I’m not a particularly athletic person. I’ve done my fair share of sporty pursuits, but I learned long ago that there’s a difference between being athletically gifted and being athletically challenged, and I tend strongly toward the latter.
It’s not for lack of trying. And there are some sports, like skiing, that I’ve spent enough time doing to look like a natural, if not like a pro. I can’t think of any others besides skiing, but I’m sure there are one or two things. Probably just one.
But for all the good it’s done me (my husband swears my 198 cm skis were what nailed me the spot in his little black book in 1996), in-bounds skiing has also taught me that the joy derived from going down something very fast does not necessarily need to be preceeded by huffing up something first. Herego, my mental approach to anything that requires effort in one direction (or, God forbid, both directions) is a little skewed.
This morning was unusually warm and sunny, and some friends invited us on the first bike ride of the season. (Yes, you eastie beasties, there are daffodils blooming in Seattle.) They mentioned a place called Seward Park on Lake Washington, and said it was a pretty flat ride. But there was no mention of the fact that we live 14 miles from said park, and in my early-season exuberance and idealism I blithely donned my bike gear and started pedaling.
Somewhere around mile 20, when it was just getting unfun for me, my riding partners started discussing their upcoming participation in the Chilly Hilly, a 33-mile bike loop event around Bainbridge Island taking place next weekend. They were saying they wanted Cupcake Royale to sponsor them, despite their relative lack of racing experience, and it occurred to me that if, as an athlete, I were to have to be a food, I’d make a pretty good cupcake. I dress up nice on the outside, but I’m really just soft on the inside. I’m great going down(hill), even if I regret it afterwards. (Though I hope I’ll be able to make it to Seward Park again in the future.)
In the middle of my identification with the cupcake, I realized we’d be passing Trophy Cupcakes, Seattle’s newest cupcake house, on the way home, and we planned a stop. My pedal strokes seemed easier (not faster, just less mentally challenging).
I had a green tea cupcake, and it was everything I wanted after 25 miles. “Cupcakes are back,” cheered my buttercream-phobic husband. It was undeniably fresh (with a perfectly airy crumb), and the matcha-flavored cake and buttercream made a combo that was less sweet than I anticipated. I decided I could be the leader of a group of equally wussy road riders, and we could call ourselves the Cupcake Club and revel in the fact that we’d gain all motivation from each ride’s imminent cake and frosting binge. As I trudged up 73rd to the top of Phinney Ridge, I still cursed, but less loudly than I might have. The cupcake had given me strength.
Once home, I made a great smoothie using this ginger juice my friend in Hawaii dreamed up. I mixed a cup of frozen raspberries, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup orange juice, a banana, and 1/4 cup of the ginger juice in a blender until nicely pureed, and it gave me the strength to sit down and write this. But now I must get to know the couch a little better.
Recipe for Beth’s Ginger Juice
Recipe 48 of 365
This is the ideal pick-me-up for ginger lovers. Beth gave me general guidelines for how she makes it when we visited in Hawaii. She puts it in Sprite, but I’ve had great success adding it to plain seltzer water (about 1 part juice to 3 parts seltzer), cocktails, and smoothies. I bet it would make a great base for ginger sorbet.
Since the whole mess gets strained, don’t worry about peeling the ginger too obsessively.
TIME: 5 minutes, plus 15 minutes soaking
MAKES: about 1 quart juice
8 ounces (1/2 pound) ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cups boiling water
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar, plus more to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
Place the chopped ginger in the blender, pour the hot water over the ginger, and let sit for about 15 minutes. Add the lime juice, salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper, and blend until completely smooth. (Careful! It will probably test your blender’s capacity.) Strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer into a mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Season the juice to taste with additional sugar or cayenne (I added 2 more tablespoons sugar), remembering that this juice is a mixer; you probably won’t drink it straight.
Transfer the juice to an airtight container and refrigerate, up to 2 weeks.