Monday, December 08, 2008

A missed photo op, and Hungarian food at its finest

I am kicking myself.

Occasionally I bring my camera along on a run. I actually thought about it on Sunday morning, but decided against it for whatever reason. It was unfortunate because I was treated to one of the most beautiful winter sunrises I have ever seen over my local lake.

The skies on the eastern horizon were slightly overcast, and there were thicker clouds moving in from the west. As the sun rose, it created stratified layers of pastel oranges and purples, as well as a blazing hot pink. Saturday's winds had blown the snow off of the ice, so these brilliant colors were reflecting off of the frozen lake surface.

I came to an elevated part of the trail and just stopped running so I could take a look. It was marvelous. If only I had my camera!

And just as quickly as it arrived, it was gone. Vanished. The clouds from the west rolled in and erased Mother Nature's canvas. I thought of all the people who missed out on this because they were not outside or were still sleeping. I was really glad to be a runner so I could have witnessed such an amazing sunrise.

This whole episode lasted only 10 minutes or so. I didn't even mind that it was 3 degrees and -10 wind chill.

Oh, yes, I failed to mention that it was kind of cold this morning. Some of the snow from early Saturday morning blanketed the trails as well, so we had perhaps an inch so that made for soft running. I ran 7 miles, and my eyelashes were frosted over by the time I finished, so it must have been chilly! :)

Saturday was a little warmer (20 degrees), but the wind chill put a damper on that (5 degree wind chill). Still, that didn't stop me from doing 9 miles in the fresh layer of snow. I even got to try out a new pair of Gore-Tex trail running shoes that will prove to be awesome for winter running (nice and warm!) And, in the 9 miles on Saturday and the 7 miles on Sunday, I know you will be shocked to hear that I didn't encounter any other runners on the trails!

A few snow flurries on Sunday



This was an extremely relaxing weekend. Saturday after my run, I did a couple of errands in the morning, and then I just hung out. I finished up my Christmas cards in front of the fireplace while watching some great football games. Sunday after my run, a few snowflakes started falling outside. I leisurely did some laundry, watched the Vikes squeak out a win against the worst team in football, and I made a brand new dish for dinner. It is called "pörkölt."

I found this recipe in the free "Real Food" magazine from the Lund's and Byerly's stores. There was an article by sausage guru Bruce Aidells on Dutch oven cookery. Pörkölt is a thick, hearty Hungarian goulash that can be made with beef, chicken, pork, or even game. In an attempt to learn more about this dish, I discovered that Hungarians are passionate about pörkölt, and fistfights have been known to break out over the correct way to make it (like beef Bourguignon, Bolognese sauce, or even chili, I am guessing there are as many recipes for pörkölt as there are people!).

My dish contained three things that are truly good in life; pork shoulder, sauerkraut, and beer. :) But there were other ingredients, too; onions, garlic, red and yellow bell peppers, chicken stock, and tomato paste. It is seasoned heavily with sweet paprika and accented with caraway seed, marjoram, and bay leaves. The whole thing is finished with sour cream and served over egg noodles.

All hail pörkölt



This could be my new favorite stew. I mean, any braised dish with pork shoulder is going to be awesome, right? But if you couple the pork with a delightfully sweet peppery flavor from the paprika, the earthy exotic notes of caraway, a tangy flavor from the sauerkraut, and a certain creaminess from the sour cream, you end up with a hearty dish for winter that is out of this world. I will be making this over and over again.

More snow is on the way. The National Weather Circus in the Twin Cities has us under a "Winter Weather Advisory" for tonight and tomorrow. The warning map is quite colorful at the moment, and we are predicted to be in the 3 to 6 inch range for snowfall totals. It will be interesting to see what materializes. Better keep my Gore-Tex shoes handy.

Until next time,

Jean
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