Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The big thaw, scheduling conundrums, and roasting chicken

This is more like it! I am totally digging this springlike weather.

No stocking cap needed. Yours truly, enjoying yesterday's 45 degree run!

Running has been really good this week. Temperatures have been in the low to mid 40's, so this has felt like a heatwave. Birds are singing loudly. Yesterday I saw my resident eagles, and I even flushed a large red-tailed hawk from its perch in the woods. Today I saw another mourning dove. Spring is inching closer and closer.

Historically, this is the last section of the trail to clear off, but the snow is melting fast

The melting has been rapid, and the trails are clearing off nicely. We have lost a huge amount of snow in the past three days. There are only a few tricky places where the sun doesn't hit that have not melted yet, but there is a lot of dry pavement to run on. This is a wonderful thing to see after a difficult winter.

I am struggling to find races that fit into my spring calendar. All I have on the schedule is the St. Patrick's Day Human Race 8k, which I love and always do (curiously, this year it is being held a week and a half after St. Patty's Day?!?), and then I have the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon the second weekend in May. That's it so far.

I have been looking for a race in April, but nothing really works, nothing really excites me, and there isn't all that much choose from this early in the season. The first weekend in April is out, as that is Easter. Next weekend is the Fetzer 20k in Rochester, a nice race I have done before - but I should really be logging more miles than that. There is Trail Mix on the 17th, a 25k trail race - but I want to put in at least 20 on that day, as that should be my big run before my marathon taper (and I ain't ready to do the 50k option!) A 20 miler is taking place in St. Cloud (about an hour from me) the same day - but the packet pickup situation is kind of inconvenient. The Get In Gear race in Minneapolis offers a half marathon on the 24th, which might be a nice distance during my taper - but that race is also something of a logistical pain in the ass in that thousands of people run in this, packet pickup is the day before, and the race registration with online processing fee costs...almost $60 to enter?!? Good grief, my marathon in May was only $45!

So, who knows? I am not going to worry about it too much, since there will be an endless amount of races to choose from in the summer. It is probably best that I simply log miles on training runs during April like I did last year. I am just getting excited to do some races, and there are not a lot of options that are working out this early in the spring.

Sunday I prepared a dish that I had not made in quite some time - a "Moroccan-spiced" roasted chicken. Using a variation on this Tyler Florence recipe, I gave the spice grinder a workout once again, buzzing up a fragrant blend of cinnamon, coriander, cumin, clove, paprika, and cayenne, along with some salt, black peppercorns, and brown sugar.

My local meat market sells these beautiful farm raised chickens (a 4 lb. bird was a mere $6 and change), so I picked one up on Saturday. The chicken gets liberally coated with the spice mixture and extra virgin olive oil. The cavity of the chicken is stuffed with fresh cilantro, garlic, red onion, and lemon wedges. After roasting in the oven, I ended up with this nicely browned and crispy skinned bird. This smells absolutely fantastic coming out of the oven.

Just out of the oven...

I also made some ginger-cilantro couscous as a side dish - couscous cooking in chicken stock with fresh ginger and red pepper flakes, with some roasted red and yellow peppers, carrots, garlic, peas, and fresh cilantro folded in. And I whipped up a pan gravy with the drippings (talk about an exotic tasting gravy!). A great Sunday meal. Some nice comfort food to dine on while watching the Olympic closing ceremonies.

Dinner is served!

Until next time,

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