Archive for May 2009

NY Times Mentions Daily Mile

May 29th, 2009 — 12:26pm


My brother Kelly just let me know that Daily Mile was mentioned in today’s NY Times’ Gadgetwise Blog. The post is entitled “Finding a Runners Group Online.” It’s part of a series focused on reviewing tech products leading up to the New York Marathon. Congratulations, Kelly and Ben! This is big time PR.

And for those of you who still haven’t signed up for Daily Mile (I know you’re out there!). Do it. Now. I promise, you won’t be sorry. It’s an incredible community and social training log for runners, triathletes, and cyclists. I’ve never felt so motivated and supported in my entire athletic career. And there’s so many great features to help you track, map, and analyze your workouts…and others that just make it more fun!  I’d be lost and lazy without Daily Mile.

2 comments » | Racing and Training

Wilco (the Album)

May 29th, 2009 — 7:46am



Last week I pre-ordered Wilco’s self-titled LP, a first edition 180-gram vinyl pressing manufactured in Germany that boasts a gate-fold cover. As a bonus, each vinyl copy also includes a copy of the album on CD. Cheers. You can pre-order your copy here.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

Baked Bars for Book Club

May 28th, 2009 — 10:58am

memorial-day-004Last night, I attended a “book club” event hosted by one of my colleagues. We read Admissions, the newest novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz (which I hope to blog about later in the week), a fitting choice since most of us work in the Office of Admissions. I was proud to be one of only two people who actually finished the 464-page novel. As is the case for me with any good book, it truly took over my life for an entire week. I’m not kidding…my apartment is a disaster area and I have so many phone calls to return.

Anyways, that’s not really the point. At least not for now. Now is dessert time. And so, what I’d really like to talk about now is the “Baked Bars” I made for last night’s party. It’s a recipe I found in my Baked: New Frontier’s in Baking Cookbook (which, many of you know, I’m trying to bake my way through). The bars were delicious, sort of like a 7-layer bar, with oodles of treasures and goodies baked inside. Definitely a solid recipe if you’re looking to bake up some bars. Enjoy.

For the crust:
2 C (about 6 oz) sweetened shredded coconut
2 1/2 C finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 20 crackers)
1 C unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 1/3 C walnut halves, toasted and chopped
1 1/2 C (9 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C white chocolate coarsely chopped
3/4 C butterscotch chips
3 1/4 C (26 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Make the Baked Bar crust:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread out the coconut. Put the baking sheet in the oven and toast the coconut until it starts to turn golden brown, 7-10 minutes. Remove from th oven, toss the coconut, and return it to the oven for 3 more minutes.

Put the graham cracker crumbs in a large bowl, add the toasted coconut, and toss with your hands until combined. Add the butter. Use your hands to combine the mixture, then turn it out into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the crust into an even layer on th bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to create a perfectly even crust.

Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.

Make the Baked Bar filling:
Increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Evenly spread the nuts in the bottom of the crust.

Spread the chocolate chips over the walnuts, followed by the white chocolate, followed by the butterscotch chips.

In a steady stream, pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the filling. Shake the pan very gently to make sure the sweetened condensed milk is evenly distributed.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating an every 10 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.

Baked Bars will keep, wrapped tightly and at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Memorial Day Talent Show

May 28th, 2009 — 10:34am


Karen, Matt, Kim, and Kristin


Matty and Kim fire up the grill (aka the new Mr. and Mrs. Tobin!)


Allie proudly prepares to perform her dance recital number (clad in hundreds of yellow feathers!)


Kim follows with an energized dance number (laughing-on-the-ground-funny)


Matt juggles to the musical accompaniment of “Tijuana Taxi” and stellar pyrotechnics


Megan plays “Yankee Doodle” on the clarinet

Although I was tired from Sunday’s marathon, the prospect of pre-Memorial Day festivities at Green Lake with great friends was truly energizing. (It wasn’t until Monday that I was hit, like a wall of bricks, with marathon fatigue.) There’s no better way to kick off summer than a barbecue on the boat house, followed by a lively and humorous, not to mention fiercely competitive, talent show at Green Lake. Karen was the genius behind the talent show, which was originally conceptualized as an opportunity for Allie to perform her recent dance recital routine in full-costume in front of family and friends. But very quickly, the idea of the talent show became larger than life with smack-downs exchanged via e-mail before the show, great prizes, an MC, and numbers intermixed with dance-offs and group sing-alongs. Needless to say, it was an extremely memorable evening featuring  extraordinary talent.

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Mascarpone Strawberry Tart

May 26th, 2009 — 1:09pm

memorial-day-009I spent a festive pre-Memorial Day/post-marathon evening with a few friends and Karen’s family at Green Lake. We grilled out on the boat house, and afterwards competed in a talent show (more details to come). My contribution to both dinner and the talent show was a Mascarpone Strawberry Tart, which I made from a recipe I found on a cooking blog (that was tweaked from a recipe in Sunset Magazine, 2005). It’s a great summer tart, especially with strawberries so plentiful and cheap lately! Enjoy.

9 oz. chocolate water cookies, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
8 tbsp. unsalted melted butter
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup good honey
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
zest from 1 lemon
2 cups strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Place cookies in a 1-quart zip-lock plastic bag and seal. With a rolling pin, crush cookies into fine crumbs. Pour 2 cups of the crumbs into a bowl and mix with melted butter, sugar, and espresso powder. Press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9.5-inch tart pan with removable rim (if you prefer a thinner crust, use a 10-inch tart pan).

2. In another bowl, with mixer on medium, beat mascarpone, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour, salt, and lemon
3. Place tart pan in a 12- by 16-inch rimmed baking pan (do not, under any circumstances, skip this – the pan catches any drippings from the filling and prevents the crust from overbrowning) and set on center rack of preheated oven. Pour filling into chocolate crust. Bake until filling is pale golden and barely set in the center when you gently shake pan, 30 to 35 minutes.
4. Remove tart from oven and let cool on a rack about 30 minutes, then chill until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day (cover tart once cold).memorial-day-008
5. Shortly before serving, remove rim from pan. Rinse, stem, and thinly slice strawberries. Arrange in a circular or spiral pattern on top of the tart, overlapping slices slightly.

3 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Madison Marathon

May 26th, 2009 — 12:19pm

madisonmarathon_2009_smallOn Sunday I participated in the 2009 Madison Marathon. I’ve run the half-marathon a few times, but never the full (in fact, you may remember my provocative blog entry from last year’s half-marathon race, entitled “High School Rivalries Never Die.” He he).

I was roped into the full-marathon earlier this year with a great promotion at Endurance House, a local purveyor of endurance sports gear, which, for one weekend only, offered a free Madison marathon or half-marathon entry with the purchase of a pair of running shoes and socks. At that point (early January, mind you) I reasoned that the full-marathon entry provided more bang for my buck, and thus opted for the full. Of course I simply rolled my eyes at that reasoning last week and cursed myself for my then blind, dead-of-winter ambition.

My training for the marathon was good, but not great. I did get in a few long runs, but in general my training was unfocused and uninspired. I started my training plan late (like 8 weeks out from the race), shifted long runs based on my social schedule, and did what I could during the week. And I never did any speed work, which I usually incorporate into my marathon training when I’m feeling inspired (Yasso’s 800’s).

Needless to say, I didn’t have many expectations going into the race. I sort of looked at it as a long training run. I was noncommittal. I was simply going through the motions. In fact, the night before the race I realized I had no idea what time the race actually started at in the morning. Luckily, I figured out that part.

On Sunday morning I was pleased to wake up to find perfectly cool temperatures and clear skies. I downed a banana and a Cliff Bar (my standard pre-race fare) and carpooled to the race with Karen and her friend Jeni, who were signed up for the half-marathon, and thus much more intelligent than I. The half-marathon started before the marathon, so I just hung out for a while and frequented the porta potty. After a while, I noticed people clearing out of the half-marathon start area, and it finally dawned on me that there must be a different start line for the marathon. So I followed the other racers with pink bibs and made my way to the front of the Alliant Energy Center for the marathon start line. Really, are multiple start lines really necessary? I suppose it would have helped if I had actually read the race instructions, but still…

I lined up with the 3:30 pace group (ambitiously or cluelessly, I’m not sure), and figured I’d try to hang for as long as I could. After the start gun sounded, several members of the Wisconsin marching band started playing “On Wisconsin,” which was a  nice way to begin our long journey. So as not to make this a marathon entry, I will say that I hung with the pace group for a while, dropped off, hopped back on, and then dropped off again for good. At mile 10, my quads and calves were shot. I felt like I had been running on cement for miles, which of course I had been. But if there’s anything I’m good at after all of these ironman races, it’s running on tired legs. I tried my best to block the pain from my mind, and press on. I rotated between water and Gatorade at the aide stations, and took Cliff Shots at miles 8, 15, and 21. I went through periods feeling like Hercules, and than like shit. Luckily, it was a beautiful day and race course. The course, new for 2009, featured all of Madison’s best—downtown, campus, the state capitol, Lake Mendota and Monona, the arboretum, Monroe Street, and the rolling hills and stately homes of Maple Bluff. It was a bit hillier than I expected, but overall the course was awesome.

In the end, I finished in 3:35:02 (8:13 pace, 8/114 in my age group), of which I am extremely proud. It’s my second-fastest marathon time, second only to Detroit 2006 (3:30:51). Nothing can make me prouder than to know that I ran my heart out. I could have backed off, made excuses for my lackluster training, and let myself off with a relatively easy effort. But I gave it everything I had, ran a smart race, and kept believing for all 26.2 miles. And now, I’m ready to begin some Ironman training.

3 comments » | Madtown Lovin', Racing and Training

Memphis in May

May 21st, 2009 — 12:05pm

elvispresley-hawaii-concertThere’s nothing better than competing in a triathlon that features Elvis and Corky’s BBQ at the finish line. Those are just a few of the things that make Memphis in May one of my all-time favorite races. This past weekend, I competed in MIM (an Olympic-distance race) for the 4th time. The first time I travelled to Memphis for the race in 2003, I actually skipped my college graduation to do so, and my teammates and I also watched a tornado touch down during our drive there. Ah, the memories…

I was a little under-prepared for this year’s race, to say the least. I’ve been running a lot (in preparation for this Sunday’s Madison Marathon), so I’m certainly in shape, but have yet to spend much time on the bike or in the water. Lack of training in two of the three sports of a triathlon isn’t the best way to go into a race. I literally swam for the first time since Ironman Wisconsin (September 2008) last Wednesday, three days before the race.

The Memphis in May triathlon is one of the biggest triathlons in the country, and part of a month-long, city-wide celebration that includes other popular events like the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and the Beale Street Music Festival. I’m definitely a fan of Memphis and its great music, food, and cultural diversity. And I always look forward to trying another great, local barbecue joint. If you ever find yourself traveling through Memphis and need a BBQ recommendation, I’m your girl.

The race went relatively well. I was proud of my run time since it’s a very hilly 10k course, but my swim felt a little labored and it was extremely windy on the bike course. I ended up placing 12th in my age group with a finishing time of 2:28:12 (21:37 swim, 1:15:13 bike, 47:09 run). I definitely wasn’t impressed with my performance in the bike leg. I do, however, feel more motivated to ramp up my training, and to focus on my bike training. But first, I have to get through this weekend’s marathon. Yet another race  for which I’m feeling slightly unprepared…Yikes.

Comment » | Racing and Training, Vacation and Travel

Devil’s Lake Bluffs

May 20th, 2009 — 5:51am

devils-lake-008Yesterday was a picture-perfect Wisconsin spring day—sunny, blue skies, and temperatures reaching the low 80’s. My friend Karen and I decided to leave work a little early to drive to Devil’s Lake State Park (approx. 45-min. trip) to hike the bluffs. The trail around the lake that we typically choose is very rigorous, but the payoff is unbeatable—amazing panoramic views of the crystal waters of Devil’s Lake set against a backdrop of  towering bluffs that overlook the emerald rolling hills of southern Wisconsin. It’s Wisconsin at it’s finest. devils-lake-015devils-lake-011


The hike took about 1.5 hours to complete. We finished just as the sun was beginning to set. On the way home, we stopped for dinner at the original location of Culver’s in Sauk City, embarrassingly my third dinner at Culver’s in a week. What can I say? I like butter burgers and custard. A proud Wisconsin girl at heart.

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Camping Circa 1960s

May 19th, 2009 — 11:07am


I absolutely love the “Camping Circa 1960s” collection of wall prints and cards from Old School Stationers, which is small letterpress studio based out of Portland, Oregon. Some of their latest work is featured at this week’s 2009 National Stationery Show in NYC. I’m always a big fan of camp themes. I love to camp, and so many of my greatest childhood memories are from camping (pop-up trailer style) at Devil’s Lake and Peninsula State Park in Door County.

This morning, I ordered the last copy of “Marshmallow Roasters Letterpress Print” (pictured, left) at Old School Stationers’ Etsy Shop. You can view the full collection here.

1 comment » | Crafts & Design

Almost Instant Cherry Cupcakes

May 19th, 2009 — 10:40am

kims-wedding-002I recently made cherry cupcakes for a friend’s birthday. I thought they looked so cute and colorful that I had to snap a quick picture.

As an aside, you may have noticed that I’m always taking pictures of food. I think it’s a borderline problem, actually. When the most delectable plate of food is placed in front of me, it’s always my first instinct to grab a camera. I’ve found that this can be annoying to dining-mates, and also increases the probability that my food won’t taste quite as good (or at least not as warm) when I actually start eating. Some have told me to ditch the camera, and simply enjoy life. Alas, I can’t help myself. I simply can’t help but want to document what I routinely refer to as “food porn.”

That being said, I also wanted to point out that sometimes a great batch of cupcakes doesn’t require hours of labor in the kitchen. For these hot pink numbers, I simply purchased a cake box mix and a tub of vanilla frosting. I cut up small pieces of maraschino cherries and added them to the batter, substituted cherry juice for the water called for in the cake box recipe, and crowned each cupcake with a plump single cherry. Finally, I colored the vanilla frosting with red food coloring. And thus I present to you, practically instant cherry cupcakes.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

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