Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh my legs

On Saturday a friend came over in the middle of Legs & Back. He insisted on watching me exercise. I tried to get him to focus on Star Trek but he'd look up from time to time to coach. Oh the embarrassment when I couldn't do all the reps. Today my legs are killing me and stairs are the enemy.

I was so spent from the workout that I couldn't do the Ab Ripper X that follows Legs & Back. I ended up doing it on Sunday. I wanted to also do my scheduled Kenpo X but I decided to rest instead. I wish I had done X Stretch instead to help my sore muscles. Ah well. Monday will be Kenpo.

I'm halfway through P90X so I really need to locate my tape measure to check my progress.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rookie Breadmaking Mistake

I accidentally put my dough into my pan with the seam to the side instead of on the bottom so this happened:

It won't affect the flavour but it sure would have been pretty. 

This is a remake of the  Sweet Potato Sourdough. I added Bob's Red Mill's 10 Grain Flour. I hope it's good. Can't wait to slice it.  I guess since this isn't "perfect", I will be remaking this next weekend. Ha. I think I need to go check Yeastspotting for inspiration. I'm hitting a bread baking rut and since it will be warm here soon, I will be less interested in using the oven.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hook! Uppercut! Side kick!

Today was Day 41 of P90X and Kenpo X day. I love Kenpo X. It's probably the easiest workout and I enjoy learning how to kick and punch properly. I have zero coordination and I am sure this will help me to get better. I'm so glad that I've been trying my hardest to keep up with this. I don't know if I will have great results at the end (I want a 6 pack or the start of one) but I have already lost centimeters from my waist. I don't know how much I've lost because I can't find my tape measure but I can tell.

I got resistance bands this past week so that means that my upper body workouts will be a lot more efficient. I was trying to get a set of bands that had a light band in it - 2 to 4lbs - but it turns out that I could have skipped that. There were one or two exercises in Arms & Shoulders that I used it for but really, I'm just being lazy. I can loop the band and get more resistance though so I'm still happy with it. For the pull-up sections, I combine it with another band. When I've used the bands for a few weeks I think I will do a review. I was scared to get them because everyone on Amazon has a horror story of bands snapping and hitting them. I am nervous each time I use them. Here's to hoping that doesn't happen to me!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two years!

Today marks two years since I had my successful brain surgery to remove an epidermoid tumour that was wrapped around some nerves. Last year I wrote an emotional piece; this year I decided to bake a cake. The emotions are there but I'm pushing them into a box. I know that later tonight I'll be sobbing just reflecting on what that day means to me. I basically got my life back. No other way to put it.

Here's the cake I made:

It's a stout cake with a key lime curd filling and Italian meringue frosting. I thought the pairing of a stout cake with a citrus curd would be weird but I love it! I wish the stout flavour was stronger but the lightly flavoured cake gets a great boost from the curd. As for the meringue, I love that it's light and not overly sweet. My friend wants me to make her a wedding cake which means I need to start learning how to decorate cakes. I think closer to the date I will practice and/or take a cake decorating class. I have more than a year. She wants a lemon cake with a lemon curd filling. It turns out that curds are easy so my main concern is decorating. I think I will use an Italian meringue buttercream for that. I made that in January and it was good. 

This was supposed to be a simple cake - no big deal. But the bottom layer spit in two when I tried to remove it from the pan. I almost decided not to bother. I put it back together and did my best. If you look you can see where there's more curd at one spot. That's because there was crater left when a piece of the cake stuck to the pan. Ha. It's a very light cake and I should have been gentle. I put it in the freezer overnight before I filled and frosted. That made it a lot easier to handle. The problem really wasn't the cake it was what I used to grease my pan. I used margarine only and it's a margarine that has a high water content. I'm not sure why I didn't use my Pam for Baking or simply floured the pan too. Laziness? Perhaps. Either way, the cake was just for me and if a friend stopped by so I'm not stressing it. 

Wait a sec, does Italian meringue freeze well? I typically toss cakes I bake into the freezer because there's no one around to eat it and I shouldn't eat cake everyday. Hmm. I guess I'll find out.

Hope you're having a good weekend.

PS - If anyone has any questions about epidermoid tumors or brain surgery, please ask. The epidermoid tumor is rare and so it's hard to find a lot of information about it. I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone may have. My tumor caused me to also have trigeminal neuralgia. I can answer questions about that too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Breaking my promise - sorta

I said I'd post about the Sweet Potato Sourdough Loaf but I don't think I will anymore. The loaf is fine. The crust is a bit more chewy than I like. The crumb is OK. I am not satisfied with it. It over-proofed just a bit and I tried to make it into boule and it's hard to properly shape a boule (I haven't learned how yet). I think I will remake this next weekend and use a loaf tin instead. I'll post the two crappy cell phone pics that I took at breakfast this morning. I'd be more enthused about this if I had not had such a bad weekend.

I love the the bits of sweet potato that are still visible. I just got an email from Amazon that the 10 grain flour that I ordered will be here on Wednesday. I guess that when I remake this I will add that flour to it.
So see? Technically I haven't broken my promise. I wrote about the loaf.
I don't know how food bloggers do it. Make something, perfect it, write an intriguing post.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Random Ramblings

  1. I am having a very very bad weekend. 
  2. I just made a sweet potato sourdough loaf. Details tomorrow if it looks good. Actually, I will post details regardless. 
  3. I have no appetite but I know that I need to eat. 
  4. P90X is going ...I guess it's going OK. I skipped a few days over the last couple weeks but the fact that I am still trying is a plus. 
  5. I can't find my tape measure so I can't tell whether or not I have lost inches. I think that I have but I want tape measure proof. 
  6. I definitely lost weight but I am slowly getting to the point where I am eating enough to sustain the workouts. I'm thin. I don't want to be malnourished so I need to get my calories up.
  7. What's that? Why am I P90X-ing if I'm thin? Easy - I have more fat on my midsection than I like. I would love to finally have a flat stomach. Additionally, the health benefits from exercising are good. 
  8. My cholesterol tends to be on the high side. I do not actively try to control it. Well, I did give up my daily two bowls of ice cream so I guess that's control. However, my diet is generally low in cholesterol so I know that it's partly genetic.
  9. Awake is no longer interesting.  I am easily distracted and it requires that I pay very close attention. Also, it is frustrating to only know that they tried to kill his family but nothing else. 
  10. The Firm has gotten very interesting! I know that it has received low ratings but I love it. I love that you get a piece of the main story each week. You're not left disappointed at the end that you haven't learned anything. That's the problem with Awake. 
  11. There's a Mike Wallace tribute on 60 Minutes right now. Loved that man.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

100 Foods to Eat before You Die

I saw this on Facebook and thought I'd post it here. I've seen other versions with slightly different foods. But I do like this one. It clearly shows that I need to expand my food horizons.
How many of these have you eaten? How many would you never ever eat?

1. Abalone
2. Absinthe
3. Alligator yummy alligator bites at Cafe Tu Tu Tango
4. Baba Ghanoush 
5. Bagel & Lox
6. Baklava - This is on my to make list.
7. BBQ Ribs
8. Bellini
9. Birds Nest Soup
10.Biscuits & Gravy
11. Black Pudding
12. Black Truffle
13. Borscht
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
18. Chicken & Waffles
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Relleno
21. Chitlins - I smelled it.
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets
27. Currywurst
28. Dandelion Wine
29. Dulce De Leche
30. Durian This is the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted.
31. Eel - I think I did but I'm not sure.
32. Eggs Benedict
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36.Fried Catfish<.s>
37. Fried Green Tomatoes
38. Fried Plantain
39. Frito Pie  
40. Frogs' Legs
41. Fugu - I don't want to either. The poison factor isn't appealing
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat I want some curry goat right now.
45. Goat's Milk
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo
48. Haggis
49. Head Cheese -- HELL NO I WILL NOT
50. Heirloom Tomatoes
51. Honeycomb
52. Hostess Fruit Pie
53. Huevos Rancheros - I've had a burrito with the same ingredients. 
54. Jerk Chicken - Fire up the drum pan!
55. Kangaroo
56. Key Lime Pie
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi - I used to drink a lassi everyday. I don't know how I forgot.
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa - My first mimosa was on Air Jamaica.
61. Moon Pie - Another item that I forgot.
62. Morel Mushrooms
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus
65. Oxtail Soup - I haven't had the soup but I've had stewed oxtail. I want some  now.
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova
70. Phaal
71. Philly Cheese Steak
72. Pho
73. Pineapple & Cottage Cheese - Why pineapple? I've tried other fruits.
74. Pistachio Ice Cream - YUM!
75. Po' Boy
76. Pocky
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear - I should check to see if there are any on the plant in my backyard.
79. Rabbit Stew
80. Raw Oysters
81. Root Beer Float - Root beer tastes like toothpaste.
82. S'mores
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark - Another item I forgot. 
86. Snail 
87. Snake
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam
90. Spaetzle
91. Spam
92. Squirrel
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads - I've had other organs
96. Tom Yum
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison
99. Wasabi Peas
100. Zucchini Flowers - I've had other edible flowers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Colombiana: I've got questions

Have you seen the movie Colombiana? No? Well, please stop reading. If you have, I have lots of questions. Cataleya's boyfriend takes a picture of her and his friend runs it through the police database. OK. I can accept that. He has very protective friends. Why did her running the pic through the database cause the agents to immediately descend on her? They were never looking for a woman. He stated that. And let's say that he had all the persons at the jail flagged anyway. What does it matter that a nosey clerk was running her picture? How does that suddenly make her the Tag Killer?

I'm not finished watching it yet so I may have more questions.

Until then...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Jamaican Easter Buns are typically made with baking powder instead of yeast. Last year when I saw these Sourdough Easter Buns I knew I wanted to make them this year. I almost forgot about them though - I didn't remember until I did a search for Easter buns on my blog and came across this post. Somehow Sourdough Easter Buns turned into Sourdough Hot Cross buns and these came out of my oven at 12:01 AM on Good Friday.

I used a sourdough hot cross bun recipe that I found here but made a couple changes. I used a tablespoon of 166% starter instead of the teaspoon suggested. I think his starter may be at 100% hydration.. I autolysed for 30 minutes before adding salt, spices and raisins. If I do this again, I want to make additional changes. I would autolyse add the salt and maybe the spices (I'm not sure about that just yet) and after the bulk ferment I'd fold the fruit into the dough. I think I could also fold the spices in at this time. It just seemed too difficult to properly mix in the raisins. I think folding them in would have been a lot better. I know that the spices can retard the dough so there'd be better gluten formation and rising if I waited.

The dough wasn't difficult to handle though. It was obviously well hydrated but it didn't stick to my hands. It's hard to explain but it looked more sticky than it really was. I also used less than half of the fruit specified in the recipe because I don't like a lot of fruit in my buns.

My final change was to let the dough proof at room temperature when I removed it from the fridge. My buns didn't seem to rise at all in the fridge and I am not sure if they were supposed to. I did ask someone else who made the recipe and he said his buns had risen during refrigeration so he simply allowed them to come to room temperature and then baked them. It's possible that my buns would have risen in the oven but I felt more comfortable proofing them. I actually got caught up in work and forgot about them for a bit.I think I may have left them out for 4 hours. They were puffy when I got to them. So I rushed through putting the crosses on them so that I could get them in the oven. I didn't bother to get a piping bag. I just used a spoon to quickly drag the flour paste over them so they're not perfect.
 Not the best crumb pic but this was days later when I remembered that I hadn't snapped a pic and was just about to stuff it into my mouth.

I love these buns! I think I will be using the recipe as a base to make regular rolls in the future. Hope you had a great Easter!
I'll be submitting this to Yeastspotting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter bun time!

I was making Easter buns last night and looking at the recipe that I had posted here. Very sloppy! I can't believe that I didn't clean it up better. I did try to edit as I realised something was missing though. I thought I'd rewrite the recipe here and not leave anything out (hopefully). I used less fruits this time - partly because I don't like a lot fruits and mainly because I didn't have a lot of fruits. Less fruits meant that my buns rose a lot better this time! I wish I had take a final pic but I remembered after I wrapped them up to mail to family. I also used Ultragrain flour which is a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat flour. I should have added a bit more liquid to compensate for this but I didn't remember until after they had finished baking. They will probably be slightly drier than your average Easter bun but still delicious!

Edited to include an old pic:

Jamaican Easter Bun
Yield: 1 bun

1 cup dried fruit (mixed peel,raisins, currants)
3.5 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon mixed spice (you can mix cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice or use a pre-mixed spice such as pumpkin spice)
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of melted margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon of honey (optional)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup stout (Dragon Stout, Guinness)
1 egg beaten.
1 tablespoon browning (optional)


Approximately 24 hours before you wish to bake, soak your fruits in water or a mixture of water and wine or stout. (I used water and beer for this batch. In the past I have used only stout. Use what you have!). You need enough to cover the fruits.
Preheat oven to 325 F
Grease a 9 x 5 loaf tin.
Mix flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt in a bowl. Add the drained fruit and mix until evenly distributed. (I suggest adding the fruit slowly so that you can determine whether it seems like too much or too little fruit for your preferences.)
Mixed melted margarine and brown sugar in another bowl. Add honey, milk and egg. Mix. Add stout and mix.
Slowly add the stout mixture to your flour mixture. Mix thoroughly. You can stir in up to a tablespoon of browning for a darker bun.
Pour batter into prepared loaf tin. You can decorate with slices of maraschino cherry, if you wish.
Bake for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

If you wish you can glaze the buns as soon as they are removed from the oven. I use a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water or milk. For example, mix one tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of water. Heat and mix until sugar is dissolved. I did this in the microwave last night and it worked out well. Brush the mixture over the hot buns. You can give them two coatings if you like.

Cool buns and then remove from pans. Eat with lots of cheese! I also highly recommend lightly toasting your bun.

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Recovery Week

I've still been P90X-ing but I will be honest and say that I have skipped a couple days. Things just got very busy and I just didn't have the energy to do my workout. This past weekend was very bad. I couldn't exercise on Saturday and I couldn't motivate myself to do it yesterday. Today is supposed to be a rest day but I am going to do Kenpo X. I love the workout and wish I had been less lazy and hadn't skipped it yesterday.

I am not looking forward to recovery week. It's supposed to be a relaxing week - no strenuous exercises. However,  it includes two days of Yoga X. *sigh*

Wish me luck...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Marbled Sourdough

When I first started making sourdough bread a year ago, I tried to make a loaf each week. Each week's loaf was a little better than the last. I did this for a while then during the summer I lost interest in turning the oven on and adjusting recipes for proofing in the extreme Florida heat. As you may have noticed, I have started making a few loaves again. I've had mixed success this go around. I haven't made a loaf that I'd never eat but I don't think I have made the perfect sourdough loaf -whatever that is.

Typically, I always make a pan loaf. I don't have a baking stone or a dutch oven so it seemed like the best option for me. The first non-pan loaf was the Sweet Potato Challah (which was delicious!) and that led to the round braided loaf. That round braid was perhaps my best loaf to date. It had great oven spring - the best I've ever had. It was soft - perfect for sandwiches (which is why I make bread) - and not very sour (my starter isn't very sour). When it was time to make my next loaf, I didn't know what to do. I don't like making the same recipe over and over. I know that that is best so that I can perfect something but I bake in order to try new things and I wanted something new. However, it was getting late and if you've made sourdough you know that timing is key. You don't want to start a loaf at midnight and then realise that you need to do a stretch and fold every two hours. Not that that has ever happened to me..ahem.

I finally decided that I'd do a pan loaf but I'd add something to it. I'd make a marbled loaf. For this loaf, I used the Teresa's Soft White Pan loaf recipe from her Discovering Sourdough e-book and the Chocolate Sheet recipe and instructions found here. First, let me say that I love this loaf! The crumb was perfect for me. The marbling effect was good but not overwhelming.

However, I hated making that chocolate sheet. I don't know what I was doing wrong but my chocolate mixture just would not thicken. I kept needing to add flour and cornstarch. I stopped measuring how much I added. It froze well and was easy to laminate in the dough. However, when I make another marbled loaf, I will do what I had intended to do in the first place - add cocoa powder to half of the dough and then layer each colour and roll them up. That's a  lot easier than stirring a chocolate mixture on the stove forever. I didn't do this initially because I didn't want to go through the hassle of splitting my sponge because I had started the sponge before I had made a final decision. Additionally, I was wondered that there would be too much of a time difference with my two halves. I am sure it would have been fine but I worried. I think if I do this I will put it in the refrigerator to slow down the bulk ferment that the extra time it takes for me to mix the second half won't make a difference. 

I am very proud of this loaf. It makes me feel like a baker. Actually, I probably felt more like a baker when I successfully did that round braid. But that's not important! I am so proud of this that I am submitting it to YeastSpotting!

(Sorry I don't have the best camera.)