Unexpected birthday presents

That’s the face of a very unimpressed girl in a doctors office waiting room. Being watched taking a picture of herself by a teenage boy

I had a birthday this week.  I’m not telling what day thouuuuggghhhhh unless you already knowwwwww.  What I will, however, share, is that Wicket heard my age and said “Wow. Mom. 38 is really REALLY old” after a moment of stunned silence in which I assume he was trying to process that number in relation to what he knows to be his own age.  I assured him that 38 is not, in fact, really really old.

Aragog’s lair

I got some lovely things for my birthday, including a Harry Potter lego set (thanks Wicket) and a cheese board and knife set (thanks MattHowk!).  MattHowk also made and put up some LOVELY shelves over the rolling island, so I now have a place to put my cookbooks in the kitchen! YAY!

I also got a nice little unexpected gift, in the form of a stomach ulcer.  DELIGHTFUL! It DID mean that I was able to stay home from work, and read in the sun on the patio while Wicket ran around the yard and MattHowk put the shelves up.  That part WAS nice.

These are absolutely getting used this weekend

Now, once again, I am in a position of worrying about getting my miles in, and how I am going to complete the half marathon I am signed up for.  I expressed this to one of my very favorite work friends, and really just one of my favorite humans, and she gave me another lovely unexpected gift. Peace of mind.  And perspective, which seems to be really easy for me to lose all the time.

She reminded me that I run because IT MAKES ME HAPPY.  Holy crap, that’s right. How did I forget that? She also reminded me that I run so that I can be strong and healthy for myself and my family and enjoy eating and drinking wines, and that I am NEVER going to be perfect and that I am going to be awfully disappointed if that’s my goal.  I just can’t even with what a wonderful human she is. THIS is why we need our lady friends.

I thought it would look cluttered, but it looks like they’ve always belonged there

The things we do because we love them shouldn’t stress us out or become an obligation, and if they do we should take a step back. Maybe this ulcer is a reminder of that.  Maybe it’s reminding me that I am falling into old bad habits and am turning everything into work and stress and being way too hard on myself. It was so easy for me to fall back into “a grind” once I was finally able to run again after the ankle injury because I was able to train.  It can’t be a coincidence that once I get myself in a hard workout groove where I feel like it’s “work” that I keep getting sick or injured. I don’t HAVE to sign up for more races. And if I do, I am NEVER going to win them, no matter how hard I try. Literally never. I should be remembering WHY I am running them, which is because they bring me joy and make me happy.  Didn’t I JUST decide a few weeks ago that I was enough? How did I already lose that so quickly?

I have been struggling to find my “word” for 2019, and it’s fitting that my beautiful friend helped me find it as an unexpected birthday present.  Joy. That adorable little Marie Kondo is on to something. My priority needs to be joy; the things that bring me joy, and bringing joy to the people around me.  Choose to do things that bring me joy, and if they do not, choose not to do them whenever possible. If I HAVE to do them, find the joy in them. Stop compromising.  

I got some pretty lovely things for my birthday, but unexpected and profound peace of mind is the best thing.  And joy. Joy that I have her for a friend, and joy in the people my husband has collected to share our weekend with, and all the things in my life I am privileged to do and have.  I am so so grateful to her for being so generous with herself to take time out of her day to bolster me.

As a side note, I wonder if my friends will find joy in listening to “Jesus Christ SuperStar” all weekend.  It IS Easter weekend, after all.

So pretty!

Nuun rest review

So, I don’t really sleep that well.  I used to, and desperately wish I still did, but I don’t.  I don’t sleep BADLY, I just don’t sleep…wellll…. As a side note, I think it’s in large part due to having a small child.  That can’t really be remedied though, but he is a very good sleeper and does sleep through the night.

About a month ago Nuun announced that they were coming out with a new product that was focused on rest.  The specific buzz was “Nuun Rest will be your go-to drink before bedtime and can help provide the relaxation needed to have a great night of sleep.

Active ingredients Magnesium, Tart Cherry, and Potassium in Nuun Rest help trigger your body’s relaxation responses to reduce stress and inflammation.”  It’s supposed to help relax your mind and your body for restful sleep and functional recovery. My thought was SIGN ME UP.

I had to wait a few weeks to put in my order, but I got it two weeks ago and was super excited.  I ordered both flavors, Blackberry Vanilla and Lemon Chamomile. I tried the lemon first, in hot water.  This is designed to be dissolved in 4-6 ounces of water, which is notably less water than the regular Sport version that I love.

My absolute first impression was that I love the taste.  It’s nice flavor without being at all sweet or cloying, but still very much what it is supposed to be.  My second impression was that holy crap it made a mess. Don’t fill your cup up to the top, because this stuff spits as it’s dissolving, and it leaves more sediment at the bottom of the cup than my normal Nuun.  It’s not a problem for me, but some people don’t like it. It’s made to be dissolved in less water which doe somehow help the amount of residue left in the glass.

SO, how well does it work?  To be perfectly honest, when I get excited about something, I 5000% expect something magical.  Nothing can live up to this, and I am perfectly well aware of that. I have been using it for a week now, and I feel like it doesn’t not work.  To better gauge this for myself, I had to do a little research into what a reasonable expectation of “good” sleep is. As in, healthy sleep. Also, to set the stage, I am typically fairly consistent with getting 8 hours of sleep a night.  I’m kind of protective of my sleep.

After a little visit to Dr Google, I learned that you cycle through the different phases of sleep  4ish times a night, and the amount of “deep” sleep is considered to be healthy if it is making up 10-25% of your time sleeping.  REALLY?! I would have thought that would be much higher! So turns out my deep sleep has been fine all along, or at least not unhealthy.  They did also say, however, that you can’t have too much deep sleep.

In the last month of data (which is probably consistent long term but I didn’t feel like looking back any further in my Garmin data) I average about 2 hours of deep sleep a night.  I might swing about a half hour in one direction or the other, and I have had a couple of much better and MUCH worse nights, but I generally get about 2 hours of deep sleep a night.  So, totally healthy which is awesome, but I would love for it to be more. The two weeks that I have been using the Nuun rest have been right on target with how my sleep usually is in terms of how much deep sleep I get.

What I HAVE noticed as being different is the consistency of the deep sleep.  In the past week it seems to be spread out over the course of my entire time sleeping, rather than stacked on one end or the other like it so often has been in the past.  I have also noticed that I am getting back to sleep after waking up more quickly and easily rather than laying there stewing, and am waking up feeling better and more rested.  So there’s that. While there might not be data to back that up, I FEEL better. There is something to be said for the qualitative as well as the quantitative results.

I am used to drinking tea before bed as a habit, so I will continue to swap it out with my Nuun rest in the hopes that we maintain some sleep that allows me to function at my highest level.  Do I think it is a magic pill? No. Did I really want and hope it would be? Absolutely. I definitely want to still test it out in non-typical situations, like when I am traveling and when I have company or after true long runs, but overall if it doesn’t actively hinder my sleep it can’t hurt, right?

Seriously though, why can’t anything ever just be magicall?  Like you can drink all the wines right before bed and it would just totally negate that, without being some horrible habit forming medicine that makes you a zombie the next day.  Best of both worlds. So rude. Me and my weighted blanket demand magic.

Observations from my “long run”

Those sun spots!
That hair!

7 miles!  My longest run since the marathon!  It’s humbling, and a little embarrassing, and it does feel good to be getting into the groove again.  Since this was the first time in a long time I was on my feet out there pushing the stroller and the kid for longer than an hour, I made a few observations, and was reminded of a few things.

-So many people are texting and driving.  Still? Really? We almost got hit twice

-Zicam really is helpful, and running really is an antihistamine

-There are a lot of really cute little neighborhoods in Glens Falls!  I can’t believe some are so close to me and I have never run them before

-Old men are obnoxious about the stroller running.  I had at least 3 old men tell me I was running too slow and that I was “behind pace” while looking at their watches and winking at me.  One I nearly flipped the bird, but caught myself at the last minute. Another I “jokingly” told he was welcome to take over for me, since I had been at it for 7 miles and was tired.  His wife said “oh honey he wouldn’t even make it to the corner. Good for you!”

-So many young moms around town were SO kind to us and to me for running with him!  I LOVE that, we ARE a tribe and we need each other’s support!

-We got chased by a chihuahua named Johnny

-A stroller run is so helpful for forcing a kid with a cold to take a nap when he refuses

-Fast food is one of the actual most disgusting smells to me, especially when I am running

-60 degrees with full sun is too warm for capris!  Aaaannnndddddd it’s time for my hat again

-A post disgusting salty sweaty run shower is one of the most amazing feelings ever

-A glass of wine on the patio after said run and shower is the other most amazing feeling

-Given how hard that run felt yesterday, I am pleasantly surprised by how good my body feels today.  Beet root powder?

-I have a whole other post about it coming this week, but I had the best night of sleep I have pretty much ever had after a hard effort run.  Credit due to Nuun Rest? I HOPE so! Because if so it’s able to be replicated!

-Even without the tablet to keep him occupied, Wicket is really such an excellent running partner.  He’s so patient and observant

-It felt weird, but good, to run without a planned route.  Thank you Garmin for keeping me to my mileage

I am so excited for next week’s long run!  10 miles with Julia! One of my most FAVORITE RUNNING BUDDIES EVER!

The last time

The last time I wore this shirt I ran 21.2 miles longer than I did in it this weekend.  Humbling thought. That stroller run felt good but it wasn’t easy.

I wasn’t as achy afterwards as I often am.  Was it due to beet root powder, enjoyed outside post run in the sun while Wicket ran around our yard like a crazy person?  I don’t know, but I’ll keep using it just in case.

The last time I ran in this shirt I ALSO hadn’t eaten far, far more than my fair share of breakfast nachos before running.  They sure were tasty, but not great fuel. I could easily have had a terrible bathroom accident on the roads of Glens Falls, and felt off all day afterwards.  It was a weird day and weekend.

Maybe I’m sort of keeping myself on track for the half in May? I guess we’ll see.

Exactly what I needed

Wednesday was an absolutely disaster.  Nothing went right. Except one thing.

The lunch run has returned.  It was sunny and 50 degrees and absolutely perfect out, so I ran for my lunch break.  It was the most amazing run. I so so needed that. It was exactly what I needed to get my brain back on track a bit. I literally felt like I could breathe more easily afterwards.

We moved back into our original building, the one we were in for the last year and a halfish was just a temporary placement while they were renovating this one, so my same routes were not going to work anymore as we are on the opposite side of the city.  I had some routes I used to use when we were over here before, but honestly I never really liked them.

I love the route I chose yesterday.  I work in Saratoga Springs on the West side, and always ran towards Broadway.  But that also meant crossing a few very busy roads, which is annoying. Instead, yesterday I chose a route that took me running out away from the city.  I don’t know why I never thought of this road before, it’s RIGHT THERE. It was amazing! A nice hill, lots of nice houses, no sidewalk, perfect. Grand Ave indeed.

I didn’t realize until that run how much running with the stroller has been weighing on me, literally and figuratively.  I couldn’t believe how fast I was without that 50 or so extra pounds, and how doable those paces felt! I haven’t seen those times in ages, and now I can remember why my watch thinks those are my normal paces when I run on the treadmill.

My watch did think the run was harder than my brain did, my brain and my body just thought it felt wonderful.  It felt so good to run moderately hard and see my times actually reflecting that. It also felt amazing to run with a tank top and capris, with the sun and the wind on me.  I was a significantly kinder person when I got back after than run.

I made the unpopular decision to be smart and conservative today (Thursday) since I ran harder yesterday than I have run in a long time, and took today as a total rest day.  No kettlebell and no running. I slightly felt my ankle, but I think it’s just the stabilizing muscles that haven’t been used in a while. Honestly, I’m surprised I’m not more sore since I was a little achy last night. I think that beet root powder might actually make a real difference in recovery for me.

The lunch run makes my life so much easier, if sweatier and stinkier.  I need a whole lot more of that in my life. It felt so good to feel like I was really running again.  And to be running by myself without anyone sassing me about potholes and animal crackers. I have limited patience for that business. I do think I need a mirror in my office though for touching up makeup afterwards, the bathroom lighting is unkind. Also, public service announcement, Kat VonD black liquid tattoo liner apparently holds up really well to a nice sweaty run.

That run made me want to run again.  And again and again and again.

Moving up!

I was trying to show my happiness but they both needed to be touching me, so I went with it

We bought a table!  One that seats more than 4 people at a time!  This might not seem like such a big deal to all of you “actual responsible adults” out there, but it’s a big deal for us!!!  Now I don’t have to stand when we have more than one person over for dinner! We are really moving up in the world.

MattHowk surprised me with friends coming for Easter weekend, so naturally I am losing my mind wanting to get things done around the house before they come.  Much like before Wicket’s birthday party. So far, this is proving to be just as productive a motivator.

To be fair, our old table was fine.  We bought it at KMart 11 years ago when we moved to NY from VT (before that we ate at the coffee table in our teeeeeennnny apartment), and it has held up pretty well.  We got a pub height table because at that time we had an English Mastiff and he was just too tall for a normal table, as it would have provided far too much temptation. The finish was wearing off the top a bit, but the real issue was that it was a 4 top.

I am not kidding when I say I ate standing up if more than 1 person came over.  Or I sat at a folding chair and my eyes were at the level of the table. Or we made Wicket sit by himself at a kids table, which he is pretty outspoken about not wanting to do.  If we have 6 people coming for Easter weekend, we really needed a table that could accommodate that many adults, not to mention the kids (Wicket will probably happily sit at a kids table with his favorite girls).

I took a few days off of work last week to get stuff done around the house, and MattHowk and I decided to take part of the afternoon and go to Bare Bones, a discount furniture warehouse in Glens Falls.  The other furniture that we have that we have upgraded from the college days hand me downs (which, btw, we were and still are extremely grateful for) all came from there, since they typically have pretty good prices, so we figured we would look. We knew we wanted another pub height table, and one that seated 8, but other than that we were flexible.

We didn’t expect to find something right when we walked in!  First we saw a set that was very similar to our existing one but sat 6.  The price was very good though. Then MattHowk saw a set that had a leaf and seated 8!  Hurray! I loved the color, and REALLY love that with the leaf out it still seats 6, and that you can probably squeeze in more than 8 with the leaf in.  What I love BEST though, is that there is storage in the base! My small house needs all the storage it can get. $600 for a table and 4 chairs, DONE. Since our old chairs are pub height, and sort of match, we will save those instead of spending $100 per chair to buy extras.

It got a little bashed up during delivery, but that is getting fixed.  Otherwise, we are sooooo happy with it! Our house is definitely starting to look more grownup.  It also helps that last Thursday before we went shopping I moved the cube storage unit that was in our dining area into Wicket’s closet, and his play kitchen got moved out of that same space in the dining area into his room.  Now ALLLL of his toys live in his room, and our dining area is much tidier and has enough space for our new table. I feel so much less overwhelmed by mess now. We also got new storage for our “entryway” (just the door, really) which is a lower profile and also much more tidy.

Slowly but surely we are becoming grown ups!  It felt weird to be so far away from Wicket when we had dinner last night, but I am getting excited to have people come over and have a meal sitting all together.  Now I get to plan those meals!!!! But do I need more table settings and flatware? A question for the ages.

I am obsessed with hand pies

O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D.  For realz.

I was sitting at work one day, and it hit me.  A savory pie craving. That in and of itself is nothing new, but I wanted a HAND PIE.  

What does one do when a craving like this smacks them out of nowhere?  Why, hits up Pinterest of course. In a matter of minutes I had found a number of recipes, or ideas, I wanted to try.  I just needed to wait for a chance to try them!

That was three weeks ago.  We have been so busy, how did that even happen?  It’s lovely, but also annoying. Finally, this week I was able to make a hand pie!  I didn’t even plan it! I realized Tuesday that I had no meal plan for Wednesday, oopsie.  I also realized that I had an 8oz package of mushrooms leftover that I forgot to put into philly cheese steaks the weekend prior.

I ALSO happened to have a weird nearly half pound of ground beef in my freezer (who uses a half pound only?) AND a package of puff pastry.  WE WERE IN BUSINESS!. Tuesday I cooked the ground beef with a diced onion and the mushrooms in butter, then added rosemary and thyme and white wine, then set them aside for the next day.  It’s best to make the hand pies with a cool filling, I am learning.

When I got home Wednesday I rolled out pieces of puff pastry to make them a bit thinner, then cut each one into 6 pieces, put some dijon mustard in the middle of each rectangle, put about a large tablespoon of filling on each one, lined the edges with egg wash, and crimped them shut with a fork.  I did an egg wash on the top too, then baked them until they were brown and gorgeous.

Then I fell in love, then I died of happiness.  They were so much better than I had anticipated!!  The flames of my obsession were fanned by this adventure!  The ground beef was a little bland, especially since the overall flavor was similar to the beef wellington we love, so I am glad I added the mustard.  Overall it was super delicious though! I can’t WAIT to try this with a nice steak diced up and sherry instead of pinot grigio!

I was also happy that I had some leftover filling!  Hand pies use less than you think they will. I mixed up some filling with a scrambled egg and had it with my breakfast SO DELICIOUS!  I only wished I was having my bread instead of lame store bought bread.

Today I tested a chicken pot pie hand pie with actual pie crust.  It tasted pretty good, but not quite right. It also wasn’t as pretty.  Later this week I will be testing with pie crust AND with puff pastry (which frankly is much easier), then will likely test with store bought pie crust AND with freezing them to make ahead.

The options are unlimited!  I am so thrilled and am having so much fun looking for savory pie recipes to make into hand pies!  Honestly, I’m mostly looking for an excuse to eat crust I think, and rosemary and mushrooms. SO MUCH FUN!!!

Did I break my brain?

Seriously, did I?  

After the marathon training cycle, I am PSYCHED to be running but I DO NOT want to train.  What is wrong with me? This is VERY atypical for me! Usually I LOVE training! I love the structure and the discipline and the sense of purpose!

Not right now I don’t.  We went away this weekend and I didn’t bring running gear.  Not at all. In fairness, the hotel didn’t have a gym and the weather was supposed to be bad (and delivered on that), but still.  I just didn’t even bother. That’s a first.

I have been completely unbothered by my mile times, and by my daily mileage.  I’m running and I’m enjoying it, I’m just kind of doing whatever I want. I’m a few pounds heavier and while not thrilled about it am also not doubling down on getting rid of that weight immediately.  There is a race this weekend that I often do, but I’m thinking I won’t do it. I just don’t feel like racing, especially with the stroller in the possible rain.

I know I am only a few months out from that training cycle, but is this a normal thing, or am I broken!?  I DID notice that I recovered more slowly this time physically, am I still in the process of mentally recovering?  Was all that coordination for long runs just way too much work? Or was it the cold weather for all of those long runs? I really strongly disliked that aspect.

Did I burn myself out going from training cycle to training cycle to injury rehab to training cycle?  Part of me is thinking lately that since I have a really decent base, maybe I don’t “train” for half marathons anymore.  Maybe I just……run. Maybe I just run whatever I am going to mid week, at least 2 days a week, strength train at least once, then do a long run on Saturdays adding a mile each week.

I have heard of a lot of people who can, and do, do this.  Is my fitness and experience level at a point where I can just do my own thing?  I think the loose structure feels really appealing to me right now, which surprises me to write!  I mean, lets face it, I’m not winning anything. Not my age group, not anything. So maybe I just do enough to keep mentally sane without making myself crazy with the pressure of training.  I’ll have some races, especially shorter distances, on my schedule for accountability, but not sacrifice ALL OF MY TIME to running.

Who even am I!?  Am I in a cycle, or is this my new normal!?  Maybe I’m just a girl who runs. And eats. And cooks. And is a wife.  And a mom. And a sister. And a friend. And has a house that needs to be attended to.  And a job I need to do. Maybe I’m just a totally normal, boring, medium person and that’s totally awesome!  Maybe I place my own personal peace of mind over everything else, even if that means I don’t put the pressure on myself to intensely train or follow a training plan in a focused way, or always run specific miles on specific days of the week. Maybe I just accept being healthy and happy.  Maybe I don’t ALWAYS have to have some crazy goal I am chasing.

MAYBE I JUST ACCEPT AND PRIORITIZE BEING CALM AND HEALTHY AND HAPPY. MAYBE I’M TOTALLY FINE AND AWESOME JUST THE WAY I AM.

Third Place

The Howks went on an adventure this weekend with some of our very favorite people!  A few weeks ago our friend Kat suggested that our families take the weekend and stay in Rutland VT, and go to the Spring musical at Castleton University, which is where we all went to school for theater.  She’s so good at coming up with fun things for all of us to do together!

We decided to get in Friday night after work, then spend the day Saturday hanging out together and swimming in the hotel pool.  The kids totally loved it. After getting out of the pool we took our time getting ready and hanging out together, then went to the evening performance of Catch Me If You Can at Castleton University.  It was Castleton State College when we went there. Lots of things have changed.

All week I had been trying to determine where we would eat before the show.  I got super excited about the Lake House out on Lake Bomoseen, until I realized they don’t open until May.  I saw there are a few new/er places right within walking distance of the college in the village. I was intrigued by Third Place, but they didn’t really have a ton of info on line, including the menu, so I really wasn’t sure if it would be right for us.

Kat had also seen it and while I missed it, she saw that they did burgers.  So we decided to just park and walk down for an early dinner, and take our chances with Third Place to see if it would work.  Spoiler alert, it totally worked!

I really liked that they had painted on the wall the reasoning behind their name.  The First place is home, the Second place is work, then the Third place you hit on the way home is your local watering hole.  Love it!

We got there at about 4ish, and since it was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday we had no trouble getting a table.  It’s in a historic brick building in the village that I think housed a laundrymat when we were there? It was essentially wasted space before, and now has a nice bar and seating area as well as a takeout side where you can get pizza and other standard takeout fare.  It’s everything that’s “in” right now and that I like, lots of brick and industrial/historic styling with local craft beers and food. It’s a small space so we couldn’t push tables together, so the kids got their own table.

The bartender was SUPER nice and knowledgable about the local beers and ciders that they have, and gave us tons of samples to help us decide. I am typically not an IPA lover, but I ended up with the K-Won IPA and was very happy.  It was super light and refreshing and didn’t taste piney at all, which is what I usually don’t like about IPA. MattHowk ended up with a darker beer that was LOVELY, it didn’t feel as heavy as it looked, and Dave ended up with a stellar cider that was bordering on tasting like mead.

Their menu was fairly standard pub fair, but elevated.  They had burgers and wood fired pizzas, as well as some appetizers. They also had a specific kids menu, which was really nice.  All of the kids decided on mac and cheese, and all of the adults but me each decided on a different burger off of their menu. I went with the poutine appetizer for my meal, which ended up being huge.

The food was good.  Not crazy amazingly mind blowing excellent, but definitely good!  Especially for being walking distance from a college campus, it’s definitely better than it would need to be to be successful.  The adult meals were defintely better than the kids, however, since their meal appeared to be Kraft mac and cheese in a nice crock.  Wicket DESTROYED his, he LOVED it. He’s never had it before (silly me, always making mine from scratch). Kat and Dave’s kids have a slightly more discerning palate, their little lady ate some but their older daughter hardly touched it.  She is FAR too fancy for Kraft. Wicket is not, and helped her with her dinner.

Everyone loved their burgers!  MattHowk felt like his was a little dry, but he did ask for medium well so he thinksthat could have been it.  It had onion rings and A-1 steak sauce on it, which was a little much for him. He was definitely looking for more of a housemade sauce rather than the vinegary from the bottle A-1 taste.  Kat and Dave both said their burgers were good.

My poutine needed some extra seasoning and flavor, but overall was a really solid base.  They used big fat steak fries which held up to the gravy super well, and the cheesecurds were AMAZING.  They were local from Bennington VT, which I thought was neat. It definitely needed plenty of salt added, at the least, but hit the spot for me.  Kat and Dave’s older daughter actually ended up having some of my poutine while Wicket ate her mac and cheese. SO really, everyone was happy all around.

Overall, we really liked this place.  A lot. We REALLY wished this was around when we were there.  As we were finishing more and more people kept coming in, it seems like a really laid back fun spot.  We also saw that they have an outdoor seating area with lights, which I bet is amazing when the weather is warm.  Castleton is a really small town and I think has historically really lacked a “night life” for students, but this is a really great step in the right direction.  I bet they are doing REALLY well and I am thrilled to see it.

Go see a show at Castleton and go grab a burger and a beer at Third Place!  Definitely worth it, and I see it just getting better and better!

GAME CHANGER!

I have written a little bit, a surprisingly little bit actually given my enthusiasm level, about the Instant Pot.  I can’t recommend that thing enough, it’s so versatile. This past weekend I finally decided to try proofing bread in it to see how and if it works for me.  GAME CHANGER!

I made two loaves to try things out.  The first was a rye loaf for reubens for St Patrick’s Day.  We really don’t celebrate it, but it’s fun to eat reubens and watch Darby O’Gill and the Little People.  What a weird movie.

I used a Jim Lahey no knead recipe, so I mixed it Saturday night and let it sit and do it’s thing.  It was a little more dry than I felt it ought to be, I personally feel the recipe didn’t call for quite enough water.  I also added 2 Tbsp of caraway seeds because I LOVE THEM.

The next loaf was my regular no knead white bread recipe.  This one I started Sunday morning and put in the stainless steel insert of the Instant Pot instead of a glass bowl like I usually do. I did everything else exactly the same as I usually do.

I covered the insert with a dishtowel and turned it to the Yogurt setting, then put it on Low.  Then I just left it. Partway through I did change to a stainless steel pot cover, since I felt the dishtowel wasn’t as effective as it could be given that I have the large 8 quart Instant Pot.  I left it for two hours and was SO PSYCHED with the rise! For good measure I gave it another hour, then baked it in the 7 quart Dutch oven at 450 like usual! It came out perfect! What is usually a 12-18 hour time period for proofing took 3 hours.

The rye loaf used the same long rise method that I usually use for my regular bread, typically 12-18 hours.I put into the Instant Pot for the second rise, rather than the initial long rise.  At the point it went into the instant pot it had been rising for almost 18 hours and I wasn’t thrilled with it’s performance. So I floured up a dishtowel, formed the dough into a ball, and put the bread on the towel in the insert (I washed it first).  I put the same Yogurt setting on Low and covered it with the stainless lid.

Per the recipe, the rye was ready to be baked when it had doubled in size and the indent did not bounce back when poked.  I was SHOCKED that this only took about a half hour. For the second rise it worked even better than the other bread did for the initial rise!  I also baked this loaf in the Dutch oven, and it came out AMAZINGGGGGGGGG. Like, sooooo gooooooooddddddd.

The coworkers that the white loaf went to were VERY happy, and the husband and son of mine that ate reubens on the rye bread were EXTRA HAPPY.  Our only complaint with the rye loaf was that it scraped up the roof of our mouths a bit, but that’s a thing with all crusty bread, regardless of who bakes it.  I then finished the rye loaf for my breakfasts for the week and I couldn’t have been more happy.

You probably weren’t wondering, but if you were, proofing bread in the Instant Pot works GREAT!  It’s so easy and user friendly and I so totally recommend it. And getting an Instant Pot in general.  Those little wizard machines have changed the kitchen game for a NUMBER of things for me. I LOVE IT! LOVELOVELOVE IT!

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