Friday, January 30, 2015

Skating Fridays

Competition Confusion - Part 2

I covered Part 1 of my competition recap last week. Today I'm tackling the remaining two events that I skated in - the Gold Ladies Dramatic and the duet.

There were only 3 of us skating in the dramatic event. I skated second, and before I stepped foot on the ice, I looked up towards the heavens and talked to the people I had lost in 2014. I dedicated my skate to them and hoped that they were watching down on me.

The entire program felt like an out of body experience. It didn't seem real, and I skated from the heart and with confidence. I only had two jumps and one spin planned since I wanted to make this an emotional program to fit the "dramatic" theme.

Apparently the judges did not agree with me because the programs that beat me were filled with jumps and spins.

I placed 3rd out of 3.

For the duet, something similar happened with the judging. Two duets really stood out to me: the first was a male duet that was fun, entertaining and full of surprises. The second was a female duo that received huge laughs and clearly was the audience favorite (and even got a few visible snickers from the judges).

Two duets, however, did not seem like they belonged in our category - they were pairs partners, and it felt like they were placed in our event because there wasn't a formal pairs event at the competition. How was this going to be judged?

Much to everyone's surprise (and believe me, there was a lot of outrage when the results came out), the female duet that was the audience favorite placed last. I would have placed them 1st or 2nd, but obviously I am not a judge. The male duet won the event, a female duet won 2nd, and a pairs group placed 3rd.

Similar to my dramatic event, the skaters that performed the best elements won. It wasn't about being dramatic or entertaining, but unfortunately, it was whoever executed the best (and most) technical elements.

I'm utterly confused about the judging at this event. Again, I'm not trying to say that my duet should have gotten 1st, 2nd or 3rd, but I am baffled how the judging came down to technical elements. The dramatic event should be full of drama and artistry, and the duet is supposed to be entertaining.

My duet placed 4th but I firmly believe the female duo should have placed well above us. Their performance was better than ours, yet we beat them by 2 places. And the pairs groups? Jury's out on that one.

I'm not sure what to think about my sport other than just being utterly confused. Who knows what the outcome would have been with a different judging panel. Perhaps it would have been the same, but I'll never know.

Anyway, here is the video for my dramatic event:


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lemon curd tart

A few days ago I shared a recipe for lemon curd. Here is what I made with it - a beautiful lemon tart. Well, technically, half of one since there wasn't enough curd to fill the entire crust. No worries, though. I made some vanilla pastry cream and filled up the other half of the crust for a custard tart.

My husband isn't a big fan of lemon dessert, so he said that this wasn't his favorite thing to eat. Me, on the other hand, I loved it. The crust was  nice and flaky but held together well during slicing. The lemon curd did solidify a bit more than I imagined, so it wasn't quite as creamy as I had hoped. But, the tartness of the curd really came through and balanced out the crust. I think this would taste great with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

Keep in mind that if you use the lemon curd recipe I linked in the post, you'll want to double it because it isn't enough to fill the entire crust.

Lemon curd tart
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch salt
  • 2-4 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 recipe lemon curd (I used this one)
In a food processor, pulse together the butter, sugar, flour, yolk and salt until the mixture resembles wet sand (Anne Burrell calls this the "parmesan cheese stage").

Add in the cold water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together. You should be able to pinch the dough together without it falling apart.

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and knead a few times. Roll the dough into a disc, cover in plastic wrap, and cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a large circle. Place the dough into a tart pan and make sure that the dough goes up the sides of the pan. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Cover the dough with aluminum foil and poke some holes in the top so steam can escape. Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.

Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the shell to cool.  Once it has completely cooled, add the lemon curd. If desired, garnish with whipped cream or berries.

Tart should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for a few days. It is best eaten the day it was made.

Yield: About 8-12 servings

Source: Tart recipe from Anne Burrell via the Food Network; lemon curd recipe from here (note that the curd will only be enough to fill half a tart, so you'll want to double the recipe)


Sunday, January 25, 2015

6 egg yolk lemon curd

Something new happened to me recently. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I have a problem. Since I like to make a lot of ice cream (which uses up egg yolks), I am always looking for recipes to use up the whites. Would you believe me if I told you that I had the opposite problem recently? I made a batch of my champagne cupcakes with lemon champagne buttercream and found myself with 6 egg yolks to use up. And since discovering Jeni's ice cream recipes, I haven't had a use for the egg yolks.

I bought a few extra lemons at my last trip to the grocery store so I decided to make lemon curd with my 6 egg yolks. I still hadn't figured out what to do with the lemon curd (besides eating it with a spoon), so stick around and see what I finally made with it.

This lemon curd was rich, thick and tart - just the way lemon curd should be. Be sure to strain your curd before storing it because mine contained lemon pulp and cooked bits of egg yolk... not exactly the best thing for curd.

This was probably one of the easiest lemon curd recipes I've come across, so I hope you enjoy it.

6 egg yolk lemon curd
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
In a medium heavy saucepan, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice. Heat on medium low heat. Add the butter and continue to whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Keep whisking until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve and cover with plastic wrap. If desired, add in lemon zest before storing. Place the curd in the refrigerator to cool until use. Covered lemon curd will keep for about 1 week.

Yield: About 1.5 cups

Source: Bakepedia


Friday, January 23, 2015

Skating Fridays

Competition Confusion - Part 1

I competed this past weekend and wanted to recap the day's events with you all. Since I skated in 3 separate events, I'm going to break up the summary into two separate posts. Today I will focus on the main event - the Gold Ladies 2 freestyle.

There were 6 ladies in this event. Women were allowed to 'skate up' for this competition, meaning that they were able to compete at a level above their current skating. Two women skated up for the Gold Ladies 2 event.

I was 2nd in skate order and had a wait a long time while the judging panel tabulated the results from the first skater. Finally, they called my name and I skated to my starting spot.

I hit all my spins and jumps (including 2 axels) and felt pretty amazing afterwards. This was definitely one of my best performances to date. My program run-throughs during the week before weren't pretty, so this definitely put me on a high.

My skating friends and supporters in the stands said that I did well and that I should earn a place on the podium after they watched the other skaters perform. Many fell or did not hit their elements. It didn't help that the rink was freezing (which leads to cold feet, noses and arms).

After all the ladies finished performing, we waited for about an hour for the results to be posted. They were finally up. I walked over to the wall and was stunned and confused that I had placed 5th out of 6.

Four things stood out to me when I saw my protocols:
  1. My total technical score only came to 6.58 points, which is a full 4 points lower than Nationals last year. I skated better this weekend yet somehow earned fewer points.
  2. I did not receive credit for my leveled spins. The judges gave me a base value for my sit spin (element #1) when it should have been at least a level 2 or 3 spin. Not sure what happened there because I watched my video and I definitely hit the positions I needed.
  3. The judges downgraded my axel and toe loops.
  4. My program components (PCS) scores went up significantly since last year, which is good news since that has been a focus of mine for the past year.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm whining here, but I have a lot of concerns about the way this event was judged. Here are a few additional facts about the event that I think needs to be mentioned.

  • The judges did not have video replay for this event. This is huge because judges normally have the ability to look at elements and see if they should deserve full credit. Because no video replay was available, they had to count on their memory. Remember, each jump is usually executed in about 0.4-0.6 seconds, so it's not a lot of time to see if something is executed correctly.
  • The judges also did not have a computer system to make their marks. Things were done on paper and then transferred to the scoring system afterwards.
  • The woman that won the event typically scores in the mid-30s. For this event, she only scored in the twenties and did not receive credit for a cleanly executed spin.
I find it very concerning and confusing that these things happened.

Again, I'm not trying to bash the judges or the system but just find it really unfortunate that this particular event didn't seem to go well. And let's be clear - it wasn't just me. Every skater's technical scores were artificially low and skaters did not receive credit for elements that they probably should have. I know that my skating skills could still use some improvement, but my total score should have been in the mid twenties at a minimum.

I'm going to put this event behind me and focus on what I need to work on for Sectionals. That's the real test for me. I want to place in the top 4 and represent our region at Nationals, so I have some work ahead of me.

Update: I learned from my coach this week (after typing up this post) that I did not receive the points on the difficult spins because of a technicality. Apparently, there is a rule within the IJS rulebook that states all spins must first have 2 full revolutions in a base position before attempting any variations. In plain English, it means that I needed to do a real sit spin before trying any fancy positions. This was a mistake on my coach's part because she didn't review the rules prior to the competition. Had I received full credit on my two difficult spins, I could have medaled and received 3rd place.

Finally, here is the video:


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Guest post at Mandy's Recipe Box - ranch and dill oyster crackers

I have exciting blogging news to share - I am now a featured contributor over at Mandy's Recipe Box! Every third Wednesday I will be the featured blogger and will share a recipe at her blog.

Today's recipe is these super addicting ranch and dill oyster crackers. Head on over to Mandy's Recipe Box for the recipe!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Jeni's backyard mint chocolate chip ice cream

Looks like 2015 is starting off as the Year of Ice Cream around these parts. I was so blown away by the salty caramel ice cream recipe that I immediately set out to make another one of Jeni's recipes. Since mint chocolate chip is my favorite flavor, it only made sense that I tried making it next.

The ice cream base starts off the same as the salty caramel flavor - you make a cornstarch slurry, set aside a bowl with cream cheese and salt mixed together and then boil milk, sugar and cream in a saucepan. Finally, you mix it everything together, allow it to cool and churn. Simple enough.

Similar to the salty caramel flavor, this batch of ice cream was extremely creamy and smooth. The ice cream melted in my mouth, and it definitely puts the store-bought mint chocolate chip ice cream to shame.

Maybe I should invest in Jeni's ice cream cookbook. What do you think?

P.S. I am already thinking about my next batch of Jeni's ice cream, so stay tuned.

Jeni's backyard mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1½ ounces (3 Tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon mint extract
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set this aside. Reserve the remaining milk and keep it separate.

In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese with the sea salt until well combined. Set a fine mesh sieve above it and set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat the cream, remaining milk, sugar and corn syrup on medium to medium-high heat until boiling. Allow the mixture to boil for 4 minutes.

Take the saucepan off the stove and very carefully add the cornstarch/milk slurry. Mix until everything is well incorporated and put the pan back on the stove. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil and until the liquid becomes slightly thicker, about 1 minute.

Turn off the stove and pour the liquid through the sieve into the large bowl with the cream cheese/salt. Add the mint extract and mix well until everything is fully incorporated.

At this point, you have two options. You can either set the ice cream over an ice bath (pour the contents into a large zip-top bag, seal it shut and place it over a large bowl with ice cubes), or put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Once the mixture is completely cool, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Fold in the chopped chocolate by hand.

Pour the ice cream into a container and set it in the freezer until it has hardened (at least 4 hours).

Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Barely adapted from TasteSpotting the Blog


Friday, January 16, 2015

Skating Fridays

Obligatory Pre-Competition Falls and Jitters

The skating competition is this weekend, and as part of my unintended pre-competition/test traditions, I've taken my obligatory falls and had quite a few jitters. I hope this means that I've gotten all the shakiness out of my system prior to the competition.

Earlier this week, a younger skater was doing backwards crossovers and getting ready to set up for a lutz. I was on two feet and just standing around after working on some elements when all of a sudden, I get hit from behind. Wham! I didn't fall, but what I realized was that the younger skater ran into me. Her back slammed into mine and she looked pretty shaken up.

Her coach, who should have been watching for her, told her to watch where she was going. I'm not sure why she was being told this after the fact. Shouldn't your coach be spotting for you while you are going into a lutz? I digress...

After the collision, my nerves were all jittery. I couldn't land my jumps and things just seemed off. I'm attributing these to my on and off ice collisions (side note: my car is in the repair shop and should take about 6-7 business days). My program run-throughs haven't been great because the freestyle sessions have been busy so skaters were constantly in my way. Plus, our infamous "diva sash" (the bright colored sash we are supposed to wear while running programs) has been missing for a while.

Fingers crossed that I do well this weekend. I'll update you all next week on my scores and placements. If you follow me on Facebook, I'll most likely share the results there first.



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