Monday, January 31, 2011

"Snowmageddon" (aka "The White Death")

Alright, so it's going to snow. Probably lots. And, there will likely be some serious wind and rediculously cold temperatures to go along with it. Some people (like the weather guy) might even call it a "blizzard". Wait...that's exactly what he called it. Well, what I call it is "Lisa won't be getting to the gym (and definitely not outside for a run) for the next, oh, three to five days". If I'm lucky. Boo.

But, I will be making my first attempt at p90x! I've wanted to try p90x for a while, and a neighbor of mine was nice enough to lend me a few of her DVD's from the set--a cardio DVD and a chest & back DVD. We checked out the cardio DVD this evening. My kids had a good ol' time trying to imitate some of the yoga and kick-boxing moves! My favorite was watching them do the 'superman/banana' move. I should try to post a video of them doing it...hilarious. I'm planning on doing the workout for real tomorrow. Tonight was just a preview. Looked like a good challenge.

I made rigatoni with broccoli, cannelini beans and garlic tonight. An easy one pot meal, and the kids totally ate it up. My friend Lyzz makes a dish called Country-Style Rigatoni; a recipe from an Italian restaurant called Carmine's in New York City. It also has broccoli, cannelini beans and garlic in it. But, it is so much more. Oh my goodness, it is so delicious. I seriously almost ate myself SILLY one time at her house when she made this dish. Here's a link to the recipe, if you're ever so inclined:

I also made a bread pudding this afternoon. Grace's favorite! It's a family recipe and I don't think I've ever seen anyone else make bread pudding the same way. It's more of an egg custard with bread floating on top. It's really good. I love it warm. I love it cold. I love it for dessert. I love it for breakfast. (What? It's eggs, bread and milk!) Here's the recipe for the Carr Family Bread Pudding:

  1. Whisk together 4 eggs with 1/2 cup of sugar until light (read: a little foamy) in a round baking dish. (I use a glass covered casserole dish.)
  2. Add 4 cups of milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla; whisk to combine.
  3. Butter 3 slices of bread on one side. Stack the slices on top of each other and cut into 12 squares (so that you end up with 36 buttered cubes of bread). Separate the cubes of bread and drop them, buttered side up, onto the top of the egg mixture (they'll sort of float), making sure to distribute them evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon.
  5. Place the baking dish in a pan (I use a 9x13 glass baking dish) with about 1 inch of hot water in it. *You have to do this! Otherwise, your custard will not come out smooth and creamy like it's supposed to! I learned this the hard way!
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until set. (Don't worry that it still looks jiggly when you take it out. That's how it's supposed to be.) Take the baking dish out of the pan of water to cool. Enjoy!

While the kids and I love this bread pudding, Jeremy is not a fan. He's a tecture person and, apparently, the texture of egg custard is not his favorite. Oh well. More for me and the kids!

Some other stuff:

  • I think I'm going to be running in a race called the Brew to Brew on April 3rd. (Sounds like a real serious run, huh?) It's a 44 mile solo (nope) or relay (yes) run. Jennifer, a friend of mine in the neighborhood who I've run with a few times (she was also training for a half marathon last fall and was my running buddy on the longest run I've ever done; a little over 9 miles) is running the Brew to Brew on a team of people from her work, and they have an open spot. It starts at the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City and ends at the Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence, Kansas. Running and beer, what a combination!
  • Seriously, I've gotta get some pictures up on this blog. I just keep thinking about it.
  • I'd like to write soon about the young adult Sunday school class Jeremy and I have been going to for the last few months. It has been really great. I mean really great. We've been watching a DVD series called Dream. Think. Be. Do., and it has helped me think so much more clearly about my faith, my beliefs and my spirituality. I'm excited for each week of class and am never disappointed with the depth of discussion we have. Looking forward to sharing that.

Well, they already cancelled school for tomorrow, and I highly doubt we'll have school on Wednesday. Thursday seems questionable too. Wish me luck as we spend these next few days all cooped up! Hope you all are staying safe and warm! (No comments necessary from you Floridians.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011


So, food. I really, really like it. I think about it A LOT. And, thanks to running, I can afford to think about it more than if I just sat around on my butt all the time. (I consider that to be one of the major benefits of running.) I've got lots of recipes I'll probably be sharing over time, but I feel like I should be posting gorgeous pictures of the food along with the posts. My friend, Natalie, sent me a few links to some food blogs that she follows. The photos of the food were so beautiful; very artistic. I'm not that far along in my blogging abilities yet. And, honestly, I'm kind of a crappy photographer. Like I said in my last post, I think I'll have to ask Jeremy to be my Blog-tographer. (Yup, I just made that right on up.)

Anyway, we're expecting some serious winter weather around these parts this week. *yippee* A friend of mine mentioned, on Facebook, that this type of "impending doom" sends her into a "cooking frenzy". So true! The grocery store was a complete madhouse today, with that crazed look in everyone's eyes. I was confused, though, to see everyone stocking up on so much soda. Huh? Is that what one really needs a lot of during a major winter storm? I don't really drink soda, so maybe I just don't understand. What I did think about stocking up on today were the ingredients for chicken stew with biscuits, apple crisp and bread pudding. Oh's gonna be one of those weeks.

The chicken stew with biscuits is an Ina Garten recipe. I've only made it one time before, and it was for someone else who had just had a baby. But, I remember tasting it as I made it and wishing I wasn't going to be giving it away. So, this time I'll make it for us. And, it seems the perfect food for a cold, snowy night. Plus, just last week I made homemade chicken stock for the first time. What better use for homemade chicken stock? (Geez, I'm already kinda drooling.) So, I don't have any fancy pictures of the dish. Maybe I'll try to take some when I make it. But, here's the recipe anyway:

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

For the stew:
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced)
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with the olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2 - inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ahlf-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley.

Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.

Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the buscuits on top of the filling. Brush with the egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

Wow! That's a long recipe. And, it's not quick to make either, but I think it's going to be worth it. I have to admit, though, that I'll be taking a short-cut in using refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. I have them leftover from when I made monkey bread, so they've got to be used up. I also have to admit to taking some of the "joy" out of this recipe by not using any chicken bouillon cubes (they have MSG--ick--that's a no-no in our house), using Smart Balance sticks (1/2 Smart Balance, 1/2 butter) in place of regular butter, and using our 1% milk in place of the heavy cream. Pretty sure it's still going to be awesome, though.

Maybe I'll post the apple crisp and bread pudding recipes later this week. They're not nearly as long!

So, what are some of your favorite "snowed in" recipes?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Running Pals

One of the great things about running is that you can choose to make it a solitary (almost meditative) thing, or you can choose to run with friends. There are times when I really enjoy a run by myself. Last spring, when I started getting serious about committing myself to running again, I was getting up a few mornings a week at about 5:45 to go for a run before anyone else in the house was awake. I would stealthily roll myself out of bed to put on the running clothes I'd laid out the night before...tip-toe quietly down the stairs, carefully avoiding the squeaky spots... leave out of our basement door to walk through our dewy yard, carefully avoiding the dog poo...and, finally, open the gate to get to the path that runs behind our house. Sometimes it almost seemed like a workout just to get to that point without disturbing anyone else's slumber! But, it was always worth it. To experience the start of a new day in solitude and gratitude was an amazing gift.

Against my husbands wishes, I would run right up the hill and out of our neighborhood onto what I think of as "the open road". We live in a neighborhood that sort of sits like an island in the middle of a sea of soybean and corn fields. (Really makes you wanna come live here, doesn't it?) Well, I learned to really love those open fields. It made me feel like I could go forever. In reality, I could barely make it three miles. But, being out in that openness gave me a great sense of peace and I felt an incredible joy that I was able to be out there in it, seeing the sun rising over the corn. Have you ever seen a field full of green soybean plants with the wind sending waves across it? It's actually quite beautiful. (My younger "the Midwest is, like, sooo boring" self would not believe these words are coming from my brain.) So, I went on like this for the rest of the spring and the summer, on these great morning runs by myself. I had worked myself up to running four miles, and considered this a great feat. Enter, my next door neighbor, Karen...

So, Karen is my next door neighbor, and I knew she liked to run. But, she'd just had her second baby in August, and I figured it might be a while before she wanted to get back to running. Yeah, not so much. A few weeks after her little girl was born her husband mentioned, as we were chatting at the fence, that Karen and I might like running together. Someone else might want to run with me?? Those green fields of soy, while beautiful, were getting a little lonely. Karen and I talked that day and set up a time to run early the next Saturday morning. When Saturday morning came, I met her in her driveway and we rode together in her car to a spot outside of the neighborhood where we could safely run from (her husband was also not fond of her running on "the open road" of which I spoke). I thought to myself "she just had a baby, like, three weeks ago. I'm sure we won't go very far this time." Nope. "You wanna try going four miles?" she said. "Um, yeah, sure." I said, probably in a "huh??" kind of voice. So, we did. Four miles, just like that. That's when I knew that running with Karen would push me to new running heights. And, it has. She was training during the fall for a half that she ran the first weekend in December. So, I was lucky enough to train with her. We kept up those early Saturday morning runs, and she helped me to keep pushing myself further. I ran farther than I thought I could. And, there is no way I would have ever done that by myself on that "open road". Not only did I increase my mileage, I really got to know Karen. We passed the miles with conversation (when we were able to breath enough to talk, that is), and we became friends.

Just today, Karen called to see if I wanted to go for a run in the neighborhood. I told her I'd be ready in seven and a half minutes. I feel incredibly lucky to have a kindred running spirit right next door. I think God definitely puts people in your life right when and where you need them.

Some other thoughts today:
  • I woke up feeling less sore than I expected from yesterday's Spin class. What is sore are my shoulders. Must've been tensing them up on the bike. Oh, and my crotch feels bruised. Yup, I need padded bike shorts...
  • I really want to start posting some pictures as part of my blog entries. I've been checking out some other blogs and think photos definitely make a blog more interesting to look at/read. Plus, it seems like fun. Jeremy took some really cool photos of the ice dripping off the fire escape stairs on the back of his work building. I'm thinking he could be my Pho-Blographer? Blo-Tographer?
  • I haven't posted on Eat. yet. How is this possible? I do so much of it. Eat. posts to come soon. I promise. I've even thought of putting up a section of my favorite recipes. We'll see...

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Friday, January 28, 2011


So, I said I was going to try Spin class today for the first time. Despite some time constraints that I thought were going to derail my plans, I made it. I actually showed up at the gym thinking I would probably just hop on the treadmill for a quick 30 minute run, but I ran into the two friends who had signed me up in the first place and I don't think they were going to take no for an answer.

Well, here's the good news about my first Spin class experience: I didn't puke. (I thought about it a few times, though. Good times.) The bad news is that I may not walk tomorrow. Luckily, tomorrow is Saturday, so I can moan and groan and limp around the house if I want to. (I might be exaggerating slightly.)

Some things I learned today:
  • Being able to run 5+ miles on the treadmill in 45 minutes does NOT mean a 45 minute Spin class will be cake. I found this kind of disappointing.
  • If I'm going to keep going to Spin class, I need to get me some padded bike shorts!! Fo' shizzle!!
  • For me, music can make all the difference in a workout. I was just so-so on the music the Spin instructor used. Neither "Car Wash" or "Livin' La Vida Loca" are my idea of motivating songs. But, I'm not judgin'. Everybody has different stuff that does it for them. Those just didn't work for me. And, to further illustrate the difference in musical taste: the instructor put on the last song for the cool-down and she says to the class "see if you can figure out what this song is from!" Well, I hear the first three notes and shout out "Ray LaMontagne!" (The song was 'Trouble') She didn't hear me and goes on to say that it's from some commercial about a dog who has this bone he's trying to put in a safe place, and he ends up taking it to some bank to put it in a safe deposit box. I'm lost--I've never seen this commercial. And, then, not having heard that I already said who sings the song, she starts saying that it's by some scruffy looking guy from the 70's. (Nope.) I say his name again and she hears me this time, and I say to the girl on my left "I'm pretty sure he's younger than me." Clearly, I was not among folks who share similar taste in music. But, she did use a few good Hip Hop songs that kept me peddling, so it all worked out.

I'm glad I went today. My legs were feeling pretty darn shaky as I left the gym. But, I'm feeling pretty good now that I went to eat lunch with Grace at her school. I took us sandwiches from Mr. Goodcents (that's kinda like Subway, for you non-Midwesterners). My girl loves a good sandwich! We shared some cheddar Sun Chips and a chocolate chip cookie, both of which we had to scarf down at a rediculous rate since they only have a 25 minute lunch period.

The sun is out today and it's supposed to get up into the 50's. Great running weather! But, I think I've maxed out for the day. I'm off to find the Advil!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Collective

When I arrived at the gym today I was pretty psyched to see a relatively empty parking lot. "That's a good sign...probably lots of open treadmills" I thought to myself. When I walked up the stairs into the workout room I was greeted with a virtual sea of open treadmills. Literally, not one of them was occupied. (Me thinks the New Year's resolutions may be starting to wear off...) Again, I was pretty pleased. So, I gazed over all the treadmills trying to decide which one I'd choose. Not one of the new ones--they have these obnoxious screens that seem like they're right up in your face. Not one of the really old ones--they only accomodate the stride length of a dwarf (seriously, I'm not sure who can run on these things). So I chose one of the less-than-brand-new-but-long-enough-to-actually-run-on ones. All the treadmills at my gym have this great view through a glass wall overlooking the pool area below. Pretty nice, really. Especially since the view from a treadmill often includes either an off-white cinderblock wall or the sweaty booty of the person in front of you. I consider myself lucky to be able to run on a treadmill with such a serene view.

I got on and started my run. Not another soul around. This still seemed ideal, until about half way through my run. I was kind of struggling. I was only running at my base pace, but it just felt...hard. Then I looked around and realized I was really missing "the collective". The collective energy, the collective treadmill noise, the collective sweat. It occurred to me that I actually like a full gym. I like having the sense that we're all in there together moving toward a similar goal. And, it never hurts to have people in there that are working just a little harder than you are to give you the motivation to push yourself a little further. I hadn't realized, until I was faced with an empty gym, just how much I like being part of that "collective". I think that's a lot of what's so exciting about running in races (which I have not done in a long time). There's such a great sense of energy at those kind of events. So, maybe the next time I arrive to a full gym parking lot, instead of groaning, I'll smile and look forward to waiting my turn to get on one of the treadmills. As long as it's not one of the new ones...or the short ones...

Man, I had lots of thoughts today regarding the blog. I finally took out a piece of paper and started writing them down, because they were all rattling around in my head. I'd thought I would write more tonight, but after two soccer games for Weston this evening, I'm pooped! And I wasn't even the one out there playing! By the way, Weston could quite possibly be the most entertaining kid to watch play soccer. He's not real interested in actually kicking the ball, but he does like to sommersault at will and tell lots of jokes to his teammates. Jeremy is basically a saint for coaching. Just sayin.

A friend of mine signed me up to do a spin class with her tomorrow morning. Never been to one before. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Beginning

Eat. I love food. I love to cook and I love to eat. I have a pretty big collection of cookbooks that I love to pour over from time to time. I judge a trip by the meals we eat and I love the adventure of trying new foods.

Pray. I had a friend once describe me as a "seeker". I don't know if it was meant as a compliment, but I took it as one. I think this life is about exploring and discovering our spirituality and our connection to everything.

Run. This is my newest passion. I was introduced to running a long time ago, but I've found a new love for it in the past year. Not only do I love to run because of how it makes me feel, but I find that it makes the other two things (Eating and Praying) even more wonderful.

So, why blog about these things? Honestly, I'm not sure yet. I just know that I've really wanted to start writing, and these are the three things that are usually at the front of my mind these days. Where the heck are your kids and husband in the name of this blog, you say? Well, during most moments of the day, they are my entire life. But, running has taught me that to be able to give to them, I have to give to myself. The three things listed above (Eat. Pray. Run.) fill me up. So, I'm going to keep making room for them in my life, and then I'm going to tell you about it.

Some other (interesting?) things about me:
  • I can be pretty freakin sarcastic. I actually love sarcasm quite a bit (kind of a strange thing to love, eh?), but I try to keep it in check since I know not everybody shares my affinity for it. Whatever.
  • I'm an only child. My husband sometimes eludes to the fact that this may make me a little bit self-centered and unable to go with the flow when things don't go exactly as I've planned them to go in my head. (Whatever.)

  • I'm a control-freak. (see above)
  • I love being outside and doing pretty much anything in nature. I think running is an amazing way to connect (Pray.) with your surroundings and don't consider a trip/vacation complete unless I've gotten to run there. I think that's how you can really know a place.

With respect to the last bulleted point, I recently had a few amazing runs during a trip we took to southern California. I got to run with one of my best friends from high school alongside the beach in Carlsbad. The sun was bright and warm, the air was cool and clean, and I got to spend some real time with a wonderful friend, who I don't get to see very much since she now lives in London. It was pretty near perfect. And, not only did we get to enjoy a wonderful run together, but then an amazing meal. We had brunch at The Naked Cafe. If you're ever in Carlsbad, California and want to have the perfect after-run brunch, you must go here. If I'd been blogging then, I would've taken some pictures of the pesto scrambled eggs, grilled zucchini and perfect latte I had that morning. It was incredible. Then, a few days later, I got to go on another run with a friend of mine who I've only really gotten to know over the past five years. She and her husband (a childhood friend of my husband) and their two little girls live in Ocean Beach, which is an amazing, eclectic, beach community with a ton of personality and soul. She and I got to go for a run along Sunset Cliffs~a breathtakingly beautiful place. Talk about being filled up. That's something I've recently realized about running: it clears and opens up your mind which, I think, clears and opens up a space for God to enter in. Hence, I think running is a truly spiritual thing. (I also like to fill the openness with cookies. But, that's another post entirely.)

So, I guess I'm gonna keep eating, praying and running and hope it takes me somewhere fun on this blog. Here's to a new adventure!