Monday, June 22, 2015

Rhubarb Mustard

It's another Monday, which means it's raining and J's softball game is once again cancelled! Mother nature needs to give us a little break here!  Actually, in all honesty, mother nature's been pretty good to us other than all the rainy Mondays. We've really been taking advantage of it this past week.  I ran a 5-mile race on Father's Day. It was my first race since January and my longest race since my marathon in October 2013. It went pretty well and, most important, I didn't get sick! So I'm considering it a win.  I'm feeling pretty good about this whole running thing right now, so let's hope I can keep that motivation going.

We went to two baseball games this weekend (and also went to Hofbrauhaus twice!)  On Sunday we saw a very exciting win... and on Friday we saw some great fireworks after the game ;) (We won't talk about the game itself...)

Friday's game

Sunday's game... and some random guys foot!
J's liter of beer!

On Saturday we took our bikes out for the first time this summer. We gave them a good tuneup and took them out on a 5-mile ride. I'm really hoping to log more biking miles this summer than last year. It's so much fun :)

In unrelated news, we have a trio of baby skunks living somewhere near our house. I know that there's (hopefully) a mama nearby, and that soon they'll be big and stinky, but for now they're just so cute.

Mother nature has also given us some great fruits and vegetables from our garden and CSA. I was very excited to get rhubarb last week because, after already making my favorite rhubarb recipe a few weeks ago (Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars), I was looking forward to making rhubarb mustard! For anyone looking for a good non-dessert recipe to use up your rhubarb, here it is!  This recipe was given to me by J's aunt (after I tried her's and was literally eating it with a spoon!). Just a warning, when I made it - it was very spicy! So you may want to adjust the ratio of yellow to brown mustard seeds if spicy mustard is not your thing.

Rhubarb Mustard

Makes one pint.
2 ½ cups rhubarb, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup water
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
1/3 cup raspberry vinegar (I did not have this, I subbed in a mix of red wine vinegar and Penzey's raspberry enlightenment)
½ teaspoon sea salt

To cook rhubarb: In medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, water and honey.  Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer 6 to 8 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mustard seeds: In spice blender or mortar and pestle, grind yellow mustard seeds and brown mustard seeds until mostly powder.  (Full disclosure: I did not do this step.I like a really grainy mustard, so I skipped straight to the making mustard step and trusted my Vitamix to do a good enough job grinding the seeds for my taste)

To make mustard: In blender or food processor, combine cooled rhubarb, powdered mustard seeds, vinegar and salt.  Process until smooth.  Store, covered, in refrigerator for a few days before using.

We used it on pork chops that evening and I'm trying to come up with good ideas for more things to use it on. Anyone have any suggestions?  Otherwise I just might resort to eating it with a spoon..... 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hello summer!

Seen on the streets of San Francisco... 

Well hello friends! and hello summer vacation! The semester has finished. My paperwork is all turned in. And I'm happy to (mostly) have a break until the end of the month. Since the semester has ended, we've been traveling like crazy. Just to give you an idea of the craziness, we've been to four different churches in four different cities in four weeks (none of them our home church). I'm really looking forward to being home for at least two weekends in a row. And am looking forward to some sewing now that I've finished up a relatively big work-related project that was causing me more stress than it should've!  I'm *also* looking forward to blogging more. Hopefully I can make that a reality now that things are settled down for the moment.

 This is the skirt I finished today. Took longer than anticipated because I realized the fabric was completely see-through and I needed to line it. But it's done :) I swear the next place we live will have a better selfie mirror... 

So, here's what I've been up to since I last posted. First, we went to California! The main purpose of our trip was to attend the wedding of our good friends in Berkeley. Their wedding was super awesome (in a science museum! with ice cream!) and it was so, so good to see so many of our friends there.  It was also our first wedding anniversary that week and was very special to get to spend it with so many of our friends who made our wedding day special last year. (And a gorgeous pair of earrings from J was the icing on the anniversary cake :) )

Obligatory wedding outfit shot
We enjoyed lots of good food and good beer while we were in the Bay Area and did some of the touristy stuff, like visiting Alcatraz. After a few days there, we rented a bright yellow Mustang convertible and drove down Highway 1.  Definitely worth doing once in your lifetime! Along the way, we stopped in Monterrey to visit the aquarium and to have lunch with my aunts, who happened to also be in California at the same time. It was great to see them :)

Our final destination was Santa Barbara, where J's brother, sister-in-law and our two nephews live. My cousin also attends school there.  I sound like a broken record, but it was so much fun spending time with all of them!  We also went to a couple of wineries, rented bikes and rode along the trail by the beach, and just generally enjoyed ourselves.  Very hard to come back to reality after that trip. More pictures hopefully coming soon to my personal Facebook page, but here are  a few in the meantime :)

At the aquarium :)
Us, our convertible, and scenic Highway 1 :)

The feast my brother-in-law grilled for us!

The week we returned from California was my birthday. And it was a big one :) We celebrated with a low-key happy hour with some good friends and that was just perfect. My mother-in-law bought me the prettiest cupcake I've ever seen! And it tasted amazing, too.  And I enjoyed redeeming all of my free birthday gifts from various stores. Thanks to Ulta for eyeliner in a color I actually wear, and Sephora for some pretty amazing red lipstick. That may make an appearance at future big events ;)

Birthday outfit. Trying to determine if I can actually wear a statement necklace without looking ridiculous ;)

My new fabulous NARS lipstick. The color is called Cruella. 

My birthday was also the first day of a church retreat on meditation and mindfulness. I really, really learned a lot and am very excited to start integrating some of this new knowledge into my daily life.  I've been experimenting with two different guided meditation apps (Calm and Headspace) and think they're both pretty great. I'm hoping to keep up this practice.

This past weekend was another wedding. This time in State College, PA. One of J's college friends got married and it was a great time! Fun people, great live music, a beautiful cake, and just a lot of personality in the whole affair. I love going to weddings that really feel like they're unique to that couple. And this one most definitely was. (As was the one in Berkeley last month!)

Obligatory stop at Berkey Creamery at Penn State. Yum!

In non-travelling news, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things with running.  I went to my run club's monthly happy hour last week and had a great time. I'm signed up for a 5-mile race this Sunday and a Virtual Half Marathon later this summer.  I'm planning on running a "real" half in October and should probably sign up for that one soon. Starting training this week!

I'm currently teaching a for a local program that does professor-led seminars at different companies in the area. We meet once a week at the participants workplace. The participants are mostly people who do not have college degrees and this gives them a chance to further develop a love of reading and an interest in literature in general. We're reading The Winter Queen: A Novel (An Erast Fandorin Mystery) by Boris Akunin and it's been going well so far.  This program, along with my friend Amanda at Amanda Loves Words, are inspiring me to try to do a little more reading for myself this summer!

And that it's from me at the moment. Sorry for the novel and I hope to do shorter more frequent updates for a little while here :) Hope everyone is having a nice summer so far!