A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

BEEFWIFE: Two Mules for Sistah Sara's Short Ribs

Whenever I make my sister-in-law’s Sara's crockpot ribs, I think of “Two Mules for Sister Sara.”  This 1970’s Western starred Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood and the theme song plays in my head because these are “Sistah Sara’s Ribs." 

Too bad I didn’t have this recipe when I met Clint Eastwood (below) while he was filming “In the Line of Fire” at the U.S. Treasury Department in 1992 (where I worked at the time).  He might have swept me away to Carmel if I had cooked Sistah Sara’s ribs for him!

I made these last week before Shelby left for China (you can follow her blog, A Jayhawk Abroad, for the full story).  They are sticky and sweet and savory and fall-off-the-bone tender.  The perfect crockpot rib!

This looks like a lot of ingredients but you probably have most of these in your pantry or fridge (see full recipe below).

You need four pounds of BEEF short ribs; I can never find packages that exactly total four pounds but there is plenty of cooking liquid so if you’re a little over on weight, no worries.

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic or paper bag and combine.  Add the ribs in batches; shake to coat and knock off the excess flour as you take them out of the bag.  In a heavy skillet, brown the ribs in the butter.  I start with half the butter and add more in as I switch out the browned ribs for the un-browned ones.

You’ll want to brown all sides; don’t rush this part, it seals in the juices. Here is my big dilemma with this recipe, do I lay the ribs flat in two layers or do I put them on end in a single layer (bones up)?

I feel like this is something I could discuss with The Pioneer Woman over a cup of coffee and she would feel my “pain.”  Guess what, it really doesn’t matter.  As I said before, there is enough cooking liquid and they cook down some so put them in however you like.

As the ribs are browned, put them in the bottom of your crockpot and drizzle with honey.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup but I just squeeze the honey bear until they are coated well.  While you are browning the batches of ribs, you can get the other ingredients prepped.

I don’t use a lot of gadgets in the kitchen but since this recipe calls for five cloves of garlic, I use my garlic peeler and garlic press.  Pop the cloves in the peeler (a silicon tube that looks like a cannoli) and with downward pressure, roll the tube and out comes perfectly peeled garlic (thanks, Adam Kranz).  I got my first garlic press after having fondue at the Pillsbury cabin in Lake Tahoe back in 1997.  Drop a clove or two in the well, bring the handles together and out comes the minced garlic.  Just scrape the garlic off with the end with a knife and pop in more cloves.  Chop the onion into small dice.  Set the garlic and onion aside.  I measure the remaining ingredients into a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, gently mix and then set aside.

Once the ribs are all browned, I pour off most, but not all of the liquid from the skillet.  Toss in the onion and garlic and cook briefly (don’t burn the garlic) then gently pour in the remaining ingredient mixture.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits of BEEF and butter.

Cook over medium high heat until boiling and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces and thickens (about 20 minutes).  Pour the mixture over the ribs; cover crockpot with lid and cook on low setting for six to eight hours.

Sweet, sticky, spicy and tender, perfect crockpot ribs!  And you can serve the liquid from the crockpot on the side (if you want it thicker, just put in a saucepan and continue cooking until reaching the desired consistency).

Sistah Sara’s Crockpot Ribs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 pounds beef short ribs
1/4 cup butter
1/2 to 1 whole large onion, chopped (I use half an onion)
1 1/2 cups beef broth (I use one whole 14.5 oz. can)
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey, more if you prefer

In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add ribs to bag in batches and shake to coat. In a large heavy skillet, brown the ribs in the butter.

Transfer ribs to slow cooker and drizzle with honey. In the same skillet, combine the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook until mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally; pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

No Motivation to Workout? Me, Neither!

Where do you find motivation?
I need a goal. It's a beautiful summer morning in Colorado and I can't get motivated to walk, run, hike, or even bike this morning. I'm definitely going to get out and do something. It's just too nice a day to sit inside. But what happens when the weather starts to turn colder and the days are shorter and I'm still suffering from lack of motivation? It's too easy to fall out of a good exercise regimen (here are some good tips for staying motivated to workout from AskMen.com).

What are your goals?
What I need is to set a goal. What works for me is to sign up for an event and pay the registration fee. The question is, which event? Should I take on my first tri since 2011? That would force me into the pool when I'd rather take advantage of this weather. Tackle my first full marathon? I'm hesitant to sign up for one when I don't know if my "hot foot" issues on my left foot will flare up until I start running more. I've never done one of the Tough Mudder type adventure races. My 6'4", 220 lb. frame and lack of upper body strength make pulling myself over walls nearly impossible!

Tim Brown, on the first day of his first Ride The Rockies
Photo credit: Joe Murphy, The Denver Post

What is your excuse?
Sounds like a lot of excuses, doesn't it? Yeah, that's what happens when you have no motivation. There'd be times riding up a nasty climb or into a headwind on Ride the Rockies when I'd want to quit and I'd come across one of the many riders living with missing limbs, paralyzed from the waist down, many from injuries suffered defending our freedom, and I'd feel stupid. I came across Tom Brown, a triple amputee, several times on the ride this year.

Help me out here. What motivates you? What events do you have coming up this fall?

Ride on!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Five Tips for Surviving Multiple Day Cycling Events and Century Rides

After surviving the longest Ride the Rockies in history in 2013 and toughest day ever on Ride the Rockies in 2014, I've learned a few lessons (the hard way) about how to survive long-mileage and multiple day rides. Actually, I've compiled these tips over the years, having finished eight RTRs and ten Bike MS rides (2-day, 150 miles) since I began long distance cycling in 2000.

Ride the Rockies 2014 was easily the most challenging of the eight I have completed, with over 30,000 ft. of elevation gain!

Participating in long-distance and multiple day rides requires a significant amount of training (this article has some great training tips for multi-day rides) to avoid suffering during the ride. Don't get me wrong, you can do long distance rides without a significant amount of training. I know a lot of people who do but most of them suffer the consequences, including more time on the bike each day and the resulting aches and pains that go with it!

Ride the Rockies 2013 became the longest in history when a reroute due to wildfires added 33 miles to the route.
Regardless of your training level, these five tips will help you survive your first century ride, multi-day charity ride or a week-long bike tour like Ride the Rockies:

1) Stretch Before You Get Sore/Tight -- Whether you believe in stretching before, during or after a workout (my brother is into dynamic stretching), one thing is clear: once you start to develop tightness/soreness it is hard to recover on a long distance or multi-day ride. By Day Three that little twinge had become a sharp-stabbing pain like a dagger being thrust under my right shoulder blade. The tightness in my right should eventually migrated to my lower back and right hip, running down my IT band to my knee (I must have been overcompensating on my right side). At times I was forced to get off the bike and stretch every 5-10 miles (even less when climbing) to relieve the pain.

2) Apply Chamois Butter Before You Start Chafing -- Speaking or pain, one of the most common questions I get after the ride is "does your butt hurt"? Seems like kind of a personal question but most people find it hard to fathom sitting on a small, hard bike saddle for hours and days on end (literally). No matter how much riding you do before the big event this can become a problem. They actually make a special product called Chamois Butt'r designed to prevent chafing and soreness. This year I finally got smart and applied it on the first day rather than waiting until saddle sores began to appear and I avoided them altogether. This tip also applies to sunscreen and lip balm. Just be sure to double check which tube you grab before applying (yes, I know someone who applied butt butter on their face as sunscreen).

3) Drink Before You Feel Thirsty -- I learned this lesson on my first Ride the Rockies when I ended up in the ER in Leadville, Colorado suffering from altitude sickness! Hydration is critical on long rides, especially when riding at altitude. I was able to stay hydrated for most of the ride this year. I did feel a little parched one day but recognized the tell-tale signs (I know I am getting dehydrated when I have difficulty swallowing while riding) and increased my water intake and it never became an issue. 

One 3 oz. serving of beef provides more than 10% of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins for less than 10% of your daily calories!
4) Eat Before You Feel Hungry (or fuel before you bonk) -- Similar to staying hydrated, it is important to keep fuel in your tank during a long ride. If you've ever run out of fuel (or bonked), you know what I mean! Fortunately, most long distance rides are supported and offer a variety of carbohydrate-rich foods along the route. I try to eat something at least every hour -- or at every aid station: fruit, pretzels, animal crackers, basically whatever they provide! I carry Clif Shot Bloks on me for fuel between stops. And, of course, at the end of the day I always seek out a big burger or steak to help my muscles repair fuel up for the following day on the zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins in beef.

5) Death Before SAG -- Until this year on Ride the Rockies I had never ridden in a Support and Gear (SAG) vehicle on a long ride. I have been fortunate to avoid a major mechanical breakdown requiring a ride and have vowed to never hitch a ride because I was tired, sore, or mentally done with the ride. This attitude is captured in a saying I heard on my first Ride the Rockies: Death Before SAG. I have never come close to a choice between death and sagging and obviously don't ever want to test it! For me, it's just an attitude you have to have going into the ride or you risk succumbing to the the temptation! There's a team on the Colorado Bike MS ride named "Ain't Too Proud to SAG." I think that's the wrong attitude (but, hey, they're doing it for a good cause!). To me, SAG is a last resort option in the event of a physical or mechanical breakdown (or thundersnow storms at the summit of Berthoud Pass).

Support and Gear (SAG) vans drive up and down the route rescuing riders who have broken down -- either mechanically, physically or mentally!
Photo credit: http://www.mvermeulen.com/rtr2009/
What multiple-day or long distance rides do you have coming up yet this summer? What tips would you share? Please post a comment!

Ride on!