Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I just completed a batch of Nanaimo Bars, a family recipe that Karen recently shared with me. I had the bars for the first time when I spent Thanksigiving with her family, and they were one of the most delicious desserts I've ever tasted. Karen's mother was a very proud Canadian who often served these bars with tea. The recipe is a popular Candadian dessert that originated in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, in the 1950's. It's a three-layer no-bake recipe, that consists of a crumb-based layer, a custard layer, and a top layer of chocolate. Mmm...delicious.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa (not Dutch processed)
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup chopped almonds or walnuts
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup soft butter
2 tbsp. vanilla custard poweder
2 cups powedered sugar
2 tbsp. cream or milk
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
Butter (or use a cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.
Bottom layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).
Filling: Cream the butter with an electric beater. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).
Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Spread over the filling and refrigerate.
To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting. Makes about 25 square.
Friday, December 21, 2007
The last post is a play-by-play video of making the marshmallows. The video was created by the folks at San Fransico based Curiosity Shoppe, which I have recently become obsessed with. The online store is billed as the "Crafts, Kits, & Curios for the Creatively Inclined." I'm especially interested in the "Great Outdoors Notecard Set," which is sadly, but only temporarily, out of stock. Thankfully, there's still hope.
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or as chips
10 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped or as chips
4 oz. candy canes, crushed
Line a cookie sheet with two lengths of aluminum foil; there should be enough foil so that the entire inside of the pan is lined. Place the semisweet chocolate in one medium microwaveable bowl and the white chocolate in another.
Heat the semisweet chocolate in the microwave at medium (50%) power for one minute. Remove from microwave; stir thoroughly (about one minute). Microwave at 50% (medium) power for additional shorter intervals, stirring thoroughly after each, just until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside at room temperature. Repeat melting instructions with white chocolate.
Pour the melted semisweet chocolate in a thin stream onto the bottom of the lined pan, moving the bowl around as you do so. Try to keep the chocolate about one-half inch away from all of the edges. Repeat the pouring with the melted white chocolate, again covering as large an area as possible and trying to stay about a half-inch away from all edges.
Using a toothpick or flat knife, marble the chocolates together, trying to fill in any gaps so that you have one layer of two types of chocolate that covers the bottom of the lined pan. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes all over the layer of melted chocolate, as evenly as possible.
Tear off a single sheet of foil about the length of the pan. Place it directly on top of the candy canes you’ve sprinkled on the chocolate. Gently press down on the foil sheet to firmly embed the crushed candy canes in the chocolate layer. Leave the foil sheet on top of the bark, and refrigerate the whole thing for about 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the top sheet of foil should easily peel off the bark.
Once the top sheet of foil is peeled off, quickly break the bark into small pieces. Place the bark pieces in an airtight storage container, and refrigerate until about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
In a bustling department store just days before Christmas, Jonathan meets Sara when both try to buy the same pair of gloves. Two strangers amid the masses in New York City, their paths collide in the mad holiday rush as they feel a mutual attraction. Despite the fact that each is involved in another relationship, Jonathan and Sara spend the evening travelling Manhattan. But when the night reaches its inevitable end, the two are forced into determining some kind of next step. When the smitten Jonathan suggests an exchange of phone numbers, Sara balks and proposes an idea that will allow fate to take control of their future. If they are meant to be together, she tells him, they will find their way back into one another's life.
The majority of the film takes place seven years later, and consists largely of repeated "almost coincidences" where the two romantic leads almost, but not quite, meet.
Love this movie. No complicated plot, nor deep rooted symbolism. Just a charming love story that always leaves me wishing for a real life version for myself. It will happen. Come hither, Jonathan Trager. I'm yours! I also love the movie's soundtrack. Especially Northern Sky by Nick Drake. Serendipity is the only movie that I can recite nearly ever line to (and obviously, in doing so, annoy the hell out of anyone watching it with me.) But, I can't help myself. This is the perfect holiday movie!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sedaris' Santaland Diaries is the essay that, in 1992, launched his career when it broadcast on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. In fact, the New York Times described how the broadcast made Sedaris "a minor phenomenon." In the essay, Sedaris recounts his days as a Christmas elf at Macy's department store in New York City. You must listen to the NPR broadcast here. I promise that it will be the most hilarious thing you'll hear all day.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Mad Rollin' Dolls Roller Derby
1. Enjoyed my favorite Friday night fish fry at the Mecan River Lodge in Princeton, Wisconsin.
2. Snowshoed along the shores of Green Lake.
3. Raced in Madison’s Hash House Harrier’s Finnish Five (in celebration of Finnish independence).
4. Watched the Ice Queens battle against the Candy Canes at the Mad Rollin’ Dolls Roller Derby Holiday Expo.
6. Ran around Madison’s Lake Monona (~10 miles).
7. Attended my first UW–Madison commencement ceremony.
8. Observed ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt address the class of 2007.
9. Attended a wedding reception at the Eldorado Grill.
10.Reviewed enough admission applications to make my head hurt.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The reason for my resignation is threefold: I now have more clothes than I could ever need (umm...just kidding, I don't think there is ever such a point), I am too overwhelmed at my full-time job to handle a second job, and 90% of my Banana colleagues left when our general manager switched over to Anthropology earlier this fall, which has resulted in a working environment that, quite frankly, sucks. I can't tell you how much I despise condescending signs plastered all over the store that are signed "the management." Like, "Do not throw away liquids in the trash can. This is disgusting. The Management." I cannot handle that. Thus, the Banana Era hath come to an end.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Long before Dorothy drops in, two other girls meet in the Land of Oz. One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two unlikely friends end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch makes for the most spellbinding new musical in years.
I have wanted to see Wicked for years. Every show is usually sold out, and it's very difficult and expensive to find tickets. Each time I go to Chicago I enter the day-of-performance drawing for $25 seats in the front two rows. So, per usual, on Tuesday morning, I walked to the Oriental theater to enter my name in the drawing. Karen walked over during her conference's lunch break to enter her name. Then we came back at 5:30pm for the drawing. I expected dissapointment as always, but amazingly, and finally, I was the third name drawn, securing two front row seats for the 7:30pm show.
I loved the show. It was even better than I had hoped for. It was funny and heartwarming, and the acting, singing, and set were superb. But I am now paying the price of exhaustion, after having arrived back in Madison at 2 p.m. that morning, and then heading into both jobs yesterday. Ouch. But it was well worth it!
Friday, December 7, 2007
So what is my plan for the next few days? I plan to: drink lot of hot chocolate, ice skate at Millenium Park, celebrate Seif's faux 30th birthday at Uncle Julio's, attend afternoon tea at the Drake Hotel, possibly see the Santa Land Diaries, eat breakfast every morning at Fox and Obel, enter the lottery for Wicked tickets, and shop 'til I drop. I am SO EXCITED and very much looking forward to my mini-vacation!
White Chocolate Bon Bons
2 c crunchy peanut butter
2 c Rice Krispies
1-12 oz. pkg. mini-chocolate chips
1 1/2 c powder sugar
4 tpsp melted butter
Almond bark/white chocolate
Mix first five ingredients together. Shape into balls and put on wax paper-lined cookie sheets. Freeze.
Melt a few pieces of almond bark at a time. Take out a few balls--leave remaining in freezer until ready so they do not thaw--and dip into melted almond bark. Let harden on wax paper.
Makes about 5 dozen.
I hope this holiday season finds you well. As you probably already know, I have been a very, very good girl this year. As such, below I have included my Christmas list for your reading pleasure.
1. Subscription to the The New Yorker
2. Running Pants (Spartan Pant (M) from Brooks)
3. Winter Hats (Pokydot or Ali Dots Hat from Jytte)
4. Ski Gloves (Women’s One Gloves from REI)
5. Running Gloves (Women’s Paradox Mitten from Brooks)
6. Smart Wool Socks
7. Silicone Rolling Pin
8. Prairie Fume Wine from Wollersheim Winery
9. Backpack (Paragon Pack from Patagonia)
10. Books/Vinyl Records
If you or the elves have any questions, please let me know. I promise to leave lots of milk and cookies this year, Santa! Love, Kristin
As of November 26th, we’re at it again. This time we’re running from Los Angeles to San Francisco on U.S. Highway 101, a total distance of 471 miles. Currently, there are 14 contenders. My friend Aaron is in the lead with 45.2 miles as of today. I am in second place with 35.5 miles. I just reached Santa Monica this morning, and now have 80.5 miles to the next checkpoint, which is Santa Barbara. Some haven’t even started running yet. I, myself, was ready to get out of LA as quickly as possible.
The virtual league is a really great way to stay motivated during the winter. Whether you’re a walker, runner, or biker, there are many events to keep you motivated. Some are open to everyone, and others are private leagues in which you can invite your friends and family to join you. Below is an excerpt from the Roadtrip Web site:
The driving force behind Roadtrip is the belief that a little motivation to get someone running or walking will do wonders for their health, their fitness levels, and their outlook on life. This philosophy has led to the tracking method of applying an individual's daily walking or running miles to a real point-to-point journey on a map such as Route 66, or Daytona Beach to Miami Beach, or Edinburgh to London.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Growing up in Milwaukee, which still has very strong German influences, my family always celebrated the German custom of St. Nick's Day. I loved the thrill of running to my stocking on the morning of December 6th to see what St. Nick (aka Elf Jackie) had left me for being such a good girl. Usually, it was lots of candy and small gifts. My mom always included her trademark LifeSaver Sweet Storybook. Despite the fact that I've never liked LifeSaver candies, the inclusion of this small item year after year always brought a smile to my face.
Although my childhood has long since passed, my family continues to celebrate St. Nick's Day, and I've introduced the tradition to many new friends. My roommate Karen knows just how much I love St. Nick's Day, so unbeknownst to me, she awoke early this morning to leave out a stocking full of goodies for me (clearly, I have been a good roommate this year). I did the same for her, and we excitedly dug through our stockings together early this morning. Elf Jackie has assured me that more goodies are on their way from Nevada. Thus, I await anxiously.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
We were fractious and overpaid. . . It was the era of take-ones and tchotchkes. The world was flush with Internet cash and we got our fair share of it. It was our position that logo design was every bit as important as product performance and distribution systems. 'Wicked cool' were the words we used to describe our logo designs. 'Bush league' were the words we used to describe the logo designs of other agencies -- unless it was a really well-designed logo, in which case we bowed down before it, much like the ancient Mayans did their pagan gods. We, too, thought it would never end.
I found that I enjoyed the novel as the plot thickened, and things got a little more serious with Lynn's illness and layoffs (appropriately referred to in the novel as "walking Spanish"--a euphemism for being fired, inspired by Spanish pirates walking toward execution). I also loved the "collective We" that Ferris employs in the novel, in which mere surface descriptions are given of the seemingly petty and eccentric copywriters, contrasted with the vivid, deep, and descriptive portrayal provided for Lynn (which, I must say, effectively broke my heart). Ferris=literary genius.
Although I've never actually watched an episode of The Office, the popular NBC sit-com, I would assume the same sort of office humor applies here. I really think anybody involved in advertising, design, or any sort of office culture would really enjoy this book. I was thinking that my brother and high school friend Katy might enjoy it most.
Here's another enjoyable exerpt:
It reminded Carl of when an ad got watered down by a client, and watered down, until everything interesting about the ad disappeared. Carl still had to write the copy for it. The art director still had to put the drop shadow where the drop shadow belonged and the logo in its proper place. That was the process known as 'polishing the turd'. All over America, in fact, people were up and out of their beds today in a continuing effort to polish turds. Sure, for the sake of survival, but more immediately, for the sake of some sadistic manager or shit-brained client whose small imagination and numbingly dumb ideas were bleaching the world of all relevancy and hope.
This one really made me think of my brother and the life of a designer. Just that feeling of frustration that nobody gets it. And they never will. And so, I will leave you with that. This book is a gem. It will leave you laughing out loud. But not in an annoying You Shall Know Our Velocity (Dave Eggers) sort of way, but more of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (also Dave Eggers) sort of way. You see?
Monday, December 3, 2007
The program takes place over two days (essentially 24-hours in the life of a Wisconsin student), with programming for the visiting students as well as their parents. The program’s primary component is the opportunity for the visiting students to stay overnight with current student hosts in the residence halls, and then attend meals and classes with that student the following morning. The event also consists of a faculty presentation, admissions presentation, university staff panel, current student panel, campus walking tour, a resource fair with close to twenty university offices represented (i.e., honors program, academic advisors, student organization office, etc.). Luckily, I have a wonderful student worker named Chloe who recruits and matches all of the current student hosts with the visiting prospective students, which is no easy task.
The planning for each of these events spans an entire year, and this past weekend (Sunday and Monday) was the first of this year’s three sessions. This session was exclusively for Wisconsin students, and families were planning to travel in on Sunday from all over the state. Imagine my anxiety on Friday when first learning of the approaching winter storms heading towards Madison. I had forty-five students and their parents registered to attend, and countless other details confirmed, the success of which all hinged on Mother Nature. The unpredictable whore.
As many of you know, it snowed and snowed all day on Saturday in Wisconsin. After getting my car stuck in the snow on Saturday night (and having to abandon it there on the side of the road), I thought to myself that there was no way these students were going to make it to campus on Sunday. After walking into the office on Sunday morning, and expecting to find a barrage of e-mails and voice messages from students canceling their visit due to the weather, I was pleasantly surprised to have only received three such messages.
In an effort to be proactive, I composed and sent an e-mail to all of the program registrants letting them know that the program would go on, but if they did not feel safe traveling, we would be more than happy to transfer their registration to a different date. Then, I sat and waited. The fate of my program was no longer in my hands. It was up to mother nature. And I’ve already established my thoughts about her.
Amazingly, thirty-eight students and their parents were able to make it to campus safely yesterday afternoon for the start of the program. A few hours ago we finished up with what I think was a very successful program. Just another day in the Office of Admissions. And now, I am ready for a drink.
Friday, November 30, 2007
The 11th Annual Fair Trade Holiday Festival
Fair trade education and gifts made by real people making real wages. Products include handcrafts, ornaments, rugs, pottery, coffee, chocolate, cheese, gift baskets, textiles and toys.
Date: Saturday, December 1, 2007
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: MATC's downtown campus
Directions: Carroll Street between Dayton and Johnson
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp ground New Mexico chili
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp coriander seed, toasted and ground
2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
2 tsp freshly ground canela or 1tsp ground cinnamon
1 can (28 oz) plum (Roma) tomatoes with juice, pureed
1 oz (30 g) bittersweet chocolate
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp masa harine stirred into 1/4 cup water (optional)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Trim any excess fat from the beef, then cut into ½-inch cubes. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the onion and saute until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes longer. Raise the heat to high and, in batches, add the beef and brown well on all sides, 8-10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the ground chile, bay leaves, coriander, cumin, canela or cinnamon, oregano, and pureed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and summer uncovered, stirring frequently until thickened, about 1 hour.
2. Add the chocolate, sugar, and the diluted masa harina, if you wish to thicken the stew slightly, and stir to combine. Cook for 15-20 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
3. Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with a dollop of sour cream, and serve immediately
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Sweet Potato Corn Muffins
(via the side of the Glory Foods Golden Sweet Corn Muffin Mix, available at Copps)
-1-29 oz. can or 2-15 oz. cans Glory Foods Cut Sweet Potatoes (I'm sure any canned sweet potatoes would do)
-2 packages 7.5 oz Glory Foods Corn Muffin Mix (I'm sure any boxed corn muffin mix would do)
-3/4 cup milk
-2 large eggs
-3 tbsp. sugar
-1 tbsp. vanilla flavoring
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Lightly grease muffin tins (or use paper cups like me)
3. Drain sweet potatoes thoroughly and place in mixing bowl. Mash well with a slotted spoon.
4. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, stir thoroughly.
5. Add eggs and vanilla, stir thoroughly.
6. Add both packages of Corn Muffin Mix and milk. Stir until smooth.
7. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
8. Serve at a chili cookoff and win first prize in the cornbread category!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Karen using her family crest to lobby for presentation points
Gotta try 'em all!
Judge Kristin at work
Last night Karen and I hosted the inaugural K&K Chili Cookoff. The event was a huge success. After weeks of careful preparation, the cookoff went off without a hitch. We had twelve party attendees, six chili division entrants, three cornbread co-rec division entrants, and a few freeloaders (just kidding, they supplied ample amounts of beer, which made them far from freeloaders). Anyhow, I'm very surprised and flattered to report that my chili was named "Best Chili" of the party. Which I don't really understand, because I thought that many of the others were far better. I made a Texas chili recipe without beans (which I named Bucky's Bullseye Bowl 'O Red) that I found in my Williams Sonoma Southwest Cookbook. The recipe had some interesting ingredients, most notably bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon. I even had to break out the mortar and pestle for spice grinding, so I supposed I did work hard for the coveted title.
We had so many variations of chili--white, vegetarian, spicy, meaty, beans, no beans, etc., and as you can see from the pictures above, our kitchen was overtaken by crock pots. I think that everyone had a great time, and now Karen and I are scheming on ideas for our next party.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Speaking of fashion, TLC's "What Not to Wear," with Clinton Kelly and Stacy London is my favorite (currently running) TV show. Alas, I do not have cable at home, and up until this weekend, can't remember the last time I even turned on a TV. Because of this, I tend to pack in episodes when I eventually do have have some form of access to cable. Karen said that I must have watched at least ten episodes over the weekend, but I would say it was more like five. Regardless of the number, I loved them all and enjoyed every minute. I love Clinton and Stacy.
In addition to a massive intake of "What Not to Wear," which I might add Karen's sister, Martha, graciously TiVoed for me, which allowed me to watch so many episodes in a row sans commercials, I also spent a lot of time not being a couch potato. We ran the Dan Gibbon's Turkey Trot on Thursday morning in Elmhurst, which was a 5k fun run. And of course I am friends with people whom felt that distance was not enough for a day's run. So, in addition to the race, that morning I also ran from downtown packet pick-up to Marath'a house, from the house to the race, and from the race back to the house, which in total made for a nine-mile run. Seriously, why must I be friends with these crazy people.
Our Thanksgiving meal was very nice at Martha's, who is Karen's oldest sister. It was the Mittelstadt sisters (Martha, Karen, Sue, and Kate) along with Sue's husband, Martha's husband and three daughters, and me! But by now, I am seriously like part of the family. Although I generally hate Thanksgiving foods (turkey, stuffing, cranberries, blah), it was a very good meal and I especially enjoyed the gravy, stuffing, and french silk pie (which Karen and I picked up from Baker's Square earlier in the day). The rest of the weekend was spent shopping (I felt the great need to put my newly acquired "What Not to Wear" knowledge to use), playing with Martha's daughters (aged 3, 5, and 8, who are like nieces to me...sometimes they even call me Aunt Kristin :), spending time with Karen's family and friends, going out to dinner, and completing daily morning runs. It was a fantastic weekend spent with, what has become my second family.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It was a great little show with many unique handmade arts and crafts from local artists, not to mention the free champaign and cookies! WIST is short for the "Wisconsin Etsy Street Team." If you haven't yet checked out Etsy online, it's definitely worth seeing. Especially in light of the upcoming gift-giving season! Etsy is a website that was launched in 2005 that provides the general public with a way to buy and sell handmade goods. There's literally tens of thousands of sellers and it's sort of like one big open craft fair. It's a powerful forum. And you can find some very unique handmade items at affordable prices. As the WIST flyer states, "Join the Craft Revolution! Buy Independent. Buy Handmade." Word.
After quickly devouring the scone (which, I remind you, was as big as my head), I then moved on to my breakfast entree, the frittata with red peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, and asiago cheese. Mmm....good. My mom ordered this one the last time I went to Lazy Jane's, the morning after Ironman Wisconsin, and it was tasty. So this time I wanted my own frittata. The whole thing. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my two-course breakfast, which I think was much deserved after a 9-mile run earlier that morning. Lazy Jane's is one of those places, like the Weary Traveler (which is where I had dinner last night with my friends Emily and Jill :), that I could eat at every single day and never grow tired of. Lazy Jane's for breakfast and Weary for Dinner. Now that's a life I could get used to.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
On Saturday afternoon, Karen and I attended a wine tasting at Wollersheim Winery for the release of the 2007 Ruby Nouveau, the first wine of the new harvest. It's a "dry red with enticing fresh flavors and a zesty finish." In addition to Ruby Nouveau, several other wines were offered for sampling, along with the winery's infamous Coq au Ruby (ruby chicken) and assorted Wisconsin cheese. We also took a special tour, which explained the making of Ruby Nouveau.
This was the first time I had been to Wollersheim Winery, which is located in Prarie Du Sac, a 15-20 minute drive from Madison. The winery and surrounding property are just beautiful, a setting that consists of a scenic hillside overlooking the Wisconsin River.
My favorite part of the tour was hearing about the history of the winery and the lasting love affair that ensued between the French intern and the owner's daughter. The property was first selected for vineyards in the 1840's. A winery was operated at the site until the turn of the century. It wasn't until 1972 that the property was again established as a working vineyard. At that time, Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim purchased the nearly abandoned property with the intention of restoring it to a working family winery. Robert, who at the time left his job as an engineer, had always enjoyed wine but was certainly no expert on its production, and thus hired many helping hands.
One of those interns was current winemaker Philippe Coquard, who was originally from the Beaujolais region of France. After finishing wine college in France in the mid-1980's, he took part in an American exchange program that unexpectedly sent him to Wisconsin. Shortly after arriving at Wollersheim Winery, Coquard fell in love with one of Robert Wollersheim's daughters, Julie. They were married two years later, thus resulting in a most perfect union. Lucky girl. Her father opens a winery, and then she falls in love with the French intern. Why don't these sort of things ever happen to me?