CSA Box #4 {When We Discovered How to Make Salsa and Sauce}

by Megan Outlaw

So I missed a post on our third Driftless Organics Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box, but I'm sharing the awesomeness that is Box 4 today.  If you missed it, here are the intro, Box 1, and Box 2 posts!

I always get excited when I open the box and start the transfer of produce into my bags.  Eggplant! Cute little peppers! You get the idea.

I always get excited when I open the box and start the transfer of produce into my bags.  Eggplant! Cute little peppers! You get the idea.

I think this was the most exciting box yet - certainly the most colorful.  We got a whole bag of tomatoes and also corn that didn't make it into the picture.  Tomatoes, kale, zucchini, cucumbers, red cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, beans, cantaloupe, various peppers, garlic, onion, tomatillos, cilantro, and dill.

We cooked our first meal out of the box on Sunday evening.

If you don't think you like cauliflower, you should try roasting it in the oven with turmeric, olive oil, and garlic.  It is so delicious.  The beans I cooked just like I normally do green beans (bring to a boil for just a few minutes, then throw them in a pan with some olive oil and garlic at medium heat for around 10-15 minutes or until kind of crispy.)  Basically, can't go wrong with olive oil and garlic.  Victor grilled the steak.

On Monday, I decided to go totally outside the box and try a ratatouille.  I consulted with one of my coworkers, and she gave me this recipe.

My dish was a little small, so I decided to add another layer of tomato sauce and a few more veggies on the top.  I also decided to add a bit of parmesan cheese. It turned out very well!!

My next cooking adventure was to do something with the tomatillos, which I had never used before.  Driftless Organics thoughtfully provides an information sheet about the produce, as well as recipes, with each box.  There was a recipe for salsa verde using only ingredients from the box, so I decided to give that a try with my tomatillos, jalapeños, garlic, and onion.

It was super easy!  Just roast, and blend/process!  Don't forget to take the papery outer layer off the tomatillos before roasting them!  However, don't peel the garlic until afterwards.

Once I had the salsa ready, I started the crockpot for some slow cooker salsa verde chicken tacos.

Now that we knew how easy it was to make salsa, we wanted to try another kind, and use some of our huge bag of tomatoes in the process. So I found a recipe for roasted tomato salsa from the same website, and made that the next day, to go along with our tacos.  Delicious!  We're never buying salsa again (in the summer, at least.)

On Saturday, it was kind of gray and rainy outside, so we decided to (watch the Olympic Triathlon and eat donuts, obviously) be productive around the house and then make spaghetti sauce with the rest of the tomatoes.

 I pretty much did the same thing for the base of the sauce that I did to make the salsa - just broiled tomatoes, garlic, and peppers for around 10 minutes until they started to blacken, then gave it a whirl in the blender.  Victor then finished the sauce with hamburger meat, various herbs, onion, and a bit of sugar.

We've also grilled corn, had cantaloupe for breakfast, and cherry tomatoes and cucumbers for snacks with hummus.

I'm really enjoying the CSA so far; it's forced me to think outside the box when it comes to dinners, and I've discovered how easy it is to make salsas and sauces from scratch.

New Glarus Alphornman Triathlon {Race Recap}

by Megan Outlaw

Two weeks ago, my husband and I raced the New Glarus Alphornman Triathlon.  I originally signed up as an individual, but after experiencing some knee problems (more on that later), I recruited my husband as the runner.

My (very kind) parents were visiting Wisconsin, and picked us up at 6:00am to head to New Glarus, which is about 45 minutes from Madison.  We arrived just in time for packet pick-up and for bike racking.  After the race announcements, there was an Alphornman performance, which is a traditional Swiss instrument.  For those who aren't familiar with New Glarus, it's an authentic Swiss town, dubbed "America's Little Switzerland" (and also home of the beloved-across-Wisconsin New Glarus Brewing).

The 450-yard swim took place in an outdoor pool, which seems to be unusual for Wisconsin triathlons (most taking place in a lake of some sort). There were approximately 160 participants, so the swim took quite a bit of time.  They started with the 20-minute 450-yard swimmers, and ended with the fastest group (I put my time as 8 minutes, and there were a few heats after me).  The swim went okay for me; I had some leaking issues with my new goggles, causing one of my contacts to disappear somewhere in my eye, never to be seen again (not really).  I also had trouble passing the person in front of me (mostly because I wasn't aggressive enough).

Next up was the 15-mile bike ride, which I had some idea would be hilly from the Strava map on the website and just the general hilliness of the New Glarus area (Southern Wisconsin has a LOT of rolling hills).  I will say that it was much much hillier than I anticipated! I was also nervous in transition and starting the bike because of my contact issues (ok I'm always nervous about the bike portion!); I really couldn't see that clearly.  However, it didn't seem to be too much of an issue, luckily.  I am proud of myself for getting through it and not walking my bike.  I did see a few people walking up some of the hills; I struggled on my road bike, and definitely used all of my gears.

The race director warned us of a long hill around mile 3, but he promised it would eventually end.  haha, gee thanks.  I got through that hill, and it was tough, and thought to myself, okay, that's done.  But nope!  I think the turnaround point featured an 8% grade hill, which we rode down on the way there, and uppppppp on the way back.  When I was going downhill (carefully), I thought to myself,  holy crap I CANNOT BELIEVE that we have to climb this sucker next.  But we did, and I did it.  After that massive hill, the rest of the course was slightly easier, and I was happy to be back in the town of New Glarus.

After I got back into transition, Victor took my timing anklet and was off on the 3.1-mile run!  The run was through the town of New Glarus and was mostly flat.  The sun was out by that time, and it was pretty hot.  He did a great job though.

At the finish, we both received finisher's medals.

Then we proceeded to the finisher's area where there was New Glarus beer (Spotted Cow, of course), along with cheese, cookies, and hot dogs.  

We had a great time at the race, and picked up sandwiches and headed to New Glarus Brewing afterwards to relax.  I do think participating in a relay made the race less stressful for me overall, and it was really nice to participate with Victor.  We've done two aquathons as a relay this summer, and I hope we can do one more triathlon.



Friday Favorites - Scenes From My Parents' Visit

by Megan Outlaw

Happy Friday!  It's my second to last Friday off for the summer, and I've been enjoying watching the Olympics and doing a few things around the house.  Since it's Friday and all, I decided to do a Friday Five post and share five of my favorites from my parents' visit to Madison last week.  I wanted to show them all the things that make Madison a fantastic place to live, and I think I succeeded! 

1. Lakeside dinner at the Edgewater Hotel's Boathouse

This was our first meal together since the Christmas holiday, so it was great to catch up.  We also got to catch the sunset, which is one of my favorite things about living so close to the lakes.  The food was pretty delicious also; My mom and I ordered the tuna sandwich, and were pleased to see that it was a large tuna steak on a tasty bun.  My dad and Victor got the fish fry and both enjoyed it as well.

Dining lakeside during the sunset :)

Dining lakeside during the sunset :)

2.  Showing my parents Madison's awesome bike trails

On Saturday morning, I biked the 5 miles from my apartment to my parents' campground (they were staying at the Lake Farm County Park Campground), and we did a bit of the Capital City Trail.  A few days later, we parked at Olin Park and biked towards the Monona Terrace, doing some of the Lake Loop so my mom could see the lakeside houses. 

3. Delicious Homemade Pizza on the Balcony

On Saturday evening, we decided to stay home and make pizzas.  We made three pizzas:  one goat cheese, kale, and beet pizza (seriously - the best pizza ever), one half eggplant, basil, and tomato pizza (wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it was really tasty), and one and a half pepperoni, green pepper, and onion pizzas.

The beets, eggplant, basil, kale, garlic, and green pepper were all from the Dane County Farmers Market.

Delicious pizza, lake views, good company - what more could you want??

Delicious pizza, lake views, good company - what more could you want??

4.  Visiting Devil's Lake State Park

Ok, this isn't in Madison, but it's less than an hour away, and definitely a must-visit for any trip to southern Wisconsin.  We've taken all our visitors there, and this was my parents' second trip.  We have an annual pass (thanks to my mother-in-law, who purchased it during her visit in April!), so it was an easy decision to head up there for the afternoon.

We did a bit of hiking - some of the East Bluff Trail, but not too much because Victor and I had done a triathlon the day before and I didn't want to push it.  Enough to see the view from the bluff!

I really wanted to try stand up paddle boarding at Devil's Lake, so we rented a paddle board and also a canoe for my parents.  Victor did a little more climbing on the Tumbled Rocks trail, took some photos, and jumped into the lake from the rocks!

We stopped by Wollersheim Winery on the way home.  I'd also recommend visiting this winery on a trip to Wisconsin; the grounds are beautiful, they have a good rose and other white wines, and the tour is very informative, as the property dates back to the 1840s.

5. Visiting the state Capitol

We walked to/through the Capitol building three times on our visit; a post-dinner stroll on Friday night, during the Farmers Market (the market is around the Capitol square), and on Tuesday we toured the building.

During the farmers market, laden with cheese and flowers

During the farmers market, laden with cheese and flowers

I'd been through the Capitol building many times (in the winter, we often use it as a shortcut when heading to the other side of the square), but I had never explored beyond the ground floor. We headed up to the observatory deck, which was pretty cool.

Don't forget to look up! 

Don't forget to look up! 

The view of downtown and Lake Monona

The view of downtown and Lake Monona

We had a really great visit, with near perfect weather, and I was able to show them almost all of our favorite places.  I wish them luck as they continue on their trip to Colorado!!

How I'm trying to stay injury free this summer, plus your chance to win Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Booster {Giveaway Post}

by Megan Outlaw

This post was sponsored through my partnership with Sweat Pink and FitApproach. All opinions are my own.

Hey friends, happy end of July!  I can't believe that summer is almost over, but I'm ready to make the most of the month of August, including participating in several races and exercising outside as much as possible.  



Today I wanted to talk about how I've been keeping myself (relatively) injury-free during this awesome summer season, and give you a chance to win a bag of Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Boosters!

Stretching and Foam Rolling

I'm admittedly not the best at setting aside time for foam rolling and stretching, but I know they are both an essential component to remaining injury free.  I have a set of stretches that I perform for my injury-prone areas, such as calf stretches for my chronically tight calves and several hip flexor stretches for my reoccurring groin/hip impingement issues.  I also need to make sure my quads and IT bands get worked out using one of my foam rollers.

Keeping up with Physical Therapy Exercises (and Strength Training)

I've also been trying really hard to fit in those seemingly simple but super effective physical therapy exercises such as bridges and body weight squats.  Something I'm trying to do more often is a variety of core exercises daily; sometimes after I get injured, I fall out of the habit of doing different types of core work besides something like a plank, which is part of every physical therapy routine that I've ever been given!  So I'm trying to work in Russian Twists, boat pose, and even some crunches.

Rest Days

I take my rest days very seriously.  Everyone is different, and needs differing amounts and types of rest days, whether it be one day every other week, once a week, cross training, etc.  I've found that I perform best with at least one day a week of total rest - that means no stand-up paddle board, no canoeing, nothing.  I might try to do my bridges and planks and foam roll, but that's it.

Monthly Massage

Something I've started this year is scheduling a monthly massage in order to relieve tension in my tight muscles and fascia.  Yes, massage can be expensive, but there are ways to make it more affordable.  One, some insurances offer a discount or wellness rewards on services such as massages.  I'm fortunate that my insurance offers a discount.  Another way to keep the price down is to shorten the massage time.  I don't need an hour-long or more full body massage; I want to focus on a couple areas that I know are tight and need some deep tissue work that I can't get with a foam roller, so I usually select a 45-minute massage, though I've gone with a 30-minute option before.  I go to Resolution Therapeutic Massage in Madison, and I definitely recommend them!

Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Boosters

As I mentioned earlier this month, as part of a campaign with Sweat Pink/Fit Approach, I was  sent four different Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Boosters to try.

The benefits of these boosters are they are full of good quality, gluten-free vegan protein that fills me up and helps my body recover.  

Sometimes I add extras such as ginger, cinnamon, or fresh cherries to help reduce inflammation and aid recovery even more!  

Now's your chance to win a bag of your choice of Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Boosters (flavor options are chocolate, original, vanilla, and chai).

Enter via the Rafflecopter below! Open to U.S. residents only.

Didn't win? Here's a coupon for you to give them a try!