April 28th, 2009 — 12:31pm
This Saturday, May 2, marks the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. Sadly, I won’t be heading to Louisville this year, but thankfully plans are already in order for a 2010 reunion trip. This year I’ll be celebrating the Derby from Madison by hosting a small dinner party with friends on Friday night. As some of you have experienced, this is a party I’ve been planning for months. The pictures below detail preparations.
(Top, Left to Right): my derby dinner party invitations, a derby table runner made by my mom, my derby hat collection, a few wooden horses I painted, essential Jim Beam, plastic horse figurines, roses, my commemorative mint julep glass collection, bourbon balls)
Clearly, I’m obsessed with the Derby. I believe that each person must experience the derby at least once in his or her lifetime to truly have “lived.” There’s really nothing quite like it. You can catch details from my last trip to the Derby in the May 2008 archives here and here.
And finally, I’ll leave you with a tasting of what’s to come. This week’s party preparations will focus almost entirely on the dinner menu, which I’ve analyzed for weeks. Here’s the plan:
Pimento Cheese Toasts
Pork Chops and Sugar Snap Peas with Mint Julep Glaze
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Derby day…live it, love it.
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April 27th, 2009 — 12:21pm
A few weeks ago, my friend Jill convinced me to register for the Crazylegs Classic, an annual 8k running race held each spring in Madison. The course starts at the capitol and ends at Camp Randall Stadium (near the 50 yard line). The race was first held in 1982 in honor of Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch (legendary Wisconsin Athletic director and All-American collegian/NFL Hall-of-Famer). Proceeds benefit Badger Athletics.
I haven’t run Crazylegs since Jill and I were college roommates my freshman year in Sellery Hall almost ten years ago. This was long before my Ironman days. Actually, an 8k may have been my longest run to date. That spring, Jill and I trained together on the SERF track and reveled in our “long-distance” training runs. You would have thought I had run a marathon, when in fact I had finished four. Which is just to say, we all start somewhere.
Like I said, Jill convinced me to sign up again this year. It was sort of like our reunion tour. When I registered, my thoughts were only of sunny skies and flowing pitchers of beer at the finish line. Needless to say, the sunny skies part didn’t exactly pan out. More like the opposite—we experienced pouring rain for the entire duration of the race. It wasn’t pleasant. However, I still had fun running and crossing the finish line with Jill. Jill andher husband Ryan have cheered me on through all five Ironman races I’ve completed in Madison. I felt like this time I sort of had the opportunity to be Jill’s cheerleader. And she tore it up. I was really proud.
After the race, we hung around the stadium a bit for “complimentary beers.” It took me a while to regain feeling in my hands. Rain and cold is never a good combiation. We eventually moved onto the bustling Big Ten Pub, where we continued to drink beer. After realizing we’d have trouble ordering food at the bar, Ryan generously offered to made a run across the street to Greenbush Bakery to pick up donuts. As soon as he returned, I wolfed down two. Beer and donuts—fuel of champions.
Speaking of champions, probably the funniest part of this whole story is that when I got to work this morning, one of my co-workers congratulated me on my 2nd place Crazylegs finish. Dumbfounded, I was like, “What?” My co-worker explained that I had run a 25-minute 8k (5-minute miles) and had placed 2nd overall among females (and 11th overall). Mind you, this is a huge race—more than 18,000 runners. And I will never in my life be able to run one five-minute mile, let alone five in a row. Let’s also remember that I’m the girl that consumed donuts and beer after the race (and pop tarts for breakfast). Anyway, I’m going to revel in my 25-minute 8k for just a few more minutes. You’re certainly welcome to check it out for yourself here. In just a moment, I’ll be contacting race officials to let them know of the mistake.
1 comment » | Madtown Lovin', Racing and Training
April 20th, 2009 — 3:35pm
I know what you’re thinking—enough with the granola already. But the truth is, I love Granola—all kinds and varieties. I don’t discriminate. And recently, I picked up a new cookbook—Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day—that features a recipe for granola that I hadn’t yet tried. Call me the granola queen. Call me a granola freak. Call me what you will. But I will never stop making granola.
(pg. 116-117); makes about 6 cups
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup chopped pecans or the nut of your choice
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped dried apricots, or dried cranberries (or a combination)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a high-sided cookie sheet or a lasagna pan with parchment paper, oil, butter, or a large silicone mat.
2. Mix honey, maple syrup, oil, water, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt in a large measuring cup.
3. In a large bowl, combine the liquid mixture with the dry ingredients, except for the dried fruit, and mix until everything is coated with the honey mixture. Spread the mixture evenly over the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the granola is golden brown. Baking time will vary, depending on the depth of the granola in the cookie sheet or pan.
4. After the baking is complete, add the dried fruit.
5. Allow to cool, store in jars, and use in Aunt Melissa’s Granola Bread (pg. 114).
My take on this granola? I like it, I like it a lot. It’s very loose, though. The perfect sort of granola for a yogurt parfait. I tend to like my granola super crunchy and clumpy (like mini-granola bars). So it’s not my favorite, but certainly a keeper. I would definitely make this recipe again.
1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen
April 20th, 2009 — 3:05pm
On Sunday evening, I went with my friends Lauren and Brodie to see “Being Bucky,” a documentary about the students behind the lovable UW-Madison mascot, Buckingham U. Badger. The film premiered and was all the rage at the recent Wisconsin Film Festival. You can see the trailer here. On April 10, the film opened at select theaters in Madison and Milwaukee.
The film is very entertaining. It follows the lives of seven male students who play Bucky. The film begins with Bucky tryouts, and then delves deeper into what it really means to be Bucky—both in and out of the Bucky suit (which, by the way, includes a 35-pound fiberglass head!). The film truly humanizes Bucky and examines each student’s life, their family, hometown, and the rigors of being Bucky.
I especially enjoyed the film since I’ve had several “Bucky” friends throughout the years. It’s like a secret society! Also, two of the students in the film—Chris and Kyle—work in my office, so it was neat to see their lives on the big screen. Definitely a must see for any enthusiastic UW alum, or for anyone interested in a well-told story that humanizes one of the world’s greatest college mascots. Go Bucky!
1 comment » | Madtown Lovin'
April 20th, 2009 — 2:41pm
Saturday’s farmers’ market certainly did not disappoint. I met my friend, Jill, to do a lap around the square at 8:30 a.m. It was sunny and nearly seventy degrees. I was in heaven. The market was alive in every sense of the word—people, music, produce, flowers, starter plants, crafts, baked goods, breads, etc.
I was most excited about the flowers (pictured, above) that I picked up for $3. There’s nothing like fresh flowers from the farmers’ market to brighten up a space and add a little sunshine to a drab and dreary Monday. They’re daffodils interlaced with bud branches.
I’m so excited the farmers’ market season has officially begun. And to have had such a perfect day for the first-of-the-season market was a such a wonderful treat.
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April 20th, 2009 — 9:11am
It’s Patriot’s Day in Boston. And you know what that means—the running of the 113th Boston Marathon. The race officially started at 10 a.m. (eastern time) this morning. Many of the professionals have already finished. The top male finisher is Deriba Merga from Ethiopia (2:08:42), and the unofficial top women’s finisher is Salina Kosgei from Kenya (2:32:16). Top finishers from the US include Ryan Hall (3rd, 2:09:40) and Kara Goucher (3rd, 2:32:25). Kara has been a rockstar on the marathon circuit since her impressive marathon debut in NYC (2:25:53, 3rd place) last November.
My friend Paul is running the race, and is currently on pace to run a 3:02 marathon. Awesome. It looks like the weather in Boston is 46 degrees F and cloudy, making for a perfect marathon day. Best of luck to all the athletes out there today. You can track the race here.
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April 17th, 2009 — 4:46pm
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April 15th, 2009 — 6:23pm
Spring is in the air in Madison. And you know what that means…terrace time. After several months entrenched in a deep freeze, the city of Madison is quickly coming back to life. One of the most exciting signs of spring is the annual resurrection of the Memorial Union terrace. Just this week, the union terrace chairs (the iconic yellow, green, and orange star burst chairs) were removed from storage and placed prominently upon their cement pedestal overlooking the gorgeous waters of Lake Mendota. It’s the surest sign of all that the promise of warm weather, luscious landscapes, sailboats on the horizon, the farmers’ market, shorts, ice cream, bike rides, and live outdoor music are finally within reach.
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April 15th, 2009 — 5:47am
On Monday night I finished reading Loving Frank, a historical novel by Nancy Horan based on the true story of the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney during the early part of the 20th century.
Nancy Horan weaves together a fascinating and powerful love story, which is both extraordinarily well-researched and written. It’s hard to believe it’s her first novel, and I also found it interesting to learn that it was an eight-year project.
For the most part, Loving Frank is the perfect summer beach read—light, yet still thought-provoking and mesmerizing. However, you may want to save the end of the novel until you get home from the beach. The Taliesen murder scene, although not depicted in overtly graphic terms, is extremely disturbing, as is any senseless murder.
In some ways, Loving Frank reminded me of The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. Similarities include ties to the windy city, the showcasing of great—almost mythical—American architects at the turn of the century, plots that involve cold-blooded murder, the questioning of gender roles in society, and writing that is both confident and polished. Although Larson’s work is nonfiction, and Horan’s is historical fiction, both are page-turners based on historical record to the extent possible. Since Nancy Horan had limited source material to work with in order to paint an accurate picture of Mamah Borthwick, perhaps she did need to stretch her imagination just a tad further.
I very much enjoyed Loving Frank. I found Mamah to be an extraordinarily fascinating character—I often found myself wondering what I would have done in her place. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the decisions she made, there’s no doubt she lived with great courage and passion.
I’m also endlessly fascinated by the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and never miss an opportunity to learn more about the extraordinarily talented, yet complicated man. I actually have plans to tour Taliesin early next month, the summer home of Frank Lloyld Wright, which was prominently featured in the novel. Taliesen was originally built in Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1911 during the hayday of Frank and Mamah’s relationship. The existing Taliesen residence is the third home built on Wright’s ancestral land after fire consumed the first two. I’m excited to see the beautiful, rolling hills of Wisconsin from the lens of an architectural genius, and to experience first-hand the focal point of Frank and Mamah’s passionate love affair.
5 comments » | Books, Film, and Music
April 13th, 2009 — 1:50pm
My parents and I enjoyed a great Easter feast on Sunday afternoon. It was my first time entertaining guests at my new apartment and I was proud to show off my new digs. A few days beforehand, my mom and I agreed on a simple menu. My mom brought her famous cheesy potatoes, as well as ham with rhubarb chutney sauce—the recipe for which we found online at epicurious.com. The sauce makes for a delicious twist on any standard ham or meat.
I volunteered to make bread, salad, and dessert for our meal. For the bread, I made Hot Cross Buns, using a recipe I found on a food blog created by the authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (which, by the way, is one of the best cookbooks I own. Thanks to my friend Abby and my mom for the recommendation. Truly artisan bread in five minutes a day. It’s unbelievable).
For the salad, I found a great recipe for Inspiring Asparagus Salad at lundsandbyerlys.com. It uses Jarlsberg cheese, which is sweeter and softer than traditional Swiss cheese. And I love fresh aspraragus in the spring! The asparagus in the grocery stores is still from Mexico or California, but I’m looking foward to buying locally-grown asparagus in the next few weeks.
And finally, for dessert, I chose a recipe for Puffer Cake (a traditional German cake originally named Tassenkuchen) that I found on my favorite design site design*sponge. I fell in love with the pictures of the cake featured on the blog, and thought the simple bundt cake (I made both mini-bundt cakes and a standard-size bundt cake) covered with chocolate and colorful sprinkles seemed perfect for Easter dessert.
All in all, the best entree of the day was probably my mom’s cheesy potatoes. Sometimes new-fangled attempts can’t compete with family classics. Either way, I had a good time trying new recipes. It made the meal interesting and fun. And now I have an overwhelming amout of leftovers. I’ll be eatin’ ham and potatos for months. Sigh.
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