Monday, May 23, 2011

On The Menu: Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus

We belong to a wonderful CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture), The Hamlet Organic Garden, here on Long Island.  If you aren't familiar with CSA's... they are fabulous!  You purchase a share in a farm, and each week receive a portion of the farm's veggies.  Not only are you eating locally grown, fresh produce (which is healthy for you and the environment), supporting real family run farms, but also it forces you to expand your cooking repertoire.

To find a CSA in your area check out Local Harvest ...
"The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies."
Last weekend I visited our CSA and picked up some fresh asparagus.  We love asparagus and normally we broil it with some olive oil, salt, pepper and tons of garlic, and a squeeze of lemon when it is finished; but this week I decided to make something a little different.

I got the recipe from the April 2009 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus

Course Salt and Ground Pepper
12 ounces of spaghetti
1 bunch (1 pound) of asparagus, tough ends removed, and shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 strips of lemon zest, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 Tablespoons of butter
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Add the asparagus and lemon zest to the pot; immediately drain the pasta mixture, and return to the pot.
Add the butter and lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper, toss, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce.
Top with parmesan.

My Changes:
I added garlic, of course, since I add garlic to almost everything.  How much?  I probably added three cloves, minced, when I added the butter and lemon juice.  You can add garlic to your taste.
I also substituted  2 Tablespoons of olive oil, for two of the four Tablespoons of butter (just because we like to use olive oil).

To make the asparagus, all you do it shave it with a vegetable peeler.  What worked best for me was to hold the asparagus down on the counter and shave off pieces (vs. turning the asparagus like you do when peeling a carrot).

I am hoping to post more recipes this spring and summer using the veggies as the come into season.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 17: A Glimpse Into Our Life

So, here is something a little different this week... in addition to the rock climbing updates, I am giving you a little glimpse into our lives.

This is what we did last Sunday, and in between working on the cottage and the gardens, this is fairly typical for a stay at home weekend day...

The Kid climbing on our wall at home (he is almost 21 months old)...

Since we moved into our home, nearly three years ago we have been renovating this cottage.  At one point, in it's history, it had been an apartment for someone; so there is running water and a fireplace.  When we bought the house, there were trees growing through the eves of the cottage, holes in the floor, no insulation, the running water didn't run, bad roof... basically it was a broken down shed with a garage bay.  We have slowly been restoring it, and now (while it is not completed) it is the home of our climbing wall, pottery and stained glass studio.

John climbing on our wall at home...

Me... not climbing, just being ridiculous with The Kid riding behind me.

So that is how things go down at our house.  Not everyday can be exciting... but most days can be fun.

  With all of this going on at home, I know you are asking (on the edge of your seat) "what about climbing this week?".  Well friends, I made it in to the gym three days.  The Kid and I went to Island Rock this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Again, this was another plateau week for me at the gym; I didn't send any new bouldering problems, and I didn't regress.  My 'rest days' of Thursday and Friday were very full of activity: mowing the lawn, building planter boxes, gardening, and replacing parts of our back deck... in other words, by Friday night when John got home I was physically exhausted.  Not surprising, when we went to the gym as a family on Saturday, I felt like I was climbing through molasses. 

Not everyday can be exciting.  You can't climb hard everyday.  Real life can be hard work.  When I go to bed every night with my family... I am happy, and grateful.

Hope you got a laugh from the videos.  I'd love to hear from you... yes, you.  Comment. Follow me.  Share my blog.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 16: Walking the Carriage Road and Changing Expectations

This week started out with a bang.  I got up early on Sunday morning, and started packing while John and The Kid were still sleeping.  When they got up at 7:30, I told them they had half an hour to get ready and out the door.  At 8:09 we were on the road, driving up to the Shawangunks to boulder the carriage road.  The 'Gunks' is in New Paltz, and is the mecca for trad climbing and bouldering in New York; it is also where John and I had our first date, got engaged and got married.  This was the first weekend I would be up there climbing again, since being pregnant.

I have to admit that I don't really enjoy bouldering the Carriage road.  Truth be told, I am more of a rope climber than a boulderer.  Ironically I never (even before The Kid) get on rope at the gym, I only boulder at the rock climbing gym.  Bouldering doesn't require a partner (I have always prefered to hit the gym at odd times with less people), and it works my weaknesses.  Nonetheless I was super excited to get outside and climb, hit some of my old projects, and spend the day with John and The Kid.

While I am not sure exactly how I expected the day to go, it was probably something like this... The Kid was going to sit happily watching us climb, while he entertained himself playing with stones.  I was going to walk up to my old projects and send them (or at least one of them).  John would send everything he touched (which is what usually happens anyway).  The Kid would sleep happily in his stroller, and John could spot me on the hard boulder problems I was sure to send.  We would have huge family adventure.  Our day would be just like old times... only better, since we would be sharing it with The Kid.
On one of my old projects.
John did his best photographing...
but it is really hard to get a good shot, and watch The Kid.
We did have a great day... but it was different; different than my expectations and different than old times.  Somehow I had forgotten about the drop off along the Carriage Road (seems impossible, but I did), so I hadn't anticipated the terror that would run through my body, as The Kid ran full speed down the road.  The desire that The Kid had for a closer look of people working Buddha (demonstrated by his frequent attempts to walk under the boulderers), was also not anticipated.  His excitement overrode his need for breakfast, lunch, snacks or a timely nap; which began to erode my enthusiasm and energy.  John send every boulder problem he got on... no surprises there.  My months climbing exclusively on plastic did not translate into climbing well where it counts:  on real rock.

However, the differences in reality and my expectations also made the day wonderful... just different.  Seeing The Kid run full speed down the Carriage Road like a deer was breathtaking and beautiful.  Watching John climb is always inspiring; he always makes it look effortless, and climbs with passion.  After a long beautiful walk past Boxcar, looking at streams and seeing a snake, The Kid did fall asleep in his stroller (which honestly has only happened about three other times before ever).  During his nap, John and I got to talk to each other (without interruption) and John spotted me on some bouldering problems.  Despite my climbing not being where I had hoped, I remembered how much I love to climb on real rock, and am more motivated to get back out.

John said it best... this was our first trip upstate as a family.  We are learning what we need to do, so the day goes smoothly... and so is The Kid.  When John and I were first together, it took me hours to pack for a weekend upstate because I didn't know what to expect.  By the time we got engaged, we could be out of the door in twenty minutes.  We, as a family, are at the beginning of another learning curve.  I am starting to realize that our weekends upstate will be more about enjoying the day as a family, with some climbing... and less about only climbing.  I also have a feeling that just when we settle into this new groove, things will change... and, again, so will our expectations.

As far as the gym this week (my home gym is Island Rock on Long Island, NY), I made it in on Tuesday and Wednesday with The Kid.  Although, I didn't send any of my bouldering projects, I did start some new ones.  The important thing is that I am at the gym, getting stronger... so I can send some projects outside.

PS - The original Week 16 blog post was lost, this is a re-write.  A few hours after I posted the original, Blogpsot crashed; while it seems as though most posts were retrieved and re-posted, mine was not.  So in the event that you managed to read the original, before it disapeared, yes... this is not quite the same.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 15: Pulling People Up

"In life most people want to pull you down.  When you find someone who wants to pull you up, grab onto them."  A quote from my grandfather.

A few weeks ago there were a group of us, all working the same boulder problem at the gym.  It was a good session, and everyone was climbing around the same grade.  I am not a particularly social climber; I shy away from the crowds and the competition.  I am social with people at the gym, just not so much while I am climbing; I am not one of those people who usually get motivated around other climbers.  However, on this particular day, the vibe was right and so were the climbers, so I was really motivated.

Then this guy (who works at the climbing gym) comes up, takes off his street shoes, leaves his socks on, and climbs the problem (the same boulder problem everyone was working on).  He finished, sat down in a chair fifteen feet away and watched.  I assume he thought that he was now a hero, since he was able to climb the problem (in socks) that we had all been working.

This guy was a typical 'want to pull you down' person.  He didn't climb the problem as part of his circuit, nor did he do it to show us 'secret beta'... he did it to make himself feel big, and to make everyone else feel small.  (Side note:  I have no issue when people climb your project when they are actually climbing, we all do that when a boulder problem is part of your circuit; this guy hadn't been climbing before, and didn't climb after.)

It made me think about how much 'bigger' someone really is when they pull people up.  The person who makes people feel small doesn't succeed in making himself bigger in their eyes... just the opposite.  We all view the person who pulls us up as a hero, and the ones who try to bring you down as... well, as jerks.

This also made me more aware of the opportunities that I have to 'pull people up', and it gave me a lot to think about.  I realized that I don't make an effort to pull people up as much as I should; I don't pull them down, but I also don't make the effort to pull others up... at least not enough.

Anyway, we all (John, The Kid, and I) hit the gym on Tuesday, and The Kid and I went on Friday.  My climbing was uneventful... basically it was a plateau week.  This was just fine with me, I was just happy to be climbing.

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