Greek Easter 2014 Part II: Triumphs and Tragedies

5 May

Another joyful celebration of Greek supremacy with all my favorite friends is in the books (if you missed the last few, check out 2012 and 2013 and 2014). This year’s festivities featured perfect weather, a few new dishes, and some babies (with no reports of honey-sourced botulism, praise the lord!).

The Triumphs:

  • The selfie stick was a bit hit this year, and we managed to get the first ever DC Greek Easter group shot… twice!
    The early crowd:
    photo 2The late crowd:
    photo 4And some total Babes (sans hair for SummitKef…sorry!):photo 3
  • The Pastitsio: This is the yearly crowd favorite, and this year’s pie rang in at almost 9.5 lbs!
    photo 2photo 4…though I must also say that the Ottolenghi Caramelized Garlic Tart in the brand new square tart dish also turned a lot of heads this yearphoto 3
  • The Help: ThisIsYourLifeNowKef and SummitKef are officially the first people whose offers of help I have ever accepted. Because of them, I got to sleep a record 5 hours Saturday night (usually I only have enough time for a nap from like 4:00-6:00 am on Greek Easter Eve… can’t stop, won’t stop!). ThisIsYourLifeNowKef learned a new skill (peeling potatoes with a paring knife… definitely a resume builder) and everyone said the melomakarona were the softest ever thanks to SummitKef’s watchful eye as they soaked in a honey syrup.
    photo 5 photo 1
  • The Protegee: Some of you know that I have been hanging out with the most wonderful gal in Arlington every Thursday since August, and she accompanied me to Trader Joe’s to procure the Greek Easter goods this year. Nothing in the whole world has ever made me prouder than the moment she nonchalantly reached back into a cart chock full of food and turned around with–what else!–the FETA!
    photo 1In general I am not in the habit of putting pictures of other people’s kids on the internet, but I needed there to be photographic evidence of this moment– this way when TheSunshineofMyWholeDamnLifeKef grows up and wants to know what her parents were like when they were younger, she can come here and know that they allowed some crazy woman to drag her all over creation searching for the cheapest dill.

The Tragedies

  • The Paulatimi Salad: Would you believe I served it without the basil?
  • NoLongerClevelandParkKef had a back injury and was unable to join us and GingerKef was fighting the Midwestern Avian Ebola SARS flu–their absences were truly the heartbreak of Greek Easter 2015.
  • The Lack of Photos: I didn’t think I need pics of food because I’ve made the same thing every year… but now that I’m trying to write this blog post, I realize I didn’t take pictures of really anything/anyone. Sadness prevails.
  • The Streak is Over: Thanks to SummitKef and ThisIsYourLifeNowKef, the long-running streak of my not even thinking of showering on Greek Easter Sunday came to an end–this year I was done cooking at 1pm, showered, and even completed a homework assignment… all before the first guest arrived! I guess that’s not such a tragedy, but it’s always sad when a tradition dies.
photo 5

The picture may be grainy, but MrKef was just so happy to have a clean ChefKef!

Running with Thighs Part 2

29 Apr

Ed Note: I don’t think this is the space to go on the rant I’d like to about oppressive regimes in this country, but I don’t want to post about running shorts as if that’s the most important thing on my mind today. So I will let other, smarter people do the talking– if you are looking for thought-provoking views that go past pithy, void-of-context MLK non-violence quotes, please read this article. And, if you struggle to understand why people don’t “do something productive” instead of burning CVS, please bring your most open mind when you sit down to read this one (especially the part about ‘tone-policing.’ I’d love to hear what you think. Sorry for the awkward transition–one day I will run a blog on social commentary instead of gluten-free recipes and running tips.

Last summer I wrote about my search for running shorts, and I’m excited to say I have two new pairs to add to the list of shorts worthy of some big ol’ runner’s thighs.

Brooks Run 7″ Shorts

http://demandware.edgesuite.net/sits_pod21/dw/image/v2/aaev_prd/on/demandware.static/Sites-BrooksRunning-Site/Sites-BrooksCatalog/default/v1430256881282/images/ProductImages/220886/220886_469_mf_ZM.jpg?sw=1200

Let’s get something about this shorts straight right off the bat: they are wildly unflattering. My last post was about how I didn’t want running gear that looked like Bermuda shorts, and these do NOT meet that requirement–they are not even particularly good looking on the lovely Brooks model above. Just to drive the point home, someone I run with told me that these clinched my victory in the “Least Vain Runner in Washington” category and she’s probably right:

Brooks running shorts that don't ride up

Face covered to protect those who just don’t give a damn.

But the good news is that I just cannot be bothered to care  what they look like because these shorts are extremely light and comfortable. After the initial in-fitting-room jump around, I took them for a spin during a track workout and am pleased to report that what they lack in sex appeal is more than compensated for in their ability to stay put. I didn’t think about them once during my run in them, and am sure they are going to be lifesavers during hot, long runs this summer. For fit purposes, I sized up.

Lole Lively Short

No need to qualify these guys at all–they are comfortable, flattering, and held up great during the hill run I took them on yesterday morning. Features that make me love them: a wide, no-roll waistband and elastic grippers at the thigh openings that ensure these babies aren’t going anywhere, no matter how hard I’m working.

photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

If posting three pictures of my thighs on the world wide web ain’t endorsement enough, I just don’t know what is. The only complaint I have about this pair is that sizing is kind of strange- there was a BIG jump between sizes. I probably could have sized down for waist and sized up for thighs (#storyofmylife), so I ended up sizing up and am glad I did–they were so comfy I ran two extra hill repeats because I was enjoying wearing them so much.

And that’s what I have to say about that. What shorts are you wearing?

Friday Five: Blogs to Read

24 Apr

Great news- it’s Friday again. I’m on my way to NY for BabyKef’s bridal shower, so I’m gonna give it to you quick and dirty this morning by linking up with Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney to share five blogs (other than theirs) I love to read.

1- Minutes Per Mile– Mary comes first because she is the first blog I read every morning! Oh, and also because she was a volunteer coach for my first half marathon training group. Or, it could be because she’s the first person I know to cook through at least 1/4 of the gargantuan Cooks Illustrated.

2- DC Rainmaker– If you have ever purchased a fitness gadget  before consulting Ray’s remarkably expansive reviews and comparisons, you probably missed out. There is no one (and I do mean no one) who breaks it down like this guy- down to talking about how a particular electronic is boxed. In addition to reviews that couldn’t be more detailed, he gives great race recaps (running and triathlon), and tips on fuel and training plans. Still not sold? He’s based in Paris and linked to a really delicious-looking cupcakery, so you get some bonus food porn to go with your fitness fetish.

3- rUnladylike– I actually just started reading this blog a few weeks ago, and it has quickly shot up my list of favorites. Jessica promises an “uncensored” take on running and fitness, and I find myself laughing out loud once or twice a post when she real-deals the topic at hand. And y’all know I love a damn pun, so her irreverent blog title is icing on the cake.

4- Tastespotting– pages upon pages of the best recipes the internet has to offer. You can search by ingredient (my suggestion: FIGS) or food (I’ve spent hours ogling the clafouti pages). Trust me on this: just go.

5- Figs & Feta– two words should make my whole case with this one: Baklava Cheesecake. I shall say nada mas.

5 Kitchen Items I Love

20 Apr

1. The Veggie Spiralizer (aka: the Veggetti).

When MamaKef stuffed my stocking with this guy, I was skeptical. I’ve been using a julienne peeler to make veggie noodles and it’s come out quite fine, so I didn’t think I really needed a new utensil to do the same thing. Wrong. This guy turns out perfect veggie noodles in seconds flat–so far I’ve used it with squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes (definitely my favorite). Best of all? Easy to clean and it fits in my already-too-full kitchen gadget drawer.

2. Metal Spatula

I have been known to stop the dishwasher mid-wash to fish this guy out if it’s dirty while I’m cooking. This spatula is without a doubt the most often-used utensil I have in my kitchen. I love that it’s flatter than most plastic/silicone pancake-flipping spatulas, and the metal edge really gets under whatever I’m flipping… I’m not leaving anything on the pan when I’m using this guy. Mine came included in one of those Target 20-piece kitchen sets– best $20 I ever spent!

3. Fluted Tart Pan With Removable Bottom

This is hands down my favorite pan to bake in. The dark metal makes sure the crust is perfectly browned every time and the fluted edges make every tart look Martha made.  I have a cheap-o one from Home Goods and it works great, and never fails to produce an “oooohhhh” when I push the removable bottom out to reveal those pretty edges!

4. Zester

This was another MamaKef stocking stuffer (what can I say? When she’s good, she’s good.). She got us all this little guy, which is awesome for zesting on the go, as well as the big mamma jamma (though the large size seems to be off the market these days).

5. Reusable Bowl Covers

Linen & Cotton Bowl Covers (Set of 6)

I don’t actually own these, but I desperately want them (ahem). I would especially love to use these when I’m letting my tsoureki rise. I’m currently using Saran wrap, which does a great job but also contributes to the world’s untimely demise, so…. an upgrade would be awesome.

Flywheel DC Review

15 Apr
Flywheel DC review

                                                             Thanks to Washingtonian for this picture!

It is well-established that I enjoy spinning and will try almost any fitness trend (search my college newspaper’s archives for the time I tried Trapeze School if you really need some proof). So the proliferation of boutique spinning studios around DC has been like catnip for me. Since I’ve already reviewed SoulCycle and Wired Cycling, I will assume we are all savvy in the art of spin studio reviews and will keep it to bullet points.

The Good

  • Flywheel has both spinning and barre class. I only took a spin class, but I heard the barre instructor putting his class to work as I was leaving and am looking forward to trying a class there soon!
  • Get your first class of either discipline for FREE just by making an online account–and rumor has it that you can call the studio to get your first class of the other discipline free, too (though I have not yet tested this and will report back if it is untrue).
  • While we’re talking pricing, Flywheel offers a student discount that makes classes just $15 each, which is pretty much a steal for any kind of boutique fitness.
  • The studio is huge, with a stadium-style spinning setup so you can shine in the front if that’s your jam or, if you’d rather, kick butt from the back corner. The facilities are also pretty awesome- 4 big old showers in the ladies’ locker room with a hefty number of amenities- hair ties, blow dryers, spray deodorant, FULL SIZED towels… if I haven’t hooked you yet, there are also free oranges and bananas. Such a treat.

The Workout

  • Unlike most other spinning classes, which are based on perceived effort (your own scale of 1-10), Flywheel works with “torq.” The instructor will say that torq should be at 25 and RPMs should be around 65 (or whatever). I found these to be mostly appropriate for me, but had to add some resistance on hills. It was both freeing and frustrating to have all these measurements on my bike’s unit whose indication I didn’t really know–on one hand I appreciated having to rely on feel to decide if I was working “hard enough,” but on the other hand, if you’re going to give me torq and power measurements I’d just as soon have watts, MPH, and distance. But I guess that’s a personal thing.
  • I took a class with Rebecca, who had a rocking playlist and was equal parts coach and cheerleader. No distracting choreography (just one or two songs with jumps or tapbacks), and not a lot of the sort of fake self-esteem stuff I find unsettling at SoulCyle.
  • Flywheel is similar to SoulCycle in that it touts itself as a “full body” workout because of some high-rep low-weight upperbody work in the middle of class. I was not particularly impressed by the one song of arms we did, but that may be an instructor preference.

The Verdict

  • I enjoyed my class and got a good workout. I really prefer a 60-minute (or more) spin class, and so the 45 minutes left me wanting a bit more… but that is what it is. Similar to SoulCycle, this is a good place to get an in-and-out workout, but I don’t see it becoming a weekly thing for me.
  • These fancy spinning studios are really worth it for the playlists- Rebecca kept us rocking and rolling and I should really bring my phone to Shazam songs from now on.
  • If you care to measure your performance and/or compete against complete strangers, Flywheel may be your new favorite place–after each class you get an email with your “performance data” that you can compare to yourself and, apparently, the rest of the city.

Greek Easter 2015: No, but Yes

14 Apr

The Bringer of Da Kef is back in action after quite a hiatus– after finals I had a side project that kicked my butt (didn’t even bother taking my name), and then it was time to prep for the highest of holy days: GREEK EASTER 2015!

photo 4JetSet and I had plans to make it to my grandfather’s house around lunchtime on Friday. As is usually the case with my family, neither of us arrived at our stated time: JetSet got there Thursday night and I didn’t get there until almost 4 Friday afternoon. In addition to being late for my whole damn life, I had to pack my entire kitchen into my car to avoid the surprises that come with cooking with appliances from last century. By the time I was done, the backseat of my car looked like this (with more in the trunk!):

photo 1Please note that there are two seatbelts protecting my Kitchenaid from any impact trauma.

After arriving at my grandfather’s house and performing just a little nursing care (never off duty!), JetSet and I took our traveling Terror Twins show to the Wegman’s. We were mostly well behaved this year, although JetSet did get into an altercation in the produce section, as one does.

photo 2I was nervous we were going to be way behind, but the gods of Easter smiled upon us and we chugged right along. The cooking was really rather uneventful this year and, before we knew it, we had flown through the pies and were on to the baklava. JetSet did such a bangup job last year that I let him fly solo, to miraculous results (watch all the way to the end for Grandpa’s great reaction):

Once all that sizzlin’ was done, we swung by the bus station to pick up KimmieKef. We had some time to kill before church, so we made our way to a “Real American Bar” a la Love Actually, where we learned the stunning fact that you can still smoke in bars in PA. Who the hell knew? We Christos anesti’ed our hearts out and then headed home… but first we took a selfie:

photo 4We made the exact same menu as last year, so I did some driveby snapping of pics- pardon the poor quality:

Larry sliced up some ham

photo 5

while I stared lovingly at my tsoureki

photo 1

and JetSet admired his eggplant casserole

photo 2

and everyone drooled over GrandmaKef’s potatoes

photo 3

and the Paulatimi salad (with orange tomatoes, this year!).

photo 4

By this point, everyone was ravenous so I sprinted past the pasticio and meatballs before they were gobbled up:

photo 1 photo 2

and went straight for the Picnic Pie.photo 3

Finally, it was dessert time. Did we mention the baklava?

photo(1) photo 2

Then there were the koulourakia

photo 5

and the insane peanut butter cake my Aunt made for MamaKef’s bday

photo 3

To wrap things up, we took a selfie–duh

photo 4

I’m a Triathlete Around Town!

24 Mar

So excited to say I’m an Events DC Nation’s Triathlon Ambassador– check out my first post on the Nation’s Blog for some tunes that will get you through the last few indoor training rides (here’s hoping, anyway!)

bike trainer cartoon

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