Chickie Soup

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on November 17, 2010

The other day I soaked and cooked some of my dried garbanzo beans I got at Eataly back in October.  These really are much better than canned, I have to say.  The process is long and takes some planning so I’m not totally chucking the can, but when I can remember, I will be buying, soaking, and cooking dried beans.  I enjoyed my previous batch in lots of salads.  This go around I made about a cup and a half.  I stumbled upon a 101cookbooks recipe that included banzos and I was sold – it would be lunch for the next few days.

I added chicken thighs to the recipe and increased the amounts of everything else.  A certain food eating monster in my house requires more food than the average recipe produces.  I call this monster Adam.  The recipe below has the original measurements from 101.  Adjust as you see fit.

1 large yellow onion, chopped
a splash of olive oil
a couple pinches of salt
2/3 cup uncooked bulgur
1 14-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed; or dried soaked and cooked
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup cauliflower, trimmed into small trees
2 cup kale or chard, destemmed and cut into thin ribbons

olive oil for finishing drizzle
red onion, chopped for garnish


In a large pot over medium-high heat saute the onion in the olive oil along with the salt – for a minute or until the onion begins to soften a bit. Stir in the bulgur – like you would toast arborio rice. I also stirred in my chicken thighs here. Stir in the chickpeas and the stock. Bring the ingredients to a simmer. Cook for another few minutes, it should start to thicken.

Taste to see if the bulgur is cooked through, if so add the orange juice. If not, simmer for a couple more minutes before adding the juice. The orange juice gives the soup just a bit of sweetness while adding some acid. I enjoyed the juice but Adam said he wouldn’t miss it.  Perhaps next time I will leave it out. Stir in the cauliflower and the kale as well – simmer another few minutes, until the cauliflower is just tender. If the stew is on the thick side, thin with a bit more water or stock. Season to taste. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and red onions.

The Workout Hump

Posted in Health and Fitness by Elizabeth on November 12, 2010

Rah! I am invincible!

In almost every workout there is a hump. That apex point at which you consider ending the workout there or pushing onward until the end you originally set. Or perhaps, rather than ending the workout, you consider taking the intensity level down a few notches. Skipping the last set of reps on that dead lift, going from an 8 minute mile to a 9:30, or taking an extra long break in the middle of your century bike ride. I say almost every workout because there are those times that you are just on. You drive that workout into the ground because you own it, the pre-run runners high effect.  Those are our invincible days and yea, they rock.

But the rest of the time there’s that nagging hump. Unless you’re dealing with an injury, this hump is all in your head.  So much of workouts are mental and this hump demonstrates your mental power on that particular day and at that particular time.  When you mentally start to negotiate with yourself about your ability to finish or your need to slow down, there are ways to win this fight.  At the moment midrun that you are thinking to yourself, “I can stop here and still feel like I did something today,”  or the moment midlift when you are thinking “I can only do 2 and a half sets today”, there is another voice to be heard.  It says, “but you know you can run for another 15 minutes” or maybe it just calls you a wus.  Either way it is the truth factor, that part of the brain that reminds you if you stopped now, you’d be doing less than you truly can.  Sometimes this voices loses because its not the most polite voice.  But it’s there and listening to it means getting over the hump.

I’ve found the best way to listen to that truth factor is to change what it is saying.  Rather than calling yourself a wus for even considering backing down from your original goal, shift your thought process to something more positive.  When you hear the truth factor, remember that it is trying to tell you how much you really can do.  Call yourself a champion, picture yourself as Rocky, or Michael Johnson, or your athletic hero of choice.  If there were ever a time to puff up your ego, now is it.  Or even something as simple as concentrating on your breathing or the tick, tick, tick of the water bottle on the machine next to you gives you that steady comfort of a pattern that you don’t want to disrupt.

over the hump!

In my pilates classes there are sometimes moments when I think, if I lift my head, neck, and shoulders off the mat one more time I might get stuck like that.  It’s at this time that I focus on the flow of the controlled breathing and think about controlling my muscles with my robot mind (the robot is invincible!).  Last night I was in a pilates session when my legs were feeling like cement logs right when the instructor hit me with the truth factor.  In her Finnish accent she exclaimed, “Isn’t it great that we only have two legs!  Could you imagine doing this four time!”  All of a sudden I was over that hump, the side leg series became that much easier, and yes it is great that we only have two legs!

So in your next workout, don’t succumb to the hump.  Take hold of that truth factor and make it yours!

Four Lions

Posted in Entertainment by Elizabeth on November 8, 2010

One of the funniest movies I’ve watched in a long time, Four Lions is a must see.  The film is a successful comedy that follows five mostly inept terrorists on their jihad.  I’m actually not sure I remember a time that I laughed this hard in the theater.  The characters are bumbling, ignorant, bullheaded, but also honest.    Their brotherhood just so happens to be one in arms.    If you can, think of it this way, the film’s would be heroes are the accidental royal clowns, the only ones who can mock the king and get away with it.  Are they aware that they are mocking the king? Or, in this case, the two enemy kings of the Western world and Al Qaeda?  No.  This fact allows lines to be crossed, both religious and political.

Though they are mostly inept, they are not flat characters.  Each demonstrates personality through their own misunderstandings of the world within which they are living.  Either way, it is hard not to laugh at terrorists who are enraged over mini Babybells and people playing stringed instruments.  With the grave reality of terrorism in this day and age, Four Lions is a much needed breath of fresh air.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Truffles

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on November 4, 2010

In preparation for a much anticipated Thanksgiving dinner, mom and I made a test batch of dark chocolate mocha truffles, just one of the desserts that will follow the meal.  This particular recipe came from ACKC – a delicious chocolate shop located on 14th street NW (with another location in Alexandria).


  • 13 ounces of semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate
  • one stick of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 TBSP of instant (dry) espresso
  • 1 TBSP coffee liqueur (we used Kahluha)
  • Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • I also recommend having some latex disposable gloves – your hands will get very messy (see picture below)

Melt the chocolate in double boiler, then allow to rest. Alternatively, melt at  50% power in microwave at one minute intervals until smooth. 3 intervals are needed. Allow to rest.  Beat one stick of unsalted butter until smooth (tip: chop butter into about 8 like-size chunks, beat with electric mixer on low speed till smooth).  Heat until just boiling the heavy cream with the instant espresso and coffee liqueur.  Pour heated cream over melted chocolate.  Stir until smooth, then add to butter and whip together…scrape sides of bowl to ensure all butter is completely blended into the chocolate.

When smooth, allow to chill in refrigerator until firm, about 4 hours (we left ours over night – we had places to go and people to see!)

Take the chilled chocolate – using an ice cream scoop (or large spoon), scoop up enough chocolate to roll into 1 inch balls (we made them smaller–think buckeye size!).  Toss/roll into Dutch processed cocoa powder till completely coated.  The truffles are ready to serve! Stored in an airtight container in a cool place – they will keep for about 3-4 weeks; at room temp, they keep about 7 – 10 days.  According to ACKC, the recipe yields 25 truffles.  We were NOT rolling these at ACKC size – our much smaller (and wonderfully popable) truffles yielded just under 70!  Remember, because the chocolate used is high in cocoa and low in sugar additives (like all the best chocolates), these guys are rich.  In my opinion, the smaller truffles are the perfect size.  Enjoy!

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