Friday, November 29, 2013

Buttermilk Pie

This Thanksgiving I was blessed once again to have my parents cook. I did contribute a very very small part and made two pies. One of the pies was a pecan pie, and the other was this buttermilk pie. Someone (I am so sorry I have forgotten who) gave us a pie book with a pie plate when we were first married. I go through my recipe books often donating the ones I don't use and this book, American Pie by Theresa Kennedy, always makes the cuts. There are some unusual pie recipes in the book. It appeals to my Frankenfood side. I still haven't made all the pies yet. This Thanksgiving, I tried two new recipes. I had the ingredients, and buttermilk pie sounded so interesting.

Buttermilk Pie

1 pie crust*
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons lightly salted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Ease crust into 9-inch pie pan; trim the overhang to 1 inch and flute the edges.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, flour, and melted butter and beat until the flour is completely blended. Add sugar and continue beating.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and blend.
5. Pour the filling into the crust and sprinkle it with nutmeg. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes**or until the filling is set. Serve warm or chilled.

The book says "An old fashioned recipe that might seem unusual to pie eaters today. The custard filling is tangy and sweet, reminiscent of pies made with cream cheese." It was interesting. It had almost lemony in flavor, but it was still distinctly buttermilk. It was eaten and well received.

*I buy a pie crust. Gasp! There is a recipe in the book for crusts. It currently does not fit into my slacker lifestyle.
** This pie is pretty fast to make which fits into my slacker lifestyle.

Mark Kennedy's Pecan Pie

We were given a pie recipe book, American Pie by Theresa Kennedy, with a pie dish early in our marriage. It has a lot of cool and unusual recipes in it. I usually make Aunt Dear's Pecan Crème Pie* because it is easy and delicious. I thought I had all the ingredients, but I didn't have any light corn syrup. I did, however, have dark corn syrup and all the ingredients for the pie on the next page, Mark Kennedy's Pecan Pie. It takes a little more work**, but it was good. It's much richer than Aunt Dear's. It was well received, and I came home with an empty pie dish. I also made buttermilk pie. The recipe for it is in the previous post if you are interested.

Pecan pie ready for T-day travel

Mark Kennedy's Pecan Pie

1 pie crust***
3 eggs
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons lightly salted butter, softened
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Roll pie crust into pie pan with 1 inch overhang. Flute edges as desired and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
3. Place the eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Beat for 3 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer, or by hand until the butter is completely incorporated. (It turns a nice lighter brown)
4. Add the pecans and stir to blend. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 1 hour.

Yum yum good.

*I'll post this some time. It deserves its own post.
**I'm a slacker pie maker so it really doesn't take that much extra work.
***I buy a crust. Slacker. You can make one if you are purist.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top 10 reasons the holidays kill my holiday spirit

I'm not trying to be Scroogie. Really, I'm not. I promise to write a follow up about what I love about the holidays. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and then suddenly it's December. I blink, and then it's 2014.The holiday season is in full swing, and I'm already stressed.

So here's my mental/emotional unload (aka whining) about how the holidays rob me of holiday joy.

10. I have more lists: During the holidays I have an extra list or two to plan gifts going out in a timely manner (normally a fail), holiday pictures/cards (still have last years) and projects to do during our time off (snicker away). This is on top of my normal lists

9. Expecting some relaxing family time and not getting enough of it: We have to do all those things we didn't have time for on the regular list or things to do the extra list. (To make sure we get some time, I put it on my list.)

8. All the candy: Halloween is the official start of eating badly when there is some kind of holiday all the way through February. Stupid Take 5 bars. How many calories was that?

7. All the starchy fatty food: Let's face it. Thanksgiving food is the same color as the leaves in Autumn. A good portion of it is shiny. Homer Simpson when rubbing the food on paper and seeing the oil spot said "It's the window to weight gain." And the gateway to elastic waistbands.

6. It's cold: The snow is beautiful and fun to play in. However, after a day or two it's gray and dirty. The single digit and negative wind chills suck.

5. It's dark outside: Nothing says "Celebrate!" like waking up in the dark and the sun going down at 4 pm.

4. Making small talk: I am terrible at small talk. I am great at staring awkwardly and ending a conversation feeling like a fool. I love catching up with my family and going to minglings with friends, but, oh, the humanity. I'll just eat my words; they have no calories.

3. Getting the family dressed up: We are not fancy people. We are barely matching people. What do you mean you don't have shoes? Those are your only stockings? Why didn't I put those on my list?

2. Commercializing the holidays: Skip the meaning and get to the marketing.  Are the 4th of July holiday decorations out yet? I need to get a jump on those.

1. Brown Thursday: Is it only called Thanksgiving until 6 pm when the specials start? Can we just wait a day?

Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Hanukkah too. Blessings to you as the holiday roller coaster begins.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Naperville Marathon Race Recap

Two weeks ago I ran the Naperville Marathon. It was my 6th marathon, and it wasn't my worst time or my best time. Like any marathon, it was a long time.

I have found running a marathon is a lot like childbirth. There is a some amnesia, which allows you to do it again, and there are things that stick in your memory. Here are some things that will stick from the Naperville Marathon:

  • Bobbi and Dave drove me down which reduced my stress. In looking for parking we circled a parking lot with a porta potty. Score. I went to the bathroom before even parking. I also went again before the race. Double score. Runner's dream.
Second Potty Stop

  • I couldn't get up to my pace group. I started with the 5:30 pacers and passed the 5:00 pacer at Mile 2.
Me, Kim (who rocked it PR style), Bobbi and Dave

  • At the start of the race a guy was holding up a sign that said "Don't Sh*t Yourself" (* mine). I laughed out loud. I've run long enough that it's always a possibility
  • At Mile 6 I saw the man down with cardiac arrest and there were many people around him. The ambulance was not there yet. A gal in front of me waved to a friend half a mile ahead saying "I called 911." That's her marathon memory.
  • I saw Bobbi, Dave, Stacy and Ryan along the course. Spectators help make a marathon. Bobbi had my hat with a visor. I switched out my hat; it was so sunny. I gave her my jacket. It was in between warmth for the rest of the race. I kept my gloves and took them on and off all race because of the wind. I hate wind.
  • Around Mile 11, I accepted a full bottle of water from someone and downed it. My tummy felt weird. I was either dehydrated or overhydrated.
  • There was a hill at Mile 13. I played Katy Perry's "Roar" three times. I like hills. Boom.
  • I hate wind. Here's why. I push against it AND it makes me cold. The course was pretty open and although it was less windy than the previous day it was still windy.
  • At Mile 14 I saw Bobbi and Dave and I put on a pretty face.
  • I have trained on trails. The Naperville trails are much harder packed than the DPRT or Rollins. My calves hurt.
  • After Mile 14 I passed Dan who had passed me at the beginning. He looked like he was having a hard time. The second part of the trail chewed me up and spit me out. It evidently chewed up others too.
  • At Mile 18 my legs were tired and hurt. I expected this in the 20's. This was the beginning of R-angry.
  • As I was coming toward the end of the trail I thought the spectators were cheering for me. They were cheering for the 5:00 hour pacer behind me. That does not feel good. Double bummer. Wrong cheer. I did not want to be behind the 5:00 pacer.
  • The 5:00 pacer was awesome. We ran about 10 minutes and walked a bit. Their running pace was faster than mine. Their walking pace was much faster than mine. I could only keep up with them until Mile 24.
  • With tears in my eyes I let the 5:00 pacer go. I ran/walked and then at Mile 25 I kept true to my first marathon mentor Yvonne's words. "We run the last mile." I sucked it up and moved forward.
  • There was a steep hill at Mile 26, and my family was also there. Pride comes before the fall. I kicked that hill's butt, and then it kicked mine.
  • When I turned the corner to the finish I saw on the clock that I was over 5 hours. Seriously R-angry. (5:01:24)
Home stretch & they totally passed me before the finish

  • The curb after getting the medal and before the food tent was my hardest hill. The volunteer said it was the last hill I had to do. Ouucchh.
  • There was so much food I could barely carry it. The Italian Beef smelled so good. I wasn't hungry. That is a first. I am normally so hungry after a race. I had a Muscle Milk and waited for my appetite to come back.
  • At the stretching tent, my children hovered around me eating my snacks. The stretches hurt, but it felt great when I got up. There were cracker crumbs all over my bench.
  • I was back on Mom duty as soon as we started back to the car. Bobbi offered me a duty free car ride back repeatedly but I declined. I took a kid to the bathroom on the way to the car. I made 6-7 PB&Js in the car on the way home.
  • I ate my Italian beef about an hour after the race. It was the best. Seriously fantastic. Even better than the Red Robin we had later that night. I've discovered the secret to good tasting food; be hungry.
Looking over these, most of the first half has been forgotten, and it is the second half that sticks in my memory - when the pain, fatigue and eventual triumph come into play. I love Steve Prefontaine's quote "Don't let fatigue make a coward out of you."

Grit gets it done

Nice job Naperville on your Inaugural Marathon. I could do without the wind. I hate wind. I've gotten over my R-anger and have forgotten enough to look forward to marathon 7 sometime next year. I will keep you posted.

Steps of Faith

Today is National Adoption Day, and November is National Adoption Month. For those of you who do not know, our family is in the process of an international adoption. This week, completely coincidently, a big milestone in our adoption process took place. Our dossier was logged in China. The process to this point has been fairly bureaucratic. Our home study and dossier involved paperwork, interviews, doctor's visits, webinars and more paperwork. This week when the official letter came I felt pregnant again.

Here's our journey in a nutshell. We talked about adoption when we married. Two of our own and then adopt. We had two. Surprise #3 came pretty quickly after. We put adoption to the side. We brought it up again. We started talking to an agency. Before submitting our application we felt God might be pulling us another way. We hosted a child through Safe Families. We realized we still had a heart for adoption. We approached another agency. A year and a half later, here we are. And now we wait.

If you ask me how I feel, I would answer, "I don't know." Having a log in date did make my pulse race. There was panic and elation. We have really tried to keep our expectations limited. This week at the library I checked out 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green.' We sat down to watch it last night and I didn't know much about the story line. I was a perfect movie for where we were as a family in our process. The story is about a couple at an adoption center telling their story. They are unable to conceive a child but are miraculously given the child of their dreams, Timothy, for a short time. Timothy is different, having leaves on his legs. As parents, they make mistakes, they learn about themselves, they protect Timothy, they make mistakes upon their mistakes, they hover and they learn their dream child does not act as they expect. They are parents. We choked back tears. Okay, I let a few spill. I left the film comforted.

I didn't know what personality my children would have when they were born (and they are all very different). We adjusted as a family. That's what I expect. That's part of being in a family. And I'll make mistakes. Probably mistakes upon mistakes. I pray for our son and for my family and for us together.

I'm sure that there will be questions and comments. My friend Laury has some great insights on being respectful. (Unfortunately or fortunately, we field them now. Three times this week someone has asked if my two youngest girlios are twins. Umm. No.) Laury has gone through the process more than once and seeing her family regularly encourages me.

As I write this 'Happy Birthday' is playing in Chinese for the 50th time (because my girlios love the cd and know how to hit the repeat button), and my daughter just showed me a picture of the Great Wall of China she painted.

And we all move forward.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Marathon Week Anxiety, Phobias and Superstition

Yesterday as I was switching from my Birkie sandals that I wear around the house to my winter Birks** my socks slipped on our flat bamboo floors, and my leg got a bit out of whack. I yelped and panicked. I then rubbed my knee for the next hour or so. Why all the worry? It's marathon week, and I'm a big ball of fuss.

Of course, today my leg is fine. It does highlight my feelings during marathon week. I worry. Unlike the weeks of my largest long runs where I finished my runs, took a shower, ate something and then went to work within an hour, I become a porcelain doll in my mind this week. This week, I am overly careful. Yes, this weekend is a culmination of four months or so of preparation, but all my fears of last minute injury and my fear of not being able to finish rise to the surface. Running and non-running injuries take people out during training regularly. I get that. As we come down to the wire, I'm waiting for the shoe to drop, or the leg to sprain, or something.

I am not a stranger to anxiety. I wish I was, but alas, I have big and little panic attacks. I am thankful for the friends I can call or text when anxiety hits who listen to me, encourage me and don't judge me (or at least don't tell me about it). I've had big attacks too that normally come at night, and I am thankful for a husband that is willing to listen to me, pray for me and hold me in the middle of the night. The big ones aren't frequent, but they do really really suck.

Last year before the Milwaukee Marathon, I had trouble sleeping. That's not unusual for runners. I woke my husband up panicked and scared about the race, being able to finish, blah, blah, blah. He answered, "Then don't keep signing up for them." He's so perfect for me. I laughed and went right to sleep. That race is my PR.

I'm also worried about what to wear. The weather has changed, and it's going to be cold. I'm not sure how many layers, which hat, which gloves, or which pants. Really, it's stuff I wouldn't be so concerned about it was a regular weekend long run, but since it's race day it's worth fussing about.

Like many runners, I am a creature of habit. I know what we will be eating the day before the race - Thai peanut chicken curry with rice and broccoli. Non dairy, gluten free. I know what I'll be eating for breakfast - Market Pantry fudge graham protein bars. The knock-off zone bar is better than the Zone Bar. Honest. It gets a bit superstitious. I understand the importance of sticking to what works, but I also know I've run on nachos for my practice runs. The nachos may have given me an extra boost.

Anyway, there are 5 days to race day. I hope not to get injured in that time, but if it happens it's out of my control. I'm #591 if you want to track me. I'm blaming my anxiety on the taper weeks. With all this extra energy, I'm spending it on fussing. I'm glad I have a big race coming up to burn it all off.

I'll look a lot like this this weekend - cart not included.

** My feet are flat like skillets. Birks keep the PF away. I really only wear Birks and running shoes. I even got married in white Birks. Comfort before fashion.