Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crystal Lake Triathlon 2009

Location: Averill Park, NY
Distance: Sprint (800m s, 18mi b, 5k r)
Time: 8am (in waves 4min apart)
Weather: 60deg, raining
Participants: 241

Apparently fall has arrived in Upstate NY! Let's just say when I threw some clothes into my bag for the weekend, I wasn't expecting temperatures to drop below 60. The past two mornings, however, have been quite chilly!

I knew it was inevitable--that at some point, I would have to race in the rain. Today was definitely the day (good weather from now on??)! On the drive to the race there was the lightest drizzle, which stopped as I was setting up my bike and transition area. The break didn't last long, and drops began to fall as go-time got closer :(

Fog draped the lake, creating quite the backdrop for the scene of the swim...

Crystal Lake in the fog

With such a small race, there were 4 waves of swimmers, and I was in the 2nd wave with most of the females, 4min after the start. Time couldn't pass quickly enough, as I was freezing! Luckily the water was like bath water, although my feet never warmed up :/

about to lose my cap!

I felt pretty comfortable in the swim, actually getting in between people and not getting thrown off by an occasional kick or bump. The fog wasn't too much of a problem, as I used the buoys to sight. Despite this, I finished with a time of 18:56... not sure if it was a little longer than 800m or I went a little off course on the way back in??

Much like the Webster course, this course was described as "challenging." Indeed, on a good day it would be a challenging ride. Rolling hills, with 4 (I think) good-size ones thrown in. What was I thinking signing up for this race??

The weather, a light rain up until this point, took a turn for the worse and we experienced quite the downpour on this leg. My feet were completely soaked (as was the rest of me, but the squishy socks made it worse), and at one point the rain felt like hail. Not my idea of fun, but the heaviest downpour was relatively short... could've been worse, right? I did take it a bit conservative on turns and around traffic, but I felt pretty good until the last big hill. I managed to finish the ride in 1:06.54, an average of 16.1mph. I was hoping to do a bit better than my last race, but given the conditions and length I feel pretty good about it. Still need to work on my climbing outside!

this time i'm in the blue/white top

After prying off my gloves and giving my socks a squeeze (still on my feet) and grabbing my race belt, I tied my shoes and was off on the run. My feet? Still cold, felt kinda like bricks. Did I mention there was a nice little hill right out of the transition? That was... nice. There were some small hills on the course, and my left ankle felt pretty inflexible, but I passed the two women who had passed me at the end of the bike (hehehe). There was one woman who passed me, and as much as I wanted to keep up, it wasn't happening. I took it out on some guys in my path :)

Approaching the final turn

I finished pretty strong, mud and all ;) Although I didn't feel fast, somehow I finished in 23:05 (an 8:09 pace)--not too shabby! My parents didn't listen to me and came out to support despite the weather, which I can't thank them enough for!! It's always awesome to see them and have people you know cheering you on <3

My final time was 1:54:43, which put me 4th in Females 20-29. Which I'd be thrilled with... except that if I had been one minute faster, I would've been 2nd. One stinkin minute- doh! Ah well, it was a good race and I'm happy with how I did. And that I finished despite the weather. Plus, there's always next year!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Eats

Sorry for going MIA, it's been a bit crazy here... Hi to everyone I met at the Healthy Living Summit!! I can't describe how awesome it was to hear "I read your blog!" :) I meant to attend some of the other festivities, but I had to make it out to the burbs to sit this guy...


He was tuckered out after our long walks in the heat and humidity of last week! I was pretty much without internet access, so I'm still trying to catch up :/

I did have the realization that zucchini and corn make an amazing pairing! I had sauteed some zucchini with onions in a little EVOO, but didn't have a plan of what to use them in. I thought of combining it with corn on a pizza, but instead of making my own dough I took the easy way out and used pitas already on hand. I made this a few times during the week and varied the cheese (Laughing Cow, goat cheese, or fresh mozz), but I think my fav way was with the laughing cow spread underneath a heaping pile of zucchini and corn, broiled until crispy! Yum...

Zucchini Corn Pita Pizza

I was also beyond excited to find 2 pints of sour cherries at a store when I was looking something for my mom :) I immediately popped them in my basket (let's not think about the fact that I had a basket... when I went in for 1 thing that I could've held in my hands) and began to think about my failed pie. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was the heat and humidity... but I ended up making some Sour Cherry Frozen Yogurt! My cherries were actually so good I could eat them plain, so I cut back on the sugar and used amaretto instead of the rum and almond extract. A great way to cool off :)

Sour Cherry Frozen Yogurt

Looking at these pictures, I am appreciating all the natural light I get in my apartment :) (These were not taken in my apt) I am off for a long weekend home Thursday, so the next time you hear from me it will likely be another race recap!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


~sigh~ The days keep passing by yet I feel like I can't keep up. I have tried a bunch of good recipes, so here's a bunch of photos and links for your viewing pleasure...

A bunch of kale happenned to be in my fridge when I read this post. It didn't take me long to whip up a batch of Celine's kagels (kale bagels)! I used whole wheat flour with ~2T vital wheat gluten for mine, and enjoyed them topped with hummus (in the front) or cheese (in the back) and a thickly sliced heirloom tomato... yum :)

I experimented with adding peaches to my caprese salad! This combination has popped up a few places this summer, so I had to give it a shot. I topped my heriloom tomatoes, local peaches, and fresh mozz with a little balsamic that I reduced with a little honey and a cinnamon stick. This was a nice twist on the traditional salad :)

After my pie failure, I stopped sulking and made a small batch of this Sour Cherry Borscht. This was very unique and I really loved how refreshing it was, especially topped with a bit of greek yogurt! Sour cherries, why isn't your season longer??

I finally got around to trying Ricki's Zucchini Pineapple Muffins (originally Mini Loaves)! I was really intrigued by the use of pureed avocado for some of the fat, and gave up waiting for me to buy some spelt flours-- I used white whole wheat for the light spelt flour and whole wheat for the barley flour. Mine seemed to be a bit dry (probably the change in flours), so I didn't keep them in the pan after 25 min in the oven. They turned out perfectly, and i'm in love! So glad I have more ripe avocado stashed in my freezer :)

Got corn? I did, and whipped up a small batch of Ellie Krieger's Creamy Corn & Veggie Soup. It was enjoyab-ly light, but it didn't knock my socks off. Maybe a bit of work on the seasoning front to give it a little punch?

After seeing some Spicy Roasted Shrimp & Green Beans pop up twice (first by Kalyn and then Esi), I knew this was going into the rotation as soon as I picked up green beans at the farmers market! Even using lime zest instead of lemon, this dish did not disappoint!

Tired yet? I sure am! I got one more for you before I hit the hay... a co-worker had a birthday this week and as her birthday buddy it was my turn to take care of the cake. Her request was a carrot cake, with all the goodies (pineapple, nuts, coconut, raisins). I ended up using Eating Well's recipe for the cake (I reduced the sugar a tad and used egg substitute for 2 of the eggs). This got topped off with some golden raisin cream cheese frosting (using Nufatchel, Smart Balance 50/50 sticks, and 1 1/2c powdered sugar) and some toasted walnuts. She liked it! In fact, it seemed to get rave reviews across the board :) Definitely a keeper!

Alright kids, it's way past my bedtime! Until next time... try some new recipes :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Melon Mondays V

For the last installment of Melon Mondays, I bring you dessert! It wouldn't be complete without it, right? I was a little worried about this one, as the whole meal was part-melon, I didn't want it to be overwhelmingly sweet. I finally decided on a recipe from The Ethicurean-- a Honeydew Custard Tart.

Honeydew Custard Tart

This was totally unique-- a crystallized ginger stud-ed shortbread crust (I used white WW flour and Smart Balance 50/50 sticks instead of butter) topped with a velvety honeydew custard!! Wowsa, I was really impressed :) I made a few modifications to the custard because I was running low on eggs and honey. My 3 eggs were actually 3/4c liquid egg whites, and I only used about 1/4c or less honey and agave nectar. My melon was sweet enough ;)

It was absolutely delicious, and I seem to recall a few of us going back in for a second slice ;) Well, that's it for now folks, hope I haven't turned you all into melon-heads by now!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Taste of Park Plaza

On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to attend Taste of Park Plaza, a sold out even to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank! I had never been to the Park Plaza Hotel and didn't quite know how everything was going to be set up, so I was surprised when I got there and realized that all the participating restaurants were actually in the bottom of the Hotel!

I met up with a friend of mine (the owner of the cute dogs i have had the pleasure of sitting) at the hotel, where we received our Passport showing a map of the participating restaurants. The idea was to make our way around the hotel to try signature dishes and drinks.

While we contemplated starting with dessert first, we headed to Bonfire to get the ball rolling. The tastings at Bonfire were delicious-- on the top of the plate was a black garlic empanada, the lower half a surf and turf taco. We met up with Tina, Mal and Mary Kate here, and lingered over a glass of wine before moving to the next destination together.

Next up was the Melting Pot, who was a little ill-prepared for the amount of people that happened to go there at once! We were able to sample both the cheddar cheese and dark chocolate fondue here.

I think this is one type of dish that's hard to do in such large quantities, as the quality was not like my previous experience (different location).

We then meandered across the hallway to McCormick & Schmick's, which was pretty busy as well. After enjoying a glass of wine while looking at empty platters, we were finally able to sample their appetizers-- a Pan Seared Tuna w/Wasabi Dressing and Bruschetta. The wasabi on my piece of tuna was a bit overwhelming, but it finally subsided and I got to enjoy some nice garlicky tomatoes :)

On our way out, we spotted Anna and her sister Meg, who joined us at Swan's Cafe. Here I tried their Tea-Cured Smoked Salmon, which was good, but I didn't taste any tea. I kinda felt like if you were going to go through all the work to infuse the salmon with tea, shouldn't you taste it? They also had some Tea Brined & Spiced Chicken Wings, but I'm not a fan of wings so I passed. We all thought it would be neat to go to a proper afternoon tea here!

I was getting quite full at this point, but I really enjoyed the Shepard's Pie at our next stop, M.J. O'Connor's :) This would be perfect on a crisp fall day! They also offered up a Clam Chowder.

Rounding the corner, we found ourselves at Au Bon Pain where they had plenty of Watermelon Lemonade and BBQ Chicken Sandwiches! I was only thinking of dessert at this point, so I stuck to the delicious cup of

It was then time to make our way to one of the places I'd had my eye on ever since I moved to Boston- finale! Dark chocolate decadence indeed, this was fantastic :) Described as a flourless chocolate cake, I almost thought its texture was more like a dense mousse. Very delicious and gone all too quickly!

Our last stop was Ben & Jerry's, where they had the mini pints available for the event. A few bites of strawberry cheesecake and I was VERY happy to walk to the T!

~phew~ What a night! This was a great way to get introduced to some new restaurants, for them to showcase their food, and to support a good cause! Great food and company, not a bad way to spend your birthday ;)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sour Cherry Pie

I almost squeeled with delight when I saw sour cherries at a farmers market out in Bedford, and happily picked a bunch up. After convincing myself that the bug I brought home with them just meant they were freshly-picked, I got to washing and pitting!! Yes, a cherry pitter is a very good investment (especially when you've gone through a season w/o one) :)

Sour cherries are slightly smaller and brighter than their sweet counterparts, and you'd certainly know if you accidentally popped one in your mouth! Like all of nature's bounty, cherries are great for you-- full of vitamins and minerals (potassium, Vit C, complex B Vit). Tart cherries are also particularly high in antioxidants, contain melatonin, and have been touted to have anti-inflammatory properties. (For more information try here, here or here)

It didn't take me long to settle on making a cherry pie with my gorgeous red rubies.

Sour Cherry Pie

Looks great, right? Yeah, that's about where it ended :( When I went to cut into it, I was met with a see of red. After draining out the liquid, I saw a soggy crust and was utterly defeated. We're talking Julie-style meltdown here. It wasn't pretty. Which reminds me, I have to thank Bakespace and Erin for the opportunity to attend an advanced screening of Julie and Julia! I had no idea Julia Child was such a character, but I loved the movie :) Erin wrote a fantastic review here, I urge you to check it out!

After scraping myself off the floor, I knew that the filling would still be delicious. Indeed, my Sour Cherry crisp was awesome :) As was the banana soft serve I finally tried with it!

Sour Cherry Crisp w/Banana Soft Serve

To finish off the sour cherries I had, I made 1 jar of Sour Cherry Jam that I can't wait to dig in to!

Sour Cherry Jam

Have you tried sour cherries? What's you're favorite thing to make with them? And to any bakers out there... any tips? (I was listening to Lynne Rossetto Kasper at the time, and ironically enough she said to prevent a soggy crust, prebake your crust. Prebake I did, and it did not help. I'm thinking the cherries were just too wet, even with patting them dry and adding 1/4c cornstarch to the mix...)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Melon Mondays IV

Phew, moving right along, there's only one monday left! We've already got quite the spread with some tasty appetizers and a delicious main course, but I really wanted to get in a salad ;) I first tried a watermelon and tomato salad last year and was so amazed and how well it worked I knew I wanted to come up with one to share for dinner. The picture taking was hindered by the similar-color fruits and plate...

Watermelon Salad w/Tomato Relish

Watermelon Salad w/Tomato Relish
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 6

goat cheese
2 plum tomatoes
2 scallions, sliced (reserve some for garnish)
1t Smart Balance Omega oil (or any other mild oil)
2t white balsamic vinegar
grind (or two) of fresh ground black pepper

A few hours (or the night) before, prepare the tomato relish. Cut and de-seed (get rid of all the juices) the tomatoes, then dice. Combine with most of the scallions, oil, vinegar and pepper. Allow flavors to combine in the fridge.

To serve the salad, cut watermelon (I have no idea how much I used, I just covered my serving dish, which was pretty large, ~9x13) to desired shape (I thought triangles would be fun) and plate. Crumgle goat cheese on top of watermelon (again, use how much you like, I didn't measure but it may have been ~2oz), then top with tomato relish. Garnish with reserved scallions and serve!

I couldn't get enough of this, very light and refreshing!! I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did, or maybe there's room for improvement??
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