The annual migration

As I was walking along the river on a crisp autumn morning I noticed the annual migration of a certain species. Often brightly colored, many with strange plumage around their middles, they traveled in flocks of 2 to nearly 20, the larger flocks clustered in rough formation. Yes, it’s that time of year – marathon season. Runners of various shapes, sizes and pace flock to the riverfront in preparation for that early November protracted trot called the NYC Marathon. I don’t run, well not unless there’s a really good shoe sale. That doesn’t mean I don’t admire the drive, stamina, and snazzy outfits of those who do. Two things have prevented me from that particular addiction. My left boob and its partner on the right. The girls and running just don’t see eye to eye. Yes, I suppose I could strap them down so they don’t move, but come on. That may be fine for the more petite flowers, but once you get above a ‘C’ all bets are off. And even though I’m sure there’s elastic strong enough (probably left over from some top-secret military project), actually purchasing something that retains the girls in a mammogram-like position for miles is uncomfortable, unappealing, and probably adds to their length. After a certain age things just don’t snap back like they used to.

There is a third reason I don’t run. I could claim doctor’s orders since knee surgery after a skiing accident, which would be plausible. But it’s not that. I just really don’t want to, like really REALLY don’t. I much prefer my ‘high’ produced by something distilled. And if I’m going for some out-of-breath euphoria, well, let’s just say the cause better not be running for 26 miles. Yet the marathoners have to be respected for their determination and accomplishment. And their snazzy mylar blankets post-race. Walking around the city like super heroes with their silver capes is definitely the coolest accessory on that particular November Sunday. I just can’t help but admire someone wearing one. Any other day of the year I’d probably think someone sporting that particular attire was a little bit off, perhaps trying to shield themselves from the government reading their thoughts. But on that special November Sunday in the Big Apple, it’s a badge of honor.

As for me, running is just not my bag. Strolling is more my style, and occasionally walking at a faster pace if I’m feeling particularly righteous or have to pee and the nearest bathroom is still a few blocks away. But regardless of my pace, I’m addicted to it as much as a marathon runner craves her run. I’ve always walked, to work, to do my shopping, etc. But since I lost my job, my walks have become so much more. They are my therapy, clearing my head, helping me work things out, come up with ideas, or just take me away for a little while from all the stress and insanity in daily life. I may not have as many fancy toys or plumage as the runners, but I get my ‘high’ just the same. I get something else too. A view of the world that I was once too busy to notice or pay attention too. Watching seasons change, actually seeing how beautiful my city is, and giggling over the behavior of all the flora and fauna (especially the human fauna) make my life richer and my current situation easier to bear. Sure the exercise I get is great, but I get so much more. I can actually see things again, and maybe a little more clearly than when I was ‘running’ the rat race. That’s not to say I don’t want to get back on the daily work treadmill. I do very much. But I hope when I do, I remember to stroll too. The view is just too good to pass up.

If I ever did run a marathon, I think the part I’d look forward to the most (other than crossing the finish line and sitting down) is the marathon-eve carb loading. So in keeping with that theme, I’m sharing a pasta recipe. I came up with my Pasta with fresh corn and basil sauce to use up some sweet corn from the farmer’s market. Having eaten my fill of corn on the cob, I wanted a pasta sauce that would feature corn but in a way a little out of the ordinary.  I cooked the corn in its husk in my microwave until it was tender (about 4 min/ear), and then pureed it in the blender with some fresh goat cheese, a little butter, parmesan, and fresh basil. The result was a creamy sauce reminiscent of an alfredo, but without all the fat and calories. This sauce could certainly be made anytime of the year with frozen sweet corn too, and with fresh thyme substituting for basil.  It’s a carb loading meal you can eat happily and guiltlessly, whether you are running 26 miles the next day or just running to a shoe sale!

Pasta with fresh corn and basil sauce

Makes 2 servings

  • 2 small to medium ears of sweet corn in their husks (you’ll need about 1 cup kernels)
  • 8 oz. fresh fettuccine or 6 oz. dry
  • 2 large leaves of basil, or 4-5 small, plus a little extra to toss in at the end
  • 2 TBSP fresh goat cheese
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper

Wrap the ears of corn, husk and all in a paper towel and steam in the microwave for 3-4 minutes until it is just tender. Once they cool enough so you can handle it, remove the husks and silks (this is a lot easier once it’s been steamed), and cut the kernels off of the cobs*. You should have about 1 cup total. (* You could substitute 1 cup frozen corn kernels, boiled until tender and drained.)

Put all but 3-4 TBSP of the corn, goat cheese, butter and parmesan in a blender. Tear up the basil and add in. Add a pinch of salt and a few good grindings of pepper. Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. When it’s boiling, salt liberally. Once the salt is dissolved, remove 1/2 cup and add it to the blender. Blend until you have a somewhat smooth sauce. Put the sauce into a non-stick skillet and add the reserved corn kernels.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is just al dente. About a minute or two before the pasta is ready, turn on the heat under the sauce and bring to a simmer. When the pasta is done, add it to the simmering sauce. Don’t drain the pasta before adding, in case you need a little more water to thin out the sauce.  Toss the pasta well on low heat until it is completely coated in the sauce. Taste for seasonings and adjust if needed. Top with a little extra chopped basil.

Put into a warmed pasta bowl and dive in. And no need to run 26 miles the next day… Calories: about 475 per serving.

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