Here comes Spring!

YAY!  It HAS to be coming for real right!?  It always feels so momentous to get back out on the road with Wicket in the stroller, and this week has been no exception!

The first run with the stroller in March has become really sentimental for me.  After starting back running after having Wicket, with the exception of a few runs in December I was primarily tied to the treadmill due to the weather.  Duh. Both for me AND for him, but the stroller really adds a different dynamic. 40 degrees was my arbitrary threshold when he was a baby, so once we hit that and the ice had melted off the roads we were out!

He was 6 months old, and I ran in half-ish mile loops over and over to start getting him used to it. You’re not really supposed to run with them in the infant seat, but I did to keep him warm and because he couldn’t sit up on his own yet.  I kept him TOO cozy apparently, since he was always trying to fall asleep. Yesterday was our first run out this year, and it’s funny to think of how far he has come. He was FAR less sassy 4 years ago, I assure you.

Last year I started out too early and had some scary slides down hills with the stroller, so I waited until the roads were more clear this year.  Yesterday hit 40 so I changed into running gear at work and we ran when I got home!

Getting out the door was a disaster.  I have totally forgotten my routine in the last 6 months.  I kept thinking we were good then forgetting stuff. Even though it was close to dinner Wicket DID NOT let me forget about chocolate animal crackers, which are his special running treat.  I thought he might not need them this year but he was horrified at the idea that he might not get them.

Once we made it out the door we were great!  He was bundled up, and the roads were nice and clear!  I only did 2.5 miles since I remember last year the first couple of runs out with the stroller being a real wakeup call for my body.  This year wasn’t quite that bad but it was hard. Running outside, especially with the stroller, is so much harder than the treadmill.

Richardson Hill man, I could have puked at the top of that.  It was SO NICE to finally feel like I was getting a real workout from a run!  My body felt really decent if not as strong as I would like, and I held about a 10mm pace which was nice to see.  I was definitely breathing hard, but that could also partly be the stupid cold I am getting over. It was windy so a headband would have been nice, but once we cleared the river I got used to it. I AM, however, surprised at how achey my arms and chest are from pushing the stroller. I guess that’s muscle I lost since Octoberish.

Wicket was extremely vocal about his displeasure over the condition of the roads after the winter.  He kept yelling at me to run in the middle of the road because the sides were too bumpy. Admittedly, I dumped him in a couple of potholes, but he was not at all understanding when I told him I can’t run in the middle of the road because of THE CARS.  He just kept shooting me dirty looks the whole time.

I feel a renewed sense of excitement for running, and NOT doing so on the treadmill at 4:30am.  I’m looking forward to getting us back out there tonight after work. I think we’re going to fall right back into the routine.  Last night I even successfully prepped and baked a pizza after having run, which was super encouraging.

We can do this!  Spring is here! It’s light out!  We don’t have to hibernate anymore!  But now I only want to run and bake and eat and make my patio and my kitchen and my basement pretty, and not work at my real job.  SO I guess that part is problematic… But look at that crussssttttttt.

Look how gorgeous that is! Since when can homemade pizza look so perfect!? SINCE NOW!

Mystic Cafe and Wine Bar

Yesterday my sister and I went shopping in Manchester, VT to belatedly celebrate her birthday.  We grew up just north of there, and she lives just a little way from there. I only live about an hour from her, and since her husband had a super fun adventure planned for he and our kids, she and I took a big girl, kid free trip!

We did a little shopping, then met our aunt at the Mystic Cafe and Wine Bar for lunch.  We got there a bit before she did, so we were seated and I ordered a glass of wine while we waited.  It was not super warm Saturday, but it was sunny, and it was GLORIOUS Friday and that was still lingering for me, so I felt it was a rose kind of day.  It was a hard choice though, as they have a comprehensive wine menu. I was pleased to see so many different wines outside of your standard Chardonnay and Merlot, including lots of red blends, which hold a special place in my heart.

My first impression looking around was that this place was so pretty!  It used to be a bank but was renovated a few years ago and I hadn’t been since.  They did such a beautiful job. It was still kind of industrial, but also very pretty and modern.  Lots of exposed utilities and edison bulbs, paired with pretty light wood tables and flowers and glass.  The array of people there ranged from local families with their kids to clearly very fancy tourists.

My aunt said you used to order at the counter then find a table, but now it’s table service.  She said it was good before but the table service makes it much better. They were steadily full and busy the whole time, which is so fantastic to see.  We did notice that they also take reservations, which is great information to have since I plan to go back.

My rose was excellent, nice and dry and not sweet, and a generous pour.  My aunt arrived and ordered herself a rose as well, then we got down to the business of lunch.  I did also see that my aunt recently got a rose gold watch, which was SO PRETTY. I am a little obsessed with rose gold lately.

My sister ordered the green salad with grilled chicken, my aunt ordered the rice bowl, and I ordered the smoked salmon tartine.  As I was informed by our cute little server when I asked if I pronounced it right, tartine is just a fancy name for an open faced sandwich.  I was seriously considering the grilled cheese, but you can get a grilled cheese anywhere. Including some fairly excellent ones right at my own house. The smoked salmon tartine was something you don’t see often, so it felt like it would have been a tragic missed opportunity to not branch out.

I SO DID NOT REGRET my choice.  It was so gooooodddddddddd. Two thick slices of artisan multi grain bread with an herbed cream cheese with creme fraiche and dill, avocado, and smoked salmon on top.  I overlooked on the menu that it came topped with capers and red onion. One of the few things I do not care for in this beautiful big food world is red onions, so I just pushed those guys off the boat and ate the capers.  I like those little salty weird shrunken heads. I don’t know if you’re supposed to cut it, but I did. It had more fresh dill on top, which made my soul sing.

We were all in agreement that this lunch was kind of perfect.  We each got something exactly right for us even though we have pretty varied tastes, and my sister has some food intolerances.  Each one of us finished our lunch feeling no longer hungry, but not at all full or gross. Everything tasted so fresh and special. I hate it when something tastes so delicious while you’re eating it, but then leaves you feeling gross and off afterwards, so it really wasn’t worth it at all.

After we left my aunt showed us the bar in the downstairs of the old bank, which is SO COOL.  She said it’s super fun and that they regularly have bands play, in addition to a small bar area upstairs with outdoor seating for warmer weather.  It looks amazing, and maintained so much of the historic character of both the building and the bank that used to live there, like the vault. I am SO SO pleased to see this neat revitalization of the town that I grew up in, and it kind of makes me wish I still lived at home.  I will console myself with the fact that I live in a pretty neat place now, with tons of history and character of it’s own.

If you’re hanging out in Manchester shopping or skiing or doing any of the other Vermonty things, I cannot recommend the Mystic Cafe and Wine Bar enough.  It was truly pretty and special and elegant while also being approachable and welcoming, and the food was incredible. I can’t wait to go back and bring MattHowk!  He will be working, but my sister and aunt and I actually already decided to go back for Mothers Day with the kids.

As an end note, the company truly makes the meal, right?  Our server was great but left us largely alone, so I got to enjoy big girl time with my sister and aunt, and it was really one of the best lunch dates ever.  Such a fantastic day with excellent ladies.


Or, I won a battle and the jury is out on the rest of the war.  This remains to be seen, but for now I am counting it as a victory for ME!

Sourdough bread, my heart and soul.  I finally achieved an acceptable sized and shaped loaf.  I had absolutely no reason to bake it, other than to do it.  I am not sad to have a random loaf of bread hanging out for no reason, just begging to be eaten.

I used the exact same recipe as last time, which was from the Master Class bread baker guy MattHowk found on YouTube.  I used all the same amounts of everything, and did almost everything exactly the same with a few notable changes. I took my starter out Thursday to warm up and get it ready for baking on Sunday, and once again used the King Arthur All Purpose flour that I am saving JUST for bread baking, and primarily SOURDOUGH bread baking.

The recipe doesn’t call for feeding the starter, but this time I did.   fed it Friday, then put the dough together Saturday to rise for at least 24 hours. Other recipes do feed before baking, and I had so little left last time that I decided to feed ahead of time instead of trying to rebuild afterwards.   This is likely why I felt my bread had very little sourdough flavor, since I was basically starting over with a teeny tiny starter and rushing it to maturity.  It did behave exactly as all the images said it should, and it smelled like sourdough, so I was pleased with that.

I let it proof overnight in the proofing basket in the fridge.  Last time I left it out on my counter since my house is cold. That time it really rose great.  This time it rose but maybe ⅔ as much? It was a noticeable difference.

The biggest change was the most intentional one, that being the use of the 5 quart dutch oven instead of the 7 quart.  That, my friends, made all the difference. I’m starting to think of sourdough like a cat. They don’t need a ton of attention, but they do require some, and when they feel they need it THEY NEED ATTENTION and you will regret not giving it.

When I took the lid off the pot halfway through baking I scared Wicket because I yelled “YAASSSSSS!!!!!! I am a CHAMPION!!” because I could immediately see that it had risen appropriately rather than being a wimpy flat lump like my previous two loaves.  Judging by the shape of the bread upon turning it out, if definitely needed to be supported as it baked, as I suspected. It was perhaps a bit too supported though, since it stuck slightly to the pot. This is very unusual when baking in a cast iron pot at such high heat.  It took a teeny bit of doing, but I got that guy out.

Now, we refine.  I feel like I want to compare recipes so I can make tweaks in terms of flavor. I don’t want to change the texture too much, since it was light and airy and not dense and just generally perfectish, in my opinion. I often feel that more salt is necessary in bread recipes, but sometimes that makes it behave like a lunatic.  I also want to wait a few weeks and see if my starter maturing a bit more adds more flavor. I HAVE messed with it almost constantly since it came of age.

In terms of technical execution, I need to get better at or experiment with more or different scoring.  The bread bulged a little strangely at the bottom, and I wonder if that’s because it felt constricted at the top.

Regardless of these intended changes, I am very pleased with the loaf of bread I created and with the resulting breakfast this week.  This weekends focus will be rye bread, since it’s Reuben weekend. THANK the sweet lord for my Instant Pot, so that can worry about the corned beef and vegetables while I focus on bread.  

On that topic, caraway seeds or not?  It seems to be a polarizing topic. I am a caraway enthusiast, and was just told by a guy at work about a caraway cocktail at some bar in Saratoga.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. MattHowk wants boozy shamrock shakes for this weekend, but also might need to get on this caraway cocktail thing.

Odds and ends

I feel like I have gotten nowhere lately, while simultaneously DOING ALL THE THINGS and getting it all done.  Somehow. It’s a disconcerting feeling.

I got the new pair of shoes I was desperately needing, and decided on teal with the help of some very kind coworkers who likely couldn’t have cared less when I asked their opinion, but gave it all the same.  I am so glad I went with teal! I LOVE THEM! I feel like this color must not have been available in the fall when I got my last pair before the marathon. Also, my ankle is magically feeling much better.

I’m all signed up for the Great Sacandaga half marathon!  YAY! It always feels good to make it official, even if your credit card cries in protest.  It definitely makes me feel like I NEED to get up and run when I am supposed to.

I was a little weirded out by the…informality…of the packaging, I swear it’s from Amazon

My new order of Nuun came!  I REALLY like having that instead of a cup of tea in the morning.  I just feel better and more energized, even though it’s a comparable amount of caffeine.  Maybe it’s in my head, and it’s because I know I am REALLY hydrating.

That tragic mess went down to my butt

I got my hair cut!!!!!  I haven’t cut my hair in TWO YEARS!  You might be thinking to yourself that this has NOTHING to do with running, but you would be incorrect.  It was getting to a point where even with 3 hair ties I couldn’t keep it securely up for a run, which was annoying and uncomfortable.  Then it would take a year to comb through it. I swear it knew, I was trying to shove it into a bun to go get it cut and it was legit wrapping itself around my arm like a living creature.

I wish I could do my own hair as well as my hairdresser does

MattHowk bought me a weighted blanket, which has dramatically improved my sleep. Turns out anxiety keeps you from sleeping well, WHO KNEW!   I want to carry that thing around with me everywhere, to every part of my life. I also saw that Nuun just came out with a new product called Nuun Rest which has magnesium and tart cherry for recovery.  I will be trying that as soon as possible. You don’t think about how much quality sleep improves everything until you actually have it, since most of us aren’t!

Daylight savings has sprung ahead, the jerk.  It’s darker in the morning again which makes it even harder to get up. As it gets warmer I will likely move to running with the stroller after work.  Too much exclusive treadmill work is starting to work against me now, I think. I need to build my actual practical muscles back up again and get on some hills.

So now my tasks are to look and move forward with my training plan, and kick this stupid cold.  Thanks Wicket. Preschoolers are so gross. I guess as a result, part of it is to remind myself that missing a few 3 mile midweek runs will not derail me for the half.  I know what I am doing now, I have a solid base, and I trained for a full marathon in less time than I have to prepare for this half.

When I write it down it looks so easy, and like I have it so together!!!!  I wish it felt that way….How do we do that? How do we FEEL like we’re doing as awesome as we really ARE!?

15 years

A few months after we started dating

Since yesterday was the anniversary of MattHowk and I starting to date, I feel compelled to write an ode to MattHowk.  But I supposed I can focus it to the scope of this blog.

MattHowk is the most awesome ever, and I strongly doubt that I would be doing any of the things I love best without him.  He is a wonderful husband and father and teammate in life. He is the most thoughtful and considerate person, and never ever overlooks the things that make life fun and worth living while I am focused on stressing out over every tiny detail of running life.

Hiking with our sweet big boy dog, who passed a few years ago. Clearly I have Facebook to thank for the old pictures

MattHowk has bought me each of my running watches, which really changed things for me with training.

He encouraged me to go get a real shoe fitting when I was getting injured, and repeatedly told me to stop worrying about the price of my running shoes at a time when we had far less disposable income.

He takes time off work to go to every single race and hang out with our kid for HOURS waiting for me.  

He buys me a gift to commemorate almost every race, which is so thoughtful.

He came to Ragnar with our team and kept the night crews company while helping people clean themselves off and keep water off the tents

If I mention that I am interested in something, he quietly goes out and gets me every single thing I would need to be successful at that thing.  When I mentioned that I wanted to bake baguettes for Christmas day he found me an instructional video, then went out and bought me a proofing basket, a couche, a lame, and a flipping board AND gave them to me as early gifts.  

He got me my Kitchenaid, and my Le Creuset cookware, and my Instant Pot, and TRULY believes that all of these things that I would talk myself out of wanting are NECESSITIES for me.  

He bought me a mat to stand on while I am cooking so that my body would hurt less.

He was so supportive of me wanting to start a silly blog, and takes all of my pictures for me whenever possible.  

He reminds me to hashtag Instagram posts, and bought me a new phone that would be better for taking my own pictures.  

Right after we got engaged. In a thunderstorm. In a kayak.

He ALWAYS allows me the time I need to put posts up even if it means he has to take over putting Wicket to bed on his own, which can be complete madness.

He actually believes that I can do all the things, which makes me start to believe it too.  Everything I say I might be interested in, he wholeheartedly encourages me to go after and tells me I would rock.  

On our honeymoon

He thanks me all the time for everything I do and NOTICES the balancing act that goes into it all.

There is almost always a glass of wine waiting on the table for me after a hard day at work.

When I finish a show I have been watching while I run, he almost always suggests the next show just as I am panicking about not having anything to watch.

He doesn’t let me stay in bed when I really ought to be working out, but he supports whatever I decide to do.

He bought me both of my kettlebells

He runs all of our errands during the week so I have time to train and cook for the week on the weekends

He provides constructive criticism for everything I cook and helps me analyze so I can improve.

Blocking the bride, naturally

He thinks, and tells me, that I should do more for myself.  Then he helps me figure out how to do it.

15 years ago when that bossy senior got together with that awkward college freshman, (yes I’m older than he is, SO SCANDALOUS) I had no idea we were going to come so far, or have such an awesome life together.  I am SO GLAD that he keeps sticking with me, because he sure makes life awesome. He makes it all possible.

Well that was not easy

Back on the strength training!  I have been feeling my ankle lately, and feeling my lower back a little, so I know my body is starting to feel how I have neglecting the strength training.  

MattHowk saw how I had sort of been slowly becoming disenfranchised and stressed with my kettlebell time, so he suggested an app for me to use to take all the thinking out of it for me.  PERFECT! That’s what I want! I want someone to just tell me what to do and how to do it, and not have to think about it or research the right moves blahblahblah.

It’s a kettlebell specific app, I think called Kettlbell? It is a free app, which gives you access to all but the lower body specific workouts.  You have to upgrade to the paid version for that. Full body does a fine job, I assure you. The first time I used it I had to set myself up with my height and weight, then I could move on to choosing the workout I wanted to do.

You can choose from full body, core, shoulder and back, or upper body, then once you choose you can set how long you want your workout to be.  It then pops up with a move for each 30 or 35 second interval, with a person showing you how to do it. There are rests about every 5ish minutes, and counters for both the set you are on and the overall workout duration.

The first time I used the app I was super conservative, I used my 10lb kettlebell and only did a 10 minute core workout.  MattHowk got me the 10lb kettlebell when I was getting back into working out after having Wicket. Wicket was a very small baby (and still is a very light kid even though he is taller than average) so that kettlebell felt CRAZY heavy for so long.  It makes me laugh now that I primarily use 25lb, but there are for sure moves I just absolutely can’t do yet with the 25 and NEED the 10 for. I was slightly sore after that workout, basically my body was just aware that I had done a strength workout but it felt pretty easy.

Today I did a 20 minute full body workout with the 25lb.  It was not easy. I would not have been surprised if I had barfed.  I did have to use the 10lb for some things, mostly over the head moves since I didn’t want to drop anything on myself, but used the 25lb for 90% of it.  Holy. Crap. That app is no joke. I was shaking by the end of it, and am ABSOLUTELY going to be sore. I was already sore driving to work this morning. I thought I had gotten decently strong from my little round of strength exercises I have been doing for the past few months.  I was incorrect.

If, like me, planning WHAT exercises to do when strength training is tension headache inducing, just download the app!  Maybe this one isn’t for you, but I am SURE there is something free out there that is. We all know we should be strength training and this makes it completely brainless.  I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that it never occurred to me to look for something like this, until MattHowk made me download it, then pestered me into using it. I am hooked!  It’s making me much more excited to get back to strength training the way I should, and even getting me to consider taking one run day a week back out to see how much progress I can make with it!

I will, however, suggest that if your family is sleeping while you work out, doing it someplace they are less likely to hear the excessive grunting from effort, and swearing at the lady voice telling you what to do.  I promise you, there will be swearing.

I needed the power beets for recovery after this crap

What to do when you just don’t want to (AKA the many faces and moods of Jennie Howk)

I’m changed, but I don’t want to do it

People ask me allllllll the time if I always want to run.  NO! Seriously, think about that question. Honestly, the answer is why would anyone want to ever?  Yes, I love it. For so many reasons. Yes, I am jealous when I see other people running and I’m not.  But no, I definitely do not always want to.

The next question is always HOW I make myself do it when I don’t want to.  Welp, for me, I am a VERY Type A, rigid, schedule driven person which makes it MUCH easier.  Otherwise, it’s pretty much a Nike situation. Self control kids. Just do it. Self control goes both ways.  I DON’T drink every bottle of wine in the world, all day long. I DO run the miles when I would rather be sleeping, or drinking all the wines. (I first accidentally typed winers.  I want nothing to do with winers. Just wines)

Every once in a while I give in to the desire not to.  Not the NEED not to, due to an injury or illness or over exhaustion from high mileage and training intensity, but the desire not to.  Just not feeling like it. Yesterday I just didn’t feel like it. So I didn’t. Then I fell back asleep and woke up at 6am in a PANIC because now I was officially late for my day.  I NEVER OVERSLEEP! I was late for work (I’M NEVER EVER LATE FOR WORK), and I was foggy in the brains and in a terrible mood alllllll day long.

I promised myself that to make up for it, I would run when I got home.  Running on the treadmill after work is the LAST THING I wanted to be doing.  I wanted to lay on the couch and drink wine and glower at everyone and be in a bad mood.  But MattHowk wouldn’t let me.

I got home and changed, threw on Midge Maisel, and ran 3 miles.  After a mile I literally felt lighter. Like, SO MUCH BETTER. I came upstairs after 3 miles, a completely different person and mom.  I had a glass of wine while I got dinner ready for Wicket, opened the Clinique order that came, and just like that, I was completely restored.

SO, that’s how I make myself do it.  I force myself to remember how much better I feel when I run.  Or exercise at all. I force myself to remember that it’s really not that much time out of my day, and the benefits are far longer reaching than the short term annoyance of doing it or payoff of initial laziness and desire to not do it.  Basically, I remember what a douche I am and how badly my brain works when I don’t run or exercise. Turns out being lazy and making lazy choices just leads to feeling like crap and really isn’t worth it.

At least I did it

This morning, when my alarm went off, I remembered this and dragged my body up and to the treadmill.  I felt better within a mile. And magically, I haven’t made any huge mistakes at work today AND my kid told me he loved me 47 times before I left the house this morning.  Coincidence? I THINK NOT. (Full disclosure, I DID give him 6 m&ms with his breakfast)

Why would there be a badge for running past your mileage, then another that tells you to retire your shoes? What does that even mean?
This picture is solely to show how well my makeup held up after a full day of work AND a sweaty half hour treadmill run!

The fight continues

God that sweatshirt is in horrible shape, I think it’s time for it to go

We’re not QUITE at blood feud status, but I’m bearing a grudge FO SHO.

I baked another loaf of sourdough.  It was MUCH better than the first, but still too flat and not perfect.

Just as I said would happen, the starter came out of the fridge Thursday to start warming up and getting bubbly.  I found a written version of the recipe I saw in the YouTube Master class, so I decided to go with that. I thought it would be enough for two loaves but it wasn’t, it was just one.  Just as well. This recipe did not call for me to feed the starter before using it, so I didn’t.

Ready for a 4 hour rest

Since this baker is Irish, all measurements were in grams.  Which is fine, I have a food scale. I painstakingly measured everything out, mixed it up and kneaded it, then went through the process of three 10 minute rests with kneading after each one.  I didn’t put it in my Kitchenaid, I kneaded by hand, which was easier than I had played up in my mind (weirdo) and was pleased to see the dough doing exactly what it was supposed to.

That looks smooth and elastic to me

I let it proof for 4 hours, punched it back down, then put it in my floured proofing basket for the long haul rise.  The recipe said it could go in the fridge overnight, but I left it out since my house is cold. When I got up in the morning I was PSYCHED to see that it had done what it was supposed to! SO psyched that I forgot to take a picture, which I really should have.

I turned it out of the basket, and baked it in the Dutch oven so I wouldn’t have to steam the oven.  It baked at 450 for 50 minutes, 25 covered then 25 uncovered. Immediately upon turning it into the pot I could see that we were going to have a flat problem again, and I was not wrong.  Not as flat as last time, but it definitely needs support as it bakes.

It smelled AMAZING cooking, definitely like sourdough.  It looks amazing, and it tastes excellent. It’s not as dense as the last recipe.  I’m definitely using it for sandwiches tonight, because even though it’s sort of weird and skinny I want to taste it. If worst comes to worst I’ll make the grilled cheeses open face.  Grilled Jesus. They’ll still be delicious in our homemade tomato bisque.

Next weekend we battle again!  I’ll use the same recipe I used this time, and I’m working on building my starter back up this week since I used so much of it for this recipe.  I’ll do almost everything the same, but I will let it proof overnight in the fridge this time, and will use my 5 quart Dutch oven instead of the 7 to try to encourage it to be a bit more tall and less flat.  It seems to seek out the sides. I’ll also do a bit more research throughout the week to see if I will feed the starter before using it this time.

What should I make with it?  Corn chowder? Chili? Potato soup?  Potato soup sounds gooooooooooooooooood.  With crispy bacon on top.

If at first you don’t succeed

And MAN did I NOT succeed!

For Christmas, Matt’s Dad and Stepmother got us the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  This thing is huge and the most comprehensive cookbook I have ever met. It has an excellent section on breads, which we know is the way to my heart, including a recipe for a sourdough starter.  Every year I make goals instead of resolutions, and one of my 2019 goals was to learn to make sourdough. It was fated.

A few weeks ago I started the starter.  It went great! It was doing everything it was supposed to, and it smelled like sourdough!  I gave it an extra week hanging out in the fridge, then last Saturday I took it out to get it ready to bake with it.  I portioned some off for Dawn (who was much more successful than I was) and got it ready to go!

I got cocky.  And impatient.  I didn’t allow enough time for the starter to keep hanging out doing it’s thing, OR for the bread to go through the proofing process enough.  I forced one rise in a warm oven without steam (even though the recipe called for it) then threw it in the Dutch Oven and baked it. I wasn’t JUST being lazy doing this, I have had success forcing the rise with the other bread I make ALL THE TIME, so I thought it would be ok.

It was not ok.  It was so flat and shapeless and dense!  I had planned to make paninis for dinner, so it was a VERY good thing I baked early enough to recognize my failure and make something else.  It smelled and looked amazing, it was just flat and wrong. I haven’t failed this badly with a new cooking project in a long time.

Today is Thursday, and I intend to try my soup and sandwiches meal again this Sunday.  I CAN DO THIS. The starter came out of the fridge today to start getting warmer. Friday I will do whatever feeding needs to be done and let it sit until Saturday.  Saturday I will mix up my dough, and this time will not try a no knead method. I will likely use my Kitchenaid with the dough hook, then proof in one of the buckets MattHowk gave me for Christmas, for the appropriate amount of time.  

I did some research into different recipes, and see that sourdough needs to be supported as it rises (thanks Dr Google).  This time, I will put a loaf in my proofing basket and another in a dish for the second rise. I found a “master class” on Youtube, and he says sourdough lends itself well to a very long slow rise, so I will likely let it rise overnight.  Since I am going to make two loaves I am going to experiment with one loaf on the counter and one in the fridge. I will then bake nice and early in the day.

I suspect that one cause of my failure was the fact that I keep my house miserly cold in the winter.  I don’t want to pay for heat, so I make the guys bundle up. Sorry guys. That, however, is not the most optimum environment for bread baking.  So it will be interesting to see if there is a difference between a long counter rise or one in the fridge. I AM planning to bake in the Dutch Oven again, I’ll just do one loaf at a time. I think another cause for failure was not giving my starter enough time to hang out. It’s awfully dry looking (see above).

We have to learn from our mistakes, right?  Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what “they” say?  This weekend I will be the PICTURE OF PATIENCE, and I demand two beautiful loaves of bread as reward for my unnatural reserve.  I will then grill the crap out of those babies and melt nice cheddar and bacon into the most delicious sandwich. I WILL SUCCEED!!!

I swear to the sweet baby Jesus, if I don’t succeed this time it’s a blood feud.  I don’t suck at baking bread. A BLOOD FEUD!

Here we go again

I don’t really like wearing tshirts to run

I started the training plan yesterday for the Great Sacandaga half marathon!  I will admit, for me at least, running with a purpose DOES feel different.

Both yesterday and today I wanted to cry when my alarm went off at 4:30am, but I dragged my ass out of bed and hit the treadmill.  Last week, I did not. I am a human who needs stakes, without stakes it’s easy to fill that time in with other things. Like beautiful, glorious sleep.

I’m using the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 training plan, the one that focuses on endurance rather than speed.  PRs and time goals are lovely, but they aren’t really my jam. I just like to pick a reasonable pace and commit to it for the entirety.  Make a plan and execute it!

I think I do need to change this up a little though. I know I had said that I want to do 2 days a week of strength training, and I do.  I really do. But only 4 days a week of running makes me itchy. So I guess I maybe need to work in strength as a second workout one day.  I also am not going to be running both days on the weekends. Much as that seems like it is ideal since I am not working those days and can run outside at a reasonable time with the stroller, or find a sitter, after trying it for a while last summer for Ragnar training it is not actually as reasonable as it seems.  I am fine with taking one rest day a week, but I need that rest day to be a REST DAY. Not just a day during the week where I don’t run before work. I really look forward to having one day where I can sleep and not put in contacts or live by an alarm. I don’t think that’s so much to ask. I will also not be running more than 6 miles for mid week runs. I don’t have unlimited time, and am limited in when I HAVE time to run.

I NEEEEEDDDD the weather to improve.  Yesterday I may or may not have yelled to another mom in the preschool drop off line that I’m starting to take the weather personally.  The treadmill is lovely for maintaining, and I do think it keeps you ready to get outside in terms of cardio vascular fitness, but my muscles are suffering.  A few months of exclusively running on the treadmill is leaving me significantly less lean.

I am trying a new protein powder for this training cycle, since I felt the Tailwind really worked for me during the last one.  MattHowk’s stepmother compared the Tailwind to the Vega she was using and found that the only real difference was the massive amount of sugar that Tailwind has.  I don’t need the extra sugar, so she picked me up some Vega at BJ’s last week! I’m excited to see the effect, but I probably won’t start using it until my runs hit 8 miles or so.  I am also adding beet powder to my recovery routine. I’m really hoping to be proactive about keeping everything healthy and not having any injuries, and this is supposed to help improve muscle recovery and blood circulation with improved cardiovascular health.  Its supposed to be effective for pre workout, but I am planning to take it after each run. I’m a grown woman and I do what I want.

sweaty sweat face

Sort of uncharacteristically, I have a few items left on my to do list that need to happen still for this training cycle.  Blame it on being stuck inside on the treadmill. I do need to order another pair of running shoes, the only reason I am still sneaking by on the ones from the marathon is because of the “softer” running surface the treadmill provides.  I also need to register for the race (hopefully I will do this before the end of this week) and I need to order more Nuun. After running in the morning I feel a lot better when I use the caffeinated Nuun than when I drink a cup of tea, and it takes so much less time.

So here we go again.  Hopefully this is just going to focus me since it’s such shorter long run mileage!  Writing this made me realize that I spend an awful lot of money to put myself through this torture.  I swear I love it. But I want to love it IN THE LIGHT.

Does anyone want a Friends and Family discount code for Nuun?  I have one if you waaannnnttttt ittttttttttt.

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