Mouthguard Needed

mguard

I ordered a mouthguard last week. For anybody who is seriously boxing this is probably not a big deal as it is simply a piece of protection gear that is needed to keep yourself from punches against the jaw. I learned that it is the punches against the jaw that can easily knock you out because the nerves from the jaw go straight to the brain. This made me a tiny bit nervous ordering it, but committed to boxing, I went ahead…

I picked up the mouthguard from the mail on my way to my boxing lesson the other day. Then I sat in the car and tried to put it into my mouth. It looked like a monstrous device designed for aliens. Then, when I had finally successfully placed the black plastic thing where it is supposed to go I looked into the back mirror. My cheeks were strangely puffed up with a black airfilter between my teeth. I couldn’t help myself from thinking, “what did I get myself into with this?” When I  started drooling without control while people walked by left and right next to the car, my only thought was, “how am I supposed to carry this and box at the same time?”

I promise I will not use it in the kitchen during cooking, as it probably will prevent me from tasting the food. I will also not bring it with me for tango dancing as it might not contribute to great intimacy with my dancing partner, since I resemble a Star-trek character from an undiscovered planet when I wear it. But, I promise I keep you updated on how I will put it to use in the boxing ring.

Spring Tango Feast with Roasted Fennel, Kalamata Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

Spring is here and it needs to be celebrated! The following is a recipe that originally a friend of mine from Germany came up with and that I have made many times. It is in my cookbook Dharma Feast Cookbook – Recipes for a Fresh Start. Oven roasted fennel with kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes, thyme and lots of garlic. Make sure you invite some of your good friends for this…

olives processed current

And before you start cooking, put on the right music… Here is one of my favorite tango songs while you are cooking. It is a vals, which is one of three forms of tango. It is impossible for me to stay in a bad mood when I hear this song.

And here is the recipe:

Serves 3
Prep time 40 minutes

5 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 heaping teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds fennel (core, stalks, and leaves discarded), cut into 8 wedge pieces
1 pound cherry tomatoes 20 pitted kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and thyme. Put the fennel, tomatoes, and the olives on a baking sheet. Pour the olive oil mixture over the vegetables. Bake for 20–25 minutes. The fennel should be soft and the tops should be a little bit browned.

Serve it with arugula salad, fresh bread and butter. Enjoy the spring tango feast!

Cooking, Dancing, Boxing – The Outfits

Let’s talk about outfits for a moment. Since I started boxing I hear the same question over and over. “What about your outfit in boxing? What are you wearing?”

This important question needs to be addressed and since I box, cook and dance, you will read about all three.

Cooking

The first thing I do when I come into the kitchen to prepare food is to put on an apron. It needs to be fresh and clean. Then I feel prepared to handle the food with respect and attention – and to basically handle anything else that comes my way! (Even though it reminds me a little bit of my grandmother from Germany who used to wear her apron all day around the house, calling it her “kitchen skirt”…)

There is an eclectic selection of aprons in the kitchen cabinet: a pink Russian apron that resembles a cloth handkerchief on strings, a star wars apron, an apron with a running moose and an apron with mice making a birthday cake. I prefer the classic model, simple, one color, and big enough to do its job of protecting me from oncoming splashes of all kinds.

apron2

Dancing

It is so much about the shoes! Before I started dancing tango I never wore a pair of shoes with heels higher than 1/2 inch. After I tried on my first pair of good tango shoes I was lost forever to the average height of a 3.75 inch high heel. If I my life wasn’t demanding other things, I would be seen in these super high heels most of the time. But, heels on dirt roads or in the kitchen can be a bit dangerous…

Here is my favorite pair of tango shoes. They are made from purple fur. Yes, you read correctly. And the fact that the shoes are loosing their fur is not because of seasonal change, (like cats and dogs losing their winter fur). It is because of extreme use during tango dances, called “Milongas”.

Tango shoes 1

tango shoes 3Boxing

These are my new gloves and hand wraps. I am staying away from wearing super short tank tops at this point as they only work if your abbs are hard as steel…

gloves2

I am also not wearing shiny boxer shorts or extra boxing shoes. It is all very basic and all I care about is making it through my training tomorrow morning. No perfect shoe will help me with that!

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” – Muhammad Ali

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In some ways I am a late bloomer. Most people probably started following Muhammad Ali in the 60’s or 70’s, watching his fights, reading his books, listening to him speak. Well, I am just barely approaching the boxing world (by working up to the goal of not completely collapsing after 70 punches into the heavy bag) and I am discovering Muhammad Ali!

These days you find me in the kitchen dancing back and forth between stove and counter, mumbling to myself, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!!” as I am moving potatoes in big quantities in the oven and frying sausages on the griddle. Yes, I did write a vegetarian cookbook, and yes, all I want to eat are sausages right now due to my intense boxing workouts! We just never know where life takes us…

“Dance or Go to the Ropes!”

Red Boxing gloves and tango shoes

I had my second boxing session two weeks ago. Without exaggerating, it was the most intense workout of my life. At the end of the day, I was not able to write my name with a pen, nor actually even lift a pen… That might give you an idea.

I had told my trainer that my goal is to win a boxing fight and so we went to work right away. Left hand jabs, footwork, training for upper body strength and condition until I could hardly breathe. What a humbling experience – I couldn’t take my gloves off and so I couldn’t hold my water-bottle. He poured the water right into my mouth like in the Chinese water torture. I was just grateful for the water and didn’t care about looking good at this point.

At the end of the session he said to me,”most of the training goes out the window once you get punched in the head. We train so that you automatically revert to form in the moment of the punch. There is one of two things you better do when you get punched: dance or go to the ropes!”

Gloves and tango shoes closeup

What a great metaphor for how we relate to life. I might come with the best intentions, but in the moment of challenge, when my buttons get pushed, I am likely to lose my “training” and find myself reacting, instead of responding how I would like to – as an adult, clear, standing tall with firm back and soft front.

Currently I am preparing for my next session on Friday. I keep you posted…

Boxing gloves closeup

These are my tango shoes and my boxing gloves.