Archive | August, 2007

Why I Run

24 Aug

I think it’s funny that, while I’m training for my second-ever athletic event, Gillian is training for something, too. Which I just realized, by going back through her blog, is the same half-marathon I’m training for!

This morning, I suddenly realized I should go for a run after work. After my run with Annie on Tuesday (and Gillian’s inspiration), I’ve decided to turn an alleged training plan into a real training plan. I turned down a Wilco show (I’ll probably regret that) and a chance to grab some drinks with coworkers (I probably won’t regret that). Then I got home, put on my running clothes, and dashed out for a 4.5-mile version of my super-hilly neighborhood run.

I always keep a good pace at the beginning (You need to have good form when running in an ex’s neighborhood. It helps that it’s downhill), but I realized when I was running up San Jose on that gradual incline that usually kills me — I was keeping the pace.

I wish I could say that I noticed all these amazing things on my run, but I was really thinking more about what it means to me to be in shape. I don’t really care about having a great figure. I don’t ever expect to get rid of the belly I’ve had since I was in middle school. But climbing that hill on Noe after having run more than three miles already and not having to walk, then getting to the top and looking out over the city. That’s why I run. I love being able to do that.

The California Taco, the Mission Burrito, and Please, Easy on the Rice

24 Aug

Burrito in el Toro
Originally uploaded by GavinBell

Jason Horn’s bio on his Chow.com stories is one place that mentions it, but nearly everyone who leaves the Bay Area or California laments the lack of Mission-style burritos. Oddly enough, the first time I heard about Mission-style burritos was when I lived in Portland and the nearest place to eat a cheap lunch indoors (a key thing to know when you live in a rainy city) was Taco del Mar.

I thought one of the funny things about this post on Emdashes was that tacos were cited as a reason to visit California back in the 1970s. Is that our culinary heritage?

So what is a Mission-style burrito? I think, for most of the world, it’s a non-Taco Bell burrito wrapped in tin foil. This Chowhound thread seems to say that the difference is rice, which my friend Prentice would take issue with. She points out — rightly, I think — that the rice is just really filler. Yes, it does absorb the liquid of the salsa, tomatoes, etc., but the quantity of rice in most burritos leaves me feeling that, even for a $5 burrito, I’m paying for more than I’m getting.

Of course, Wikipedia weighs in on the subject. My favorite section is the culture and politics. Only in San Francisco would a burrito become politicized.

Making dough in a mini-Cuisinart

12 Aug

It’s not the worst thing in the world to try to make dough in a mini Cuisinart, but it is labor-intensive. I just spent an hour making pate brisee in a ridiculous number of batches. But it actually turned out better than it usually does (I think. I’ll find out for real when I make my tomato tart tomorrow).

I did three things differently:

  • I mixed the flour and salt with a spoon, instead of in the mini-cuis.
  • I added the butter in smaller batches, scooping up the dry, cornmeal-consistency dough in each batch to try to distribute the butter more evenly. The added benefit of this was that the butter was more evenly distributed and there weren’t as many chunks.
  • I poured the water in slowly. For the most successful batch, I added dough, then water, then dough, then water. Adding water just to the top made the dough at the bottom of the cuis get all nice and sticky, but it didn’t blend into the top.

I’d definitely do the parfait layering of the dough and water next time. I also would try to keep the butter colder (maybe cut up a half a stick, and leave the rest in the fridge or put it in the freezer for a bit). My one concern is that all these little batches work the dough too much. But considering that I don’t know what the ill effects of that are (I just know you’re not supposed to do it), I’ll wait until tomorrow AM when I roll it out.

There’s a reason I’m late to work most days

12 Aug

J-ChurchIt’s not me, it’s Muni. The Chronicle just ran a story on how Muni is hoping to fix the J-Church, its most tardy line. My favorite detail is how SF voters mandated that Muni show up as scheduled at least 85 percent of the time. Basically, the program to get the J-Church running on time was postponed while they got the T-Third running, period.

If I’m not part of the solution, I’m part of the problem, right? (I think that’s the laziest rationale ever, so please note, I only use it ironically.) But I would like to compliment the driver who sounds like Miles Davis and always gives good updates to us frazzled rush hour riders. So I’m going to follow the Chron’s instructions, which I’m thoughtfully reposting here:

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is seeking regular J-Church riders who are willing to send daily e-mail updates about their trips.

They want to know:

Your name.

How often you ride the J-Church.

The days and times you ride.

Your telephone number and e-mail address.

Whether you’re a senior or disabled.

Contact the agency by e-mailing info@sftep .com

You can also call, but that’s so ’90s.

(I borrowed the image from epugachev.)