Monday, April 25, 2011

Time With Dad & Cheesecake

Last night my family and I got home from a quick vacation to visit some family and friends in Utah. Anyone who hasn't spent endless hours in a car with three small children is truly missing out on one of life's great character building opportunities.

We like living in Michigan and have made great friends here but we often miss what's left of our family back home. Our trips there revolve around going out to eat at our favorite places and sitting around not doing much. It's awesome, but not exactly the most healthy of lifestyles. Good thing we don't do that all the time.

The last couple of trips I have tried to counteract all the eating and sitting by going out for runs in the morning before everyone is up and at 'em. On several of these outings I have been accompanied by my dad. He's a great man that is nice to be around. Since his replaced knee doesn't exactly lend itself to running he rides his bike next to me. We talk about random things, occasional important, but usually not. And sometimes we just cruise along in silence.

I think that if I hadn't made the time to go out running I never would have had time in the hustle and bustle of small-child-rearing-craziness to have that time with my dad. For that I'm grateful to running. And I would have put on a few more vacation pounds to boot.


Speaking of dads, here is the daddy of all cheesecakes. The second topping adds a nice tartness.

Lion House Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pint sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix graham-cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and butter. Press firmly into a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan or springform pan, lining the bottom and sides. Set aside.

To make filling, place cream cheese in a large mixer bowl and beat well. Add 1 cup sugar a little at a time. Add eggs one at a time. Add 3/4 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Combine thoroughly. Pour filling into crust; fill to within 1/2 inch of top to allow room for topping. Bake 55 to 60 minutes at 300 degrees. While cheesecake is baking, prepare topping.


Topping: Place sour cream in small mixer bowl and whip; add 3 tablespoons sugar gradually. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Pour filling over top of cheesecake and return to oven; bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 10-12 servings.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sipping Maple Syrup

Both of you that read this blog on a regular basis have probably noticed that I regularly comment on how slow I am. This is true. There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of people that finished the half marathon before me on Saturday. On the other hand, there were probably at least as many that finished after me.

The baseline for speed that I use to gauge my own running ability is, I believe, based on how fast I think a guy like me ought to be able to go. Compared with the average 6'2", 190 lb, 32 year old, male, with a fairly substantial amount of running experience, that I have created in my head, I am quite slow. But this "average" person that I have created doesn't really exist. Given enough data it probably would be possible to create a profile for an "average" person that meets those characteristics, but he might or might not be even close to what I have imagined.

I think in life we tend to compare ourselves to people that are so different from us that the comparison does nothing but harm. It's like when my brother poured himself a glass of root beer and got a shock with his first sip. It was the worst root beer he had ever tasted. That's because it was maple syrup.

In the month or so prior to the race I encouraged a friend of mine to run it. He had very little experience with running. I told him often that he was going to beat me. He always protested and said there was no way. He thought I was being modest. Last Saturday as I ran down the road toward the turnaround I saw him coming the other way. I yelled a quick hello and he greeted me back and then continued to leave me in the dust.

I had no doubt he would beat me but I don't feel bad about it. He is much better built for running than I am. He is shorter than me (shorter people tend to do better running long distance than tall people), leaner than me, younger than me, and has better biomechanical form than me. About the only things I had going for me were more time training and racing experience. I knew that wouldn't be enough.

I don't feel bad that he beat me because I am root beer and he is maple syrup. We don't compare to each other but are pretty good at making the most of what God gave us.

And in the end, root beer is pretty tasty and goes better with pizza.


Speaking of root beer, while not really a dessert, it contains sugar and since I make the rules on this blog I say it belongs here. I like normal root beer but, like most things, nothing beats homemade.

Homemade Root Beer

5 gallons water
5 lbs sugar
5 lbs dry ice
1 bottle (2 oz)root beer concentrate

In a large beverage cooler combine the sugar, water and root beer concentrate. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add about half the dry ice, having first made sure that there is enough room in the cooler for it. It will bubble and fog up a lot. The kids love it, and it's perfect for Halloween because it looks like a witch's cauldron. Set the lid on top to stop some of the splattering but do not seal the top. After about 5 minutes you can start drinking. The longer you wait while it's still fogging, the colder and fizzier it will be. When the fog begins to reduce put in the rest of the dry ice.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mostly Success & Germans

I'm happy to report that I accomplished my goal of setting a half-marathon PR (Personal Record) in last Saturday's. Unfortunately, it won't officially go in the books as a PR. I'll explain later.

It was a near perfect day for a race. It was cool and dry. About the only thing I could have asked for was some cloud cover. The Martian Marathon is a fairly small race and doesn't have much crowd support but the scenery was nice along the parkway on Hines Drive.

My new GPS watch helped me keep my pace. I don't know if I would have been able to do it without it. About half of the runners had some sort of GPS watch that calculates your pace in real time, the overall time and the distance.

The race is out and back which is cool and depressing at the same time. It's cool because you get to run in the opposite direction of the rest of the runners and cheer each other on. It's also depressing because you get to see all of the seemingly out of shape people that are totally whipping you run past.

The problem began at the turnaround. Whoever was in charge of placing the turnaround somehow put it 1/6 of a mile too far, thus adding 1/3 of a mile onto the course. I noticed the problem at mile 7. My watch read 7.36. "That's weird," I thought. Mile 8 was equally behind. At mile 9 I starting noticing other runners giving frustrated looks to their watches at each mile. I finally asked someone else how far their watch was reading. It was off by the same amount as mine.

I decided that I was going to let the cone planter defeat me. There wasn't much of a chance of beating my previous time with an additional 2 minutes worth of running tacked on so I aimed for the point where my watch showed 13.1. I probably looked a little strange sprinting to down a random stretch of road and then stopping to walk. I only walked for 20 yards or so then sprinted to official line.

My time? 1:51:47, two minutes faster than my previous PR. It feels good to be slightly less slow than before.


This is my daughters' favorite meal ever, probably because it's basically dessert disguised as a meal. It's one of the great wonders of the universe.

German Pancakes

2 - 9x13 pans (glass works best)

2 cups flour
2 cups milk
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
4 pinches salt
6 Tbs butter or margarine – divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. While oven is heating put 3 Tbs butter in each pan and put in oven until melted. Mix all ingredients and pour half of mix into each pan, on top of the melted butter. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Bubbles are normal.

Top with sour cream, brown sugar and fresh fruit, especially crushed strawberries.