Saturday, July 31, 2010

Germany: Day 4

Going to a restaurant in an unknown culture, even with a translated menu, can be a risky business. I'm starting to feel like Weeza from Steel Magnolias, "I can't get enough grease in my diet!" Tonight, with the best intentions, I ordered from the smaller plates section of the menu, Belger Rosti, and received an oily pancake-sized hashbrown, topped with no less than eight slices of thick cut bacon, covered in melted cheese and served with a boat of brown gravy.
Holy Geez. I don't think I've eaten so greasy since Belgium when I ended up with a sub sandwich stuffed with deep, deep fried meatball, mayo, fries and more mayo.

Grease aside, today we took it easy, as it's the day before Casey's very long race. Normally, he
expects to finish a Half Iron distance in about 5 hours. This one, he thinks will take 9 hours. Geez! Approx. 2.5 mile swim, 80 mile bike, 18 mile run. Any one part of that would get the best of me. I just kept telling Casey, "Take it easy, just enjoy the race, all you want to do if finish." But when you look at the distances...mabye that's ambitious in itself. I'll see tomorrow.

The good news is that he gets to race through this:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 3 in Germany

It's cold, but not raining this morning. Yesterday afternoon, Casey started to get over his jet lag, so he was feeling much better in the afternoon. We both had a great run out to and partly around the lake he'll swim in for the race. We both slept a lot more last night and feel pretty normal. (Despite the bell tower that sounds out the hour and each quarter hour! Thank goodness for earplugs.)
Casey's out on a group bike with the Team USA folks. We haven't met any other teams yet, but hopefully we will today at the Opening Ceremony tonight.

It was funny, I mean this is a tourist-friendly town, but at dinner last night, we definitely got some curious stares at the restaurant. I guess it's just like when people are speaking in a foreign language in the US. It's hard not to listen and wonder what they're saying."Bad" means bath, I think! But the photo-op was too perfect to resist.

We had a really good dinner and another English-speaking waitress, yay!. Several places even have English menus, with funny translations, like "sweeties" for dessert, but that's way easier than trying to guess! I had cheese spatzel (german pasta) and Casey had venison. At breakfast, we chatted with a PhD from Berkley and sports writer from Louisiana, and then while Casey was out on the bike, I chatted with another "non-racer" like myself, a young man in the Army that came with his mother, who is racing. (So, Mom-in-law...I'll be your sherpa whenever you race! ;).Behold, the pumpkin seed of so many delicious German breads.

Today we have a team lunch, a two hour bus tour through the countryside, and then a pasta dinner with all the teams combined, so we're pretty booked up for the day. There will be other races going on tomorrow, not World Championships, but they have lots of triathlons in this town and this event just happens to double as the World Championships for the Long Course this year. Next year, it's in Vegas. I might try to convince Casey to compete for it, just so I can try the buffets! (Gambling, shmabling...but where's the dessert? ;)

Also, I got a tip from our program director on a cheaper way to ship back Casey's bike from Munich. Our other options were UPS $700! or keeping it with us through the rest of the trip and paying $150 to get it on the plane. And let me assure you, that second one was not a feasible option. The suffering involved schlepping a coffin-sized case weighing 65 lbs with tiny wheels through cobble-stone streets, up and down crowded stairs, in crowded metros and trains, along with other baggage is not worth $700. I'd rather teach summer school (cue the ominous music). But we found a place that will pick it up from our hotel in Munich and deliver to our house for $400. Through Skype and free wifi, I had it taken care of in one morning. With some planning, luck and a little travel-savy (like always bring rain gear for sudden down-pours!), this trip is going really smooth so far. Yay!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Yesterday, we arrived in Germany. It wasn't the greatest flight experience...mostly because at our connecting flight they didn't know we were coming and our baggage claim was cancelled. So the lady told us flat out that our bags probably wouldn't come with us to Germany. Peachy. And our seats were split up, both stuck with the center middle seat. I've flown lots and never been stuck in the middle seat. I know that sounds bratty ("Daddy, I want an aisle seat! Right away!) but that's how I felt. On the bright side, the nice German man next to me volunteered to switch seats so Casey and I could sit together. And, on the super brighter side...our bags arrived with us! Woo hoo.
Since then, things have been great. The travel company picked us up at the airport with a private bus to our destination, Immendstadt Germany. Arrived at a clean, new hotel with our own (big) bathtub and two windows, one with a mountain (and bakery!) view. Prices aren't that bad and enough people speak enough English that we can communicate fine. The Germans have been very friendly and accommodating. We're with the rest of team USA, so there are plenty of folks to chat with.
This is where I went running this afternoon. Probably the prettiest run ever. I felt like I was in Runner's World on the "Great Places to Run" spread. Tomorrow, we're taking a couple hour bus tour in the country to see the 81 mile bike course for Casey's race. The countryside is so beautiful, so I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Packing for Europe

We leave tomorrow! We've been planning this trip for a long time, and now its almost here. We'll head out in the morning and the next morning, with the time change, we'll arrive in Munich. With other Team USA folks, we'll go to Immenstadt, near the border of Austria and Switzerland. We'll hang out for a few days, and Casey will race on the 1st. On the 2nd, we'll go back to Munich for a day, and then to Paris! We have rented a little studio apartment in Paris for our home base as I tour Casey around my favorite city. Finally, we'll go visit my family in central France for a few days before returning to Paris to head home.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cooking up a Storm

At church Sunday, I was identified as "the French teacher that cooks," so as to distinguish me from my two sister-in-laws (not "the architect with a baby" or "the lawyer with a cat"). A very fair description...but I still thought it was really funny. The proof is in the pudding! Though, and this week it was tiramisu. ;-)

After making blueberry muffins Monday, I still had 4 pints of blueberries (and some cherries), so I decided rather than make four separate recipes, to make jam. It was really, really easy, seeing as I didn't go through the actually preserving process of boiling the filled jars. I figure what I can't eat or give away will go in the freezer.

So, here, for the uninitiated, is how you make jam:

Mix 5 pints of chopped up fruit, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and one box of pectin in a heavy saucepan. Heat to a rolling boil, and keep it at a rolling boil for one minute. Stir lots.
Then add 4 1/4 cups of sugar (I know that sounds like a lot...and that was the "reduced sugar" version!!!) Then, return to a rolling boil, and keep it at a rolling boil for another minute. Keep stirring. Can, cool, and refrigerate. Consume within two weeks, or freeze until ready. Seriously, it's that easy. And it was pretty good, but a little sweet for my taste. I would have put less in, but the directions were emphatic about exact amounts, and I figured I should follow the recipe to a T...just this one time. ;-)

Next, I prepared for a Mediterranean meal for lifegroup on Wednesday. I made lamb meatballs to go in pitas, topped with tzatziki (a yogurt cucumber sauce). To go along with it, I made baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant dip), quinoa tabbouleh (a grain, parsley, cucumber and tomato salad). Casey made hummus (chickpea dip) and we had olives, too, as no Mediterranean meal (even breakfast) would be complete without olives. My friend Leeann, came over, and we made tiramisu yesterday evening too. It's not quite a Mediterranean dessert...but the only Greek dessert I know is baklava...and I ain't doing that, so an Italian one had to do.

I think everyone liked it. I didn't realize that it was pretty exotic for our friends...a few had never had lamb before, but they were all good sports and tried my weird food! I think the tiramisu and the meatballs were the overall favorites though. The tiramisu really was, as Kenten said, like you'd get in a restaurant...if I do say so myself. (Thank you Cooks' Illustrated!)

So, I'm the French teacher that cooks. I'm down with that. :-)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bursting with Blueberry Muffins

I don't like blueberry muffins. Especially commercial ones. They're greasy and bland, completely flavorless calorie bombs. When my dad gave me five pints of blueberries yesterday, the gauntlet was thrown.

These, on the other hand, are really good. The base and crunchy cinnamon topping combine for the perfect amount of sweetness, and the blueberries are almost jammy. Yum. The texture is cakey, not the least bit greasy or soggy. And, yes, I reduced the fat by swapping oil for applesauce and reducing the butter from the original recipe. You won't miss it. :-)
Bursting with Blueberry Muffins, original recipe from

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh blueberries

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. In a separate container, whisk together buttermilk, egg and applesauce. GENTLY Mix this with flour mixture, before it is all combined, fold in blueberries. The batter should be lumpy, streaks of flour are fine. Fill muffin cups almost full.

3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together topping ingredients with a fork, until the butter pieces are very small, and sprinkle one spoonful over each muffin before baking.

4. Bake for 15 to 18 min minutes.

Casey says they're "Dangerously good."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Update on Dad

For those of you not on facebook, my dad fell off a ladder into an empty swimming pool on Saturday. He went into the hospital on Sunday, and they told him he had two broken ribs and a punctured lung. They put in a chest tube...which was awful, and then they told him he'd have to stay several days. My dad can barely sit still long enough to watch a it was a long haul for him. Thankfully, they took out the tube yesterday, and he was able to go home! He actually went back to work today. I'm really glad he's okay and able to slowly get back to normal. :-)

Let the summer start!

Side note: anyone local willing to be a taste-tester for various baked goods? I have a back-log of recipes to try...but Casey is getting ready for his race in Germany and has banned cookies from the house. See my dilemma? So many few people to feed!