Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tough Mudder 2012

Hubs is going to take his running events to a whole new level of insanity by participating in the Michigan/Ohio Tough Mudder 2012 this spring. It's being held in Amherst, Ohio (Lorain County) April 14-15. Yes, it could be snowing. He has a whole new team of running friends to take on this challenge with so let the training begin!

Here's a glimpse at what they're in for:

One of the best parts of the event is that it raises funds for the Wounded Warrior Project - in May they passed the one million dollar mark in donations! WWP seeks "to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in this nation's history." They have a whole host of programs aimed to helping veterans have healthy minds and bodies, find jobs and support each other.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I am excited to report that we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and will pick up our first "share" this week on Wednesday. We're starting out with a half share which means we'll get a bag of produce every other Wednesday. The farm, Orchard Pond Organics, is not far from our house (off Meridian between Summerbrooke and Bannerman, for those of you familiar with Tallahassee). We're looking forward to trying some new things and eating more vegetables!

I'll report in after I pick up our first share, but in the meantime, here are pictures from the farm to hold you over. Most of the items we'll get (since it's fall/winter) will be greens (both hardy and delicate, at least until it frosts here) and root vegetables. The farm grows both familiar varieties (spinach, kale, radishes, sweet potatoes) and more exotic ones (such as mizuna (a Japanese green) and daikon radishes (also Japanese - these are really big compared with traditional radishes).

mesclun growing in the field (spring mix lettuce)

mesclun ready to eat

chard - in many colors

mizuna (from the mustard family, sweeter than most greens)

pink beauty radishes

daikon radishes

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One More for Thanksgiving Weekend

"Nature’s beauty can be easily missed -- but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making the Connection

As we get ready for Thanksgiving, the biggest food holiday of the year, it's a good time to think about the connections between the food we eat, the way it's produced and the great outdoors. This TED talk from Maine focuses on bees as the link that keeps us all fed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taking the Train

This week we're living vicariously through our cousins who are traveling from Denver to San Francisco by train to celebrate Thanksgiving and my aunt's 70th birthday. From amtrak.com:

One of the most popular western trains, the California Zephyr traverses much of the West's spectacular scenery. Departing from Denver, you'll snake upward on the Front Range of the Rockies and cross the Great Divide. As you go by train, try to imagine how this daunting landscape must have looked to the first settlers who came by horse or on foot.
To go through this exceptionally rugged terrain, the train takes numerous switch-backs as it gains altitude. Traveling through the first of 29 tunnels, it's easy to see the huge obstacles that early railroad companies had to surmount. In the Roosevelt National Forest, the train crests the Continental Divide at the famed, six-mile-long Moffat Tunnel. When it opened in 1928, the tunnel reduced the time it took to cross the Continental Divide from hours to minutes. In the midst of the tunnel, you will reach a high point of more than 9,000 feet above sea level.
As the train runs into the deep Gore and Glenwood Canyons, sheer rock walls towering above the Colorado River envelope the train as it glides through. As the train skirts the river, you'll see rafters taking advantage of this natural wild ride. Fiery red mountains and spectacular rock formations are highlights of the Colorado River Valley, particularly in Ruby Canyon.
Exiting the valley, you'll spot Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-topped mountain. Then you'll head across the Utah desert to Salt Lake City. From there, the colorful Nevada desert will lead you towards the High Sierras and California's famed Donner Pass.
Finally, this journey that has taken you to the heights of exhilaration ends with yet one more visual masterpiece — the city by the bay, San Francisco.
One of the cool things about the trip, beside the scenic route, is that it's part of the Park Service's Trails & Rails program through the US Forest Service Intermountain Region (from Denver to Grand Junction):
The Trails & Rails programs are as diverse as the volunteer rangers presenting the programs. On any given route you may hear the stories of the area or have an opportunity to closely examine artifacts that relate to the route. On some programs you may find musical offerings, or rangers dressed in living history costumes or historical attire.
 It'll take 33 hours (8am first day until 4pm second day). I can't wait to hear how it goes and how they like it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mom's and T's Favorite Meat Loaf

T and Mom love this meat loaf. Posting it now so I'll have it easily available while we're visiting her. Originally from Taste of Home magazine, June/July 1997

Meat Loaf:
½ cup chopped onion
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
2/3 cup finely crushed saltines
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon rubbed sage
dash pepper
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
1 cup ketchup
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, saltines, onion, salt, sage and pepper. Add beef and mix well. Shape into an 8 ½ inch by 4 ½ inch loaf in an ungreased shallow baking pan. Combine remaining ingredients; spread ¾ cup over meat loaf. Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes or until no pink remains; drain. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with remaining sauce. Yield: 6-8 servings

Notes: we make a double batch (2 loaves) since we like this so much. Eat one now, throw the other in the freezer. A double batch uses one sleeve of saltines. We just use a regular loaf pans. I make the regular amount of the sauce and then split it between the 2.

Friday, November 18, 2011


My paternal grandmother and grandfather emigrated (separately) from Slovakia to the US as children at the turn of the last century. My aunts have been to visit but until I saw this video (on facebook, I have a friend who lives there) I had no idea how the country looked!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Our friends Yaacov and Erin have a Meyer lemon tree and generously shared a bag of lemons with us. Here is a great recipe we found to use some of them. When T tasted these, he said, "Mom, you're a genius!"

Strawberry coulis:
1quart strawberries, topped and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for egg whites
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, separated
1 heaping cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup milk
2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
Butter, for cooking the pancakes
Powdered sugar, for dusting

strawberry coulis

Toss the strawberries with the sugar and orange juice. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. [We used about a third of the sugar and orange juice since we had nice sweet and juicy ripe strawberries.]

After the berries and sugar have macerated and become very juicy, remove 1/2 of the berry mixture, put it in a food processor and puree until smooth. Return it to the rest of the berries and reserve until ready to use. [We cheated and mashed the strawberries instead of processing. The sauce was amazing, you could eat it on pretty much anything - ice cream, pancakes, waffles, yogurt...]

Sift together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta, milk and lemon zest and juice, and mix until it becomes homogeneous. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients to the well and whisk until combined.

Preheat a griddle.

In another bowl, using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture in thirds. Do this quickly and gently so the pancakes will be light and fluffy.

Melt small pats of butter onto the preheated griddle, and spread it around with a paper towel to remove any excess butter. Spoon or ladle the pancake batter onto the prepared griddle to desired size of the pancake. When the top of the pancake is full of holes, like bubbles have risen to the surface and burst, the pancake is ready to flip. Flip the cakes and cook until the bottom is golden brown.

Remove the pancakes from the grill to serving plates. Top with the macerated strawberry coulis and garnish with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tremont Tap House

We had a delicious dinner with my brother and sister-in-law at Tremont Tap House in June.
photo source
Clearly we haven't visited Tremont in a long long time because we found it to be a shockingly safe-looking neighborhood. We drove under a bridge that had no graffiti anywhere on it. Spooky. (In a good way of course.) We sat at the bar while waiting for John and Gayle to arrive and loved it when they opened the big garage door type window behind the bar so we could see the patio!

Tremont Tap House
photo from flickr (click on it to see original)

the window to the bar from the outside
A view of the window to the bar from the patio - from flickr, click to see original
What a great beer list. I had a sampler of 4 beers they had on tap that I hadn't tried before (rarely does that happen, and I love to try new things!).

Also a fan of the chalkboard sampler tray!

For dinner, Chris had the Green Chili burger with a fresh egg on top. He said it was amazing. 

John and I both had the mac and cheese, his pictured here with chorizo added. It was delicious but a little heavy for the beautiful summer weather we were enjoying.

Gayle had the pan-roasted chicken with wild mushrooms.

We'd definitely recommend it - service was good, food impressive and inexpensive, beer list stellar.

2572 Scranton Rd, Cleveland 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fun with Cousins

We had good times with my cousins Andy and Karen and their kids Quinn and Helen who stopped at Mom's on their trip across the country last June. Here are some pictures from the day we spent with them and my brother and his family.
Mom is the pied piper of children!

Helen is 3 going on 30. Love her excellent questions.

It wouldn't be summer at Mom's without a fire by the pond.

Quinn and Ethan

Elliot still loves s'mores.

Trevor the Toad

Trevor the toad has his close-up.
He was released into the wild not long after when chasing fireflies became more exciting!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Beer Tasting

Hubs and I had a blinded taste test of 7 pumpkin themed beers available here in Tallahassee. Here's a quick synopsis of the winners and losers.

In order to make our tasting as blind as possible, I poured the beers into the glasses and wrote a number on each square of paper in front of them. I kept a record of which beer each number corresponded to. Chris (who was in the other room for the pouring) then reorganized all the glasses, keeping each number with its glass. Then he turned each number over and wrote a letter on the back (in case I remembered which one was number 1, 2, etc.). We took notes on each beer based on the letter and then used our list of numbers to translate back to which beer was which after the tasting.

Pumking from Southern Tier Brewing Company was our favorite by far!
photo source
It takes like pumpkin pie. Yum.

Others we enjoyed included the Hoppin Frog Brewery's Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale (very good, low hop, can taste cinnamon; nice aroma, full-bodied); and Dogfish Punkin Ale (which I thought had a similar taste to Great Lakes Brewing Company's iconic Christmas Ale).

We thought these were decent: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (not as good a mouth feel as the others, also heavily spiced); Terrapin Pumpkin Fest (nice flavor, on the strong side, heavy on cloves; slightly creamy, just a little too hoppy).

We weren't impressed with Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale or Tommyknocker Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale (we described them as ok and boring).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

Thomas and I plan to pay our respects by going to the parade downtown today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tender at the Bone - Review

Jennifer sent me Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table recently. I was predisposed to like it as I had read another of the author's books, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, after Dawn recommended it to me.

Reichl takes you on a journey - her story of the people and experiences that shaped her love of food and all things food related (cooking, baking, restaurants, wine, food writing, and of course eating and entertaining). Each chapter includes a recipe that is at the heart of what she's sharing - so not only can you travel along with her, you can cook and eat your way along as well! Let me tell you (without giving away anything) that her life growing up was a bit more exciting than most - her extended family being a bit eccentric (some of them in fact mentally ill) with a good deal of travel and time spent abroad.

This would be a great book to read while traveling (or during another activity where you are frequently interrupted) because each chapter can stand alone. I definitely recommend it and look forward to trying some of the recipes! (I'll let you know how they turn out.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Berry Muffins

A long-time favorite in our house, this recipe comes from my Mom.

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups fruit

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a mixing bowl cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, milk and vanilla: mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in fruit. Fill greased or paper-lined muffins cups two-thirds full. Combine sugar and nutmeg, sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yields about 2 plus dozen.

The recipe was for frozen blueberries; we almost always use red raspberries.

Ecowatch.org launches in Cleveland

I learn the most interesting things reading Cool Cleveland and watching their videos. Last week I learned that Ecowatch.org launched in Cleveland because of its significance in the environmental movement. In an interview while he was in town, RFK Jr brings so many points from the struggle to protect the environment down to Earth. Definitely worth a watch to hear him lay out the issues involved so eloquently.
@ecowatch on Twitter

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back from Hiatus

image source
Not sure what happened but I went a few months with very few posts! I apologize for my unplanned hiatus. I'm writing new posts and hope to get back to my regular six day a week schedule here on the blog. If you have questions or things you'd like to see me write about, give me a holler. xoxo and thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Chex Mix

This was recommended by CWRU Alpha Chi Omega who sold it at the Domestic Violence Awareness Week Bake Sale last month. Easy to make and mildly addictive (and high in fiber too!).

5 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1 cup lightly salted whole almonds
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped dried apples
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt-covered raisins

1. In a large microwavable bowl, mix cereal and almonds.
2. In a 2-cup (I used a 1-cup) microwavable measuring cup, microwave butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon uncovered on High about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until mixture is boiling. Stir.
3. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on High for 3 minutes, stirring and scraping the bowl after every minute. Stir in apples; microwave on High for another 2 minutes just until the apples begin to brown on edges. 
4. Spread mixture on waxed paper, foil or parchment paper to cool, 5-10 minutes. I stirred it occasionally to make sure it wasn't clumping together. Store in an airtight container.

Nutritional info:
1 Serving: Calories 220 (Calories from Fat 80); Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 3g, Trans Fat 0g);Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 200mg; Total Carbohydrate 32g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 15g); Protein 4g from Chex.com

Update 11/8/l1: I altered the recipe to use the whole box on Wheat Chex. It was so annoying to have that little bit leftover.

1 14-ounce box Wheat Chex (about 7 to 7 1/2 cups of cereal)
1 1/2 cups lightly salted almonds (we use half plain raw almonds and have roasted salted almonds)
6 Tablespoons of butter (if unsalted, add a big pinch of salt)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cup chopped dried apples
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt-covered raisins

Follow the rest of the directions as written. It took about 30 seconds longer for the apples to start to brown on the edges but otherwise was the same and turned out great!

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