Monthly Archives: September 2011

Race Number Two

My mom’s birthday was Friday (Happy Birthday again, Mom! Love ya!) so I made her a pan of lasagna which The Boy, The Puppy and I brought to her and shared with her this afternoon, along with a store-bought tiramisu. The lasagna was yum, if I do say so myself, cheesy and dense and rich. The tiramisu  was okay, but I’m definitely going to try to make my own next year. Or convince my mom she wants a sour cream mocha chocolate cake instead : D

Did I take any pictures of the lasagna, the tiramisu or even of my mother? No, I did not. This is because I was completely preoccupied with keeping The Puppy from antagonizing my mom’s 150 lb lab so that the lab wouldn’t eat The Puppy. Or sit on him. So no pictures. Sorry.

However, I do have a few hastily taken and shakily executed phone pics from this morning’s Run the Pier race!

This was my second race. I was super excited about it because it takes place on Navy Pier. Nnot that I’m in love with Navy Pier. Quite the opposite. The only good things about it in my mind are the Chicago Shakespeare theater and the lake. And really, there’s A LOT of lake to be had in Chicago without resorting to subjecting onesself to The Pier. I was happy that it was on The Pier because it’s relatively easy to get to, the course is kind of predetermined so there’s no guesswork (the course is running around The Pier. Doesn’t really get simpler than that) and I’ve had some pretty good times at The Pier with friends in the past, and it is a Chicago landmark.

Anyway, my heat started at 8:20. I wanted to be there by 7:30 to have a chance to check in, warm up, find the bathrooms, and cheer everyone else on as their heats took off. I got up at around 6:10, took a quick shower, got dressed, grabbed my gear and made breakfast. Around 7:00 I left for Navy Pier. Before I left, I checked in with The Boy, who had mentioned the possibility of him and The Puppy going with me. He was too out of it and I didn’t really leave him much time if he had roused himself enough, but before I left he said some nice stuff in his half-awake-ness : )

Usually the expressway is a total disaster heading Downtown, but today the scene was more like this:

Awesome sauce! I arrived at The Pier with no trouble and right on time. I checked in and picked up my t-shirt and bib, stashed the shirt in my car, and proceeded to warm up and get the lay of the land. While I was lurking and listening (two of my favorite activities when I don’t know anyone and no one knows me), I overheard a conversation between two young men with British accents and an extremely intense 30-something woman. The boys (they were probably in their early 20s) were wearing what appeared to be street clothes and extremely hip street shoes. As in, these are my ironically grown-up brown patent leather Rob Petrie Big Boy shoes!

They told Ms. Intense With A Side Of Intense that they were on The Pier to find breakfast and thought that it would be fun to “have a run.”

Alrighty.

It was pretty drizzly the whole time I was waiting, but it started to full-on rain when they called my heat. I still managed to snap a few pictures.

The north side, shortly after the start.

East side. Just around the bend was a woman holding a cow bell. Fun stuff.

South side. It was raining harder and I was running into the wind at this point, so it was harder to snap a steady picture. You can’t really see it, but the blue smudge towards the middle of the picture indicates the half mile mark.

As you can see, there is NO ONE in sight ahead of me. That’s not ’cause I’m ahead of the pack, oh no. I was firmly towards the back. There were a few stragglers behind me, but really, this chica is SLOW.

According to the race results, I finished in just over 9 minutes, but I have NEVER run that fast, and I have trouble believing I did it today. I’m guessing I was closer to just under 12. Most embarrassing/exhilarating moment in the race was when I crossed the finish line. I know, I know, huge “duh,” but made all that much more of everything because THEY ANNOUNCED MY NAME. Whaaaat?

A couple of minutes after I crossed the finish line, The Boy called to see if I was finished and alive. I was both, and once again, he was very sweet and worried about me. Aw.

I treated myself to a nonfat salted caramel mocha from Starbucks. Ridicu-yum.

I could get used to this.

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Catchphrase

Wasn’t that the name of a gameshow?

Yep. It was.

Which doesn’t really matter. I’ve just been thinking about catchphrases, aphorisms, mottos, and mantras lately, and the purposes they serve, if any. I know some people really do find comfort, strength, or power from having a personal motto or mantra. Some of the work I’ve done in therapy this year is to repeat positive phrases to myself, like, “I’m perfect the way I am.” But adopting something like that as a mantra? Not for me.

Then I got a gift from a friend in the mail today. It’s a Road ID tag for my shoe, and the tag says, “I believe in you!”

Wow. I have been working really hard at understanding that I don’t need external validation to understand that I am worthwhile, but having someone I really care about tell me she believes in me like that, unexpectedly, felt amazing. I’ve been repeating those words to myself all day. Thanks, Mary. I believe in you, too.

So! I haven’t posted in awhile. Things have been crazy in Casa McWittmann. But also good.

Over the Labor Day weekend, we had a friend over for Cuban food and to watch a documentary we were all excited to see.

What?

So Cuban food is super delicious and fun to make, but it takes me awhile to put a whole meal together since I don’t do it a whole lot. It’s a two day process for me. Day 1: make picadillo to fill empanadas with, and fill empanada shells. Make sangria. Day 2: make congri, fry empanadas, tostones and rice pudding.

A lot of people don’t seem to know what congri is. What it is is AWESOME. Rice cooked with beans and the water used to cook the beans, garlic, and oil. Sometimes it’s also made with bacon and other stuff, but I try to do a healthier congri. Some pics to make you jealous:

(I baked my empanadas and tostones)

Cuban rice pudding is made a bit differently than other rice puddings. It’s made on the stovetop with orange peel and anise seed.

First you cook the arborio rice with the anise seed.

They’re so tiny and they pack such a flavor wallop!

Then you cook it over really low heat for a very looooooooooooong time.

Eventually it cooks down and turns all creamy. Then you add vanilla and spread it in a pan to cool.

I may have added some rum.

It had to go in something!

It was a fun night. Then the next day we did this.

That’s right. Sangria for breakfast. And puppy hijinks.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend! A little late.

What do you think about mantras or personal mottos?

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I finished a race!

Last weekend, one of my best friends (originally from Chicago but living near Minneapolis) came to visit, and we spent Saturday together. We had lunch at the Chicago Diner, a fairly famous (or infamous, if you find stridently vegetarian/vegan places irritatingly self-righteous) restaurant in the city. While my friend is not particularly strident and is definitely not irritatingly self-righteous, she is a vegetarian and I’ve been wanting to take her to the Chicago Diner for awhile. Of course, we were so wrapped up in our conversation that I forgot to take any pictures. We shared pot stickers (ridiculously good), and we each had the Black Mamba burger (good, but a little fussy). I had the sweet potato fries with mine, which were perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. We also shared a pitcher of sangria, which turned out to be one of the best examples of restaurant sangria I’ve ever had, which shocked the hell out of me. The Boy and I are pretty big fans of tapas, and sangria is ALWAYS part of the meal. I thought I’d had really good sangria in the past, but nothing compared to this. I think it came down to the incredibly fresh fruit incorporated into the sangria. There were pineapple chunks, peaches and what I believe to be passion fruit chunks. Delicious.

After lunch, we stopped at Lululemon (best sports bras ever), The Spice House (amazing spice emporium), and a few other stores before stopping at Whole Foods. They had Mission Figs on sale and since I had never tasted a fresh fig before, I decided to give them a try. Poor Friend Who Lives in Minneapolis left without any, which was a shame because they were sooooo good.

As good as they were, though, I did not get a chance to finish them during the week. Each day when I opened the refrigerator to retrieve something that was not a fig, I eyed them and wondered what to do with them before they died a lonely and uneaten death. Then I read this post on Meals and Miles, and decided to try out a lemon fig cake. She used a Martha Stewart recipe, which I quickly Googled and found with no trouble. I made it last night. Wow. Just, oh my god wow.

SUPER easy! I made a few changes to the recipe. I decided that I would substitute the olive oil with unsweetened applesauce, and use whole wheat pastry flour for half of the flour requirement.

I decided to take another page out of the Meals and Miles playbook and add an icing sugar glaze, but instead of using lemon juice and milk, I used lemon juice and dark rum.

I *am* lactose intolerant, after all. And my mother’s daughter. It’s not good unless it has a shot of rum!

The texture of the cake is almost like bread pudding — dense, moist, and a little spongy. Since I loves me some bread pudding, this is just dandy by me. Next time I make it, though, I think I will try it with the olive oil, just to see how different it tastes and how it affects the consistency. I don’t need a crumby cake, but sometimes it’s nice.

And in other news, I finished my first race! It was billed as a 5K, but was really 4. 12 miles. I ran it with another one of my best friends and even though we came in, well, not last but almost last, we stuck together the whole time and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was an incredible feeling to do something I’ve wanted and waited to do for so long with one of my favorite people there right next to me the whole time. While I’ve walked well over 4 miles on several occasions, I’ve never run more than two without taking walk breaks, and while we did take some walk breaks, we ran the majority of it. I felt fine yesterday, but good god am I sore today.

Later on we’re having a friend over for Cuban food and documentary watching, so I’m off to work on the meal. On the menu: empanadas, congri, tostones, rice pudding, sangria and maybe some lemon-fig cake : )

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