Sunday, November 25, 2007

Toledo Wrapup

We’re back from a whirlwind week in Toledo. It had been over a year since we were in Toledo, and it was fun to catch up with friends and family.

The Thanksgiving table gets bigger every year. It started out as an extension that my uncle built to fit on top of his dining room table. Later it became its own standalone table and was big enough that it had to be set up in the garage. Now it’s big enough to accommodate 30 people, and even has a train that drives around delivering olives and pickles. (The train is a bit extraneous, but it’s fun.)

Friday night, mom had an early birthday party for me and invited my friends over for snacks and drinks. After we were sufficiently warmed up at home, a few of us went out for some karaoke. We, of course, lit the place up with our vocal stylings.

I forget how lucky I am here to have a lot of great beers to choose from when I go out. It was a little rough when the bars we went to only carried Bud, Bud Light, etc. I don’t want to be a beer snob, but I really like beer. And since I try not to drink much while I’m training, I like those beer “splurges” to be with tasty beer.

I will, however, take a poor beer selection over a pretentious bar. One of the bars we went to made me want to gouge my eyes out due to the massive douche-baggery of the clientele and staff. I’m glad we were only there for a short while before heading to a smoky towny bar to play some darts. Oddly enough, despite the statewide smoking ban in effect in Ohio, 2 out of the 3 bars we went to had numerous smokers.



Joe with a sketchy burrito:

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Christine and I shared some good food, good wine, and good times with Livia, Shana, and Jason last night. We wouldn't normally test out new recipes on our unsuspecting friends, but I'm glad we gave it a shot last night because everything turned out great. Good food is always better when you can share it with good friends, and last night we had both.

The menu was
  • Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sauce

  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Sage Maple Glaze

  • Steamed Broccoli

  • Lots of miscellaneous cookies for dessert

We've never made tortellini before, and man were these things good. The assembly took some time, but it gave Christine and Livia some time to chat as they folded up some wonton wrappers and I prepared some other stuff. The pork marinade was a last minute decision as we looked to find something that would match the flavors of the tortellini well.

Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sauce

(Recipe from the Food Network)

Squash Tortellini:
1 butternut squash, approximately 2 pounds, cubed (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 large shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
4 small amaretti cookies, crushed (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 package small wonton wrappers

Brown Butter Sauce:
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 tablespoons torn fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or chopped dried cherries, or mixture of both
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make the tortellini, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. On a foil-lined baking sheet toss together the butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven until soft and golden, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Cook the shallots and garlic until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the butternut squash mixture, the shallot mixture, and the ricotta cheese and pulse a few times to blend. Add the crushed amaretti cookies, the nutmeg, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse until smooth. The tortellini filling can be made one day ahead.

To make the tortellini, lay out 6 wonton skins, keeping the remaining skins inside the package or under a very lightly dampened paper towel. Place 1 tablespoon of squash mixture in the middle of each skin. Dip a pastry brush in a little water and wet the edges of the skin. Gently fold the square wrapper into a triangle, making sure the edges are securely closed and there are no air pockets inside. Dampen the two bottom corners of the longest side of the triangle and gently bring them together, pressing lightly to secure. Place the formed tortellini on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Before laying out another 6 wonton sheets, be careful to dry the work surface. This will help keep tortellini from sticking to the baking sheet. Continue until all the butternut squash mixture is used. There should be approximately 36 tortellini. (The tortellini can be formed, frozen on the baking sheet, transferred to a tightly sealed plastic bag or container and stored for up to six months. To cook, simply toss the frozen ravioli into the salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes.)

To make the sauce and serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.

Add the sage, walnuts and cranberries and let cook until the butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and season with salt, and pepper.

Stir to combine. Then, gently place the tortellini in the boiling water and gently stir. When they begin to float they are done, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon the tortellini onto a serving platter, Top with the brown butter sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Sage Maple Glaze

(Recipe from here)

3 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Combine salt, white pepper, garlic, butter, maple syrup, Dijon, fresh sage and vinegar in food processor and whirl until smooth. Place pork in a shallow pan and pour half of the marinade over top. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Toss the sliced vegetables with some of the remaining marinade.

Remove pork from marinade and discard marinade. Pre-heat the grill to medium high heat and lay the vegetables on one side of the grill. Turn the vegetables and baste them with marinade as they brown and begin to char.

Quickly sear tenderloins on all sides. This will take 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and grill pork over indirect heat until cooked through and still pink inside to an internal temperature of 140-150E F, or about 20 to 30 minutes, brushing with reserved marinade every 10 minutes to form a nice glaze. The pork should still be slightly pink inside.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

On the Cross (and other Saturday adventures)

Saturday Christine and I ventured down to Highlands Ranch for the On The Cross CX race. It was a very fun course and I finished 30th out of 60. One thing is certain: I stink at starts. Even though I started in the second row, I was just about at the back within 100 yards. I guess it didn't help that the start grid was 20 people wide. This was a really good race for me because it forced me to work on some things I'm not good at (like loose off-camber corners, and loose corners in general), and I could feel myself getting better as the race went on. That's a great feeling.

Afterwards, Christine and I got our shopping on at Park Meadows Mall. Oddly enough, we ran into Ashley as we were wandering around. Strange since neither of us ever go to that mall.

After dealing with the supreme douchbaggery of Highlands Ranch we mustered up enough strength to go to REI. We bought a new tent earlier this year (the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL3), and we just weren't ultimately happy with it. I won't go into detail, but there were a number of things we weren't happy with. One of the reasons I continue to shop at REI (even after they banned dogs) is their 100% satisfaction return policy. We took our tent back, and did some shopping for a new one. We're going to get a Black Diamond Skylight, but we're going to wait until we get a 20% off coupon because it's pretty pricey. Laura - if any of your REI cohorts have anything good or bad to say about the Skylight, I'd love to know before I pick one up.

I saw someone at REI with a Mountain Madness Everest 2004 jacket on, so I felt the need to talk to him. We recently listened to the audio book of No Shortucts To The Top by Ed Viesturs , so I was familiar with the Mountain Madness name. We didn't talk much, but the guy did say he make it to the top and that the sherpas are amazing. He made it back with all his fingers and toes and he said he'd do it again. It's kind of cool to talk to someone who's been to the top of the world. I'd love to know what that kind of thing costs and I'm kicking myself for not asking him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

E Book

This is a repeat from last year, but I think it's worth mentioning again.

Colorado people, pick up an "E" Book coupon book from King Soopers (or various other outlets, including the Eduproject web site). At $10, it's a real bargain, and you're helping to support education in Colorado. (Unfortunately, their website doesn't contain information on the disbursement of funds, so I have no idea how much goes to "the cause". I've emailed them about that. It does make me a little uneasy when they say that some of the money goes to "select" non-profits.)

If nothing else, each book has 4 $5 coupons for groceries, so you already come out $10 ahead. Assuming you buy groceries of course. Last year, the 2 for 1 Loveland Pass coupons saved us a bundle too. There are also 2 for 1 Copper/Winter Park coupons.

You can get a full list of the offers here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


It's about the time of year for New Belgium's raspberry brown ale, Frambozen. When we didn't see it at the liquor store I got a little impatient and I called the brewery this afternoon. It turns out they just tapped it today. I just couldn't wait for the bottles to show up in the stores, so Christine and I took our growler over to the brewery after work and filled it up with some super fresh Frambozen. Man that stuff is good.

It's great to live near that brewery. In addition to the regular beers, they also have experimental brews that you can only get in the tasting room. Today we had a new Belgian trippel and a pale ale. Both very good. And we also learned that mixing 1554 with Frambozen is a good thing.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Weekend report

Christine covered most of it, but it was a busy weekend.

With a freshly shave mustache, Christine and I drove down to the Boulder Reservoir for a cyclocross race. In addition to the usual Blue Sky crew, I had a rocking cheering section including the Dyers, Livia, and Christine (and Kuzca). I wanted to do well in this race and be a little more aggressive in moving to the front of field so the cheering section would have something to scream about. In the end, it just wasn't to be. I had a poor start, and got stuck behind a lot of congestion. It's a bummer to be stuck in a traffic jam while the leaders of the race are speeding away. It wasn't a particularly good course for me because I suck at riding loose gravel and sand. Something to work on I guess. It was also hard to pass people, because if you got off the racing line, you were likely to get a tire full of goatheads. In the end, I got somewhere around 54th place. I did manage to beat someone in a sprint to the line, and that was fun. Although, it's kind of funny to sprint for 54th place.

The rest of the day went something like this: Lunch, watching the elite men race, watching Christine and Livia climb, Williams-Sonoma, Sushi, Dancing, zzzzzz. Tiring day, but fun.

Sunday I did some stuff around the house before riding down to another cyclocross race on my motorcycle with Owen. It was quite windy on the way down, which is unsettling on a bike. The race was good (Trebon ran away with it), and I took a lot of pictures.

All good things must come to an end, and now I'm faced with the prospect of going to work again tomorrow. Oh well. It pays the bills.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cross Eyed

Time for some more cyclocross racing. This weekend there are two big races in Boulder. And by big, I mean the top pro's will be coming in from around the country and even from abroad. I'm going to at least race Saturday and would love any and all additions to the Blue Sky Velo cheering section.
Need something more reasons to come out?

  • I know you don't like me, but Christine will be there too

  • If Christine isn't your style either, Livia will be there (fresh off her latest food-poisoning diet)

  • A lot of guys in spandex

  • 100% chance of watching other people suffer

  • 100% chance of seeing me with an awful mustache. (I got lazy with the shaving and decided to shave the facial hair into a 'stache for my next race.)

  • A fun, festive atmosphere at the Boulder Reservoir

  • If you like food or climbing, you can do that afterwards with us

My race start is at 10:10AM, and I'll be doing laps around the course for about 45 minutes. More race info (including directions) can be found here.

Sloppy Joes

I don't know how it started, but we always had sloppy joes for dinner on Halloween when I was younger. Maybe it was because it was an easy meal to cook before the Halloween madness ensued.

Rest assured mom, Christine and I had sloppy joes last night. We skipped the Manwhich this time and made it from scratch using some of our beef.

To the wine drinkers

How green is your bottle of red?
What is the greener option, in terms of carbon footprint, for a hypothetical wine-drinking citizen of Ohio: a California merlot from Napa county, a cheap Australian bottle of Yellow Tail shiraz, or a French bordeaux?

Also linked in the article, is this paper:
Red, White, and "Green": The Cost of Carbon in the Global Wine Trade(PDF)