One Month Down!

Today marks the end of one full month of training! I celebrated by running seven miles, with a hill smack in the middle – Park Avenue. It’s a pretty serious hill, about three quarters of a mile long and rising, from what I can figure out from GMaps elevation setting, almost 200 vertical feet – the summit is 380.5 feet above sea level! To put that in perspective, Heartbreak Hill has a rise of only about 88 vertical feet – its difficulty stems from where it falls in the marathon, rather than how high it is. I figure tackling Park Ave as part of my training will help gear me up for the marathon’s challenges. It was strange to run up it alone – I’ve done it many times before with my dear friend and training buddy, Nandi, but this was the first time I mastered the beast solo. When I crested the top and rounded the large water tower that marks the summit (an exact copy of the ancient Greek Arsinoeon of Samothrace), I noticed for the first time that from that vantage point is a perfect view of the Boston skyline. I’ll try to bring my camera with me the next time I run up – it was absolutely breathtaking (though running up the hill may have had something to do with that).

My other big accomplishment this weekend has quite a bit more to do with the theme of this blog – I earned another $250 towards my goal by selling baked goods at the always amazing Comicazi-Con and Bad-Ass Bazaar! There’s a true pleasure in large amounts of hard work paying off, and I think it’s great to have these mini-victories before the final big ones of raising my goal and finishing the marathon. Two of the items I baked this year were from old family recipes – pumpkin roll and lemon squares.

The first is something my mother makes every Thanksgiving, usually to be consumed the next morning as it’s the perfect breakfast treat. A thin pumpkin bread is slathered in cream cheese frosting and rolled into an absolutely beautiful spiral. Mine came out pretty well considering it was the first time I’d baked it!
I sold it by the slice and it did pretty well, particularly in the morning with vendors looking for some breakfast.

The lemon squares are a recipe that my Nana, Stella Reczek, used to make for special occasions. Nana was a decent cook; she mostly made standard 1950’s housewife fare. There were certain recipes, however, that she just nailed, and these lemon squares are included in that category. The most important difference between her lemon squares and those you usually get, as any of my siblings will tell you, is that they are properly sour. They actually taste like lemon! There are few things more disappointing, in my opinion, than an overly sweet lemon square. The second secret is that the crust incorporates coconut. While I’m not usually a fan of the stuff due to the creepy texture, in the lemon squares the shredded coconut acts to break up the extremely buttery, shortbread-like crust, adding a needed airiness and texture.

In addition to these and other goodies, I held two raffles! One was for another holiday pie baked by me, the other for my mother’s famous cheesecake. And the winners are:

For the pie: Kelly Strauch! You DID win your apple pie at last!

For the cheesecake: Garth McMurray! Congratulations!

Thank you to everyone for buying tickets and supporting my cause!


7 responses to “One Month Down!

  1. Congrats on conquering the hill! I ran on the wrong day this weekend. . .
    I absolutely love that pumpkin roll!

  2. nandi how do you (and how did nana) get the lemon squares to set up so nicely? i have the problem of them either turning out rubbery or oozy. also, i am a lemon square FANATIC, and like tartness to them too!!!

    • theredmenaceeats

      Hi Helen!

      I don’t really do anything special – 25 minutes seemed to be perfect! At 20 they were still too runny. Maybe the proportions? What size pan do you use?

  3. Nice work! Congrats on the running. But more importantly, I miss that pumpkin roll!!! ARHGHGHH NEVER AGAIN!!!

    • theredmenaceeats

      Awww, I’m sorry dude. I was thinking you might be able to make it with a cream cheese substitute, but then I remembered that the batter is like, 50 eggs.
      Thanks for the kind words on my running!

  4. Yay! Yummy cheesecake!
    I wish that I had tried some of the pumpkin roll & lemon squares instead of just focusing on the bags of fudge.
    I really love that water tower on Park Avenue. I pass it all the time to use Route 2. Coming in on Route 2 east is a great view of the skyline too.
    Here are nice pictures of the water tower (no view of boston though):

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