Things lost and things gained in Boston

**Note: This is a non-food post.

The following is a summary of my stream of consciousness since the events of Marathon Monday in Boston. I grew up in a suburb of Boston, until my family moved away when I was 15. I was able to run the Boston Marathon in 2009. (Written before the events of Friday).

I’m so glad I got my chance to run the marathon pre-2013. Before this happened. I’m sad for those people who never got to the finish line They were going to make it, worked so hard for their moment, and events, actually pure evil, got in the way. Who knows if they will make it back again. I’m sure the organizers will let them come back, but not everyone can afford it when coming from out of town. In the future, there will be kids who don’t get to come watch mom or dad. Whether they will realize it or not, some will dismiss bringing the family because it’s obvious the marathon could be a target again. Kids will miss the chance to catch a game at Fenway, visit the duckling statues in Boston Common, and see Paul Revere’s house, Old North Church, and Old Ironsides.

I’m grateful I made it a point to enjoy my day there, running in Boston so many years after we moved away. I carried a disposable camera, made mental notes of the things I saw and experienced. I remember the biker bar with “Highway to Hell” blasting, the Twizzlers handed to me, the chalkboard giving the current Red Sox score, the turn under the bridge as we entered the Back Bay, and aiming for that darned Citgo sign. Oh, and after all those years of watching Heartbreak Hill, it was actually way less steep than I expected. But the downhills–worse–as noted by my trashed quads and slow performance that day. So many iconic sights I had only seen on TV. Will it ever be the same for the others? Will they look forward to meeting their family at the finish line without any worries for safety?

My younger son was only 9 the year they waited at the finish on Boylston, close to that poor little guy’s age, the boy who is no longer with us. My sons had adorable first communion pictures too…

I’m profoundly bothered by the events of Monday. Of course I mourn the injuries and passings of innocent bystanders. But it’s more. The great marathon, really the only one I knew about as a kid. We watched it every year on TV, who wouldn’t? The drama of Rosie Ruiz (she took the T and acted as if she had won the women’s race!), Boston Billy, Joan Benoit, and world records. Patriot’s Day was a day off and a day to marvel at this amazing event that came to our town. We didn’t go to see it live, heck, we were not a running family. But I believe there had to be a reason I joined the high school track team out of the blue. The only thing I can figure is my spark came from my fascination for the Boston Marathon. Running has been a part of my life for so long and so has this marathon. I celebrate the joy and the inspiration it has brought into my life. I mourn that it is now changed forever.

P.S. Now that the perpetrators have been found, and the city came together in dramatic fashion, I have no doubt the marathon will come back stronger than ever in 2014. But changed too. Writing this piece was therapeutic for me last week.

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Cheese, you are a problem! And pizza…

As I started really moving toward a plant-based diet (i.e. vegan), I didn’t miss cheese too much at first. Yeah, right, for about two days. But once I got over the first week or two, I honestly didn’t think I craved it anymore. Ha. I was fooled. Sure, I had my trusty bag of Daiya cheddar shreds in the refrigerator drawer where I used to keep about 6 types of cheese at any given time. I didn’t break into them often, and frankly didn’t think I liked them much anyways. So why bother?

Then I started to really miss pizza. Sure, I tried versions of bare pizza with sauce and some toppings. The result was ok, but it didn’t have that “it” factor I was craving. As I have read more, I have seen this concept discussed again and again. Vegan experts generally agree that when one has trouble with feeling full or satisfied on a plant-based diet, it may be due either to not meeting calorie requirements (believe me, not the case with all the cooking I’ve been obsessed with) or missing the creaminess/fat that comes with animal products. Others talk about casein in dairy/cheese being addictive and opioid-like, but I’m not convinced on that. It may very well be true, I don’t know. I just wanted pizza.

You might wonder why I will go on and on about Daiya brand. I don’t have any endorsements or free products, but wouldn’t that be nice? I like the fact that it is oriented toward vegans and additionally toward people with food allergies. No dairy or nut products (they do state that coconut is the exception). The products are soy and gluten-free, which is less of a concern for me, but critical to others. I can’t have cashews in the house due to a child’s severe allergy, which means no cashew cheese recipes. Therefore I seek safe yummy “cheese.”

I tried it with a pizza made with sub rolls and really liked it. This is not gourmet here, but I hope it might help if you are looking for an exceptionally easy and delicious pizza. It should work on any crust; I’ve just been in “fast and easy” mode and have used pre-sliced rolls. I am now CERTAIN I like Daiya cheese (a lot!) when heated and much less when not.

Pizza!

Ingredients:

Hoagy or Sub rolls, any bread or crust could be used, just be aware I started with an already baked “base” to my pizza

Muir Glen brand Organic Pizza Sauce

Freeze-Dried cut basil (Fresh would be great but it was not available or attractive in Feb/March)

Toppings: I only used sliced green olives each time, but add any you want

Daiya brand mozzarella shreds

Directions:

(Set oven to broil.  I used broil-high and my oven rack in the second from the highest position).

1. Place your sub rolls or bread open side up on a baking sheet. Spread with the desired amount of pizza sauce.

2. Liberally sprinkle basil over sauce

3. Add toppings (cook vegetables slightly ahead of time if they won’t be soft with the short cooking time)

4. Add Daiya mozzarella shreds

5. Broil (mine took 6-8 minutes) as you watch very closely for light browning of the cheese.

6. Enjoy!

sub roll pizzas

 

If you have any tips on vegan cheese or pizza, I’d love to hear…