Some stuff - and a food tip

OK, so normally this is mostly my lunch time activity, but I am super slammed today and I still have a bunch of photos to upload (read: I currently don't have time or access to quality material to write you a more interesting post) so today I am keeping it short.

First, I figured out the other day that if you are subscribing by e-mail you can't see the nifty stuff I added to the blog when I point it when I say, "I added that book widget over there →"....and you don't see anything.  So, I encourage you to hit this link to get the full effect, or just stumble by the actual blog once in awhile to check out any potentially interesting changes.

Next, did you know I have a Facebook page for the blog?  Yes, I know there is a "Like" button and a little Facebook box over there → but again, maybe you are getting this via e-mail or just didn't see it.  I am posting all of the blog posts to Facebook (and all of the blog post photos), so if you want to follow via FB, please give me a "like". 

Last, I am also posting photos to Flickr, which you can see in the feed above ↑.  Flickr is where I will post all race photos - I take a ton, so I don't always put all of them in the blog post, but I do post all of them to Flickr.  So there.

Now that the "stuff" is done, I bring you this food tip - the FoodSaver.  The Cyclist talked me into buying one of these a couple of years ago.  We got ours at Target; it is not as fancy as the one on the first page of the FoodSaver site...I think it's probably the earlier version of this one.  But whatever.  I thought this was totally silly to buy, but The Cyclist insisted and I gave in.  I have to say, this thingy is worth having, especially if you shop at Costco, which we do. 

Since there are only 2.5 of us, when we buy meat, I split it up and seal it into FoodSaver bags.  It keeps the meat from getting freezer burnt and also keeps it from being wasted, i.e., by not being forced to cook or defrost too much at once.

We recently scored this nice piece of line-caught salmon from Costco...

...The Cyclist was able to cut it into 10 fillets (we should have done 8 but oh well)...

...we used the FoodSaver to seal 2 fillets per bag...

...and stuck them all in the freezer.

I use this for all of our meat, including the 1lb packages of turkey meat - we usually only use 1/2 a package at a time.  Additionally, when The Munchkin was still eating little food, I would often take leftovers (like pasta), put it through the food processor, make a single serving FoodSaver bag and freeze it.  These little bags were handy when we travelled because all we had to do was pop it in the microwave and viola!  A healthy meal for The Munchkin.

So, that is my tip to you!

(More interesting posts to follow).

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Recipe Find - Healthy Cake

Hmm.  Healthy cake sounds suspicious.  Maybe I should instead call this post Healthier Cake.  Oh well, you get the idea.

The Cyclist and I are both strong believers in not piling kids full of sugar.  I am still kind of amazed at how our society promotes the idea that giving kids sweets and junk food is OK or just for fun.  We get all kinds of crazy looks when we say "no, he can't have a 'treat'" or "no, he doesn't eat cake".  All I have to say is, I know what some junk food or a piece of cake does in my body; imagine what it does in a 30 pound kid.  My best response to the naysayers is "would you like to babysit while he bounces off the walls because he just ate a cup of sugar?"  The answer has always been no. 

Now, before I move on, let me just say that we aren't super granola-no sugar-no junk-ever-people.  But we do (probably) eat healthier than the general population.  Plenty of kids get a yummy sugary cake for their birthday and are fine.  Our preference to keep the sugar low all the time is just ours.  I'm not knocking what anyone else might do with their own kid.

Instead, I'll offer an alternative.  In our quest to keep The Munchkin eating healthy but still getting good stuff on special occasions, I was on the lookout for a healthy (er, healthier) cake.  This year for The Munchkin's 2nd birthday, I found a recipe for Banana Cream Layer Cake from Eating Well.

Here is the file photo:

This recipe did some pretty interesting and creative stuff to keep the cake tasty but cut the fat and sugar.  It calls for whole wheat pastry flour which according to the recipe, "...contains less gluten than regular whole-wheat flour and helps ensure a tender result in delicate baked goods while providing the nutritional benefits of whole grains".  For the Bavarian Cream topping, you mix low-fat milk with unflavored gelatin (and some other stuff), let it set and later add in some whipping cream.

So, although this cake does have sugar and whipping cream, it's significantly less than a traditional recipe would call for.  And, most importantly, it was really good!!  The Munchkin devoured it. 

Here is our version:

Note:  I was busy chatting with The Munchkin's mom and I let my jello/milk mixture set too long. 
I think the topping would have been creamier if I avoided this, but, it still tasted good.

So, after we found this cake and it was successful, I checked Eating Well again when DD's birthday rolled around.  His favorite is carrot cake.  Lot's of people seem to have the impression that carrot cake is already a healthy (healthier) cake....I guess because it has "carrot" in the title, but it's really pretty decadent. 

As an alternative, I found this recipe.  According to the site, this carrot cake "...version has about 40 percent less calories and 50 percent less fat than most".

Here is the file photo:

This cake also used the whole wheat pastry flour and buttermilk.  It also used crushed pineapple and pineapple juice, which I assume helped cut the sugar.  The frosting was good!  Low fat or Neufch√Ętel cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar.  The recipe also called for walnuts, which I added, but The Cyclist & DD both requested I leave those out next time.  Also, the recipe called for unsweetened coconut, which I could not find, so I just added less coconut than what the recipe called for. 

The carrot cake was really good, it did not taste like it was lacking anything.  I will use this frosting recipe again for other desserts.  I didn't take a pic of my cake.....I cooked it in too small of a pan and ended up cutting and stacking it.  It was kind of a mess even though it tasted good.  DD sweetly told me he didn't think it was ugly at all.  Thanks DD.  :)

Last but not least, since we're talking cake, I have to share this one:

This was The Munchkin's 1st Birthday cake.  It was a sugar-free banana cake.  I did not make it!
But, if you're interested (and in the Sacramento area), I can put you in contact with the baker who did.

You're not surprised it was a bike cake are you?

That is all for now!

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The weekend before last we went to the Rio annual BBQ.  Rio is the first team The Cyclist raced for and I think we both consider it the "home" team.  We ♥ all our Rio peeps!

One thing about (most) cyclists is they like to eat - hey, it's important to re-fuel after all those calories get burned!  The food at a cyclist event is always good (at least in my experience) and often creative.

I did not take a ton of pics because I was too busy socializing, but I did get these....

This guac was amazing.  I thought it had ranch seasoning in it, but no!  Sour cream was the secret ingredient.
I am definitely adding sour cream next time I make guacamole.
A note on the chips - these were multi-grain scoops; I have not had these before but I thought they were better than the regular kind.

Can't have a BBQ without watermelon.  But this wasn't just any watermelon....
The secret sauce of Bacardi poured over the top added a nice little punch.

I don't think a cyclist BBQ would be complete without a crumb-topped berry pie from Ikeda's...yum.
I'm sorry I missed a slice of this!

Now this I thought was awesome. 
This big tray had all this good stuff (can you see the chocolate at the top left?) and was spread out over butcher paper with some crackers on the side.
The presentation was really beautiful.  I am totally going to copy this at some point.
Cheers to whoever made this one!

Also, RR - the tri-tip was perfect, but I did not get a photo because....I ate it.  :)

And...onto some photos of the event....

I ♥ yard art.

I ♥ yard art (again).

I assume all of the really good pictures will get posted here....maybe? 
But even so you should "like" this page.

Thank you to our hosts Jim E. & Mrs. E for a great event!!

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NCNCA Masters Crit Championships 8/21/11

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Race Update/Squash Update

As an addendum to yesterday's post, I would like to share with you my attempts at cooking our mystery garden squash last night.

This squash...
...was a normal squash!  Imagine that.
We cut it up and sauteed it with some other veggies.  It tasted like squash.
This squash...
...was hard as a freaking rock!  We couldn't even cut it with our new knives.
I think this must be a cross between a squash and a gourd or something.  Cross-pollination is happening for sure!
Let's hope our pumpkins aren't that hard or we'll never be able to carve them!

Now that the Squash Update is complete, I'd like to bring you the Race Update. 

Sunday was the NCNCA Masters State Criterium Championships.  The Cyclist is..was...the current NCNCA Crit Champ until Sunday.  Boo-hoo.  We would have liked it if he could have won again, but I was a little worried about how he would fare after Tuesday's crash

Anyway, we headed off to the race, which was in old-town Clovis, CA.  Before we go on here I'd just like to say, in a non-complainy way, this was a cute town with a nice course and friendly people.  But, I think the race would have had a better turn-out if it was located in a more Northern California central location.  This is purely my spectator opinion.  I have no idea how they pick the location of these races.

...haaay.  Let us begin.
I am still attempting how to learn to take better photos. 
It would probably be a good idea for me to read the camera manual.  I have not yet done this. 
I did succeed in printing it.  It is about an inch thick, so it will take some time for me to read and learn.
In the meantime, I just try stuff and sometimes get lucky.  I am still having issues with focusing, so I decided I would not do any "sport continuous" pics on Sunday, instead focus on...well...focusing.
In the small camera screen, I thought this pic was going to be the shot of the day...

...I don't know how I got the blurred background, but I like it.  The rest is not as clear as I had hoped though.

These ↓ pics are from the race before The Cyclists category (30-34). 
Sorry, I don't know which category it was....maybe 35-39?

The Cyclist took this one ↑.  He does good.  I've decided he has a more steady hand than I do.

I like this ↑ pic.  But once again, blurry.  Boo.

Showin' some Rio love ↑.


This ↓ was probably my most clear photo of the day...

So overall,  not bad, not great.

Let's move on to The Cyclist's race...

...waitin' at the start...

...and right away these two dudes start attacking...

...and the peloton began the chase...

....and continued to chase...

(this ↑ picture turned out pretty clear)

...but those two up front just kept making the gap bigger....
...look, he's even smiling about it ;) ....

...and the peloton kept chasing...

 ...and chasing...

 ...and chasing...

Let me stop here and explain the course was a figure 8.
At one point when I was standing at the center and saw that these dudes ↓ were a fool loop ahead of those dudes ↑ I figured it was a done deal.... I took some pretty pics along the course...

...cute birdhouse...

...cute house house...

...and made my way back to the finish line....

Congrats new crit champ, whoever you are.

We were bummed but it was nothing a little of this couldn't solve...

The End.

I'll be posting ALL the photos here and to flickr shortly.

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