This is not an easy post for me to write. After months of training and anticipation, the final result of my first triathlon was not what I had hoped. Please don’t misunderstand – I am proud of completing the course and thoroughly enjoyed (most of) the race, which should be all that matters. But I did not come close to the time goal I had set for myself and I’m having a terrible time letting it go.
So I have decided to focus on the overwhelming gratitude I have for my family’s cheers and support and for my close friend Fronzie who was by my side throughout the entire race. And I am tremendously grateful for the journey. There were many lessons learned from the day I decided to register to the moment I crossed the finish line, and I will take them with me into the next one. After I relax. For a few weeks at least…
Last evening (in the name of carb loading – and a massive craving) I made a classic bolognese in the 92 degree heat. Simmering sauce for two hours in an old house with suboptimal air conditioning may seem like a questionable choice, but I was determined.
Simmering away with the tomatoes, wine, parsley, and basil. This is exactly why I bought the big cast iron pot!
(serves 8 generously)
- 1/2 C olive oil
- 2 small onions, small diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and small diced
- 3 celery stalks, small diced
- 1 lb ground veal
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 C parsley, chopped
- 1/2 C basil, chopped (plus more for topping)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 C wine – dry white OR red
- 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 C grated parmesan, 1/4 C reserved for topping
- saute the onions and garlic over medium until almost translucent
- add carrots and celery, cook until softened, about 10 minutes
- turn heat to medium-high and add ground veal and beef, breaking up with a wooden spoon and cooking until it is no longer pink
- add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano, stirring to incorporate
- add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, parsley and basil and bring to a boil
- reduce heat to low and simmer until it thickens (the time depends on how patient you are, but the longer the better)
- when sauce is thickened to your liking, stir in the cream and simmer for 15 more minutes
- turn off heat and stir in 3/4 cup parmesan
- cook and drain your favorite pasta and return to pasta pot
- ladle sauce into pasta and stir to combine
- plate with generous amounts of grated parmesan and chopped basil
This morning I went on what will probably be the last run before my triathlon. The alarm woke me at five a.m. so I could meet my friend and running partner by six in order to beat the oppressive heat hanging over Chicago. Bleary eyed, I reached into my drawer and slipped on the first thing I laid my hands on – an old pair of black Nike running shorts and my requisite white tank. A few sips of coffee, a splash of cold water on my face, a quick braid and I was out the door.
I returned, sweaty and exhausted, to find my daughter sitting in the kitchen eating her breakfast, regarding me with a puzzled expression on her face.
Hannah: Where did you get those shorts?
Me: I have no idea, I’ve had them forever.
Hannah: Why is the waist band so high?
Me: Not sure, they were made a long time ago.
Hannah: You should at least roll the waist band down so they don’t look…like that.
Me: I’ll remember that next time.
Hannah: Who were you with?
Me: Mrs. Roemer.
Hannah: Where did you run?
Me: Mrs. Roemer’s neighborhood.
Hannah: So it’s POSSIBLE that somebody saw you.
Me: Alright, in the goodwill pile they go.
I should have known this day would come. Being embarrassed by your parent in some way or another is a rite of passage, isn’t it? I remember once begging my mother to please not stand on the front porch in her fuzzy pink bathrobe and wave to me as I boarded the bus. For some reason, I just didn’t see today’s pink bathrobe moment coming. Shopping, anyone?
I love cooking in cast iron and have used my Le Creuset dutch oven to make everything from slow-braised osso buco to thick, rich bolognese. The problem is that my trusty little pot, while still in great shape, is too small to hold dinner for a crowd. So I was thrilled to find this beauty on sale at Williams-Sonoma yesterday:
Cast iron heats evenly, allows you to create a perfect sear, and it lasts forever. This enamel coated 7-quart Staub Oval Cocotte is big enough to roast a large chicken or braise a ton of short ribs. I know what you are thinking. It’s JUNE! Who wants all of that heavy cooking in the summer?! But I have a plan. This weekend I will make either the Mussels with White Wine and Butter (see first image) or Clams with Jalapeno, Lemon, and Basil (below). Summery, right?
I know I will not last it until fall without testing this Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs recipe at least once, though:
And these Rosemary Lamb Chops with Swiss Chard and Balsamic Syrup look pretty fabulous too…
Click each image for sources, links and recipes.
One of my closest friends is traveling to China this week with her husband and three young boys (yes she is a brave soul!). This morning while we were discussing trip details over coffee, the conversation turned to the best thing to wear on long flights. Below, the short list:
1) A great pair of worn-in jeans or leggings.
2) A thin, over-sized wrap or scarf (great as an impromptu blanket or pillow).
3) Flats or short boots for easy removal. No running shoes allowed!
4) The absolute softest t-shirt you can find. (I am completely addicted to James Perse’s white tanks and tees.)
5) A neutral lightweight cardigan, jacket or blazer that can be used throughout vacation.
6) A great tote or cross-body bag in a forgiving color.
7) And last but not least, a fabulous pair of over-sized sunglasses to hide the dark circles!
This Saturday the Sixth Annual Glencoe Grand Prix will take place in scenic downtown Glencoe, Illinois. Experience the thrill of pro cyclists flying by, have your children participate in activities created just for them, watch the Chicago Sky’s McDonald’s Fly Kids tumble, enjoy great food and drink, and dance the night away at the block party with 16 Candles, the best cover band in Chicago!
My friend and cycling mentor Jon Knouse created the Glencoe Grand Prix six years ago to raise money for the Glencoe Educational Foundation in a way that the whole community could participate in and enjoy. He married his love of racing with his passion for the community and as a result, the Glencoe Grand Prix has become a signature event for the Village of Glencoe and a wildly successful amateur and pro cycling race. When I caught up with Jon recently, he shared with me why he developed the GGP, how it has grown, and what it means to him.
When Jon started racing regularly back in the early 2000′s, he thought Glencoe would be the perfect venue for a bike race because of its small town feel and its lovely downtown area. It reminded him a lot of the scenic towns in Wisconsin that hosted the criteriums (short course bike races generally held on closed-off town or city streets) he was racing in. When he decided to pursue the idea, the Village of Glencoe found a way to say yes. It has, along with the community and many other Glencoe organizations, continued to provide great support to the race. Knouse’s cycling friends also supported his efforts in the beginning with donations to the foundation to help make the event go. Without them, he said, it would have never gotten off the ground. Six years later, he loves that though the GGP has grown exponentially it has managed to maintain that small town feel.
Jon said that in the end, the Glencoe Grand Prix is about community. It is an event where everyone comes together, has a great time, and shares with the outside world how wonderful Glencoe is and what it has to offer.
The Sixth Annual Glencoe Grand Prix takes place this Saturday, June 2nd. Amateur races run from 8:15am – 3:45pm. The BTIG Women’s Pro Race begins at 4:30pm and the AT&T Men’s Pro Race begins at 5:30pm. Great activities run all day. To find more detailed information about the race and its surrounding activities, visit
and choose the flyer option in the menu.
Photos 1 and 4 courtesy of Josh Dreyfus at joshdreyfus.com, photo 2 courtesy of Andy Rogers, and photo 3 courtesy of Brian Lee.
And one more thing…
I was thrilled to be included in the GGP pre-race event held at Alberto’s Cycles in Highland Park with actor Matthew Modine. Modine (appearing this summer in The Dark Knight Rises, the latest installment in the Batman Series) is an avid cyclist who created the foundation Bicycle for a Day with a mission “to help empower individuals with tools which they can use in their everyday lives to make a measurable, tangible, difference to our community, our environment, and our personal health.” It was a great evening filled with talk of movies, biking, and global issues that touch all of us. Visit bicycleforaday.org for more information about Modine’s foundation and to find out how you can become involved.