Archive for September 2012

Andrew Bird in Madison

September 27th, 2012 — 4:47am

Last night I saw Andrew Bird in concert at the Overture Center in Madison. It was the first stop in Bird’s 25-show fall tour, which includes stops in the UK, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Sweden. It was my first time seeing Andrew Bird in concert. And as I told Larry back in June when I first bought the tickets, there’s pretty much no other musical artist I’d rather see live in concert right now than Andrew Bird.

Besides minor technical difficulties at the beginning of the show (a distracting crackling noise), the performance was fantastic. I particularly liked when the musicians went acoustic, and anytime Bird picked up his violin. I also loved the helix-shaped figures floating above the stage that served as the perfect visual accompaniment to the music. I’m looking forward to Bird’s newest album (a companion piece to Break it Yourself), Hands of Glory, which will be released on October 30. For a more in-depth review of the concert, Aaron Conklin wrote a great review of the show for 77 Square.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

The Magic of Fall

September 26th, 2012 — 10:55am

Spotted this lone beauty during my ride through the UW Arboretum last night.

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 9/26

September 26th, 2012 — 8:34am

I enjoyed the Beet & Kale Pesto Pizza and the Kale, Apple and Hook’s Cheddar Cheese salad at today’s Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch. Underground Food Collective was this week’s featured producer. They provided the prosciutto for the Pear, Arugula, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Pizza, which I came very close to ordering (but since I’m not a fan of blue cheese, the Gorgonzola scared me away in the end). Both were fabulous. I’d like to try to recreate the Beet and Kale Pesto Pizza at home—it seems like it would be fairly easy to do. I was bummed that I missed the Honey Lavender Ice Cream for dessert (it was sold out by the time I arrived), but I’ve already had my fair share of dessert today (cake celebration at work this morning), so perhaps it was for the best.

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Sleepwalk With Me

September 26th, 2012 — 4:19am

I recently finished reading the book Sleepwalk With Me & Other Painfully True Stories by comedian Mike Birbiglia. Midway through the book, I saw the film by the same title. Both are based on true, personal stories from Birbiglia’s life—growing up, navigating relationships, struggling as a fledgling comedian and dealing with (or not) a dangerous sleepwalking condition.

I was first introduced to Mike Birbiglia’s work a few years ago through episodes of This American Life, to which he’s a regular contributor. Mike uses an observational comedic style that I really enjoy, sort of poking fun at everyday life and things society has come to view as totally normal. For example, here’s a great excerpt from the book:

At Catholic school a lot of your teachers are nuns, and they’re always talking about this guy Jesus who everybody’s afraid of but everybody loves, because he loves everybody. And a long time ago some people killed him, and it’s not totally your fault, and don’t be scared or sad, because he’s living forever, next to God, who’s his dad, even though he is also God. And also there’s this Holy Spirit part too, that no one really understands. But all three guys are everywhere, at all times, just in case you need to talk anything out.

And it’s funny how they roll it out to you when you’re seven. They’re like, “There’s this guy Jesus, and he totally loves you.”

And you say, “Oh, okay, great.”

And they say, “And you love him too, right?”

And you ask, “I’m sorry, do I know that guy?”

And they say, “you know, from the picture of the cross? That guy loves you…and you love him.”

It starts innocently enough, as innocently as man-boy love can start. Then it starts to get a little heavier. When you’re eight they just casually throw it out there: “You know, he died for your sins.”

The book and film are worth checking out. There were several moments during each that I found myself laughing out loud. There were occasions, however, when I felt for his former girlfriend, Abby, or thought to myself, Mike, now you’ve just gone too far. If you had stopped like two sentences ago, that would have been funny. But now, this is a little awkward.

But in many ways, Mike is awkward. And that’s what makes him so funny.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

Mile-High Apple Pie

September 25th, 2012 — 7:51am

After a full day of USGP cyclocross racing/spectating on Sunday (almost 12 hours worth), I came home and promptly decided to make an apple pie. I had purchased apples at the farmers’ market the previous weekend and was eager to put them to use. The recipe I used is from Martha Stewart’s latest cookbook—Martha’s American Food, “a celebration of our nation’s most treasured dishes, from coast to coast.” The book is divided into six sections (regions): Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, West, as well as an “All-American” section with recipes for dishes like blueberry pancakes and grilled cheese with tomato soup. It’s a nice compilation of 200 recipes that celebrate regional favorites. The apple pie is both beautiful and delicious—a great way to celebrate the start of the fall season.

Mile-High Apple Pie (from Martha’s American Food; makes one double-crust 9-inch pie)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 recipe Basic Pie Dough (Mile-High Pie variation)
5 1/2 pounds firm tart apples (about 16), such as Jonagold, Mutsu, or Granny Smith
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
Sanding or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional…but not really)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out smaller of the two large disks of pie dough (for the bottom crust) into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick, dusting surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Brush off excess flour. Fit dough into a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate. Trim to a 1/4-inch overhang; reserve trimmings. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, roll out larger disk of dough (for the top crust) into a 14-inch round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Peel and core apples and cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Place in a large bowl; sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. In a small bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, and cinnamon; add to apple slices and top to coat.

Remove dough from refrigerator; place apple mixture in pie shell, mounding it into a tall pile. Dot filling with butter pieces. Whisk egg yolk with the water; using a pastry brush, lightly coat edge of dough with egg wash. Center and place other dough round over the apples; trim off edge of dough, if necessary. Tuck edge of top dough between bottom dough and rim of pan. Using your fingers, gently press both layers of dough along the edge to seal, and crimp as desired.

Using a paring knife, cut several steam vents in top of dough. Lightly brush surface with egg wash; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 10 minutes (crust will begin to turn golden).

Reduce oven to 350 degrees F, rotate pie, and continue baking until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 1 1/4 hours (tent with foil if crust is turning too dark). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving, with ice cream if desired (yes…yes, you do).

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DIY Cyclocross Barriers

September 21st, 2012 — 10:45am

One of the things I’ve been most nervous about with getting into cyclocross is getting over barriers. They’re intimidating, and my anxiousness is probably also a result of watching this video one too many times. After my first official cyclocross practice, I thought it might be nice to have my own set of barriers—because clearly I need as much practice as possible getting over these things.

I thought surely there must be a way to make a set of barriers myself, so I researched on the web and found a great tutorial for making a set of barriers from PVC pipe. All you need is PVC pipe and connectors (approximately $20 worth of supplies), a tape measure, marker, and a hacksaw. My dad helped me with the project while we were at my family’s cabin over Labor Day weekend. It was extremely easy. In less than 15 minutes, I had my very own set of standard regulation height barriers. I didn’t use glue, so the barriers are easy to take apart and transport. Then, it was time to practice.

Comment » | Racing and Training

Lake Geneva Cross

September 20th, 2012 — 11:25am

I had my very first cyclocross race this past weekend in Lake Geneva. I’ve been gearing up for my first season of cyclocross for the past month—I bought a cyclocross bike (a Specialized Crux Elite) in early August, have been attending weekly cyclocross practices run by the UW Cycling team, and even built my own barriers to practice with (more on that later). My legs are literally covered in bruises, but so far I’m loving the challenge and excitement of this new sport.

The Lake Geneva Cross event was held at a youth camp in Lake Geneva. Larry and I drove up the morning of the race, departing Madison shortly after 6 a.m. I was tired and nervous and had countless questions for Larry, such as, how will I know when to stop racing? Luckily, he was patient and attentive, helping me to feel more at ease. I was thankfully able to ride a practice lap on the course before my race, which gave me a better sense of what to expect. The course featured a little bit of everything—barriers, hills, a sandpit, trails, grass, gravel, sharp corners, and a steep ramp. The ramp was scary steep, and I had never actually ridden through a sandpit. This should be interesting.

I lined up with 13 other Category 4 women at 11:15 a.m. Our race would be 30 minutes. Essentially, riders complete as many loops of the course as they can in the allotted time. The thing about cyclocross, and what makes it so different from the endurance events I’ve dedicated myself to in recent years, is that you have to race all-out the whole time.

I had a nice position from the start, and settled into second place for the first loop. I was too afraid to take the lead since I had no idea what I was doing. After the first loop, I felt more comfortable and started to get a little restless with the pace (and could sense others behind me getting ready to make a move), so I passed the woman in the lead. From there, I was able to build a small lead. The second and third loops were hard—I was so winded and tired. I kept looking at my watch, hoping the 30 minutes would soon be over. After three loops, the course marshal rang the bell that signaled the last loop. My legs and lungs were on fire.

I finished and survived my first race with no major catastrophes. Afterward, I chatted with a few other women from the race. Everyone I talked with was extremely friendly. And so far, that’s what I like most about cyclocross. It just has this really laid-back, fun vibe. I still have a ton to learn and will undoubtedly get my butt kicked at future races, but I enjoyed my first race experience and am looking forward to the races ahead, including this weekend’s USGP.

Comment » | Racing and Training

Gluten-Free Apple Cider Doughnuts

September 20th, 2012 — 4:25am

Last night I whipped up a batch of these Gluten-Free Apple Cider Doughnuts. More than a year ago, I had purchased a doughnut pan, which up until this point, had proven worthy of nothing more than collecting dust in my kitchen cupboard. But I finally found a recipe for baked (not fried) doughnuts, which provided the first opportunity to put my doughnut pan to use. I don’t normally seek out gluten-free recipes, but decided to give this one a try. This recipe is relatively simple, and I loved the sweet aroma that filled the kitchen while they were baking. The doughnuts are pretty tasty and certainly timely as this week brings the first signs of fall. I’m looking forward to continuing to put my doughnut pan to use this fall/winter.

Gluten-Free Apple Cider Doughnuts (from Taste of Home, Aug./Sept. 2012; makes 10 doughnuts)

2 cups gluten-free biscuit/baking mix
3/4 cup sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce) quick-rise yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup apple cider or juice
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2/3 to 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, mix the first eight ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the water, butter, applesauce and vanilla until blended. Add to the dry ingredients; stir until blended. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut a small hole in the corner of a food-safe plastic bag; fill with batter. Pipe into a 6-cavity doughnut pan coated with cooking spray, filling cavities three-fourths full.

Bake at 325° for 11-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

For glaze, in a small saucepan, bring apple cider to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to 3 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in butter until melted. Stir in enough confectioners’ sugar to reach glaze consistency. Dip each doughnut halfway, allowing excess to drip off. Place on wire rack; let stand until set.

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Slow Food Cafe Grand Opening

September 19th, 2012 — 8:41am

Today marked the grand opening of this year’s Slow Food UW Cafe. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for since last May, when the cafe shut its doors for summer break. But now that fall semester is in full swing, I’m looking forward to getting back to my weekly Wednesday lunch routine—enjoying fresh, local, creative and affordable meals imagined and prepared by enthusiastic students who are passionate about good food. 

From this week’s menu, I chose the Roasted Bell Pepper Hummus Veggie Pita; the Pear, Greens and Goat Cheese Salad; the Red Bell Pepper and Sweet Corn Soup; and the Ginger Melon Mint Ice Cream. It seemed like the most nutrient-packed meal I’ve had in weeks. All the dishes I tried were winners in my book, but I particularly enjoyed the interesting flavors of the ice cream. I don’t even like melons, but this ice cream was delicious and so unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. 

I joined my friends Eric and Mary for lunch. That’s another part I enjoy about cafe lunches—you never know who you’re going to meet. Even when I come alone (as I did today), I always seem to run into someone I know or meet new friends.

I also noticed and appreciated a few of the small changes that were implemented for this year’s cafe—nice, black “Slow Food UW” aprons for the cooks, a pitcher of water on each table, table tents with more info about one of the farmers from whom some of the meal’s ingredients are sourced, as well as greater efficiency in the order/pay line.

I can’t wait until next Wednesday. It’s going to be a great year!

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Breakfast Cookies

September 18th, 2012 — 11:12am

I recently made these Breakfast Cookies that were featured in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living. They’re packed with everything from pumpkin seeds to dried mango and banana chips. Apparently the recipe is from the Red Barn Bakery, one of Martha’s favorite vendors at the farmers’ market in Bedford, Massachusetts. I’m not sure I’d ever replace my breakfast with one of these cookies (not quite filling enough for me and perhaps not the healthiest of breakfast options), but they were a great sweet fix later in the day. One of Larry’s friends remarked that they were the best cookies he’d ever tasted. I like their hearty texture and flavor. If you enjoy a good oatmeal raisin cookies, these are a nice alternative.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups packed dark-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1/2 cup finely chopped dried mango
1/4 cup finely chopped dried papaya
1 cup dried banana chips

Preheat a convection oven to 325 degrees or a conventional oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix just to combine.

With the mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture and mix until well combined. Add oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, raisins, mango, and papaya; mix to combine.

Form dough into eight equal portions, about 1 cup each, and form into patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheets. Top evenly with banana chips. Transfer to oven and bake until golden and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

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