March 1st, 2006

I'm not sure if it was the weather

or the route I picked or Sufjan Stevens or what, but my nine-mile run this past weekend went extremely well. It was a big relief, because my seven-mile run two weeks ago had actually been pretty crappy. The nine-mile has particular importance in the program I use, because the long runs for the first four weeks go like this: six, seven, five, nine. Nine is when you realize you're not just out for a long jog. Nine is when you go, "Whoa, I'm training for a marathon."

I honestly do enjoy this every time, but I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it'll never feel quite like it did the first time. There's nothing like going out every week and running farther than you have ever run before, discovering every week that you really can do something you didn't know if you'd be able to do. Maybe three's a charm, and after this I should take a break from marathons, try something else, get that feeling back. A different race? Maybe *bites nails* a whole new sport? I'm not sure yet.

Continued adventures with food

The trouble with cooking is that the ingredients always look so good that I eat them before I get the chance to actually make the recipe. I've been talking about making paella for weeks, as Matt and Jenn can attest, and tonight I finally had all the ingredients and enough energy and time!

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 cups canned vegetable broth
3 large plum tomatoes (about 10 ounces), seeded, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup drained canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 cup chopped peeled carrot
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups (about 9 1/2 ounces) couscous
6 canned artichoke hearts, quartered
Sliced red bell pepper rings
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
Chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and chopped bell peppers; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and paprika and sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth and next 6 ingredients. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mix couscous into vegetable mixture. Cover and simmer 1 minute. Remove pot from heat. Let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork. Let paella stand covered 5 minutes longer; fluff with fork again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl. Arrange artichoke hearts, red bell pepper rings and lemon wedges atop paella. Sprinkle parsley over and serve.

Per serving: calories, 350; total fat, 8 g; saturated fat, 1 g; cholesterol, 0.
Serves 6.

The cool thing about this dish (aside from getting to say "paella" more times in one day than in my entire life previously) is that it's beautiful from beginning to end, thanks to the green and red peppers. It tastes pretty good too, although like one of the commenters on Epicurious, I'm not sure that saffron is worth the price. It did turn the couscous a beautiful yellow, though.

Also: vegan! Although it would probably be damn good with shrimp, too.