The Summer Cold

Every Tuesday, there is an authorized open water swim at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. This is a great thing, but I’ve only gone about three times the whole summer. I wish I would have gone more, but those three times have been extremely beneficial to helping subdue the panic caused by a phobia of all the things that could possibly be in the water. Stumps, rocks, weeds, muskies, northerns, and we’ll add otters to the list now too (see this recent article in the Star Tribune). I grew up on a lake, and am an excellent swimmer – but that doesn’t change the fact that these things make me want to throw up. Whenever I would go tubing and would fall off, I would instantly start swimming towards the boat because I envisioned all the fish sitting underneath me, ready to attack as soon as I stopped kicking.

I’m 26 years old and this still haunts me.

Yesterday was the last day we would have an open water swim on Nokomis before the triathlon. I met a friend there, and had been wrestling a sore throat all day. I didn’t really want to be there, I didn’t want to swim, and jokingly made a comment about how Lake Nokomis would make me sick.

Congratulations Nokomis – you won.

So I am at home, working on my blog in between naps, writing my first real post and adding more permanent pages about me, and about the project. Without a TV or instant-streaming Netflix, I’m not left with much else.

When I got home yesterday, not only did I feel worse than I did when I got in the lake, but I was faced with what was probably the worst thing at the time: thawed out chicken that I had to cook; the next time I would have a chance to cook it wouldn’t be until Friday, and let’s be honest – I’m not sure if I had already thawed it out once before. And nothing in my apartment that would let me make enchiladas. So I had my first experience poaching chicken, and I’ll say this – it was well worth it and SUPER easy. It’s a little time consuming – maybe 20-30 minutes – but you’re not firing up the oven and you’re not dealing with oil when you’re trying to saute it. I was able to make a tomato sauce while my chicken cooked without ever having to touch it. Leftover noodles, and tada! Super simple and tasty modification on chicken parmesan.

Poached chicken: I used chicken broth as I had it in the fridge, but from what I could tell from Googling, anything works. I put 3 chicken breasts in a 2-quart pot, covered the chicken breasts with the broth until there was about an inch above the chicken, and started the burner. Once the broth was boiling, I turned it down to a simmer, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I turned the burner off, and left it to finish “cooking” in the warm broth for another 10 minutes while I finished up my sauce. I read in a cookbook of mine that if you poach often, you can save the liquid; I’m not sure for how long, but I did save my liquid from last night as I have more frozen chicken that I plan to poach in the next week!

Homemade tomato sauce: While storebought is easy and cheap, homemade sauce is actually pretty easy – at least the way I make it. I didn’t even peel the tomatoes last night (that’ll be a future post!). However, de-seeding is the key to a good thick sauce; if you don’t get rid of gooey seed stuff, it gets extra liquidy. I used 4 tomatoes last night, which would have been more than enough for 2 people for 1 meal, but I love spaghetti sauce so it was enough for my meal and leftover lunch 🙂

Dice the tomatoes, getting rid of the seed goo. Smash/dice a little garlic, and throw the garlic into a pan with about a tablespoon of heated oil. Saute the garlic for awhile – don’t burn it like I did last night, it does not add flavor. Once the garlic has browned, add the tomatoes, turn the heat down, and just keep stirring! The only seasoning I used last night was a little onion salt, some sugar, and cinnamon. I’ve always found making homemade sauce this way actually makes it extra salty – and the sugar brings that down a little. And I love cinnamon in my sauce – it complements the noodles well. Always, always taste before you add, and just be careful not to burn your tongue! All in all, I think my sauce simmered for about 20 minutes.

Heated up my leftover noodles, cut up some chicken, poured sauce over the chicken and the noodles, and sprinkled with a little mozzarella cheese and voila! Delicious and homemade.

While dinner ended up being a success, to be honest, I feel as if I’m already failing at my little project. Although the triathlon training has to take forefront to the swimming miles I should be putting on, I am completely disengaged with swimming. It could be partly that I am very busy at work and stressed out, or just ready for the triathlon to be done so I can focus my energy on this project. But I also have not been making much of an effort to get to the pool, and finding a time that works best for me. While swimming early before work makes sense and then I am done, who REALLY wants to get up any earlier than they have to just to jump in a cold pool? And while swimming late at night also sounds appealing (no one else in the pool!) – who really wants to get home at 11:00pm and still need to eat and get ready for the next day? Not I.

I also don’t envision figuring this out in the next few weeks either. While the triathlon is on Sunday, the boyfriend (whom we will call D) and I will be heading on vacation after that. So this month will be interesting in figuring out the transition from triathlon to more consistent swimming to starting getting my swimming mileage up.

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