Thursday, June 25, 2009

Holidays can't come soon enough...

I had a physio session today, and my physiotherapist Miyuki seemed really happy with my progress as a runner. I did a quick lap, and then explained which muscles were a bit sore or stiff - she's given me a number of stretches that I can now do before running, and before my gym exercise too (yay!)... I also got some techniques for core strength and balance using the swiss ball and some hand weights.

I'm a bit behind with TAFE at the moment, as Bertie's been home and I've also been losing focus as my excitement about spending time with her, and about my newfound love of exercise and fitness, grows. Also, my mind and body have switched into holiday mode early, maybe because I've pushed myself so incredibly hard this term. No excuses for dropping the ball though, I'm not working this year, so one course, no matter how full on, should not be overwhelming me in the way that it has. I'm disappointed but hopefully I can get on top of some homework and study this holidays, especially while I'm up in Phillip Island with no distractions (apart from beaches, relaxing, time spent with family, cooking, etc... lol)

Other priorities for this holidays are working for a few days, catching up with long lost friends, going to my first coaching session with Wheelchair Sports Victoria, and getting some decent, long sleeps so I don't end up crashing and burning in the second half of the year.

Speaking of sleep, it's time for me to finish off some homework and jump into bed *yawn*

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I have a few more days of TAFE this week, and then I'm off to Phillip Island with my family for a week or so. My poor kitty cats are going to a cattery... hope they'll be ok. Meanwhile, I'm planning to take my chemistry textbook and do my holiday study on the balcony overlooking the cliff, with the beach below... heaven.

I was planning to stay for a full week if I could, but I might come back a bit early to go to Melbourne Uni's physics lectures that they hold for the public in July. The first one, on July 3rd, is called "Galileo's invention of the astronomical telescope and his remarkable discoveries: moons, stars and a new planet"... definitely worth coming back for I think.

In other exciting news, I had an email from Disabled Wintersport Victoria to say that yes, they can help me - a person who has NEVER skiied, with any amount of legs - to get on the snow and get skiing. Fabulous! Apparently they have camps that you can attend...

And my first running session with Wheelchair Sports Victoria is on July 5th, so not too long to wait!

Finally, in an attempt to finish my neverending arts degree, I'm doing a literature subject at Deakin next semester. It's a subject on Shakespeare, involving EIGHT plays, so I need to spend a little bit of time this holidays reading a few in preparation. I know that next term it'll be hard to find the time, as I'm only just keeping up with all of my TAFE work this term as it is.

Bertie is leaving soon, which makes me terribly sad, but at least between Phillip Island, skiing, running, Shakespeare, and free physics lectures, my holidays will be jam packed full of fun and busy-ness... it'll be next term before I know it *groan*

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"The will to win means nothing if you haven't the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

As a kid I did jazz dancing, ballet, tap dancing, tennis, athletics, basketball... I was active and sporty. When I lost the leg at age ten, I became much less active - it wasn't all to do with the amputation, as I was at this stage getting more and more interested in reading, studying, singing, politics and activism, and other non-active hobbies - however, looking back I think I did let the amputation slow me right down. For example, I was too embarrassed to keep up my dancing with a prosthesis because I thought it'd look awkward and strange, and that people would stare or laugh. It seemed pointless putting so much effort into sport and dancing when I had so many other interests and hobbies to keep me busy.

Fast forward fourteen years, and I'm struggling with my weight, I feel sluggish and unhealthy, and I want to change my activity level dramatically.

For the last six months or so, I've been on weight watchers, trying to shed the kilos until I feel healthy in my own skin again. I don't think the program is perfect but it gives me a bit of structure, discipline and assistance in my weight loss struggle.

At the same time, I've been working out at the gym semi-regularly (trying to get big biceps so that Bertie will be impressed), walking as much as possible from place to place, and riding my fabulous new tricycle around the inner northern suburbs like a one legged, three wheeled hoon.

Meanwhile, my fantastic prosthetist and physiotherapist have been getting me toward a goal that in the last year has become very important to me - getting an energy returning foot, and learning to run! My prosthetist Hannah has also made me a fab new socket with a silicon suction suspension system, which took a bit of getting used to but is now working fabulously.

I am now running a little every day, and have decided to take a big leap of faith in my newfound ability - I've signed up to the Melbourne Marathon's ASICS 5km run on October 11 this year! I'm a little nervous about whether I'll be able to do it, but I guess if it gets to the day and I can't finish the race, I'll try and be happy with whatever distance I achieve.

I'm also wanting to learn how to participate in other sports and activities too - I've never been skiing, and would like to learn; I've played netball before and wouldn't mind having another go with this new running leg (before I used to kind of skip sideways to get down the court fast); I want to get back into swimming in a big way; and, somewhere along the way, I'd like to do some sort of dance to prove to myself that an amputee dancer can be as impressive as any full bodied dancer, if not more in this guy's case!

I'm no Oscar Pistorius, having only been running for a week, but today I rang Wheelchair Sports Victoria, hoping they might have contact details for a sports organisation or group for amputees I could get in touch with, and it turns out that they have an athletics coaching program on once a month, held very close to where I live, for wheelchair and amputee athletics! yay!

So, on the 5th of July, I'll be heading down there to make a fool of myself, have some fun, and get into a sport that in one week has made me so much happier about life, the universe, and everything :)

Good things come in small (reusable) packages

On my wishlist on the side of this blog there are a number of big ticket items I'd like to get, like a breadmaker, slow cooker, and food processor... I ducked into the Environment Shop the other day and decided to get a little item off of my wishlist - a reusable sandwich wrapper!

These 4MyEarth products come as either a pocket (which I bought) or a wrapper. I can now chuck it in the washing machine and then use it again and again... Yay for a tiny but important reduction in my daily plastic wastage!

Asparagus Rolls (first attempt)

- Ok so the puree wasn't perfect, but I still would have expected the finished asparagus rolls to taste better than they did.
- The puree was bland, the wholemeal bread was bland, and the fat free cottage cheese was bland. No surprises then that the finished asparagus rolls tasted... BLAND!
- I tried to season the puree (which pre seasoning was just blended steamed asparagus with some lemon juice) with some salt and pepper, but it went from 'still too bland' after three shakes of the salt shaker, to 'SUPER salty tasting' after four shakes...

-I'm wondering if some other vegetable or ingredient should be included to add more flavour to the sandwiches, rather than using salt? The tarragon the recipe called for was optional, and as I'm not too keen on the flavour of tarragon I left it out. I doubt tarragon alone is enough to unbland the asparagus rolls entirely, but perhaps next time I could either use the tarragon and try to get used to the flavour, or substitute it for another herb. I wonder what other herbs go with asparagus?
- maybe a better quality wholemeal bread to add more flavour in that department?
- buy a proper rolling pin - a foil roll is not a good substitute lol.
-Maybe I just need to try making these a few more times to perfect the techniques involved - you wouldn't think puree would be hard, but I may have oversteamed the asparagus, overlemoned the asparagus, and in the end oversalted the asparagus *sigh*

Better luck next time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boogers-in-Bread (Asparagus Rolls)

I was planning to blog about my cooking adventures as written about in the last post, but couldn't find my camera battery charger. I was so irritated at not being able to photograph my delightful asparagus rolls, I decided to restart the process again when I could find or buy a new charger... However that never happened because I can't find the bloody charger and can't find where to buy a new one! Anyway, I started the asparagus rolls WITHOUT the camera, which might end up working well if they look crappy.

Tonight I made the asparagus puree and put it in the fridge to chill overnight (asparagus rolls for lunch tomorrow, weeeee!!!!). It didn't taste too bad. A few things though, for next time: the juice of one small lemon is too much, use half instead; try steaming the asparagus spears for a little less time so they retain more flavour; recipe doesn't call for salt and pepper but the puree needed it, in my opinion.

Hopefully by the time I get a working camera happening again, I'll have perfected the asparagus rolls and can put lovely green sandwich images all over the place! I'm planning to have a picnic birthday later in the year, and make all of the food myself... and these yummy little bites will definitely be on the menu!

Hats off to Julie Stafford for using an asparagus puree instead of gross canned spears. Genius.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Julie Stafford's asparagus roll ups (or as I like to call this one, 'Boogers-in-Bread')

(Makes 10)

- 1 cup asparagus puree (Lightly steam fresh asparagus until tender. Drain. Squeeze over lemon juice. Puree and chill)
- 10 slices wholemeal bread (crusts removed)
- 1/2 cup non fat cottage cheese
- 4 tbsp fresh finely chopped tarragon (optional)

Using a wooden rolling pin, roll out slices of bread until they are very thin. Refrigerate for 30min or longer. Push cottage cheese through a fine sieve. Spread bread slices with cottage cheese, then with asparagus puree. Sprinkle tarragon over the asparagus. Roll bread up, and secure with a small toothpick. Repeat to make 10.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, removing toothpick before serving.

Julie Stafford's 'More Taste of Life'

A random pick off the shelf - mum had a Julie Stafford cookbook or two when I was growing up, so when I saw More Taste of Life at an op shop in Moe, I grabbed it. And, of course, never opened it... until now!

I've challenged myself to pick one of the cookbooks off of my shelf, and make ten recipes from it, documenting my successes and failures here on my blog. I figured starting with a cookbook published in 1985 would be kinda cool.

The first recipe from this book that I've chosen is an exciting one - asparagus rolls! I never ate these in the past because they always looked gross (but then i usually see them with canned asparagus inside them so I'll give this fresher version a try)... I'm going to make them tomorrow to eat while i study chemistry. Good brain food, I hope!

Here are the others nine I'm planning to try soon:
- cabbage and potatoes
- ratatouille
- spinach lasagne slice
- whole fish with shallots
- vegetable shepherd's pie
- corn and vegetable chowder
- garlica whole schnapper
- mushroom and tomato rolls
- tomato and rice slice with rosemary


Friday, June 5, 2009

Masterchef? Pffft, more like a masterwannabe...

The science course I'm doing has certainly been keeping me SUPER busy! I've hardly left the house in months... I'm doing chemistry, biology, maths, computers... I was also doing physics, and finished the waves and optics module, but decided to drop the kinematics and dynamics modules so I can focus more on chemistry and biology. I'll pick physics up again when they get to the electricity module because I think that sounds really fun!

There had been two directions I felt I might go in once I had finished this course - nutrition/dietetics, or renewable energy technology. I'm now leaning more strongly toward the nutrition path - I think it's a job that will not only be interesting and challenging, it will also be helpful to the health of myself and my partner (and any kids we have in future).

My interest in food and health has definitely been growing in the last year or so, and my addiction to a new TV reality cooking show called Masterchef is now steering that interest toward the cooking side of things as well as nutritional issues. I don't think it's a good idea to start planning any more education - I've got enough on my plate with an almost-finished arts degree, a begun-but-then-deferred small business certificate, my current science certificate, and a planned nutrition degree with a possible masters in dietetics afterward. Phew! So... I'm going to have to try and teach myself what I can about cooking.

One thing I have lots of is cookbooks - I have bought SO many of them over the last five years or so, and have hardly even looked at them, let alone used them. So here's my plan. I'm going to start making ten recipes from each of them - I'll adapt each to make them suit my palate as well as my energy/vitamin/mineral requirements for that day. As I cook I'll write about the food and post photos of the process and the final product. It'll encourage me to cook, it'll encourage me to post, and it'll encourage me to finally use some of those recipe books, and enjoy the consequences!