Friday, March 28, 2014

Foodie Friday - Lithuanian Cheese

Lithuanian cheese
Lithuanian/farmer's cheese

I'm excited to say, I made Lithuanian (farmer's) cheese just like my grandmothers used to make!  It was pretty easy:

making Lithuanian cheese
Cheesecloth, heating milk, draining curds, hanging cheesebag

1 gallon milk (raw would be the best, but I used organic pasteurized soured milk which makes a tangier cheese)

Before it comes to a boil, take off heat and gently stir in
1/2 gallon buttermilk

The milk will curdle and the whey will separate out.  Once cool enough to handle pour into a cheesecloth bag.  The gauzy "cheesecloth" found in stores will not hold in the curds.  My grandmother's caretaker sewed a linen cheese bag for me (years ago - just finally using it!).  A muslin pillow case works well also.  Hang cheesecloth over bowl or sink.  Once the liquid stop dripping, press the cheese in the bag between 2 boards and weigh down with a weight.  I used two cutting boards and a cast iron pot filled with water.  Leave overnight.

Cheese being pressed between two cutting boards and weighed down with cast iron pot filled with water.

The longer it is pressed the drier it gets.  When it is the desired dryness, remove from bag and salt to taste.  You can also sprinkle with caraway seeds and other herbs.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Three Things Thursday

snack challenge
Survivor Snack Challenge sponsored by Whole Foods 

As part of National Nutrition Month, our Healthy Kids Committee at my kids' school is having a "Survivor Snack Challenge" this week.  Sponsored by Whole Foods, the challenge is to try 6 new healthy/healthier foods.  Foods include jicama, mango, fizzy water, coconut milk, coconut rolled dates and edamame.  The kids are having a blast -- and it's fun to watch some of their reactions.

fiddler crab
One of Tazer's fiddler crabs, "Crabette" 

Since our dogs and cat passed, the only little critters left in the house are crabs.  Gaigai has hermit crabs and Tazer has fiddler crabs (and just recently added shrimp to his tank).  Despite having to be reminded occasionally to clean and feed the crabs, they both have done a great job taking care of their crabs. :)  As for getting more dogs, for now we have decided to hold off.  Gaigai was really pushing for dogs but lately has been incessantly asking for bunnies...

Good luck to all those running the Shamrock Shuffle this weekend!  Come see us at the ZOOMA booth at packet pick-up!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ready to Train for a Marathon?

Hansons marathon training
One of our marathon training plan choices...

Kovas and I have decided we are going to run a marathon this fall.  If you are considering your first marathon as well (first for me, not for Kovas), here are some questions from to ask yourself:

Have you been running consistently for at least a year?
Have you knocked out a half marathon or two?
Can your lifestyle support it?
Are you currently injured?
Does the increased risk of aggravation/injury give you pause?
Do you really want this?

If the majority of your answers to the questions above is yes, then perhaps you are ready.  What next?  You need to choose a marathon and a training plan.  We're at this stage now.  We know we want a fall marathon, so of the handful we're considering, there's just a couple weeks difference.  Now what training plan should we follow -- HansonsRunner's WorldNike's Chicago Marathon plan?  These are some we are thinking about - I'm going to compare and contrast and report back. :)

What's your favorite marathon plan and why?

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Year of the Marathon

Fall marathon options
On a whim yesterday, Kovas put our names in the lottery for the Chicago Marathon.  We've talked about different fall marathons, so not a total whim.  My plan was to run a marathon before I turned 40 (last year), but with work and life my training kind of dwindled after ZOOMA Chicago.   I've also been running consistently during the winter and will be  ramping up my miles and adding a long run starting this weekend.  While we're waiting, we are considering other marathons, including the North Face Endurance Challenge in Madison.  I ran the half there two summers ago and Kovas the 50k, so we are familiar with the super hilly terrain which makes for a more interesting, but obviously more difficult race.  For now we'll continue to explore our options and wait to see if our names get pulled on April 14th. :)

What is your favorite Midwest fall marathon?

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fun Things Friday

My father and I will be starting a beekeeping class tomorrow.  He's kept bees in the past, but his last hive "left to live in the trees."  That may not be a good sign, but apparently this happened to others around the same time.  Hopefully with careful instruction and preparation, we will be able to once again get bees and keep bees at their house.

MML beekeeping Kline Creek
Beekeeping at Kline Creek Farm

I will be joining Munchkin's PE class today to "Jump Rope for Heart."  Did you know jumping rope for 3 minutes (without stopping) is equivalent to walking a mile?

The ZOOMA Chicago race has a new date - August 2 and new route.  Check out ZOOMA for all the details!

Happy Friday!
Any fun plans for the weekend?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Midweek Motivation - Run the Day

Take charge of the day.  Going for a run is a great way to start!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wine Wednesday

Provence in the City 2014
Provence in the City - Wines of Provence tasting
We had a pleasant mental respite from the Chicago winter by attending the Provence in the City wine tasting at the Public Hotel.  Some reds and whites, but primarily rosés from sunny, seductive Provence were featured.  The dry, aromatic, pale roses make up 89% of the total regional production - not the sweet, bright pink rosés most Americans think of.  Unfortunately we were a little pressed for time so didn't have a chance to taste all the wines, but every one we did taste, we enjoyed.  So for your next barbecue or afternoon at the beach - or just for a taste of summer, grab a rosé from Provence - you won't be disappointed!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winter Visits to Chicagoland Zoos

We've been keeping busy with the kids this winter.  One of the kid's favorite things to do is go to the zoo.  Luckily we have two great zoos within an hour of our house - Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo.

Giraffes at Brookfield Zoo
Little A and the giraffes at Brookfield Zoo

Little A and I planned a trip to Brookfield Zoo on a chilly windy day.  It was a free admission day, so we decided to go anyways -- turned out to be one of our best visits.  The animals were active and curious and there were more zoo workers there than visitors :).  Some of the animals were off-exhibit due to the cold, but we spent plenty of time inside the Tropic World, Fragile Desert and Africa and also caught a dolphin show.

Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure at Lincoln Park Zoo
Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure at Lincoln Park Zoo 

A couple days later we headed into Chicago to Lincoln Park Zoo.  Lincoln Park Zoo is always open and free so it's a great place to pop in if you have a little time to spare in the city.  Once again, most of the animals were inside, but that's where we wanted to be anyways.  Little A wanted to see a lion (which we didn't see at Brookfield), and we were able to see a lioness inside the Kovler Lion House.  We also spent time in the Small Mammal and Reptile house, the Helen Brach Primate House and finished up at the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo.  We spent a good 45 minutes at the children's zoo watching all 4 kiddos climb up and through the Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure, an indoor, netted climbing area.

Some tips for visiting the zoos in winter:

Dress appropriately.
Pack snacks and/or lunch.
Know what exhibits you want to see and plan your route.
Depending on weather, consider taking the shuttle through Brookfield Zoo - one ticket lets you ride all day.
Check out free admission days at Brookfield.

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