Silks Class #1
When I signed up for flying trapeze, what I really wanted to do was silks instead. Aerial silks look so graceful, so fluid, so fun, but also really hard. I figured that by working on the silks I’d get a nice opportunity to thoroughly work out my upper body and core in a much more appealing way than tons of pushups. I signed up for flying trapeze first because I was more afraid of it and felt that to do silks first would be a way to avoid my fear. This ended up being rather fortuitous for me.
First of all, it seems that I had a latent fear of heights that, while not great enough to keep me off ladders or high floors in buildings, prevented me from doing anything active too far off the ground. While heights have had a tendency to make me nervous, I didn’t realize I was actually afraid of them until trapeze day. Well, trapeze cured me of that right quick, which turned the prospect of climbing up high on the silks from nerve-wracking into completely doable. Second, trapeze gave me a pretty good taste of what it feels like to hang from your arms for extended periods of time. You would think hanging is easy, because you’re just, well, hanging, but oh no, it gets tiring really fast. All of those “I can’t hold on any longer!!!” scenes in movies have some truth to them. When I jumped on the silks, I knew I would be working my shoulders, triceps, and back in ways that I normally don’t, so I wasn’t shocked by how much effort it took to hang on.
In this class I learned the basic climb, a foot lock, and a couple of poses. I was nervous at first because, despite the fact that I do full pushups regularly, I was pretty sure I was going to grab onto the silks and hang there impotently, unable to pull myself up due to my certainly weak arms. Luckily, the opportunity for that to happen didn’t exist because the instructor so graciously had me twist my leg around the silk, then step on her fist, which she used to boost me while I pulled myself up. That eliminated the holy cow, I can’t do this! element that I’m sure many people experience the first time on the silks.
How hard was it? I would say, as hard as I expected, which would be really freakin’ hard. I could feel it in my abs each time I brought my knees up to go further up the silks and I was sweating and breathing hard after each of my turns. I need to find a rope to climb so I can practice in between classes.
Aside from that, being on the silks felt good. I learned a couple of poses (I don’t remember their names and, unfortunately, don’t have any pictures) and was pleased to find that I wasn’t at all afraid of leaning back or forward through the silks. The only problem I had was when I was instructed to lean to the side so I would be hanging horizontally and the right side of my back started to pinch. I had forgotten that I’d hurt myself over the weekend (twisting too much to the right while coming up the stairs – who does that???) and the cramp came back, making the pose really painful. But, that’ll go away eventually.
With my first class done, I can’t wait to get back on the silks soon. To quote my instructor, circus is pain, and I fully intend to sign up for more of it.
Sautéed Pork Chops with Mustard and Parmesan Roasted Veggies
I had a rather low-key Labor Day weekend, so the main highlight was getting together with Mindy and our friend Anna for dinner and Doctor Who. Basically, we watched several hours of episodes from season four, cooked the fabulous dinner below, and then topped it all off with gelato (vanilla, violet, and salted caramel pecan for me this time!). It was a great evening.
The pork chop recipe is one that I’ve been using for years and has never failed me. It comes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and is the perfect simple recipe to impress with a home-cooked meal. It has never come out over- or underdone and the sauce that accompanies it is thrown together in the last minute of cooking. You can make it in less than 30 minutes and with the addition of a vegetable and a starch is a complete meal.
4 center-cut loin pork chops, about 1-inch thick (the recipe says “trimmed of fat,” but I have to be honest, I love eating the fat so I leave it on)
salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
minced fresh parsley for garnish
Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the chops and turn the heat to high. Brown the chops on both sides, for about 2 minutes per side.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the wine and the garlic and cook, turning the chops once or twice, until the wine is all but evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, turn the heat to low, and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes, turning the chops once or twice. When done, they will be firm to the touch, their juices will run just slightly pink and, when you cut into them, the color will be rosy at first glance but quickly turn pale.
Remove the chops to a platter. If the pan juices are very thin, cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced slightly. If they are scarce (unlikely), add more stock or water; cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced slightly. Then stir in the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat; add the lemon juice and the mustard, pour over the chops, garnish with the parsley, and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
The veggies are Mindy’s concoction and are another one of those barely-a-recipe recipes. I can tell you what we did in just a few sentences: First, cut up some veggies. We used broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, and brussels sprouts (which I gave to Mindy and Anna because I don’t see what’s so great about them). Drizzle olive oil over them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 425° for 8 minutes, toss them on the sheet, roast for another 8 minutes, toss and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, and roast for another 10 minutes. Out come perfectly roasted, deliciously savory, slightly crispy veggies. I can’t believe I never thought to do that before, but you can bet these will make an appearance in my own kitchen once the weather cools down a bit.
Summer may be at its end, but that’s all right with me. With cooler temps come soups and stews and casseroles and breads and all kinds of things that I can’t make when the thought of turning on my oven makes me want to cry. I relish the process of making a hot meal on a chilly evening. I can’t wait to get back into the kitchen and cook.