Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream (Du Nats, Plot to plate, & other stuff)
Wow, my head is so crammed full of stuff it feels like a slovenly closet/storage space. That's what this post is going to be like, too, fyi. Only I'm choosing to think of it as a strawberry sundae. That's what strawberry buttermilk ice cream is for, after all...a little celebratory self-indulgence. Especially when delicate dark chocolate shavings are whipped throughout. It's about high time for another scattered and mostly personally gratifying post, anyway, I say. You know how "they" say, don't sweat the small stuff? I put "they" in quotes because, although most everyone I know acknowledges the wisdom in this sage but simple advice, it's a lucky individual who truly manages to abide by it. I'm trying to adopt it with more genuine follow through, but it's hard. I also think, incidentally, we who wish to choose happiness need to remember to celebrate the small stuff, too.
I bring this up because, it seems like for years we've put off kicking off our shoes and relaxing, in so many different situations. There's a brief moment of exultation when something is accomplished, and so quickly it's replaced by a sterner focus, or even fear as the next goal rears its head.
I've been preoccupied with aging/aka having to grow up already--even more than usual lately, and one thing I'm realizing is that there is enough that is going to go wrong, break down, and cause stress already predetermined, so I'd better start making my mind up to be happy with myself more often while there are things to be happy about at hand.
Today, I'm happy about a really, truly, satisfying weekend; and I want to get down in the books before I forget it was good.
First thing, we competed at Duathlon Nationals in Tuscon on Saturday, and what a fun, friendly, smoothly organized event that was! All the more so considering it was a Nationals event. The duathlon crowd is so much more casual/so much less intense than the tri scene, or at least that's my impression. Maybe that's more a reflection of how much more relaxed I can be sans swim.
Of course, I was far from relaxed pre-race. In fact, I was practically catatonic the whole day prior, to Dave's huge annoyance. I guess I hadn't realized how nervous I was for this race. I'd been too preoccupied with the miserable combination of allergies, sinus infection, and pink eye the week prior to focus on racing, or so I thought. When we arrived at the Tuscon airport, however, the monitors were all issuing "Welcome Duathletes" messages, and suddenly the full impact of what "Nationals" means hit me with new force.
It's sort of a shame that my A race preparation seems to involve losing entire days of my life to sleep and stupor beforehand, but at the same time I'm starting to accept that's just the way it is. Now that I'm aware, we'll see if acceptance really does pave the way for progress. I did promise Dave we could have fun as soon as the race was done.
Props to USAT's organization on this race. Everything was a breeze to get sorted, from packet pickup and bike dropoff to a clean, clear-cut transition and ease of getting information from enthusiastic an plentiful volunteers. My only complaints are total incidentals, and personal preference. One, the sticky tattoos replacing body marking took me 5 days+ to take off. I didn't mind the first day or two, but 5 days later, it's a stretch to explain to your co-workers that you do indeed shower. Another minor moan, the guy at registration who secured my wrist strap (to enter transition and get food) made it so tight I think it cut off circulation at one point. But then I should have spoken up. Why didn't I just say!? Finally, the big one: the course was just hard! Hot and hilly, bike and run. The bike was only up or down, no middle ground. So, it was hard to get the speed up, especially being a crappy descender, even on non-technical roads. Oh well. Work's cut out for me.
We'd been told that all we had to do was finish to qualify for Worlds, but secretly I hoped, doubtfully, I might be able to just squeak into the top ten age group. Top fifteen automatically qualify, with a usual roll-down as far as 20-25. I finished 9th in my age group in the end, in spite of feeling so alone on the bike that for awhile I wondered if I was the only one left "racing" out on the course. Dave placed 8th in his division. So, two true, non rolldown qualifiers at Nationals! Woohoo!
We went to Baskin Robbins later that day and were rewarded with a sick amount of ice cream. Who knew a scoop could encapsulate so much mass? Sad to say, though, I didn't like the ice cream. I felt kind of nauseous, to tell the truth. (Yeah, that small detail has no function at all but for the sake of illusion that this post is connected all the way. )
On our flight back, we got to share a small Southwest plane with a hoard of middle-schoolers heading to DC! Now that is a precious experience, let me tell you. If you forget for a moment that you're getting old, it's a grand reality check. They seemed like pretty sweet kids overall, though. At the end of the flight, there was an announcement congratulating all the duathletes who had qualified for Worlds and were going to France, and there was this rush of junior high breath and inquisitive turning heads. For the first time, I really wanted to take the spot and go to Worlds in September.
All the nice feelings up to this point were nothing compared with picking up Riley from the kennel, it just goes without saying. And, as it the big faceful of dog saliva and unconditional love weren't enough icing for this cake, when we arrived home, the proofs I had ordered for my (and my friend and co-worker Melissa's) book!
I won't wax on about Plot to Plate: Grow, Cook, Create! (yeah, that's the book). Not now. It deserves it's own post. But this project first started as a bud in my head when I first read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle years ago. I wanted to create something like that for kids and families, an activity workbook complete with gardening, science, and cooking activities. You wouldn't know it from the final project, but the years since then have included lots of small starts, back-slides, revisions, additions, and deletions, and we have learned so much.
As always, next steps and goals are starting to loom dauntingly, but for a change I'm making a point of celebrating small steps with each step along the way. Which brings me back to luscious, and on the light side, strawberry buttermilk ice cream, made with beautiful Driscoll's organic strawberries I had super coupons for. Yep. (This recipe is modified from April's Cooking Light, and it's lovely.)
- 2 cups chopped strawberries
- 1/3 cup agave nectar
- 1 cup whole buttermilk
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate shavings (OK--I really just threw pieces of dark chocolate into the food processor with strawberries, because it was much easier. But shavings seems the smart thing to do)
- 1. Combine berries and nectar in a blender; process until smooth (about 1 minute). Add buttermilk; process until well blended. Add vanilla; pulse to mix. Add chocolate. Chill mixture 1 hour. Pour into freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.