Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Alphabet

There's this Andrew Jackson quote that goes "I was born for the storm, and a calm does not suit me." I have no idea what the original context of the statement was, but the longer I am out of the gym convalescing, the more I find that the quote resonates with me. For the last two years, working out has been a constant in my life. There is something deeply satisfying about going for a run and coming home in clothes that look like this:


Since spraining my ankle, I haven't even been able to go for walks or use the elliptical and I feel a little lost spending so much time not moving. I'm realistic. I can see that my foot is still swollen. I know that I'm still limping and that I still don't have full range of motion in my ankle yet. If walking the short distance to my car is still painful I certainly can't go out for a run, but knowing I'm injured doesn't make me miss activity any less. I was born for the storm and a calm does not suit me.

Don't get me wrong. I've been staying plenty busy. This is my last semester of law school and I have 14 credits worth of classes to keep my mind occupied. I also discovered that the local library lets you check out ebooks and audiobooks and I've been making time where there is none to do some recreational reading. My younger cousin recommended The Mortal Instruments series so I patiently waited my turn to borrow City of Bones and read it on my iPad last week. My cousin was right--it was a good book, and I will be moving on to the next book in the series soon. 

I've also been piddling around in the kitchen. It turns out that when I'm not spending four or five hours per week on my running exploits, I suddenly have time to try new recipes. Who knew?

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I've been walking past the cans of light coconut milk in Trader Joe's for a while now thinking that I should buy one and see what comes of it. As I was hobbling through TJ's a couple of weeks ago, I tossed a can in my cart. My foot was bothering me so I was taking a short break in arm's reach of the stuff and I thought, why not? I wound up using it in a quinoa stir fry. I had a bunch of vegetables and some leftover quinoa that I wanted to use up. I wound up adding around half a can of the light coconut milk, a small palmful of turmeric,  some curry powder, honey, and a little garlic. The recipe was by no means perfect, but considering I know absolutely nothing about coconut milk or curry or coconut curry, I was happy with how it turned out. I think I'll experiment more with those flavors in the future to see if I can get the ratio of the seasonings locked down.


I also got it in my head that I had to try kale chips.  I'm not a big leafy greens kind of girl. I've made peace with baby spinach and use it a lot in stir fries and on the rare occasion that I eat a salad, but other than that me and leafy greens have an uneasy truce--they can stay in their corner of the grocery store and I'll make a concerted effort not to bother them. 

I kept hearing about how good kale is for you and I periodically considered buying a bag instead of my usual baby spinach, but I never have until now. There was a recipe on the back of Trader Joe's organic kale for kale chips and I followed it pretty closely. I pre-heated the oven to 200 F, made sure the kale was super dry, and coated it lightly in extra virgin olive oil before laying the leaves in an a single layer on my baking sheet. The recipe said you should line the baking sheet with parchment paper, which I didn't do and I added salt before baking which I shouldn't have done. I would change both of these things if I make this recipe again (which I might since I still have most of a bag of kale to use up). 

I always line baking pans with aluminum foil because they don't really get dirty when I do it that way. I think parchment paper would be better for this recipe, though, because I think parchment paper allows moisture to evaporate more readily than foil. I also think salting the chips before baking might have been a bad idea because more salt stuck to the olive oil than I would have liked. I left the chips in the oven for around 30 minutes, but they probably could have stayed 5-10 minutes more. Some of the chips were fairly crispy, but not all of them were. I served the chips with Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole. 

I'm not normally a huge fan of guacamole, but that stuff is incredibly addictive. The "reduced guilt" part is that it's made with Greek yogurt, which makes it a little less fattening than traditional guacamole. I believe traditional guacamole relies solely on the avocado to give it its creamy texture. The fat in avocado is really healthy, but Greek yogurt is pretty good for you too because protein. If Trader Joe's wants to give guacamole a lower fat makeover by cutting the traditional stuff with an ingredient like Greek yogurt, fine by me. I also like that this particular guacamole isn't crazy spicy. I'm a bit of a spice wimp. Don't judge me like that. 

I know the beginning of this post was kind of whiny and melancholy, so I'll leave you on a more hopeful note. The doctor showed me a few exercises to help my ankle, including a deceptively difficult one that involves writing the alphabet with the big toe of my injured foot. The exercise is supposed to help, so I've been trying to do it at least once a day.

In the first few days after I sprained my ankle, writing the alphabet with my toe felt really hard. Almost impossible. I was sitting on the couch doing the exercise this morning and I realized that I was making a bigger circle with my ankle on the O than I could at first and that the exercise was nowhere near as uncomfortable as it used to be. I don't want to jinx anything, but there might be light at the end of the rehab tunnel. I haven't used my crutches for the last three days and my foot is looking a little less swollen. It's going to take time and patience, but I'm hoping I'll be chasing those miles again soon.

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