Kelly the Culinarian: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

LunaFest Chicago

women's film festival
Last night was such a blast! Katie bummed me a ticket to LunaFest Chicago and I've been looking forward to it ever since. It's a film festival featuring short documentaries, cartoons and dramas by women and about women.

We rolled in a bit early and the party was already in full swing. Katie and I met up with Becky and enjoyed the cocktail reception. It featured a signature cocktail (with mango, sad face), and wine from the Clif Family Winery. Yeah, the same Clif that makes Lunabars. Who knew? It was pretty good, too.

We also enjoyed some super tasty sushi from RA Sushi and some of the most delicious healthy appetizers ever from Lyfe Kitchens. They also provided the dessert, which was a pomegranate chia chocolate budino. It was the perfect size of decadent ganache. I loved it way too much.

We took our seats with some other lovely lady bloggers" Maggie, Erica, Katie and Becky.
Smile if you're a blogger

We were fully stocked for the viewing courtesy Luna and SkinnyPop.

The films were awesome - some funny, some cute, some touching, some inspiring. It was a great combination of different styles and subjects. I have a hard time picking a favorite, but a documentary about a basketball team comprised of ladies in their 70s titled "Grandma's Got Game" was great. I also really liked "Maria of Many," a very short documentary about a Mexican immigrant. "Sound Shadows" was an animated interview with a blind woman that was quite insightful and just different.

Check out the trailers:

LUNAFEST - 2013/2014 Season Trailer from Clif Bar & Company on Vimeo.
When we the films were all wrapped up, we even got a parting gift. It was like a table of heaven.
Guess what I had for breakfast. Go ahead, guess.
Thanks to Luna for a wonderful evening!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. I realized when I worked from home yesterday that I snack a ton when I'm home. I was hungry, but probably didn't need as many bites as I treated myself to. How to you set up a routine when you're at home? Show me the ways.

2. Homemade Flatout pizzas need to stop. It's becoming a nightly routine and while it's healthy, I might have to diversify lest I get scurvy or something.
 3. I almost forgot about this little gem from our epic sister trip to the Pacific Northwest. It's always nice to find a surprise memory lurking in your cabinets.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: La Isla Sports Bra

No one paid me for this post and I paid for this product with my hard-earned cash. There are affiliate links in this post, which means I get a cut if you choose to buy it. Mostly I just want to share a killer deal.

cheap moving comfort bra, la isla sports bra
I can't smile before 6 a.m. Sorry.

Because everyone loves a good selfie, especially when combined with a great deal, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share an excellent value sports bra I recently purchased. I sometimes stumble into great deals on Amazon, which I frequently post on my Facebook page. This deal was so stellar that it gets its own blog post.
La Isla Sports Bra

I was cruising Amazon recently and stumbled across the  La Isla High Impact Sports Bra. It looked eerily like a the Moving Comfort Fiona bra, and the reviews were promising. I figured for $17 with free shipping, might as well give it a try. It's nearly the same price as the cheapo models I usually purchase but appeared to boast the support of the $50 versions I sometimes splurge on. I ordered it in the same size as my Moving Comfort bra and hoped it was as awesome as that bra at a fraction of the price.

La Isla Sports Bra, cheap moving comfort
Post sweaty tempo run
When it arrived, the similarities between the La Isla version and the Moving Comfort model were very apparent - it has the same velcro set up for the straps and three-snap closure in the back. The band is a bit different and the cut out attachments for the straps feel a bit more flimsy. The fabric is a bit different, too. The finish isn't as slippery and silky as the Moving Comfort Fiona and you can tell it's a cheaper fabric. It's still nicer in both construction and quality than what I could purchase for the same price at WalMart. I wish I would have ordered a touch smaller, but it will do. There also are not any removable pads as indicated in the description. The Fiona doesn't have removable pads, either.

I tried wearing the Moving Comfort knock off to CrossFit first and found it to be more than sufficient, even during a workout that require box jumps. Next, I took it to the gym for a sweaty tempo session and it felt great. It did not constrict, nor did it rub. It was The Three Bears version of a sports bra - juuuuust right.

I brazenly took it out for my recent 18 miler as well and felt golden about that choice later on. No chafing, no bouncing, no problem.

This is now my go-to bra and I have more colors in my Amazon basket for the next occasion I need another bra. I thought I'd share my windfall, in case you're searching for a cheaper version of the Moving Comfort bra.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cooking with Kelly: Sriracha Pork Chop Recipe

For the longest time, I resisted the sriracha trend. I had in my mind that I did not care for spicy food. Pay no mind to the fact that I always order spicy rolls when we go out for sushi, then dab them with more wasabi until my eyes sting and my sinuses are cleared for take off.

The distinction is that I don't like stuff in which heat is the sole prerogative - I want spice with soul, depth and purpose. I want the heat to electrify my food, not obscure it. To work together to wake up my palate rather than just burn it off.

And this is when I got on the sriracha train. It's a combination of flavors that bring out hidden notes in food and mean that we go through bottles in an embarrassingly short amount of time. And I'm not the only one: sriracha makes us happy. It's science.

So when Tim enjoyed a sriracha pork chop at Whole Foods, I knew I had to make it at home. Furthermore, the fact that this dish would be amazing is a foregone conclusion.

Heed this advice, though: use a cast-iron skillet. It makes everything better. Get it screaming hot and sear the pork chops for maximum flavor fun.

I decided to serve this with a sauce that was simply pan dripping scraped up using a bit of beer, then reduced and mixed with a touch of Greek yogurt to add creaminess. This is an extra step you can skip, but why waste perfectly awesome fond if you don't have to?

Sriracha Glazed Pork Chops with Sriracha Reduction Recipe
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 pound pork steaks
1/4 cup beer
2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients up to the pork chops and whisk to combine. Place the pork into a seal-top bag and pour 3/4 of the sauce over the contents. Seal the bag and gently shake until the sauce coats the meat. I marinated these overnight, but you could get away with 15 minutes if you're in a rush.

Heat a cast-iron skillet to very, very hot. Cook the pork six to eight minutes per side or until thoroughly cooked through, then remove and allow to rest. 

Remove the skillet from the heat and use the peer to deglaze the pan. I used a metal spatula to help scrape up all the caramelized bits, then added the reserved marinade and Greek yogurt. Stir to combine and serve over the pork.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Motivational Monday

I've got a big week personally and professionally, and this is my goal:

Kill it. Don't just check it off a list. Throw some enthusiasm into it and conquer it. After all, we're not here just to survive.
We are meant to thrive.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Long Runnin' in Style

Another Sunday, another loooong run. Today, we set out for 19 miles. The three of us training for the marathon met at 7 a.m. so we could finish around the same time as the group going for 10-13. It turned out to be the best idea ever. We saw them out on the run and doubled back, adding miles without having to think about how far we had left.
Making that hood look good since January 2014
Today's overall pace was 9:10, which is cutting it way too close for a sub-four marathon, especially since I had to make a pit stop to use the bathroom at a very permissive church along the way. Still, it's more than two minutes faster per mile than my 20-mile run last cycle (I got lost on the 19-mile run).
The aftermath.
However, I felt a hell of a lot better on this run than I did the previous week. I carb loaded with purpose yesterday, 

got up super early to eat my high-carb breakfast two hours in advance 

and fueled with honey packets and animal crackers (I'm sophisticated).

I also was not hungry for a long time after my run. I had my standard mokalita, a small brownie bite thing and beer. Then, I did not feel like eating until 3 p.m.

Now I want Froyo.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

11 Lifesavers for Long Runs

Tomorrow, I run 19 miles. Last week, I knocked out 18 miles. In 35 days, I'll run my third marathon. This kind of mileage is tough on my body, but also on my mind. Here are a few of the tools and tricks I'm using to help me pile on the miles without going insane. Well, more insane, at least.

1. Snacks. I have to bring along homemade running fuel for anything over a half marathon.

2. Friends. Your long run is usually performed at a slower pace that perfect for chatting. I much prefer to do my long runs with company.

Derpina sunglasses optional
Will run for Taco Bell
3. Rewards. Figure out how you'll reward yourself for long runs. My run group meets at a bakery and I get either a Mexican hot chocolate mocha or a tamale after really tough runs. My 20 miler will conclude with a run club party at a brewery and my 19-mile run is an excuse to take myself to a Korean spa.

4. Routine. Running with a group makes this natural, but I prefer to follow the same ritual for each long run: awake, drink water, hit the bathroom, have breakfast, dress and drive over.

5. Kombucha. I've sung its praises before, but I drink kombucha almost daily to help regulate my tummy troubles. If I stay committed, it helps.

6. Probiotics. For the same reason as above. I don't take them directly before running, but keep up on my regime throughout the week otherwise.

7. Coconut oil. A great substitute for body glide and general fixer for any post-run skin issues. I'll smooth this over any chafing before showering, too, to lessen the pain. I keep a salad dressing-sized container of it in my gym bag to cure what ails me.

8. Commitment. A marathon is a 26-mile victory lap. The medal is earned with early mornings and red-faced evening laps. Keep your eye on the prize when that alarm clock goes off early.

9. Training plan. I'm starting to believe that the plan itself isn't nearly as important as following it. Training consistently will get you to the finish line as long as you follow it. Executing a training plan also gives you the confidence you need to get to the start line.

10. Route. Map out a general idea of where you're going so you don't have to stop and think about it. Especially during the winter, I like to pick a route that I know will be somewhat clear of snow. Usually, I pick a route based on bathroom availability and the ability to run without stops.

11. Breaks. No, I don't mean stops. What I mean is breaking up your long run into more palatable chunks. For me, I think about the distance until the turn around, the distance until my next fuel shot or how much longer until I can enjoy my post-run reward.

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Thoughts on Dean Reinke and USRA

You might have read today the tale of Dean Reinke, the man behind the race where I got my half marathon PR last year. Outside magazine wrote a fascinating piece about him titled "The Shadiest Man in the Race Industry." Based on the article, I would say I was one of the lucky ones when it comes to dealing with Dean. The race that was advertised did, in fact, happen. It wasn't the race as advertised, however (read my race recap now to see all the incongruities). Let me make this perfectly clear: this smiling race picture is not an endorsement of a great time at a USRA race. Instead, this is the smiling face of a girl who pulled out a PR in spite of a race environment that was not what was expected.
A smile is not an endorsement. Who doesn't smile for photos?
Even Napoleon was not impressed. And he's a dog.
Really, I was bewildered. I paid $35 for this race via Groupon and basically got what I expected, which wasn't much. We got a sticker medal, a cotton shirt and some 90-calorie chewy bars. Nothing wrong with a low-budget affair, but only if we weren't promised much more.

It was a crappy race, but nothing criminal (this time, at least). Sadly, he's not even close to the shadiest person in the race industry I've encountered.

If there's one thing you take away from the article and this post, it's to Google a race before you do it. See what other people are saying. If you're in the area, check out the Chicago Running Bloggers site so you're starting an event with eyes wide open. I was shocked when the article said people paid upward of $150 for this race. If I had paid that much for the Aurora Fox Valley Trail Half, I would have been livid. Since I purchased the race through Groupon, I knew I could get my money back from Groupon if it didn't happen. You don't get that luxury for most races - I lost out on my registration fee when the Last Try Triathlon didn't happen this fall because of the government shut down. These things happen if you race enough.

Deliberately taking money from people with no intention of delivering a service is a crime. Stealing from charities is not just a crime, it's a damn shame and a one-way ticket to hell. I feel terrible for the runners portrayed in the article and hope they weren't discouraged from racing again.  There are great, amazing, fulfilling races out there. Don't let one crappy race discourage you from a lifetime of enjoyment, networking, goal setting and achievement.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Three Things Thursday: Keeping it Real

1. Last night I made an amazing siracha pork chop dinner that I'll share shortly. Lest you start to think I have some mad kitchen skills, keep in mind this behind-the-scenes reality check: I burned myself hardcore. There was cursing and there were tears. But dinner was lovely.
My arm was not part of the recipe

2. Keeping with a theme of I can't believe I still do this: I got lost big time on Tuesday. I went for a computrainer bike ride with Tri Smart and got lost because Apple Maps is not even in the same solar system as Google Maps in terms of accuracy. I was 20 minutes late and apologized profusely for being an asshole since the instructions for the ride clearly said the session must start on time.

3. Because I was in a rush for the ride, I didn't pay much attention to setting up my bike. A coach threw it on the trainer and I did what I could to keep up with the program on cold legs. It was a HARD ride of interval sets of increasing resistance. I nearly puked, and then when the ride was over, they reset my bike and I went for another 20 minutes. Then, and only then, did I realize my rear brake was closed. For the entire ride. This is the equivalent to driving from Chicago to Milwaukee with your parking brake on. No wonder I had my ass handed to me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Emotional Stages of my Mornings

I haven't always been an early riser. In fact, in the early years of our marriage, I regularly slept until embarrassing hours while my husband took care of the dog and cleaned up around the house.

My, how times have changed.

As I talked about in my Day in the Life post, my mornings start early. Very early. Like in college I never saw this hour early. Here's the scenario my internal struggle most mornings.

Surprise Despite the fact that I set my alarm and it goes off at nearly the same time daily, I still am momentarily confused and have to think about what day it is and where I'm going.

Bargaining Which leads to the debate of "can I sleep for another half an hour or do I need to be at the gym by 5:45?"

Weariness My morning usually includes calculating how many days until my next opportunity to sleep in. Math is hard before 6 a.m., too.

Regret Why am I doing this again?

Acceptance By the time I get to the gym, long run meet up or CrossFit box, I've made peace with my choice. I'm here, let's do the things.

Elation The runner's high is real. My RoadID has my mantra on it: "'Til I Collapse." And that's what I do every damn day.

Satisfaction When the workout is done and I'm at my desk with a couple hundred calories killed by 8:30 a.m., I have my smugness to keep me motivated to do it all again.

Hunger My constant companion roars after my workouts.
I think about this illustration often
How do you get through the mornings?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Training Tuesday: What's Changed

A member of my run club mentioned this week that we only have two long runs left until the Circular Logic Marathon left! Time is running out to try fueling strategies.
Just rocking compression under my work outfit, NBD

This is my first marathon training cycle during the winter, and has it ever been a winter. Last weekend's 18 miler was my first run in which I wasn't experiencing:

1. snow
2. sleet
3. extreme wind
4. all of the above at the same time for the entire time.

I won't say I loved every minute of it, but I felt pretty good during this 18 miler. I was a little sore and tight at the end, but no significant stomach issues and no real injuries. It's interesting to compare this to my 18-mile run during my last training cycle:

Holy speedy hell!

Since I managed to improve my time so significantly, I thought this calls for a little introspection. Here's what's different about my approach to this marathon training cycle:
  1. It's winter. Colder temps and different times of the day change the way I run, I'm sure.
  2. I've ditched the lone wolf routine. My long runs are done in a group setting where I have to keep up if I want to hear the good gossip. And I don't want anyone to drink my post-run beer.
  3. CrossFit is my friend. I still faithfully attend the Endurance workouts twice a week to get my sweat/strength/mobility on.
  4. I'm only running three days per week ... 
  5. ... But I go all out each time. I do one day of intervals, one day of tempo runs and one long run per week per the FIRST training method. Even though I'm wiped out at the end of every run, I'm not all that sore and am feeling healthy overall.
  6. I'm focusing on quality over quantity. In my first rodeo, I got caught up in the idea that every weekend, I was running the furthest I ever ran before. I tried to keep the pace out of my mind and focus on going the distance. Now I've got a need ... a need for speed.
  7. I don't do the whole ice bath thing anymore. It's winter, I am an ice cube at the end. No need to belabor the point there.
  8. I've stopped carb loading. I eat enough carbs daily thankyouverymuch.
  9. I have embraced the treadmill. I'm logging more time in the gym than ever before because it's been so icy and slushy and cold. This also allows me to dial in my speedwork like never before.

Now that I'm less than 40 days away from my third marathon, the time to change things up is quickly dwindling. There are a few things I'd like to experiment with on my final two long runs. First, I'm going to change up what I eat the night before to see how they settle my stomach. I drank a new brand of kombucha before Sunday's run and think it made a difference. I also plan to try a different fueling strategy to see how my tummy feels about it.

Finally, I got a new pair of distance shoes. I love my Saucony Kinvara 3s for speedwork and shorter distances, but I need more of a shoe for these slushy outdoor runs. I put six miles on them on the treadmill last night, so I'm ready to take them out for my 19 miler this weekend. Even though they're so fresh and so clean!

Next up, crafting a training plan that takes me from my first marathon March 29 to my second marathon May 25 with Cabot Fit Team. Any suggestions, Internet world?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Way Back When Machine

It's kind of funny to look back at where you were, don't you think? I've been blogging since 2007, so here's a look at my pursuits on this day in the past:

2013: Ragnar Relay Planning Run I ran seven miles at a 9:14 overall pace with my team. Interesting, since I remember how tough it was on Old Plank Trail in New Lenox. Yesterday, I ran 18 miles at a 9:03 pace with the Western Cook Running Club in La Grange. It was tough, but I lived. I'm getting faster! I'm not doing Ragnar this year so I can focus on Ironman training. Ragnar requires a lot of planning as well as double runs and specific training, so it's just not in the cards for me this year.

2012: Cauliflower Pizza Recipe So I really loved this recipe. It was filling a guilt-free. But I don't know if I've made it since, and it's interesting that I enjoyed a dinner and haven't made it in two years.

2011: Nada, But I did make the oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies for Tim's birthday!

2010: Brunch! This was back before I was a morning person. At that time, I slept until at least 10 a.m. on weekends while Tim managed the dogface. Oh, how have times changed. Nearly every morning, I kiss Tim goodbye at 5 a.m. to head to train. Weird that was only a few years ago!

2009: Peanut butter basted ham recipe. I remember making this Paula Deen-inspired recipe and it was amazing. Ham and peanut butter are a good combo, but all things peanut butter rock.
2008: Rosemary focaccia with chipotle mayo I make this fairly often even years later. It is so delicious - salty and chewy and herbaliciously savory. Try this recipe. It's time tested and amazing.

2007: This blog was still just a twinkle in my eye. I started blogging in May 2007.

Playing reporter at the White House

White House Christmas Tree 2008
It's strange to have so many years of life's moments on the Internet.Sometimes I cringe at things I wrote in the past because they're poorly done, grammatically incorrect or just a throwback to another time that I don't wish to relive, like when my parents moved or when I lived in Tucson. Other times, looking back makes me nostalgic for another era, like when I drove cross country with Katie or had lunch at the White House. Or when we went to North Carolina with Napoleon and friends or traveled with some lovely lady bloggers to Zooma Great Lakes in 2012. Some posts just make me hungry like my no-bake peanut butter bites or flourless chocolate crinkle cookies.

How often do you look back?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The long run routine

Welcome to Sunday! That can only mean one thing in my world.
Long runs.
Today was an 18-mile jaunt with some of my favorite runners, the athletes of the Western Cook Run Club. There were certainly some sucky portions, but today's run was completed with a 9:03 overall pace. It was actually one of the first long runs we've done where it wasn't totally crappy outside for the entirety.
I tried fueling with honey packets and Hammer gel. It worked well for my tummy.

This run ended with these:
Have a happy Sunday!