Brisket Tacos.

Not so long ago, I decided I would blog about the 10 dishes that shaped who I am.

It sounds a bit corny, but let me finish.

Growing up, I was a horrendously picky eater. My parents weren’t the parents who made me finish everything on my plate, but they also weren’t the parents who catered to their children. Night after night, we would sit down at the dinner table to find another glorious home-cooked meal. My brother and I were instructed to “no, thank you bites,” where we would try a nibble of every item on the plate. If we didn’t like it (which for me, almost always), we didn’t have to eat it. Mom was smart enough to give me a huge helping of something she knew I liked (“You know, you spent most of your childhood with potatoes up your nose”) so I didn’t go to bed starving.

One thing that I did love when I was a kid was the taco: ground beef mixed with the Old El Paso seasoning packet, hard corn tortillas, and a shitload of shredded cheddar.

From my 4th Grade "Yearbook." My favorite color is still purple. I've grown out of my Ace of Base phase, however.

From my 4th Grade “Yearbook.” I still love tacos, and my favorite color is still purple. I’ve grown out of my Ace of Base phase, however.

Now that I’ve grown up, my tastes have most certainly evolved (see: culinary school), and so have my taste and quests for tacos.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a significant other who requires tacos at least once a week.

And so long ago, my friend and I made an arrangement to make brisket tacos. As brisket takes a long time to prepare, we made this a Sunday Funday activity.

And Sunday Funday it was.

Brisket Tacos
Serves however many tacos you can eat without vomiting

briskettacos

Pickled red onion:
½ large red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 cup white wine vinegar
6 black peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in mason jar; seal tightly; refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Salsa:
2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsps. fresh oregano leaves
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground

Combine tomatoes and oregano in small bowl; toss with olive oil; season to taste; reserve.

Brisket:
1 4.5 lb. brisket
2 Tbsps. chili powder
2 Tbsps. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsps. dry mustard
1 cup dark lager beer

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2. Mix all spices together; coat brisket in spices; place on rack in roasting pan; roast 1 hour; turn heat down to 300˚F; add beer to roasting pan and cover; continue roasting 4 hours (or until tender); remove from oven, covered; let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Assembly:
corn tortillas, warmed
queso fresco
roasted poblano chiles, sliced

Slice reserved brisket; place two slices on top of tortilla; top with salsa, pickled onion, queso fresco, and chiles; serve.

 

On The No Leash Law.

For those unaware, there is a no leash law in parts of Central Park between dawn to 9:00 a.m. everyday. So for those raising pups in the City (and that’s your prerogative), this brings a fair option for exercise.

One of the more crowded no leash law spots in the park is the Great Lawn, which also happens to be fine place to do speed work. However, if I’m out between those no leash hours, I tend to stray away to let those dogs have he time of their life.

Fast forward to today’s workout, where I had fartleks on the training docket. Regardless of the pending rain, several runners were out enjoying the warm humidity, I being one of them. When my legs grew tired after my third mile, I cut into the Great Lawn to give myself a break.

And, as they should be, several dogs were out and about, even some running with their owners.

Then, halfway through my lap, a poodle started chasing after me while barking its head off.

As this has never happened to me before, I threw my hands up and shouted, “WHOA!”

The dog’s owner, we’ll call him Charlie, said the following:

“Maggie. Come.”

Oh Charlie, how poised and eloquent you are at 7:30 in the morning! Thanks for teaching Maggie a lesson.

Unfortunately for me, Maggie didn’t listen and instead continued charging at me.

I shouted obscenities. A fellow runner running with her small terrier or sorts stared at me, horrified.

Finally, Maggie vanished.

I ran to the bridle path, feeling waves of fury.

Now before you get all judgy, I want to make this clear: I love dogs. I really do.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of dogs in my life.

Me and my pal Becky, dressed up for Halloween.

Me and my pal Becky, dressed up for Halloween.

And I generally think dogs love me, too. I’ve even gotten comments from friends on how many city dogs walk up to me for some kind of attention.

But if you’re going to have a dog in New York City (again, your prerogative), then your dog should be well equipped to handle hoards of people.

And, if there is any chance of your dog attacking someone—whether they’re running or not—then FOR FUCK SAKE, put them on a leash. You don’t get the glory of partaking in the no leash law.

Amirite?

Roasted Whole Branzino.

One of my dearest friends ventured to the city for work this weekend, and His Lordship and I were so lucky to host her for dinner and slumber parties.

ES is a good eater and won’t say no to anything, so I decided to make her something especially fancy: roasted whole branzino.

Also a plus, whole branzino was on sale at Whole Foods (super savies!).

I served the branzino family style on a bed of roasted potatoes, red peppers, fennel, and kalamata olives—His Lordship didn’t even mind so much about picking out the pin bones (part of the deal when eating a whole fish).

Roasted Whole Branzino
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 whole branzinos, cleaned and gutted
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 lb. small red or new potatoes, halved or quartered
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup kalamata olives, halved
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Procedure
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.

2. Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper; roast until golden brown, about 35 minutes; reserve.

3. Prepare branzino: stuff branzino with lemon slices and oregano; season with salt and pepper; reserve. Coat bottom of roasting pan with oil; top with red pepper, fennel, and shallots; season with salt and pepper; place branzino on top of vegetables; roast 20-25 minutes or until fish is cooked through, adding kalamata olives halfway into cooking; plate branzino and vegetables on top of reserved roasted potatoes; serve.

Not the greatest photo, but you get the idea

Not the greatest photo, but you get the idea

The Story Of The Scotland 10K.

Some months ago, my dear friend signed up for the Scotland 10K, and though it fell the weekend after the Reston Marathon, I signed up to support her (YAY FRIENDSHIP).

And after my debaucle in Reston, I spent the two days immediately following on a spin bike in an effort to release the kraken my right IT band.

The two days after that were spent doing yoga and stretching (when I wasn’t working, I mean), and finally, on Friday, I decided to head out for a slow, brief jaunt around the reservoir to see if I was up for running Saturday’s 10K.

Happy place.

Happy place.

Things seemed to be in order.

I arose on Saturday, made coffee, ate oatmeal, and did obvious pre-race things. His Lordship opted to do “normal people things on a Saturday” aka “sleep in,” so I set off down to the start by my lonesome.

As I stood in my corral, I felt a rumbly in my tumbly. No, not a hunger pang, a normal I-had-too-much-coffee-IBS-pang. Instead of jetting over to the park bathrooms, I decided to wait until after the 6.2 miles to relieve myself.

This is referred to as “foreshadowing.”

The first mile was fine, albeit faster than I intended.

By mile 2, I needed to use the facilities. Badly.

By mile 3, the second half of Harlem Hill seemed to settle my stomach, but only for a brief moment, as by mile 4.5, I stopped at a “Royal Flush” station behind the MET.

And MY GOD, the smell. It smelled like someone put a dead sewer rat underneath the pile of stench that already laid upon the bottom of the Royal Flush.

I held my breath and quickly returned to clean air. I watched some of the runners go by looking so joyous and gleeful. It made me wonder what holding my bowels was looking like to fellow onlookers.

I started up again, reminding myself to keep it slow and steady.

My finish was nowhere near spectacular, and I’m okay with that.

What started as a tempo run quickly became a clench-my-buttcheeks-and-hope-for-the-best-run.

What started as a tempo run quickly became a clench-my-buttcheeks-and-hope-for-the-best-run.

I waited at the finish line for my friends (albeit uncomfortably), and got to see my comrade fly through the finish!

We celebrated with beers, luncheon, and bathroom activities.

The rest of the weekend was spent Upstate.

Not long ago, we were told a near and dear family member was very ill. We lost that family member on March 21.

I think about her when I run. With each gust of wind I feel her presence and can almost hear her laughter.

Here’s to my wonderful family—the warriors and heroes of the Lewis clan—I cannot be more thankful for each and every one of you.

Much love.

Much love.

Pasta with Chard & Goat Cheese.

So, I take it from the lack of response on my previous post that I am, indeed, a weirdo.

………

Aaaannnnyyyywaaaayyyy, welcome to Super Savies April!

Yes, this is a thing (at least my comrade and I have dubbed it a thing), as I’m reeling in my spending by way of general home cookery.

So, be on the look out for more recipes as opposed to race recaps.

And don’t be upset by that.

Pasta with Chard & Goat Cheese

Serves 2
Ingredients:
½ yellow onion, minced
1 bunch green Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped
½ pound pasta
6 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
extra-virgin olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
1. Heat a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil; add pasta; cook to al dente.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2-3 Tbsps. oil in large saucepan over medium-low heat; add onion; season; sweat 5-7 minutes; raise heat; add chard; sauté 3-4 minutes; season; using spider or tongs, transfer cooked pasta to chard mix; add goat cheese; toss to combine (adding reserved pasta water if needed); season if needed; serve.

Complete with wine.

Complete with wine.

 

2014 Reston Marathon – DNF.

And now, a brief summary of this weekend’s events:

The Reston Marathon was cold, wet, and miserable, and I DNF’d at the half due to IT band troubles.

Should you wish to hear further trials and tribulations of Sunday’s not so great race, please read on.

It took me awhile to get pumped for this race. In fact, it wasn’t until Friday night that I endured euphoria over Sunday’s marathon.

My goal was 3:50:00, a 15 minute PR that I deemed attainable, given my training and nailing my race nutrition. And for the first time ever, I planned on pacing myself for a marathon, and hoped for negative splits upon the second loop of the two loop course.

Look! A weird loop!

Look! A weird loop with an even more weird out and back thingy!

Fueled and hydrated, I went to sleep at 10 p.m., and arose to Pharrell’s “Happy” to get myself motivated.

I walked downstairs to get coffee and heard the sound of rain hitting the back deck.

I'm still debating on whether or not it's "better than heat," Robert.

I’m still debating on whether or not it’s “better than heat,” Robert.

Last year was a battle of epic proportions between myself and Mother Nature, so I didn’t let the raindrops get to me. I fueled on oatmeal, coffee, more water, then grabbed my trash bag and change of clothes and we were out the door.

Lucky for us, we were a mere 5 minute drive from the start. We had just enough time to get into the high school (weird back flashes ensued, even though it was not my place of education) before we were corralled to the start line.

It was cold. Like really cold. And the puddles were deep. His lordship and I stood next to each other, making obvious comments about the weather.

Then sleet started hitting my trash bag poncho. Goody.

When the race started, His Lordship took off like a bolt of lightning (typical), and I settled into pace. The first mile ticked off at 8:34—a hair faster than I intended—so I tried slowing down. I started running behind a woman wearing a winter rain jacket, as she was keeping a similar pace.

For the first 2 miles, the weather wasn’t so bad. In fact, the rain started to let up and there was hardly any wind.

Shortly after the 5k mark, I saw our cheer squad. This gave me a boost, as I was headed into the hill-filled trails.

I’m sure that on a beautiful sunny day, the trails would have been beautiful. However, the clouds were dumping buckets and the trails were filled with puddles and spots of mud. The “beautiful scenery” looked like swamp land.

Around mile 6, I felt a twinge in my right IT band. I thought perhaps it was just in my head, so I ignored it and pressed on.

A Gu shortly after mile 7, and I ran over more rolling hills and trails, and there was more rain, and the occasional wind gust. (I apologize for this boring part.)

Then, at mile 10, I felt a sharp pang in my IT band. I thought about pulling over to stretch it, but opted not to, as I didn’t want to get cold (did I mention it was raining?).

I smiled knowing I would never see the photographer again. Sigh.

I smiled knowing I would never see the photographer again. Sigh.

The pain came at every incline. At mile 12, i weighed my options: bail at the half, and save myself from a serious injury with several weeks of PT, or finish, and likely walk the hills of the second half.

I pulled out at the half.

I asked a volunteer where the massage therapists were.

Upon asking said therapist to massage out my IT band, I was told it was $20 for 15 minutes.

First of all, I’m most certainly sopping wet—does it look like I have cash on me? And second of all, …what? That’s absurd.

After pacing through the high school hallways for several minutes, I finally sat down and tried to get warm while waiting for my family.

Then I looked down at my legs. I was breaking out into a severe rash. This has happened to me during the winter months before, but I normally have a warm shower to jump into to ease the pain. Unless I wanted to wash myself in the toilets, I was out of luck.

I was now severely uncomfortable.

I walked into the warm cafeteria and sat at a table. By this time, the first pack of half marathoners started pouring in (HA! Pouring! So punny.); it was only a matter of time before I saw the cheer squad and Ryan, perhaps 15 minutes.

Mother of God, those were the longest minutes I have endured in quite some time.

A kind fireman walked up to me.

“Are you alright?? You sure are shivering quite a bit.”

I told him I was okay, and that I was waiting for my family, who had towels and a change of clothes for me.

I then spotted Christine, who was quite concerned (for obvious reasons) and quickly left to procure me means of warmth. Back I sat.

The fireman returned.

“I swear, I just saw my family. They’re getting me things.”

Between my chattering teeth and bright red calves, I don’t think he believed me.

Christine returned with a towel, and Maggie, who graciously gave me her coat.

Soon, Ryan finished (his first half marathon!), followed by His Lordship, who has a more miraculous tale to tell, as he placed 2nd overall.

Was I upset? Absolutely. Could I have done anything different? I don’t think so. I’ve never had problems with my IT band—how was I supposed to know it would act up during my race?

Would I do this race again? Maybe. It’s a small race, and only in its second year. I’m sure it will grow, and who knows? More racers might make a change of course.

My splits. You know, for shits and what have you.

My splits. You know, for shits and what have you.

I’m curious to know: have you gone through a random IT band issue? How did you prevent it? How did you recover? Also, do you get hives jumping from extreme temperatures? Am I just a weirdo? AM I?!

Game On?

It’s race week.

I say this with a little apprehension, as I didn’t know if His Lordship and I would actually be running the Reston Marathon at all until last night. Truthfully, I’m not enthralled. Even though my comrade (who ran on cobblestones and torrential downpour in Rome yesterday and finished in 3:58) and I have nailed our tempo Thursdays and I’ve had a couple of great decent long runs, I don’t feel like I’m in shape to run a marathon, and not just physically. My mind has been focused on several other things the past several weeks, and the only thing to take my mind off said things was to propel into my training. But I have to wonder, can I use the same tactic for a full marathon?

Nevertheless, I’ll be in the burbs of Northern Virginia this weekend, and hopefully not slogging through my 6th attempt at 26.2.

So I guess, game on?