Gnarly Roots: Celeriac soup

Celeriac is the next cauliflower in terms of trendy foods. (I have decided. You're welcome!) It makes a delicious and filling soup--like cream of potato but with a smidge more personality. But look at this root! It is hairy and bumpy and gnarled, with a crop-top from where the celery was harvested earlier in the season. Who would think to eat such a thing!? Fortunately, a few trims with a big knife shears off the knobbly bits, and then it can be cubed and ready for soup.

My celeriac comes from the farmer's market, and I followed a Celeriac and Roasted Garlic soup recipe by Simply Delicious. Celeriac has a distinctive celery taste, but is more subtle than celery's bright green zing. The Simply Delicious recipe recommends using roasted garlic rather than raw, to keep that on the mild side too.

 Here are my two roots, one roasted and one not, ready to soupify.

A quantity of potatoes add body to the soup; onion is also in the mix. After sautéeing I added prepared chicken stock for a homey vibe, though any stock will do.

Cook until soft, purée, and serve with a swirl of cream or half and half. This provided a great work lunch for three days running!

Have you tried celeriac? Do you "soupify" it or do something else?

Happy Halloween! Goodbye October!

This week I went to Boston for work, which I take as an opportunity to eat different food than I can get in Brattleboro. I wanted Indian food or spicy Middle Eastern food, but what I found was just as good.

I got Wagamama Ramen at Wagamama in Harvard Square. It was delicious. Wagamama seems to be a British chain of Japanese style noodle bars, and I'm sure it is like the McDonald's of ramen to a purist or something like that. But to someone who doesn't know any better, I was delighted by the smokey porky briney taste of the dashi broth, and the mix of meats and seafoods. The Wagamama Ramen includes "chikuwa," which is a foodie first for me. According to Wikipedia chikuwa is a "tube-like food product" essentially made from fish paste and starches molded into a tube and then broiled and sliced. You can see it in rings on the right-hand side of my bowl there. I liked it.

I rented an apartment for my trip because it was actually cheaper than a hotel room. To make sure I would be happy in the morning, I stopped by Whole Foods after dinner and picked up some cold brew coffee.

The second evening I went with colleagues to dinner at Bostonia and had a scallop entree I can't stop thinking about. George's Bank scallops with ricotta gnudi and beech mushrooms, offset by crunchy snap peas and pea shoots, all in a silky creamy parmesan sauce. So good.

Back in Vermont, the end of October means end of the West Brattleboro Farmers Market for the season. On the last day little fires burn merrily around the market.

Giant apples in the Halloween sun

Spooky Halloween decoration, courtesy of fourth grade.

This year we carved our pumpkins using a carving kit that included templates. I was very impressed by how the pumpkin saws and scoop tools worked well even for younger carvers. Did you know that we no longer use real candles inside pumpkins, but rechargeable electric ones? Safe, though not quite the same warm glow.

Onward to November! My plans for this next month are mostly running related: to do my annual Pile on the Miles challenge (goal: 101 miles in November), help co-direct the local Thanksgiving Turkey Trot race, and run another 6-hour race on November 14. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! (Attributed to Admiral Farragut, I know this phrase not because of my grasp of naval history but because of its memorable use by the Charles Coburn character in "The More the Merrier" (1943) co-starring Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea. Great movie.)

Days of Soup and Snowflakes

The weather has changed in Vermont. The days are noticeably shorter. It's also cooler—one day we had the windows open at night, the next we had them shut tight because it was suddenly CHILLY. We've started running the furnace again. I am craving hot soup and crusty bread with a lot of butter on it. It's really hard to get up at 5:30 am to go run... I fail on most days, and I'm forgiving myself for that.

The foliage this year has been pretty, but fast. Last weekend it hadn't quite started yet, this weekend it's almost over.

Leaf vista

Dead morning glories and tomatoes—apparently the killing frost came last night.

Ready for jack-o-lanterns

Leaf bags turned into impromptu "bird mountain" by kindergartener

Also, it snowed today. Just a few nuggets in a mini flurry. But... still.

How is your October going? Is it AUTUMNAL?

Still Septembre?

Hello friends! So my son started kindergarten this year, which involves taking French. Last week he asked me, pronouncing the final word in French, "Is it still Septembre?" Why, yes. Yes it is still Septembre. Here is what I've been up to in the last month or so.

A pleasant visit to the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, Vermont.

 There's a vibrant cafe inside...

...and I ordered a delightful hammy panini to eat as I visited with some special people who live in the area.

King Arthur Flour is a Certified B Corporation, a special kind of business structure with a triple bottom line, showing that not only do they aim to grow profit, but also benefit people and planet.



I had a $25 gift card and picked out a woodsy tea towel, an apple oven mitt, a baker's blade (also known as a "lame"), and a yeast measuring spoon.

The yeast spoon is particularly exciting. It measures exactly the amount of 1 packet of yeast, being 2 1/4 teaspoons. I stopped buying yeast packets years ago and have been carefully measuring out 2 1/4 teaspoons of bulk yeast ever since. Being able to do this in ONE SCOOP is pure genius.

September also means the Guilford Fair here in Vermont. Here are some prize winning vegetables—check out the gorgeous cabbages in the center.

Hey look—King Arthur Flour prizes!



This weekend we also made it back to Pickity Place in New Hampshire for an elegant multi-generational lunch. (Here is my 2014 post.)

We were seated in the sunroom this time--well worth making a special request!

 Mint tableside

Fruit & cheese to start

Potato soup... it had a nice, savory porcini mushroom undertone

Seared citrus salad with slice of watermelon radish and one tiny pickled pepper

Foccacia with dipping oil

The beef medallions over barley was actually a chicken-fried steak over risotto. Summer squash on the side. It was really good!

Lemon cupcake with blackberry buttercream... and a blackberry! 

Pickity Place does an amazing job. They make you feel special and pampered, but they are also a well-oiled machine with 3 seatings a day. And of course, the grounds are also very picturesque, great for a post-prandial wander.





Also, it was Bombadil Feast Day this weekend! We started this tradition in 2011, and our 5th annual edition is going stronger than ever. We had guests, and readings, and stomp rockets in the yard.

Sausages are now a major part of the tradition, in addition to drinking-bowls.

Somehow Lentil Salad seemed hobbit-y.

How was your Septembre? Please leave a comment and share!

Race Report: 6 Hours in Paradise, Windsor VT

I've been pondering what to write about this race since I ran it on August 22, 2015. It was my first 6-hour race, and meant a lot to me in terms of personal accomplishment and my new love of trail running. I worry I may drone on, so perhaps Categories may be most succinct. I'm talking here about the inaugural 6 Hours in Paradise in Windsor, Vermont, put on by Dead Skunk Racing.

About the race
The 6-hour race was on a repeated trail course loop that was about 2.2 miles long. There was a Start/Finish station (a convenient park pavilion with roof and water spigot). Every time I passed the station on a loop the race coordinators would note it down, along with the time. The point is to complete as many loops as you want/can in the 6 hour time period. It is totally fine to stop and rest between loops, because it's all up to you! I managed to complete 11 loops in the allotted time, which was actually only 5 hours 33 minutes. (Since I was averaging 31 minutes per loop I didn't think I could get in a 12th loop within 6 hours, so I stopped rather than make myself sad.)

Loop logic
Running loops is interesting. For instance, there is not really a "back of the pack" in a loop. It's a circle... so everyone's in front of me! And also, everyone's behind me! Over the course of 6 hours I ended up passing or being passed by almost all the other runners, especially since there was a "lollipop" section (a mini-loop that had a shared ingress/egress) that meant I'd come across other runners on the "stick" of the lollipop even if they were basically going my same speed.

I also liked that I could "program" the loop in my mind. With an out-and-back race or point-to-point you don't get to know the course very well. But here, as I did circuits and got to know the trail, I'd decide which was my fast part, which was my eating-fruit-ball part, which was my favorite section (quite a long bit became my favorite!), and which part was my microclimate of dread. Then I would replicate that program each time, "Here's where I speed downhill," "Here's the hot & sunny part so get through it quick," "Here's where I power-walk, but only until that tree." I am particularly proud of the microclimate of dread invention. It's something I discovered on a looped training run. When I started to get a nervous feeling of "I can't do this, what am I doing, this is TOO LONG," I could assign the feeling to THAT SPECIFIC part of the trail, and then run away from it. It ends up serving as a way to compartmentalize the discomfort of a very long run, and it worked well for me.

Body feelings 
My left ankle hurts over distances, but it stayed the same throughout the race and didn't get worse. In the second-to-last loop I started to feel peculiar, like I was getting chills, but I told myself it was the effects of endorphins or adrenaline or... science... and decided to ignore it. I was fine.

Mind feelings
The "microclimate of dread" trick mentioned above helped me keep my inner complaining and naysaying to a minimum. I also tried a "swish and smile" technique gleaned from "How to Build Mental Muscle," a Runner's World article. My personal take on this article is that if you swish your sports drink (or even water) around in your mouth before swallowing it, the body-mind interprets that as getting extra nourishment and energy. Then, swallow and smile broadly—this smiling tricks the mind into thinking you're happy. Did it work? Well, I had a great race and felt competent and happy almost the whole time.

I have not been compensated for any brands I mention, they are just what I like.
  • Knee-length Athleta running shorts with handy side pockets for fruit balls
  • 2 super-light shirts (I changed from one to the other halfway through)
  • Columbia visor (I also wore my hair in 2 braids Michelle Yates style, represent!)
  • one Pro Compression sock on the left, and one Darn Tough sock on the right (I found out during training runs that I need this combo since two compression socks make my right foot numb, but zero compression socks make my left foot hurt)
  • Hoka One One Challengers (like running on a cloud!)
  • Ultimate Direction Jurek Grip hand-held water bottle (NEW! YAY!)
New hand-held bottle to replace the cursed waist pack.
Long nozzle means I can drink and watch the trail at the same time.

Nutrition & hydration
  • Fruit and nut balls (focus for hours 0-2)
  • Two Thermoses of Ramen soup (focus for hours 3-4)
  • 3 bottles GU Roctane drink mix in tropical fruit flavor** (hours 0-4)
  • 1 bottle Nuun Pink Lemonade flavor (random)
  • 2+ bottles of water (random)
  • Extra random packets of applesauce-type stuff and nut-bar type stuff
  • Watermelon chunks--I'd typically grab an unwieldy handful and head off into the woods slurping it
**I broke a cardinal rule of racing and tried something new on race day, GU Roctane drink mix. LOVED IT. It is caffeinated and has all the salts and stuff you need during a long run. I felt a warm, competent glow for about half the race, and I'm pretty sure Roctane was the reason. I started cutting it with water and Nuun midway along so I wouldn't get overcaffeinated, since that makes my stomach and brain hurt. It worked perfectly. And why Roctane? I ordered it because Magdalena Lewy-Boulet used it during Western States 100-miler, and she won, so it must be good. (Also she is a VP at GU Labs and helps develop the products.) That was my logic. True story!

Plans for the future
I liked this new type of race so much that I signed up for another 6-hour race in November. Maybe 6-hour races are my new 5k! I found it so much more enjoyable and worthwhile than an all-out effort that feels awful and ends in 20+ minutes (i.e., a 5k). I loped along happily at a 14:30-ish pace, chatted with fellow runners, stopped for a snack after every single loop, and I felt great. And turns out I also ran farther—24 miles total—and longer than ever before.

Awesome finisher's glass, first filled with Dogfishhead 60 Minute

Gochujang and Bibimbap, Vermont-style

In Brattleboro, Vermont, we are lucky enough to have our own Korean restaurant, the Shin La. Shin La does NOT serve fast food. You will find a place to sit on your own (choose one of the intimate high-backed booths!), place your order when your server has time, and then... be patient. But it will be worth it. The food is delicious. They also have 20-ounce cans of Sapporo to keep you happy as you wait.

Shin La is the perfect place to catch up with someone special, have hilarious conversations with your BFFs, or dine alone—catch up with yourself, write in your journal, and eat. The latter is something I did last Christmas—I ate at Shin La by myself. Maybe that sounds like boring news, but it was a revelation. Full story: the weekend after Christmas, the rest of my family went to visit relatives in another state, leaving me home alone. I decided that being on my own was a behavioral experiment. If I observed myself carefully, what would I find that I got up to? Would I go to the movies by myself? Would I roust out some friends and go dancing? Would I spend hours on the phone? Would I randomly drive to the mall or an art museum or a bluegrass show? It turns out that, when left to my own devices, my default for comfort and rejuvenation is lunch at Shin La. Specifically, my default comfort food is an order of Bibimbap.

Bibimbap at Shin La,  Brattleboro, Vermont

My Bibimbap was lovely. And I could not forget it. COULD NOT. My taste-sense would keep tripping merrily back to that flavor. I'd randomly think, "Wouldn't it be nice to have rice and veggies and sprouts and... whatever that FLAVOR was? That red-sauce-dollop in the middle? What WAS that stuff?"

Thanks to Google, I found out. That amazing red stuff in my Bibimbap is Gochujang. I chant the word around the house: "Gochujang, Gochujang, Gochujang, Gochujang!" I make up songs where that word is 100% of the lyrics. And I ordered Gochujang from my best retailer friend, Amazon.

It is spicy! It is sweet! It is sticky! Gochujang is pretty much the perfect condiment for white rice, for these 3 reasons. I'm sure this is a Korean travesty, but I have started relying on Gochujang as the basis for basically any rice-vegetable-bowl dinner. I call these bowls Bibimbap, Vermont-Style.

This Bibimbap, Vermont-style is sautéed bok choi and purple carrot with leftover pulled chicken, over rice with Gochujang.

This Bibimbap, Vermont-style is sautéed baby bok choi with sautéed tofu and a soft egg over rice with Gochujang.

Basic elements for Bibimbap, Vermont-style:
  • cooked white rice
  • GOCHUJANG--I got Sunchang brand from Amazon
  • protein—something that you've fried/refried with ginger and/or soy sauce and/or sesame oil. Soft egg, semi-firm tofu, leftover chicken that's been pulled, pork stirfry pieces, usw.
  • veggies—I like something green and something not
  • sprouts?!—I wish I could find meaty soy sprouts like Shin La uses, but have not yet
Have you heard of Gochujang already? According to Bon Appetit it's the latest hot sauce trend!