Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Amazing Athletes

Ladies and Gentlemen, take a close look at this picture. It's as close as you may come in your lifetime to true greatness. Lauren, Coach Jan, Meg, Alison, Marty, Kristen, and Liza are just part of a team of elite athletes that is not only participating in a grueling three event race this June, they have also -- between them -- raised thousands of dollars in support of cancer research (speaking of which, don't forget Casino Night this Friday!).

But let's focus right now on this race. It's a swim, a bike, and a run. The swim takes place in Newfound Lake in New Hampshire, a lake, I'm sure that freezes solid in the winter and surely is fed at least in part by run-off. The race may be in June and they may be swimming in wetsuits. But, I'm sorry. Ladies and gentlemen, when the people pictured in this photo jump into Newfound Lake in a few weeks, they will be submerging themselves in, that's right...

...About twelve degrees!

Good luck, Team, and have fun. I'll be on the sidelines cheering -- and nowhere near that water!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Skills

It didn't take long: only a year-and-a-half of marriage and about four years of a relationship prior to that. But it is official... I now know how to make an omelette.

This is not a food blog, so you will not find a recipe or a list of how-to steps in this post. Besides, when it comes to omelettes, you almost need personal coaching -- there are subtleties in the craft like knowing how long to cook your eggs and how to keep them from sticking to the pan. In fact, if you don't have an omelette-maker to observe, or someone to give you that one-on-one attention, I suggest you stick with scrambled eggs. They taste similar, and you can add ingredients like onions, peppers, and cheese. You just don't get the, oh, so cool "look" of an omelette. Like when I make one.

My omelette mentor, of course, was my lovely wife. I will be the first to admit that she does a lot of things better than me -- a lot. I am going to put out the claim, however, that in the case of omelette-making, the student has become the master.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Strawberry-Rhubarb pie, to be more specific. In fact, before I say another word, take a look below...

Here's the deal. I found the recipe at the GlutenFreeHomemaker.com. That's right... totally gluten, wheat, barley, rye free! So those of you out there cooking for the gluten-sensitive, this is a pie for you. Now, you can go to the Homemaker's website for her recipe (and I highly recommend that you do), but I, of course, like to improvise when I cook (ie I like to cut whatever corners are possible), so here's what I did:

1) The Homemaker leaves the crust up to you. I was dealing with a severe time shortage, so I bought a frozen gluten-free crust at the Natural Food store. Okay, not completely accurate. I called Alison and she picked up the crust at the Natural Food store. Okay, then, that's out there. Now, two things about the crust. One, I'm going to skip to the end and mention that if this pie had a weakness (and, mind you, it was a pretty damn good pie), it was the crust. Next time, I plan to do something different with the crust, whether it's from scratch or from a box, it won't be a frozen crust.

Anyway, the Homemaker calls for a 9-inch crust, which I confirmed mine was. (Note: it didn't say on the package what its dimensions were, but I confirmed the 9-inches with a 25-foot Stanley carpenters' tape measure.)

2) Whew! Finally, we're through Step 1. Sheesh!

3) The Homemaker calls for the following ingredients: 4 cups rhubarb (I used 1.5), 2 cups strawberries (I used 3), 1 cup sugar (yep), 1/4 cup corn starch, 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used a quarter of a lemon and squeezed it), 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoon butter (I used 1). Also, the Homemaker abbreviates all her measurements like 4 c., 3Tbl, etc. You'll notice I don't do that. It's fricken confusing.

4) Wash and cut the rhubarb into slices that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

5) Wash and slice the strawberries.

6) Add sugar, corn starch, and lemon juice.

7) Toss to coat.

8) Let it sit while you get into step 9.

9) Prepare pie topping, which is sorghum flour and brown sugar with butter cut in.

10) Dump the fruit mixture into the pie crust, then sprinkle the topping on top (that's why they call it the topping, Einstein).

11) I like my recipe to jump out and bite your head off once in awhile.

12) Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. One thing I learned afterwards from Alison is that I should have put a cookie sheet under my pie while it was baking. Now I have a pile of pie filling overflow at the bottom of my oven.

13) Here's the one mistake I made. I didn't trust the Homemaker and thought the topping looked too floury. So I didn't add it all. Until after I had baked the pie for 30 minutes. At that point, I took a peek (noticing, but ignoring the overflow on the bottom of the oven) and realized that it could use more topping. I added the rest, and unfortunately it just didn't really brown like the rest (see photo). Fortunately, the end result looked kind of funny, but it tasted fine. Like really fine. Bottom line: Add all the topping at the beginning like the recipe says, dufus. Don't think; just cook.

13) Finally, here's the genius: I doubled the measurements and made not one, but TWO pies. I brought one to a party and left it with them when I left (so they probably think I'm super-generous, I mean seriously, who would leave such an awesome pie? But unbeknownst to them, I had another whole pie waiting for me at home!

And that, folks, is the story of my first Strawberry-Rhubarb pie.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Attention Death Eaters!

Okay, correction. This post is not actually intended for Death Eaters, the evil henchmen and followers of Lord Voldemort.

No, really, I am writing for the benefit of all the Death Racers out there. I am here to help you! Everyone knows that your event is coming up in less than two months. Nobody knows exactly what the Death Race will be like (the exact tasks and course are kept secret until the race is actually in progress), but wood splitting has been a task in the past.

Again this year, an axe is on the list of required tools that all Death Race participants must bring on race day, so one can only assume that you will be using it again in this year's event. So it makes sense that you'll want to be in good wood-splitting shape. And, you may want to experiment with different wood-splitting tools in order to figure which works best for your purposes (remember, in addition to using it in a task, you have to carry it throughout the entire course.

The two piles pictured above are ready to be split. Death Racers, come practice your wood-cutting skills on my piles! I am here for you. Think about it. This could be the difference between finishing and not finishing. Between 1st and 2nd, 32nd and 33rd, 128th out of 129! Let me know when you are ready to start swinging. No need to thank me... Beer, however, is provided during and after (good practice for those of you who intend to drink during the Race -- and for those who were under the influence when you registered for the Race). See you in the woodpile!