Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bread: 1, Steph 1

On Friday, since I'm not running, I thought I'd made a stab at baking bread. It's on my list, after all. My first attempt was many years ago and was a complete disaster. The bread looked lovely, but the sourdough starter had "turned' and therefore the bread was inedible.

Anyway, back to Friday. I gathered the ingredients and the Cook's Illustrated cookbook and got ready to make pizza crust for dinner. You see, the bread recipes all required bread flour and we didn't get to the store until too late to make them.

So, I started the pizza crust and made a list of stuff to buy at the grocery store. I put the pizza dough in the oven with hot water just like Alton Brown did the other night and we went to the store. Alas, when the rising time was over, it was not a puffy and delicious dough. It was some kind of gooey monster. We put in the garbage and had to go out for pizza instead.

Bread: 1, Steph: 0

Before realizing the crust disaster (while still full of confidence), I started a sponge to make bread on Saturday. For all of you that have never made bread before (me included), a sponge is basically a little bit of the dough that you make ahead of time and put in the fridge overnight to grow. So, on Saturday, we made the rest of the dough, added the sponge and some salt and continued with the recipe. There was not a lot of kneading. Apparently "Crusty Italian Bread" does not like be handled a lot.

Here are the results:


Yeah, you are supposed to let the stone heat up in the oven for an hour for a reason. Apparently this is not just a waste of energy and I shouldn't have skipped it.

Side view:

Check it out! Real bread!

How cool is that?

Doug had gone to the hockey game with the boys, so the girls and I did a taste test after taking the dog for a walk:

Dagny had Nutella and jam on her bread:

As you can tell, the Nutella was her favorite even though she also tried Annika's toppings.

Here is Annika making a thoughtful comparison of the bread pieces.

The honey chevre that I bought at Trader Joe's was her favorite. Trader Joes is deadly to the wallet if you go in hungry. Oh well. The honey chevre is awfully good. The plain honey is good too, though. I got to eat everyone's leftovers.

All in all, not bad bread. The loaf was huge, though. We've been eating it for three days. Next time I'll make three small loaves and freeze two. Also, you have to mix the salt in better than I did. Some pieces were pretzel-ish and some pieces were too plain.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring

I wrote a very long and thoughtful post on the political situation and political philosophy (believe it or not). I spent a long time revising and rewriting so as not to alienate anyone.

Then, I had a work phone call and the next time I looked up, I had missed the bus.


So, if your kindergarten or first grader comes home on the bus and you aren't outside - they don't get off the bus. Yes, gone are the days where kids let themselves into the house.

Panic ensued.

I called the neighbors and hoped against hope that the bus was late. As I stood in the driveway in the rain with the cell and regular phones and the directory in my hands trying to figure out what to do, the bus came back.

Our driver has a "layover" before his next route so he goes back by to catch any kids whose parents are late. Bless him. He will be getting some cookies for Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Annika was unfazed.

I took that as a sign that my post was doomed.

Go out to the internet and read what you can. Read Atlas Shrugged and think how many more burdens the workers in this country can bear before they just give up.

In other news, in all of the limping on the bad heel, I've injured the forefoot. There will be no running this weekend. Maybe not even next week. The endorphins are not flowing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday!

Yesterday was Dagny's birthday. She is three and completely full of herself. Doug was responsible for getting her gifts - it was a Sleeping Beauty theme so she got a beautiful dress-up dress, a Barbie and the movie. We got pizza and watched the movie for dinner. What a fun evening! We will be having more family movie nights this year.

But TODAY was the party. Monster Party Rentals brought the bounce house, I borrowed tables from all of our friends and the usual suspects turned up for a fun party. It was a beautiful day and I think everyone had a good time.

This is my cousin, Fletcher. He is very serious about this cookie cake. I think he had two pieces because I remember giving him one with blue icing. Hee! : )

Here is a crowd shot. In the back row, from the left are Pete, my mom, Grammy and Robin (Fletcher's mom). At the tables are Carmella, Caroline, Annika and Sarah. Then Eve, Wyatt, Dagny (in outfit #3), Kate and Alex.
Carmella and Annika appear to be attacking Beau as Alex crawls in front of them. Yes, Annika has on the pig costume. It goes nicely with the dress, I think.
Ryan, Nat and Doug.
After calling Publix to get a quote for the cake, I decided that I'd be baking the cookie cake. Instead of one big cake, I made two. This is the "good" cake - I got better with the pastry bag with a little practice. Inexplicably, one of the first two burned on the bottom and sides so I had to make another. I decorated this morning with icing that I made. Note to self - next time buy the black icing because it really did take 2 packages of food coloring to make black. The other icing worked great, though, except that I made it a trifle too thin because I didn't account for the thinning that would occur with the addition of the food coloring. I'm all empowered now about the cakes.
Here is Dagny worrying about how I cut the cake.

Then, Dagny and her blankie enjoying some cake with Carmella.

It was a lovely day. I'm watching the Kona coverage while blogging and icing my foot. We are having Ro-Tel and other bar food for dinner with the new stout that Doug made. Mmmm. Tomorrow is cousin Slater's baptism. Never a dull moment!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Hello Pool My Old Friend

Apropos of nothing, my foot hurt when I got up in the middle of the night to use the potty last night. This morning, it hurt to walk.

Not right, I say. I SWAM yesterday. No bike. No run. We did take a walk after dinner but it was slow because Dagny likes to dawdle and spit at the fish when we cross the creek.

"Maybe it will ease up and I can do my long run today," I thought. Doug and I dropped Dagny at school and Doug took off for his run. Alas, I made it as far as the bathrooms at the park before the pain got too much for me. It was not easing up, but increasing. I drove until I found Doug and handed off the i-pod and went home to ride my bike.

That didn't hurt as bad, but my foot still throbbed after I showered to get ready for surprise lunch with Annika at her school. As I was dressing, the phone rang. It was the school nurse. Annika had cut her ear and they wanted me to come and look at it. Surprise foiled.

And now, I'm icing. Ibuprophen is on the way. The internet may tell me what the problem is but I'm afraid to look. Afraid that I'll be stuck in the pool all winter. Again.

On a happier note, here are some more photos that my friend Rivi took of the race last weekend. First, I'm starting the run looking strong.
Our tri-club has their priorities in the right place. They wrote notes to every member on the run course. This one says "run like there is free beer". : ) Mmmm, beer.
Put your shirt down, woman! Yes, I'm dumping water on my head. It was hot and the sweating wasn't working enough. And the shirt, thin though it may be, was hurting my stomach. Same with the shorts - that is why they are rolled down. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
This is my good side. : ) Rivi ran up next to me to take my photo. He rocks.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

South Carolina

Here are the pre-race photos from the camera that they gave us in the schwag bag at the race this weekend:

Nat and me, sporting our swim togs.
Nora, looking cute as always. She even looked cute on the run when I was drag-assing around the course with my belly hanging out.
Doug telling me not to take his photo - can you see his teeth are clenched?
Me, modeling my team ZootGu outfit.
Doug, getting in the race zone with some tunes.
Nat and Doug in swim gear. Look at that flexing.
So, I posted my race report on BT. Here is the link if you want to read all about it in nauseating detail. I had a marvelous time at the race. Sure, parts of the run hurt a lot, but the whole thing was fun from the time we started packing the car until we collapsed exhausted into bed on Sunday night. It has been awesome to share the experience with Nat and Doug and all of my internet (and real) buddies.
Soreness kept me to a walk yesterday and I left my i-pod in the car so I was alone with my thoughts about the race and triathlons in general. It seems like a longer distance triathlon is like a puzzle where you have to fit all of the pieces together just right (the swim, the bike, the run, but also the pacing on each one and the nutrition the day before the race, the nutrition the morning before the race, the nutrition during the race, the outfit, etc). Only, the trick is that first you have to make all of the pieces and then you have to grind or sand them to make them fit together and if you do it wrong it throws all of the other pieces off and you either have a complete mess or have to start over.

Given this complexity, it's a complete miracle that I was able to finish Sunday's race at all. I had the pieces - we knew I could swim and bike and run the distance. And, because of my GI issues, I knew what I needed to eat during the race and the day before. And, because we've practiced, a lot, we knew mostly what the paces should be. So, I had a good shot going in.
Then, I went faster than plan on the swim. That's OK because I didn't go hard. Wasn't breathing hard or feeling stressed at any point. I did sandbag a little on my goal pace for the swim. Then, I went out too hot on the bike. This is a common error and I tried to rectify it by slowing down for the rest of the ride. I tried to ignore my falling average pace because it was still above goal pace. This worked out OK. I finished only 0.2 mph over goal pace. On the run, I also started hot. It's easy to do this because you are already warm from the bike and the heartrate is elevated. I talked myself off of that ledge and was headed off just under goal pace when I was immediately slammed into reality with stomach distress. I don't have tummy problems on the run - it's the lower GI that gives me fits. My only guess is that I overfueled on the bike or the bike was too fast for my level of fitness or my run was also too fast for me. I dunno. Whatever happened, I was able to finish the run 10 seconds per mile over goal pace. However, when you add all that together, I came in well under my goal time.
Swim: 37:32
T1: 3:46 (yeah, wetsuit removal is hard)
Bike: 3:08:44
T2: 2:17
Run: 1:57:26
Wow, it was so much fun. I can't wait to race again next year.