“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” –John Muir
I blame myself. I could have looked up the details in depth, especially knowing that last time I trusted my brother he said, “oh there’s a quick trail to the top” and we all ended up on a massive climb up a mountain in the searing heat. It was an adventure though and it helped that we jumped right into the lake when we got down. So what did he do this time?
Remember I was telling my brother to pick a race for us to run together? Oh he did. He texted me, “We are running in a relay with some of the guys from my fire house and their significant others .” My brother continued, “It’s a lot of miles, but you have two days to do it. Sign up, but whatever you do you CAN’T BACK OUT.” All I need is a little sleep and I’m good. Done. Apparently, though, as I signed up, I saw that it’s a relay that goes for two days non-stop. SOMEONE (ahem) seems to have left out a few details…such as: Why the runners on the web page are wearing headlamps. And why they seem to be running up mountain trails. And lastly, why aren’t they in a huge pack? My part of the relay is like 4.8 miles followed by 9 (characterized as “very difficult”) miles, followed by 4.5 moderate miles. Who does this for fun? I’ve been practicing around town, in Central Park and elsewhere. I’ve got a month to get ready. While running is excruciating, I reach this phase where I look around and think “wow I’m doing this” and kind of enjoy the mindfulness of the moment. Not sure I’ll do this without walking OR that I’ll ever do it again, but I’m game for the adventure. Just this once.
So of course because we’re in this space, we must talk about how I’ve been fueling these runs. Oh man do I have some recipes for you. The food scene around this place has been expanding. I’ve been downing green smoothies from my new blender like crazy, but I’ve gotten hugely into Japanese cuisine lately and have been making all sorts of soba creations at home. The other day we went out to a Japanese place and the owner told me that the very subtle sauce on my soba noodles took over six months to make. There is a certain art behind Japanese cooking, a patience, slow fermentation, unique pickling techniques and flavor combinations.
I never thought I’d come to appreciate buckwheat noodles, due to the early childhood trauma of too many kasha varnishkas (roasted buckwheat groats). Much like candy corns or caramels, you can O.D. on kasha. But these noodles taste nothing like kasha. They adapt to the flavoring of the sauce and offer a sturdy base to the fragile vegetables of summer. They taste good both hot and cold. Soba noodles are adaptable in that you can elevate them into a studied art or you can craft a quick weeknight dinner with layers of flavor drawing from the sauce and texture from the vegetables. The cucumbers here bring a refreshing coolness, while the snap peas punctuate it with crunch. Cashews pick up on the nuttiness of the noodle base and the sauce ties it all together. The whole thing take under 30 mins to make. Add and subtract whatever you have on hand.
I plan to do a picnic on the beach this weekend and will show you the spread I’m making for it soon. Have a great weekend!
SOBA NOODLE CUCUMBER BOWLS
- 2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. ginger, grated
- squirt of honey (optional)
- 2 tbsp. scallions, chopped
- 8 oz. soba noodles
- 1 cup peas, frozen
- 1 large cucumber, spiralized (yay new device!) or chopped
- 1/4 cup cashews, toasted and chopped
- sesame seeds
- 2 extra scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup snap peas, chopped
- 1 sheet nori, cut into ribbons
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, assemble sauce. Into a bowl, add tamari, peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Taste. Sweeten with honey if desired. Stir in scallions and set aside.
In a medium pan toast the cashews over low to medium flame. This should take about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Once the water comes to a boil, salt liberally and add in noodles and edamame. Cook according to noodle package instructions. Once done, strain the noodles and edamame. Spray cold water over the mixture to stop from cooking. Noodles should be cold to touch.
Spirallize cucumber using the thick circular cut.
Into a large bowl, toss noodles and peas, cucumbers, extra scallions, snap peas, cilantro and sauce until combined. Serve. Sprinkle with nori strips and black and white sesame seeds.