Monday, October 25, 2010

Oyster Roast

Halloween is around the corner! but more importantly, this weekend was my sister Becky and her husband Cory's annual Oyster Roast. It's oyster season (as I mentioned in my last posting) and every year, Becky and Cory have an oyster roast, where they order hundred's of blue point and Rappahannok oysters served raw or steamed. But before I jump into Oyster Roast, I started my Saturday morning with a quick Monumental Ave run and pumpkin carving while my roommates decorated our house for Halloween (and to get ready for #413's annual Halloween party next weekend!). Below is a photo of Stine, one of my roommates decorating our front porch with spider webs and a glow-in-the-dark hanging skeleton. She's the best when it comes to standing on ladders and hanging lights or anything up way high. I am not one for heights so thank god for Stine. Hopefully my next post will include photos from our Halloween party next weekend, and hopefully our decorations won't be vandalized like last year (yes, we actually had a "vandal" tear down our decorations and eat all our food after everyone pass out).

Once I finished my pumpkin, it was time to ready... But first, take a look at the end result:

Now off the oyster roast! Cornhole, wiffle ball, and plenty of food! I was in charge of
ordering the Chic-fil-A platter this year, which is devoured within an hour of its deliver every year. My roommates made country ham biscuits (a Virginia tradition), and others made homemade chili, buffalo dip, pulled BBQ and mashed potatoes, and of course, plenty of oysters! We even made oyster shooters: Cocktail sauce, raw oyster, vodka, hot sauce and mignonette sauce combined in a shot glass. I was actually quite tasty! I had 2.

We also made homemade mignonette sauce: red wine vinegar, cracked black pepper, dash of salt and chopped shallots. It was damn good I think! What was good was the baby crabs inside the oysters, specifically the Rappahannok oysters that we steamed. Look at that sucker, gross! My sister's friend Mike would eat them right out of the shell, which was horrifying but then I guess eating raw oysters is gross too when you think about it. They are both animals from the sea! I'll take my crabs cooked and in the forms of legs or a cake, please. My parents came too. They made the best Italian sausages with peppers and onions and also a batch of "beer brats," sausage links cooked in butter and beer. They were a little taste of heaven, I couldn't stop eating them.

All in all, it was a great day. John came home from school up in Charlottesville and got to enjoy most of the food that wasn't already devoured. And we wrapped up the weekend with another brunch at a new restaurant: The Back Sheep. We both ordered the "No Mas Huevos Nuevos," which consisted of their mixed chili (I swear it had barley mixed with black beans... what a delight), over top 2 eggs any style, avocado salsa, tortilla strips and underneath all of this was a jalapeƱo griddle cake. Yes, it was to-die for. Yes, I ate the whole thing. Yes, I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Foodie Weekend


I've been sharing my recent races so it was high time I got back to the food. I posted a blog earlier about my pumpkin muffins and only thought it was appropriate to remind everyone that it's still pumpkin season and I can't help myself. I made another 2 dozen chocolate chip pumpkin muffins for my HR team at work, but this time I changed up the icing from cream cheese to buttercream. YUM. I actually like them sans icing. Heat one up in the microwave, add a little butter and viola, breakfast (or dessert, or a snack, or with wine...).

I'm not the only family member with a food fetish. I'm Sicilian, and my Italian family revolves
around food. My Aunt Gina makes the best arancini's you will ever taste, and my Dad's
meatballs are a coveted recipe. My Aunt Felicia use to run a restaurant here in Richmond called Mama's Felicia's with the best pizza and spaghetti but unfortunately it recently closed after the horrendous economic times as did my cousin's cafe - Cafe Nuara's in the west end. But there's hope just yet! Sal and another cousin of mine,
Steven, plus their close friend Victor decided to
open up a pizzeria in the museum district of Richmond called Belmont Pizzeria. A pick-up and delivery establishment, Belmont Pizzeria has everything from pizza, to calamari, to eggplant parm subs and homemade cannoli's. They will soon have their licence to sell beer and wine too. The combination of wine and the fact that they deliver up until 3am on the weekends is a healthy girl's nightmare and every late night bar hopper's dream. Definitely a great addition to a city lacking in it's late night options. Bravo!

If pumpkin muffins and Sicilian pizza aren't your thing, let's move on to the rest of the weekend, which included homemade french onion soup and baked oysters! First, my roommates and I at #413 have always been fans of french onion soup. We'll try it anywhere we go, and compare to the best we've had. For example, Starlite's french onion is a big fat NO. Too oily. Republic's french onion (with Gruyeres instead of the common swiss) is a definite YES, along with Panera and Can Can. We decided to try out hand at it too. I would rate out first attempt at homemade french onion soup a 7. We used fontina instead of swiss and mini french baguettes toasted with the fontina on top. The soup was simply 2.5 chopped onions, 80 oz of beef broth and about a cup of wine. Since we made it in the crockpot, the alcohol didn't cook out of the wine and it tasted terrible. Once we brought it to the boil however it got a lot better. Paired with J.Lohr's Chardonnay and a little rosemary salt blend, and you've got yourself a pretty damn good meal! Since our craze for french onion soup is usually during the winter months, you will probably see another posting or 2 on any additional attempts at homemade french onion, or a snow day trip to some bar that offer's this delectable soup!

To top of the homemade soup, we also made baked oysters. October is when oysters are in season and to pregame before my sister's oyster roast, the #413 girls made a wonderful assortment of oysters, cooked with various toppings. My sister Becky and her husband Cory received 2 gorgeous pewter oyster trays for their wedding a few years back. This tray can go in the oven, sit on a stove top or even on the grill. It's truly an awesome piece of cookware. As you can see, all you need is a jar of shucked oysters, and the rest is up to your creativity. We tried the following toppings: Lemon pepper, goat cheese, old bay, Frank's red hot, Rosemary and Salt, and minced garlic. the toppings boil up around the oysters in the oven and made an excellent appetizer for any meal. Easy to make - literally we picked anything we could find in our kitchen to dress the oysters and it was a huge success! Now if only I can keep my sister's oyster trays forever... Will she notice???

Monday, October 18, 2010

Triathlon Photos and Results

I know I already posted that I completed my first triathlon, but this is even bigger. I'm sharing my triathlon photos despite how horrid they really are. I'm also sharing my stats. I can't decide if they are good or bad or just standard for a first-timer triathlete. Who knows!

The bike portion of the race was definitely my favorite. I'm usually terrified of the bike and not good at cruising down steep hills and especially climbing up them. I managed to do both fairly well, especially due to the amazing bike I had to work with. I can never thank Laura enough for
letting me use her killer road bike for the race! I don't know why i'd ever consider posting a photo of me running in a 1-piece bathing suit but I thought it was necessary to show all aspect of the triathlon... And how stupid I look running to the transition area barefoot, in a speedo and carrying my sweats and flipflops that I tossed to the side before the race began.

Then the best part: Crossing the finish line. What triumph I felt as I sprinted over the chip sensor and into the crowd of triathletes. It was so overwhelming I could hardly breath. Or was that from sheer exhaustion??? At least these photos show one of my greatest accomplishments in my fitness history. I can't wait to do more next year!

And here are my results... I had to have my other co-worker translate for me since I didn't understand all the numbers...

Place 321 = overall place of all racers

No. 652 = race number

Name Jeanne Nuara = you

S F = female

Age 27

Div/Tot 18/38 = 18th of 38 females in the 25-29 age group.

Div F2529 = name of your division

Rank 383 = swim rank of 383 of all racers

Swim 10:04 = swim time

Pace 40:13 = swim pace… not meaningful

Rank 522 = rank of time spent in transition of all racers

Tran1 6:08 = time in transition 1

Rank 257 = rank of bike time of all racers

Bike 42:46 = bike time

Rate 17.4 = bike average speed in mph

Rank 444 = rank of time spent in transition 2

Tran2 2:00 = time spent in transition 2

Rank 308 = rank of run time of all racers

Run 28:44 = run time

Pace 9:16 = run average min per mile

Penalty 0

Finish 1:29:38.96

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin is back in Season!

Last Sunday was October 3rd, the beginning of the season for Pumpkin everything! I am not a baker. I love to cook, not bake. Baking requires exact measurements and exact baking times. I love to throw ingredients in a pot and see what happens. However, once the weather cools and October comes around, I get in the mood to bake, and the main dish is always pumpkin bread or muffins. I can make dozens of muffins in an afternoon and plenty of loaves of bread. The batter is also to die for, I can't help but taste it every now and then! I also try to make my baking someone what healthy. I use whole wheat flour, egg beaters, apple sauce (sometimes... to replace veggie oil), and baking splenda. This year I added cream cheese icing... The outcome? Total bliss:

Conquering my first Triathlon

I did it! I completed my first triathlon all by myself. Well... I had a little help and plenty of support. Two of my co-workers played a large part in my training up until this event. First, a manager at our company is a triathlon coach along with his wife for a company called Endorphin Fitness. Ever since I showed interest in participating in a triathlon, Brian has been encouraging me to go for it. He invited me out to a triathlon "practice" that he and few of his friends do in the summer. I was too scared to go it alone so my boyfriend came with me. We had a blast swimming in the James River by Robious Landing (James River Park) and transitioning to our mountain bikes where we completed an obstacle course throughout the park, followed by a quick trail run. It was great. I loved every minute of it. My other co-worker, Laura, is a Lunachic. She also came with me to the triathlon practice and took me out on bike rides to prepare me for the race. She let me use her road bike for the race. It was incredible. I definitely wouldn't have been able to do the race with them, and of course the support of my boyfriend. He and his son Brett came to the race to see me cross the finish line.

The weekend before the triathlon I race in the Capital 10 Miler. It was a great race to practice for the half marathon in November, plus, I did it alone, which I thought would be a good idea to adjust to doing the triathlon alone. It definitely helped. The photo above is from the Capital 10 Miler. I'll definitely post photos from the triathlon as soon as I get them.

I did however get my time results for both races:
Captial 10 Miler: 1:29:21
Sprint Triathlon: 1:29:36

Creepy that i finished both races within 15 seconds of the same time... Just sayin'.

Anyway- more to come on my races... I should probably share some more food photos soon since I have a ton, but for now I've been in training and race mode, so I'm more excited to talk about that.