Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What happens when you go home

Going home always has it's positives and negatives.  I'm always sad to leave Colorado and my routine between school and training that has become consistent.  However, going home has its upsides.  Here are some things that usually happen when I go home to Minnesota for a little bit.

I have learned to value the time I spend with  my family.  My siblings and I are growing up and choosing our paths.  Only a couple times during the year are we all home together.  Over this past winter break we were all able to celebrate Christmas together.  

With my brother, Ernie, and sister, Alison
Some of the awesome gifts that I got: food processor, biking clothes, delicious preserves from Rocky Mountain Orchards, place mats, and a stir-fry book from my sister.  Huge thank you to my parents who welcome us with a warm house and our childhood rooms - man I love that bunk bed!

Somehow it always seems to work out that my training schedule calls for a big week of training when I'm at home.  Inevitably, this means my family gets this crazy idea that all I do is train and eat.  Oh well...This break I've spent a lot of time swimming.  Most of my swimming happens at the U of M St. Paul Gym just a block a way.
Unlike last year, I was also able to set up my bike in the basement on a borrowed trainer. 
The basement set-up

Sometimes things get a little boring down there, especially when the radio decides to go to commercials.  Props to anyone who spends the winter riding indoors!  

I have also been able to hook up with a coupe other athletes to get in some group workouts.

Running outside is interesting.  Eventually you learn how to dress.  I always count on borrowing my parents warm clothes.  It has become common in my family to announce that we are heading into the tundra by saying something like "I'm going to throw out the trash.  If I'm not back in 5 min...start looking for a large, frozen icicle." 

I also at some point hit up the St. Paul JCC with my bro and sis.  It's cool cause they are open on all holidays when other gyms are closed. (Thanksgiving, Christmas,  New Year's)  My brother and I do some workout that is "crazy" and involves some "jumping around" according to our sister who is usually busy killing an elliptical or running on a treadmill. 

The rest of the time I usually spend cooking, snacking, eating, or grocery shopping.  I always look forward to my parents cooking.  Some of the meals we've had this past week include beer can chicken, salmon (semi-smoked using woodchips) = awesome!, and stir-fry from my new cookbook.  I'm very thankful for how my parents "stock up" for when I'm back in town.

Another tradition when I go home is that my sister and I go out to eat.  This time we tried a new place called Fasika which served Ethiopian food.  
Fasika - Ethiopian food

We usually choose restaurants that have a buffet with lots of veggie options or unique healthy food.  Fasika wasn't a buffet, but they had large portions as you can see.  The plates all came with Injera, a large piece of spongy pancake or bread, similar to a crepe.  (Neither of us had ever eaten it before.)  You were supposed to use the Injera instead of utensils.  We did at first but then found out it contained wheat so we tried to limit the amount of Injera we ate.  The food was delicious.  Their greens were terrific!  The lamb dish we got was spicy but fantastic as well.  

For another meal, my dad agreed to try a pot roast dish.  We had originally wanted to smoke it on the grill throughout the day, however, the -5 degree weather didn't make him want to add woodchips every hour or so for 8 hours so we cooked it inside.
3 lb meat slab

Browning the vegetables, also included carrots and mushrooms

This process was interesting because the main goal was to get a little bit of the cooked flavor from the browned vegetables and seared meat (below) onto the bottom of the dish which would then be used for flavoring the added liquid.

Searing the meat to lock in some flavor/juices
Before saying goodbye for 3 hrs

Finished product

Final plate.  The meat turned out great and the vegetables inside were awesome!
I would highly recommend the dish.   It was easy, tasty, and filling.

Over the next couple days I will be rounding up all the stuff I want to bring back to Colorado and driving back to Fort Collins with my mom.  For the first time in college I will have a car - the family mini van.

Picture back from high school that was our possible "sibling pictures"
 After a couple days in Fort Collins, I will be heading to Arizona with the CSU Triathlon Team for training camp.  Man, some warm weather sounds really nice right now.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

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