some days when chefs in the kitchen at work recognize a certain intense (or desperate) look on my face and silently point to the freshly baked tray of double chocolate chip goodness cooling on sheet pans.  I think they half-expect me to break into pleading wails of, “ME WANT COOKIES!!,” but I’ve contained myself so far.

Anyway, everybody loves a good cookie now and again.  The chewy texture of the dough and crunch of the chocolate chips is exactly what the soul and body calls for at times.  If you’re like me, though, you may want a healthier cookie option that tastes great and gives you a couple added health benefits that Tollhouse break-and-bake lacks.

Enter my favorite “happy-medium” cookie.  These are absolutely delicious, and don’t have an overt “healthy” flavor to them.  There’s a nuttiness from the whole wheat flavor and oatmeal, but thanks to the essential cookie ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate!) they retain their homemade chocolate chip cookie taste.

How do I know that these are really delicious and healthy cookies?  Because friends that I’ve made these for continuously ask me to make them again.  Sometimes a little too frequently.  And they’re foolproof, so I don’t end up with any bricks

I think Cookie Monster would approve.

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Happy-Medium Cookies (Oatmeal Chocolate Chip)
Adapted from A Dash of Sass

Makes 2 dozen cookies

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup butter or margarine, softened to room temperature

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. milk

1 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular 100% whole wheat flour)

½ tsp.baking soda

½ tsp.baking powder

½ tsp.salt

½ tsp.cinnamon

1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats

¾ to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the sugars and butter together in a medium bowl.  Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, and cream for another 30 seconds until combined.

In a separate large bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients (whole wheat flour through cinnamon).  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined.  

By hand, stir in the oats and chocolate until well distributed.  (The recipe at A Dash of Sassincludes walnuts — feel free to add if you wish!).

On a cookie sheet that’s been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment, drop teaspoons of dough about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 11 to 14 minutes. Cooking time may vary, but I like them right between 11 and 12 minutes, because I like softer and chewier cookies.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Then enjoy on their own or with a glass of milk.

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Joie Revisited

I have been absent on this blog for a very, very long time.  I’ve been busy, to say the least, but need to get back to regular posting.  I find it only fitting that I do so after a trip to the location of where I first spotted the painting that now serves as the “Joie de Vivre” header on this blog.

I spent the past 24 hours in Washington D.C. and stayed in the Georgetown section of the city.  After checking in at my hotel, I set out on what turned into a very long jaunt and walked from Georgetown to the White House to the Mall to the Smithsonian and back.  While walking down M Street (the main thoroughfare in Georgetown) on my way back to the hotel, I stumbled upon the Joie de Vivre painting.  I was really happy to find it again, because honestly, I couldn’t have told you the exact location of where I originally took the photo.  I knew it was in Georgetown, but that was it.

Now I know that the painting is at the corner of M and 30th street on the side of a Parisian style café and bakery called La Madelein.

Sometimes re-discovering something is even better than finding it the first time.  There are times when you learn a piece of information, or you find a great photo opportunity, but all the details don’t necessarily stay with you because you’re not ready for them.  Perhaps it’s because you’re too encased with other details to worry about.  Perhaps it’s because the details are too big to comprehend.  But then, you reach a point where the thing you discovered re-presents itself to you, and it clicks.  You notice the artist’s signature.  You notice the jagged crack cutting through the yellow at the top of the painting.  Ultimately, you just pay more attention.  Such was the case with me re-finding this painting on Sunday.

So, going back to the blog.  I hope that I don’t have another extended break like the one I’ve had the past three weeks.  Who knows what life will bring, but hopefully I can keep some semblance of recipes/travel/photos/life experiences coming to those of you who read.  To start you off, here are some photos from my walk. 

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