Saturday, October 25, 2008

The View from the Top

This weekend is turning out to be pretty kick-ass. I'm excited for Sunday. But let's back up a little.

On a cooking note, it all started well with last night (Friday). I worked kind of late, and after people's comments from my last post, I decided taking it easy would be a good idea , so I bagged the swim workout.

I got home and decided to find a nice bottle of wine that deserved to be opened. I went through the racks and found this: a 2003 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc. Hmmm. "That should be definitely ready to drink now," I thought.

Well...I opened it up...let it sit for about 10 minutes...and tried it.


I sort of shook my head in disbelief. This was amazing. I sort of regretted opening it because I didn't think it would be *this* good. I had bought it a couple years ago wine tasting and my memory doesn't really go back that far, so I just kind of guess sometimes when it comes to wines like this.

I originally had planned to make some sort of veggie dinner, but after I tasted this I realized there was NO WAY I could eat anything but a STEAK with this wine.

I marched myself down to the store, bought a marinated steak that was locally raised, grass-fed and all that good stuff. I looked up a good recipe from 101 for a variation on mashed potatoes. I found this: Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes. Yum!

I had a TON of veggies from the farm box this week, so I thought I'd add some carrots and eggplant to the mix as well. I could get my veggies AND my meat in!

So I made the recipe and made a few adjustments (didn't have kale but I did have some other greens that worked nicely) and before I knew it, it was time to sit down and enjoy my meal!

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes:

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped
1/2+ cup warm milk or cream
freshly ground black pepper
5 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish (opt)
fried shallots, for garnish (optional)

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt, and saute just until tender - about a minute. Set aside.

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in the milk a few big splashes at a time. You are after a thick, creamy texture, so if your potatoes are on the dry side keep adding milk until the texture is right. Season with salt and pepper.

Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions, Parmesan cheese, and shallots.

Serves 6.

Things I added:
*Carrots: I cut up 4 carrots into slices, parboiled for about 3 minutes and then added to the stir-fry
*Eggplant: I cut up about 1/2 an eggplant into cubes. First I microwaved it for about 3 minutes, stirred, then microwaved for 1:30 more. After this I added it to the stir-fry
*Tomatoes: I had 3 roma tomatoes from the farm box so I cut those into slices and added them at the very end of the stir-fry

Also, instead of cutting everything up super fine and really mixing it in well with the mashed potatoes, I more or less laid it all on top of the potatoes and blended it in as I ate. It worked.

I sat down and had my meal with my wine...and the combination was just awesome. I savored every. single. bite (and sip). Oh yum I would SOOOOO make this again!! I can think of a number of other wines in the fridge that will go with this. :)

So it worked out that I had a nice protein-packed meal last night. My friend Brian from my bike group had put a post to the group that he was going to do a 7 mile hike - 3.5 miles out (with major climbing) and then run the 3.5 miles back. Kind of like what I did the other night, except MUCH MUCH MORE climbing. Then he would hop on the bike for a nice 90 minute spin. It sounded like something different and FUN! I was in!

We met at 8 a.m. at Sugarloaf State Park which was where the Goodspeed to Gunsight Rock trailhead was (but Courtenay it wasn't from the TOP of the big hill - it was just before the road starts to really climb).

WOW! What a CLIMB it was! Brian said it normally takes him about 1:20 to get to the top, but since Jim is a mountain goat we were moving quickly and made it in 1:09. Sweet! When we got to the top at Gunsight Rock we were rewarded with a KILLER view of the Sonoma Valley. It was INCREDIBLE!!!

Me at the top!!

Looking south over toward Sonoma

Looking to the south end of the valley

Mid valley

Directly below us - that small group of houses is the town of Kenwood

Beginning to look north - the big hilly area ahead is Anadel State Park, where I do a lot of running and a lot of people mtn bike...

Looking north to Santa Rosa

We made it back DOWN to the trailhead in about 32 minutes. Incredible! My heart rate was skyrocketing going down but it was SO MUCH FUN. I LOVED it!

Then we got our bikes out of the cars, put on the bike shoes and helmets and went out around Kenwood/Glen Ellen for a nice 90 min SLOW spin! My legs were pretty toast by the end, but it was SO awesome to do something different for a change. We talked about what a great winter alternative this is as the weather changes and how hiking really can be such a great strength-builder. Needless to say, this will DEFINITELY happen again.

Thanks, guys!

Tomorrow: our cycling group has our annual "Time Trial" - it's a TT we do for fun and try to kick each other's butts. We'll see what these legs have...right now it's not looking so good!


beth said...


2)that's my kind of workout. random, yet effective!

triguyjt said...

the way you described the wine...I almost want to sip some...then realized I don't do alcohol very well and so..will pass.

I love those overlook pics you have...what a beautiful area....

very jealous

rocketpants said...

Way to mix it up!! That is what the off season is about...doing different things that are still *good* for training. Nicely done.

GoBigGreen said...

That looks soooo good. I am having people over for dinner next weekend and i am going to make the veggie/potatoe side with either lamb chops or Tuna. One guest wont eat fish. drat.
You ought to write a cook book. or maybe you have!

Anonymous said...

Super yummy sounding feast and awesome workout! Love the pics - thanks for sharing a bit of your beautiful home landscape.

Anonymous said...

you have the most amazing adventures! i wish i could keep up cuz i'd love to come! :)