Cooking Up Something

It’s still Sunday morning…at least for another few minutes or so. I’ve made one of my favorite lazy weekend morning meals: braised red cabbage in butter and coconut oil with chopped apple and lots of cinnamon, plus one fried egg that usually ends up with a broken yolk (I don’t seem to have the ability to crack an egg without either breaking the yolk or breaking eggshells into what I’m making).

I’m planning on a beef brisquet for dinner tonight. It’s a long, slow-cooking kind of meal. I made a brisquet before and absolutely loved it. I’m hoping this one will turn out just as good. I think the tomato paste is what makes it taste so good. Tomato-y goodness mixed with a chunk of meat just hits the spot for me.

The brisquet I bought for this weekend is antibiotic free, but I can’t wait until the next delivery of meat from the A Bar H Farm, which is all grass-fed and natural. I bought about 90 dollars worth of beef, lamb, and chicken in February. There’s still some beef neck bones, ribs, and dog bones in my freezer. Their next delivery is in May. In February I had ordered the beef brisquet from the farm as part of my goal to try various meats in different recipes.I envy my sister and her large freezer. Just think of the meat I could store, plus A Bar H delivers to Phoenix on a more regular schedule.

As an ex-vegetarian, I don’t know a lot about cooking meat, but I’m certainly learning. Buying Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything was a good idea. From that book I’ve learned to make a mean set of hot wings, soups, duck, and more.

Tomorrow I’m roasting up the whole chicken I picked up from A Bar H. That means I’ll be making more chicken stock and some soup later in the week. I do love having homemade stock on hand — it just feels so old-fashioned to me.

Anyone cooking up something delicious today?


Coraline review

Here’s my review of Coraline. Man, that was one weird children’s film.

Lifting Pipe

My second private Crossfit session happened today. Katie taught me the shoulder press, the push press, the push jerk, and the split jerk. I’d like to say that I learned all of this with a real barbell and weights, but no, it was just a PVC pipe. But hey, I’m only learning. It’s all about good form. I must admit that my shoulders are feeling it, weights or not. So long, sloping and narrow shoulders!

We also worked on pull-ups. We found a band size (the biggest) that allows me to get my chin over the bar. I also practiced push-ups — I still can’t get the whole body to the ground and back up so am stuck doing push-ups with the knees on the ground.

My favorite practiced activity? The rings. I was able to get myself on the rings with Katie’s help. She had to hold the rings in place while I muscled up. It felt great when I managed to push up on my arms.

Tomorrow we’ll work on the deadlift and some other exercises. I love learning these moves so far and can’t wait to learn more. I may not feel the same way when I’m doing a Crossfit Workout of the Day (WOD) and have to do 100 of them or do heavy weights — I may decide that I hate every stinking one of them. But for now? I’ll keep lifting pipe.

A Little Saajan Ji Ghar Aaye Anyone?

Here’s a video from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It’s the engagement party. If you know the movie, you know this engagement can’t last. After all, Shahrukh Khan is the star of the film, and he’s  meant for Kajol’s character, not Salman Khan (the groom in this clip). Love will triumph! Singing will occur! Dancing will break out among everyone!

That’s Bollywood for you.

And how come any engagement parties I go to are so staid? I think every party should have a song and a choreographer to make it all much more festive.

Who Am I? What Happened to the Woman I Used to Know?

What happened to the old me? Okay, she’s still here, but there’s certainly a pod person overlay on the lazy, unmotivated, tired woman that I used to know. This pod-personality is someone who is excited about cooking good food, moving her body, and is even willing to get up early tomorrow morning to take a Crossfit class.

Yes, I am  already amazed at myself that the last two Saturday mornings I got out of bed and drove to Crossfit Flagstaff for open classes (other classes require private sessions to learn the movements and lifts). I loved it and wanted more. So I’ve signed up for my five privates sessions. I’m meeting Katie tomorrow morning at 6:30 to work on my squats. Me, excited about learning to do squats? Who is this pod-person that’s taken over me and please don’t go away!

I still laugh about attending Crossfit classes, as I’m probably the slowest person to ever make it to an affiliate-sponsored Crossfit class. I first learned about Crossfit sometime in late summer last year. I think I was reading Mark Sisson’s blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, and the commenters kept mentioning crossfitting. I was trying to figure out what exercise “crossfitting” was. Luckily, one of them posted the URL for the Crossfit site. The first time I viewed the workouts I figured it was all about hardbodies strutting their stuff, not a workout for an obese, exercise-challenged woman like me. It seemed like there was way too much testosterone flying off the videos and images. Yet I found myself enjoying watching videos of women doing pull-ups and lifting heavy weights. I could fantasize that I one day maybe I would do the same. Then I stumbled upon video of grandmothers doing scaled versions of the exercises. Crossfit claims to be for people of any fitness level, and I could see that there’s was nothing to stop me except my own fear and unwillingness to try.

My slow progress started with working on the warm-ups listed at Crossfit Ozone. Do ten of each:

  • push-ups
  • sit-ups
  • pull-ups
  • dips
  • squats
  • back extensions

Now build up to three rounds of these. Whew. My push-ups started up against the wall and I slowly  built to doing them on the floor on my knees. Though earlier this week, I managed to pull off about six full body push-ups and will start working on those. That’s how it works for me: baby steps. I would keep scaling up to make a move harder when three rounds, ten each didn’t seem as hard. I started the pull-ups by standing in a doorway and holding on to the top of the door jamb and pull up an inch or two. I then tried getting on my knees and pull up to the kitchen counter (tricky, as my legs wanted to help). Now I have an Iron Gym pull-up bar in a doorway and try to do jumping pull-ups. I’m nowhere near able to, but I’ll keep working at it. It took six to seven months to get this far. Now I can practice and get the coaching at a real Crossfit gym. My goal? REAL pull-ups.

Silly how an exercise like a pull-up  seems such an achievement. I just remember how weak I felt when both my rotator cuffs acted up, and I ended up with frozen shoulders. The idea that I can now hang on a bar with my arms fully extened above me seems miraculous.

In January, I started going to one of the campus P.E. classes, a version of Crossfit called Crossfit Bootcamp. It doesn’t have all the equipment, but we do tons of versions of exercises using our body. Squats, push-ups, and various versions of them all. Last week we practiced doing handstand push-ups! Very assisted, of course. We’d get a group of three, and one person would put themselves into a handstand with the other two holding catching and holding the legs of the handstandee. Very scary to throw my body into a handstand, but very fun also.

This experience with doing even modified Crossfit gives plenty of benefits. This pod-person I’ve become  has muscles. Sure, I still have the upper-arm wattle, but the top of my arm has that lovely muscular cap with a bicep that shows through. My legs have tons of muscles under the remainder of my extra fat. I figure that when I lose about another 10 percent of my body fat (I’m about 31% body fat now) that those muscles will show up.

Yesterday’s Crossfit Flagstaff class did a “Fight Gone Bad” type workout (the Workouts of the Day — WODs — often have names). We had three rounds of a minute each of doing ball slams, using the rowing machine, attempting clean and jerk with dumbells, trying pull-ups, and doing some punching flurries with a punching bag (this was very fun…and therapeutic — take that Arizona Legislature!). The coach, Lisa, scaled me down to a lighter ball for the slam, lighter dumbells, and had me do a jumping pull-up (I’m on a large box so I can hold on to the bar, lower myself so my arms are at full extension, then jump to get my chin over the bar, and back into the arms hanging on again). I was smiling the rest of the day.

I recommend Crossfit. I can’t wait to learn how to do the Olympic lifts. Shoot, I’ll even work on running if I have to. If interested, here’s some Youtube videos of people doing Crossfit. You’ll notice that not everyone is carrying Perfect Bodies. These are real people.

What is Crossfit?

1st Year of Crossfit (I like watching how people progessed during the year)

What is Crossfit? (another Crossfit affiliate — music is definitely not save for work or family)

Find a Crossfit affiliate near you. The list of states is on the left side of this page.

Now I just wish this pod-person that’s taken over enjoyed dusting and vacuuming.

Non-Productivity – Paris Runway Style

I promised myself that I would do nothing productive tonight. A planned “rest” night for me, that’s what I wanted. Thus, what could be the most unproductive thing to do? Why read up on the Paris fashion shows!

Now, if I was a fashionista that you all followed, waiting for my verdict on the various designers’ shows, it would be a semi-productive kind of evening. But, oh yes, there’s a big but involved…but, I’m no fashionista. I’m a middle-aged, casual living, jeans wearing, comfort kind of gal. I can dress up once in a while, but I can’t do high fashion. I think you need a bone structure for that. I’m more of a “bones under there somewhere” type of person.

So, I’m perusing Fabulon and he shows many pics of the new Alexander McQueen collection:


The fashion critics are raving about it. Um…yeah. I’m not so excited about the look.

Seeing these images makes me curious about the other designers. This of course has me surfing away. I just got to say that the fall fashions have me hoping that summer lasts a good long while. Still, there are a few things I like, but needless to say, it’s all academic. After all, I may like an outfit here or there, but my body isn’t about to wear any of them.

There’s a certain 1980s feel to the clothes. And yes, shoulder pads are said to be making a comeback. This is one look that I don’t really mind. Sure, you can get carried away with football padding types of shoulder pads, but for those of us with narrow shoulders and wider hips the pads help balance your look.

If you want to check out some of the fashions planned for us later this year (lots of gray, black, gray-and-black with some pissy yellow or putrid pink touches) you can view slideshows at the New York Times fashion site. You can slide the thumbnails for each show across the bottom of the screen and enlarge only the ones that look remotely interesting. Galliano is going for a Russian snow-maiden look, Chanel really likes the Mod look, and Dior (also designed by Galliano) throws in some pretty colors among all the black and gray clothes.

Well, I think that’s enough on this subject from this non-productive non-fashionista.

Galliano's snow-maiden look for Fall 2009. Hey, I ain't gonna wear it.

Galliano's snow-maiden look for Fall 2009. Hey, I ain't gonna wear it -- my hips are already wide enough, thank you.

Update: Hey, you know what some designers seem to be harkening back to? It’s not just the 1980s, but some really seem to like the lines of the 1930s. There’s a very Great Depression feel to some of the styles. It seems the economy is inspiring even the fashion designers.

Monday Night Joys

Well this is how most Monday evenings should go. I made it through another fun crossfit bootcamp class (we jumped hurdles and tried to jump up on high platforms — I suck at it, but find it fun), I’ve taken Spencer for a nice short walk and ball throw, and now I’ve got a cornish game hen in the oven.

Yeah, me, the gal who grew up on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, is cooking a game hen for dinner. It’s a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. The dish includes sauerkraut, juniper berries, cloves, and more. It’s smelling scrumptious.

I’ve also put in a movie, I Was a Male War Bride. This one has Cary Grant ending up in drag. Directed by Howard Hawks, it’s a silly one.

Oooh! Time to stir the sauerkraut.  May your Monday night be as fun.