Commuting sans petroleum

I guess I know I’m even busier than my usual busy when I can’t come up with the time to post here. The last few days I’ve been getting home late and falling asleep on the couch. I’m only checking email or using my home computer a couple of minutes in the morning… Once again, I either get enough sleep or I get everything done. Sleep wins this week!

I’ve ridden my new bike to work twice this week. It’s very light, agile, and fast (weighs at least 10 lbs less than my old bike) and I’m enjoying my time on it. Well, the way home still isn’t that much fun after a long day, but coming to work is zippy so far. It’s been fast enough that I am having to learn to pay more attention to obstacles, pedestrians, and traffic (like the school bus that nearly ran me down today) because I’m coming upon them more quickly and have less time to react.

My first ride on the new Bianchi was with people from work when we did a 20+ mile route around town, and while it wasn’t as fast as many road cyclists like to go, I felt able to keep up on my new contraption even while I was learning a totally new system of brakes, shifting, and steering. Even coming down the left lane of Meridian Street! One big benefit (and one of the reasons I chose this bike instead of another flat handlebar bike, which I thought I wanted) is that the rotated hand position above the forward-most set of front brakes makes my ergonomic injury (basically tennis elbow) feel MUCH better, instead of aggravating it like the traditional positions of using a mouse, rowing, and riding a flat bar bike do. I think I’m actually stretching the muscles in a way that combats my computer use!

I have a few brightly-colored wicking shirts and tanks which I wear to hopefully avoid getting smushed by inattentive drivers. A 10-year-old girl yelled from her porch the other day, “I like your shirt!” This is great because David HATES that pink shirt (like most pink things) and I trust a little girl’s fashion sense more. I yelled my thanks.

In other news, I recently had the chance to attend a benefit dinner for Lambda Legal through a ticket I won at work. I don’t discuss this topic much here, but GLBT rights are something I feel strongly about. I decided to go despite my discomfort with more formal, social occasions, primarily because I knew it was a good development opportunity. Even introverts should be able to interact and network with executives from their company. Finding a suit that still fit was a humorous affair, but fortunately I had one in my closet that worked. It was a lovely dinner–my eating preferences were even accommodated without too much hassle–and I met several vice presidents from my company. Bart Peterson, Indy’s former mayor, received an award for his work to make our city a more just place to live. Would you believe it’s only been in the last couple of years that it’s no longer legal to fire or evict someone in Indianapolis because he’s gay? Lambda Legal represents cases like these, or when HIV-positive people are denied government employment based on their health status, or lesbians who are denied fertility treatments because their doctors decide it’s morally wrong to let them raise children. What century is this??

The next night I met friends for Meatout, which was held at City Market this year instead of a church basement.

The venue was much more pleasant but the event seemed rather sparsely attended. I don’t think it’s advertised all that well. Some of the food was kind of blah, but I really enjoy going because I can eat ANYTHING there and it’s great to hang out with like-minded folks. Amanda and I staffed a table for IHRS and I carpooled with Nicole and Ainsley, who didn’t fall through the upstairs railing! I even won a Whole Foods Market raffle prize, which included a book I’d been wanting to read by a cattle rancher who went vegan, plus a cookbook, spatula, and a couple of snacks in a reusable shopping bag.

The rest of life has been bunny stuff lately, and a bit of experimental cooking. I tried a new recipe this week with spaghetti squash, spinach, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and of course garlic and onion. A little salt and some cheese and that’s it! It was weird but pretty good.

Fried chicken experiment

No fried chicken for vegetarians, right? Well, after craving some for awhile, I finally made the Al Gore challenge recipe, but I did it in an electric skillet like my parents always used. It seems slightly healthier than dunking the chik’n in a vat of oil (and easier to clean up too).

Coating the chik’n (I added some paprika to the recipe and reduced the nutritional yeast)
Vegetarian fried "chicken"

Frying, mmm. For those who were confused, this is FAKE chicken!
Vegetarian fried "chicken"

Not sure if this qualifies as a healthy meal, but it could have been a lot worse!
Vegetarian fried "chicken"

David actually liked it, and he’s a pretty harsh critic when anyone cooks. I think I’ll brown the chik’n a bit crispier next time and maybe tone down the batter, since it was more seasoned than I used to eat. But it was still good! The basic concept should apply well to my family’s chicken tenders recipe, too. And I’m going to try beef burgundy soon!

If I haven’t mentioned it, one of the best inventions ever is the rice cooker. I rank it pretty close to the top, which includes the internet, tampons, and pay at the pump.

Speaking of the pump, Dawn asked in the bike commuting comments about the emissions and money saved by my recent biking. The calculators I’ve found online assume a gasoline-powered vehicle, and I don’t know how much worse my diesel vehicle spews, but the basics for the 50ish miles I biked last week (instead of driving, not “extra” miles at the gym) led to about 2000 calories burned, 50 pounds of toxic emissions not spewed (25 lbs CO2), and about $5.50 saved in fuel. No, not drastic numbers (I do have a very fuel efficient vehicle and that savings is not what spawned this), but I feel healthier already. I hope the planet does too. I liked the bumper sticker I saw today: Live like you live here. Much more positive than this other one I saw (I think that’s a gas pump handle):
Gas noose magnet

ETA: For the 50 miles vs. my SUV, which I really only drive to haul stuff but did bring to work today so David could use the Jetta for errands which required a lot more driving, I would save $11 in gasoline and 58 lbs of CO2 in the atmosphere. And David’s truck would have used $18 in gas and spewed 94 lbs CO2. Amazing how much difference there is from one vehicle to another!

A couple of biking calculators: Bike Geek, 511.org

This post is so boring, Casper is leaving the picture yawning

Just a slow, errand-y weekend.

It’s about time to take down the tree (not one of the errands I got to yet but I thought I better get a picture before I forgot). The living room is rather cozy even without finishing the bookcases and fireplace area yet. My furniture fits better here than at my old house.
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Joey has it made: snoozing with his girl, hogging the bed with all four feet stretched out.
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Tonight I tried a new recipe. It was the first time I prepared leeks. So what is a single leek vs. multiple leeks? Aren’t they neat looking vegetables?
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The dish was good (and quite sweet). We think it would be better with something spicy added next time, like a habaƱero pepper! It would also be good with mushrooms or maybe carrot shavings. The buckwheat noodles looked almost purple!

Adapted from Sesame Leek Soba Noodles:

Prepare noodles and set aside (I found buckwheat soba noodles in the bulk section at Wild Oats, but linguine would work)

Saute in olive oil:
Two leeks, chopped (white and light green parts)
one green bell pepper, chopped
bunch scallions, chopped
couple cloves minced garlic

Add to pan and cook for a couple minutes, stirring:
1/2 cup tahini
2 TBSP soy sauce
1/3 cup molasses
3 TBSP honey
salt & pepper

I did another circuit at work on Friday, this time with more women. I swear it was the silliest thing I’ve seen in awhile. Think a Nickelodeon Double Dare obstacle course (minus the slime and such) performed by a bunch of people in their forties. The last time what we did looked normal was when we were ten years old! But we were good and sweaty and sore after the balance balls, hand weights, hurdles, block runs, lunges, and medicine balls, and I guess that’s the point.

Eggplant Parmesan

We made a really yummy eggplant parmesan this weekend. David gets most of the credit since he’s the real cook, but I’m getting a little better and maybe someday I’ll actually enjoy cooking… The eggplant slices were coated in bread crumbs, baked, and then layered with a homemade sauce and mozzarella, and the whole thing was topped with parmesan (the good stuff). Recipe from one of the Moosewood cookbooks!

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Since I was standing there with the camera, I’ll show off my kitchen floor again. David installed it last winter and I think I finally got over the price tag!

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