Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Garden update

We have 3 raised beds going this year, as well as some side containers in our garden. Things seem to be going great.
Here are some pics taken yesterday:
This box has some Green Zebra tomatoes, Sun Gold tomatoes, beans, eggplant, beets, peppers (sweet and hot), broccoli, basil and some onions in it. 2 of the squares have heirloom beans in them, from Rancho Gordo in San Fran. Rancho Gordo is a store/heirloom bean preservation project, dedicated to preserving heirloom beans in Mexico. We planted a variety called Alubia Criollo, a type of runner bean. Hopefully we'll have success and help perpetuate this wonderful, heirloom variety.

Above you can see the trellis that Rob built for the beans to climb up. It's bamboo, tied together, with the square netting draped around it.
The next box is a bit smaller and has radishes, beets, Brussels sprouts, peppers (sweet/hot), eggplant, onions, leeks, strawberries, Swiss chard, tomatoes and broccoli in it:

Here's a close up of the red beets (we also have golden beets as well):

Our last box has broccoli, tomatoes, onions, leeks, radishes, carrots, peppers, Brussels sprouts and eggplant in it.

The broccoli is doing fantastic:

And a close up of the Brussels sprouts:

We are really hoping to have success with the carrots. I've heard they like it hot, so....bring on the heat!!!
The radishes and beets should be ready first. I'll report back when we've started our harvesting...

Friday, May 18, 2012

You say Banana, I say Plantain

Have you tried plantains?
If not, you're missing out! They are delicious. Basically, a plantain is a green banana. It is lower in sugar than your typical yellow, sweet banana, and is more firm. Like the yellow banana, the plantain is a good source of potassium, as well as fiber.
Unlike the yellow sweet banana, which is eaten raw, plantains need to be cooked prior to eating. They can be used green, or allowed to ripen up more, turning a yellowish-black color. Either way, the plantain is delicious, and makes a great accompaniment to a main meat dish, especially pork :)
Here are some yellowish-black, more ripe plantains: they will be sweeter than the green plantain, as their starches have had time to convert to sugars, but still can not be consumed raw:
The skin is tough, and needs to be cut to open up. Here I've made a cut down the center, and then was able to peel off the skin. Sometimes though, the skin needs to be cut off since it is thick and can adhere tightly to the fruit.
After getting the skin off, I chopped the plantains into 1/2 inch thick slices. I melted some coconut oil over medium heat, and added the plantains in to the hot oil. After a couple minutes the plantains become caramelized and brown and can be flipped to cook the other side.
After the plantains have browned and softened up on the second side, remove from the pan. It's best to add a touch of salt to them right as they are taken off the heat.
That's it - very easy.

I also like to bake over ripe plantains, whole, in their skin - to do that, simply make a cut down the middle as above, place on a baking sheet and bake until the fruit is soft and brown, at 375 degrees. It should take somewhere in the range of 20-30 minutes to bake.
So next time you're at the market, grab some plantains and try them out :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why am I training for RKC?

I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but when I sit down to do it, something else always seems to come up. Probably because this will be tough for me to write.
I've been trying to sort out just why I am training for Dragon Door's Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC, read about the certification requirements here: RKC). It's a personal goal of mine for 2012, but I've never really been a goal setter.
That's not to say I haven't undergone some lofty tasks in my life. 5 years ago, I started a successful personal chef business. At the time, it was a huge undertaking. I had no doubt in my mind that I would be successful, and I was. But where I am concerned, I've never been one to really challenge myself, or hold myself to a higher standard.

Over the past year however, I've challenged myself to starting, doing and finishing some fast and hard challenges, including Dragon Door's Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification, TRX Team Certification, Josh Hillis's 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge, Robb Wolf's 30 Day Paleo Transformation and Balanced Bites 21 Day Sugar Detox.  So, why? Why do these challenges?

Because I have absolutely NO control over a damn thing in my life other than my food and my fitness. And through these challenges, I have found a way to ground myself, to get control and to get a feeling of support from others who are in some way involved with the challenges. See, my son, Max, almost 10, has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome/ADHD, and things concerning him are ROUGH. And unfortunately, Max encompasses EVERY aspect of my life other than food and fitness.

The past 2 years have been so challenging, I don't know if I can even put it into words. In fact, I know I can't even begin to explain what I've been through to make you understand the enormity of what I live with. Max is an explosive child and can go off at any moment. Family life is hard and not happy most of the time. We are limited to what we can achieve as a family because Max dictates what we can do. Plans can get derailed in an instant. Physicality is a normal part of my every day. Calls from school are a daily occurrence.
School has been unsuccessful for him and we are now in a battle to get him the education he rightly deserves and needs. But right now, I'm not even sure that "school" is right for Max. He was hospitalized in February for a short period of time. We are now trying to determine what type of placement he needs. The fact that my gut instinct jumps around from day to day, minute to minute even, is unsettling. That is a entire other subject, but just another example of something I can not control. Having to take on the school system to get what your child rightly deserves is exhausting.

It's isolating and I feel out of control most of the time.
It is so hard.

Through these goals I have set for myself and completed, I have been rewarded with the feeling of support, control and success, something that is lacking for me on a daily basis where family life and being a mom is concerned. So that brings me to RKC, a HUGE goal for myself. In a time where I struggle on a daily basis, I have found something that brings me joy, happiness, that is a hugely rewarding yet even more hugely challenging physically and mentally, something that gives me strength and that something is training with kettlebells. On Sept 11, 2011, I did my Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification (HKC), Dragon Door's entry level kettlebell certification. I was introduced to an amazing community of like minded fitness people. At that point I decided to take it to the next level, RKC and haven't looked back. The support has been fantastic, with RKCs on Facebook and Twitter offering tons of support; I'm lucky enough to train and get mentored by RKC2, Mike Perry of Skill of Strength. I made some nice friends at HKC and we all support each other as well.
As I progress in my training and hit personal records, I feel success and that's a good thing.
So, that's it. That's why I train. That's why I've set this huge goal for myself, and that's why I'll continue to work hard to get better, every day.
If you're still reading this, thank you for sticking with me.