Friday, February 26, 2010

Zen and the art of making pudding

Can you learn life lessons through baking? I think so. For me, the art of baking has been elusive. Cooking, no problem. With cooking I just follow the directions, add in a few extra flourishes and ta da! There's dinner. Baking though, baking is a whole other ball of wax. It relies so heavily on instinct and feel, it is so precise and scientific that I didn't think I could ever excel at it. That being said, I can be pretty stubborn when I set my mind to something, so I decided baking and I would become friends, whether she wanted to or not.

It started with bread, but I made the dough in my bread maker then baked it in the oven so I didn't count that as a skill set I posses. When I did try to make bread by hand, it would always be dense. Tasty, but dense nonetheless. However, since the bread pan broke, I have been forced to make it from start to finnish. My whole wheat is now quite delectable and my foccacia is out of this world. It only took a few times before I got the rhythm, and after some pathetically small loaves, I am confident in my kneading skills, enough that I don't really care if out bread pan gets fixed. Making my own bread had been a goal of mine for a while, and it feels really good to have reached it.

Pudding however, has been my nemesis. I don't know what it is, I have tried a couple different recipes and I could never get it to set. I would always end up with chocolate soup, and this was incredibly irritating. I was a cooking teacher for gods sake! How could I keep screwing up something as simple as pudding? But I was. Every. Single. Time. When it happened again yesterday, I vowed to just forget about pudding and concentrate on something easier, like pastry. I voiced my irritation at an Epicure party and the consultant said "that's no problem, it sounds like you're just not boiling the milk long enough." Seriously! I couldn't believe it. So today I tried again, making sure to boil the milk for a good long while. And guess what....that stupid pudding set. Turns out this whole time I just needed to be patient and let the ingredients work their magic. I was going through the motions too quickly and my impatience was screwing me over every time. This is a life lesson that keeps popping up, I need to slow down, give things time and not be so impatient. Hopefully I'll be smart enough this time to take this lesson to heart, at least for a while. But I'll probably require a refresher every now and then, I can be stubborn like that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's official, and my stomach hurts

Last week I registered for the MS bike tour. I know I told everyone I would, so this is not exactly earth shattering news, but for me, saying I want to do something, then actually committing to it are two very different things. So, I pulled out my credit card and put my money where my mouth is, and it made my tummy hurt a bit. I have to admit, I am nervous about this because I know I have much work to do.

Speaking of work, I have been training for two and a half weeks, and things are going pretty well. I have increased my average speed from 18 km/hr to 20.6, and my average rpm from 70 to 81. Most importantly though, I have found my love of cycling. This morning I did my 30 minute workout and was disappointed when it ended. What, you say? This does not sound like Cara! I know right! But there it is, for the first time ever, I thought my workout was too short. May wonders never cease.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Training Days

Well, my big news is.....I will be riding in the MS bike tour this year. For those of you that don't know, it's a 160km round trip from Stonewall to Gimli over two days. I have started training on the stationary bike at the gym, and, well, I have a long way to go. Right now I'm really slow, my average speed this morning was around 18km/hr, and I need to work on my endurance.

The funny thing is, normally I would be really frustrated with my slowness, and eventually this would cause me to give up too soon and go eat a cupcake. This time things are different. Honestly, I can only go up from here, and the fact that it will take me a while to bike at a decent clip is the whole reason I started training early in the first place. So, my plan is to get on the bike three times a week, pay attention to my rpms and steadily increase my average speed. I am also going to try some weight lifting classes to increase my upper body and core strength, because if I'm going to be on the bike for three plus hours, I'm going to need all the help I can get.

That being said, I'm super pumped about this. I have never really done anything "athletic", at least nothing I've had to train for. I think this will be a great way to work on my long term goal setting issues, and rediscover my love of cycling. Two birds with one it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Carrot Spice Muffins

I have been obsessed with muffins lately, and these ones were especially good. I got this recipe from "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. These are awesome breakfast muffins which include carrot (duh) dried cranberries, coconut and toasted pecans. The only things I would change are using fresh ginger and making them with half whole wheat flour to see how it works out.

 Can you say delicious! I wasn't sure about this combination when I read the recipe, but my worries were unwarranted.

 The combination of the ingredients was so pretty I had to take a picture.

All in all this was a success. The muffins were a good size (perfect for breakfast) and had a nice crunchy top. The book claims they are best consumed the day they are made, but both my husband and I found they were much tastier the next day. If you would like the recipe let me know in the comments.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weigh In - Weeks 2 & 3

Oops, I didn't post my weigh in stuff for the past couple weeks. Week 2 I lost 1 pound, bringing my total weight loss down/up to 6 pounds. This week I didn't budge. This really didn't come as a shock to me as we went into a deep freeze, so my walks with Rowdy came to a halt. Although I am still "enjoying" my sessions with Tanya, I need to increase my cardio indoors, or woman up and put on an extra sweater and walk the damn dog.

In other news, my gym membership started today and I am looking forward to adding some variety into my workouts. I have some big plans on the horizon, but I want to iron out the details in my own head before I divulge any of the details. Otherwise, my post would be a muddled, incoherent mess (more so than usual).