Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adventures in Cheese Making

A couple weeks ago I made cheese for the first time, and it was....interesting. And time consuming. Also, I don't actually know how my Monterey Jack turned out, and won't for another month. So while I have some issues with the delayed gratification, I am planning on making another batch this weekend. A homestyle cheddar, in case you are interested.

The whole cheese making process is fascinating. It begins with thickening the milk with bacterial cultures (different types are used for different cheeses) and ends with drying the pressed curds and waxing the cheese to protect it.

I had to keep the milk at a constant temperature during the entire process. While the milk thickened, Ken and I discovered if you jumped up and down in front of the stove it made an awesome standing wave pattern. Clearly I am not mature enough to make cheese.

 This is what it looks like when you "cut the curd." The liquid you see is the whey.

Mmmmm, not so tasty looking cheese curds.

The curds had to be drained through cheese cloth, then pressed for 12 hours.

The final product had to be left out for three days so the rind could dry.

I used too much cheese cloth and it bunched up, so my cheese bottom is not very pretty. That's okay, it all looks the same chewed up in my tummy.

The final waxed product. It is now in a cupboard in our basement, where it will stay for two months.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Expired Milk Challenge 2010

Lately I have been planning on making cheese. So I went out and purchased the amount of milk I would need to make two batches, a Monterey Jack and a farmhouse cheddar. The Monterey Jack came to fruition (post to come soon), but the farmhouse cheddar did not. Thursday I looked in my fridge and noticed an unopened 4L of 1% that expired that day. Since I knew it would not last long enough for me to drink the whole thing I issued a challenge to myself. Use up the 4L in baking/whatever you can with ingredients you have around the house. The result of that challenge was the following:

  • Three batches of pudding (two vanilla one chocolate with eight pudding pops in the freezer)
  • Two loaves of cinnamon bread
  • Two loaves of nut bread
  • Two loaves of 100% whole wheat
  • One burn that hurts like the dickens

All in all, the challenge was a success, but my freezer is now full, so I must be more diligent the next time I attempt cheese.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dirty Girl

My first week on my new bike has been a success. As of today I have a total of 91 kilometers under my belt, and thanks to Jen P and the flooded paths of Kings Park my bike no longer looks like it just came off the show room floor. Observe:

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but the big hunk of brown in the middle 
would be flood mud.

That would be mud, which also made it's way up my back, over my helmet and into my hair. I fared well compared to Jen, who had to clean her brakes out with a stick before we could continue. Who knew road bikes could be such delicate flowers?

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Ode To My Glutes

What's a gal to do when she goes on a 16km ride by herself and cannot use her iPod? Write a poem to her ass of course! So here it is, the ode to my butt.

I realize now you are tired and sore,
But tomorrow we must do some more.
For cycling we must continue be,
Because we have a lot of fat you see.
But if you continue to shrink of course,
I will get you a pair of new bike shorts. 

Ah, bribery through poetry, classy and effective.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Ride

Yesterday was my first official outdoor ride. I decided to go 25 km to set my baseline for training. The computer I got shows my cadence, speed, time, and has an odometer. Basically, it's awesome. As I set out I felt the wind, but it didn't seem too bad. Plus, come August 28th I will not be able to pick and choose the conditions, so I figure I might as well take them as they come. The ride to my halfway point was incredible. My speed was between 20-25 km and my cadence was around 80 rpm. I actually passed a fellow cyclist, and as I did he shouted "wow, you're fast!" I felt fast, I felt great.

The way home was a different story. The wind was from the west, gusting at 43 km/hr. FORTY THREE! And I felt it. My cadence plummeted to between 45-55 rpm and my average speed was 15km/hr. It was a struggle to be sure, but not a hardship. The second half of my ride took more than twice as long as the first, but it is the half that I enjoyed the most, oddly enough. It was hard, but I did it, and I had fun. The whole 24 km trip took me an hour and a half, almost on the button. That's a long time I know, but it didn't feel long. I am not sore today, and I am looking forward to my short little 15 km jaunt on Monday.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Best Fiend/Friend

Not only did I get a helmet yesterday, but I also got a bike to go with it. It looks like this:

It's a Marin Larkspure purchased at Olympia Cycle and Ski on Portage. This is a hybrid bike, so it looks kind of like a mountain bike, but it has a lighter frame and larger, thinner wheels. I knew what I would be doing for the next few years did not constitute a road bike, plus a hybrid is way easier on my back and wallet. I test rode five bikes, and this one was my favourite for three reasons. 1) It was the cheapest. 2) The seat did not violate me in unspeakable ways. 3) It comes with this this awesome feature:

Yes folks, that is a suspension seat, and I LOVE it. I tried a bike with suspension forks instead, but I didn't like the feel of the ride. I brought my helmet along, rode my new purchase home and it was 9km of pure bliss. Seriously, I was downright giddy when I got home. I think it was a combination of finally being able to ride outside and coming to the realization that I do not have to get on another stationary bike for a very long time. Now I am in the middle of planning my outdoor training, and tomorrow will be my first long ride. I plan to go for around 25km, just to get a feel for the bike and my new computer, and to set a baseline for the rest of my training. I know that there will come a day when my bike and I do not see eye to spoke, but this our honeymoon phase, so just close the curtain and let us enjoy ourselves.

Note: A couple people have asked me where I got my helmet. It is Bellisima brand and was purchased at Mountain Equipment Coop. I also ordered this online as well.  

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dead Sexy

Got my new helmet today,

And yes, the results are as stunning as one would imagine:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Always Read Directions

I have been avoiding running for the past week, mainly because week 3 of the program scared the crap out of me the first time I tried it. It was so intense I could only finnish half, then retreated whimpering to the stretching area. That was last Monday. On Wednesday I was still so sore from Monday I reverted to my week 2 schedule, then went home sure I was not cut out for this whole thing.

Fast forward to today, my 31st birthday (yes, I am aware I am a fool, and you will be as well as this story continues). I told myself I would kick the shit out of that workout in order to start my new year off right. The night before my workout I decided to double check my program and noticed the pages were out of order. I had not tried the week 3 workout as scheduled, but had rocketed forward to week 5. Although I felt like a total moron, I also felt better because I then looked at week 3, and week 3 was totally doable. So this morning, to celebrate my birthday I ran, and while the first half was way more difficult then the second, I completed my workout. My last thought as I got off the treadmill was "maybe I am strong enough to do this." Strong enough, for sure! Smart enough? That's debatable.