Market salad of the week: Quinoa, corn, cilantro and black beans

Southwest quinoa salad

On a Sunday afternoon, I enjoy few things more than coming up with some new salad using the stuff from the farmer’s market. This week’s haul included yellow sweet corn, peppers and a great-looking bunch of cilantro. The result is a take on the familiar corn-and-black bean side dish, kicked up with lime, cumin and massive quantities of cilantro. It would work with any grain instead of the quinoa, like bulgar, brown rice or couscous.

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Cooler alternatives to NYC tourist traps


Avoid this!

I am one of those New Yorkers that stops when I see lost tourists puzzling over a map, or standing on a street corner, turning around and around. But every time I’m asked directions to F.A.O. Schwartz or Macy’s or Ground Zero, I want to choose a different, much better destination for them. Usually I just sigh and just point them in the right direction, but if you’re planning a visit to NYC, you really owe it to yourself to try some funkier places, off the well-worn tourist trail. They will be less crowded, more interesting, more fun and usually less expensive. Below are a few of my picks (and certainly add your favorites to my list in the comments). Continue reading

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The call of the wild? A tribute to mating cicadas

Cicada emerging from its skin

As kids, we loved finding the shed shells of cicadas. Okay, I still like finding them. This glamor shot comes from the neat website.

(If insects make your skin crawl, you might want to skip this post.)

I’m sitting here on my deck in Brooklyn in midsummer, listening to the comforting sound of cicadas getting louder, then quieter, then louder again. But I don’t remember the cicadas being so loud last year. Turns out, they weren’t. I kind of knew there were different maturity periods for cicadas; I was in Kansas in 1998 when several species of cicada emerged at once — you could not walk without crunching them; they toppled plants because of the sheer weight. Curious about cicada life, I’ve compiled the following little factoids. Continue reading

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Fells, tarns, sheep and spokes: Cycling England’s Lake District

Sheep near Honiston passHow can they be up there so high, taunting me with their snide, wooly glares? Okay, the sheep didn’t have it out for me, but they are certainly better at climbing than I am. Near the top of Honiston pass in the heart of England’s Lake District, while I’m struggling in my rented bike’s lowest gear, one of those little buggers “baaaa’d” at me and scampered up a rocky outcropping in a matter of seconds.

I’m a mountain snob,  I’ll admit. Having spent dozens of family vacations in the Colorado Rockies, anything under 10,000 feet to me is a hill. The tallest “mountain” in England, Scafell Pike is only a whisker over 3,200 feet, a mere hillock. But then I tried climbing it on a fat-tire bike.

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Plumbing the dark depths: On Alex Meyer and open water

I think open-water swimmers have a dark core. Maybe it’s the unknown depths, the inky blackness of it. Maybe it’s the sense of aloneness in the water, that despite the safety boats, kayaks and lifeguards, you could still slip quietly into the dark depths. That’s what happened to team USA Olympic marathon swimmer Alex Meyer’s training partner and like-a-brother friend, Fran Crippen. After a 2010 race in the United Arab Emirates, Meyer noticed that the 26-year-old Crippen was not at the finish line. Two hours later, divers found his body.

Alex Meyer at a memorial for swimmer Fran Crippen

The water temperature that day for the UAE event was 90 degrees, likely contributing to Crippen’s probable extreme dehydration and possible heat stroke (the coroner’s report was inconclusive as to the exact cause of death). Since then, a debate continues as to maximum safe water temperature for long-distance swim events. The sport’s main governing body, FINA, has come under fire for its vague guidelines. Continue reading

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Part of me in the NYT

Frietchen at the NJ Marathon

Still smiling after 26.2 at the New Jersey Marathon

So, briefly, I was a tiny fairy light in the niche-y world of vegan athletes* when my essay “My Vegan Marathon” was published on the New York Times** website last month. You can read the essay for yourself. Thing is, there isn’t a whole lot of “me” in it after two rounds of editing. So that’s what this space is for. Not sure if my blog readership will top that NYT piece, and I seriously doubt I’ll write anything here that gets 65 comments. But I can be bitchy if I want to, or goofy, or obtuse, and I won’t have to fight with anyone’s legal team about whether it’s “okay” if I state my own opinion in an essay without corroborating scientific studies.

*Scott Jurek is the poster-boy of vegan athletes. He’s an ultramarathoner who fuels his 50-mile-plus races on beans, whole grains and veggies (and CLIF bars, presumably, since they are one of his sponsors). He’s heavily featured in the book “Born to Run,” a bestseller that I avoided for ages because I feared it would be overhyped. It is not. You should read it if you are at all interested in running, or human performance, or Mexico, or huarache sandals.

**Until last month, I worked for, a site I was with for 12 years. The New York Times bought it back in 2007. They still own it, but they don’t own me anymore.

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