September 26, 2007
Soaking wet and still breathing hard from the short track, my father and I packed up the van and headed north to Pittsburgh. I was very excited to hang with my family for a week in the summer when we could do outdoor things in relative comfort. The drive through northwestern North Carolina on small roads was stunning, I had no idea it was so beautiful there. We made decent time on the interstate, stayed at a hotel somewhere in West Virginia and rolled into Pittsburgh just in time for lunch.
We surprised my sister with lunch and I got my first chance to hang out with my nephew in several months. This is all very exciting to me because my sister is the first one in the family to have a child. Colby, my nephew, was just figuring out how to walk and providing endless entertainment. The family had planned a full week for me involving various activities, meals, gatherings, shopping trips, etc. I had a few of my own activities to add to the agenda, including a group mountain bike ride and an Xterra.
Tuesday evening, after the day's activities--mostly involving quality time with my Mother and Colby while my sister was at work--my brother and I headed to Riverview Park on the north side of Pittsburgh for a P.O.R.C. ride. We met up with the ride leader Adam, my brother's friend, Pete, and a guy named Mark. We rode for close to thirteen miles, mostly on single track weaving round and round up and down a rather small city park. Good fun all around, I was the only one whose clothes matched their bike. Afterwards we sat on the porch, drank Yuengling beers and ate square pizza. I'm not a huge fan of the square pizza, it not only brings back memories of grade school cafeteria pizza but the corner slices are substandard. You get stuck with mostly crust and not as much good stuff.
The next day the whole family packed up and headed to Ohiopyle State Park for a day of playing in the water and watching the world go by. The Youghiogheny [yaw-ki-GAY-nee] river runs through the park and is home to fabulous white water boating. We opted for a tamer day involving picnicking, a ride on the rails to trails bike path and plenty of time at the natural water slides.
Thursday was a trip to the local amusement park, Kennywood Park. This also brought back memories of grade school and middle school days, waiting in line for rides and trying (and failing) to get the attention of cute boys. In typical Pittsburgh summer fashion the day was hotter than blazes, so we had to intersperse roller coasters with water rides, to not overheat. This week is actually part of my off season before 'cross, so in good off season form I partook of the epicurean delights available at an amusement park. With the choice of fried, covered in sugar or both, the food is definitely not the healthiest but it does taste good. Friday passed hot humid and uneventfully into Saturday.
This is where I'll leave everyone until the next diary. If I put everything in one diary it would begin to resemble a novel.
For everyone missing the recipes here's a good one that I've been experimenting with all summer, making it healthier than the original recipe and using various fruits.
6T butter melted
1/2 C sugar
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp almond extract pinch of salt
Mix the melted butter with the sugar in a bowl. Add flour, almond extract and salt. Mix thoroughly. Divide evenly between two 8" diameter fluted removable bottom tart pan. Press mix on the bottom and up the sides with your fingers. It should be fairly thin. Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and cool
1/2 C soy milk (rice milk was too thin)
2 T honey
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 – 1 1/2 lbs fruit cut. I've used apricots, pears, blackberries and strawberries. Depending on the size of the fruit remove pit/center and cut into eight pieces.
Whisk together all the liquid ingredients. Divide liquid evenly between tart shells, arrange fruit in a pleasing fashion and bake at 350º for about an hour. Cool, remove from pan and enjoy!