Monday, April 30, 2012

Urban Dare Lexington

Here is a quick but requires good fitness way to know Lexington, do the Urban Dare.
This past Saturday Jake and I completed Urban Dare Lexington. It is kind of like the Amazing Race, but local edition. We were given 12 clues that lead us to certain spots in the city where we would need to take a group picture or do a dare. We ran at least 7 miles around the city taking pictures, doing wheel-barrels, and answering trivia questions. We were a bit technical-challenged as we were probably the only team without a smart phone. We went to my hairdresser's shop nearby and used their internet. Luckily we also had lots of good friends who kept texting us the answers.


I now know where "Best one night stand in America" is (Lexington Opera House), the real name of the singer Prince, and the real name of "Our Gang". Sadly we got one of the clues wrong, it turned out that the founder of Kentucky University (Transylvania University) is not Henry Clay. Those Transylvania University students had us fooled. I was really hoping to move onto Super Dare in Milwaukee, maybe next year. Jake and I had an awesome time, one of these days we could probably win the Amazing Race.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Track and Field

Friday night I had planned on going to Bluegrass Food Truck Blast to taste some local street cuisine. Instead, I somehow spent my Friday night at a middle school track and field meet.

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If you are looking for motivation to start running, this was the place to be.

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Every 12 and 13 year-olds on the field clutched their teeth and was ready to race. They had that look of determination on their faces. Their friends and parents cheered on as they cross the finish line. This was true sportsmanship.

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It sounds like I was at the Olympics tryout. Watching these kids running with all their might made me want to run more. Even though I missed the food truck event (I hope there will be another one soon!), I was happy with my stadium food and cheering on the kids.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

All Things Green

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Yesterday I had a small strawberry from my balcony garden. The strawberry plant was "borrowed" from a neighbor's patch that had overgrown into the apartment's ground. It was quite an operation last year to get a couple strawberry plants into pots. The teeny strawberry was sweet and delicious.

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This year I planted bell peppers, at least 5 cherry tomato plants, pole beans, lima beans, and a variety of herbs.

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The fun veggie of the season is tomatillo, a.k.a. green tomato in husks. Salsa verde, anyone?
There weren't many choices for planting vegetable in pots, on the second floor of an apartment building. But we decided to try baby carrots in a large deep pot. By the way, zucchini isn't ideal for pot planting.

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I love going on the balcony and watching these little plants grow, knowing that one of these days my fruits of labor will pay off. I started the seeds mid-March and moved them outside due to the early Spring. My tomato plants took a hit from the frost a couple weeks ago, thank goodness they came back.

I love this vibrant green.

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My well-balanced lunch with homegrown apartment-grown lettuce.

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What's in your garden this year?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Final Push

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Fifteen months after I moved to Lexington, I am finishing up what I came here for. In a couple weeks I will be walking with cap and gown receiving my Master's of Science diploma. That is if I complete this final push of school work. Currently, I am writing the sixth page of my research paper on the "Success and Challenges of Lifestyle Modification as Obesity Treatment". The work doesn't end here.

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I will spare you with my long to-do list.
I finally admitted that I am a Kentucky Wildcat when I actually got excited about basketball, and I don't generally care much about basketball before coming here.

Last night Jake and I went to a Graduation Party hosted by the University of Kentucky Alumni Association, I can never pass on free food and t-shirts. That was when I realized my year and half of hard work will be coming to an end and I will be moving to Huntington to start my career (don't worry, it's only temporary!).

It is always hard to close a chapter on life and begin a new one. We are creature of habits. I think the best we can do is to embrace the change and look for the positives. After all, that's what makes life exciting.

Now, back to my final push to the end.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Chocolate World

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Over Easter weekend, Jake and I drove to Hummelstown, Pennsylvania to visit family. Hummelstown is next to a little town known as Hershey. You can probably guess what the town of Hershey is known for. That's right, chocolate.

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The street lamps are in the shape of Hershey's Kisses and the whole town smells like delicious and sweet chocolate. We went to Chocolate World, which has a ride that explains the chocolate making process and a ridiculously huge store. The store itself is covered wall to wall of chocolates, milk chocolate, Reeses's, Hershey's Kisses, and more. I, of course, went a little overboard with the chocolates. It's those 4 for $10 deals that gets me all the time.

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As a nutritionist, this should be my nightmare, but secretly I am in love with this place. Forget the fancy-pants dark chocolate bars, I love good the ol' milk chocolate bars. I am also a believer that if there's no chocolate, then it is not really a dessert (well, I guess there's many exceptions to this. I still need fruit pies and cobblers). Everything in moderation, right?

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Sunday mornings are our "special breakfast" days. I would make something delicious like pancakes, scrambled eggs, baked oatmeal, or omelet. All these chocolate talk inspired me to make Nutella and apple stuffed french toast for this past special Sunday breakfast. Gooey chocolate and apple slices with fresh brewed coffee and Sunday newspaper. Hmmmm....that's life.

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Nutella and Apple Stuffed French Toast

1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon alt
6 slices whole-grain bread
4 1/2 tablespoons Nutella
2 apples, thinly sliced
Cooking spray

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish.
2. Heat skillet over medium heat, spay with cooking spray and place apple slices in skillet. Cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Remove apples from skillet.slices.
3. Spread each of 3 bread slices with 1 1/2 tablespoons Nutella; arrange apple slices over each bread slice. Top sandwiches with remaining bread
4. Working with one sandwich at a time, place into milk mixture, turning gently to coat both sides. With heated skillet still over medium heat, place coated sandwiches into plan. Cook 2 minutes each side or until lightly browned. Cut each sandwich into 4 triangles.

This works great with banana slices too, I ran out of banana when I made this. Skip step 2 if using banana. Cooking apple for a bit makes the slices softer and they tend to not slide out from the sandwiches.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lexington Farmer's Market 2012

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Today is the first day for outdoor Lexington Farmer's Market at Cheapside Pavillion in downtown. A few girls from my master's program and I had the opportunity to set up a booth at the market (coordinated by me!). We gave free health information, nutrition advices, and recipes. Thanks to our neighbor Elmwood Stock Farm, who lent us a tent. If you were there, you probably saw me.

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When I was living in Madison, Wisconsin, going to farmer's market was a weekly ritual. The market was at least 4 times bigger than Lexington's, and 10 times more the amount of cheese. I miss the hot spicy cheese breads. Truckloads of these savory breads would come throughout market hours and the they get sold out instantly. Oh and I must not forget the squeeky fresh cheese curds! (Google it if you don't know what they are, it's a must have Wisconsin staple)

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Why can't my tomatoes look like this?
Silly me did not think to cover up the tomatoes on my balcony during last week's frost, now most leaves have died except for the stem. I am really hoping for a good comeback.

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I was a bit disappointed to find that most produce today were actually from Florida. On the other hand, I had a great time this morning getting to know the people of Lexington. I talked to a geologist, a couple professors, moms, visitors from Miami, culinary students and more. People come from all over the country and choose Lexington as their home. Everyone I spoke to loves living here and now I see why.

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I am really looking forward to more locally grown veggies like this beautiful lettuce in a few weeks.
Whee can't wait!
My group and I will be there every other week, so stop by next time!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Italian Vegetable Stew

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Recently I joined the Kentucky Food Blogger Association, the group talks about everything and anything related to food, from photography to gardening. I have not posted about cooking since I joined the group, and honestly I am a bit intimidated to share my recipe. Being part of the group means I have to bring on my cooking skills, be able to present great recipes, and post pretty pictures. But I am happy that there is such group out there (right where I live!) that breathes food and talks about food like I do, with a hint of Bluegrass, of course.

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Last night I made Italian vegetable stew from Cook's Illustrated magazine. The stew, known as ciambotta in Italian is almost like ratatouille. It has eggplant, colorful sweet bell peppers, zucchini, and tomato. Definitely gives you enough serving of vegetable for the day. Speaking of ratatouille, have you seen that animated film about a rat and a young man living in the culinary world? Great movie for all you foodies.

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The Cook's Illustrated recipe is a bit more complicated, here I tweaked it a bit for convenience.

Don't you love the vibrant colors?

Kitchen tip: Freeze homemade pesto in ice cube trays, when needed just take out a few pesto cube.

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Chow time!

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Italian Vegetable Stew 
(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated May and June 2012 Issue)

12 ounces eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound russett potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 1/4 cups water
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved and chopped coarse
2 zucchini (8 ounces each), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup shredded fresh basil
1/4 cup pesto
4 tablespoons olive oil

1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over high heat, add eggplant, onion, and potatoes; cook, stirring frequently, until eggplant browns and surface of potatoes become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, stirr to combine, then add 2 cups of water and chopped tomatoes and juice. Scrap up any browned bits and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until eggplant is broken down and potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet and add zucchini, bell peppers, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned. push vegetables to sides of skillet, add pesto and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir vegetable and pesto together, transfer to bowl and set aside. Add remaining 1/4 cup water to skillet, scrap up browned bits.

3. Stir in reserved vegetable and water from skillet into vegetables in Dutch oven. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt to taste.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Road Trip!

Over Easter break, we took a trip to Pennsylvania to visit family. Eight plus hours in the car equals lots of time for playing with my camera, discussing about who Lola might be if she was a real person, counting the number of Triscuits I'm eating, and listening to multiple audio books.

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The more East we drove towards the Appalachian Mountains, the more deserted things got. We stopped in Huntington, West Virginia to scout out where I will be spending ten months in. It was not exactly my choice of living environment, but I am just glad I got an internship.

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Six hours and fifty-four minutes later, I was still in the car. I counted the number of suicidal bugs on my windshield until I lost count, and somehow I did not get any state border welcome signs.

We drove through a large pig farm. Let's just say you know there's a decent size pig farm somewhere even a mile later.

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Are we there yet?
Are we there yet?
Are we there YET?
Still no.

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I wish I had some ways of transferring photos from my camera onto my computer instantly. My technical skills have not caught up yet with the blogging world. But taking photos through car windows does take some skills, especially when I was moving at 75 miles per hour.

More stories on my trip later, for now I am just glad I am not sitting in a car.

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Monday, April 2, 2012


I am sure I have already bored you with my anxiety over the internship and half-marathon. Well, thank goodness it's Monday! Two big events in my life have come to good endings.

I was so anxious the night before the race that I got up at 5:30am to hydrate. While I was on the rolling hills of mile 6 and 9, I asked myself why am I doing this. Madonna, Lady GaGa, and Michael Jackson kept me going. Until the last two miles, then I really thought I was going to die.

Here I am, dashing for the finish line.

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Man! What a great feeling when I crossed the finish line.
I did it! All the hard training paid off, a sense of accomplishment knowing that when I put my mind to something then I will get it down.
Then I thought, that just seemed too quick, I could do this again...maybe not with my jello-feeling legs.

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I beat these guys! I finished at 1:45, placing 7th in my age group.

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Alright, I promise this would be the last bragging I am doing today.
I got matched to a dietetic internship at Marshall University in West Virginia!

This weekend I have not only accomplished my personal goal, but also moving forward with my career. I can't be happier and I am looking forward to what West Virginia would bring me. I will probably go back and forth between there and Lexington. I am not sure if West Virginia have as many horses as here, but definitely more sighting of this crazy girl with her camera (me!)) going on another adventure.

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