I’m sitting at my computer at 5:00 a.m. listening to the rain that is coming down hard.  Yesterday I heard that San Diego was going to be getting rain overnight.  I asked if we were talking “San Diego Rain” (when it barely is spitting from the sky), or “Real Rain”; y’know, rain like everywhere else in the country gets.  For 6 hours, we’ve had real rain and all I’m missing now is a tin roof off of which to hear it ping.  You see, any sort of dampness (aka “San Diego Rain”) typically means that people hunker down like they do in the Northeast when there is a 3 foot snow storm.  Restaurants and retail outposts slow and the freeways will be a mess as San Diegans forget to how to drive in inclement weather (actually, I don’t think that they ever learned).  I donned on a sweatshirt, made myself a cup of tea and sat down to write.  I started thinking……

You know it’s the off season when

  • You go three weeks instead of two weeks between pedicures
  • You go to a show at 10:00 p.m. (that hasn’t happened YET, but I think that I could pull it off)
  • Wine becomes a major food group on some nights (last night I had 2 glasses of said wine and a ginormous bowl of Brussel Sprouts—it helps that Geoff is traveling)
  • You eat more than the residual crumbs off your husband’s plate of dessert; you order your own.
  • Dog Beach and multiple cups of coffee prevail over 6:00 a.m. swim workouts
  • All of your clothes miraculously “shrink” a little in the wash; particularly your bike kits
  • The idea of going camping over a weekend suddenly seems appealing
  • Biggest workout of the week was bowling on a Friday night

Yesterday I headed out to GWL with Rachel, Nooka and Julie.  I hadn’t ridden out there since last December.  I actually ENJOYED the climbs in Great Western Loop, as the pace was somewhat leisurely (except that I SWEAR I had on an 11-21 cassette—low and behold it was an 11-25). I’ve been easing back into training and the ride actually felt pretty good.  Looking forward to throwing that route back in the regular mix

Bowling at Devon Lanes in PA

Bowling at Devon Lanes in PA–yup, it’s the off season. Managed to up my PR to a whopping 73!

I often teach “Lunch and Learns” to various companies around the area. The great thing about a Lunch and Learn is that over the lunch hour, a group enjoys a cooking demonstration, education and a full meal (typically 3-4 dishes).  I teach the entire class in under an hour and they eat the dishes as I make them so its very time-efficient.   With Thanksgiving in mind, I created this flavorful and colorful salad for a Lunch and Learn at Scripps in La Jolla.  I hadn’t worked much with wild rice in the last 15 years so I felt like I had just discovered a new product.  Wild rice is actually a reed, or grass.  Nutritionally speaking, it has 6 grams of protein per 1 cooked cup (for comparison, quinoa has 8 grams, brown rice has 5 grams—in our protein-obsessed culture, this is a selling point for wild rice and I’m guessing because of its lack of grain status, it could be classified as “Paleo” as well….LOL).   I used minimal amount of curry as to not overpower the salad.  Dried pears were a nice, creative addition but you could substitute any dried fruit.  I’ve included quick methods for cooking the rice and squash.

Wild Rice, Roasted Butternut Squash and Toasted Pecan Salad

Wild Rice, Roasted Butternut Squash and Toasted Pecan Salad

Tips

  • You can cook Rice and Roast Squash 1-2 days advance
  • You can toast Pecans up to 7 days in advance and store in sealed container
  • Top with Toasted Pecans at the last minute so that they stay crunchy.

Wild Rice, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad and Roasted Pecan with Orange-Curry Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Sherry or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Grade “B” Maple Syrup (thanks, Carla, for the motherload you shipped me from New Hampshire)
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp of each)
  • ¼tsp dried Thyme
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder
  • 2 tsp Orange Zest
  • 2 Cups cooked Wild Rice
  • 2 Cups cubed roasted Butternut Squash
  • ½ Cup chopped dried Pears
  • 2-4 large handfuls of Spinach Leaves (depending on how “green” you like your salads)
  • ½ Cup chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ Cup Roasted Pecans
  • optional: Pomegranate Seeds for color

Method

  • In a large bowl; whisk together Olive Oil, Vinegar, Maple Syrup, Garlic, Salt and Pepper, Thyme, Curry Powder and Orange Zest
  • Add Wild Rice, Squash and Dried Pears and toss until coated—You can do this up to a day in advance. Adjust seasoning (that’s CHEF SPEAK for “increase salt and pepper”) if necessary
  • Within 2 hours of serving, incorporate the Spinach, Parsley, Green Onions into the rice mixture
  • Top with Roasted Pecans and Pomegranate Seeds

Cooking of Wild Rice

Note this cooks exactly like brown rice

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In an oven-safe pot with tight fitting lid, bring 2 1/4 Cups water, 1 Cup Rice and ½ tsp Sea Salt to Boil
  • Turn off heat, cover rice and transfer to oven
  • Cook for 45-50 minutes or until Rice has started to open and you can see some white.
  • Cool

Roasting of Butternut Squash

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Toss 2 Cups cubed Squash with 1 Tbsp Olive Oil and ½ tsp of Salt
  • Spread onto baking sheet
  • Roast for  22-25 minutes
  • Cool

On the docket for today’s workouts:  a swim (note that I’m NOT at 6:00 a.m. masters but rather sitting cozily at my desk) a run and a strength session.  I’m committed to a strength program this year.  Recently, I had a long discussion with a triathlon coach about the merits of strength training and he reiterated that it is paramount for triathletes 35 years plus. We get so focused on the metrics of Swim-Bike-Run that we neglect the other parts of training that keep us strong and injury-free.   I would much rather spend an hour and a half in the gym every week than drive to various PT appointments.   I’m guessing that the injuries I sustained in 2011 (hip) and 2013 (Achilles) were because I’m a master’s athlete and I was doing very little outside of the three sports.

I will post a Thanksgiving Green Salad over the weekend.  The base will be K.A.L.E….shocking, I know 🙂

Have a wonderful Friday