So much for not running. I did manage to take 3 full days off, just doing weights and walking the dogs.  By Saturday, I figured it was worth while “testing the water”.  After getting back from a long walk with the dogs, I hopped on the treadmill for 3 miles.  The knee felt ok. Then it got sore as the day went on.  By bedtime, the pain had subsided.  

Sunday morning, no excruciating pain so I set out the door with Shane.  Starting out was a little painful but once I got to the end of the road, the pain decreased and we ran slowly for 6  1/2 miles.  Once home, I hit the tread mill again and finished for  a total of 10 1/2 miles.  Of course the knee was put on ice immediately and, of course, it hurt like all get out in the hours to follow.  Since I was seeing the orthopedist on Monday, it was worth while getting that body part really angry.  As for running with Zoey, no can do. She pulls too much and I can’t seem to get past a limp with her.

Come Monday, just a walk with the dogs and weights.  A day off running but the pain wasn’t too bad.  After x-rays and a thorough exam the result is nothing surprising:

1.  Runners Knee, known as patellofemoral pain syndrome.  It is usually caused by weakness in the middle quadriceps muscles and tight hamstrings or IT bands.

2. A little arthritis – but nothing that should be bothering me that much …yet.

The prescription:   Cut down on the weekly miles, engage some cross training.  2 Aleve 2 times per day (unless the tummy can’t take it). 

So I’m good to go. I’ll make it to that marathon February 28th, maybe not fast but it’s a training run for Boston.  I fully expect my knee and other body parts to be up to speed by April in Massachusetts.  The challenge of getting in shape for a marathon with out the convenience of running as many miles as usual seems exciting at this point. Come marathon day, I’m sure my nerves will be shot and I’ll wish I had many more miles of faster runs under my belt but at this point, at least I can run.

happy runner

Let’s talk Christmas Cookies!

There are so many recipes for this classic Italian cookie.  For some, it isn’t sweet enough so they add chocolate. For others, the variation of raisins, dates, cherries, candied fruit is different.  The main component however, never changes and that is the dried fig. 

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The filling is a puree of figs and other dried fruits.  For my recipe, I added more raisin paste than any other filling.  I also made a Gluten Free pastry from Bob’s Red Mill GF Pie Crust mix resulting is a very light crust for the filling in this cookie. 

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Makes 5 dozen cookies

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Filling

  • 8 oz dried figs, chopped
  • 6 TBS brandy
  • 8 oz jar honey
  • 8 oz raisins
  • 1 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 1 cup toasted blanched almonds
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch or two of cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade

Egg Wash

  • 1 to 2 eggs mixed with 1 tsp water for egg wash.

Pastry

  • 1 package Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix – follow directions on the package. Separate into 2 slabs, wrapped in waxed paper and chill.

Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 TBS milk
  • festive sprinkles (optional)

Put figs in a bowl and pour the brandy over the top.  Allow to soak over night.

In a food processor, add the figs and all other filling ingredients.  Process until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out the pastry dough between 2 pieces of waxed paper.  *You can make cuccidati and shape you like.  I believe a log shape is standard.  I short cut this process and rolled out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  Roll out 1 slap of dough and spread the filling mixture over the top. *If you wet a knife with warm water, the filling spreads easily.  Roll out the other slap of dough and place on top of the filling. Cut into shapes.  Brush with egg wash.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top.

Allow to cool then top with icing and sprinkles.

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My favorite Italian cookie.

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What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

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Something new is happening around here. A never been tried before experiment.  It’s not going to be exciting, it’s going to be challenging. What is it?  It’s Time Off From Running for Joanne. It’s being forced upon me by a bad knee.  Something I’ve never had to deal with before.  I’ve had bad hips, hamstrings and feet but never a bum knee and I don’t like it. 

I recently read an article about how important time off is.  It helps our body realign itself, inflammation go down, and micro tears heal.  We won’t lose our hard earned fitness in two weeks and that just might be all we need. In addition, for the experienced runner, and after 15 marathons, I legitimately claim that title, 10 – 12 weeks of training for the next marathon is all that is needed. 

I’m probably not going to make it two weeks without running but I’m going to try my best to keep my pace to a walk and focus on strength training.  Come the weekend, I might try running a few steps on the treadmill to see how the leg feels.  After doing the elliptical today, my knee stiffened up pretty badly and I took that as a sign to back off.  So bring on the challenge and lets hope I can keep my sanity.

Nicotera’s Bakery Cookies

If you don’t make any other cookie this holiday season, this is the one to make.  Make the basic dough then divide it and add any flavoring you like.  

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In my version below, I added fresh lemon zest and juice.  The cookie is tender and light.  Sweet and satisfying.

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Makes 2 – 4 dozen depending on how you shape the cookie.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup trans fat free Crisco
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 TBS 100% maple syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or full fat milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract – other flavorings of your choice.
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • zest from 1 large lemon (optional)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • *1 egg plus milk for brushing tops prior to baking.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat shortening with sugar until creamy.  Add maple syrup and beat well again.

Add eggs and beat until fluffy.  Add cream or milk and vanilla an other flavorings and beat..

Blend in flour, baking powder and salt.  Dough should be soft enough to handle, tender but not sticky.  Do not over mix.

Let dough relax for 10 minutes under a cloth, away from draft.  Roll it out 1/4 inch thick if you like and use a cookie cutter or form into 1 1/2 inch “buttons”.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with egg yolk and milk mixture and decorate with sprinkles.

Bake for 20 to 24 minutes depending on size.  Do not over bake.

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What is your recovery routine from exercise or other stress inducing rituals?

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Bouchon Bakery: Florentines

December 7, 2014
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We had a good week of running. The weather was up and down and certainly colder but the miles were logged and the legs sure felt tired by Sunday.  Shane and Zoey helped me pack on the miles and each did their long run of 7 miles Sunday morning, helping me complete 14 miles for […]

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Lentil Loaf

December 1, 2014
MV Craft Fair

We’ve had a lot of snow and we’ve had very cold weather.  Winter has barely begun. What are the next few months going to bring?  It’s scary to think about.  Sunday was milder in temperatures but still gloomy.  Since several craft fairs were going on around the city, the weather made it perfect to find […]

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Carrot Sheet Cake: What to do with holiday left overs

November 28, 2014
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Now that holiday meal is over and your refrigerator is hardly able to close, you can’t possibly eat those left overs before you get tired of the same old, same old. Here’s what you can do with left over carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, corn, any other starchy sweet side dish.   If you added herbs […]

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Bacon Dog Treats

November 26, 2014
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First of all – HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  May yours be healthy, happy and safe. Now for our furry friends, for which this post is dedicated. These treats for the pooch are based on a recipe from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery book.  Shaped liked fingers or any other shape you think your dog might enjoy.  Very easy […]

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