Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh.My.Gosh. Cheesecake. And cookies. And Bread. And Soup. And Salad.

The Divas are back at it again.  Well at least I hope so.  It was about time for us to have another one of our famous lunches.  Here's the drill:  6 women who immensely love running, eating and each other.  Last year we started this little tradition of a pot luck lunch of salad, soup, bread and dessert.  Usually there is no occasion: just friends getting together enjoying gorging themselves with from scratch goodies, all the while talking about running, kids, husbands and whatever other topics might come up.

Sara brought her Chicken Chili, which I just enjoyed again for dinner:
3 ckn breasts cooked and shredded
1 can of stewed tomoatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 jar of medium chuncky salsa
2 zucchini's depends on size chopped up
1 cup of frozen corn
1 can of mushrooms
1 can of black beans
1 can of chick peas
chili powder to taste simmer 

Lisa brought Peg's bread (which pretty soon will be known as Lisa's bread). She outdid herself, making a white, wheat and rye.  Here is the original recipe for Peg's bread.  Lisa: feel free to comment with any modifications. (I had some of this again for dinner too).

Here is the recipe for the white bread - this is an excerpt from their website.

Our book had great coverage in “The Week” magazine on April 18th (page 30 in the paper version). But their version of our recipe has you throwing in 4 cups of water, rather than the correct 3 cups (see the fine print on the right, above). Please use 3 cups, or you’ll have pancake batter! The correct version of our basic recipe in the book (page 26) is:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for the pizza peel
And then, you know the drill. Mix with a spoon in a food-safe bucket, let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 5 hours, then into the fridge for two weeks. Tear off chunks, shape, rest, and bake as needed. And you all know you can decrease the yeast ( and the salt if you like it. Details in the book.
But there it is, pretty much.

The wheat bread recipe is:

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 vital wheat gluten
4 cups lukewarm water
This will make 2 of the bigger loafs or 4 small ones.

Peg made a wonderful Salad with mixed greens, toasted pine nuts, feta cheese and dried cherries.  Peg, please comment with your recipe.  YUM! (My mom ate the leftovers from that for dinner).

Staci made the most FABULOUS cheesecake I have ever had. I am trying NOT to eat the leftover piece right now.


Makes one 9~inch cheesecake 

2 Cups crushed chocolate cookies or vanilla wafers *approximately 8 ounces cookies*
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 1/2 (8~ounces) packages cream cheese, softened
1 Cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all~purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs 
2 tablespoons whipping cream
**Carmel Topping (recipe follows)
**Chocolate Topping (recipe follows)
1 Cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 450*F. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of a 9~inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy. Add sugar, flour, salt adn vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in cream. Pour over crust. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200*F; continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim of pan. 
Drizzle with Carmel Topping and Chocolate Topping. Refrigerate. Sprinkle with pecans just before serving.

Carmel Topping: 
Combine 1/2 (4~ounce) bag of caramels and 1/3 cup whipping cream in small saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth.

Chocolate Topping: 
Combine 1 (4~ounce) package German sweet chocolate, 1 teaspoon butter and 2 tablespoons whipping cream in small saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth.

And I made some yummy cookies from the picky palate website (i have been eating these for the past 2 days):

Brownie-Stuffed chocolate chip cookies

White Choc Pretzel Peanut Butter Cookies w Sea Salt

I SO wish I would have taken photos.  Oh well.  I guess that just means we need to do another lunch soon girls!  I just found another good recipe...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Don't judge a book...

As most of you know, my latest endeavor is working at Playmakers, a store that specializes in running shoes, gear, and a whole lot of other really cool stuff.  I absolutely love it there; it gives me a chance to share my passion for fitness, good health and get a freakin' awesome discount on all my stuff.  You could definitely say I work there to feed my running habit for sure.
So we get all types of people in the store, from stick-thin elite runners, high school track kids, weekend warriors, and the brave souls who have never run a mile in their lives and are looking to start.  Yesterday I helped an older gentleman (I won't give an age guess as not to offend any of my audience but let's just say for sure in the "grand master" category.  Not that that makes him old mind you...just "older" than me...).  To look at this guy you wouldn't think "runner". He was pretty short and stout with a little belly that shouted "I LOVE BUSCH LIGHT!". He was a bit disheveled with crazy dirty hair,  a few rips in his pants, and a very worn Carhart jacket.  He looked (and sort of smelled) as if he had just spit out a huge wad of chew moments before stepping foot into the store.  I figured he was looking to replace the ratty old school Reeboks he was sporting.

Much to my surprise, in a slight hillbilly accent he asks me to help him select a new pair of running shoes, as his Asics at home are feeling a bit worn out.  He continues to tell me that he is really hoping to knock down his 5K time and should he get some lighter shoes?  How cute, I think.  He probably wants to break 40 minutes for his 3.1 mile time.  Maybe his goal is to even run the whole thing instead of walking part of it.  As I help him try on some shoes, he continues to barrage me (and surprise the heck out of me) with questions:  "What should I do for speedwork?  Should I warm up at least 1 mile before the race?  Should I add striders to my warm up?"  Striders?????   How does this guy know what striders are??? Then he starts talking about his training for the Capital City 1/2 Marathon last year and he feels he may have overtrained a bit.  Seriously?  Kodiak Chew man ran 13.1 miles 6 months ago? And overtrained?

I can't stand it any longer.  I ask him "So sir, what kind of 5K time are you looking to achieve this Spring?"  He stops tying his shoe for a minute and ponders, "Well, I just keep getting stuck at the 23 minute mark.  Would love to break into the 22s". (in case you're wondering, that's around a 7 minute, 30 second per mile pace)

Um yeah buddy.  Me too.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bringing me back

Another sub-artic freezing cold day.  Another day working out inside.  Except today I refused to step my Saucanys on the treadmill and instead reverted back to my college days and hopped on the erg.  Er...what?

An erg.  That's short for an ergometer.  Rowing machine to you non-rower types.

The erg is an evil little machine that had my blood, sweat, tears, the evening prior's alcohol, vomit and any other bodily fluid you can think of on it for 2 wonderful years when I was on Loyola College's Crew team. During our off season, when it was too cold to be rowing in Baltimore's *pristine* Inner Harbor (oh if I try hard enough, I can still smell that nasty smell...), we'd load into the Loyola College vans at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am, still reeking of Milwaukee's Best, Boone's Farm and stale cigarette smoke.  There, on the upper level of our beautiful boathouse, sat a row of ergs, eagerly waiting to torture us for 1 hour or more.  With every pull of the handles, I regretted every ounce of alcohol I consumed (just hours before) and the entire cheese pizza I inhaled (also just hours before).  I had blisters so bad on my palms that the skin rubbed off on the handles.   I'd strap on my 15 lb Sony (Sport!) Walkman and jam out to Salt n Peppa's "Push It" and Violent Femmes's "Blister in the Sun" and get her done. It really wasn't pretty.

Oh I could go on and on and reminisce about these glory days, but don't worry...I won't.

But I will tell you that after spending 15 minutes reliving my nightmare "erg" days of college, it made 30 minutes on the "mill" seem like a dream.  Well...almost.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Crew

I am beginning to think I will never remember what it was like to run with less than 3 layers of clothing on. Tonight was no exception.  Run class with the running 102 ladies, who have been inside on the dreadmill more time than they have been hitting the pavement outside.  So I told them come hell or high water (what does that mean anyway...come hell or high water???) we would run outside.  Even when I checked (if you looked at my history in my laptop, the most hits would be to Jim Cantore...) and saw the temp would be 13 degrees at 6 pm with a wind chill of 0 I figured we could tough it out.  Then I did what any reasonable girl would do and called her friend.  Who happens to be as crazy of a runner as I am.  And Sara said, "sure, let's go outside".  So I geared up:  a pair of tights, long smartwool socks, lined running pants, marino wool sports bra, smartwool tank top, icebreaker long sleeved shirt, patagonia fleece, and wind resistant outer shell.  2 pairs of gloves, ear warmers and a hat.
In a word:  Stay Puft Marshmallow (wo)Man (I guess that is 4 words)
To my surprise Sara wasn't the only crazy runner that joined me.  The rest of the Stay Puft Marshmallow gang started rolling in, donned in more layers of marino wool than a freakin' herd of sheep. 7 of us braved the elements and even started shedding layers as we started our hillwork.  
I can assure you, as we finished our workout and ran back up Schavey Road we got looks of disbelief from the drivers in their warm cozy cars, butts warmed by their seat heaters.  I probably would have thought the same thing any other day.  

But tonight I felt like a winter warrior, layers and all.  

The forecast for tomorrow's Speedwork class:
5 degrees, real feel of -13 degrees with winds at 17 mph.  
We'll just have to see about that one...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Dreadmill

I did all I could to avoid you.  In fact, I think I was in denial.

When I woke up with 11 inches of snow on the ground and wind gusts in the 30s, I knew running outside was NOT an option.  I promptly brought up Hal's training guide and saw I needed to run 5 miles.
Hm. Could I do said 5 miles another day?  Nope, had other training runs or other commitments.
I poured myself a cup of coffee while the kids pranced around me to the imaginary tune of "no school! snow day! no school!".  My husband came downstairs and hopped on the treadmill for his morning run.  Oh darn.  Looks like the dreadmill is occupied....

Sidebar: Why is it that I don't mind the treadmill at the YMCA, but I can't stand working out on mine?  Is it because it is holed up in the basement and all I do is stare at a white wall while I run?  Is it because my kids constantly come down and try to talk to me above my blaring music, messing up my 'mill zone?

I moved onto a second cup of coffee.  Kids still dancing.  5 miles looming over my head. I walked down to the basement and just looked at the dreadmill.  It looked back at me.  I came upstairs and baked a loaf of banana bread.  Who knew...It takes 1 hour to bake banana bread so I'd better hang upstairs until its done.

It was done.  Reluctantly I gave in and went upstairs and put on my running clothes. On the way to the basement I found a few things that needed done.  The dishwasher needed to be unloaded and loaded.  And jeez was the living room floor full of dog hair!  Better vacuum that up.  I rechecked my training schedule to make sure it said 5 miles. Yep.  5 miles.

Downstairs the 'mill and I had another stare if it was taunting me and saying "you gonna do this or what?".  Before I could think of any other chores that needed done (although my kitchen floor could really use a good scrub by hand...) I hopped on.  And I ran. I didn't love it, although I didn't hate it either.  As I ran, I thought about my post dreadmill reward:  a 2 pm snowday glass of wine.  Or two.

45 minutes and 5 miles later, I was done.  Let's hope the roads are clear today because I don't want to have another stare down with that piece of machinary again!