Kelly the Culinarian: September 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. The wedding gifts are filtering in and I realized all too late that registering for a bug zapper was probably way too down market. However, I laughed at this card for way longer than I care to admit, so it was worth it.

2. I decided to spend some time and money on myself getting my hair did. It was not what I expected. I spent two hours with goo in my hair being cold and smelly. I'm all for treat yourself, but maybe this isn't my indulgence.

3. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I'm on quite the adventure. I'm in San Francisco at a professional development conference. It's going super well, even though I think my brain might explode. I head home very late tonight and in spite of how awesome this has been, I can't wait to get home.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cooking with Kelly: Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

Man oh man, these monthly boxes from DegustaBox just keep getting better! I'm really psyched when mine arrives each month because it's full-sized products that I wouldn't normally purchase for myself, partly because I don't see these items at my local markets and also in part because I wouldn't know what to do with it. What I love about this subscription box service is that there's a chef's choice each month highlight an option, along with an extensive print out that lists a description for each product, along with the retail price.

When I got this month's box last week (moving and mail forwarding is hard), I immediately honed in on the lemon curd. I love it so hard, but haven't had it since I hosted a Royal Wedding Watch Party. I know, totally nerdy. I haven't made it since because I feel like it's a lot of work.

So when I saw this gleaming deliciousness, thumbprint cookies immediately came to mind. These cookies are basically a tender butter-laden shortbread cookie used as a delivery system for jam. In my case, I swapped that out and used curd instead. The acid of the lemon curd helps cut through the richness of the butter cookie. Plus the velvety natural of lemon curd is a great partner to crumby cookie.

These are so easy to make, and you can make the cookie ahead of time and assembly pretty quickly for fresh cookies in under 25 minutes.

Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup lemon curd

Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until lighter in color and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, then mix to combine. Slowly, add the dry ingredients in batches and mix until just combined.

Roll the dough out into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Create 1 Tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place on the baking sheet. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, create wells in each cookie. Place a quarter to a half a teaspoon of lemon curd in each well, making sure not to overfill.

Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the tray and bake for another six minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Beer and running are basically my favorite things in life, and I love when worlds collide. I wish I were going to be able to make it to Making a Beer Run because I long gave up the idea of winning races, and instead hope to be the first to the beer tent. Sometimes it works. Anyhow, if you make it to this 6k on Oct. 15, drink one for me and tell me how it goes, because I'm interested.
Me, running.

2. Z decided she wants to do a triathlon. The only thing standing in her way is training wheels. So we got both kids new bikes when we moved and at her insistence, we go out and practice after dinner most nights. Whoever said "It's as easy as riding a bike," must have had training wheels.

"I Hate Riding My Bike."

3.  I got my first Cabot Cheese care package at our new house! I love me some Sift magazine, too. It's easily my favorite cooking magazine - the content is so well-done and the pictures are all Instagram worthy. I'm looking forward to firing up the new oven to celebrate #CheesyBread season!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Onto the Next

Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my 2016 Ironman Wisconsin race recap. Because there's no such thing as one and done in my life, I'm already signed up for 2017.

Because this parade just keeps on keeping on, here are a few things that are fresh in my mind that I'd like to remember for next year:

  • Get up earlier and get to transition earlier, but remember that Mike Reilly is just inciting panic by saying transition is closing. I'm confident there were still people in transition when the cannon went off.
  • Fill all the damn bottles in transition. Bring your own gatorade. It's not worth the lack of hydration.
  • Sunscreen first thing when you wake up. It will rinse off, but it can't hurt.
  • I always cry at the start, and panic in the first half mile of the swim.
  • I need to get further from the shore next year to not get battered for the first half of the swim.
  • Gear down your bike before racking it the night before.
  • Carry a sharpie marker for body marking.
  • You won't get special needs bags back, so maybe skip that.

Friday, September 16, 2016

2016 Ironman Wisconsin Race Recap

Six-word Summary: Triumphant return to where it began.

Some days are just too real. I spent most of Sunday thinking about how good my life is, reflecting on how much had changed since I struggled through Ironman Wisconsin 2014. This race, this reality. I am so grateful for how my life has come together, and this race brought it all into focus. I donated bone marrow six months ago, almost to the day. I completed the Ironman, hand in hand with my handsome and supportive fiance, faster than before, happier than ever.

It's amazing what running can bring to your life.

This year, we upgraded our Airbnb accommodations and stayed in a three-bedroom house just a few miles from the start line. Thursday night we tested our bikes with a ride to a friend's brewery, because I wanted to make sure my race wheels were all set before we packed up. We went for a short run Friday morning before driving up to Madison. We picked up our packets and backpacks with Mark, six-time IMWI finisher and birthday boy. The backpacks are really cool this year - They're the waterproof roll down bags and look really slick. I like the poster this year, too, which is currently adorning my cubicle, just in case my coworkers need a reminder about how badass I am.  This year's "gift," termed loosely since we paid for it, was an IMWI flag that will be flying at our house for years to come. I think it beats out the 2014 gift, which was a bike multitool.

We also went for a short swim in Lake Monona sans wetsuit to get a feel for the water. We showered up and went out to dinner with our fellow Ironman competitors before turning in early. We're a wild bunch.

Friday night we went to bed early and I slept 10 blissful hours, thanks in part to a melatonin spray, a cool room and very plush sheets. When we got up, it was raining. I rode my bike to the finish line and watched a few of the Ironkids finishers, then rode up and down the lakefront path before turning in my bike and transition bags. I felt relieved my stuff was in someone else's hands.

After that, we hit the grocery store and had lunch at home before retiring to the couch to stare at our laptops and the TV for a few hours with our feet up. We hosted a pasta dinner for our fellow athletes that night and again went to bed before 9 p.m.

Race day morning, we were up at 4:45 a.m. and probably should've gotten up earlier. We got to transition around 5:30 to fill bottles, pump up tires and drop off food. Alyssa had a flat in transition, and I couldn't find any gatorade, so the day started off peachy. I ran to the Starbucks at the square to drop off all the special needs bags, then met everyone in the Philips' hotel room. I realized I was the only one who missed out on body marking in the process, so after I got into my wetsuit in the room, I stopped at the front desk of the Hilton for some DIY body marking.

We were in line to get in the water at 6:40 a.m. and we barely made it. My feet hit the water as I heard Mike Reilly say we had 30 seconds until the start. Something to note: I always cry at the start. Always. I was panicky that I would have as shitty of a day as I did last time. I didn't have much time to think about it, or even soak in the moment this year. I swam out to the far side of the ski jump, took one glance over my shoulder at the shore and then the cannon went off.

And so it began.

Because my swim sucked so bad last year, I was basically on my own the entire time. That also meant I had zero frame of reference as to what an Ironman swim is actually like. In a word: violent. I got kicked so hard in the left eye that I had to flip onto my back to extract my goggle from my eyeball. I'm surprised I don't have a black eye. I got elbowed in the face a head, had my legs grabbed and generally jostled for position for the first half of the swim. After the first quarter mile, my panic settled, and at the first turn buoy, I'd gotten into enough of a pattern to breathe bilaterally. I never looked at my watch, except when I thought someone kicked it off my wrist. By the time I got to the back half of the course, I was passing people constantly and generally pissed off about the state of this swim field. I should have gone further in to swim with the seasoned athletes. I focused on passing them to the left as close to the buoys as I could. In the homestretch, I noticed very few pink caps, so I thought I must be doing well if I was in the boys club.

I came out of the water, heard my name (thanks for saying it right, Mike!) and saw the clock. I swam a freaking 1:13 - 27 minutes faster than my 2014 meltdown. I really should take a master's swim class; I could probably be a menace in the water.

I got my wetsuit stripped and ran my butt up the helix, then had a fast and smooth transition into my bike gear thanks to a volunteer. After sunscreening up, I grabbed my bike and headed out. Because I never found gatorade in the morning, I was out of water within the first five miles. Rookie mistake, I was making up for that lack of hydration for a while.

My bike was mostly uneventful. The Zipps were a dream - every damn downhill felt like I was a magnet being drawn to the center of the earth. I was fast. I saw high 40s on one of my downhills. I never had mechanical issues. I did see the aftermath of one of the accidents on the course and thanked my lucky stars that I didn't recognize the bike. I took a gatorade and a water at every early aid station, and then focused on grabbing whatever food I could in the later stations. I took a salt tab every 30 miles, I had two gels in the last loop and had two or three advil as well. I felt some tightness in my lower back that radiated down my left leg, but it was mostly just annoying. You better believe I walked up Barlow with zero regrets. Around mile 95, Brent and Alyssa caught up to me, which was a welcome relief. I was worried where the hell they could be, so it was nice to see a familiar face.

We rolled into transition together, and I had another fast transition into my run clothes. I got out onto the terrace after a quick sunscreen and waited for Brent. Alyssa and Mark took off and I saw them at turn arounds. Brent's feet hurt and it was hot, so it was slow going on the run. We walked the aid stations, filling up on chips, pretzels and mini cliff bars. When the chicken broth broke out, we were happy campers. The coolest part about the run, in my opinion, is the lap you take around the stadium where the Badgers play. Never on the run did I doubt we would finish. We had more than seven hours to run a marathon.

About halfway through the run, we enjoyed a pumpkin spice latte. Please don't judge me. It was awesome. The miles didn't exactly tick by, but we chipped away mile by mile.

I will never forget approaching the finisher's chute the last time. The lights, the noise, the overwhelming emotion. We did it. Faster than before and together. I didn't hear Mike say my name. I was savoring the moment of finishing this incredible feat hand in hand with the love of my life.

The video is pretty stellar:

Not sorry for the PDA. This was a hard-won moment.

I cried at the finish, per my usual, and collected my shirt, medal and hat. We sat in the finisher's area for a while contemplating what we had just accomplished. It was crazy. It was incredible. We were Ironman finishers.

We returned to the Philips room to collect our morning gear and shower, then went back to the finish line to collect the rest of our group and get dinner. I had a cheeseburger and couldn't stomach a beer, and it was also midnight by that point.

So here we are. Two-time Ironman, with 30 minutes-ish off the last time and room to improve. Mike said my name right, the medal and shirt is way better this year, and I am just damn satisfied with what I accomplished.

I wouldn't change a thing about this life I am fortunate enough to live.

Time: 4:11:57

Cost: Like $750

Pros: They put on a good race - there's a ton of volunteers, beautiful things to look at and a fun environment. The crowd support is unparalleled.

Cons: Did you see the cost? Also, the new bike course is not my favorite. Barlow is a beast, and from what I've heard, two cyclist got hit by cars. Ironman needs to get it together fo real.

Will I do this race again? ...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm still working on my Ironman Wisconsin race recap, but suffice it to say, it was a very successful day. I've never been happier to complete a race than I was crossing the finish line with this guy.

2. Our new house has a park in the neighborhood, and we go there most nights after dinner for a little exercise and Pokemon hunting. The kids like to take Napoleon down the slide. He doesn't like it, but I don't think he hates it either. And it makes the small ones happy, so whatever.

 3. I had to take the old Ironman stickers off my bike before the race. That sticker was on my bike for two years through many tune ups and washes. Out with the old, in with the new.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Day Before Ironman

This is my out of office message to my coworkers:

Hi friends,
I'm out of the office this weekend running down my dreams. Years ago, I found this video of the Ironman triathlon on YouTube. I owned a K-Mart bike and if I had ever run before, it surely was on accident. This is why I work in social media – a video made by someone I never met altered the course of my life. It took me four years to get fit enough to complete my first Ironman Wisconsin in 2014, and through broken goggles and a flat tire, I finished. On Sunday, I’ll swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 and run 26.2, hopefully an hour faster than before. I’ll be trackable here using bib number 754. Mobile devices are prohibited, so I’ll leave you with this: If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough.
See you Tuesday!
Kelly Mahoney

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I wrapped up my real estate transactions for a long, long time. I was far more emotional than I anticipated leaving my old house for the last time. Here's what I wrote:

Good bye, first house. We bought it because that was what I thought people who were getting married did. It had "room to grow." For the first five years, it was my albatross, tethering me to a location and a situation I couldn't see my way out of. Its aura was as stormy as the life unfolding within its walls. I couldn't give this place away at the end of my marriage, so the rock that held me back became the one I built my new life upon. For the subsequent two and a half years, I crafted a new career and family here. We filled it with game nights and family dinners and training for #IMWI. We sold it rapid-fire style at 96 percent of list price. The love shows, and it sells. This is where my new story began, and tomorrow, another family will start their story here. Thank you, little house, for shielding me from the storm.

2. In cheerier news, our new house has so much outdoor space we barely know what to do with it all (landscaping? What is this new beast?). So naturally, we've added a massive upgraded grill, a new patio set, and the smoker we've been lusting after for six months. We busted it out on Monday to make ribs and smoked potatoes and they were fabulous. I don't mind cooking all day at all when this is the end product.

3. Because I've been asked: I will be changing my name when I get hitched. I already jumped the gun and got this awesome housewarming present from Classy, right? I'm a sucker for anything personalized.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Chicago #HogFight 2016

What an awesome way to spend Labor Day weekend! I was invited to join my foodie friends downtown at Mahoney's for the Chicago HogFight and how could I refuse? The bar was literally calling my name. HogFight is a whole-hog culinary competition put on by the same fine folks who coordinate WingFest.

It was a fun festival - they closed down the street behind the bar and brought in tons of picnic tables, live music and lots of various tents. Admission included all you could eat pork, and VIP tickets included 5 drinks per person and a VIP seating area with more samples from Lagunitas, as well as swag from the sponsors. There were also eating contests and cornhole games set up.

What I didn't realize until I got there was that kids are free. FREE. Do you know how much food my favorite little humans can put away? It was well worth the trip downtown. They loved the live music and trying their hand at the toss game. We had to amend the rules and get them closer than regulation to the board, because we were risking the life and limbs of our fellow pork feasters otherwise.

This is one of those events that has the whole max capacity figured out. It was bustling, but not crowded. We waited no more than 10 minutes in line for any of the pork offerings, and even less for drinks. Also, the VIP option is totally worth the upcharge. We couldn't have used all the drink tickets if we tried, but the VIP seating area was a great win. The kids were able to take a seat and have some water with their pork while we were still enjoying the band and bites.

Take a look at our day at HogFight:

Thanks to Blast Marketing for the invite to this awesome afternoon! Can't wait for WingFest.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ironman Week 2016

Soon. Very soon.
Race week is upon us! As we grilled and chilled this holiday weekend and busily readied our new home, it was crazy to think that in less than seven days, I would be tackling my second Ironman. I feel a broad range of things: umprepared, undertrained, totally ready, zen, panic, distraction, surrealness. It really doesn't feel real yet because I'm not there. I can remember last go around picking up my athlete packet with Alyssa, signing waivers and walking around what would be our finish line and thinking, it's finally here. We're going to do this.

And I'm sure I'll feel the same way again this weekend. Right now, all our gear is in a state of disarray post move. I'm pretty sure we have all the things we need, and all the training is done. At this point, anything we do would just be to our detriment. Instead, I choose to focus on the minutia: changing the batteries on my bike sensor, going through the lists of things we need to pack, prepping the meals we'll need and completing the last-minute testing of equipment. I'd like to be asleep by 9 p.m. every night this week. I woke up this morning at 6:30 after going to sleep by 9:30 and felt like I could've slept another hour.

In terms of training, does packing and unpacking count? We finally got our bikes set up last week and did a trainer ride, and we also had an awesome run through our new neighborhood this week. Our Garmins were dead, because I had a minor panic attack thinking I lost the strap, but we think we went about nine miles. We even ran into some old friends in the process of discovering our new running route in our new hood.

So the plan for this week:

  • Light workouts
  • Lots of sleep
  • No beer
  • More housework so less time for panic
  • Kick ass on Sunday

Friday, September 2, 2016

Our New Roommates: Fairies Live Here

Back in May, I bought a fairy garden on a whim. It looked cute and I thought the small ones might enjoy it. Little did I know ... 

Z loved it. She checked most mornings to see if anything moved, and said she wanted the tooth fairy to have a place to hang out when she came to pick up her teeth. She would write to the tooth fairy. And of course, the fairy wrote back.

For her birthday, her grandma got her a fairy house, which she patiently painted for more than an hour.

So when we moved, the garden and the house were the first things to come over. Also, a fairy door made its way into the small one's room.

Z found it on her own while unpacking her room. She wasn't sure what it was, but got really excited when she realized the new house was magical. It came with fairies! During the unpacking process, she applied room decals on her wall all by herself. The fairies very kindly "adjusted" the stickers while she was gone to be straighter and more symmetrical. It prompted another exchange:

"Dear fairies, thank you for what you did. Please to not change it and do more please. Please write back."

And did you know: You can't see fairies, but if you go to sleep quickly and check your camera roll in the morning, they may magically appear in yesterday's photos? (Thank you iPhone apps).

I imagine that when ice cream disappears overnight and the raggedy old clothes that they can't let go of aren't there in the morning, the fairies did it. Basically, parenting level = win.

At 7, the years in which she believes are fleeting. It won't be long before someone tells her unicorns aren't real and she's too cool to enjoy Disney movies and fairy tales and far too mature to write to Santa and the Easter bunny. She has a lifetime to being a grown up ahead of her in a world that isn't always fair or fun. For now, we're happy to help her hold onto the magic. Even if it means writing super tiny notes that we have to drop in her room at 3 a.m. because we forgot to do it before bed.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Napoleon is settling into his new kingdom quite nicely. The windows are lower and more plentiful, so he spends most of his day lounging and alerting us that there are squirrels in his back yard. If reincarnation exists, he was very good in his last life.

2. The biggest change we've made in our first two weeks of home ownership is upgrading the doors and trim. We had a crew spend a week+ painting the kids' rooms, two accent walls and replacing all the doors in the house with solid core six panel models. With the new hardware, it's already looking like an entirely different house.

1. I'll eventually do a full tour of our new house, but first I'll need to finish unpacking (easier said than done). Until then, here's a look at a portion of our first floor: