Quinoa + Winter Squash Bowl with Cumin + Lime

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Each year at the beginning of the holiday season, I try to reflect on the people and experiences for which I am grateful. This past week, I’ve been selecting snippets to share, either directly, over on Facebook, or here in this space. When I reflect on the objects that matter most in this life, there’s only a short list: My bible, my wedding ring, my running shoes. Perhaps another day I’ll share about the first two, but this reflection and recipe are about the symbolism of the shoes.

 

Each pair is temporary, special only for a time and then easily replaced. Once done, they get jammed into our tiny front closet, worn out completely in garden work, and eventually tossed in a donation bin once a sizeable pile has accumulated. I tend to treat each pair extra nice until it hits 400-500 miles and then all emotional attachment is heaped on the next. The shoes I’m currently running in are neon-orange and turquoise, and they contrast with whatever I tend to throw on above. Depending on the day, I can pull off looking like I’m late to a one-act circus show.

 

I started running within the first couple weeks of moving into my freshman dorm in college, and over the many years since, I’ve come to know each of the places I’ve lived and visited in my running shoes. I have run 5am dim streets in Limerick, jet-lagged, no phone, no idea where I was going, no one in the whole world knowing my location. I’ve run the streets of La Grande, all hours of the day and night, just to feel alive and at peace. I’ve gotten to know the nooks and crannies of Corvallis, the suburbs of Dublin north and south, the pear orchards and cattle ranches of Southern Oregon’s Phoenix and Eagle Point, the Christmas tree farms and nurseries of Sandy, the angry farmer’s dogs on the outskirts of Albany, the oak savannah, communter-town streets and horse farms of Wilsonville. There was a month when I ran the rural-ish Keizer roads, and then a school-year of running all the west-side neighborhoods of Roseburg. It’s safe to say I’ve seen a good portion of Oregon in my running shoes, both the streets, forested and mossy trails, the beach, and the infinite farm roads. And still, there are all the travel cities I’ve gotten to know in between.

 

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Far more than what I’ve seen in these shoes and the ones that have come before, is what they’ve made me feel: Release from the worry and guilt that makes up my personality. Clarity; knowledge of what sits right in my soul. Cleansing from anger. Cleansing from feeling anything at all. I’ve caught up with good friends and high-fived others out on the paths. I’ve been visible and seen–a role model to the neighbors who knew me as “that runner girl,” and my current neighbor, a 55-year-old bachelor, who frequently runs out the door in his skivvies(!!) to ask, How many miles today? I’ve skipped biology lectures and headed for the trails instead. I’ve conjugated Spanish verbs over and over in my head, and I’ve run faster each mile, using my anger over a guy to fuel each step. I’ve pumped up the techno-dance-treadmill-tunes, and I’ve taken all my closest girl friends out for one last run as a single lady. I’ve listened for the first sounds of the birds in the morning and taken in countless sun rises that never fail to leave me astonished and breathless at the beauty of this world. I’ve meditated on simply living and breathing and just plain being a better me.

 

These shoes have enabled me to find out who I am, to push myself beyond the comfortable, to accomplish things, to release my competitive spirit. They’ve been a way to spend happy weekends with William–and most of all, they’ve helped me to develop a better relationship with my body, to be able to listen and nourish it with the foods and nutrients it needs.

 

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This recipe is one I’ve eaten countless times these past few weeks. After a long or hard run, I tend to go through phases where I desire certain foods. I’m of the belief that my body is either telling me I need to eat those foods because of their nutrients–or I’m simply crazy. Perhaps, a little of both. ;) Eggs, quinoa, and winter squash have been on repeat lately and like many of my favorite recipes, this one came about when I grabbed a random bunch of ingredients from the fridge in a post-run hunger. It was perfect from that first time to every subsequent helping I’ve made since.

 

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Quinoa + Winter Squash Bowl with Cumin + Lime, serves one
1 Tbs. cumin-lime dressing, see below
1 jalepeño or slightly spicy pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1- 1 1/2 cups roasted winter squash, chopped
2 eggs
large handful of spinach or other greens
1 cup cooked quinoa
more dressing, to taste
  • In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 Tbs. dressing on medium high. Sauté peppers for 5-10 minutes until soft, and then add roasted winter squash. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, until squash is warm.
  • Crack eggs directly into the skillet, and stir them amongst the vegetables, making a scramble.
  • When eggs are almost cooked through, add spinach and quinoa and heat through entirely.
  • Pour it all into a bowl to serve, and add more dressing to taste.
 
Cumin-Lime Dressing, adapted from Laura 
1 small jalapeño, seeded
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
juice of 2 limes + a little bit of zest
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper
  • To make the dressing, puree all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender, and salt and pepper to taste.

Handmade Pizza

What I consider our first date–my fiancée and I’s–occurred over pizza.  I meant to take him to a cute little Southwestern restaurant but ended up at my favorite local pizza joint instead.  Come to find out later, he didn’t think much of the Southwestern restaurant, so apparently I made an excellent choice.

And while my favorite pizza restaurant in town is certainly not his, we do eat a lot of pizza together.  We live in a college town, after all.  After about a year of pizza-critiquing the local restaurants, and somehow finding each wanting in some way, (This one’s crust is just bland, I don’t like that one’s sauce, the other one has boring toppings, etc.) we decided to go into business–the handmade pizza à la us–business.

I discovered homemade pizzas during my first years in college, when my grandma sent me off with a bread maker, which made great dough, but not great bread.  It was just one short step from pizza dough to pulling out of the oven goodness, and any toppings that were lying around in the fridge were fair game.

Fast forward several years, and I’ve discovered the crust and the sauce.  You know, the one’s that blows all the local pizza restaurants out of the water.  What’s more, Will and I finally agree on pizza.  We like this one best.

While we may finally agree on dough and sauce, we still haven’t come to terms on toppings.  In particular, as you can see–one of us tends to go for a heavy hand with the cheese.

Favorite Pizza Dough (adapted from The Art of Simple Food)
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup  + 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • Stir 1/2 cup warm water and yeast together in small measuring container.  Add in 1/2 cup flour and mix well.  Cover this container and set it for about 30 minutes.  Make sure your container is large enough to allow for big expansion of flour/yeast mixture!
  • When this mixture is quite bubbly, pour it into a large bowl with remaining flour and salt.  Mix well with cold water and olive oil.  You may need to add more flour or water, depending on the temperature and moisture in the air.  Once ingredients are incorporated, pour out on floured surface and knead for five minutes.  
  • Once kneading is complete, put dough back into oiled, clean large bowl and give it a couple turns to cover dough with oil.  Cover and let rise for about two hours, until doubled.  You can also put it into the fridge in the morning and let rise slowly all day.  This develops even more flavor in the dough.  If you do this, make sure to take the dough out of the fridge approximately two hours before baking.  
  • Once ready to form into pizza, split dough in half.  Use either your hands or a rolling pin to form a circle and place on a pizza stone or circular baking sheet.  
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  When sauce and toppings are on, pat a small bit of olive oil around the edge of the crust and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over toppings.  Bake the pizza for 10 minutes.
 
Favorite Tomato Sauce (adapted from Joe Bastianich in Runner’s World Magazine)
2 1/2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, no salt or seasoning added.
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
  • Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-heat.  When it sizzles, add garlic and sauté until just golden.   Add tomatoes and spices and turn to low.  Simmer for about 45 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes, and then puree in a blender for a smooth consistency.
For this particular pizza, we layered sauce, a small handful of cheese, onions, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and artichokes.  We followed with a good amount of cheddar and Parmesan cheese.  Feel free to experiment with toppings!
Hint:  This tomato sauce is also are signature stand-by for a quick pasta dish.