vanilla in the moonlight

I must admit, I really wasn't looking forward to trying Vanilla Moon's frozen custard. First of all, I wasn't sure if they were even still open. I just so happened to be doing some blog research one day and stumbled across their website, called the number only to hear that the number was no longer in service. So, of course, I sent out a little Facebook message, asking my friends if they knew if it was still open. Really, I was just hoping one person in particular would respond, and he did, letting me know not only that Vanilla Moon was still open, but that he definitely did not like their custard.

Obviously, I was not too excited to visit. But, we were in the area visiting my Grampa, so it only felt appropriate that we stop by and try it out, especially since we haven't tried something new in awhile.

So, if you can tell from the pictures, Vanilla Moon is actually in an old gas station. Again, lacking the excitement for trying this. But, as the Concrete Runner, it is my DUTY to try every frozen custard I come across.

After taking a few minutes to look over the menu [they not only have frozen custard, but also coffee and frappucinos], I decided on the Chocolate Heaven concrete -- a yummy mix of vanilla custard with chocolate chips + brownies + chocolate syrup. I'm not always the biggest fan of chocolate syrup [especially Hershey's], but I was really feeling the chocolate chips + brownies.

I was definitely not disappointed! I still wasn't a big fan of the chocolate syrup [it would've probably been better in chocolate custard and without the syrupy stuff], but the brownies were fabulous! Almost like a cookie dough-type of brownie. DElicious!

Matt decided on the Coney Island sundae -- pistachios + pecans + hot fudge, but of course, he subbed the hot fudge out for caramel. He really enjoyed his also... the pecans weren't too salty and the caramel was put in the bottom of the cup and then topped on the custard also. [The more caramel the better!]

I was able to try some of Matt's plain vanilla custard from his sundae. Although it wasn't real creamy, it definitely was very vanilla-y, hence the name VANILLA Moon. I really like when you can actually TASTE the vanilla flavor, but rich + creamy really MAKES the custard. [I am still waiting for a custard stand to actually put fresh vanilla bean in their custard.]

Overall, I felt it was a pleasant experience. Definitely not my favorite, and if I'm in NorCo again, I would probably go to Fritz's first, but I was pleasantly surprised at the taste and variety of options. Much better than expected...


fall running + food

Thank goodness for step-back weeks! The training schedule I am following has 2 weeks of progressively longer runs and then a week with a shorter long run called a "step back" week. And this one of those weeks! It's not only a physical break from training but also a mental break from running, since having to think about 17 and 18 mile runs can get pretty tough mentally. This week was only 13 miles... half the distance I will be running in Chicago.

[I am starting to find it sad that 13 miles is now considered "short" to me. But, at least I know I can handle the longer runs now!]

It was an absolutely PERfect day to run! It was 60* when I left this morning with a chill in the air... what I call the best weather for running! Temps where you can still run in shorts and a t-shirt but it takes a little longer to warm up and sweat. And let me tell you, it was so nice not to be drenched in sweat like I have been the past 2 weeks.

I absolutely love fall! It is perfect for running and brings on the best holidays and the best food! I just love getting done with a run and have that cold, almost congested feeling in my lungs. Best. Feeling. Ever.

The run was great! I started out with the Fleet Feet Running Club, but they veered off at the 1 mile. I already had my run mapped out in my head, and I know I would've been checking my watch a lot more since I wouldn't know where they would be turning around to go back. It really helped pace my first mile too. Did my "Fiber to Laurel and back" path and then went back out to get my remaining 5 miles in. I ended up finishing in 1:45! Not my PR, but still faster than my first 2 half marathons. I averaged about an 8:03/mile pace.

Fall weather and fall food can only mean 1 thing for me...


I think pumpkin is probably in my top 10 list of foods. Although I am not a big pumpkin pie fan. But, pumpkin oatmeal... that is another story!

Pumpkin Oatmeal

1/3 cup rolled oats (not instant or quick)
1/3 cup milk (I use skim)
1/3 cup water
1/2 banana
1/2 tbsp. ground flax seed (omega-3s)

Throw all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Put in the microwave and cook for 8 minutes on 50% power. (This is key... they will over cook if you cook them on high power. And you don't want gummy oatmeal, yuck.)

1/4 cup frozen blueberries (I actually cooked these with the base ingredients since they were frozen, but you can use fresh stir them in after the base is done cooking.)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT canned pumpkin pie)
Dash of cinnamon

1/3 chocolate chip muffie from Panera
1 tbsp. white chocolate peanut butter (OMG, AH-mazing)

Stir in extras and add toppings. Enjoy!

I actually couldn't taste the pumpkin in it all that much... the chocolate from the muffie + PB overpowered it. But, it was still so good and totally warmed up my chilled body! Served along side with some Kaldi's Highlander Grogg, which is the only kind of coffee I really enjoy since it is smooth + sweet.

And all this fall weather can only mean pumpkin beer and pumpkin custard soon! Now, I have a whole week to think about my 20 miler next Saturday!

It's this weekend, so that means custard time! We will hopefully be going out tonight or tomorrow for some frozen custard goodness! This will probably be mostly a weekend feature, at least for the next couple weeks. And many stands will be closing up for the season starting pretty soon. But, we've saved a few to go to once the weather gets too cool to be outside.

Matt has been cooking some seriously amazing meals lately, and I have really been enjoying food photography, along with his delicious recipes. I hope to start sharing some recipes and foods we are eating as I sort of transition this into more of a food + running blog (since custard will only take us so far into fall + winter). Hope you enjoy some of the changes!


festival custard

After my long run on Saturday, I spent the afternoon sitting on the couch, planning my lessons for the week. I wanted to relax a little bit because I knew we would be out + about later at the Festival of the Little Hills!

I have to admit, this is only the 2nd time I have gone to the festival, but it is probably the biggest out of the several that take place down on Main Street St. Charles. It is full of crafts, entertainment, and of course, my personal favorite, FOOD! Well, there's not much for a vegetarian like myself to choose from when it comes to festival food [I mean, they had chocolate covered bacon, for gosh sakes], so we ended up at Trailhead Brewing Company for some of their beer and Cardinals baseball. [I promise I will get better at taking pictures of my food, but I'm still not in 'food blogger' mode yet.]

Unfortunately, our main courses left something to be desired... Matt's tuna sandwich was dry and I actually found a piece of meat with my portobella stack. But, I did have these amazing roasted sweet potatoes with maple glaze that I will be trying to recreate! The beer was pretty good too... I had their Raspberry Ale and Matt got the Honey Wheat Ale. I would definitely recommend going there for beer. I plan on going back as soon as their Pumpkin Ale comes out this fall! I hear it is amazing but sells out quickly!

We walked around the festival for a little while [I am not much of a crafts person, but it was something to do], and low + behold, we came across Ted Drewes'!

Because of the fame of Ted Drewes', they also sell their 'minis' and quarts for fundraising [as this was] and also at some of the local grocery stores. We've had the vanilla in the quart before, and honestly, I think it tasted like cardboard. So, we decided on their chocolate since neither of us have tried it before.

[Sorry for some crappy photography... my camera obviously doesn't like to shoot at night.]

Since it was frozen solid when we got it, it lost most of the creaminess it could've had. But, overall, I definitely liked it a lot! Tasted a bit like a Wendy's frosty, just a bit more frozen, and not so grainy of a texture.

Oh, and we stopped by Grandma's Cookies. I am telling you, these are the absolute BEST cookies I have ever had in my entire life! [Sorry, mom-in-law, yours are a close second, but Matt thinks yours are better still!] And they are only $0.60 a piece! Bargain and it's best! You must try them now... go, go, GO!

Yes, we only bought food, but we had a wonderful time together! Always nice to have something to do on a lazy Saturday night.


running fuel

My whole intention of this blog was to share not only our explorations in the world of frozen custard, but also my training for the Chicago Marathon. So far, I think I've maybe mentioned running maybe once or twice. But, since the Hubs + I are working again and have gotten uber busy, less custard is being consumed. So, I figured in order to get your + my blogging fix, I would start writing more about my training. Starting now...

I am now in the major mileage point in my training. Today was my scheduled 18 miler run. Last week, I ran 17 miles, and it was probably my best long run yet. Not so much today.

I got up early in order to start properly fueling for the run before I headed out to the park.

An English muffin with peanut butter + jelly on one slice, and peanut butter + honey on the other side.

I have been running at what I know as Fiber Park, but is really the City Centre Park. St. Peters has awesome trails to run on that go from one park to the other. It's fantastic, with drinking fountains and bathrooms along the way. The route I take goes from Fiber Park to Laurel Park, which is about 8 miles round trip.

This is also where the Fleet Feet Runners Club meets, so their routes are clearly marked from one park to the other... with mile markers too!

It is also where they run the RecPlex Triathlon, but their route is [I think] only a 5K.

After I finished my first 8 miles, I stopped back at my car for some fuel! Dates + Gatorade.
Dates are great for long distance running because the glucose is quickly converted in glycogen and delivered to the muscles. I am hoping I will be able to eat these during the actual race.

I went out and did 2 more miles before my running partner Lauren came! She is doing the Lewis + Clark Marathon on Oct. 3, but was only planning on running 8 miles with me today since she is also uber busy with work starting up again. [Yes, the majority of my friends are teachers!]

About a mile into the run with Lauren, I twisted my ankle pretty bad. I forget when I'm tired that my feet just don't pick up like they should, and stepped on a gumball. It was pretty bad, but I walked for a minute and it felt fine. Dodged a bullet there!

We finished the run in 2 hours 30 minutes, an 8:20/mile pace! I am so pumped with my paces lately! To reach my time goal, I need to run 8:45/mile, but have definitely been running faster than that! 3:50 is my goal finishing time, but a 3:40 would qualify me for the Boston Marathon, which would be awesome [not that I'd actually ever run it, but it would still be cool to qualify]!

I went home and had this amazing smoothie after my run. OK, yes, it looks and will sound disgusting, but I was pretty pleased at how great it tasted.

Chocolate Green Monster Smoothie

2 cups spinach
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups strawberries1 packet Amazing Grass Chocolate Infusion

Blend spinach with yogurt + milk. Add remaining ingredients.

I added some crunch with some homemade coconut almond granola.

I promise you can't taste the spinach! If you're too scared to try it, put a banana in there. It totally covers up the spinach taste. And BLEND WELL! You don't want chunks of spinach floating around in there. Totally hit the spot after a long, sweaty run!

I am super tired + sore now, but we are planning on going out to the Festival of the Little Hills for some crafts and custard!


a doozie at doozle's [in a good way]

As a little celebration to the end of our summer, we decided to stop at Doozle's Frozen Custard last night. [Not that I ever actually need a reason to get frozen custard...] We have been to Doozle's maybe only a handful of times... not my favorite, but it definitely doesn't disappoint. In fact, I am always surprised just how much I like their custard when we get it. However, although I enjoy Doozle's, it is definitely not the "hopping" custard stand like pretty much every other one in the area.

After taking a few minutes to check out the menu, I decided on the S'mores [little know fact, I loooove s'mores... even though marshmallows aren't exactly vegetarian friendly]. Their version of a s'mores was in sundae form with vanilla custard + "melted chocolate" [which I figured is either hot fudge or hard shell, I wasn't quite sure] + marshmallow creme + sugar cone pieces. I of course asked nicely for them to put in the proper concrete form for me. Matt decided on the Muddy Sneakers -- vanilla custard + chocolate covered peanuts + caramel -- of course, in his usual sundae form. [I don't understand why he can't get on the "concrete" bandwagon... this is the Concrete Runner, afterall ;o)]

The marshmallow made the custard so very creamy -- very similar to Silky's, but definitely not as vanilla-y in taste. And although I am against nuts in my custard, the chocolate covered peanuts were pretty darn good in Matt's sundae. I might actually try that next time, although I think chocolate covered raisins would be much better!

Like most places we have visited, the custard was nice + creamy, but missed on the flavor. I really love a good vanilla-y taste... like fresh vanilla beans in my custard. But, unfortunately, Doozle's was lacking in that department. But, creamy they did have, which made the experience enjoyable. Oh, and, like we were told by a neighbor last week at Lyons', Doozle's custard does not melt... seriously, my concrete stayed pretty much frozen the entire time I was eating it. It was awesome! They also have a ton of variety, from concretes + sundaes, to drumsticks + sandwiches, to even hard ice cream in cups and cones. Whatever you want, you can pretty much get at Doozle's.

But, Andy's lives on another day at the top of my list...

Since the Hubs + I are both going to be in full swing school + coaching mode, our frozen custard trips might become a little less frequent. However, we still have a LOT of places to go to, and we will continue to try to go to a new place once a week.

Between those times, I plan on blogging a little bit more about my training for the Chicago marathon. It is quickly approaching and I am in the intense part of my training now, so it will be nice for me to be able to share that with ya'll. Hopefully you will find some of those posts informative + interesting. Or, you can just skip those and stick to the frozen custard posts! ;o)


unexpected frozen custard day

In honor of National Frozen Custard Day [thanks, Andy's, for letting us know that this day actually exists], we decided to take a mini road trip out to Oakville for Custard's First Stand. The Hubs has been dying to go here, just for the name of the place. Oakville is not exactly close to our house, so we were pretty surprised to find what we had driven 45 minutes for. Not exactly what we had expected...

We actually passed it up the first time we drove by because it is so small! [Matt actually described it as smaller than our kitchen, which is pretty small, considering we live in a 980-square-foot house.] We first walked up to the window and realized that we actually would have to go through the drive-through to be served! So different than what we are used to!

As the place is pretty small, the menu was also pretty small, as expected. Matt decided on a turtle [playing it safe] while I decided on a mint chip concrete.

My first reaction: "Wow, this is so creamy!" Probably one of the creamier vanilla custards we have had so far. But, I was a little disappointed in the vanilla flavor. [If Lyon's and Custard's First Stand had a baby together, it would be in the top 3.] Custard's First Stand is also the soft serve machine, which we think makes the custard a little creamier since it is constantly being whipped in the machine.

Isn't Matt's turtle beautiful! Probably some of the best "plating" at a frozen custard place I have ever seen.

Overall, I was pretty darn impressed. Not my favorite, but I think the drive was worth it afterall, thank goodness!


childhood memories

Last night, the Hubs + I took a trip out to Lyon's Frozen Custard in St. Charles. This is the frozen custard I grew up with. Lyon's was the place we would go after fireworks down on the riverfront ["...in a van down by the river"... oh you know you thought that too] on the 4th of July, and where I took the kids I babysat [who are now in college/almost in college!]. I also remember running to Lyon's the week of our district track meet in high school, which was roughly about 4 miles from school. In fact, it is so popular where I grew up that I always see someone I know. Last night, we ran into some neighbors/friends of my parents. I was surprised I actually didn't know anyone working [which I think is a sign that I am getting ooooold].

I have a love/hate relationship with Lyon's. Yes, it brings back awesome memories of my childhood, but it is not always my favorite. Matt + I used to go here a lot on lazy nights when we were dating and bring back to my house to eat. I DO NOT advise this... their custard melts quickly, so it is much better when you eat it while you are at the stand. Plus, they have a beautiful gazebo to sit in, so take advantage of that. One thing I find unique is that for the 20-ish years I remember going there, they have not changed their method of taking orders/filling orders or even their custard menu, really. However, this makes their service a little bit slower, unfortunately.

They also have really great concrete combinations, like Rice Crispy Treat and Banana Pudding [what Matt + I got, respectively]. But, they don't list what is in these concretes, so it's almost like a grab bag of what you are going to get. I asked about one, the Heavenly Hash, and was disappointed to find out it had pecans in it. So, I stuck to my guns and got the Banana Pudding, not knowing what to expect.

I was extremely happy with my choice! Vanilla custard + fresh bananas + vanilla wafers. Oh man, vanilla wafers totally made the concrete! Matt's, of course, was vanilla custard + Rice Krispy cereal + marshmallow cream. Of all the one's we have gotten here, this is probably both of our favorite concretes. The marshmallow just makes the custard so silky smooth + creamy.

Speaking of the vanilla custard, Lyon's has some of the best vanilla flavored we have had. Not quite as rich as Andy's, of course, but definitely towards the top in terms of taste! Still brings back good ol' memories of my childhood...

[SIDE NOTE: Check in tomorrow for another new frozen custard stand in honor of National Frozen Custard Day!]


frozen custard + the city

I was doing some "blog research" at "work" today (just temping at my mom's office; answering phones = lots of computer time) and stumbled upon Whitney Port's blog (ya know, the girl from The City and The Hills). She and her family have been going to the Lake of the Ozarks every summer since she was little, and one of her favorite places to go is Randy's Frozen Custard! I, of course, had to leave her a comment letting her know how awesome she is, of course; about my blog, of course; and about Andy's, OF COURSE! But, so totally cool! The Hubs and I might just have to take a trip to the Lake to check Randy's out!
I also stumbled upon a frozen custard stand I hadn't even heard about! Planning on doing some research on it tonight to make sure it actually exists, and possibly hitting it up. It's been a week since I've had a concrete and I am feeling totally deprived! (Although I do still have that Fritz's turtle sitting in my freezer...)

I haven't updated my training in awhile! Training has been going surprisingly well! I'm staying pretty much injury free, which was my biggest concern when I signed up for Chicago. I'm having some nagging plantar fascitis pain and now some shin pain and the occasional twinge in my toes (from neuromas), but nothing that is stopping me in my tracks.

I'm still working on figuring out hydration/fueling during my long runs. My 14 miler 2 weeks ago went flawlessly... but last week's 15 miler, not so much. If I don't balance out and replace my electrolytes and fluids properly, I tend to get extremely bad stomach cramps, etc. (if you know what I mean). Probably has to do with the fact that I technically didn't eat breakfast after my run since I was trying to get to church! Hoping that my 11 miler goes better tomorrow!
I am also thinking about doing some food posts, demonstrating what I eat on a daily/weekly basis. I find nutrition and food so interesting, and really got into blogging because of the various food blogs I read (note about 10 of them to your right). This will probably happen in the next few weeks, if not next week. Just something new to keep me entertained!