Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Hamptons!!

It has been decided! The 2014 CEMS Marathon Team will be running The Hampton’s Marathon this year!! The race is on Saturday (is this a little odd, or is it just me?), September 27th. Both full and 1/2 marathon distances, as well as a 5k, are offered all at the same time. I’m hoping our team will have “competators” 😉 in each event.

Per usual, the major focus of this year’s marathon will be:
1. The very best team uniforms

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The costume awesomeness of 2013

2. Excellent pre-race eats

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Numnumnumnum....

3. A weekend of QT + R&R with an eclectic pack of nerds 🙂

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Before...

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and after.

One additional aim, IMHO, ought to be for the group to acquire ZERO broken legs during this year’s marathon. Dr. Samia….

Aside from the above, my goals for this year will be largely dictated by the kind of training that my bitch of a lovely job and summer travel plans allow. If I can get a solid 18 weeks x 4 runs/week training season in, I would love to see that pesky 3:xx that so narrowly evaded me by 1:40 last fall. If not, well, then aside from hopefully having a summer of wonderful wedding and vacation and house-guest memories, and a paper or two in the works, I’ll enjoy hobbling running the 26.2 with whoever is willing to wait for me.

The off season has (of course) been less consistent than I would have liked but I did get in some nice track, interval, Vibram and tempo work outs in. I have to use my imagination (or be a-okay with lying) if I want to claim there were many any long runs (>10 miles), but I trust that those will come now with the beautiful weather and seasonal allergies. 🙂

This year’s training plan will be very similar what I followed last year. I much prefer the 4 day/week schedule, with a few more miles on each day and an extra rest day each week, to the more traditional 5 day/week regime. The rough goal will be as follows:

1. THE LONG RUN – the most important run of the week. I’ll try to get this out of the way on Saturday mornings and cover 8-21 miles. For those of you how know me (read: know about my issues with being able to hydrate properly on hot summer long runs) will be excited to know that my H2O struggles may be a thing of the past! You can address your thank-yous to this pretty little birthday gift I received last fall…

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Camelbaked!

Don’t worry, I will find plenty of other bonehead struggles legitimate grievances to share with you along the way 🙂

2. The recovery run. 5-12 miles to work the consequences of Saturday out of my legs. Happy Sunday 🙂

3. The Tuesday Tempo run. 3-7 miles at faster than race pace to give the legs a rude awakening little reminder of what it feels like to turn over at a reasonable pace.

4. The middle distance weekday run. 5-12 miles at a comfortable pace to keep up the fitness level and keep down the jeans size.

The core strength training that I’d hoped to be super diligent about this off season has unfortunately been less than a top priority 😦 Naughty Dr. Trot. Reflecting on the situation, it is a bit odd, even to me. I know core strength is important, I know my abs and back and arms and pecs could/should be stronger, and I know it doesn’t take that much time to crank out a few “lifts” at the end of each work out. But somehow it is still a hell of a lot easier said than done. Why is that? (Dr. Trot = L.A.Z.Y. is the best that I’ve got thus far.) Regardless, these NEED to become a regular part of my training this season.

Alrighty then! Long story short, I think that’s it for now! Overall it’s pretty simple, eh? We shall see!

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Filed under Marathons, Northeast, Trotting

Sometimes your very best just isn’t good enough (and not just for Shalanie, for normal people too)

On the heals of a disappointing Monday for one of my favorite distance runners, I had the pleasure of downloading quite the colorful set of reviews of my F32 application. And if the title of this post wasn’t a total spoiler, the reviews were collectively NOT in favor of funding my most novel and impactful research projects. (I’m not biased or anything…)

If you remember my previous discussion about this horse shit F32 fellowship application process, I was waiting for my impact score, the result of a panel discussion of the research I had proposed and the training plan that would be in place for me as a post-doc. Well, apparently with this line of thought I was being more than a bit presumptuous as my application never even made it to the panel discussion!! x-(

So to get to the discussion panel stage each proposal has to make it through a first round of screening, During this first round 3 reviewers assess the proposal and applicant for scientific merit and potential. Two of my reviewers saw the world in a way similar to myself and although they raised a number of very valid criticisms, they both gave me very constructive feedback and scores sufficient to pass me onto the panel discussion.

Enter Reviewer #3.

To his (I’m assuming here) credit, he also raised a number of constructive and valid objections to my merit and the potential of my proposal. HOWEVER, I have a hard time keeping this in the front of my mind as he also had a field day with my proposed research at the expense of maintaining his own scientific integrity. Let me summarize my most frustrating grievances in a few bullet points and then leave it at that:

1. Works that are published AFTER my proposal’s submission are NOT something I should have been familiar with at the time of submisison.
2. It is prudent to at least skim the paper that you’re referencing (read: using as a basis for trashing my fellowship application) to confirm that the title (as you are interpreting it) accurately describes the research project.
3. It is even more prudent to read said paper well enough to asses if the data collected do in fact support the claims being made.

Now I do get that everyone is busy, very busy. The task of carefully reviewing lowly post-doc fellowship proposals is a thankless chore and I would most certainly struggle to do what I consider an acceptable job. Being still many steps below this point in my career I really can only complain so much. I simly need to be grateful for the constructive comments I received and make my best case possible for round two in August.

HOWEVER (there is always a “howerver”), regardless of the point of your career that you’re currently in, of how very junior or senior you may be, you still need to do a good job. You need to do your best job. Like what little Miss Shalanie did on Monday. This is what will ultimately make or brake your end result of course, but your efforts also (and maybe more importantly) impact other people. Sometimes a lot.

Some Most days people will be better than you and off you’ll fall to 7th place, or worse…maybe much worse. Truth be told, this is very very very likely where I would have ended up had I made it thought to the discussion panel…if I were so lucky.

But, one day you/me/SF won’t fall off. One day it will be our day too. It will be. And while we patiently wait for that day to come, please please please don’t be the a$$ hole that takes everyone else down with you!!!

(And now I can go draft my polite yet very concerned email to my program officer inquiring about WTF happened?!?! scientific inconsistencies in the review that may have impeded a just assessment… )

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Happy belated pre-Boston Marathon + Easter weekend!

I hope everyone had a lovely pre-Boston Marathon Monday + Easter weekend!!

In case anyone is dying to know, my Saturday started out with a (~10 mi) run to-n-fro work (motivated by comments made the previous evening by the one and only Dr. M).

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After some shopping,

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cooking and cleaning, the day ended with pho, pizza, kugel, Russian salad, ma po tofu, French chicken and potatoes, Japanese pickled pork and cabbage, sweet potatoes, pineapple stuffing, cookies, chocolates, beer and wine. Sadly I was too busy stuffing my face to take a single photograph of the spread at my beautiful Multicultural Easter Hanukkah Potluck. In retrospect, stuffing my face was hands down the right decision 😉

Sunday then began with a quick ~4 mi run around the neighborhood…

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…followed by a shower (you’re welcome) and then round 2 of Easter festivities. This celebration was complete with adult Easter baskets,

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family photos,

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and post-x#-of-champaign-bottles family photos.
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Over all, complete success!!

I went to sleep on Sunday with visions of Miss Kristin’s pineapple stuffing and of Speedy Shalaney having the best day of her life on Monday.

While I would have loved for Shalane’s 2:20:02 to have been the best of the XX that day, it was simply not meant to be. SF ran the race of her life, she did everything right, she did everything that she could have asked herself to do. SF’s best on Monday was simply 1 min less best than Rita Jeptoo’s best.

This slight, cinewy machine of a Kenyan was absolutely unbeatable on Monday. Generally speaking, this 5’2,” 105 lb running monster may be beatable, may be, but not by SF, and not last Monday. On Monday Jeptoo also ran the race of her life, the race of the history of the Boston Marathon by over a minute. A blistering pace of <5:10 mi/mi was set (and held by SF) for as long as Jeptoo wanted the help, until she wanted to take off; and take off she did at just over 14 miles. Being able to essentially walk away from the pack (who are running a 5:08) at just over the halfway point deserves to win. Yes, 100%, absolutely.

However, with all that being said, I believe that the skinny, blond, former kamikaze’s ability to not lose her mind, to stick to her game plan and to run the solid, steady, race of her life, 1 min behind the woman she wanted so badly to smoke in her home town, after pacing her to the course record and an easy victory, also deserves a win on the day.

For completeness I feel like I should include a line or two about the XY victor, Elder Meb K. After recovering from my waves of excitement and disapproval and reservation and disbelief during miles 9-16, and the ulcers of miles 23.5-26.1, I have officially elevated The Elder to my highest mental pedestal and look forward to seeing him eat his competition for mid-race fuel in many races to come.

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Filed under General, Marathons

Again?!?!

Where did everyone disappear to again?

Have you all been working hard in the lab?

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A little science + religion for the Easter season

Running and bike riding in the nice spring weather?

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The first bike ride of 2014


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Running in skimpy apparel (weather we are ready our not)!

Going to a bridal shower for one of your favorite partners in crime?

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Dr. T; Dr. Partner in crime #1; Dr. Partner in crime #2


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Everyone!!

Knitting and potting with your crafty lab groupie?

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Pot!

I ask only because these are a few of the things that I will use in attempts to justify my absence.

There has also been some running of course. Not nearly enough considering that a beautiful, warm, fragrant, balmy spring is finally here (please don’t instantly hire a hit-man if you’re reading this from a snowbank in MN) and that marathon training will be starting up VERY soon. But, some running is better than no running, so I’ll take it.

Frankly, in VERY short order I am going to have to seriously beef up my multi-tasking + time management skills. The summer of a gazillion (think, lots of zeroes) weddings + mad work + visitors coming east + me going west + everything else that makes up a busy life is about to commence in royal fashion. While I don’t have any real serious goals for this year’s Team CEMS Marathon (aside from finishing it more quickly than I did suffer-fest-TZ 2013 and not breaking my leg…no offense Dr. S…) I would like to be comfortable at a ~4 hr pace, our team uniforms need to be cute (I’m thinking 2014 = teal and argyle, thoughts?) and I quite like being in marathon-training-shape as the summer progresses (minus the inevitable inability to zip my boots up all the way, but never mind…) My hope is that this can all come together with the following:

Tues: tempo short-mid distance
Thurs: mid-long distance
Sat: long run
Sun: mid-long distance

Given that Dr. Partner-in-crime is -3 hrs from me, my current master plan is to keep summer hours such that I can get most runs out of the way first thing in the morning, buckle down for a full day in lab and then with some quality Facetime company and heavy drinking. We will see.

For now I (like everyone else I’m sure) just need to keep my head above water long enough to keep useful info (slowly but surely) coming out of the lab and enough miles being run. (And OF COURSE passing on bits and pieces of the process being passed on to you!)

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Spring (as defined by biking)

I’m pretty sure that this weekend is actually the beginning of spring. Evidence to support this hypothesis includes:

1. I went on my first biking adventure (complete with too many ninja-potholes, construction, traffic, off-roading and a medium sized equipment failure…never mind that there was a ~100mph headwind regardless of the direction we were riding and pretty much froze our a$$es off from start to finish) of the year yesterday with Dr. S

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2. Mode of transportation to work today = Miss. Celest

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Celeste

3. Today’s running outfit includes neither pants nor sleeves

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(this may or may not be totally stupid…see #1 above)

Quite frankly it’s a bit of a relief that things are finally on the upswing here (to any Minnesotans that just read that, please don’t come here to kill me). This year’s training season for the annual Team CEMS Marathon is going to be starting up in a few short weeks and the one thing I feel NJ can afford to me is a mild training during the months of April and May. Hopefully we can see eye to eye on this. Stay tuned for this years CEMS team “race” weekend plan!

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The Connector

In addition to spending some serious time in the kitchen, there was also a substantial (for someone of my fitness trying to keep up with someone accustomed to the Berkeley hills) amount of running done over last weekend.

Now, as someone who takes pride in generally being a strong hills runner, it was was a very humbling experience to have to take two oh-my-god-I-need-to-stop-right-now-or-I-am-going-to-throw-up breaks just one the way out. Two if-I-don’t-take-a-minute-I-may-drop-dead-right-here breaks within 3 miles. Not fun. I guess the silver lining is that my well-acclimated got in quite a bit of bonus stretching while patiently waiting for Dr. FatA$$ Trot to collect herself.

The first day out I unfortunately didn’t have the presence of mind to bring my camera with me. Apparently I had other things to worry about at the time (see above). It’s a shame, because we ran through the Berkeley campus and up through residential neighborhoods with incredibly beautiful views to a turn around point deep in some surprise woods at the “top” (think local maxima) of the hill we were on. Up here there were a handful of crazy incredible homes, all nestled into the woods and hillsides. I am absolutely, convinced that either families of dwarfs or hobbits inhabited these homes. (Or a combination of both? Dwarfs and hobbits can get along well enough to be neighbors, right?) Anyway, I kept my eyes peeled for Snow White but there were sadly no sightings of either her or her 7 little compadres. (P.S. This was an excellent distraction from the perpetual I-think-I’m going-to-barf-now feeling.)

As if the first day out wasn’t enough, the second day was, by design, the “challenging” day. (I assumed day 1 was going to be used as a test to see if I could handle day 2, but this must not have been the case as I can not fathom having received a passing grade on day 1.) For the unnecessary extra challenge we were going to run as much of the Berkeley Fire Trail as possible, both the lower and upper parts of the trail as well as The Connector between the two, and then cut back and go up to the Berkeley Botanical Gardens.

To get to the start of the trail we took a similar route through the campus, cut back behind the football stadium and up the road just a short distance. The trail surface itself is absolutely perfect for running. Its wide (a fire truck has to get down it after all, I should hope that’s more than enough for a few runners!) and largely shaded by enormous trees, largely evergreens.

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Just wide enough for a runner…

There are streams here and there and clearings that offer wonderful views of Berkeley, the SF Bay, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

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One example of said streams (as well as my crappy photography skills)

Although you are definitely working hard (I suppose I should just speak for myself here, but let me live believing that this climb isn’t exactly easy for other people…yes…it is a climb…EVERYTHING in Berkeley is a climb…yes, in both directions) there is so much to take in around you that it’s the really really fun kind of hard work.

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So-much-to-take-in-around-you Exhibit (a)

And then you arrive at The Connector. 😦

In the event that you actually clicked on the link above to the Berkeley Fire Trail and actually looked at the map, you’ll notice that although they really seem to be all part of the same system two different labels are given to the Fire Trail trails: the Upper Fire Trail and the Lower Fire Trail.

Any guesses as to the reason for these two names?

I’ll give you a hint: there is no indication of elevation on the map.

So, although both trails are winding up (yes, always up, never down) through the hills, the Upper Fire Trail is substantially higher in elevation than the Lower Fire Trail. Enter The Connector — the connection between the lower and upper parts of the trail. The very short (<300m) VERY steep connection between the two parts of the trail.

To briefly revisit a previous topic, I take pride in my hills running strength. Quite a bit of pride. And <300? That’s nothing! I can do anything for 300m! Right?

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Pre-connector him

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Pre-connector her

WRONG!

Dr. Fata$$ Trot made it just over half-way up before she seriously thought she might keel over and not get back up. So, although already “running” very slowly, she figured that slowing down just a bit more would do the trick and she could, however slowly, still make it up the second half “running.” Unfortunately, slowing down any more at that point meant “running” –> walking. 😦 With a grade that steep, the lower limit of strength and momentum that you need to keep “running” is much higher than on lesser hills, never mind flat ground. The “fastes” pace that I could muster after the half way point was no where near what I need to achieve that lower limit 😦 So, poor Dr. Trot had to walk up the last part of The Connector. 😦

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Post-connector-defeated her

Of course, someone else was able to skip their way up to the very top, and was kind and (per my personal theory) tired enough to wait for me to finish. 🙂

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Post-connector him

The Upper Fire Trail is similar to the Lower Fire Trail but with even more spectacular views of everything previously mentioned.

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Spectacular-views Exhibit (a)

We didn’t make it all the way to the top of the trail, which comes out at Tilden Park, as we still had the Botanical Gardens to see. The top of the trail will just have to happen another day.

The Botanical Gardens were not super bloomy, so we’ll have to go back some day when they are. Even so, it was a fun walk through the different beds and it’s pretty obvious that when things are in bloom there must be SO MUCH TO SEE…like, we saw a flower bed #706b kind of SO MUCH TO SEE. The plants are organized by region of the world that they are from and there are also a few indoor structures for tropical, airid and/or sensitive plants that need very specific, constant environmental conditions.

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Just a few carnivorous plants

Affiliates of UC Berkeley get in for free, students and seniors are only $8 and normal people 🙂 are $10. They also offer a number of seasonal memberships for individuals, couples and families.

And with that, we managed to find the one-and-only little, teeny-tiny section of road with a negative grade and made our way back home. Although defeated by The Connector this first time, I will be back (and next time I will win), and running either/any/all of the Berkeley Fire Trails is highly highly highly recommended by moi next time you are in the Bay Area.

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Q: What do you do when life gives you a lemon (tree)?

A: Make lemon blueberry scones, lemon meringue pies and sushi!

So in addition to my partner in crime (and Colin Kaeppernick), a giant lemon tree welcomed me to CA last weekend. I giant lemon tree filled with lemons. One of the weekend’s top missions was to make use of said lemons.

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As far as I’m concerned, mission accomplished!

Both the scone and pie recipes that we followed were actually really simple. (Note: not so simple that we didn’t have a fair amount of damage control to keep things interesting :-/) An added bonus is that the scones are really a basic recipe that can be flavored with essentially whatever you have an excess of  rotting in your pantry sprouting in your back yard. So, for all of those lemons and oranges and grapefruits and plums ripening on the trees in your back yards…wait….what? you don’t have all of these growing in your back yard? they aren’t right there next to the rose bushes? My god…CK and fresh fruit…some people really do get all the breaks!! Anyway… here are two awesome recipes that will use at least a few of whichever are in season  are on sale at the grocery store 🙂

 

Scones (lemon blueberry)

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Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants) 
1/2 cup sour cream (we didn’t have this 😦 I substituted an extra egg for moisture and it worked out just fine :)
1 large egg

Protocol:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater (thinly shaving with a large, sharp knife also works…and is more exciting); use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth (or no SC and 2 eggs…see above).
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature with coffee 😉

*Note: These can be supplemented with whatever fruits, extracts, spices you’d like. We used zest + juice from 1 full lemon and a handful of fresh blueberries (The recipe actually suggests using dried fruit, which I think this is bull $hit silly. Fresh fruit add moisture, their texture is nicer and their flavor is great. IMHO.) Cranberry orange and cinnamon raisin were also suggested. I would like to try some savory ones too, maybe some with dill or sage or cloves…

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Lemon Meringue Pie

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Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced and finely zested 
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
4 egg whites
6 tablespoons white sugar

Protocol:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. To Make Lemon Filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.
  3. To Make Meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust. (DO NOT scale up. Regardless of the number of pies you’re making whip the meringue 4 egg whites — or one pie — at a time. This advise may or may not come from personal experience…
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  4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown. Cool and serve with coffee 🙂

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Sushi Fish

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Ingredients:

Sashimi grade fish (1/3 lb tuna and 1/3 lb salmon)
2 cups sushi rice
3 cups water
1/2 cup Rice vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
garnishes to taste (sliced avocado, cucumber, radish, carrot…bleh…
soy sauce and Chipotle mayo (mayo + Sriracha)
lemon 🙂

Protocol:

  1. Rinse the rice in a strainer or colander until the water runs clear. Combine with water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Rice should be tender and water should be absorbed. Cool until cool enough to handle.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, oil, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool, then stir into the cooked rice. When you pour this in to the rice it will seem very wet. Keep stirring and the rice will dry as it cools.
  3. Aliquot rice into bite-sized clumps
  4. Layer garnishes on top of rice
  5. Slice fish and layer on top of rice + garnishes
  6. Further garnish fish to taste

*Note: eating raw fish can be dangerous and can make you painfully, violently and embarrassingly ill. ONLY use fresh sashimi grade fish and consume in moderation.

 

 

 

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