Archive for August 2009


Lemon Creme Scones

August 31st, 2009 — 3:13pm

home-033I was so excited to break out the new mini-scone pan my friend Beth had generously given me for my birthday earlier this month. The obsessive compulsive side of me had always wanted a scone pan to ensure uniformly shaped scones. Never again will my scones be misshapen or mismatched. Perfect consistency. And I’ll always have that to thank you for, Beth.

Not unlike my borderline obsession with granola, I frequently enjoy making scones and testing new recipes. In my opinion, there’s nothing that pairs better with a morning cup of coffee than a slightly crumbly, ever-so-sweet scone. I’ve documented a few of my attempts on this site—strawberry scones, dried cherry scones, and blueberry scones, which have all been devine. home-052

This time I oped for a true classic—an understated lemon creme scone recipe I found at epicurious.com. Preparation was very quick and easy, and further simplified by the new pan (thankfully, no more shaping involved). Although I filled each compartment with a little too much dough, causing a bit of spillover (pictured, below), the scones were still easy to pop out once they had cooled. And the end result was a petite triangle-shaped scone of which even the queen would be proud.home-035home-042home-050

I’m not sure if I’d make this particular lemon creme recipe again. It was decent, but I think I can find better. I’m picturing something dryer, with a light frosting glaze on top. Back to the drawing board.

Any suggestions? With this new scone pan, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of making scones.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Almost Buffett Day…

August 27th, 2009 — 12:58pm

buffett-009It’s time to break out the coconut bra. Less than 48 hours remain before I’ll be boarding the bus to Alpine Valley. Buffett or Bust.

I’ve taken the day off work tomorrow so I can get in this week’s 100+ mile bike ride. That way there’s no worries on Buffett Day. Or more importantly, the day after.

I can’t even count how many summer Jimmy Buffett shows I’ve attended at Alpine Valley. I think this might be eleven…or twelve. I only missed one year—for Jill and Ryan’s wedding. charter_bus_o

This time we’ll be traveling in style. We’ve officially graduated from a big yellow bus to a coach bus. We’re getting older and wiser. The bus will be packed with fifty-five of my former high school classmates. And lots of Corona.

You can read the chronicles from the past two Buffett shows here. And I’m sure I’ll have plenty of new pictures and stories to post next week.

1 comment » | Uncategorized

Root Beer Bundt Cake

August 27th, 2009 — 10:41am

home-024I’m sure you’ve noticed that the cooking and baking posts have been pretty sparse lately. You can blame it on Ironman training. Luckily earlier this week I was finally able to spend some quality time in the kitchen. I was most excited to return to my favorite dessert cookbook—Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. As you may remember, I made a goal for myself to cook as many recipes as possible from the book by the end of the year. I’m not doing so well…I think I’ve gotten through 11 of 94. At least I have a few more months left in the year…home-040

In celebration of the final days of summer (to which I am so desperately clinging) I decided to try the Root Beer Bundt Cake recipe. It’s authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s attempt at “a cake that approximates the flavor and the lazy summer pleasure of a root beer float.” I think I’ve made it pretty obvious how I feel about root beer floats. And a cake version? Sign me up.home-018home-036home-019

 I thought the cake was amazing—especially served a la mode. Because what’s a root beer bundt cake without ice cream? The cake was moist, and the frosting was like creamy fudge. It was definitely more chocolate-y than root beer-flavored, however. There were a few bites during which I could taste the root beer, but most not so much. The recipe does feature a side note from Lewis and Poliafitio that recommends adding root beer schnapps to the recipe (if you can find it) for a more pronounced root beer flavor. Perhaps next time.

This recipe is definitely a keeper. And I think it’s a great party cake. Because who wouldn’t be excited about a Root Beer Bundt Cake? It’s so fun.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen, Recipes from the Cookbook "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking"

Freshman Move-In Day

August 27th, 2009 — 7:07am

home-0032It always amazes me each fall how the population of Madison seems to multiply tenfold in the span of  a week. Today and tomorrow mark the two-day freshman move-in period at UW-Madison. And sadly, it’s raining today—certainly not ideal conditions for moving multiple loads of heavy boxes. I snapped these pictures on my way to work this morning. At 8am, there was already a line of cars forming to the entrance of the Sellery Hall parking lot. And thus, the freshman invasion we have all come to dread and love at the same time has officially begun.

Sellery is actually the hall I lived in my freshman year at UW. As I walked through East Campus Mall observing the action this morning, I peered into the lives of an arriving family in an SUV—I saw a wide-eyed student gazing out questioningly at his new home, anxious-looking parents fixated on the parking situation, and the entire capacity of the vehicle filled to the brim with prized posessions. home-0041

The whole scene brought me back to my move-in day exactly ten years ago, which I can remember so vividly as if it were only yesterday. I remember trying so hard to be strong and brave. I remember meeting my roommate Jill for the first time. I remember stalling in every way possible so as to avoid my parents’ inevitable departure. I remember saying goodbye as my mom’s eyes filled with tears, and so did mine. I remember crying myself to bed that first night because I knew that my life, as I knew it, would never be the same.

I couldn’t help but get tears in my eyes as I walked through the parking lot this morning, contemplating how much these student’s lives would change the moment they stepped out of their comfortable SUVs. Their entire world would be different. And that’s so scary and exciting at the same time.

2 comments » | Madtown Lovin'

Boot to Bike in Eight Hours

August 26th, 2009 — 1:02pm

6611_150036848437_690273437_3401355_6733743_nI’ve learned that the key to training for an Ironman-distance triathlon is teaching your body to persevere through extreme fatigue. Running a marathon after riding 112 miles is never easy. But if you’re able to build fatigue training into your day-to-day plan, it can make race day that much more bearable. Thus I try to simulate the feeling of tired legs by incorporating back-to-back workouts—like a 100-mile bike ride followed the very next day by a 20-mile run (well, maybe that’s an extreme example). 46209-002-017f

This past weekend I tested a new variety of fatigue training. I stayed out until almost bar time drinking boots at the Essen Haus, and then woke up on Sunday morning to get on my bike for a 100-mile ride. It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t my fastest ride, but I made it through all six hours. Clearly, I have mastered fatigue. It is nothing.

Quite honestly I hadn’t planned on having such a great opportunity to incorporate fatigue training into Sunday’s ride. But I had several friends (fellow triathletes) who were in Madison to ride the Ironman Wisconsin bike course on Saturday. I had to work all day so I was unable to join them for the ride, but we met up afterwards at the Great Dane for our standard post-ride fare—beer and nachos.6611_150035998437_690273437_3401347_5756356_n

Upon finishing dinner at the Great Dane, we moved on to Paul’s Club, and eventually made our way to the Essen Haus. I contemplated heading home after Paul’s Club, but eventually caved—oh what the hell—why not? Any Madisonian or UW grad knows exactly what a trip to the Essen Haus entails (here’s a post that details the infamous “boot game.”)6611_150035113437_690273437_3401344_5184595_n. Bottom line. It’s a place where one boot always leads to another…

As I’m sure you can imagine, things definitely became infinitely more entertaining at the Esesn Haus. At Paul’s insistence, we played the boot game, while also incorporating the drinking game Sex, Drugs, and Rock-and-Roll. It was hilarious.

My favorite part of the night was observing a group 30-somethings who had clearly had a few too many boots. They were traveling around the bar challenging other groups to boot races with a song and dance number—boot race, two-thousand nine; boot race, two-thousand nine; boot race, two-thousand nine; Woot. woot. woot. woot. 6611_150036873437_690273437_3401358_5123209_n

I quickly found myself enamored with the tune, and began singing along. I think one of the guys noticed my enthusiasm, and promptly asked me to join him for a polka on the dance floor (because that’s what we do here in Wisconsin—we polka). Paul described to me later how upon being asked to dance, my face revealed a range of emotions—shit, okay, cool, let’s go. I’m not such a gifted polka dancer, but I hopped around with glee nonetheless. 6611_150035088437_690273437_3401340_6149251_n

So that’s the story of my weekend training—perhaps not what you had expcted. But I think most of you know or have a pretty good sense of how much time and energy I devote to Ironman training. Really at this point, there’s little room for anything else. So it was very nice to catch up with friends and let loose a little bit. I really needed that. And I think you would have been proud.

1 comment » | Madtown Lovin', Racing and Training

Summer’s Final Aquathon

August 25th, 2009 — 12:09pm

home-009Last Thursday marked the final aquathon of the five-event summer series. My friend Beth drove up to Madison that afternoon from Naperville for the race.

You may remember that Beth had previously driven up to spend the day in Madison and compete in the July aquathon—but sadly, sprained her ankle just days before the race. Because of the injury, she was only able to complete the swim leg. She vowed to come back in August because she so badly wanted to finish the full aquathon.home-0062

It was really nice to see Beth on Thursday, even if only for a short while. Beth is a 3rd grade teacher and her school year was was in full swing by late last week. After a full day of setting up her classroom, she drove to Madison for the race. We enjoyed a quick dinner of Jimmy John’s post-race, before Beth was on the road again, back to Naperville for the next morning’s teacher institute day. Now that’s dedication!

When we arrived at Warner Park, which serves as the race site for the aquathon series, the waves in Lake Mendota looked perilous. They were viciously crashing up against the shore in rapid succession. As we lined up on the beach for the start of the race, it was clear that one of the buoys marking the first turn on the course was drifting out to sea—rapidly increasing the distance of our supposed 1,500 meter swim. The race started at 7pm on the dot, in an effort to avoid the turn in weather that the looming dark skies seemed to suggest was nearing.

It was the waviest swim I’ve ever experienced. I’d say it was pretty comparable to my youthful days of swimming in the wave pool at Magic Waters. It was very difficult to sight because every time I looked up, all I saw was a big wave crashing down on me. I got off course on the way out, and ended up confused and having to back track to get around the first buoy. At least this is good training for swimming in the ocean, I figured.

The run was difficult as always. I hate sprinting. But nonetheless, I was able to maintain a 7:06 mile pace. I think I came out of the water as the second female, and was passed by one female (a former UW track athlete—which somehow always makes it much easier to swallow) during the second-half of the run. I came in as the 3rd female in 37:52.

Beth did awesome as well, and she looked like a professional sporting her new wetsuit and triathlon gear. The run course features an out-and-back loop, so it was cool to cheer each other on during the run. I’ve been so impressed recently with Beth’s dedication and enthusiasm for the sport of triathlon. She’s competing in the Chicago Triathlon this upcoming weekend. I’m so excited for her. Go Beth!

Comment » | Racing and Training

No Wetsuits Allowed?!

August 24th, 2009 — 4:11pm

5848_828867490827_8608644_50845096_4336861_nJust a few weeks out from the “biggest race of my life,” and I find out last week from my friend Lauren that wetsuits are not allowed at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Actually, someone I didn’t know very well told me the same thing about a month ago, but I didn’t believe him. But I believe my friend Lauren—she actually competed in the race a few years back.

I’m guessing it’s probably too warm for wetsuits in Hawaii. Typically wetsuits are permitted at USA Triathlon events  in water temperatures up to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The primary benefits of a wetsuit are increased buoyancy and hydrodynamic effects. However, it can get quite hot under the thick rubber material during intense exercise in warm water—hence the 78 degree maximum.

So clearly it’s time to put away my wetsuit for the season. It’s old and holey anyways, so I’m not terribly disappointed. But in many ways, it does become a crutch—without a doubt, I’m a faster swimmer in a wetsuit. Now I have to learn to become a fast swimmer sans wetsuit…which is gonna take some work. And time is no longer on my side.

I’ll probably end up swimming  in a regular old swimsuit during Ironman. Lauren said that many Kona competitors use a speed suit—which is a thin outer layer designed for non-wetsuit races that provides some hydrodynamic advantage over traditional swim wear. This thin layer is priced at $200-300, and thus effectively out of my budget. So a swimsuit will have to suffice. And then I’ll just change into my regular triathlon uniform during the swim-to-bike transition.

My biggest concern at this point—what other surprises await me leading up to this race?

1 comment » | Racing and Training

Isthmus Annual Manual

August 21st, 2009 — 2:29pm

home-0151It’s that time of the year…the Isthmus Annual Manual (29th annual) hit news stands in Madison yesterday. It’s the much-hyped annual accompaniment to my favorite Madison alternative weekly newspaper—the Isthmus, which covers Madison events, news, music, restaurants, and more.

I love the Annual Manual. It’s great for Madison newbies and veterans alike. I always keep one close at hand as a general reference guide, and for ideas on new restaurants, stores, music performers/venues, etc. The best part is the “Madison’s Favorites Poll,” which this year, features a total of 97 categories!  Holy crap.

Calling all Madisonians. Get your Annual Manual today!

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Dairyland Dare

August 21st, 2009 — 2:17pm

home-028Well the truth is I didn’t quite finish last Saturday’s 200k Dairyland Dare. I’m not usually one to drop out of a ride, but after 7 hours and 105-miles of non-stop climbing in 90 degree heat—and plans to go to Chicago immediately following the race—the thought of two more hours on my bike did not sound terribly appealing.

So I called my friend, who was waiting for me at the finish line after having completed the 100K course (there were several “dare” distances from which to choose), and asked her to pick me up at the rest stop in Clyde. 

On one hand it does sort of bother me that I dropped out of the ride early. I definitely pride myself in being a fighter and a finisher, so having a “DNF” (did not finish) next to my name is a little disconcerting. Especially when I was physcically able to finish the race. home-022

On the other hand, I signed up for the ride with the intention of using it as a training ride. I got in 105 very solid miles of intense training, and despite not quite making it to the finish line, I believe it was still a great effort. And I’ve finished several slightly more difficult 200k rides over the past few years, so it’s certainly a distance I’m capable of completing. But sometimes, you just know when enough is enough. I had been looking forward to my trip to Chicago all week…and I was starting to get anxious during my ride when I realized that finishing might mean getting into Chicago much later than I had hoped.

So yes, I threw in the towel a little early. Does it make me feel a little guilty? Sure. But did I get in a great ride that day even though I didn’t complete the 200k “dare”? Yes. Did I get to take home some cool swag? Yup. And did I get to Chicago in time for dinner? Hell Yeah. Do I have several long rides (100+ miles), and thus the opportunity to make up the mileage, over the next few weekends? Uh Yeah.

And there you have it. It’s all about balance and mental sanity, folks. I went to Chicago intead of finishing the 200k Dairyland Dare…and I’m okay with that.

Comment » | Racing and Training

Lovely Bones

August 20th, 2009 — 12:09pm

lovely_bonesLast week I saw a preview for the movie The Lovely Bones, which is based on the critically acclaimed novel by Alice Sebold. The movie is set to release in December. You can watch the trailer here.

I picked up the novel around a year ago from a used bookstore, but it’s been gathering dust on a bookshelf in my apartment ever since. I remember obsering my friend Karen reading the book two years ago. I still remember her dramatic reaction upon reading just the first page. It seemed impressive to me at the time that a book could so quickly shock and captivate a reader.

Since I was due to begin a new book anyways, and becauase I had been so taken by the movie preview, I decided to finally get started on The Lovely Bones earlier this week. I finished one hundred pages that first day. The thing about this novel is that there is no easing into the storyline, no comfortable intoductions—there’s simply no time or reason for pleasantries. The novel begins with an atrocious crime recounted by the teenage victim herself, and the reader is taken along on a rollercoaster ride of the aftermath.

In simplest terms, the novel is about a 14-year old girl named Susie Salmon who is brutually raped and murdered by a neighborhood man in 1973. She watches from heaven as her family and friends deal with their grief and her killer moves on with his life. She is forced to weigh her desire for vengeance against her wish for her family to heal and move on with their lives.

I’m now about mid-way though the book, and am absolutely wrapped up in the storyline. I have to force myself to put the book down and actually go to sleep at a decent hour each night. As in Kristin, you have to get up and run at 5:30 a.m. Put the damn book down.

But I can’t wait to finish the book, and then to see the movie in December. What a treat that will be to see director Peter Jackon’s version on the big screen.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

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