Advent 2013 Day 4 – inadvertent rest days and eggplants

Well, the rest day was unintended as I have clearly not managed to kick the current cold (which, yes, I had during Saturday’s epic martial arts day, Sunday’s nine mile run, Monday’s swim class, and yesterday’s Aikido class) By this point, I am probably the vector that made half of Frankfurt sick and I kept coughing myself awake last night and spent most of today horizontal, covered in cats (who, for the record, were quite pleased with me being incapacitated) and trying to keep both my lungs and my throat on the inside where they belong. This is my long-winded excuse for not getting this up earlier.

OK,  so triathlon tidbit: here’s an interesting little Outside article on the pro’s and con’s of gadgets in training and racing written my two of my favorite online personalities: DC Rainmaker (of the best gear reviews you can find) and Chris “Macca” McCormack (Of Kona-winning triathlon maverick fame). For the record, I train with some gadgets (I generally always have my Garmin Forerunner 305 for all my training runs and rides, but I wear my HRM only once in a blue moon (I hate it and the strap makes me feel claustrophobic. I used to do my easy runs with the Wife and her pace was perfect for that. Now she’s gotten so much faster that I might have to go back to the HRM to slow me down again.) I love the cadence sensor on my bike and pay way more attention to that than to my speed. If I had the money, I’d probably shell out for a power meter, but I don’t and I’m not sure that I’d use it to get my money’s worth. Lately, when I race, I’ll race with the Garmin on the bike (for speed, distance, and cadence) and just use my regular watch on the run and the swim. For the most part, that works out really well and forces me to really listen to my body and do what it says. Running only races I go either way depending on how well marked I know them to be. My sense of distance/direction is bad enough that I get anxious sometimes if I don’t see a mile marker for a while and am not sure how far I’ve gone. Then it’s nice to look at the GPS watch for reassurance that I really have run X miles.

As for recipes, here’s one that I know I’ve shared with a lot of folks privately, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted publicly. It’s vegetarian and really tasty, even though I’m told it’s not traditional chili, per se. Whatever, it’s tasty and is loaded with veggies.

L on Wheels’s Easy Eggplant Chili

Ingredients (in order of adding to the pot)

  • 2-3 Tbsp oil (I use olive, any vegetable oil will work)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1/2 chili pepper (if desired) (These can be any variety of hot pepper like Jalapeños)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
  • 1 small to medium eggplant
  • 4‐5 pieces sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tomato (diced)
  • Seasoning mix (see below)
  • 1 can kidney or black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cup water (approximately)
  • 2 tsp corn starch

Seasoning mix

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp coriander (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp paprika (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste) (I use the really hot Indian chili powder and ½ tsp plus a half a Habanero type pepper makes it pretty spicy – the spice level and heat is really a matter of personal preference.

Topping suggestions

  • Cheddar cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  •  Sour cream
  • Plain low or non‐fat yogurt (in place of sour cream)


  1. Drain all cans of beans and rinse thoroughly under cold water; set aside.
  2. Dice onion, eggplant, bell pepper, chili pepper, garlic, fresh tomato, and sun dried tomato. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes. Onion and garlic should not brown, onion should start getting translucent.
  4. Add eggplant, bell pepper and chili pepper; sauté for additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add more cooking oil if necessary.
  5. Add fresh and sundried tomatoes; sauté for additional 1 minute.
  6. Add spices and sauté for another minute.
  7. Add beans, garbanzos, 1 cup water, and canned tomatoes. Do not drain the tomatoes.
  8. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add more water and spices if necessary.
  9. Mix cornstarch with 2 Tbsp warm water and add to thicken sauce.
  10. Serve with Polentacake (see recipe) and toppings.

I know that I posted my Polentacake recipe last year (has butter, eggs and buttermilk so not strictly vegetarian, sorry) but I’m too lazy sick to go hunting through my old posts to find it, so I’m posting it again…

Polentacake (Corn Bread or Johnnycake)

(modified from this recipe)


  • 1/2 cup butter (110 g)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (50 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar mix them together and let sit for 15 minutes) (0.24 l)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup polenta or cornmeal (which are actually the same thing, but the name varies depending on how far you are from Italy) (125 g)
  • 1 cup all‐purpose flour (125 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F (175 °C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium low heat.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar.
  4. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Be careful not to make scrambled eggs here.
  5. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan.
  6. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The Wife is out singing Christmas carols tonight and I was supposed to go, but I can’t because I’m sick in a way that would seriously disrupt a bunch of singers, so since I can’t listen to her, I’m posting my first actual Christmas song of this Advent.

Yes, I am a geek and I find this hilarious. Also, Picard was my favorite Captain of the Enterprise. And I get to see him later this month in Waiting for Godot. I can’t …err…wait…

Cat on a heater

Captain Dukie has figured out where the warms spot is…

Until tomorrow, dear readers. Be excellent to each other! (I bet you thought I  was going to say “Live long and prosper,” didn’t you?


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