Gratitude

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…

Waiting to dive in. Fronzie is next to me in the white swim cap.
Toward the end of the swim. By far the most difficult leg of the race.
My little sister and my son looking concerned.
My daughter and husband walking the shoreline.
My niece Lily.
Seriously one of the top five happiest moments of my life was exiting the water.
Transitioning to the bikes. I lost a full three minutes trying to maneuver my wetsuit over the time chip on my ankle. It was almost comical. Except it wasn’t.
The bike was hands down my favorite part of the race. It was a gorgeous and hilly 25 mile ride through the countryside. Please note the aforementioned time chip on my ankle – it’s so big you’d think I was under house arrest!
Taking off on our 6.2 mile run. The fact that we are smiling clearly shows we cannot feel our legs yet.
Heading to the trail. Also very hilly.
Getting ready to cross the finish line. My father, stepmother and sisters are on the left cheering while my daughter slips under the fence to join us.

I didn’t cry until I hugged my mom.
The end of the chapter. Not the end of the story.

Farmers Market Friday

This morning I made a quick trip to the Lake Bluff Farmers Market and could not resist snapping a few photos.  I, without fail, spend every bit of cash I have on hand whenever I go.

DSC_0195From the fresh squeezed lemonade/limeade stand.

I can’t wait to put some of these in an omelette.

This is always my favorite flower stand.  I had them make up this bouquet of peonies and cornflower:

which matches the outfit.  Not on purpose.  SO happy my hydrangeas are blooming!  I know, we need mulch.  Don’t get me started on the landscaping.

Beautiful Bolognese

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.

Sauteing onions and garlic.  Best.  Smell.  Ever.

Softening the small-diced carrots and celery.

I need to mention the spoon.  It belonged to my Grandmother Porter who I was forever shadowing in the kitchen growing up, so it holds great meaning.  I use it for everything.

Equal parts ground veal and ground beef.

Simmering away with the tomatoes, wine, parsley, and basil.  This is exactly why I bought the big cast iron pot!

My favorite part  – the cream mixed in at the end.

Basil and parmesan at the ready.

I definitely ate more than my fair share and am fairly certain I’ll be full until Sunday.  Mission accomplished!

Classic Bolognese
(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
  1. saute the onions and garlic over medium until almost translucent
  2. add carrots and celery, cook until softened, about 10 minutes
  3. 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
  4. add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano, stirring to incorporate
  5. add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, parsley and basil and bring to a boil
  6. reduce heat to low and simmer until it thickens (the time depends on how patient you are, but the longer the better)
  7. when sauce is thickened to your liking, stir in the cream and simmer for 15 more minutes
  8. turn off heat and stir in 3/4 cup parmesan
  9. cook and drain your favorite pasta and return to pasta pot
  10. ladle sauce into pasta and stir to combine
  11. plate with generous amounts of grated parmesan and chopped basil

running in style (or not)

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?

Cast Iron Cooking

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…

Decisions, Decisions!!!

Click each image for sources, links and recipes.

What to Wear: Traveling in Style

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.

James Neo Beau Boyfriend Jeans (on sale here in  a less distressed version)

2) A thin, over-sized wrap or scarf (great as an impromptu blanket or pillow).

Seawater Blooms Cashmere Silk Scarf (available here)

3) Flats or short boots for easy removal.  No running shoes allowed!

Pretty Ballerinas Dark Silver Snakeskin Printed Leather Flats (available here)

4) The absolute softest t-shirt you can find.  (I am completely addicted to James Perse’s white tanks and tees.)

James Perse Casual Short Sleeve Tee (available here)

5) A neutral lightweight cardigan, jacket or blazer that can be used throughout vacation.

Free People Boucle Jacket (available here)

6) A great tote or cross-body bag in a forgiving color.

See by Chloe Bryoni Large Double Function Bag (on sale here)

7) And last but not least, a fabulous pair of over-sized sunglasses to hide the dark circles!

Barneys New York Sarah Sunglasses (available here)