Monthly Archives: April 2011

ZOMGWedding!

April the twenty-ninth will hereafter be a rather famous anniversary, I suppose.

But I just want to say: I was four years ahead of that game.

Balcony kiss.

Happy anniversary, babe!  We may not live in a palace, and we spend our days being stalked by two large felines rather than a hoard of paparazzi, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Here’s to many more anniversaries!

[Photos: Steph Carson Photography]

Yeast infatuation

When you’re a total beginner at something and you put your mind to it, you often see huge spurts of improvement.

I’m sure that’s what is happening here.  But…nonetheless.  ZOMG!  LOOK AT THIS THING:

That right there?   That’s a pretty impressive loaf of bread, if I do say so myself!

My second batch of dough made via the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method was definitely a step up from the first.  This was the first of two loaves from the batch.  Look at how closely it resembles the picture on the cover of the book!

Things I did differently to the dough batch this time around:

– I used WARM water instead of cool-ish when mixing the yeast initially.  I still don’t have a thermometer, but I conjured some imagery and did my best to guess.  100* is the temperature of hot tub water, so I tried to imagine whether I’d squeal if I stuck my toes in it after a day of skiing.

– I let the initial rise go for about three hours, instead of two.

– I added some chopped dried rosemary.

My dough batch made enough dough for two loaves (half of the recipe).  For the first loaf (pictured above), I pulled half of the refrigerated dough out the following afternoon.  I shaped it and let it rise for about an hour.

The result: a puffy loaf with a delightful crust, with just a hint of rosemary flavor.  (Next time I’ll add more herbs!)

The only unfortunate part was that it was consumed within 24 hours.  O HAI, carb coma!

I digested for a few days – and then was ready to make the second loaf.  The dough had been sitting in the refrigerator for several days, and even though the book insists that wet dough can be refrigerated for up to a week, I had my doubts about it.

I scraped it out this morning, shaped it into a dome, and placed it strategically on top of the dryer with a load of warm clothing rumbling gently below.

(The ever-present layer of drying sports bras kept it company.)

After 90 minutes, I was truly surprised that it seemed to have almost doubled in size.  I sprinkled some coarse sea salt on top and popped it in the oven.

Although it was slightly denser than the first loaf, this one had a delicious, slightly sour flavor.  Almost like sourdough.  Salty, chewy sourdough.

Have I mentioned that I’m never buying bread from the grocery store again?

Next up?  I just might try my hand at a baguette.   Dangerous.

And oh-hey-guess-what?  As a thank you for putting up with my excessive yammering about bread-making, I’m having a giveaway!

The folks at Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day have agreed to give a free copy to one of you!  I think this is pretty awesome, because I do think it’s a damn fine book.  As someone who has never been good at baking anything, I’m floored at how easy making bread has been, following the guidelines outlined in this book.  And the fact that it’s co-written by a trained pastry chef and a regular dude who just really likes bread makes the prose very easy – and even enjoyable – to read.

Anyway, entering is simple:

  1. Like Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day on on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BreadIn5?ref=mf) and leave me a comment telling me you did.
  2. Follow @ArtisanBreadIn5 on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/ArtisanBreadIn5) and leave me a comment telling me you did.
  3. Tweet/FB about this giveaway, blog about this giveaway, or write a poem about this giveaway and share it with the class and leave me a comment telling me you did.
Pretty easy!  And I’d highly recommend you enter, because this book is rad.
Anyway, I’m off to sip my Cab and stuff my face with warm-from-the-oven fake-sourdough.  Supposedly there is another round of tornado coming this way tomorrow, and if I die, it’s going to be full of good bread and wine.
Happy Hump Day!
(FTC awkward words of requirement: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is providing a free copy to the winner of this giveaway.  However, I originally bought the book myself, and the opinions expressed here are completely my own.  As it happens, I just love this book so much that I contacted their PR people and begged them to share.  You’re welcome.)

*Update 5/5/11: Giveaway has closed, but feel free to leave a comment if you just wanna chat about delicious bread or write random poetry!*

And so it begins

Great news, readers!  I’ve crafted a little something special today.  I’m pretty sure I can just repost it daily for the next several months.  This is going to save me so much time!

Because until further notice, every day is going to start out like this.

Followed shortly by this…

….and then this.

During the final half-mile of sweaty torture, I’ll start fantasizing about my favorite post-run treat….

…and then begin cursing anew when I remember that it’s only 7 AM.

At least there’s another form of ice-cold indulgence waiting for me.

Dear God: thank you for creating Freon.  (Er…maybe that was DuPont. Whatever.)  

So, yeah.  I really, really hate running first thing in the morning.  But it’s an unfortunate inevitability of warm weather out here.  It’s either the alarm clock or the treadmill.  The alarm clock wins that one – but only by a frizzy, humidity-enhanced hair.

Looking back, I am pretty sure that I wrote this exact same post in 2010, bemoaning the arrival of hot weather and my new morning running schedule.  Last year, I lived in NYC.  Last year, I wrote this post in July.

Have I mentioned that it’s only April?  

I guess that’s what I get for moving south.

Sigh.  It’s going to be a long summer.

On those toe shoes

Alrighty.  I’ve had these bizarre things for a couple of weeks now.

And I maintain that they’re pretty bizarre, which was sort of my impression when I bought them, but I figured I’d give them a shot.  A couple of people have asked how I’m liking them, so I thought I’d give a little update.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve worn them running a handful of times – just for a few minutes, never more than a mile – before switching in to my regular shoes and finishing the run.  I will fully admit that I have been toying with them mostly out of curiosity, and not out of any strong desire to become a member of the Cult of the Barefoot.

Impressions:

  • While running, they are rather unpleasant.  I’m slapping the concrete like it insulted my momma and I feel like I’ve gained about 50 pounds.  (Running on dirt or a rubberized track would undoubtedly be more pleasant.  But that isn’t at all convenient for my everyday runs, unfortunately.)
  • My calves definitely feel tight after I run in them – not so much right then, but the next day.  From what I understand, that is to be expected.  (I tend to run on my mid-foot in regular shoes anyway, which results in perpetually tight calves, so I don’t know that being in the Vibrams really changed my stride all that much, but the lack of cushion was definitely a change.)
  • Pretty sure I look like a loon running around downtown Raleigh in these things.
  • As much as I’m not a fan of them for running, I am surprisingly smitten with just wearing them around.  They are really, really comfortable.  I wear them to the grocery store (shut up) and occasionally the bar (no really, shut up).
I know people have strong opinions when it comes to the whole minimalist/barefoot versus traditional shoe thing.  Honestly, I really don’t. Having given it quite a bit of thought over the last year or so, I think the theory behind barefoot/ultra-minimal/zero-heel-drop running makes sense, but, like…shoes are pretty nice, too.   And as one of my favorite internet running buddies is fond of saying, our ancestors ran without sports bras too, and I’m not about to give those up.
And you know what?  You can reap some of the benefits of going barefoot without spending $90 on a pair of foot gloves.  Doing barefoot strides after a workout as a great way to strengthen those little muscles.  Choosing a lighter, more flexible trainer also gets you a little closer to nature.  (There are so many of these on the market right now, it makes my head spin.)
Anyway, the bizarre toe shoes will definitely stay in rotation as a training tool.  If I lifted weights, I’d lift weights in them (but we all know that I don’t.)   We have a beach trip planned for the summer, and I’ll definitely bring them along for some beach running.

And for wearing to the bar?  Most definitely.  I might even wear them with my compression sleeves to complete the look.

Today’s EAT:  Gah, I have a shit-ton of fresh basil to use up right now!  How’s that for a white girl problem?

So I had a big pile of fresh mozzarella with basil for lunch.  I can pretty much make a meal out of cheese any day.
Today’s DRINKCatching up on a weekend wine…

This Lucinda + Millie Organic Chardonnay, sipped on Friday night alongside crab cakes, was wonderful.  Very fruity with lots of apple and pear and a little orange, but not overly sweet.  At $9, it was a great bottle that I’d buy again!
Today’s RUN: Was hot.  Seriously hot.  It’s only April and I fear that it’s time to switch over to morning workouts…until, like November.  I’m crying inside.  I hate mornings.
But I hate slogging through miserable evening runs more, so oh well.
Last week was a weird week, with lots of rest days:
M – 7 easy (1:00, 8:34 pace)
Tu – OFF
W – 2.2 easy (18:40, 8:29 pace)
Th – OFF
F – 13 long run, mixed bridle and trails (2:03:55, 9:32 pace)
Sa – OFF
Su – 7.3 easy, greenway, (1:13, 10:00 pace) + 4 w/3 at tempo, treadmill, (31:04, 7:42 pace)

Total: 33.5 miles.  I suppose that’s not bad for a 4-day week.

Today’s QUESTION: Have you ever tried Vibrams or the like?  Would you try them?  Am I a douchebaguette for wearing them to the bar?  Actually, don’t answer that last one…
(Edit: I don’t know why the paragraph spacing in this post is so wonky.  I can’t seem to fix it.  I’m going to just blame WordPress and go to bed, because I don’t feel like staying up all night trying to figure it out.)

Sunday Funday, Holiday Edition

Weird confession: sometimes I regret choosing the name of this blog.  Because: look how many other blogs have some combination of EAT [WHATEVER] RUN in the name!  When I started blogging, I honestly had no clue about this.  (And had definitely never heard of Eat Pray Love.  Ugh.)

No, I just thought I was being really clever.

Yeah, along with about a zillion other people.

Anyway, sometimes I regret it – and sometimes I don’t, because lack of originality aside, it just fits me perfectly.

Like yesterday, which was truly an eat, drink and run kind of day:

9:00 AM: Wake up.  See sun streaming in through window.  Check weather app on phone and decide that running needs to happen sooner rather than later.  Because as much as I love a good Sunday afternoon cookout, I don’t want to be the meat.

10:30 AM: Finally hit the greenway, husband in tow.  It’s his long run for the week.  7.5 ridiculously sweaty miles.  It’s 85* and 85% humidity by the time we finish.

Mmm, salt.

Noon: Back home.  Ponder measly weekly mileage and lack of speedwork and decide to hit the treadmill for a mini tempo run before hitting the shower.

12:45 PM: Shower, clean apartment, fold laundry.  Bleh.

2:00 PM: Time for mimosas!

(With hand-squeezed orange juice….because, uh, I forgot to buy orange juice.  Comments the hubs: “So really this is just champagne with a splash of orange juice.”  Right-o.)

3:00 PM: Breakfast time!

I love that strawberries are starting to come in to season here!  Also, I love 3 PM breakfasts.

5:00 PM: Emerge from bacon-and-champagne coma and decide to go for a walk around the neighborhood.  Gather beverages for the road and transfer them to disposable coffee cups.  Discretion!

My cup of Triangle Brewing Company White Ale actually did look like a latte, with its foamy head.

This beer was okay.  A little too sour and puckery.  Although perhaps I should give it another chance.  Maybe at a time when I haven’t recently overloaded my taste buds with maple syrup and sweet champagne.

7:00 PM: Dinner discussions.  The hubs says that he wants fried chicken.  That sounds like crazy talk to me.  I want something lighter.  I leave him to acquire his own chicken and make myself a nice panzanella salad instead:

Recipe: Panzanella with Balsamic Syrup.

8:30 PM: Asleep on the couch.  The mark of an excellent Funday.

Eating, drinking and running.  I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.  And while it make for an overplayed blog title, it’s how I roll.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend, too!

Soggy, but happy

Miles run: 13

Elevation gained: 1,300′

Minutes spent running in the pouring rain: 123

I thought that my waning motivation might benefit from a new running route.  So I hit up the notorious Turkey Creek bridle out at Umstead.  Holy hills.

I ran the bridle path until it ended and then explored some single-track stuff for a few miles before heading back to the car.  The rain started at about mile 3.  It began as a sprinkle but before long was coming down in sheets.

It was hilly.  I was soaked to the bone.  It was slow.  (Those single-track trails are murder on the pace, especially with all of the slippery roots and downed trees/debris from the recent storms.)  By all accounts, this run should have been a miserable experience.  But it was actually pretty fun!

Oh hey, running motivation?  I think I may have rediscovered you!

Tonight, I celebrated by enjoying dinner (er…a soft pretzel with beer cheese dip) on Raleigh’s most fabulous bar patio.

The Boylan Bridge Brewpub can be kind of a scene when the weather’s nice, but that view?  Makes fighting the crowds of hipsters and their fixed-gear bikes totally worthwhile.

Although beer is clearly the house specialty, I indulged in a cocktail, because it just sounded really interesting:

Pear vodka, yuzu juice, lime and cascade hops leaves.  Yum.

Apparently, tomorrow is Easter.  We have no real plans, aside from a run in the morning.  Followed by mimosas.

Hey, it’s a holiday.  Might as well celebrate!

Pints of spring

It’s officially that time of the year when people get all excited about eating seasonally.

But you know what I love?  Drinking seasonally.

Summer beers are all wheat and fruit – perfectly refreshing to drink by the pitcher on a hot day.  Fall brings the usual suspects: pumpkin and nutmeg and malty Oktoberfests.  In the winter we get dark, spicy, boozy ales, crafted for sipping under a blanket.

But spring?  Spring seasonals seem to be rather varied and unpredictable.  Much like spring weather.

I kind of like it, though.  Keeps things interesting.

Here are a couple I’ve tried recently, but haven’t had a chance to blog about.

Studying this bottle of Flying Dog Garde Dog Seasonal, I had no idea what to expect.  I don’t think I’d ever tried a Bier de Garde before.  And I don’t usually think “French!” when I think “beer.”

Mais oui!  I really enjoyed this.  One part wheaty and summery.  One part tart and hoppy.  Totally easy to drink and won’t leave you in a coma on the sofa, at 5.5% ABV.   Perfectly fitting for spring!

On the other hand, Red Hook’s Mudslinger Spring Ale, an English Brown, rather turned me off the first time I tried it.

I think maybe I just have trouble with Brown Ales.  They always taste watery and bitter to me.

I gave it another chance the following night and warmed up to it a bit.  Quite malty and a little on the flat side, it wasn’t exactly offensive, but nothing about it made me think of springtime.  Meh.  5.8% ABV.

That’s spring for you, I guess.  One day the skies are warm and sunny, and the next they’re dumping freezing rain.

Unfortunately, I can’t blame the weather for the fact that I didn’t run today.  Hello, third rest day in a row.  What the hell is wrong with me?  I am cranky and unmotivated and my head is just not in the game this week.

Oh well.  At least the week is almost over!

Any other spring seasonal beer recommendations?

The ten minute rule

Missing: my motivation.  Please call if found.

I’m not sure why, but getting out the door has been hard recently.  It’s like, as soon as I pat myself on the back for grudgingly getting a workout done, it’s time for the next one.

For two weeks now, I’ve been planning and re-scheduling and re-planning and re-re-scheduling the same stupid track workout.  I bagged on it twice last week and ran easy instead.  Then I was going to to it yesterday, but decided to take a rest day instead.

Tonight, I was really-really-like-super-for-serious going to do it.

I kicked the cat off my lap, dragged myself out of my desk chair, grabbed my watch, and laced up my shoes.  I tried to envision myself striding happily and gracefully around the track.

It seemed impossible.

In desperation, I brought in the good old ten minute rule

“Look, self,” I told myself.  “You may not be up for this track workoutBut you are most certainly going to get out and do something.”

Okay, I thought.  I can do something.

“Run for ten minutes, you lazy ass.  Just ten minutes.  If, at the end of those ten minutes, you still don’t want to run, you can stop.  You can even walk home if you want.  Ten minutes.”

Out I went, loping slowly along the first mile of my usual 5-7 mile route.

Minute one: “My arms feel heavy.”

Minute two: “My shoes are too tight.” [Brief pause to re-tie shoes]

Minute three: “Ugh, people standing outside a restaurant smoking.” [Cross to the other side of the street]

Minute four: “Is this a hill?  I always thought this stretch was flat.  Why does it feel like I’m running uphill?”

Minute five: “My shoes are too loose.” [Brief pause to re-tie shoes again.]

Minute six: “My shoes just plain suck.” [I was wearing a new/different brand and style. They’re probably fine, I was just in a mood.]

Minute seven: “My ponytail is too tight and my head itches.”

Minute eight: “Did I remember to lock the door?”

Minute nine: “Seriously, I don’t think I locked the door.”

Minute ten: “Eff this.”

I wish I could tell you a motivating and inspiring story about how, after ten minutes, I felt fantastic and went on to have a great run.  Because that’s how the ten-minute rule works, right? 

Usually.  But today, I really did stop after ten minutes.  I really just did not want to be running.  I gave it a fair chance.  And it still sucked.

Motivating tricks like this only work if you honor the failures as well as the successes.  So I stopped my watch and had a nice walk home.

I think I need to shake things up, so tomorrow I’m going to get up “early” (for me) and run first thing in the morning.

Anyone want to meet me at the track?  Because I still owe the running gods a speed workout.

And I’ve gotta thing I owe it to myself, too, at this point.  I’ll keep trying.  One of these days, it’ll happen.

If this post left you feeling disappointed and unmotivated – well, I don’t blame you.  It was kind of a crappy post.  Hopefully I’ll be back on the horse – er, magical rainbow unicorn – tomorrow.  Until then, check me out elsewhere on the interwebs:

Guest post over at InTheGym, in which I discuss underwear and beer.  Doin’ mah blog proud!

– I’m now blogging for my racing team.  Today we are discussing Ticks!  Gross, but necessary.

That’s it for tonight.  See ya tomorrow.

Making (and breaking) bread

It’s only taken me three months to make some progress on the first item on that list of meaningless things to learn in 2011.

Flour, water, yeast, salt.  Four simple ingredients.  That means there must be some time, energy and skill involved in making this stuff…or else everyone would be doing it.

In which case…my efforts are doomed.  But that won’t stop me from trying!

The last time I attempted bread (and that was an easy quick bread, so it didn’t really count), Jess recommended taking a look at the book Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg.  So I got it.  And I read it.  [And it told me that I needed a pizza stone, so I risked my life to acquire one.]

Francois and Hertzberg describe airy, crusty loaves, which purportedly can be crafted with no fancy equipment and minimal talent and effort.  It sounds too good to be true.  I’m not sure I fully understand the culinary science behind their approach, but basically you make “wet dough” ahead of time and refrigerate it.  Something about hanging out in the fridge negates the need for yeast-proofing and kneading.  And when you want fresh bread, you just take out a hunk of dough, let it rise for half an hour, and bake it.

Worth a shot, right?

So over the weekend I made my dough.  I literally threw it together during a commercial break.  If I were Desi Davila, I’d have been hard pressed to run a marathon-pace mile in the time that this took.

(Also, if I were Desi Davila, I’d be out celebrating my off-the-charts awesomeness right now instead of blogging about a stupid loaf of bread.)

Anyway.  Putting the dough together was super quick.  I figured that if I were to screw up, it would be related to the yeast, so I played it safe and used cool-ish water to avoid killing it.  (The book claims that this is no problem, as long as you extend the rise time.  I let it sit for four hours before sticking it in the fridge.)

Tonight, I grabbed a hunk ‘o dough and let it sit out for about 40 minutes.  It didn’t seem like it had risen much, but…oh well.  I carved a “scallop” pattern before transferring it to the hot pizza stone.

Thirty minutes later:

Smaller and denser than a bakery loaf, but pretty darn cute nonetheless!

And that nice crusty crust!

I’m not sure what I can to do make it puffier.  I definitely did not get any of those delectable chewy air bubbles in the interior, like you get with bakery bread.  Any experienced bread bakers want to weigh in here?

In any case, I felt pretty good about this first attempt.  And as always, I do realize that I have impeccable timing: apologies to my Jewish readers who are swearing off fluffy baked things as of tonight.

I guess that just means more crusty bread for me!

Today’s EAT: I think I let that loaf cool for all of five minutes before attacking it with a knife and moving it to my dinner plate.

With thinly-sliced brie and smoked wild salmon, grapes and salad.  I love no-cook dinners!

And I love smoked salmon, but another member of this household has me beat.  The fat panther went apeshit when I opened the package.

I caved and shared.  Because our vet has previously pointed out that fish oil might be good for his mild kitty dandruff – and this is pretty much the same thing, right?  (Although as the hubs pointed out: “I’m pretty sure the vet didn’t mean $20/lb smoked salmon.”  True.)

Also, I thought dinner should be a little light.  I dug in to this thing several times this morning/afternoon.

A giant bag of tiny candy bars – from Costco, of course.  I’m not even a big candy person but for some reason I could not stop unwrapping mini Butterfingers while watching the Boston coverage today.  (And obsessively refreshing my bib-stalking page as a certain someone closed in on a stellar PR!)

Today’s DRINK: A nice glass of red sounded good tonight.

Enter this “Yard Dog” red from Red Heads Studio in Australia.  60% Petit Verdot, 20% Cab, 20% Merlot.  I guess it is supposed to be a blend of “neglected” grapes – which come together to create a tough mutt?  Not sure about all that, but I do know that for an $8 bottle, I really like this wine.  Lots of cherry flavors.  Full-bodied, but easy to drink.  (Purchased at Whole Foods.)

Today’s RUN: An easy seven miles.  My calves are still crampy from yesterday’s mileage, which is a little annoying.  I’ll be sporting my compression sleeves at work tomorrow!

Last week’s recap:

M – 7 easy (1:01:45, 8:48 pace)
Tu – AM 3.4 easy (30:00, 8:49 pace), PM 4.4 easy (40:00, 9:05 pace)
W – OFF
Th – 4.1 easy (35:00, 8:32 pace)
F – 7.3 easy (1:05, 8:53 pace)
Sa – 5K race, 8.1 total (1:07, 8:14 pace)
Su – AM 7.6 easy (1:02, 8:09 pace), PM 6.1 easy (1:03, 10:19 pace)

Total: 48.1 miles.  Not bad…but I totally ignored the concept of speedwork and didn’t actually get a long run in.  Oops.

Today’s QUESTION: Any tricks or tips on getting bread to grow?  It looked like it had doubled when I left it to sit for its first rise, just after mixing it.  But today, after I took it out of the fridge to bake it, it pretty much stayed the same size.  Meh.

Seven Things Sunday

(1) I am blogging from a bar right now.  Our internet is out.  That little tornado that I joked about yesterday?  That was apparently some serious shit.  Like, a lot of people lost their homes and a handful even died.  Horrible and sad.

Which is why I’m not complaining too much about our cable and internet being down since last night.  The worst damage sustained by our household was borne by my little chili pepper plant, which had to be re-potted this morning.  A mere mile away, buildings were seriously damaged.  One had its roof ripped off.  Scary.

We have electricity and a roof over our heads and a car to transport us to bars with internet.  Pretty lucky, actually.

(2) This Brooklyn IPA is delicious.

This glass sucks, though.  There’s a big hole in the top and I keep finding it empty!

(3) I had a nice meal planned out for tonight.  But…

…it’s starting to look like we’re having loaded cheese fries for dinner.

(4) I did a weird double today: an eight-miler in the morning with some new running friends, and a six-miler a couple of hours later, with the hubs.  Even though all of the miles were mellow-paced and there was a substantial break between the runs, I am freaking wiped.  After fourteen total miles.  Remind me of what those marathon-training twenties are like, someone?

(5) Which reminds me, I need a fall marathon.  Preferably something situated in late October on a fast course within driving or easy flying distance from Raleigh.  Any suggestions?

(6) After our run, the hubs and I went to Costco.  This is a dangerous idea to begin with (he is easily distracted and will take forever to get out of there and buy all sorts of superfluous stuff if I don’t keep him focused) but today was especially bad.

I have now received a Blu-Ray player as an anniversary present.

Nothing says “I love you and am so happy to celebrate four years of marriage!” like having your monsters appear slightly sharper and your gunshots slightly louder.

This is almost as exciting as the time I got a dart board for my birthday.

Thanks so much, honey!

(7) Don’t you love it when bloggers do these numbered “X things!” posts instead of coming up with cohesive prose?

I know.  But we all need to slack off from time to time.

And with that, I’m gonna order another IPA and sip peacefully until the hubs is done with his work stuff and we can return to our internet-and-cable-barren – but thankfully structurally intact – home.

Our internet may be cut off – but I’m not.  Another pint, bartender, please!