Goal: Run Easy
Clearly the running addiction is getting to me, because for the first time ever I felt the need to exercise while on vacation. Now, this was just a visit to the fam in Michigan, not anything involving sandy coasts or hiking trails or wooded paths, so it’s not like there was any particularly nice scenery to take in. Nevertheless, I felt the need to get in a couple runs on the track near their house. Lakefront it was not, but with no traffic to worry about, it sufficed. (It always amazes me how limited the sidewalks in their neighborhood are. How else do you walk to the Jewel to get your mid-week groceries? Oh wait, that’s Chicago.)
During one run I decided to do some speed work, doing 3 minutes at an easy run, 1.5 minutes at a moderate effort, and 30 seconds all out, with 4-5 repeats. All was good until the fourth go around. At a moderate effort my feet started to feel heavy. I wanted to quit, but I pushed myself to keep going because, after all, I want to quit running the majority of the time I’m doing it. When a few seconds into the 30 second all out phase I started to see spots in front of my eyes, I gave myself liberty to slow down. Hey, let’s take it easy, I thought. Finishing the workout is not worth fainting over.
It’s not the first time I’ve failed to complete a run I’ve set out for myself. I’ve cramped, I’ve stayed out too late the night before, it’s been just too freakin’ hot…at some point my body decides just to stop and I end up walking the remainder. I try not to get too discouraged, though, because, hey, at least I got out there and tried. This time, as I slowed to an easy jog, I thought back to when I first started and was struggling with run/walk intervals. I’d look at the training plans and snort at the idea of an “easy” or “recovery” run. At the time, the phrase “easy run” was little more than an oxymoron. There was no such thing as running without the feeling of imminent death upon me. Yet now, after several months of grueling runs, I surprised myself when I realized it was a definite possibility. Just run easy, I thought when I started to flail during that last interval. And because I could, I did.
STONE FRUIT COBBLER!
Whenever I’m home my mother and I go bananas cooking. Since I don’t have a very big kitchen and she doesn’t have many mouths to feed anymore, it’s the perfect time for us to experiment with new recipes and try things we otherwise wouldn’t. In the summer it’s grill, grill, grill – because I don’t have a grill at my apartment and I love me some grilled meats – but we also bake a few desserts or breakfast items and pawn off the remains on my brothers. This time I took a recipe for an apricot and blueberry cobbler from Everyday Food and put my own spin on it, using all plums and nectarines so I could call it my STONE FRUIT COBBLER! (In tribute to the sorely missed, short-lived NBC sitcom Friends with Benefits, shouting is absolutely necessary.) I healthified it a little bit, too, using white whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose and a sugar/stevia mixture for the sweetener. Both of my parents are fighting the dreaded lifestyle-induced diabetes, so while these changes might not make desserts good for you, they certainly make them less bad.
The cobbler turned out fantastically. I was concerned that the whole wheat biscuits would be tough, but they were every bit as fluffy and buttery as regular biscuits. I just had to add a little bit more cream than the original recipe called for since whole wheat flour soaks up more liquid than white flour. My only points of advice here would be to make sure to slice the stone fruits no larger than 1/2-inch thick or the peels will seem tough and out of place, and let the cobbler cool a little bit so that the juices from the fruits thicken. If you cut into it right away, you’ll end up with a pool of liquid in the bottom of the dish. Still delicious, just not as pretty. I believe some walnuts would have been a lovely addition to the fruit, but with one brother allergic to nuts that wasn’t an option here. I’ll definitely add them when I make this again.
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (use half the amount if using a sugar/stevia blend)
12 stone fruits (whatever combination you like best)
1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter
¾ cup cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing
sanding sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 375º, with racks in middle and lower thirds. In a large bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Stir in stone fruit. Spread mixture into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a square baking dish.
In a food processor, pulse remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add heavy cream and pulse 2 or 3 times until combined. (If you don’t have a food processor, just mix the dry ingredients, then grate the butter into the mixture on the large holes of a box grater and mix it in using your fingertips.) Add a little more cream if mixture seems dry.
Spoon batter in 8-9 mounds on the fruit mixture. Press lightly on tops to flatten, brush with heavy cream, and sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.
Bake on middle rack, with a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on lower rack to catch drips, until biscuits are golden and juices bubble in center, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
There are few things finer than fruits in the summer. My mother had some blueberries she needed to use up and I thought, wouldn’t they just be wonderful tossed into some scones? This is a variation on the Orange-Rosemary and Lemon-Lavender Scones I made previously, with a few changes. Again, I opted to use white whole wheat flour, but this time I only substituted half of the amount and used all-purpose flour for the rest. The original recipe calls for sour cream, but we had neglected to buy any and used non-fat Greek yogurt instead, a perfect stand-in with a tablespoon of milk added to compensate for the extra absorbing power of the whole wheat. The texture was perfect just like this and I will always use this combination in the future. I threw in about a cup of fresh blueberries, squeezed some lemon juice into the icing, and pulled a wonderful afternoon snack, bursting with sweet berries and tart lemon, out of the oven. Two of these babies sustained me on my train ride back to Chicago.
For the scones*:
1/3 cup sugar (use half the amount if using a sugar/stevia blend)
zest of one lemon
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon milk
1 large egg
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest; mix with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. Add in the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater and use your fingers to work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, milk, and egg until smooth. Using a fork, stir yogurt mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Add in the blueberries and turn out onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Pat lightly into a 7-inch circle about ¾-inch thick. The blueberries might start to roll off, but just lightly place them back on the dough and press gently. They’ll stick when the scones bake.
Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles and separate about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15-17 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and prepare the glaze.
In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the tops of the scones.
*Adapted from My Baking Addiction’s recipe for Glazed Orange Scones.
**We are not big on frostings and glazes, so this is half of the original amount, which is perfect for just a thin drizzle of glaze. If you like more or would like to double dip your scones, just double the amount.