Tuesday, July 21, 2015

That was the Week: July 13th through July 19th 2015 FAILURE!!!


Here is my annoyed quick roundup of what I had written.

Jobu at streamer/ribbon. Worried I would have to take to vet. Watched him closely. Days later he pooped it all out

Friday really hot. Went to specialist doctor. He said I no longer had to come see him and could just see my normal doctor yeah. Went to party at my bosses' place.  Ate Chipotle and sweated. At Chipotle leftovers for days.

Saturday: Went with my mom down to my Grandpa and Grandma's and spent time with them. YEAH!  Helped my Mom buy them a disabled access van.. those things are expensive. 


Friday, July 17, 2015

Food Friday: Pizza Margherita

Any good pizza begins with good dough. I am not talking some store bought mass produced item. I am talking about hand made goodness from flour.

I have been making my own pizza dough for a few years now. I started making it about the same time I discovered you could bake your own bread. 

Dough Ingredients: 
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup warm water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
First we need to proof the yeast. Why do we proof yeast? What even is "proofing" yeast? Yeast is a living organism. Dry yeast is in a dormant state. When we proof yeast we are making sure it hasn't died and bringing it back to an active state. Yeast eats sugars and produces carbon dioxide. Warm water activates the dry yeast and we give it a form of sugar to start eating.

In a mixing bowl add the packet of yeast, 1/4 cup of warm water, and a tablespoon of flower. Mix it all together and then put it aside. After about five minutes check back to make sure your little yeasty beasties are alive and working. The mixture which was a flat tan color should look like someone has poured some cream into it. I tried to capture it in the picture below. You'll hopefully know it when you see it.

Add about 1 1/4 cups of flour, a half cup of warm water, the salt and oil. Stir everything in together. Then keep adding in more floor, it might take up to 1/2 a cup of additional flour. You want to keep mixing in the added flour bit by bit until the dough ball can be pulled away from the side of the bowl. It will still be a bit sticky to the touch.

Now is the part where you put your expensive mixer with a dough hook to use.  Oh wait, the only mixer I have is my hands. Pick your work surface something nice and flat. I've recently started spreading some wax paper on the work surface to make cleanup easier.  The paper slides around a bit but it is manageable.  Spread some flour about the surface. The flour will keep the dough from sticking as you knead it. That flour will get incorporated into the dough as you knead so you will need to keep putting flour on the surface. Also flour your hands so your hands won't stick to the dough. If the dough does start to stick to either your hands or the work surface, add more flour to them. Pizza dough needs to be very elastic so you have to knead it for a long time. I use a simple process to knead.  I pull out a piece of dough, then fold it over and push it in to the rest of the dough using the heel of my hand.  I move about 90 degrees on the dough ball and repeat.  I do this for eight minutes. I even set the timer for it.

At this point I have tried  different approaches to get a thin crust. The result for either way have basically been the same. No thin crust for me. I have taken the dough covered it in a mixing bowl and let it sit aside for an hour to rise.

Or you can just go straight to the rolling out phase.  I don't do the whole toss the pizza in the air thing. I roll it out to generally be the shape and size of my pizza pan.  I oil up the bottom of the pizza pan and then put the dough in it. I use my fingers to push out the dough till it fits the pan. I like to build up a little edge on the outside for a bit of crust to hang onto. 
Now we make the sauce. Actually I had already made the sauce. It can be made earlier and stored.  This makes enough sauce for two pizzas. I us half and usually freeze the leftover since I don't like to let it sit in the fridge for more than a few days.

  • 1 Can of diced tomatoes.  I thought these were 16 oz but they are actually only 14.5.  I actually prefer to use the canned tomatoes instead of the bad greenhouse tomatoes you can get from the grocery store. Obviously the best would come from tomatoes grown locally.  
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Italian seasoning to taste( oregano, basil, thyme) I use a lot.  probably about 3 tablespoons

I dumped everything into a food processor and ran it until I had a nice paste. 

Pizza Margherita is just pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.  I got the basil from my balcony garden. I spread the sauce over the dough. I then place some basil leaves.  You should really use fresh mozzarella cut into slices and placed over the top. I didn't have that so I just used a bag of shredded mozzarella.

Some final basil on the top and we are ready for the oven.

I preheated the oven to 425 F and cooked the pizza for 15 minutes.

Much nom noms

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

That was the Week - July 6th through July 12th 2015

My post where I highlight bits and bobs that happened to me throughout last week.

Car Dealers, rain and buses:

Tuesday I needed to leave my car at the dealer all day so they could do a recall. The dealer is not far from my place and even closer to the bus stop near my place. Every night when I go to bed I promise myself that I am going to take the bus to save gas/money.  I never do take the bus. After they checked my car in I was told I could wait for the shuttle. I had other plans. It was raining. This may be the first time I have ever mentioned this on the, which frankly would shock me, but I love love love walking in the rain. Give me anything from a mist to a shower and I'll be out in that for hours. I knew a bus would be coming in a about ten minutes so I slowly walked to the bus stop. I did forget that the bus took an extra 15 minutes to get to work so I was later than I should have been.  Hope my boss doesn't read this.

When I took the car in they gave me to possibilities. It would be an easy fix and only take an hour or they would need to have the car all day.  I waited all day but never did get a call from them saying it was ready.  When I left work I still hand't heard from them.  So I hoped on the bus going the other way and went to the dealer since it's on the way. If nothing else I thought I could get an update. Maybe I should have called.  When I got there the guy gave me the keys. Not sure why they never called and I didn't asked.

Goodbye to an inspiring internet friend

On Wednesday I read the very sad news of a death.  I didn't know Lisa in real life. I had only been reading her blog since 2012.  She died after a short battle with an aggressive cancer.  After the initial wave of sadness, two thoughts kept going through my head.  Way too young and way to fast. She was only 54 and she had only been diagnosed about 7 months earlier.  I never doubted that she would beat it. From reading her blog I got the impression of someone who just conquered life and got what they set out to get. I was certain that I would be reading about her life in Paris for years to come.

As a kind of tribute I have been going back and reading some of her older posts. I knew the basics of her story but more has been filled in. She found herself at 43 with no marriage and no kids. So she decided to work toward her dream of living and writing in Paris. She moved so she could save money and starting working up the type of career that could be done in Paris. It took almost 2 years but in late 2006 she was living in Paris. In what seems like no time at all she met the man of her dreams and was married into a pre-made French family.

I found some great quotes from the post in 2005 where she announced her plan to live in Paris:

What I want more than anything is to EXPERIENCE more of life, more of the world.  I want to create a life that is BIGGER than the norm, where I have the opportunity to meet people and go places and experience things that will take me beyond my own back yard. As I near the end of my years, I want to be able to look back and have no significant regrets about not having done things that were really important to me.  I want to be someone who is bold, who is able to take chances and willing to experience new things.  I want to broaden the scope of my horizons.

It's not that I want to run AWAY from my life -- it's not a bad life at all and I'm very blessed in many ways.  It's that I am now running TOWARDS my life.  I think we all have to decide what our lives are about... and I think mine is about a JOURNEY, both in the literal and figurative senses.  I am more into the process than the outcome now.
She accomplished her goal. She lived her dream. It may have only been a for a too short 8 years but how many of us live our dream for 8 minutes let alone 8 years. Just imagine if she had taken the easy road and just kept putting of attaining her goal.

She could change her life after 40 so why can't I.. or you.

Mr Von grumpy meow:

Usually Saturday, or as it more correctly known around my place Caturday, is one of Jobu's favorites. If I am around I open up the balcony door and let him just hang out out there. He loves it. He sits out among the plants and sleeps. He basks in the sun and watches people go by.  But sometimes we get Mr Grumpy Meow like last Saturday. He just moped around. He would whine at me to let him out on the balcony then he would come back in a minute later to whine some more. He actually can be pretty good at communicating what he wants. If it's food he will run over to his food dish. If he is having his poopy trouble he'll run over by the liter box. I think he wants me to squeeze it out or something. Silly cat. For four hours he moped and whined. I thought maybe something was wrong with him but how do you tell. Finally he went to sleep and the rest of the day was happy and playful.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

That was the week: June 29th - July 5th 2015

My post where I highlight bits and bobs that happened to me throughout last week.

The weather this entire week has been almost perfect. The temperature has been in the high 70s, with lowish humidity and a slight breeze.  I walked a lot this week. I mean a lot.  I am sure I got in almost thirty miles of walking.  It was just to perfect to be inside.

The first fruits of the balcony garden are starting to come in. I got a bell pepper getting close to pick-able and the first tomato has started to form. I have been harvesting and beginning to dry some of the basil and oregano.  The closet I hang them up in smells really nice now. The cilantro I have basically let go to seed. I don't know if that means I will have cilantro next year without planting. I guess we'll see.

I finished moving the furniture around and really cleaned up. I even scrubbed stuff and I never scrub stuff. I finally donated a bunch of stuff that had been sitting in boxes by my front door for months and months.

Saturday was the 4th of July and I had plans.  All my plans fell apart because of me and my forgetfulness.  I moped around my place for a bit trying to find a cook out or something to go to.  Finally I decided to just go for a run until something came up. I put on my running clothes and grabbed my Tom Tom gps watch. I had not run in awhile but I was doing ok. I looked down at the watch and thought that it must have been in kilometers because I know the path were I run and It wasn't as far as the watch said.  After I finished I hooked the watch up to my computer to upload the run. Clearly something had been screwed up. The watch had me starting my run on the completely wrong side of town and then proceeding through several fields until I ended up in the middle of  an empty field.

Sunday I woke up early. Well early for me. I am sure many people are already up by 7:30 but that is almost unheard of for me on a Sunday. So I hung out on the balcony with Jobu listening to the birds. A girl cardinal hopped around on the tree next to us as Jobu wanted to eat it. The cardinal flew away and Jobu had to find a new thing to distract him.  There shimmering in the morning light was a spider web.

I have to insert a digression about spiders. I really like spiders. They look freaky and scary but the are wonderful little creatures that eat the other insects that I hate. As a rule I am totally fine with spiders in my house or elsewhere as long as they don't invade human land. Stay in your little corner or behind the thing and kill the little bugs, but if you starting crawling out around where I am.  Squish!

Jobu's eyes got all big as he wondered what was this new shiny floating thing. He inched closer to it, sniffing at it. He touched it a few times with his paw. Then he stuck his face in it. He pulled back and began trying to clean the sticky menace off his face. It was attacking him. He licked his face and tried to use his paws. While enjoying a good laugh I came over and helped get the web off him.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Music Monday: Eelke Kleijn - Mistakes I've Made

This song came on while I went for a run, seemed apropos:

There's no future there's no past
Beating hearts are all we have
Getting stronger break by break

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

That was the week June 22nd - June 28th 2015: Sorta

I don't actually remember when everything happened and it was a boring week so instead of a day by day I am just going to give you some highlights.

*One of the big things I did this week was rearrange my furniture and clean. As part of this I threw away an old ratty couch I had had for years. It was once part of pair of couches that my mom had bought. I had thrown the other one away almost ten years ago.  The only use the couch has gotten the last recently  was as a place for Jobu to sleep and as a scratching post.  I lugged it by myself down the stairs and tossed it out by the dumpster. My apartment complex pays to have large items taken away. Later that night I was still cleaning and went to throw out a bag of trash.  A soft rain was falling. After throwing my stuff away I looked at the couch sitting in the soft summer rain. It looked so small and sad with its faded flower pattern slightly soaked and all the places were Jobu had ripped up the fabric. I patted it on the arm and said I was sorry for throwing it out and thanked it for its years of service. I then realized I was standing in the rain talking to a couch.

*For those of you who aren't cat people, they tend to not like change. Jobu has this thing I call his perch.

It's very high and puts him above my eye level. He loves it. It allows him to lord over me and show me who runs barter town. He was up there sorta sleeping as I moved things around.  I had moved the desk that used to sit next to the perch. He jumped from the desk to the perch.  I hadn't put anything back yet.  He finally woke up more and looked down.  EVERYTHING WAS GONE!!  He got a panicked look on his face as he started looking back and forth. How do I get down?!

You can't really see in the picture but I have set up a really easy way for him to get up there that involves at the most a foot and half jump. His tiny brain can't seem to figure this out. He keeps trying to get up the hardest way possible involving the longest jumps. He has even meowed pitifully at me until I pick him up and put him up there.  He stupid.

*I have another netflix recommendation.  I finished the first season and have moved onto the second of Crossing Lines.  It's a show about a special pan European crime unit that has jurisdiction everywhere. The first season was broadcast by NBC but they never did showed season 2.  The lead for the first two seasons is William Fichtner.  He is one of those "that guy" guys.  When you see him you will be like, "Oh yeah that guy."

*The Cubs got swept by the Cardinals over the weekend. I hate the Cardinals :)

*I was cooking up some brats and wanted a vegetable side to go with them.  All I had was a bag of  onions.  I chopped up the onion and started to grill it in a pan with some oil. I seasoned it with salt, pepper. cayenne pepper, turmeric, and coriander. I grilled the onion for about 10 minutes till it was nice and soft. The flavors mixed almost perfectly. It was delicious with just enough heat and a great orange/yellow color.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Valid Reasons not to Run

A couple of weeks ago I gave you all a comical look at the ways I try to get out of going for a run. This time I am going to go through some serious reasons why I may postpone or cancel a run.


I live in a central Illinois, a place known for having somewhat volatile weather. Weather here at times can not only be inconvenient but actually dangerous. You often have to schedule runs around the weather. In the summer it can by punishingly hot and humid. On top of that we often get sever thunderstorms. These storms can come with torrential downpours, strong winds and tornadoes. In the winter we can get blizzards and ice storms that make it treacherous to walk let alone run. Don't forget the very frigid windchills that can kill a person in minutes. You have to be very flexible about when you run. You might schedule a run in the early morning but there is suddenly a storm so you have to move it around. It is even harder in winter to schedule things. The sun only shines for a small part of the day but then sometimes the warmest part is in the middle of the night. There was a month long period this winter where it was either way too cold, or the trails were icy or snow covered.  I got only one run in.

 I guess I could run on a treadmill, but I have always hated that. 

Real Injury/Sickness:

I have noticed that a light run when I have a small cold seems to help, but when I came down with something that had me coughing up brown stuff for days I realized it was time to take a break. Twice this winter I came down with something that sapped all my strength and left me coughing  a lot.  Pushing it would only have made things worse so I nursed myself until better.

Determining the severity of an injury is harder to do. Is something actually wrong or is it just sore. I am over forty. If I am running regularly things hurt. Heck things just hurt. I've had bad knees since I was twenty. There is an old picture somewhere of me in college with a knee brace on. My friends called it bionic knee. My knees will often be popping, tight, and a little sore. If I go for a run it loosens them up and they actually feel better. A few times I have done something worse to my knees and tweaked a ligament or something. Then running just made it hurt more. I had to take sometime off and ice it etc.  A couple of times I have developed mild plantar fasciitis. Then I had to rest and take it easy for awhile.  You need to know your own body and its cues.  Don't be afraid to go to the doctor if you are worried about something.