Monthly Archives: November 2012

tasso carbonara recipe

Creamy, delicious pasta

Growing up, I was spoiled rotten by my mom’s cooking. She made us amazing meals, from scratch, almost nightly. The food was so good that my brother and I would battle over leftovers, going so far as to sneak into the kitchen late at night to snag the last fajita or a serving of Moroccan chicken.

Carbonara was a lazy-night meal for my mom, and as I’ve spent the last years living on my own and then cooking for others, it’s become the same for me. Carbonara is fast and easy to prepare, but yields fabulous results every time. All you need is a little bit of pork, a few eggs, and cheese. There are fancy ways to make carbonara, but it’s just as good when you keep it simple. When I got some tasso – a Cajun cured ham – from Teet’s, it was a Thursday night and as much as I wanted to experiment, I really just wanted to get dinner on the table. So carbonara was an easy choice, especially when I thought of adding some Slap Ya Mama seasoning to the mix to complement the ham.

The sauce in carbonara results from scrambled eggs heating just enough to thicken. So pull your eggs out of the fridge to take off the chill before you do anything else. If they’re cold, they’ll take longer to thicken, and you might be tempted to turn the stove back on – not a good idea, as it will almost always end in scrambled eggs, not creamy sauce. (That has happened to me on more than one occasion. I eat it anyway – it’s delicious).

Teet’s Tasso Carbonara, as seen on 37 Cooks

  • 1/2 pound pasta, such as linguine or fettucine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces Teet’s tasso, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon Slap ya Mama seasoning, or other Cajun seasoning
  • Fresh salt and pepper to taste

Before you get started, do a little prep work: in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese, and Slap ya Mama seasoning. Set aside.

Set a large pot of water over high heat to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook until almost done.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. Add tasso and saute until slightly crispy and fat has begun to render. Add garlic and turn the heat down to low.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with tasso and garlic. Toss for a moment so the flavors mingle, then take the pan off the heat. Whisking quickly, add the egg mixture to the pasta. Toss and stir constantly until the eggs have thickened into a creamy sauce. (If the eggs scramble instead, exhale and eat it anyway – it will be tasty, and you can try again some other time).

Garnish with black pepper and a little more cheese, then serve and enjoy.

My First Time Hiking

Golden leaves

It was a lovely fall day in Georgia and we felt like getting out of the city.to enjoy a little bit of nature. I’d never been hiking before, and I’m not tired of Piedmont Park yet, but the idea of expansive wilderness was appealing. So we hopped into the car with the dogs and took off.

Forty-five minutes north of Atlanta lies a little enclave of nature that used to house Roswell Mill. Now it’s paths and trees and water, with a little bit of ruins mixed in. Excited at how close it was, we grabbed the dogs and went to explore.

I love the peace and beauty of nature, but I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty urbanized in the last few years of living in Atlanta and Philadelphia. It was a welcome experience to explore nature that isn’t surrounded by city.

Navigating the paths

We saw some pretty sights.

The creek, some leaves

Fallen trees

I loved the blue skies and vibrant leaves

The weirdest part of hiking for me was that it became somewhat dangerous. The biggest fear living in a city is that someone’s going to mug you or that you’ll be hit by a car on a jog. Nature, it seems, is more dangerous than any of that. At one point, Xavier and I climbed a little hill to explore a rock ledge. From the top, the path seemed very far away. We stopped to take a few photos.

A little off-the-beaten-path hiking led us to a stone ledge

Exploring the stone like a little mountaineer

We were high up

The descent was a little treacherous, especially with the ground covered in slippery leaves. But we made it, only to be confronted with a rocky ledge so steep that this terrified-of-heights girl couldn’t bear to stop and photograph it.

The dogs had a blast, running all over the woods and splashing in the water when they could.

Dashing through the underbrush

That led to the funniest part of the day. My little Riley had been exploring with the wildness of a city pup finally unleashed. This involved traipsing through creeks and splashing like a mad dog. None of the water was particularly deep, and she grew quite accustomed to making quick dips as we wandered the path. I kept a close eye on my girl, knowing that for all of her enthusiasm she is an urbanite through and through. This proved to be a wise idea, because Riley stepped into water that was well over her head.

She can swim, sure, but she doesn’t often have reason to and being completely submerged was totally shocking to her. She struggled for purchase on the slippery logs that lined the riverbank. Fortunately, we were right there. I managed to snap a blurry photo as Xavier plucked her from the depths by her harness. She looks like a dripping wet rat, full of shame. It makes me laugh so hard.

Riley, hauled from the creek

All’s well that ends well, and she was dry and zipping through the forest just minutes later, leaving us to laugh it off.

I loved hiking, and we’ll certainly be seeking out new locations to explore. Fortunately, Georgia winters are mild enough that good opportunities should present themselves throughout the coming months. I’m looking forward to it!

If you’re in the Atlanta area and want to check out this hiking spot, learn more about the Vickery Creek/Roswell Mill Ruins here.

The New Workout Plan

In the last month, I’ve competed in two 5K events and I’m ready to set a schedule for the upcoming months. There’s no rest for the weary.

(Unless it’s raining outside. Then I will rest, no matter what. Because now matter how hardcore you are, there’s no need to run in the rain).

As much as I hated running when I first started, I’ve grown to enjoy it somewhat. Now that my muscles have strengthened and my cardiac endurance has increased, a brisk five-mile jog feels less like torture and more like freedom. Sure, it hurts sometimes. But I’ve learned that it’s easiest to keep moving through the pain, and eventually it goes away.

The 5K races were fun, but I’m beginning to focus on longer efforts. As exciting as it is to quickly and easily run four miles, my workouts need to be longer than what that now takes me. For fat-burning, endurance-building purposes, I need to be exercising for a minimum of 45-60 minutes. So I’ve been pushing myself to go just a little bit more.

Endurance is key

That brings me to my next point: it’s becoming critical to have a workout buddy. I’m lucky that Marie is around. She used to run competitively and is naturally incredibly fast, so working with her pushes my limits. And she finds it helpful to run with me, since my pace helps her complete longer runs and build endurance. When you know you’re accountable to someone, you’re more likely to complete your workouts. Plus, I just enjoy running with her. Marie and I both live in Midtown, but about two miles apart – on opposite sides of Piedmont Park. This means we can warm up by jogging to the midpoint, then have some great terrain to tackle together.

This past Sunday, we had plans to run at 9:00 am. We would meet in the middle and then take the newly opened Beltline trail for our distance run. Well, my internal clock usually wakes me up by 8:30, even on weekends, so I didn’t bother setting an alarm. Unfortunately, I woke up at 9:04 to Marie’s 25-minute-old text message: “leaving my house in 5-10!” That put her on foot, somewhere very close to my place. I was groggy, half-asleep, and would have loved returning to fully asleep. But three minutes later, I was out the door because I couldn’t let her down. (And she was nice enough to not give me a hard time when I caught her much closer to my house than hers).

Piedmont Park – not a bad view for a run

(Anyway, an hour and a half later, I was showered and back in bed. No harm done).

Where am I going with this? To continue my quest of fitness, I need friends and goals. And I’ve got my next goal: the Beltline 10K on December 1. Goal time? I’d love to break 60 minutes.

Here we go…

(All photos are mine).

My Second 5K: The Monster Dash

The run is over, folks, and this Monster Dash 5K was even more fun than expected.

If you remember, I ran my first 5K just a couple of weeks ago. I registered on a whim, despite the fact that I’d already signed up for the Monster Dash as my goal event. That decision turned out to be a good move. Unfortunately, the day before the Monster Dash, I found out that they weren’t timing the 5K event! Since I had been training to break a time goal, this was disappointing. I had perused the entire website before registering for the 5K, and somehow neglected to realize that was the case. On the bright side, this took off the pressure to perform, which was a good thing – because Xavier had registered to run with me, and we wanted it to be fun!

Please indulge me while I brag about the man I love for a minute. He absolutely hates running, despite spending lots of time as a successful track and field competitor in high school. But he’s sweet enough to jog with me at least once a week, and determined enough to complete a five-miler out of the blue. (That is completely beyond my capacity as a human being and an athlete). I was so excited for him to join me in a race, but a little nervous. I had been training more than him – I didn’t want to hold back just for the sake of staying together on the course. So the lack of timing was a relief. It meant we could stick together and just enjoy the experience of running through the streets of downtown Atlanta, surrounded by people in costume.

(Of course, I used my Nike running app to time us anyway).

It was definitely fun to arrive to a race and find yourself surrounded by Halloween festivities. There were some really creative costumes out there. A few couples, especially, had really gone all-out with their ideas. One of my favorites was a pair that included a convict and a policeman. There were pirates, three blind mice, superheroes, and a whole lot more. Although I might be biased, my opinion is that our Greek Olympian costumes were the coolest of all – even if strangers approached my boyfriend to ask him what was under his skirt.

We aren’t hardcore runners, so when it came time to arrange ourselves in the chute, we debated for a minute. Should we line up at the 10:00/mile pace? What about the 11:00? In the end, we stuck to 9:30.

The gun went off and we took off, weaving in and around other runners for a couple of minutes until the pack settled into their paces. The course began right next to Phillips Arena and took us through the city streets. It was very exciting to be running through downtown Atlanta. Fortunately, we found ourselves towards in a clear zone relatively quickly. That was when the unexpected occurred. Barely a quarter-mile into the race and crossing a bridge, I tripped on a metal strut. I don’t know how it even happened. One second I was happily trotting along. The next, I looked down and tried to skip the metal thing. Then I was on my hands and knees on the asphalt.

The other runners were very concerned, but I bounced up immediately and was lucky to have just a couple of scrapes on my palms and knees. There was no blood whatsoever. The experience was a little startling. At least now I can say I’ve survived falling during a race!

Even considering that little mishap, the rest of the race was a great time. I loved running through all of Atlanta’s buildings, on quieted streets that are usually choked with traffic. Maybe because we were towards the front of the pack, we had mostly ample space to keep our pace, with minimal bobbing and weaving around other runners.

And somehow, we managed to beat my goal! I’d originally just hoped to break 29:00, knocking 30 seconds off my first 5K time two weeks prior. Imagine my shock when my Nike Running app clocked our 5K at 28:41. Although the race wasn’t officially timed, it was reassuring to have evidence of awesomeness on my trusty running app.

Tune in to find out what’s next…

Coming through the finish line