I feel kind of bad for all my buddies in Canada reading about my cycling adventures. Not much cycling is happening there, unless it is of the indoor variety. The weather here is glorious (not too humid yet and only a few mosquitoes have been spotted so far) but more importantly, we have to start cycling early. Our first cycling goal is less than a month away. 100 miles in early May. We need to get moving.
Last weekend, Rob and I finally started training together. My last few jaunts have been solo, so we weaned in carefully: 140 km over 2 days (split 90 km and 50 km). The advantage of splitting the distances is that you have a break for your legs but not your bum. ;)
The other reason we had to split our distance is because we had a late start on Saturday. With my recent string of flats, my 3-year-old tires were in need of replacement. We spent the first hour changing the tires only to realize that we also punctured one of the tubes. The fresh tires were a bit tight and I even managed to snap one of the plastic doodads trying to get the tire back on. By this time, we were too frustrated to remove it and try again and wanted to call in the pros. However, it seemed like all bicycle stores open at 10 am so had to wait it out.
As we waited it out, I made these delicious snacks.
Do you remember last year when I cycled 100 km and came home too tired to make my own smoothie? In retrospect, I wonder whether I had encountered the dreaded bonk. This year, I am ramping my snacks and calories. I am drinking my homemade sports drink. Even for these “short” beginner rides.
I really liked these treats. First of all, because they look like rice crispy treats but there are no marshmallows here at all. The goopy mess that keeps it all together is tahini and brown rice syrup with a touch of vanilla. I loved Gabby’s sesame overload with sesame seeds in addition to the tahini and the marvellous addition of chewy raisins. This is a grown-up version of rice crispy treats if I ever tasted one, assuming that adults grow up. Perfect as a cycling snack, especially for long rides, since it is mostly carbs with some fats important for longevity… but most importantly: it tolerated the Houston heat perfectly.
While I wish I could say this was a fairy tale ending, with Rob and I cycling away without any hiccups, as we peddled away together, I noticed I lost the clipping mechanism on my clippy pedal. I opted to ride this weekend with only one foot clipped in.. I suppose I am working my way in. When I completed my first 100 km ride of the year, I only had regular shoes. Hopefully next weekend, I will have both shoes clipped in. ;)
I had lofty gardening goals. My mom told me not to get disappointed if things didn’t work out as planned. I told her all I wanted was my kale to grow.
Let’s just say my garden is not as prolific as Angela’s.
I know the summer has only just begun, but the only thing I have harvested from my garden has been herbs. Since they are in pots, on my back porch, does it really count as my garden? ;) (Of course it is, but you know what I mean!)
I can grow mint and basil.
Last year, somehow, I used mint in so many recipes, that I picked my plant clean and it never bounced back. I thought it was a weed, a perennial at that, but it didn’t even come back for a second year (my garlic chives did, though!). Fair enough, my cousin, who also got a portion of the same plant from my mom, also did not get her mint to return a second year. So it isn’t just my black thumb. ;)
I used this as an opportunity to try different varieties of mint. Richters Herbs sells over 40 different kinds, ranging from the wacky like Marshmallow Mint and Cotton Candy Mint to Peppermint and Swiss Mint. We sampled each one before narrowing in on English Mint, Moroccan Mint and Chocolate Mint. My cousin replaced hers with Mojito Mint!
For basil, I know the problem of the flowering basil and thus am really pleased with my Pesto Perpetuo basil that won’t flower. Just luscious leaves! We also planted some Lesbos basil which has a savoury note and not as pungent as the traditional Genovese basil. My favourite, though, purely by how I acquired it, is my prolific Genovese basil. Remember the 300g of basil I bought when I made the delicious Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto? Since the bunch of basil included the roots, I planted a bunch of the plants into my pot and they have flourished!
Most of my herbs are doing well! The oregano, thyme (English and French varieties), rosemary, Vietnamese coriander, lemon verbena, parsley and cilantro… Even the lemongrass looks bushy! The Thai basil isn’t looking too hot, though, but I didn’t really have any culinary masterpieces picked out for it since I don’t like its anise flavour.
We have some green tomatoes and a few snow peas are beginning to show up, too, but my kale is still tiny. So is my rainbow Swiss chard. I swear my kale is still 6 inches tall and has seemed to have hit a slump in growth. Stuck at 6 inches for the last month. While baby Red Russian kale would be delicious, I only have 4 leaves on each plant! ;) Hopefully as the summer progresses, they will be revived. ;)
In an effort to use my bountiful basil crop, without resorting to the typical pesto (yet), I found this delicious lentil soup with veggies and basil in The Natural Vegan Kitchen. It is slightly different than the recipe posted online here and my adapted recipe is below.
I seem to have an affinity for lentils and carrots, and this soup did not disappoint even though it was a minor component. I don’t often cook typical Italian, but the hint Italian flavours of basil, oregano and thyme were lovely in this soup beefed up with sweet potato and cabbage. Of course, the full cup of fresh basil is what brings this soup out of the standard Italian fare. Scrap soup, I mean stew, even after adding another 2 cups of water. I like my soups hearty, though, so no complaints from my end. :)
What are your favourite recipes with basil? This is what I have enjoyed previously:
Blueberry Mango Quinoa Salad with a Lemon Basil Dressing
Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto
Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup
Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon Basil Almond Pesto
Saffron Marinated Paneer Cheese with Fresh Basil, Cashews and Pomegranate Seeds (not vegan, substitute paneer with tofu)
Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew
Asparagus and Chickpea Stir-Fry with Hoisin Sauce