Thursday, February 28, 2008

Same Race. New Beer!

This upcoming weekend, I am running what has quite possibly become my all-time favorite race. It's the Point Bock Run, a 5-mile fun run in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, at the Stevens Point Brewery. This is seriously the cheapest race that I do each year, and I'm always impressed with the incredible bang for my buck. Pre-registration is $15, which includes a long-sleeve t-shirt, a professionally chip-timed race, and a festive post-race party complete with music, snacks, door prizes, and all-you can drink Point Einbock Beer and Point Special Root Beer. What a steal! This will be my third year running in the Point Bock Run. I can't wait for Saturday's race and fun!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Underappreciated Crepe Returns!

This morning Karen and I took a break from our usual breakfast routine—Einstein's on State Street (a bagel of some variety and a a small coffee for me. A plain cinnamon raisin bagel and a 32 ounce Diet Coke for Karen. At least I can proudly say that I switch up the bagels and "smears" every now and then.)

Feeling usually adventurous at 6:30am this morning, we decided to try Bradbury's, a new coffee shop and creperie on North Hamilton Street, near the capitol. With a name like Bradburys and a location off the capitol square, I was expecting something more pretentious and pricey. Luckily, it was anything but that. The place was quaint and friendly, and offered a great indie vibe with its fresh ingredients from local farmers, handmade pottery, and the soothing music of Sufjan Stevens from a boom box. This was my kind of place.

The very small menu offers espresso, coffee, tea, crepes, and scones, but they seem to do it all well. The crepes are available in both sweet and savory. Wanting to experience both ends of the spectrum, we shared two crepes—the ham and brie and the featured crepe, which was delectable combination of yogurt, honey, and walnuts on a buckwheat crepe. The ham and brie crepe, a usual suspect on the menu, features fountain prairie farm ham, brie, west star farm winter spinach, and a hint of maple syrup. I also enjoyed a delicious (and beautiful) Americano.

Bottom line—I love this little place. I most certainly will be back for more. Finally, someone has brought the underappreciated crepe back to Madison. And Bradbury's does it with style and grace.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Biking Like a Viking

I love it when I have to enter lotteries and pay obscene registration fees to feed my need for endurance sports. Just recently, I found out that I secured a lottery spot in the Sixth Annual Horribly Hilly Hundreds Bike Ride. For one full early-summer day, I get to "weave in and out of valleys untouched by the glacial activity that left most of the upper Midwest flat." The Southwestern Wisconsin course features 10,000+ feet of climbing over a distance of 200 kilometers (that's 124.2 miles). The course definitely delivers on its promise of "horribly hilly". In fact, the organizers call it "the toughest one day Challenge in the Midwest." And if that's not great training for September's Ironman Wisconsin race, then I'm not sure what is.

Apparently this type of threat/promise drives a crowd. Particularly the crazy bunch of people who associate themselves with this sort of activity. This year's registration filled in less than an hour. I entered the lottery for a chance at one of 300 additional spots. Both Karen and I scored spots for this year's ride, which will take place on Saturday, June 14. This will by my fourth year riding in the HHH. The best part is reaching the finish line. But getting there is no easy feat. It's perched at the highest point in Southern Wisconsin (1,716 ft.) at Blue Mound State Park. There, riders are rewarded with the infamous Viking Goulash and Culver's custard. And there's nothing like goulash and custard to replenish the glycogen tanks.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Anne!

This past Saturday night, we celebrated Anne's 27th birthday at Shogun, a Japanese restaurant in Rockford. Anne had a whole crew of family and friends there, and we had a great time enjoying sushi and other culinary delights.

Friday, February 22, 2008

More Pics from SL

Mmm...Katy, Erin, and Kristin chewin' on Gus' Pretzels (a family-owned and operated business and St. Louis landmark)

Brewery Tour at Anheuser-Busch, obviously another SL Landmark. Katy sneaked more than her allotment of beer in the sample room.

Spirit of the Marathon

Last night, I finally had the opportunity to see the film “Spirit of the Marathon” at Point Cinema. I had wanted to see the much-hyped film on January 24, for its nationwide debut. However, when we got to the theater, tickets were already sold out. This time we were a little smarter and purchased tickets ahead of time for the “encore screening,” which showed at 250 theaters across the country last night. The screening at Point was again sold out, packed with Madison athletes and supporters. Following is a brief synopsis of the film.

“The first ever non-fiction feature film to capture the drama and essence of the famed 26.2 mile running event. Filmed on four continents, the movie brings together a diverse cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries. As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepared for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports movie, Spirit of the Marathon is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike."

I loved the film. It totally captures the spirit and emotion of the marathon, and appeals to runners of all ages and abilities. I found myself with tears in my eyes several times throughout the screening as professional athletes and beginners alike shared their stories of struggle and triumph. I also enjoyed learning more about the origins and history of the marathon, from the story of Pheidippides, the hero of Ancient Greece who inspired the modern sporting event, to Katherine Switzer, the first female to run the Boston Marathon with a race number in 1967. (The race director at the time, Jock Semple, who was known for his violent temper, attempted to rip her off the course and screamed “Get the hell out of my race and give me that race number.” That was until her 235-pound boyfriend gave him a slug, which sent him flying through the air. Ha.)

If you have the opportunity to see this film, I would definitely recommend it. It was a well-researched and very inspirational piece that brought together so many wonderful stories from the marathon community into a cohesive and entertaining film.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tapas and Aphrodisiacs

Erin and Mars

Erin, Katy, and Kristin (aka Soupe, Mish, and Krit)

(Mars and Erin...we love Mars)

I had a great time in St. Louis over the weekend. It was wonderful to catch up with Katy and Erin, see Erin’s new house (which is beautiful!), and explore St. Louis (I was impressed, despite the erratic weather and overall winter freeze.)

On Saturday, we spent most of the day exploring the area by Washington University. Erin, Katy, and I did a quick drive through campus, which was gorgeous as expected, with many beautiful buildings which definitely exuded an Ivy League atmosphere. We then shopped around the University district and picked up slices of pizza for lunch.

That night, we had dinner at Mosaic, which is a great modern fusion tapas restaurant in downtown St. Louis. We definitely sampled much of the menu including the flight of soup and a cheese plate, as well as several hot tapas including the Herb Gnocchi, Truffled Frites, and the Moroccan Tenderloin Kebobs. All were mouth watering and delicious.

After dinner, we headed to a hip part of town called Lafayette Square, where we enjoyed a beer at a local pub while we waited for a table at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar. (Did I mention it was pouring rain all night?) The Chocolate Bar is a restaurant and bar that specializes in fine desserts, cheeses, and aphrodisiacs. Of course, there was quite a wait since it was the weekend following Valentine’s Day.

Eventually, we secured a table on the insulated back deck, where we enjoyed the soothing pitter patter of the rain, great conversation, and drinks. Again, we heavily sampled the menu. (I found over the weekend that eating is what we do best.) We each tried one of the many varieties of chocolate martinis. I opted for the Chocolate Bar Signature Martini (hot), which was delicious. For dessert, we chose the Bailey’s Chocolate Brownie (a thick fudge brownie served warm, topped with Bailey’s Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce) and the Crème Brulee. We did not try the sorbet. Sorry, Mars. So that was Saturday in St. Louis (in a nutshell). Sunday is up next.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

On Monday night, I attended a lecture by Chuck Klosterman at the Wisconsin Union Theater. While I've certainly heard of Klosterman, a journalist who is best known for his work on pop culture and his best-selling collection of pop culture esssays, entiteld "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto," I don't really know him. Turns out I never will.

During the lecture, Klosterman described that, "I’ve never met anyone I’ve interviewed—I’ve only interviewed them. I don’t know what they’re really like. They were in the position of basically marketing themselves or marketing a product. I was in the position of being a reporter who was having a conversation...Those just aren’t organic relationships.”

So I'd like to preface my thoughts and observations by saying that I will clearly never really know Klosterman. That being said, I thought Klosterman was a genius on all things related to pop culture and sports (which seems like an unlikely combo to me). He was also very exciteable (often flailing his arms mid-sentence), down to earth, and unbelievably hilarious. He took many questions from the audience, and spoke on several topics ranging from his favorite Wilco album ("Being There") to his thoughts on the demise of Brittany Spears. All of his answers were intelligent, thought provoking, and backed up with great examples and explanations. This was a great lecture, and I will definitely be reading more of Klosterman's work in the future.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

SL Roadtrip

I'm spending the weekend in St. Louis with two of my closest friends from high school, Erin and Katy. Erin (and her fabulous boyfriend, Mars) recently moved to St. Louis (from Montana), and we're very excited to have her back in the Midwest, if only temporarily. Katy and I made the long road trip on Friday afternoon (which included a stop at Beef...obviously), and we'll be in SL through Monday. We're having a great time exploring town and catching up on much needed girl time. Anne, Beth, and Christie, we wish you were here! More pictures and stories on the way.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shrimp & Feta Cheese Pasta

Last night, Karen and I tried a great new recipe that Karen got from her older sister, Martha. It's Shrimp & Feta Cheese Pasta. It was amazing. The flavor from the feta cheese was great. This is the best home cooked meal I've had in a while. And I've been cooking up a storm lately, so that's really saying something.

6 tbsp olive oil
2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 cloves garlic
2/3 cup white wine
2 lb. linguine
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 can Italian with basil and oregano tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 (8 oz.) package crumb feta
fresh spinach (plastic tub)

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat 6 tbsp. olive oil; cook shrimp, garlic, and white wine for 5 minutes or until pink. Remove shrimp with slotted spon and set aside.

Bring large pot of lighlty salted water to boil, add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes, drain.

While pasta cooks, cook tomato, oregano, and basil and spinach over medium heat in wine mixture until tender, 1o minutes. Toss hot pasta with shrimp, tomato sauce, and feta. Serve.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Strange Little Nugget

My brother reminded me that I completely forgot to blog about my new candy experience from this past Saturday night. It's not like I've never had candy rasins before. In fact, my family is rather obsessesd with these tasty morsels. But, for the first time on Saturday, we experienced the 3.8 oz. variety, straight from a bowling alley vending machine. Amazing. I've only seen candy rasins in 9 oz. bags. And I've also only seen them sold at grocery stores and candy shops. So imagine my astonishment at finding a tiny bag like the one pictured, right. In a vending machine!

A bit of history on this unique candy. Candy rasins were first trademarked by the Stark Company in 1976. They taste nothing like rasins. They are a translucent, honey-colored juju that is a favorite in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area. I've found that people either love 'em or hate 'em. I'm obviously part of the former group. The tasty treats remain a leading non-chocolate item in the Milwaukee area. In fact, they're only sold there. When I moved to Colorado after college, my mom would send me bags of candy rasins to feed my addiction. Once you start, you can't stop popping them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama Rally

Last night, I attended a Barack Obama rally in Madison at the Kohl Center. After enjoying beers and dinner with my co-workers Kim and Eric at BW3’s on State Street, we headed to the Kohl Center, where the rally was scheduled to take place. We waited outside the Kohl Center with hordes of other people in below zero temperatures for 30–40 minutes while security slowly allowed a trickle of people through the doors. Eventually, we got in and secured front row seats on the second balcony, directly behind the stage. The Kohl Center was completely full, with over 17,000 people. The rally was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I’m so glad to have had the experience. It was seriously like a rock concert. Apparently the crowd was the biggest in Wisconsin history for a primary election appearance.

As heated competition continues between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nominee, Wisconsin has become a hotly contested state, with next Tuesday’s primary closing in. This week alone, Madison has seen visits from Chelsea Clinton and Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak at an undetermined location on Thursday (my friends are joking that he will probably choose a sorority house). Wisconsin could go either way. The state has a large student population and a strong progressive tradition that will likely garner votes for Obama, but the large blue-collar vote will probably go to Clinton. The Obama camp is hopeful they will continue to build on eight straight victories, and last night’s lead change in delegate counts.

Obama definitely pumped up the crowd last night with his usual inspirational rhetoric. And he must have been excited after winning broad support in Tuesday’s Virginia, Maryland, and DC primaries. His speech lasted approximately 25 minutes and he spoke briefly about his promise to provide health care for all Americans, change the country’s energy policy, alleviate poverty, improve schools, and provide an annual $4,000 college tuition credit in exchange for community service or service to the country. He probably drew the most applause when he talked about his opposition to the war in Iraq and that President Bush would not be on the ballot this time around.

I am not generally interested in politics, but like many voters, was disenchanted by the results of the last presidential race in 2004. To me, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel in an inspirational candidate, like Obama, who has great potential to unite Americans, make real social change in Washington, and transcend barriers among parties, races, religions, incomes, etc. Most of all, we need a president who can make us proud to be Americans again.

No matter which candidate you endorse, it will undoubtly be a very exciting time in Wisconsin the next few days leading up to Super Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Official...

As of this morning, the winter of 2007-08 has gone down in Madison's history books as the snowiest winter. According to the National Weather Service, we've now received 77.3 inches, which surpasses Madison's previous record for seasonal snowfall of 76.1 inches in the winter of 1978-79. And we still have a two more months of winter to go! Now, if only we had mountains...

Shrimp Noodle Salad

One of my New Year's resolutions is to do more cooking and try lots of new recipes. I'd say I'm already well on my way towards that resolution.

Last night, I made this Shrimp Noodle Salad. I found the following recipe in the March issue of Runner's World, another magazine for which I have serendipitously received a complimentary trial subscription.

The recipe is from runner/chef Richard Sandoval, who is the chef and owner of 14 Latin-style resturants in the United States, Mexcio, and Dubai. His restaurants feature "modern Mexican" cuisine, which blends Mexican ingredients with flavors and cooking techniques from other countries. The shrimp noodle salad uses ginger and jalapeno chiles, which creates an Asian-Latin dish.

The dish was wonderful. Very flavorful and colorful with the shrimp, mango and papaya. However, the recipe may have been more trouble than it was worth. It was delcious, but used so many ingredients and required lots of prep work. Still, I'd recommed it if you're game for a full night of cooking.

2 cups water
3 oz bean-thread vermicelli noodles
2 oz green papaya, peeled and julienned
6 medium shrimp, peeled, cooked, and cooled
1 tbsp each of basil, mint, and cilantro, finely chopped
3/4 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp scallion greens, thinly sliced
1 tbsp jalapenos, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup sesame vinaigrette (see below)
Cilantro leaves and black sesame seeds to garnish

Place water in a medium-size pot and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for three minutes. Strain and cool the noodles with cold water. When the noodles are cold, place in a bowl and set aside. Slice the shrimp lenghwise and add to the noodles. Add the remaining ingredients, including the sesame vinaigrette (whisk together 1/4 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil, and 1/8 cup canola oil. Mix in 1/4 tablespoon fish sauce and 1/2 tablespoon honey.) Garnish with cilantro leaves and black sesame seeds. Makes two servings.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mini Donut Love

I spent most of the past weekend visiting my brother and his best friend, Ben, who are currently residing at my parent's house (sans parents) in Brookfield, where they are building a Web site, which they hope to launch in the near future. They've been putting in extreme hours, and I thought it might be nice to visit and take them out for a little fun.

When I arrived late in the afternoon on Saturday, we headed to Milwaukee's East side, which offers the area's best and most trendy bars and restaurants. We decided on Pizza Man for dinner, which is a Milwaukee classic and Korevec family favorite. We shared a small basket of garlic bread, which was freshly kissed with fresh garlic and butter, followed by the "Pizza Man Special," a 16-inch thin crust pizza with Cheese, Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Black Olives, Green Peppers, and Onions.

Afterwards, we went to a nearby bowling alley for pints of New Glarus Snowshoe Ale, followed by a game of intense bowling. Kelly was the most terrible bowler I've ever seen. Although he did come back strong in the end with strikes in the last two frames, it was obviously too little, too late, because I still won. For dessert, we hit up Sil's Drive-Thru, which is a tiny take-out mini-donut shop located on the corners of North and Oakland avenues in an architecturally unique bus stop structure. Sil's donuts are made while you wait on a fascinating assembly line fryer contraption. It's your choice of cinnamon sugar or powdered donuts, or the combo bag. We opted for the cinnamon sugar bag and a cup of apple cider. Delicious. Sil's is my new Milwaukee favorite, perfect for the early morning commute or late-night munchies.

It was nice to see Kelly and Ben. I enjoyed catching up and hanging out. I'm also very excited to share their new Web site when it goes live!

Chick Feet

It seems to me like everyone needs a set of these "Chick Feet Wire Egg Holders." It's a set of four vintage-style cups on sturdy chicken feet, which are designed to hold cooked eggs or diplay decorated Easter eggs. I love these...obviously for Easter, but also for every-day use. Williams Sonoma, $29. Internet/Catalog only.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hut Trip, Part Deux

Entering Ken's Cabin for the first time

Day 1 Dinner: Freeze-dried Kung Pao Chicken and Ken's Pale Ale

John's John

Inside John's John. Not a pleasant experience.

Reading and relaxing post-Scrabble tournament

Baking cookies!

Preparing for a Day 2 adventure

Paul Bunyan chopping in the wood shed

Beautiful sunset, Day 3

Kristin waking up, Day 3

Preparing to leave Ken's Cabin, Day 3

A very windy/cold day!


Beginning the trek back down the mountain, Kristin forging the path

Hiking down Boreas Pass (Breckenridge Ski Resort in the distance)

Fresh snow-capped trees

Kate and Kristin

Karen and Kristin

Coconut Curried Shrimp

I made the most fabulous dinner on Wednesday night....a recipe for Coconut Curried Shrimp from the Dec/Jan Rachel Ray magazine. I made it with fresh shrimp from the Regent Street Co-Op. So good. Loved the coconut milk/fish sauce reduction. Definitely one of my new favorites.

1 ½ cups white rice
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1 tbsp. green curry paste
1 8-ounce package cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

1. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the rice and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 18 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork; cover to keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, then the shrimp and curry paste and stir-fry until the shrimp are just cooked through, 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the mushrooms to the wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

3. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the vegetables to the shrimp. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce to the wok and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Return the shrimp and vegetables to the wok, add the peas and heat through. Serve the curried shrimp with the rice.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Colorado Hut Adventure

During our vacation in Colorado, we did a 3-day hut trip at Ken's Cabin, which is part of the 10th Division Mountain Hut System. The system is a network of 29 alpine huts in the backcountry of the Colorado Rocky Mountains that were developed in honor of the troops that trained in the area prior to deployment in the mountainous combat zones of World War II. It is said that hut visitors share the special spirit of these soliders, especially their "pursuit of excellence, self reliance, and love of the outdoors." I took my first hut trip near Aspen when I lived there in 2003, and was excited for a new hut experience.

Ken's cabin, located about 10-miles southeast of Breckenridge, is decribed as an "intimate hut experience for two or three people." It's definitly one of the smallest and most rustic cabins in the system. It was originally built in the 1860's when Boreas Pass Road was a wagon trail over the Continental Divide. A bigger house next door, known as the Section House, was built in 1882 to house the railroad men and their families who took care of a section of the Denver South Park & Pacific narrow gauge railway that ran from Denver to Leadville over Boreas Pass. These historic houses are listed with the National Register of Historic Places and were restored in the mid-1990's. Ken's was named in memory of Ken Graff, who died tragically in an avalacnche near Breckenride in 1995 at age 34.

We packed up our gear and started the 6.2-mile trek to the hut last Tuesday. Kate and I were on x-country skies, and Karen snowshoed. Despite white-out conditions in Breckenridge the night before, and more blizzard conditions forcasted for the coming days, we caught a lull in the storm with sunny skies and picturesque, snowcapped trees for our hike up. The first half of the hike was wonderful, even with my ill-fitting pack sharply cutting into my shoulders. By the second half, however, the wind and fatigue really set in. With two miles yet to go, we totally bonked (a condition in which an athlete suddently loses energy and fagigue sets in, usually caused when glycogen stores in the liver and muscles are depleted, resulting in a major performance drop.) We quickly broke open a pack of trail mix and replaced fuel, which made the rest of the journey a little more bearable. About a mile-and-a-half from the cabin, we ran into the two men who were on their hike down from Ken's Cabin. It was definitely fun to trade quick stories with them.

Finally, after starting to worry that maybe Ken's didn't actually exist, and completely exhausted, we came upon our tiny cabin. Oh, it was so small. But we had made it. Kate pulled out the combination number from her pack and quickly dialed the numbers. We opened the door and peered into the small room that would serve as home for the next three days...