I spent 3 1/2 years in Aggieland advancing my education. And although that was the second-shortest residency of my #32! years (after the year+ I lived in Europe), I've adopted Texas as my home state. I grew up in Michigan, but hardly have any roots left up there. I completed undergrad in a sleepy Florida beach town (I loved!) that recommends itself more as a retirement destination. And now I'm in my grown-up-got-a-job home (which automatically disqualifies it as a "home state.")
Even without the process of elimination, Texas is amazing! The people are friendly, the sky is enormous, and it is home to a large percentage of my favorite people on Earth. I was so excited to go, I woke up at 3:15 on the morning of my flight!
My oldest brother Dave lives near Texas A&M and welcomed me back to Aggieland with a weekend full of delicious food and quality time with family. Dave picked me up at the airport and conveyed me directly to Freebirds (so much better than Chipotle). There we discussed our plans for the weekend and then headed to his house.
After we let our food settle for a little bit, it was time for an afternoon workout. Dave is a police officer and one of the strongest and fittest people I know. My sister-in-law Nicki is practically paleo, and both my nephews play multiple sports (including football - of course). So unlike most work trips, I knew I wouldn't struggle to keep up with my fitness.
Dave programmed a high rep metcon followed by a combatives circuit. We pushed through lunges, planks, crunches, etc, rested a few minutes and then Dave set up two punching bags in the driveway. We did three rounds of kicks, punches with a follow-up half SPEAR, and a run. The runner set the time. By the middle of the second round, my knuckles were bruised and swelling (I go hard!) and I had to switch to palm strikes. During the third round I switched to a full SPEAR (got to keep converting that flinch!).
On our cool down jog, Dave and I discussed personal defense readiness and my experiences this year coaching seminars around the city. I described a time last summer where I had to improvise my escape from an attacker who was sitting on my chest and throwing punches - because it came up in a Q&A and I hadn't practiced the scenario with my training partner. It was meant to be an explanation for how great the PDR system is - the fact that I was able to escape easily with no prior practice makes it more likely that I will survive a real attack.
My brother, ever my protector, instead took it as a sign that I needed more training (and he's right - training never stops). So we spent the next hour on the garage floor working through escapes with an attacker choking me, punching me, and otherwise trying to kill me. I was bruised and battered in the end. But that much safer for the effort. I told you! These are my favorite people!
By the time we were cleaned up, Nicki was home from work, and it was time to start the weekend. Which meant it was time to eat.
Texas is far and away one of the easiest places to keep up with a CaveGirl diet. The cuisine is meat-centered in the best way possible. And I enjoyed every bite of it.
We started the weekend with carnitas and skinny margaritas at Casa Rod.
|Styrofoam cup for scale.|
Then on Saturday, Dave's good friends hosted a crawfish boil.
|Pre-boil crawfish battle. Entertainment for all ages.|
|The first pour. Soooooo delicious!|
And before I left town, I ordered the biggest pile of BBQ I could find.
|The other passengers are lucky I didn't stuff a second helping into my carry-on!|
The only so-so meal I had the whole 5 days was a gross salad from McDonalds during a quick break from work. But it was still a better choice than the free pizza my employer provided...
AND! On the second trip to Casa Rod (I love that place, what can I say?) the waitress checked my ID and said, "wow! you look so super young!" #32!
But don't let the restaurant pics fool you! We didn't eat out for every meal. Nicki is an excellent cook, and Dave is a master on the grill. So I also ate a ton of delicious CaveSafe foods at their house, including Nicki's carrot fries. It makes so much sense I can't believe I didn't think of it myself! This recipe is a combo of what I learned from Nicki and suggestions my brilliant friend Aurelia made when I described it to her (aka a masterpiece).
|Why, yes. That is a kale and bacon egg yolk scramble. Thank you for noticing!|
1 lb carrots
1 egg white (or 1 tablespoon olive oil for vegan option)
2 teaspoons seasoning of choice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Coconut oil spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the carrots but do not peel them (it's annoying and besides most of the nutrients are in or just below the skin). Then cut them into thin fries.
In a large bowl, whisk egg white until it becomes frothy then stir in vinegar and 1 teaspoon seasoning (Nicki used cayenne pepper, I prefer BBQ seasoning, whatever floats your boat). Toss carrot fries in egg white mixture until they are evenly coated. Spray a large baking sheet with coconut oil. Arrange fries in an even layer. Sprinkle remaining seasoning over top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn carrot fries and return to oven for another 15 minutes. Turn fries and return to oven until they reach desired doneness and crispiness (I put mine back in for 10 minutes and called good enough good enough). Makes 2 servings.