Tuesday, May 28, 2013

To Share or not to Share and Garlicky Kale Alfredo Pizza

I struggle daily.. OK.. weekly with what to share in this space. Do I write about the daily happenings in  my life? Do I write about the things I am currently struggling with? I want to. I really do. But I tend to be a fiercely private person. I worry about some persons in my life finding this space, reading something here, taking offense or misinterpreting something. I also worry about other persons learning things about me that I didn't want them to know.

This was not a problem when I first had a blog on the now defunct JournalSpace. However, eventually some friends did discover my blog there and I found myself editing and being less comfortable just being, talking, writing, expressing. I still don't know how to balance my need to write and my desire to keep some things private. So for now, I share random bits about my attempts to be fit and my attempts in the kitchen.

Today is a kitchen day. I've been craving pizza for a while . It's not something I eat very often. I make approximately 99% of my meals so unless I am in a pizza making mood, and that has only happened once, pizza is never on the menu. I decided to make a kale afredo pizza this time and my oh my, that was an excellent decision. This pizza attempt was a million times more successful than the last.

Garlicky Kale Alfredo Pizza 


For the crust, I used a sourdough (shocker!) crust that I found on Sourdough Home. It was simple and seemed to work better than the one I used before. I used techniques that I saw on Alton Brown's Good Eats to handle it. This made the process longer but I was not in a hurry.

1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
1 TBSP olive oil

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients except salt for 2 minutes then autolyse for 20 minutes. Add salt and knead dough to fully develop gluten. This takes approximately 10 minutes in a stand mixer. After developing gluten, cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 - 24 hours.

Garlicky Alfredo Sauce

I can't find the site that I adapted this from but as soon as I do, I will link it.

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced (more if you want it super garlicky!)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (you could use less)
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in pan and saute garlic until fragrant.  Add flour and stir for a minute until thickened. Slowly add milk  Stir carefully as it thickens. Remove from heat, stir in cheese and seasonings. Allow to cool. I made this the day before.


3 ounces of kale, chopped, destemmed, blanched and drained
4 ounces of mozarella, shredded (I added pepper jack also)

To blanch kale, heat a pot of water to boiling, add chopped kale and allow to cook for 3 minutes. Drain and then immediately immerse in a bowl of ice water. Allow to drain completely so that the pizza isn't soggy. You may need to squeeze it a few times.


Preheat oven to 475 F. While kale is draining,  remove dough from the refrigerator, flatten gently with hands then form into a ball and allow to rest for half an hour. Dust counter and roll out dough with a rolling pin or with fingers into an approximately 12 inch circle.  Allow to rest for another 1/2 hour if you want a chewy crust or use right away for a crispy crust.

Brush crust with olive oil, then add sauce, kale and cheese. Use more or less cheese and sauce as suits your taste. Bake in pre-heated oven for 9-10 minutes.

Allow to cool for 3 minutes then enjoy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Does spam beget spam?

You know the Broken Windows theory? If a building has a broken window and it's not repaired people will come along and break more windows and then everything will be in disrepair? Well, that was happening to my blog. I turned off Blogger's captcha because it was pretty annoying. It would take me several tries sometimes to figure out the captcha when leaving a comment on someone's blog. So when a reader asked me to turn it off, it was a no-brainer.

But then the spam started. I'd get a notification that Anonymous left me a comment - usually something about a loan or my great writing. I'd delete the email and move along. This went on for months! I was deleting the emails but you know what I wasn't doing? I wasn't deleting the spam comment. Two particular posts had HUNDREDS on spam comments between them. It's like the spam-bots found a haven and sent out a bat signal to ask others to join them. Or, broken windows theory.

I just took a few minutes and deleted all the spam comments. I hoping that this will slow down the onslaught of comments in the future. I'm fixing my windows! Cleaning up my house! Leave me alone, spam-bots!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sourdough Surprises May: Coffee Cheesecake Brownies

I didn't make pasta with Sourdough Surprises last month because I was in a funk and also, I am not the biggest user of pasta. When the announcement for this month was posted, I may or may not have done a little dance. Make brownies? Oh twist my arm, won't you? I actually had a brownie recipe bookmarked that I wanted to make the next time that I felt like making brownies but as I sat down to plan one night, that brownie just seemed plain boring. Suddenly, I had three new possibilities and had no idea which to choose - salted caramel brownies, cheesecake brownies or Oreo truffle brownies. I know myself well enough to know that I would have spent a whole week trying to decide and then probably choose a fourth so I emailed my friends and asked them to vote.

Cheesecake brownies won.

 As I type this, I am experiencing a chocolate high. They were so unbelievably good. I once described Starbucks' Java Chip ice cream as orgasmic and these are almost at that level. This simply means that I need to make ice cream this week and crumble some brownies into it. 

 You can't taste the sourdough. There may be a hint of it but I used dark chocolate so it's really hard to tell. I wanted these to look more like Joy of Baking's with a distinctive cheesecake layer but my pan is 20% larger than the 8" x 8" she used and  I didn't feel like adjusting the recipe. Despite that, I am so so happy with the way they turned out and am grudgingly sharing these brownies. Seriously. Why did someone else have to be in the kitchen while I baked? I could have squirreled these away and ate my brownies all myself. 

The recipe is below and be sure to scroll down for the linky for others who baked yummy brownies this month!

Sourdough Coffee Cheesecake Brownies

Sourdough Coffee Cheesecake Brownies 

Brownie Layer
1/2 cup butter or margarine
10 tablespoons dark cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 cup fed 100% sourdough starter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 egg

Preheat oven to 325 F. Prepare an 8" x 8" pan by lining it with parchment or foil overhanging so that you can lift the brownies easily out of the pan. I used a perfect brownie pan and didn't need to do that. 

Add butter (or margarine), sugar and cocoa to a heat proof bowl and place over simmering pot of water. Alternatively, you could add them all to a large pot and turn down the heat - that's what I did. Stir as butter melts. After butter is melted and mixture is combined, leave to cool.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy then add sugar and mix thoroughly. Next add coffee, vanilla and egg and mixed until combined. 

Once chocolate mixture is cool enough to not curdle eggs, stir in one egg at a time until thoroughly combined then stir in vanilla. Add starter, flour and salt and fold carefully until just combined. Do not over-mix. Joy of Baking suggests 40 strokes. My batter was combined in less than that. 

Pour brownie batter into the prepared 8" x 8" pan. Reserve scant half cup of the batter. Carefully pour the cheesecake batter over the top of the brownie layer. Smooth over with a spatula. If it's not perfect, don't stress it. Dollop the reserved brownie batter over the cheesecake layer and use a skewer or knife to swirl the brownie dollops through the cheesecake layer. 

Bake for 25 to 30 mins.  Cool for an hour then place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Slice. Eat. Enjoy!

Friday, May 17, 2013

To the Runners

Dear Friends who are Runners,

At least once over the past 3 years you have probably heard me say, "Oh how I wish I could run a marathon [half marathon/10K/5K/3K] and each time you have said, "Oh, Kelster! You can definitely do it!" I always scoffed. I knew better. 

I heard you talk about your "runner's high". The euphoria! The sense of accomplishment! Oh how I wanted that! I suspected that you were lying to me and there was at least some cognitive dissonance at work. After all, that's the same song and dance I heard the P90Xer's with too. I did 90 days of that and there was no extra serotonin pumping through my brain. In fact, I was always just glad it was over so that I could move on to the next thing on my to-do list. 

Finally, two and a half weeks ago, I took the plunge. I found a Beginner 5K training plan on Runkeeper and set out running. It hurt. My throat hurt. I complained. But I tried again. It became less painful. I celebrated going faster each day. I learned to run while dancing to Flo-Rida and T-Pain's Low. I even did a booty smack! There was no runner's high but I wasn't calling any of you names.



Why didn't you ever tell me about the blisters?!!!!

I thought we were friends. 

I feel betrayed. 

I don't know if this friendship can be repaired. 

I will have to rethink everything we ever had. 

I just.. I just don't even know what to say to you anymore. 

Just tell me, what do I do about the blisters?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Do you watch Scandal?

Do you watch Scandal? If not, I'm sure you have that one friend who insists on live tweeting the show every Thursday night at 10. Or maybe that friend does it on Facebook. If you're still clueless, Scandal is a drama series created by Shonda Rhimes that is in its second season on ABC. Shonda also writes the widely successful Grey's Anatomy. Scandal is about a DC crisis management firm headed by Olivia Pope. Pope is also having an affair with the president of the United States. Yup, scandalous.

The stories are good. The writing is great. But I think I'm getting tired of Scandal. There are little things that annoy me. Harrison Wright is always pushing the "We're gladiators" mantra. It was fine in the first episode. Now? I'm tired it. But what's really getting to me right now is Olivia's relationship with Ftiz, the president. The president is human. He cheats in his wife. OK. But the writers of Scandal seem to want me to cheer for this relationship and frankly, that makes me uncomfortable. I am far from prudish but since when did we give a thumbs up to extra-marital affairs?

Last Thursday, good ol' Fitz seemed to think that his Commander in Chief title also gives him control over Olivia's love life. "I command you to love me." Ugh. What's even worse is that Olivia seems to be falling for this. Say what? What happened to my strong Olivia Pope? I expect this kind of behaviour from Sharon in the Young & the Restless* - not from Olivia.

Sigh. I'll keep watching for now, because frankly, I'm addicted to television, but something has to change here. Fine, they're in love. Fine, he's only keeping up his charade of a marriage to avoid public scrutiny. I get all of that. But can we cut down on the commanding and demanding? Thanks.

* Yes, I follow the Young & the Restless. Judge away. :-)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beginner's 5 K - Day 2 - 8 x 1

Well, I went out yesterday and did Day 2 of this 5K training. 8 x 1 is a misnomer, really. It's 8 intervals of 1 minute running and 1:30 walking.  That 1:30 is important. It went a little something like this: 

  • Run 1 - Yaay. I can do this! I don't want to die like on Sunday! Woohoo let's go! Let's get this party started in here!
    • 15 seconds later. Wow. One minute is a long time. 
  • Walk 1 - Pssh. Walking. I can do this in my sleep. 
  • Run 2 - C'mon baby. Let's go faster! Yeah. We can do this. Look! Your throat isn't burning like on Sunday. Progress baby! 
    • 30 seconds later. No really. Is Runkeeper working? Because surely I've been running for five minutes. 
  • Walk 2 - This isn't horrific. I'm being a crybaby. 
  • Run 3 - You are the wiiiiiiiiiiiiind beneath my wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiings. FLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYY
  • Walk 3 - I may be losing my mind. Wait. How fast is this walk supposed to be? Brisk? Or slow enough to recover/reduce my heart rate? .
  • Run 4 - Kill me. My knee hates this. They were not meant for this kind of work. Isn't this why we gave up on Insanity?
  • Walk 4 - Why am I doing this again?  
  • Run 5 - There's someone talking in my ear. Who is that? Is that the trainer on Runkeeper? God? How do I pause my music? I forgot. Crap. 
  • Walk 5 - How did my music switch from Electronic to Dancehall. What the hell? 
  • Run 6 - Screw it. Let's do this without music. 
  • Walk 6 - I lost count. Are we close to 8 yet? 
  • Run 7 - Is this the last run?: I want to go all out on the last run. Give it a Rocky! 
  • Walk 7 - lalalalalalalala. 
  • Run 8 -  Brain is off. 
  • Walk 8 - Brain is off 
  • Workout Complete - Yeah. I'm actually a bit dizzy. That's normal-ish though. I think.

I didn't die but it was certainly a challenge. In two weeks I am supposed to be able to run for 2 miles. I am not entirely sure how that will be possible. 

Back in high school, I promised myself that I would run in the cross-country event one year. I have no idea how long that cross-country trek is. A few miles? Who knows? In any event, there I was the last year of high school, the cross-country run was the next day and I had not prepared. Sure, I took long walks into the town center every evening with my friends. I think those were two mile walks.But slowly walking and chatting with friends does not prepare one for any sporting event.  But I made a promise so I brought my clothes the next day and attempted the run. 

Ha. Not surprisingly, my friend and I were the last ones to cross that finish line. We weren't official competitors since we had signed up too late. However, one of my teachers knew which house * I was in and listed my placement for that house. So basically, I helped my house lose that year. I tried to protest - to indicate that I was not an official runner - but I was half dead and just wanted to suck on glucose. 

Remember that 2 mile walk that I mentioned above? That Friday afternoon would have been a great day NOT to do that walk. The only reason we did it was to hang out longer after school. I could have easily gotten onto a bus right outside my school's gate and head home. But smart, I am not. So I struggled along on that walk. It hurt so so so so much. 

Saturday afternoon I needed to go back to school for quiz club practice. I surely had a good reason to skip it - the inability to walk faster than a snail without saying "ouch" "ouch" would have surely gotten me out of practice. But I loved quiz practice so I went. And yup, I did that two mile walk after practice into the town center with my friends again. 

I am doing things better this time. I don't have an actual 5 K scheduled but I will be ready if one comes up in June or just after. Knowing me, I will fall off training and still sign up to do a 5K. That's what happens every year for the turkey trot. I walk for that but I am usually active before and a month or so before the trot, barely walking to my car. 

* All students were divided into one of four houses. These houses competed against each other in various events including an eisteddford and the big event - Sports Day. It was great that you did not need to be athletic to do something for your house. You'd be right if you guessed that my contribution came from - eisteddford. If I wasn't feeling particularly rebellious, I'd enter the poetry competition (reciting, not writing). 

All of this is taking me down memory lane. I'm off to reminisce.