Friday, June 29, 2012

Best of the Week #65

In workout news for the week:
  • I climbed three 5.10-rated routes Wednesday night;
  • Played pick-up soccer on the Ellipse last night (!!! I know, right? Who is this person I’m becoming???);
  • And ran 6.3 miles this morning. 
So basically what I’m saying is that summertime = outside-time and I love it.

My most popular post this week was a random flash-back to last summer: Going to India, which I published the day before Sister2 and I began our epic Indian adventure...that was FUN.

I want to go to this restaurant for amazing Korean food. STAT. Whyyyy is Annadale so far from DC???? (And by that I mean more than a walk/metro/bus ride from my house.)

Interesting: "One One-Hundredth of a Second Faster: Building Better Olympic Athletes"
  • For elite athletes, traditional training is no longer enough. To go from great to the best in the world, it’s now essential to optimize every bit of performance, even if the gain is just a hundredth of a second. So in addition to relying on their coaches and teammates, they work with biomechanists, physiologists, psychologists, nutritionists, strength coaches, recovery experts, and statistical analysts. 
  • Jones is attended by 22 scientists and technicians, paid for by Red Bull, her sponsor. 
I’ve never made a cold soup before, but with summer in full force maybe it’s time I try. This NYT Magazine interactive feature has good-looking recipes. 

This has been my gchat status all week: “Hire good people and leave them alone.” (It’s a short article about introverts.)

Aah FP and your photo essays: “Life Inside Little America in Afghanistan.”

  • Photos from a time when tiki bars and afternoons at the pool dominated the lives of Americans in Afghanistan. 
  • "It was an enchanting time," remembered Rebecca Pettys, who lived there for six years starting in 1958, when she was 12 years old. Her father, an Afghan who received a doctorate from the University of Chicago and married a Finnish-American woman he met in Illinois, moved his family to Helmand so he could participate in the development effort. "We had parties and danced," Pettys said. "Everything about our lives was American."
Language lesson of the day: "Defining the perimeter of our parameters."
  • It's when people use parameters to mean "limits" or "characteristics" that they get into trouble with the usage cops.
  • A usage note in the American Heritage Dictionary reads: "The term parameter, which originates in mathematics, has a number of specific meanings.... Perhaps because of its ring of technical authority, it has been used more generally in recent years to refer to any factor that determines a range of variations and especially to a factor that restricts what can result from a process or policy....
Well this is kinda depressing: “Now or Never? Nine Places to See Before They Slip Away.” Topping my list are Glacier National Park and Mt. it vacation time yet???

"Killer Whales 'Wave Wash' Seal."

  • A pod of orcas, or killer whales, cooperate to wash a Weddell seal off an ice floe. This sequence, filmed for Frozen Planet, marks the first complete filming of killer whale "wave washing" behavior. 
This is just silly but I like it: "Dogs Who Like to Surf: Photos"

  • Dog surfing trainers say the dogs who like the water and the beach are in the sport and that dogs who fear the water are not even trainable.
Happy 4th of July warm-up weekend! I will be at the pool, per usual. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back on My Feet: Growing the Running Community, One Step at a Time

Well guess who loves seeing her name in print?

I just wrote this Charity Profile for the July/August Washington Running Report (a local print and online magazine).  It's about Back On My Feet, a super-cool local running charity that works with homeless and underserved populations. Empowerment through running= enius!!!

If you're in DC you can pick up a copy in one of the local running stores. Otherwise you can read it online (you have to create an account - free - then go to page 18). 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Morning Running: The Accountability Factor

I try not to make a habit of talking to inanimate objects, but this morning when my alarm went off I couldn’t control the Noooooooo…shhhhhhhhhh…I’m still sleepy!!! that came out of my mouth. Impervious to my pathetic pleas, the relentless chirp-chirping continued until I finally gave in. Oooooook, okokokok…here we go. 

I could have called across the hall  SpeedyKate, I don’t wanna run, go without me. But I was awake, with no good reason not to run (tiredness does not qualify as a good reason), plus I knew that SpeedyKate pushed back her ideal start-time to accommodate my preferred sleep-time, so damn roommate accountability (which I am actually super-happy about) got me going.

I think that a lot of people imagine that as a runner/blogger I hop out of bed every morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, joyously lace up my shoes and embark on a run surrounded by rainbows and sunshine and pop music. Ha.

It's more like: I ungraciously roll out of bed, bleary-eyed and half awake, put on the closest non-smelly running ensemble, and throw myself out the door with a hope and a prayer that it’s not that bad.

And to be fair, usually it’s not. This morning's run wasn’t bad at all! If I’d been alone it could have been a very different story, but in contrast with my curmudgeonly introverted office-work style, I always prefer working out with company. SpeedyKate and I chatted, and at the end of 40 minutes we’d run about 5 miles. 

The secret to this morning’s success was the accountability factor. I strongly recommend:

  • Living with someone who runs your pace as often as you do. (It’s taken 25 years, but I am finally living this dream!)
  • OR
  • Making running plans with friends. 

Seriously guys, it makes all the difference in the world. You will be waaaaaay more likely to actually roll out of bed if you have to meet someone. Plus the run itself will be better because even if you’re tired, at least you won’t be tired and lonely!

(View route on MapMyRun.)
We finished our run, spent some living room time doing abs and stretching, and then proceeded to start our respective days. Wash, rinse, and repeat until...forever? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cake of the Week: Earl Grey Lemon Bars

The first time I made lemon bars was for my 8th grade French class. I am now (and must have/should have been then) fully aware that lemon bars ne sont pas français (though calling them barres du citron and translating the recipe into French was good enough for my culture points!). Despite the cultural inconsistency,  my bars stood out among the baguettes and brie and Nutella and crêpes and I was subsequently asked to make them for every fête français for the rest of my French class career (i.e. through 10th grade).

So we know that lemon bars are not French. But what are they? Well, I think it’s safe to say (from some preliminary googling) that these are a decidedly American creation. Lemon curd and shortbread both originate in Old England, but apparently it took until 1963 for the team at Betty Crocker to put them together into this match made in heaven. These “bar cookies” (or "little bites of lemony joy," as I prefer to call them) have been gracing picnics and potlucks and grandma’s tables ever since. Love.

As a nod back to the ingredients’ English roots, this lemon bar recipe adds a bit of the aristocracy – there’s Earl Grey Tea in both the crust and the lemon curd itself. Earl Gray is a black tea flavored with bergamot orange, a winter citrus fruit grown in Italy. The tea flavor is subtle but definitely adds something to these already delicious bars.

I made these for a work potluck, so I doubled the recipe and baked them in a 9x13 pan.

Earl Grey Lemon Bars

(Original recipe from I Can Cook That.)
Printable recipe.
For the Crust:
  • Cooking spray 
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar 
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags, divided 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 8 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces 
For the Filling:
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 or 2 lemons’ worth)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. First prepare the crust. Line a 9-inch square metal baking pan with foil that extends over the edges. Spray with cooking spray. 
  2. Combine the flour, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon tea leaves from a tea bag, and salt in a bowl. If there is more than one teaspoon of tea leaves in the tea bag, just discard the remaining leaves. 
  3. Add the pieces of the butter to the flour mixture.
  4. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or food processor or your fingers) until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Add the mixture to the pan and press down. 
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  7. While the crust is baking, zest your lemons and set aside. Squeeze the lemon juice into a medium microwave-safe bowl. (I squeezed them over a mesh sieve to catch all of the seeds). 
  8. Microwave the juice for 30 seconds on high. Steep the remaining tea bag in the hot lemon juice. Cover the bowl and steep for 10 minutes.
  9. Squeeze out all the juice from the tea bag back into the bowl. Add the lemon zest and eggs to the juice. Whisk until combined.
  10. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and the baking powder.
  11. Add the sugar mixture to the lemon mixture and stir with whisk until well combined.
  12. When the crust is finished, remove from the oven and pour the lemon filling onto the hot crust.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for 23 minutes, or until set.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven, and place on a wire rack. Let cool for 30 minutes. Remove the squares from the pan by lifting the foil. Remove the foil from the squares, and cut into 16 equal bars.
  15. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Report: Big Easy Express and CAR Party

On Saturday night I saw Big Easy Express at the SilverDocs Film Festival and it was awesome. Essentially it was an an hour-long music video of three incredibly talented bands I like, shot on film so it was beautiful. (Weekend soundtrack.)

Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show took a thousand-mile train tour from Oakland to New Orleans, with six concert stops along the way.  It was excellent. The best part was when they enlisted the Austin High School marching band to play with Mumford and Sons -- the audience applauded and it was so happy!

After the film two of the producers answered questions, moderated by NPR’s All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen. They talked about how lucky they got to have the film come together the way it did, and also that one of the main factors was that all the musicians involved are extremely talented. Agreed.

I highly recommend seeing this movie. Unfortunately it looks like SilverDocs was its last film festival screening, but it’s being released on iTunes on June 26th.

On Sunday I puttered the morning away until it was high noon and high time for some exercise. I then proceeded to embark on my most epic bike ride yet – two hours and ten minutes, 48 miles!!! I went from Eastern Market past RFK Stadium, through the Southwest Waterfront, then to Mt. Vernon and back. It was long and hot and by the end all I wanted to do was drink an entire liter of Diet Coke and lie on my floor. I did neither – but cold water, my couch, and a bowl of pesto pasta did the trick quite nicely.

Too soon it was time to head out for the bi-annual Capital Area Runners Happy Hour. I have been quite the MIA on the running scene recently, SpeedyKate providing my only link to this group of friends, so I had a lot of people to catch up with on life and running and all things in between.

From the sound of things all is well with my CAR friends – a few injuries but also some new faces and great recent performances. Thinking and talking about track workouts makes me want to workout like woah…it’s only a matter of time till I’m back at the track! :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Best of the Week #64

Guys. I’m getting a trampoline. Not even kidding.

Sister2 is working here this summer and sent me this text last night: “We’ll give you a trampoline. Probs not for a few weeks though.” So I’m going to test it and blog about it and it’s going to be awesome. (Look forward to my dreams of being the cool kid in the neighborhood with the trampoline fulfilled…I AM SO EXCITED!!!)

So there’s that. Happy Friday to me (and to you too)!

My most popular post this week was “Hip Flexor and Piriformis Stretching and Strengthening.” You know what’s not fun? Injuries. You know what’s even less fun? Injuries you could have prevented by a few simple stretches and exercises. Just saying….

And now for Best of the Week!

Awesome architecture. (more)

Worth the read: “Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.” I don’t totally agree with all his points, but overall this is a great commencement speech.
  • I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.
  • Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.
  • There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.
  • Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.
  • I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.
  • Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.
Remember my friend Chris who visited? This is his first news story in Nashville. "Sales Of Oversized Caskets Rise With Obesity Problem." Watch it here!

Well this is adorable: "The Face Baby."

A book review by The Wall Street Journal, “The Hidden Obama.” Agreed.
  • When one co-worker, knowing that Mr. Obama was a runner, suggested that they jog together after work, Mr. Obama declined, saying: "I don't jog, I run."
I have hereby pleged not to comment about the weather anymore. It’s hot. We will deal. "How to Stop Complaining and Love This Heat Wave."
  • We move with less aggression and purpose through the streets, simply because we can't speed up; our limbs have become slow and molasses-like and inadvertent, like Gumby-limbs. Just making it into the office is a triumph for which you get an A. Trudging to whatever after-work activities you have planned for later, an A+. Basically, you win, just for signing in.
  • Things like "lateness," and "tiredness," and "excessive perspiration," are no longer actually issues because we are all faced with them. Things like, "your makeup dripping off your face," "upper-lip and pit sweat," and "feeling like you might pass out," these are the problems of everyman. We all look awful, like mice the cat dragged in from a neighborhood pool. We all smell. We all want our ice coffee and we're sipping it like it's an IV. But there is solidarity in this community, and there's no one to impress, here.
  • If you want to only eat ice cream you can, because your metabolism has gone into overdrive, so heated is your core. Even your slow movement from the subway to the office is a workout. So, yay. No need for squats today.
My artist/illustrator friend Caitlin Heimerl. So talented!

Some interesting trivia for you: “Why are cities in Angola and Chad so expensive?”
  • Alongside notoriously pricey places such as Geneva and Tokyo, there is Luanda, Angola — a country where 41 percent of the population lives in poverty — holding down second place on the list. And N’Djamena, Chad — capital of a country where 55 percent of the people live below the poverty line — is ranked eighth.
  • In Luanda, day laborers make roughly $50 per month, but a hamburger meal costs $12.62, and a two-bedroom apartment is $4,114, according to Mercer’s numbers. So how did these African outposts get so costly?
The singing is a bit painful, but WOW the dancing is impressive. “Young Ryan Gosling Sings And Dances In Mormon Talent Show.”

Love this tumblr: “The Daily Typo. Because copyediting isn’t dead yet." I aspire to have the attention to detail this author does…
I am very bad at this, but “invest in your rest!
  1. It’s good for your memory. 
  2. It’s good for your weight. 
  3. It’s good for your overall health. 
  4. It’s replenishing emotionally. 
  5. It’s replenishing physically. 
  6. When you enter a deep sleep state, your brain releases repairing hormones that improve your very existence. Your skin, your eyes, your fingernails. All these things need time to repair from the damage we inflict upon them during the day. 
  7. You know how you REALLY want to watch a movie TONIGHT at 11PM, because you won’t have time tomorrow? Well, the hours you’re saving tonight are being shaved off your life. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. People who sleep for the recommended 7-8 hours per night live longer. 
  8. Your attention span is reportedly at least 30% better when you are rested. 
What’s your state’s sandwich?
This is really helpful for us non-photographer food bloggers: “Food photo-editing tips.”

A tragedy, but some good reminders about running safety:
  • Always tell someone where you are going.
  • Stay on well travelled and well lit roads. Don’t take short cuts through woods, poorly lit areas, etc.
  • If possible, run with a dog, a group or at least one other person.
  • Ditch the headphones.
  • Bring your phone.
  • If someone looks shady to you, cross the street or go the other way.
  • Vary your routes. Don’t be predictable.
  • Know where you’re going. Looking confused and lost can make you a target.
  • Don’t be distracted. Perpetrators specifically look for people who aren’t 100% aware of their surroundings.
  • Consider taking a self defense class. You never know when you might need these skills.
And finally, my own little WTF Friday: "'Bored' Belgium fans sell themselves to Holland on eBay for Euro 2012."
  • A group of Belgian fans who put themselves up for sale on eBay after their team failed to qualify for Euro 2012 have been bought by an anonymous Dutch buyer for £2,400.

That's all. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beet Risotto

Three weeks ago my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) started, resulting in an explosion of vegetables in my life!

A CSA is like a farm subscription. “Members participate in their own food supply by committing to share in the harvest of a local grower. By joining a CSA, you express your support for locally grown, ecoganic food, and to the farmers who grow it.”

Way back in the winter when the growing season began, LOTR-Emily and I opted in and paid our money up front -- $15 per week buys one mini-share, i.e. one medium-sized bag of veggies, which we split, from June through mid-November. (Trust me, a mini-share is plenty of veggies for two people.) The shares are delivered to her office every Tuesday afternoon.

Our farm grows mostly vegetables and herbs. Other CSA farms operate in different ways: some include meat and dairy, some you buy week by week.  I like the subscription method, just because there’s no forethought required on my part – I will receive large quantities of vegetables all summer and fall and that is that. And for the cost of just $7.50 per week, I don’t need to buy any produce at the grocery store for 5 ½ months. Lazy-Mollie = winning.

I especially enjoy the creativity my CSA forces on me. I try vegetables I’ve never heard of, wouldn’t usually buy, or maybe don’t particularly like. I find myself googling phrases like “kohlrabi recipes,” “how to roast turnips,” “can I eat fennel raw?” and “vegetables on the grill.”

So far I’ve had yellow squash, zucchini, red potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, escarole, garlic scapes, green onions, kohlrabi, basil, Swiss chard, turnips, and lots and lots of beets.

If you think of beets as those sad squares at the salad bar, think again. Fresh beets are super-flavorful, dazzlingly colorful, and absolutely delicious. I eat them in all things, recently focusing on risotto preparations. The first time I made beet risotto, I used farro as my grain of choice, but it took FOREVER to cook.

The following recipe uses a Trader Joe’s box risotto. If you use regular risotto rice (aka Arboria rice) instead, I suggest adding some herbs or spices or at least a veggie or chicken broth for extra flavor.

Beet Risotto

Printable Recipe.

  • 3 medium-sized beets, cut into 1/2 –inch cubes (about 2 cups) I leave the skin on, but you can peel them if you want.
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 box Trader Joe’s Mushroom and Herb Risotto (OR 3 cups risotto/Arborio rice)
  • 3 cups water, or chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil. Add risotto rice and green onions and toast while stirring occasionally until the rice is browned (2-3 minutes). 
  2. Add 3 cups water or broth of your choice and TJ’s flavor packet (if you’re using the box mix), and beets. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer. 
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed. If the rice is still crunchy, add more liquid, ½ cup at a time, until it’s done. (If you’re using the box mix, this should take about 20 minutes. If you’re using Arborio rice, it might take up to 45 minutes.)
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy! 
Serving suggestion: On top of spinach with an over-easy egg. (i.e. Mollie's Bowl O'Dinner!)

Printable Recipe.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cake of the Week: Rustic Rhubarb Tarts

I cannot get these Rustic Rhubarb Tarts out of my head. Maybe my judgment is clouded by the consumption context (stoop-time on a perfect summer evening with three of my absolute favorite people after eating pesto pizza), but I really think this is the best dessert I’ve ever had. 

LLC has been winning at dessert baking recently, which means that as the primary eater of her efforts, I’ve been winning as well.

Let’s start with the crust. If I could eat this crust – encasing everything from fruit to vegetables to cheese to eggs  – every day for the rest of my life, I would be completely content. It is hands-down the lightest, buttery-est, most delicious thing in the world. It has corn flour and a little bit of fine cornmeal, which I suspect adds to the texture and buttery flavor (you know how good fresh corn can taste like butter?).

(before cooking)
And then the filling. Well, we all know how I feel about rhubarb, so clearly it’d be hard to go wrong with this. The original recipe is an only rhubarb compote, but LLC went with strawberry rhubarb instead. Strawberries and chunks of tart rhubarb-y goodness. Not too too much sugar, so the tarts stay tangy.

And, in notes from the baker: “rustic” is the best adjective to put in front of any dessert you ever make. It’s like a baking free pass. Those cookies aren’t shaping up the way you expected? Call them rustic. Worried the crust won’t turn out perfect? Rustic. Plus in this age of farmers markets and foodie-isms, “rustic” is a shabby-chic adjective that is sure to draw a crowd.

No rolling pins, no tart rings, no damn-this-crust tears when it doesn’t come out perfect (ok maybe that’s just me). And the name is alliterative (ok, again, maybe just a thing for me): Rustic Rhubarb Tarts. Do it.

Rustic Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.)
Corn Flour Crust
  • 1 cup corn flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 batch Strawberry Rhubarb Compote (recipe below)
If you’re using a food processor: Combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of your food processor. Add the butter and pulse in short bursts, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add heavy cream and egg yolks and pulse until combined; it will look crumbly but it will become one mass when kneaded together.
If you’re using a stand mixer: Whisk the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add the butter and turn the mixture speed to low (you’ll want to lock the top, so the mixture doesn’t fly about) and mix to break up the butter. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is as coarse as cornmeal. Add the heavy cream and egg yolks and mix until combined. The dough will look crumbly but when pinched between your fingers, it will come together.
By hand: The butter can also be blended into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, or you fingertips. The cream and egg yolks can be mixed into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon. You’ll likely want to turn the dough out onto a counter to gently knead it into one mass.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
  • 1 lb strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 1 lb rhubarb, trimmed
  • 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar 
  1. Select about 4 ounces of the smallest strawberries and cut lengthwise into quarters. These will be added raw to the cooked compote; set aside.
  2. Cut the remaining larger berries in halves or quarters so that the pieces are about the same size. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups.) Place them in a medium saucepan.
  3. With a paring knife, pull away and discard the strings that run the length of the rhubarb stalks. Cut the stalks into 3/4-inch pieces (you should have about 3 cups) and add to the saucepan.
  4. Use a fine grater or a Microplane to zest the lemon. Add 1 teaspoon of the zest to the pan. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice and add it to the pan. Add the sugar and stir to coat the fruit.
  5. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. By the time the sugar has dissolved, the fruit will have released a lot of juice. Boil for about 4 minutes to reduce the liquid somewhat, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 2 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. Don’t worry if some of the rhubarb falls apart.
  6. Take pan off the stove and stir in reserved strawberries. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in a covered container until cold. (This makes about 4 cups of compote, but the extra will keep for a couple of weeks and is delicious for breakfast.)
Shape the tarts: 
  1. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Lightly flour a work surface and using the heel of your hand, flatten the dough into a rough circle. Continue flattening until it is approximately 5 inches in diameter. Try to work quickly, so the dough doesn't get too warm and soft, making it harder to handle. For more elegant edges, gently flatten the outer edge of the circle with your fingertips, making it thinner than the rest of the dough.
  2. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the Strawberry Rhubarb Compote into the center of the dough. 
  3. Fold the edge of the dough toward the compote and up, to create a ruffled edge; continue around the perimeter, letting the ruffles be their bad irregular selves. 
  4. Slide a bench scraper or spatula under the tart and transfer it to a parchment-lined (or cooking-sprayed) baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough. 
  5. Freeze the tarts on their tray for at least 1 hour or up to 2 weeks, wrapped tightly in plastic.
Bake the tarts: Preheat over to 375°F. Bake tarts, still frozen, for about 35 minutes or until the edges of the tarts are brown and the rhubarb is bubbling and thick. Serve warm or at room temperature. The tarts keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

(I ate mine with a dollop of Greek yogurt. If only we had whipped cream or ice cream...)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Report: Summertime

I spent the entire weekend outside and it was wonderful. DC gifted us with absolutely glorious weather – 70s, sunny, no humidity – which means three things: stoop-time, pool-time, and summertime.

Friday and Saturday nights I had friends over to hang out on our front steps, one of the very best features of SpeedyKate’s and my apartment. We sat and watched the world go by for hours while listening to music and chatting with our neighbors.
Like the friend-feeding hostess I am, I made some fantastic food to accompany our stoop-time. Whole wheat pizza (this crust, I did half whole wheat flour), with my Garlic Scape Walnut Pesto sauce, cheese, zucchini, mushrooms, and turkey sausage. I’m pretty sure there is nothing in this world that smells more summery and glorious than basil and garlic in my blender…
I originally planned to go rock climbing at Great Falls early Saturday morning, but the universe conspired against me so I ended up staying in DC, suddenly surprised by a plan-less day.

But it was sunny and perfect and walking around in my shorts and tank-top felt all kinds of awesome, so I texted LLC  –  an exchange I feel the need to share with you:
Me (9:21am): No climbing for me today - so let's do things?
LLC (9:29am): What are you thinking? Call me maybe?
(I was unreasonably amused to say the least.)

Anywho, we decided to use a coupon we’d long ago purchased for Indian buffet (aka my hobby). We went to Rasoi on K and 19th, which has a brunch buffet from 12-3 on weekends. I love Indian food. A lot. All of the things, in large quantities. I wish I could tell you what’s on this plate, but really just assume Indian awesomeness and call it a day. 
After brunch we made the dubious decision to go to the pool (bikinis after a buffet…it was a choice that we made…). The pool was packed – Francis Pool in Foggy Bottom is definitely my favorite people-watching scene.
It is so much my favorite that I did the exact same thing on Sunday afternoon! This time it was 6x6, SpeedyKate, and I. We did an hour of pool running (sooo much better when outside with friends), then lounged and read and napped.

Happy summertime to you all!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Best of the Week #63

Soooooo I just listened to "Call Me Maybe" 9 times in a row to hear all these versions. “9 Best and Worst Covers of Hit Song ‘Call Me Maybe.’” I am not ashamed. THEY ARE ALL GOOD. Especially this one by Ben Howard.

The corresponding gchat:
  • LLC:  i was just going to say the same thing. i love this song. so damn catchy. THEY ARE ALL GOOD.
  • me:  i want to sing along. resisting hard. this is why i need my own office
And there's this card. Hilarious.

And there is a corgi version. Someone hold me.

Ok, I hope that I have now successfully set the tone for your Friday (and guaranteed that you spend the rest of your day and potentially the entire weekend with Carly Rae Jepesn‘s voice in your head). We have quite a bit to get through this Friday, so get excited!

My most popular post this week was "The Best Pool Running/Aqua-Jogging Workouts" -- because summertime means pool time. (Though ideally I prefer my pool time to lean toward lounging and away from pool running...)

In a vain attempt to regain your respect after that pop music meltdown...this is a great infographic. "The African network."
  • The U.S. military has established small air bases across Africa to spy on al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups. Shaded areas indicate the presence of those groups, according to U.S. Africa Command. Read related article and learn more about the surveillance targets.

Manatee vs. Glass. You’re welcome.

Anyone who has ever entered into the topic of podcasts with me knows that I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Moth. "Stories That Will Plain Curl Your Eyelashes: A Love Letter to the Moth."
  • It’s basically the storytelling version of the high-diving board. Each performer pads out to the edge of the stage, curls his toes around the lip, and—pausing to consider what’s involved in dropping to his knees and scuttling backwards to the green room—recognizes there’s only one honorable way off that stage. And the story begins.
  • I’ve had more than one public emotional display in sync with the timing of the story on my iPhone and out of sync with my surroundings. I have no idea what people see when sitting across from me on the subway, or as I run, earbudded, through Prospect Park, no idea what they make of the wrenching emotion, whether it comes with eyes brimming or an honest-to-goodness hearty laugh. When a story gets you, it gets you. It doesn’t matter where.
Friends share things like this on my Facebook wall. Not sure exactly what these say about me...actually I DO know what they say...not sure if it's good. 

I would love a Mupcake. Obviously.

Everyday Fingerprints. Awesome.

From As You Like ItAgreed!
  • “Chicks. WEAR DRESSES.” Because you look cute in a dress.  In a dress you can say “motherfucker” like 20 or 30% more without disturbing your femininity quotient.  And actually its easier than pants.  Less to match and a lot of them just feel like pajamas.  So you can be cute AND secretly lazy.   
I 100% agree with Whit on this (and also want someone to grill me some apricots):
  • Not to pull the whole “women can’t do everything men can..” thing, but grilling is sometimes overwhelming for girls. I say this only because I am one of these women. I get stressed out about bringing everything outside, and temperatures and grill tools. It’s a whole new ball game out there.

Worth the read: "The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do." Coincidentally, this is written by Colin Nissan, of "It's Decorative Gourd Season, M************" fame.
  • Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts.
  • There are two things more difficult than writing. The first is editing, the second is expert level Sudoku where there’s literally two goddamned squares filled in. While editing is a grueling process, if you really work hard at it, in the end you may find that your piece has fewer words than it did before. Which, is great.
This is old-ish (from April), but Hillary is awesome so I thought it worth sharing.

Well this exists: “Puppies the size of soda cans.” A puppy and a Diet Coke…what more do I need in life?

I'm going to see "Big Easy Express" at a documentary film festival next weekend. Pretty psyched.
  • L.A.’s Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Nashville boys Old Crow Medicine Show, and Londoners Mumford & Sons climbed aboard amid the massive rail yards of Oakland and set out for New Orleans on a “tour of dreams.” 

I have been calling this “mystery root vegetable” for over a year now. It appears in my weekly share of veggies, and I blindly cook it into something. Turns out it’s a kohlrabi.

I realize this is old news. But OMG I love this little girl.

Totally weird. “In Japan, fax machines remain important because of language and culture.”

  • Japanese still fax party invitations, bank documents and shopping orders. Business people call the fax a required communication tool, used for vital messages, often in place of e-mail.

And that, my friends, is that. Happy Weekend!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Literary Bite: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I’m sorry to report that while State of Wonder is a good book, it’s probably my least favorite of Ann Patchett’s novels. Her others – Bel Canto, Run, An Equal Music – are just so awesome that this latest addition to her authorship pales in comparison. But to be fair, like all her books State of Wonder is well-written, creative (subject-wise), and  I did like it.

In State of Wonder, Patchett returned to her Bel Canto roots, creating a situation of a group of strangers shipwrecked in a South American jungle.

The protagonist is Marina Singh, a Minnesotan pharmacist working for a company that is trying to developing a fertility drug in the Brazilian Amazon. Marina travels to the jungle to find Dr. Annick Swenson (the evil(ish) genius heading up this research) and follow up on the death of her friend and co-worker, Anders, who had died on a similar reconnaissance mission a few months before.

The stakes are high in the jungle, both fiscally (if the drug worked it would make major dollars) and physically (upon arrival, Dr. Swenson warns Marina in no uncertain terms that she will not inconvenience herself to save pesky researchers).
 “She found a village of people in the Amazon, a tribe,” Anders had told Marina, “where the women go on bearing children until the end of their lives. . . . Their eggs aren’t aging, do you get that? The rest of the body goes along its path to destruction while the reproductive system stays daisy fresh. This is the end of I.V.F. No more expense, no more shots that don’t end up working, no more donor eggs and surrogates. This is ovum in perpetuity, menstruation everlasting. . . . Pretend for a moment that you are a clinical pharmacologist working for a major drug development firm. Imagine someone offering you the equivalent of ‘Lost Horizon’ for American ovaries.”
Patchett has a genius for complex character development. Dr. Swenson is a detestable as Marina is likeable, though as the book goes on layers and layers are added to the despot-like doctor’s character, humanizing her and making you care.

I guess my only major criticism is that State of Wonder starts kind of slow…but much like Night Circus, by the time I got to the last hundred or so pages (it’s a 350-page book), I could not put it down. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but there are totally amazing and unexpected twists!!!

I admit to being a very critical critic (only the best!), so if you want a second opinion, the NYT gave it a good review, as did NPR.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Capitol Hill 5-Miler

A new neighborhood means new runs. My go-to Dupont area loops are no longer feasible, so I’m working on building a new Capitol Hill repertoire of routes. The National Mall is an obvious option, but I do enjoy some variety in my workouts, plus I don’t always want to end my runs up that famous hill. 

View on MapMyRun.

Here is my newest 5-miler, a simple loop-ish around the neighborhood. Since it's entirely on residential streets, this route is best early in the morning or at other non-trafficky times. Though it does avoid major streets and intersections. Also, totally flat -- the way I like my runs when I'm just starting again. (Guess who’s kinda sorta running again just a little bit sometimes? THIS GIRL!)

MapMyRun just upgraded and now partners with Google Earth. If you go to the site, click “View 3D Video of this Map” on the bottom right. I promise it will BLOW YOUR MIND.

*For the record, SpeedyKate would like to add that this is NOT a pretty route. It is actually quite ugly. (Early-morning-Mollie does not note these things...)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cake of the Week: Mom's Rhubarb Bars

Rhubarb has been all over the interwebs recently, and LLC has adopted an awesome, albeit expensive, philosophy:  when you see it, buy it! 

I am incredibly happy she feels this way because I looovvveee rhubarb. It’s tantalizingly tangy with a texture – depending on how long you cook it – tending toward apple pie. We’re rapidly approaching the end of rhubarb season, so get some while you still can!

LLC made these bars for me and I could not stop eating them. Rhubarb Bars for dessert with vanilla ice cream? Check. Rhubarb Bars settled next to my breakfast apple? Check. Snacktime Rhubarb Bars? I wish!!! (I ran out...gotta make some more!)

Me: I’m going to post your bars. Any comments?
LLC: Aside from the fact that they may be the best, simplest dessert ever???? And should be served with whipped cream on top because whipped cream is the greatest thing on earth?

So that, my dear readers, is that. Enjoy these. I know I did.

Mom’s Rhubarb Bars

Printable recipe. 
Ingredients for filling:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 4 cups of rhubarb, diced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  1. Dissolve cornstarch in water and set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, cook rhubarb, sugar, vanilla for about 10 mins. Stir frequently. Add corn starch mixture. Bring to a boil. Stir until thick. Put to the side. 
Ingredients for bars: 
  • 1 ½ cups of oatmeal
  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  1. Mix ingredients into a crumble. 
  2. In an ungreased 9x13 pan, place ¾ of the crumble mixture in the pan and pat down. 
  3. Spread the rhubarb evenly on top. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over the rhubarb. 
  4. Bake on the top shelf of the oven at 375 deg for 35-45 mins -- until it is lightly browned and bubbling.  

Printable recipe.