30 Jan

Medicine Ball Circuit

Last night Matt and I actually worked out together!

I love having a workout partner. Love. But if Matt and I are ever at the gym together we usually do different things. He starts with cardio then does lots of supersets of isolation exercises whereas I do big lifts, take lots of breaks, and rarely do cardio on my lifting days.

Plus I’m stubborn and like to stick to my programme like glue. As does he.

I recently structured a whole weightlifting programme for my brother-in-law Sean that I based on ideas from stronglifts and crossfit football. It starts with strength exercises (low reps and heavy weight of cleans, deadlifts, bench press, and squats) and ends with cardio complexes or circuits (little rest and lots of repetition).

Click to see the whole workout
Workout for Sean

Anyway, Matt’s been doing this programme too which is really exciting. He says it’s exhausting which is great for him because I know how much he likes a really tiring workout.

Last night while Matt was doing his Power Cleans and Inverted Rows I got my tread on. It was my cardio day.

30 minutes on the treadmill:

10 min jogging
12 min of intervals: 1 min at 6.0mph, 2min at 8.5mph
8 min cool down – jogging & walking

Afterward I met up with him to do a circuit from the programme:

Medicine Ball Circuit

16 rounds of
– 5 wall balls
– 4 alternating medicine ball push-ups
– 5 ball slams
Rest after every 4 rounds.

One of the trainers came over and told us not to do wall balls because it could damage the drywall (I really need to start workout out in a place with concrete walls) so we ended up just tossing the ball straight up in the air and catching it.

The workout was tiring but fun because I had a partner to do it with. I originally prescribed 30 rounds but we only did 16.

29 Jan

Waist Goals Update 3

I can hardly even recall my waist goals resolution that I set in September. That’s how little effort I’ve been putting into achieving it.

I always have a nearly impossible time trying to stay on track with any goal that doesn’t come easily to me; that’s just my nature. And here is yet more evidence of it.

My plan was to lose 6 cm from my waist. I was checking in and making progress pretty well until December kicked in and all the sudden I just forgot what a whole grain was and I made fast friends with cookies and chocolate. My last update post was in November, guys. Yikes.

What has triggered me to refocus on my goal is my recent feelings of bloating and discomfort and sluggishness. I’m not exactly at my peak right now.

Progress: (the measurements are waist/belly/weight)

Aug 15: 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Jan 28: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb

Not so nice. My waist is bigger than when I started. Oy.

Aug 31Aug 31Aug 31

Taken Aug 31

Nov 18 (1)Nov 18 (4)Nov 18 (5)

Taken Nov 18

Jan 28 (1)Jan 28 (2)Jan 28 (3)

Taken Jan 28

As a refresher, my game plan was to increase my protein, cut out white carbs, plan out my late night snacks, include a cheat meal every week (with dessert and/or white carbs), and opt for high intensity exercise.

How I’m Following Through with my Game Plan:

Start the Day with Protein

Actually this hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been making a batch of mini omelettes on the weekends that I can easily pack and eat for breakfast all week long. Failing that, smoothies with protein powder have started making a comeback into my life.

Also I’ve maintained my post-workout protein as well.

Going Forward: Keep it up!

Cut out processed food and white carbs.

No. Not at all. I’ve been enjoying too much dessert, vanilla spice lattes, lots of pasta, and white bread (even if it’s homemade it doesn’t make it right).

Going Forward: Stop baking so much. Plan weekly meals that have less starchiness and more protein and vegetables.

Cheat Meal

See above.

High Intensity Exercise

I’ve been doing the 5/3/1 Programme for weightlifting 4 days per week which focuses more on strength than power, so it’s challenging but not high intensity.

As for cardio I have 2 sessions per week. I’ve been doing a lot of swimming, mostly 30 minute of laps including eight to ten 20s sprints.
I’ve also been doing tabata sprints on the treadmill as much as possible.

Going Forward: I would like to also add a complex to the end of one of my weightlifting sessions each week to get my heart rate up.

Plan Night Time Snacks

Well, instead of noshing on crap food at night, I’ve been snacking on it throughout the day. Not exactly a trade-up.

Going Forward: Ideally I’d like to eat a portion of cottage cheese or casein protein at night before bed.

22 Jan

Souffle Making Tips

So I finally made a Soufflé for the first time(!) thus crossing another item off my Winter Bucket List.

I got an HBC gift card from my brother-in-law for Christmas so on Saturday I went to Home Outfitters to find a soufflé dish to add to my growing collection of bakeware. I scoured all the shelves and all I the closest thing I could find was this round Corningware casserole dish.

Corningware French White 2.5Quart Round Dish

It seemed a little bit wider and shallower than a normal soufflé dish (which is smaller in diameter and a bit taller) but I went with it for lack of other options. On the plus side, it rang up at $17 instead of the $39 sticker price (score!).

I decided to go with a recipe from the Keys to the Kitchen cookbook by Aida Mollenkamp.

KeysToTheKitchen

I won the cookbook a while back in a blog giveaway and every. single. thing. that I’ve made from it (and I’ve made quite a few) has been a hit. I’d highly recommend this book for anyone who needs a broad staple cookbook (slash reference guide) with lots of tips, techniques, and recipes.

There are variations of almost every recipe and tips in the sidebar of each recipe so you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I love that.

The book has a couple recipes for soufflé—an oatmeal breakfast soufflé and a herbed goat cheese soufflé—of which I tried the latter (though now I really want to try the former as well).

Making this wasn’t as hard or tricky as I thought it would be. I used all the tricks in the book (literally) and others that I read about online to make sure that I didn’t mess anything up.

Mine rose nicely and was light and fluffy. Also it tasted delicious. Absolutely, remarkably delicious.

The only problem, I think, was my soufflé dish. My soufflé came out perfectly cooked everywhere except it was slightly undercooked in the centre. I think maybe the size (slightly larger than what was recommended in the recipe) and shape of the soufflé dish might have had to do with it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So obviously with one semi-successful soufflé under my belt I’m no expert, but I did do some research before attempting my soufflé so to keep you from having to do all the research yourself, here are some soufflé making tips that I’ve discovered after my extensive reading:

Souffle Making Tips

Separating the Eggs: It’s super important to keep any specks of yolk from getting into the whites. Fresh eggs are key here because they are much easier to separate than old eggs whose membranes have broken down (so the yolk may break into the white when cracked). Cold eggs just out of the refrigerator separate more easily.

Whipping the Eggs: Just when you thought that fresh eggs were better, you learn that the whites from older eggs actually whip up much faster and higher than fresh egg whites. But stick with the fresh eggs because they will produce a foam that is more stable and will hold up better in soufflé-making.

Oh and those cold eggs that you just separated? Get them to room temperature before whipping because they’ll whip up much higher that way.

Finally, make sure the bowl and whisk that you use for whipping are completely clean and dry since any fats or oils will prevent the whites from whipping up nice and high (the same way the yolk specks would).

Folding: Be quick but gentle about folding the whites into the soufflé base.

In Advance: You can generally make the base a few days in advance without sacrificing the outcome of your soufflé as long as you bring it to room temperature before folding in your whites (which should, as mentioned above, also be room temperature)

While Baking: Keep the oven door shut. No peeking!

Rising and Falling: Soufflés have exactly two states of being: rising (as they heat up) and falling (as they cool down). When they’re not rising, they’re falling. So serve this bad boy right away otherwise it, like any other soufflé, will fall. Not that a fallen soufflé won’t be delicious—it will—but it does lose some of it’s oooh-la-la factor.


Thyme and Goat Cheese SouffleOkay, so it doesn’t look like much, but it tasted amazing!

Herbed Goat Cheese Souffle

By Aida Mollenkamp Keys to the Kitchen
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 T unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1/3 c. grated Parmigiano cheese
3 T. all purpose flour
1 c. half-and-half cream (I used heavy cream)
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
pinch each of freshly grated nutmeg and cayenne pepper
6 large fresh eggs, separated when cold then brought to room temperature (you will only need 4 of the yolks and all 6 whites)
5 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled.

Directions

Heat the oven to 375F, arrange the rack in the middle and place a baking sheet on the rack. Generously coat a 6 cup soufflé dish with butter and sprinkle evenly with half of the parmesan cheese to coat. Set aside.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. When the foaming subsides, add the flour and stir occasionally until the flour has cooked slightly, about 3 minutes.

Gradually whisk in the cream, thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne, and bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat an whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, until well blended. Whisk in the goat cheese until evenly combined. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (be sure that both the whish and bowl are very clean). Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until the whites are glossy and peaks are droopy but hold onto a spatula, about 3 minutes more.

Fold one-third of the egg whites into the base mixture until well blended and no white streaks are visible. Add the remaining whites and gently fold until thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top.

Place the soufflé dish on the heated baking sheet and bake until it is well risen (no peeking!), the top is browned, the edges appear dry, and the center is set, 25-30 minutes.

Serve immediately.

18 Jan

Master Swim Class

This weekend I went to Illinois to visit Vicki for the weekend, leaving my husband behind to do all the chores (sorry Matt!) and watch as much playoff football as possible.

My brother-in-law offered to use his air miles so I could have the luxury of flying instead of the nearly 6 hour drive. Which made me feel like a high roller.

My sister picked me up Friday night from the airport and after swinging by Portillo’s for a chop salad we made it to her apartment and tried to decide what workout to do the next day. When we get together exercise is always on the agenda.

Vic is a member at a really swanky fitness centre. The kind with clean showers and free towels and all the workout equipment that is trendy these days (but maybe not enough squat racks for my liking). They also have a 25m lap pool.

Vicki really got into swimming this year to train for the 2 sprint triathalons that she participated in. I, myself, had a brief (and pathetic) stint on the high school swim team in grade 9, and more recently have been taking to the pool for interval training. In spite of that, neither of us is particularly good at swimming.

I’m slow and sloppy and have poor form and my breaststroke is just as efficient as my freestyle (which means I’m either prodigious at breaststroke or pathetic at freestyle).

So when we decided to try out the 7am Master’s Swim Class (a class for actual good swimmers) to say we were both a bit nervous is an understatement. I crawled out of bed with little enthusiasm at 6:20 and we got dressed and headed over to the gym.

There were more people there than we would have liked, which meant we were sharing a lane with a regular to the class, but luckily his pace was similar to ours so I didn’t feel as inadequate as I expected I would.

The entire hour and a half class was freestyle swimming (lord help me). We did some drills using buoys, paddles, and flutter boards but it was mostly swimming laps at whatever pace the instructor recommended. I’m trying hard to remember but I think this is what we did:

200m warm up

200m pulls with the buoy between our legs

200m pulls with paddles on our hands

200m flutter kicks

4 x 100m negative splits

4 x 100m easy to practice our form

4 x 100m negative splits

3 x 75m pulls with the buoy and paddles

I appreciated that the instructor watched Vicki and I and gave us some tips to correct our form. Apparently my kicking sucks (no surprise there) and I swim with my head up too much (a symptom of my breaststroke preference, perhaps?) so I tried to take her tips and apply them to my stroke.

After an hour and a half and at least 2 kilometres of swimming, I was tired for pretty much the rest of the day.

We did make it into the city to check out The Field Museum–What an awesome place! I’d love to go back and see what we missed.– but by 7pm I was exhausted and ready to crash.

Swimming always takes it out of me.

Me at the Field Museum

Vicki at the Field Museum

17 Jan

5/3/1 For Women – Cycle 1 Recap

I just finished my first cycle of the 5/3/1 for Women Training Programme which focuses on building strength in the basic multi-joint lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press.

Each cycle is 4 weeks with increasing weight and decreasing reps each week (5 reps/ 3 reps/ 1 rep/ deload, hence the name 5/3/1) and the weight to be used is calculated in advance and is based on 90% of your one rep maximum.

Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 Training

Main Lifts

Cycle 1

When I initially did the calculations I was concerned about how light the weight was going to be for the main lifts. At 90% 1RM, the loads that I calculated were weights that I could crank out for 4 to 6 reps already so I used 95% 1RM as my baseline instead.

This 95% figure worked out really well and it got me PRs in both my back squat and push press. Yay!

Cycle 2

In Cycle 2 you are to add 10lbs to your 1RM for Squat and Deadlift and 5lb for Bench and Overhead Press to create your new 1RM and then recalculate 90% of this.

But, since the 95% 1RM figure worked well for cycle 1 and I still had some gas in the tank after my lifts, I’m going to continue with use 95% as my baseline figure. If it starts to get progressively more difficult in future cycles then I’ll scale back.

Accessory Lifts

Cycle 1

I did a variation of the ‘boring but big’ recommendation for bodybuilding. So each day I lifted

– the Main lift, then
– the Main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press), then
– 3 accessory exercises with a higher rep range (10-15)

Cycle 2

I’m going to keep doing what I was doing. I find that I get bored by the 8th rep or so but I really think I need the change from low reps and I want to build up my muscle a bit.

Deload Week

Cycle 1

Deload week is mentally challenging because you really want to keep pumping out heavy weight, but you’re supposed to use this week to let your body recover.
I never understood runners who don’t like tapering (running less miles in the weeks before a race) because, to me, a break from all that mileage is more than welcome. But now I think I see where they’re coming from.

Luckily, my deload week coincided quite nicely with both PMS and a crappy cold so I wasn’t really feeling like pushing myself anyway.

Cycle 2

If I’m not sick or menstrual in my next deload week I imagine it will be mentally frustrating.

Cardio

Cycle 1

My cardio hit the backburner when I got sick but I was doing a lot of sprints in the pool (since hill sprints and road sprints have been killing my achilles lately).

10 minutes warm up – easy laps
10 minutes of sprints (20s sprint + 20s rest with a break after every 4 cycles)
10 minutes cool down – easy laps or drills

But on Saturday Vicki and I did a Master Swim Classs at which we were only slightly pathetic. It involved an hour and a half and at least 2km of swimming. EXHAUSTING! (I’ll tell you more about it soon)

Cycle 2

I plan to add back more running sprints as long as my achilles holds up.

15 Jan

Martin Picard Tourtiere

It’s time for this month’s Baking Partners Challenge. The theme for this month is PIE!

This time around I had the chance to pick one of the recipe options for the group and I went with a tourtière– a classic French-Canadian meat pie.

I’ve never made a tourtière before and I wanted it to be good, so I searched out a recipe from my favourite French Canadian chef, Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon.

Martin Picard Tourtiere (2)

I love the hell out of pie.

I don’t make pies as often as I’d like because they’re dangerous in my company but I really, really love them (even if they’re not all that cool).

I’m fond of a flavourful and flaky crust (even if its flakiness sacrifices its appearance) and the filling is just an added bonus.

So for this recipe Picard’s crust was forgone in order to allow me to experiment a bit. I normally make my crusts with butter, but I figured there would be no better time to try a lard crust than in a pork-filled pie.

Lard is known for making very flaky pastry and, since I wanted to get more flakiness without sacrificing the flavour of butter, I split the fat in my pie crust recipe into a ratio of 60% lard to 40% butter. It was fantastic.

Tourtiere (6)

The lard crust seemed to me to be slightly harder to work with. As usual, it didn’t look the prettiest but the flakiness was stellar. I still have some lard left over that I would really like to try in a sweet pie next time.

Oh yeah, and about that filling? SO GOOD. This recipe was a huge hit with both Matt and I.

Martin Picard Tourtiere

 

Martin Picard Tourtiere du Shack

I increased the amount of spices slightly from Picard’s original recipe to give it more flavour. The filling makes more than enough for one 9 inch pie, so I used the extra to make pork filled fatayer.

This recipe took me a full day to make but it’s not all hands-on time. If you plan it out properly you can make a lot of the components ahead of time and just pop the pie in the oven right before you want to serve it. I’d like to try freezing a prepared pie to see how that works.

Makes 1 very deep 9 inch pie.

Adapted from Martin Picard

Ingredients

Crust

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. cold lard cut into 1/2” pieces
1/2 c. cold salted butter cut into 1/2” pieces
8 – 10 Tbsp. ice water

Filling

1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped, divided
4 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
5 whole black peppercorns plus freshly ground black pepper
5 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 2″ pieces
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 medium button mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 pounds ground pork
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup grated, peeled russet potato
All-purpose flour (for surface)
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

Directions

Crust

Pulse the flour, salt, lard, and butter in a food processor 4 or 5 times until you get large quarter-sized crumbles. (Forget the pea-sized business. You want big chunks here)

Add the water tablespoon at a time, pulsing once between additions until the dough just starts to come together. It will still be pretty crumbly but you should be able to form it into a ball with your hands.

Divide the mixture in half and form each half into a ball. Wrap them in plastic wrap individually and, once wrapped, flatten them into a disc. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before using. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.

Filling

Preheat oven to 325°. Combine broth, 1/2 chopped onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, whole peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves in a medium pot. Add pork shoulder; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Cover pot. Transfer to oven; braise until pork shoulder is tender and shreds easily, about 2 hours. Remove from oven; let cool.

Transfer pork shoulder to a work surface. Shred meat with your fingers and transfer to a medium bowl. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve; add 1/2 cup juices to pork; discard solids in strainer.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves; cook, stirring often, until soft, 5–7 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until almost all liquid is evaporated, 5–7 minutes. Add wine; stir, scraping up browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring often, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Add ground pork, cinnamon, and cloves. Cook, stirring to break up into small pieces, until pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add potato. Cook until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in shredded pork with juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper; let cool slightly. Chill until cold, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12″ round. Transfer to a deep 9” pie dish, leaving overhang. Fill with cooled meat mixture. Roll out remaining dough disk into a 10″ round. Place dough over meat filling. Fold overhang over top crust and crimp edges. Brush crust with egg yolk. Cut three 2″ slits in top crust. Chill for 1 hour.

Tourtiere (1)

Preheat oven to 400°. Bake tourtière for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 40–50 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

BakingPartners


If you’re looking for some more savoury pie recipes, here are a few that I’ve made and loved.



10 Jan

12 Months of 2012 – pt. 2

Read  Part 1, my January to June recap here.


July

This epic month involved two and a half glorious weeks in Greece, which has been my dream vacation for so long.

We explored the labyrinthine streets of Chania, hiked the gorges of Loutro, visited the Minoan palace of Knossos in Heraklion, saw the blue domed churches and whitewashed buildings of Santorini and took in ancient Greek culture at the archaeological sites of Athens.

Chania Crete (34)

Matt and I had our 4th wedding anniversary.

I had my champagne birthday27 on the 27th.

And for my birthday Matt and I went to Chicago to experience the best new restaurant in the US, Next, and their Sicily menu– 13 courses including this roasted pork shoulder, the most delicious piece of meat I’ve ever eaten.

Pork Shoulder

August

I was an extra in a movie.

I’m ready for my close up!

I was inspired by the summer Olympics to start incorporate Olympic Weightlifting (Cleans, Jerks, & Snatches) into my workouts and I’ve been loving them ever since.

And I started a plan to lose 6cm from my waist, which is still in progress right now, but may have stalled a bit over the Christmas holidays. I’m tracking my progress in the right sidebar.

Progress Sept 1 2012

September

I cooked up a big batch of my favourite soup ever: Fire Roasted Corn Chowder.

Fire Roasted Corn Chowder

My ciabatta bread won second place at the sham show otherwise known as the Harrow Fair. The judges must have taste buds in their eyes since they managed to pick a winner without even tasting the bread.

Harrow Fair (9)

I kicked off the long and boring football season by going to the Detroit Lions home opener at Ford Field with my dad, his girlfriend Silvia, and Matt. I admit it was an exciting game with the Lions scoring the winning touchdown in the last 10 seconds.

Matt and I in Ford FieldMatt and I in Ford Field

October

I captained a team in the Run for the Cure for the 7th consecutive year in honour of my mom who passed away from breast cancer in 2006.

Run for the Cure 2012

I went Apple Picking.

Apple Picking at Wagner's

And I dressed up as Mary Poppins for kicks Hallowe’en and handed out full-sized chocolate bars.

Mary Poppins

November

I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K race in downtown Chicago with Vicki and Tina that culminated with a hot chocolate and fondue party in Grant Park.

Hot Chocolate 15K ChicagoTina, Vicki, and me post race.

I got a personal record on my deadlift with a 225lb lift.

I watched Matt coach his football team to their first ever division victory.


Lasers Coaches. Matt is second from the left.

I baked these amazing Filipino date & walnut bars appropriately named Food for the Gods.

Photo Source

December

I did 14 straight days of Moksha Hot Yoga.

I switched up my weightlifting routine to build strength in 2013 with Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 programme.

I finished the year with yet another wonderful Holiday Season where I cooked a lot, got together with my family, watched my stunning cousin marry her perfect match, and ate fondue with friends.

The Melting Pot


Read Part 1, my January to June recap here.

08 Jan

12 Months of 2012 – pt. 1

Yes, I’m still recapping my 2012.

It was a good year in that it wasn’t a bad year and sometimes that’s the best we can hope for, right?

You can read Part 2, July through December here.

January

I start 2012 off with a bang in January by accomplishing my biggest goal for the year: a marathon. I never thought that running a marathon would be so much fun, but Disney knows how to plan an epic event, that’s for sure.

In spite of having a terrible bout of runner’s trots (naturally) and stopping at every mile for photo ops with Disney characters, I managed to finish in 5:15. Not too shabby!

You can read all about it here.

Of course the marathon also meant travel to Orlando where my friend Tina and I hit up Magic Kingdom, and both Universal Studios parks. I finally got to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but it was Seuss Landing that really captured my heart.

Butterbeer

The Lorax

Later in the month Matt and I went to Niagara-on-the-Lake for his birthday and the Icewine Festival.

Busy month!

February

In February I started learning to play the guitar somewhat spontaneously after years and years of wanting to do it. The hobby stuck with me and I pick up my guitar to practice nearly every day.

Guitar

I also went to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago while on a trip to visit my sister Vicki.

Jellies

March

I went bowling with Matt and saw a private screening of The Hunger Games premiere.

I also wrote a post about a poll indicating that Black Women are Heavier and Happier with their Bodies than White Women which got a lot of attention.

(source)
“F.A.T. means fabulous and thick, full and tasty, fluffy and tender.” – Mo’nique

April

I celebrated Easter with my favourite Lebanese foods.

I made my own Homemade Fig Newtons. . . multiple times. And ate them all.

Homemade Fig Newtons

And I wrote about how “Athletic” is a stupid way to describe female body types; my favourite body image post this year.

May

I started more seriously swapping out my steady state, moderate intensity cardio exercise for more Interval Based Conditioning exercises like Terrible Twenties and Gut Busters and Sled Push Substitutes. Later I also started doing more tabata sprints as well.

Matt and I went on a date to Colasanti’s a greenhouse/petting zoo/amusement park/banquet facility hybrid. (I know, the concept really doesn’t make much sense unless you’re from Essex County).

Me and a Goat

And I made Homemade Clotted Cream for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which I thought was a disaster but it actually tasted really good. I consulted Joe Pastry who called it a success, so I stopped worrying about it and enjoyed my tasty butterfat.

Of course I had to make cream scones to go with it.

June

I went to the Freedom Fest – one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world – which is right on the Detroit River.

DSCF9678

And I actually didn’t fuck up a batch of granola for once! I baked this dangerously good granola and didn’t even burn it.

Best Ever Granola


Read Part 2, July through December here

06 Jan

Top 10 Posts from 2012

My 2012 posts with the most pageviews were really versatile and included everything from body image to recipes to travel to weightlifting. I’m a veritable Martha Stewart.

Turns out that in 2012 people really liked when I wrote about naked women and baking soda. . . but not necessarily together.


10. Women and Nudity and the Awkwardness of it All

The post where I talk about naked women and how I appreciate the changing room’s token nude.

The more effort we put into covering up our imperfections by hiding our bodies from other women then the less real, unaltered images of female bodies we are exposed to.

9. Best Homemade Soft Pretzels

Pretzels (4)

The post where I declare Alton Brown’s soft pretzel recipe the best ever and talk a little about baking soda chemistry.

The key to making soft pretzels with a chewy interior and a crispy, deep brown crust is an alkaline bath.

8. Top 5 Things To Do in Chania, Crete

Chania Crete (25)

I juuuuust realized now that I blogged about my entire trip to Greece this summer except Athens! Woops. Loutro was my favourite stop in Crete, but Chania was also very charming.

Chania is a beautiful city. It’s old town area has really quaint winding alleys that are great for tourists to explore.

7. Grenadian Oil Down

Grenadian Oil Down

The post with a recipe for a delicious coconut curry with vegetables and dumplings. I’ve made this recipe several times and it is really good! I’m glad it made the top 10.

Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada and is usually made at a big party on the beach, or so I’ve read. I made this in my kitchen, so it’s not quite as fun, but it still tastes awesome.

6. 6 Day Full Body Lift and Circuit Routine

The post where I offer up a workout plan with 3 strength exercises followed by a circuit of 3 exercises. This wasn’t my favourite routine from 2012, (this Olympic Routine was) but it was pretty popular with readers

With a circuit workout I think I need to change it up more often to keep myself motivated and excited.

5. Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread (2)

The post where I bake Irish Soda Bread. Again I find myself talking about the chemistry of baking soda. Apparently alkalis are popular with the readers.

Matt said that this was the best soda bread he’s had, even though he didn’t like it. And didn’t want to eat it. Not exactly a raving review, but I’ll take it I suppose.

4. DIY Marathon Medal Frame

DSCF8908

The post where I make a framed collage of my marathon medal, bib, and pictures.

So after a very minimal time commitment and minimal cost I ended up with a sweet homemade collection of my marathon memories. Fun times.

3. Garbage Can Pizza Oven

Garbage Can Pizza Oven

The post where I eat pizza out of the garbage build a wood fired oven in my backyard out of garbage can and a pile of dirt. True story.

Matt called me at the office, to ask me a very important question after spending much of the morning with Zack digging up our crab grass infested lawn:

“Umm… I got a whole bunch of dirt here, you want to make a garbage can pizza oven?”

DO I EVER!

2. Girls and Lena Dunham’s Body

The post where I talk about nudity—again—and how much I like seeing Lena Dunham naked. Although I think most people came to this post looking for Lena Dunham porn.

Lena Dunham isn’t terribly fat. Her body is imperfect, so basically she looks completely normal, like most of the women I know, and not at all like the stereotypical ‘perfect’ Hollywood body that we’re exposed to.

1. Fitspo is Not Inspirational

The post where I talk about how ‘inspiring’ images of fit women can be damaging to our body positivity.

Fitspo images aren’t any better for our self esteem than glossy magazine images of dangerously thin models. They’re photoshopped. They’re not attainable. And, quite frankly, they’re not all that healthy either.