Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bamboodles No More: So This is How a Real Noodle Tastes

It is extremely rare that I get to eat fresh noodles.

Once about two years ago, "The Ukrainian" and I tried making our own whole-wheat pasta.  While it didn't turn out bad, there is a reason we haven't tried again.

The dried ones are just... better... and EASIER.

The only other times I can recall fresh noodles is the ramen place my sisters took me for my 21st birthday (might do a review at some point) and this one.

This place used to be called Bamboodles but recently had a management change and is now called Yu Pin.

The ambience was open, clean, and nice.  Not too crowded on a Sunday night!

I was attracted by the idea of fresh Spinach noodles, so I got this cold version that you're supposed to dip in a thin soy sauce.  I didn't get it hot in a broth because I wasn't sure where the broth came from, and the server seemed to have little concept of "no meat."

"The Ukrainian" ordered plain noodles in broth with a fried chicken cutlet of some sort.  It was lightly breaded with five-spice powder.  If you've ever had Taiwanese popcorn chicken, that's what he said this tasted like.  I did end up trying some of the broth.  It was simple and light.

Eating fresh noodles is heavenly -- there IS something different about it.  The noodles are tender, yet chewy.

"The Ukrainian" also got pork dumplings to go with his order.

And I went for these green onion pancakes.  They were a bit greasier than I had hoped, but they did taste mighty good dipped in Sriracha!

At some point, I'd like to give the whole noodle-making thing another try.  In the meantime, this place really upped the ante for me when it comes to good noodle standards...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh, Fargo... California Girl Hits Midwest

Before I spend the rest of this (long) entry talking about my experience in Fargo, I thought I'd show you some race pics!  I will update my Fargo Marathon and 5K pages with these -- and more! -- pics when I get the chance.  I've been lagging, even though school is officially DONE, as my filed my dissertation earlier this week.  Work has suddenly and quickly filled any remaining voids.  Can't I catch a break?

Here is "distrustful" me...  Yep, I rock capris and CEP sleeves simultaneously. :$  And that green shirt was a birthday gift!

My finish line shot.  Actually, this also appeared on a jumbo-tron!  I LOVE this race!

Our 5k hand-holding endeavor.  That guy up front seems disgusted by us... oh well. ;)

Thankfully, we traveled the (under construction) LAX, Salt Lake City, Fargo/Hector, and Minneapolis/St Paul airports with my Water Bobble.  We filled from water fountains and saved $$$ on bottled water!

On to Fargo... we got there late Thursday night, so I waited until morning to snap these photos.  Everything is Fargo is SO open, and luxurious.  At least to California standards, where a house like this would cost $2+ mil.  No sardine-can-like cramming.

These two cats (R and T, respectively) kept us company throughout our stay.  Was not cheating on my cat!

She (the orange one) shed a ton!  He (the black one)... not as much.  She liked me, and he liked "The Ukrainian."


"The Ukrainian"'s aunt is a painter (not her primary job), so check out this studio (and large in CA/average in Fargo house in the back).  Her paintings were all around the house (can you spot 'em?)!

The view from the backyard patio.  A golf course was nearby, no gate -- nothin!


Inside, we played something I've never really played before.  This was in a whole under downstairs area they had... SO much space there!!  If I had a house like this, I'd definitely not leave home as often!  Of course, this just means that you are meant to stay at home in Fargo...  They get poor weather sometimes, but they have indoor tracks and huge arena-type places you can work out when the weather is bad.  However, note that Fargo also is VERY runnable... paved trails everywhere!!


Indoor wine cellar...

The park...

This was post-marathon... don't I look like half of my body is kinda chopped off?

P.S. My first time at a Chili's was in Minnesota during a layover.  Was not impressed, and everything was SO salty.  But I needed some grease due to my flight-related nausea...

Fargo is definitely a quiet town without all the theatrics of my last out-of-state race.  I hate to say this, but life is so much simpler in North Dakota.  I picked up local magazines there that did not feature people who looked like models... just ordinary people.  Yes, I stuck out like a sore thumb in terms of me being "of color" over there, but people were friendly to me and did not make any assumptions about me.  Only a few markets, an airport that you can park outside and walk in a minute, and hardly any crime or unemployment (according to our cab driver).

Being there really just reminded me of how oppressive living in Los Angeles can be.  Sure, there's a lot going on here, but I feel like it's not conducive to building true relationships.  Plus, being in open-spaced Fargo was soooo relaxing, a spirit that carried onto the marathon as well.  Sure, dining out isn't really too much of an option there (side note: their Carl's Jr is called Hardee's!), but with kitchens like those, I'd cook in more often!  They still have "healthy foods" in their stores for about the same price as here.  Besides homes and parking prices, most of the other ones were similar to California's.

I joked numerous times that "The Ukrainian" should get a utility job out there, and I would find some kind of HR work at the Microsoft office they have out there, or even North Dakota State University.  I'd enjoy the change of pace... I often am disgruntled at being a LA resident with so much crowding and issues, but I did grow up there.  Maybe if I can go for a year....?

On the flight home to LA, I was sitting near a lady wearing Juicy Couture velour in an obnoxious blue color, carrying a tiny tote bag that carried her dog for the 4-hour flight.  Welcome home.

Stay tuned for a giveaway next week!  Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PSA: Blogger Comment Glitches

If you are a Blogger user and haven't been seeing my usual comments on your blog, it's because the platform is giving me a SEVERELY hard time adding comments to embedded comments sections.

On a related note, I was wondering why my comments these days have been lacking, and it's partly due to this glitch. 

Fortunately, I found a workaround, so the commenting should now work.  Please let me know that you're still reading out there!

I'll end with this last tidbit, which does NOT apply to you commenting on my blog:  If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.  Thou shall not make thy blog host angry.

Beer Bread and Tortilla Soup

I did some more Happy Herbivore cooking. Now, before you assume that "vegan" means "boring," check out these outcomes!

If you remember, I recently had a tortilla soup that was rather regrettable.  To make things right, I made this version below:

Braggs liquid aminos is what I use as a substitute for soy sauce, as it is much milder in terms of saltiness.  Excuse my jar of garlic... I was a bit lazy to chop actual cloves, as you can see.

A can of fire-roasted tomatoes was the base of this dish, along with a can of jalapenos.

It came together really nicely!  If you look closely, tortillas are actually part of the soup... they help thicken it.

To go with the soup, I made bread.  And not just any bread... vegan whole wheat BEER bread.

Now, I don't know much about beer, so I used what was lying around.

This part when I dumped the beer in was very cathartic.

Once in the oven, I could smell the faint smell of beer waft around the kitchen.  It was actually pretty cool, even though I don't partake in much alcohol.

The texture of the bread was kind of dry, but you can definitely taste beer in every bite.  I'm not sure why it didn't rise more... perhaps because I needed to use a smaller bread pan.  We ate the slices with jam.  If you don't like beer... warning, it's a bit bitter.  I'll probably try making this again because it is SO easy... maybe with different beers. :)

And here is the finished soup.  I baked some more tortillas for crisps.  The flavors were exactly what I expected... a little spicy and full of flavor.  Yum!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Run Like a Dog

Although we're not quite sure *exactly* how old little Bruno is, I think it's pretty safe to say that he has reached about 7 months.

This little guy is EXTREMELY energetic.  I remember when my dad first got him, all he did was chew a little and then look for a lap to sleep on, but soon, that evolved into running, jumping, tackling, and fetching.  I am VERY glad that he hasn't turned out to be as large as we had feared.  Seeing his kind of large paws when he came home at about 7-8 weeks old made us fear the worst.  But as you can see in this picture below (at 6 months), he isn't really too big at all.  Probably ~17 lbs at this point.

If he had been large (over 25 lb), I would have taken him running.  I see lots of people run around the park where I do my long runs with their dogs.  My leash time with Bruno is limited.  He has a harness so I don't pull on his neck (and doubles as a seatbelt mechanism for the car), but he is less interested in running in a straight line than I had hoped.

I am not pushing him too much to run with me, because I honestly don't know what his limits are.  I'm pretty sure his joints are a concern, and even though he is fraught with energy, I am not sure how long I can safely go.  We haven't done much more than maybe .75 of a mile at a time, and this is peppered with little stops to sniff things. 

I do not claim to be a good dog trainer by any means -- he knows how to come on command (somewhat reliably), sit and lay down on both verbal and hand signal commands, maybe give a few "handshakes" and roll over.  And for the most part, he's housebroken.  But I'd say that if it IS okay to run with him, that training is going to be another blah ordeal, perhaps to wait a few more months as he reaches his full size. 

I know little about dogs and their care and mainly got stuck with these responsibilities when my dad bought him.  I love dogs (my canine nephews are cute and fun), but I have decided that I would not be getting one of my own any darn time soon.  They are almost as much work as children -- speaking of which, yes, I'd hope my children would run with me.

Maybe for now, the cat will do it.... yes??

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No More Egg Whites

In an attempt to eat more protein, I started microwaving egg whites (like the one pictured) at lunch in a mug and mixing in things like salsa, mustard, salt, pepper, and avocado.  This was delicious, filling, and nutritious... not to mention pretty cheap.  "The Ukrainian" and I are going to try to eat more protein post-marathon, so since I still eat eggs without much abandon, egg whites seemed like a good idea.

Unfortunately, the other day, after enjoying such a lunch, my co-workers around me started saying something about a rotten egg or sewer smell.  They didn't know it was from me, and I had gone to wash the mug out already, leaving no evidence.  However, they made a huge deal out of it and told the front desk guard to come check it out.  He came over and asked me if I smelled something bad, to which I said no. 

NOTE: Usually, when people don't smell something obviously bad, they must be the cause. 

Fortunately, some people remarked about the smell, while some didn't notice much.  I debated just coming forward, but it was too late.  Eventually, the smell dissipated, so the checking stopped.  Luckily, I'm friends with the front desk guard, so I know he likes walking around, anyway.  But still, that was *super* embarrassing.

So I guess I shouldn't be eating that kind of lunch at my desk anymore... or is there some other way?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marathon Rapture

In case it doesn't update in your Google readers, here is a link to my Fargo 5K + Marathon recap (which will hopefully be done by the time this post goes live).


Funny signs that I saw this past Saturday while running:

"Finish B4 Rapture"

"The End is Near" - held by a grim reaper at Mile 25.5

"You are NOT almost there" - held by a woman at Mile 5, and then that same woman again at Mile 26, with the "NOT" crossed off

"Worst Rapture Day Parade Ever!"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fargo Marathon

EVENT: Fargo Marathon ("Go Far" Challenge)
DATE: Saturday May 21, 2011
LOCATION: Fargo, ND / Moorhead, MN
FINISH TIME: 04:48:49

This is a long one, but here we go!

When offered a "challenge" in which you run a 5K Friday night and a marathon Saturday morning, I am one of those weirdos who takes it on. If you need proof, see my San Diego Marathon weekend last year as an example.  With three medals possible, a flat course, two tech shirts, good food, and free lodging (courtesy of "The Ukrainian"'s relatives)? I totally bit!

The whole Fargo experience is very low-key.  I am going to write a separate post about my impression of Fargo, North Dakota.  But let it be known that they have really good bread, with samples!  (Breadsmiths)

"Marathon multigrain" (fifth from the top), LOL. :)

Here are the (epic) marathon shirts.  We didn't wear these to the race, but they were fun to model!  Yes, they actually had different colors for each gender...

The Race: As for the race itself, well, my primary comments fall into three areas:

1) WHY does my body always use all its energy to generate heat instead of using it to run?!  Most people I know don't get flushed in the face and drip sweat after just three miles -- in the gym or outdoors.  The weather was humid as heck, and as always, I sweated profusely = dehydration.  Not enough water stations (in my opinion, because I'm spoiled and need them pretty much every mile instead of every 2-3 like they had) didn't help.

2) The race was pretty much flat, and I really could have done much better had it not been for #1 and lack of training.  Still, not too bad considering the hypothermic marathon episode just two months ago...

3) Thank goodness I am so used to calf muscle twitching/cramping that I was able to recognize the signs early and prevent a serious pull this time.  I held on for about 10 miles!  So salt/electrolyte pills and hyper-hydrating also didn't help.  I think I'm just an impossible case.  But at least I adapted.  I'm just no good at this marathon thing.... even after 9 of them.

I was going to give splits, but to spare myself (and you) of the replay of my deterioration, here's how it generally went. Started off very conservatively (9:40-ish pace) Miles 1-3: humid, sweating; Miles 3-8: feeling good, picked up pace; Miles 10-13: drained; Miles: 14-19: a struggle, walk/jog by then; Miles 20-23 walk/jog (more running than the earlier miles, strangely); Miles 24-25.5: NO energy left (which has never happened during a marathon before); Mile 26: managed to run to the finish.

By the way, finishing a race INSIDE the Fargodome was the most awesome thing EVER.  People watched from the stands, and we got jumbo-tron treatment.

So you want to run Fargo?  DO IT!  My overall impression of the race was that it was really organized, and really, the water station spacing was my only real gripe about it.  The weather they could do nothing about -- in fact, it was forecasted to pour and thunder all weekend, and in both the 5K and marathon, we lucked out with just brief drizzling.  The scenery was mostly residential, but as I will blog about later, the houses in Fargo are lovely, so overall, entertaining enough, along with the copious bands.  The cheering crowds were really great in some places but really died down during those last few miles unfortunately.  And I wish some spectators handed out oranges, but at least I snagged a mini-Otter Pop!

Speaking of the 5K... yes, I did feel as though it affected the marathon, as my legs always felt that I was three miles ahead of where I actually was.  Then again, it could have been purely in my head. I really, really just need to train properly for the 10th marathon in November.  I am NOT one of those runners who can just wing it (if you are, I don't hate, but I envy you!).  Although I am a little disappointed by my performance, I guess I am satisfied due to my unenthusiastic running lately.

So I wasn't the best photographer on race day, but I did manage to get a few shots:

Above: The disposable timing chip!  They really pulled all the stops here!

Above: Three medals: 5K+Marathon (left); Marathon (middle); 5K (right)

Above: One thing I didn't mention in my review so far is the EXCELLENT post-race food.  I was SO out of energy by the time I crossed that even as "The Ukrainian" was walking around with me for food, I didn't have energy to speak for 5 minutes.  I was too busy guzzling fluids and eating food.  Multi-grain rolls, chocolate milk, bananas, COOKIES, THE BEST CHEESE PIZZA EVER, and this COOKIE DOUGH all made their way down my gullet.  Hands down the best post-race food ever.

Above: To end on a less-than-pleasant note, the Midwest has been flooded for months, and although they did a great job of cleaning everything, there was a lot of muddy ground, as you can see from "The Ukrainian"'s legs.  I dropped my hat in the mud, and it is forever not as white as it should be...