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Orlando

Runners, do you remember your first organized race in the days and weeks following the Boston Marathon bombing?

If your experience was anything like mine, it almost looked like a normal day. We still woke up at an ungoldly hour. We still slathered our whole wheat toast with peanut butter in one final ditch effort to carbo load. We still spent more minutes than we’d like to admit in the bathroom before pinning on a bib and hightailing our way to the starting line.

But when we got there, it wasn’t quite the same starting line we remembered. The formerly casual bag check had been replaced with a security-guarded system that took items in clear bags only. The corrals were far more gated than before to discourage non-runners from mixing into the crowds. The organizers had slung up a giant color-coded banner communicating to participants that the race before us was “alert level moderate.” They didn’t necessarily think anything was going to impact us between there and the finish line, but they wanted us all to be prepared regardless.

Prepared for what, exactly? Prepared for always being just a little bit nervous in a crowd, I guess. Prepared for suspiciously eyeing any innocently-abandoned backpack with growing concern. Prepared for understanding that the athlete’s great equalizer — the race course — wasn’t quite as safe as we all used to believe.

The Boston Marathon bombing changed the way we run races, but fortunately for most of us, the race course wasn’t the only place we felt like we could be ourselves. But what if it had been? What if it was the one space we felt like we could be who we wanted, act how we wanted, love who we wanted?

I had originally planned to write today about my self-diagnosed torn rotator cuff and all the pain it was causing me, but when I sat down to pen my complaints, all I could think about was Orlando. 

While I’d never been to Pulse, I this spring sang karaoke at The Mint Karaoke Lounge in San Francisco, and it was the friendliest, most judgment-free room I’ve ever walked into — even when I sang some terrible twangy country. To think that some LGBTQ people and allies might now show up to their favorite spaces with the kind of trepidation us runners felt after Boston makes me sick to my stomach. (So does dairy, but again, let’s save this for discussion for another time.)

I try not to get political on this blog, but the senseless murder of 49 people with an astonishing legal assault rifle in Florida this weekend isn’t even a political issue — it’s a human one, and one that makes THIS human very sad indeed. And I couldn’t let today go by without mentioning it. Today’s not a day to talk about goldendoodles.

I don’t know how you’re each mourning this terrible loss of life, but for those of you in NYC, there are several events coming up that you may want to have on your radar. The FrontRunners, a social running club for gay New Yorkers and their friends, is hosting a happy hour Thursday to raise money for GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which seeks to end sexual-orientation-related bullying in schools. Then on June 25, the New York Road Runners and the FrontRunners partner to put on the 35th annual pride race in Central Park. It’s sold out, but you can still come cheer on your neighbors and friends in what is always the most colorful race of the season. That Sunday, of course, is the city’s pride parade. The FrontRunners say they’re going to be marching and giving out “Nice Legs” stickers — 10,000 of which I clearly want all for myself.

If you’re not in NYC, or if crowds aren’t your thing, maybe find your own way to help, whether it’s by donating to The Center of Orlando, an LGBT community group providing support to those affected by the shooting; or by giving blood; or just by being a little bit nicer as you go about your day. We’re all in this together people, and let’s all support each other through this terrible time. Sending lots of love to you all.

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Food Recipes

Getting the Most Out of Your CSA

Aside from TGIF and BYOB, there are few acronyms I love more than CSA. No, I’m not talking about the Controlled Substance Act or the Confederate States Army or my Crazy Seasonal Allergies. I’m talking about Community Supported Agriculture, or the season that I think rivals Christmas and Arbor Day as the most wonderful time of the year.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a CSA is a program in which consumers can buy seasonal vegetables directly from the farmer by paying an upfront cost and collecting a box of produce during pre-scheduled pick-ups. Unlike a farmers’ market, where you choose exactly what you want to buy and in what quantity, a CSA delivers what’s fresh that week and in a quantity proportional to how good the harvest was.

The pros of this arrangement are the farmer gets upfront cash to do the planting and the buyer is forced to try new veggies she might not normally buy. The downside is a poor crop means less take-home food for you, while a bumper* crop means you’re sometimes stuck with 6 pounds of kohlrabi you don’t know what to do with.

*Does the phrase ‘bumper crop’ remind everyone else of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ too? Ok, good.

Still, the rewards far outweigh the risks in my opinion, so when my company advertised a summer/fall of bi-weekly deliveries brought straight to my office, I couldn’t resist. And unlike two years ago when I bought a share and split it with a friend, this summer, I’m planning to go it alone. Why? Because I’m trying to eat more vegetables and haven’t yet found my new Queens Greenmarket. Also because when you share, it’s really hard to split a single spaghetti squash, and I’m selfish.

The first pick-up was this past Tuesday, and OH THE BOUNTY. It’s still spring, and that means mostly greens for now. We had several things I recognized, like head lettuce and bok choy and scallions and kale, but also some things I definitely had to google, like tatsoi.

Some people who buy CSAs say it’s hard to use all the ingredients, especially the unfamiliar ones, in the two weeks before the next box arrives. But with a little creativity and forward planning, it’s completely possible to eat every last ounce. Here are my best strategies for getting the most out of your summer CSA:

  • Remove the greens. First thing first (well, after taking the required CSA instagram photo), remove all the green tops from root vegetables, like radishes and carrots and kohlrabi and turnips. Sure, they look pretty as a whole unit, but the greens will keep sucking moisture out of the roots while they sit in your crisper. After you snip off the tops, feel free to keep the leaves for another use. Turnip greens are great in soups, and carrot tops make amazing pesto. Don’t be bullied into using everything though — I’ve finally admitted to myself I don’t like radish greens (too fuzzy!), raw or cooked, so I allowed myself to toss them on Tuesday. Don’t judge me.

  • Eat softer things first. You may be tempted to crack right into the sweet potatoes, but try to use your faster-to-wilt veggies first. That means lettuces right away, followed by other leafy greens and delicate produce. I only get a share every two weeks, so it’s important to save some of the heartier things for week two, like the squashes.

  • Work veggies into every meal. This is a good rule of thumb all the time — don’t eat any meal without adding something grown — but it’s especially important as you try to use up veggies before they rot. Sautéed tatsoi (basically Asian spinach, I learned this week) makes a great bacon and egg accompaniment, turns out.

  • Master some easy go-to dishes. It’s good to have a few recipes up your sleeve that can use multiple veggies at once. Bonus points if you can make it ahead and freeze it, so you have it for week two. For some people, that go-to dish is a hearty soup or a bisquick pie. For me, it’s quiche. I’ve already eaten most of one, and a second is cooling in my icebox as we speak.

  • Don’t fear the pickle. One way to get your vegetables to last longer is to preserve them. I don’t do anything fancy that will last til next winter like I’m a modern Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I do like to pickle my radishes. They’re so easy and so delicious, especially on burgers or tuna sandwiches or by the forkful. Here’s the recipe I use.

More ambitious cooks might have other tips for getting the most out of their CSAs, like making jams and canning and freezing things through the off-season, but I’m not that fancy. Fancier folks, what else do you recommend to get the most out of your CSA? (And how can I control these Crazy Seasonal Allergies?!)