Friday, October 4, 2013

Whangarei Half Marathon and after

Had a great old time at the Whangarei half. A beautiful course including a lovely section of track and coastal roadway. A bit of hill for interest and a brand new bridge (Te Matau ā Pohe) added joy. I wanted to crack 2 hours and ran with the pacers tied to the green balloon for a few k's but lost them after the track and cracked 2.15.

It was really humid, an uncannily fine morning following a stormy, thundery night. One of my favourite bits was half way along the track where some extremely jolly young people were drumming. In my head I was running past acacia trees somewhere in the rift valley. Very impressed that the large, heavy drums were carried along the track by the young muso's all in the interests of keeping our spirits up.

Two weeks after and not sure what my next challenge will be. Cape Brett is definitely on the horizon for 2014, but unsure if there's a race between now and then or just finding some local tracks to run over summer.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

why vegan?

In a world of 7+ billion, it seems clear that the earth will not be able to provide humanely raised local meat for everyone who wants it.

It seems to me there are two scenarios for the future of meat eating, both bad. The first follows an organic or family farm model of farming, with organic meat becoming a bespoke, cheffy commodity in demand for the rich. While the worst excesses of animal confinement are controlled, demand is never ending as people see meat as a marker of wealth and upwards mobility. In this instance large amounts of land and resources in poorer areas of the world are commandeered for meat production, leaving only poor quality land for subsistence crops for locals and leaving vast population vulnerable to periodic starvation. Economic pressure on meat production never really goes away as even the very rich are conscious of price, so animal welfare shortcuts are always considered.

The second scenario is that billions more animals are confined into concentrated animal feedlots to provide cheap meat for a burgeoning world market. This causes environmental devastation and untold suffering for animals. It also creates negative outcomes for people's health, with a growth in diseases of affluence along with great risk of pandemics.

What if we all ate plants? Would there be more to go around for everyone? Some argue that meat production is a good use of marginal land otherwise unsuitable for agriculture. But it seems to be that there are many other uses for marginal land such as sustainable forestry, carbon sinks and wildlife reserves.

By all accounts, the demand for meat consumption grows with industrialisation and economic growth. That is, unless there a counter demand for plant based foods arises. It seems to be that being  part of that counter demand is a worthwhile aim.

As Seen on T.V - portobello bean burgers inspired by Burger King's mexican burger

Had a great long run today. 1 hour 50 minutes of running in which I felt like I could have broken into parkour if it wasn't for me old knees playing up and, you know, general oldieness.

Came home and made these burgers inspired by Burger King add on T.V. where the genius idea was adding the crunch of corn chips to a burger. The patties are portobello mushrooms stuffed with a mix of four beans, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce. These are topped with salsa and even more tomato sauce.

AS SEEN ON T.V (almost)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

gado gado - carbs are good.

Made gado gado today - my version of it at least. No doubt this is a million miles away from the traditional Indonesian dish which inspired it. Mung bean sprouts feature heavily in my ideal gado gado, but we are all out of mung beans so this is rich in cabbage and kale instead.

Basically, gado gado our style involves cooking up some potato cubes, frying off some tofu cubes, and whipping up a chilli, soy sauce and peanut butter based peanut sauce in a small pot. The potato cubes and veges are mounded up on the plate in a heap, then the tofu cubes are strewn vaguely atop (depending on the angle of steepness on the faces of your vege mountain). The hot peanut sauce is spread over and whole peanuts or cashews are added last as a luxury touch. Perfect food for a fork.

My main feelings about this dish is that potatoes and carbs in general are cheap and good for you, especially for active people, and there really isn't too big a mountain of them you can consume before you feel super full and resplendent. Note: best eaten two hours before a run, preferably just before a wee lie down.

p.s. I am just showing off with the Cape Brett Challenge 2013 mug in the photo.

The long run and fear (a.k.a panic)

I live in a particularly kindly part of middle earth. It never really dropping much below 10 degrees c in the day or heading to over 24 in the afternoon. It is pretty clear I will no get hypothermia or frostbite on a run, and although the humidity is often in the 90's; overall it is ridiculously temperate.
So it can't be fear for my life that keeps me slightly freaked out before my long runs. Neither is it stranger danger. I have the good fortune to have regularly spaced, kindly rural neighbours lining the course of my favourite runs. Strangers do drive by, but they are often in jolly holiday vans and pull over to get my advice about finding the nearest petrol station, they do not strike me as axe murderers.

Sometimes the thought flickers through my head that I will become an ironic by-line in the Sunday paper – 'runner has heart attack and/or fatal asthma attack on idyllic country road.' Imagine the chuckles! But no, my heart holds firm and I am never more than half an hour from the nearest inhaler.

So what is the fear? I would love to think it is of my own awesomeness, but probably not. I think it is more akin to a panic attack type feelings, and like all panic attacks, the only way out is to run on through chanting allow, allow, allow...

vegan yeeros

Yeeros. Yes, I know many people find vegan meets creepy and fake. But I am not one of these people. We seldom eat fake vegan meat because of price and availability not because of any negative feelings towards manufactured soy products. This vegetarian fake lamb came from the Cruelty Free shop in Auckland, is pantry stable, available online and continues the fine Asian Buddhist tradition of suffering free mock meats.

To yeeros the fake lamb, I cut it crossways into small crumbly chunks and put them on a small oven tray. Then I drizzle with the chunks with vegan Worcester sauce, tomato sauce and olive oil, cut a couple of onions into thin slices and bake at 200 degrees C until the edges of the onions and fake lamb are toasty brown and crunchy. This is added to coleslaw, chili sauce and mayonnaise in warmed through pita bread wraps.

I remember going to mother Chu's in Sydney and being both shocked and delighted by the comprehensive selection of mock meat delights. It seemed a bit dorky and retro at the time, but very loving and heartfelt also. As someone who has craved and eaten a fair amount of KFC in the past I am hardly above eating artificial foods. Like many people, I did not grow up on carrot sticks and hummus, and it would seem odd to turn my back on the world of began fake-outs now.

I do think there's a bit of a schism out there in the first world eats sphere at the moment, between making the choice to eat products because of their artisinal, organic or authentic merit; and the choice to eat foods for compassionate reasons. I like the  way Reiki practitioners vow to be free of negative traits such as anger 'just for today' – I expect in the hope that a lot of 'just for todays' strung together will make a compassionate life. So 'just for today' I will enjoy my creepy fake meat, in the hopes that I will string a compassionate life together.