Monday, March 31, 2014

At Least the Picture Always Comes Out Nice

Desserts never work for me, but I'm just drawn to them.

I like to take a recipe that I think is easy to make that I would eat, and make it, but no matter how closely I follow the directions, something always goes wrong.

But the pictures always come out nice.

I went running again today.  I find myself looking forward to going home at a reasonable time, change, stretch, and go to the gym.  I secretly really want to run a marathon someday, but right now I just want to keep this interest going.

Before I left for gym, I did make a cheesecake.  I got this maple sugar blend two weeks ago when I visited a local farm for its maple sugar open house weekend.  Only after I got home I found that the cheesecake recipe on the back of the package called for a "no-bake" cake.  The idea is simple.  You take cream cheese, whipped cream, and the sugar powder, blend everything together, pour it into a pie crust, and chill until it tastes like cheesecake.

So that's what I did before I left.  I wanted to have the cake chill while I sweated.

The blending part took... some troubleshooting.  I partially blame my blender, which is incapable of crushing anything harder or thicker than an apple.  I was also cutting back on the suggested whipped cream amount since the volume got a bit too much for my crust, which made the whole mixture much thicker than it probably should.  It did look nice once I poured everything into the pie crust.

Then I went to the gym.  I don't know what happened today, but everyone read my mind and got to the gym 10 minutes before I did.  All the treadmills were full, as were most of the ellipticals and exercise bikes.  So I got on a spare elliptical, peddled for 20 minutes, burned only 100 cal (wtf??!!).  By then all the treadmills were still full.  I went to the back of the gym, remembering that there were some extra machines stashed in the back.  There were 3 treadmills (all full), another elliptical, and a tread climber.  So I got onto the climber, thinking of an informercial I saw before, and hoped to burn more calories.  It is a neat machine in that you find out that your walk is very imbalanced.  I had to hold on to the rails to walk properly.

Funny think about a week of running: as my posture got better, I no longer feel back pain or pain in my shins, but for some reason I'm starting to feel these pain bubble up when I walk.  After 8 minutes of walking (burned 101 cal.), my right back was hurting very bad, so was my left shin and ankle.  So that was that.  Besides, a treadmill next to me freed up.

And that's when I felt that a week of running really had paid off.  I remember on my first day in the gym, I was on the elliptical for 20 minutes before getting on the treadmill (people just love these machines in winter when it's too cold to run outside), and I could barely move on it.  My endurance was so terrible, and I was panting like a horse.  I felt terrible.  But today, after all those peddling and walking, I was still able to jog (5.1mi/hr) for 10 minutes and still felt fine (120 cal).  I was breathing heavily but rhythmically, and I didn't feel too tired afterwards.  I was bored.  That's my main problem now.  I knew I could keep going but I just didn't have the desire to.  I just had this overwhelming desire to stop running because this desire overcame my will to keep running.  I forced myself to hit an even 10 minutes.  I think I stopped at 9:58.

It takes a long time now for me to do my cool down stretch.  My calves and shins usually get really tight after exercise, so I have to hold my stretches for a long time before I feel normal again.  I'm now very careful about stretching and taking care of myself to avoid injuries, but I'm not sure what it normal.   Is it enough that I feel fine?  Or do I need to do more?

Despite my accomplishment in the gym, I'm not very happy with my cheesecake.  As far as I'm concerned it's still "chilling".  I've moved it into the freezer now so I'll have makeshift ice cream for the next few days.  The cake tastes like... blended sugar, cream cheese, and whipped cream.  I don't really understand the concept of no-bake cheesecakes.  I've seen such no-bake recipes from vegan sites, and one of my vegan friends actually make a pretty kickass chocolate cheesecake (frozen, of course).  But none of these non-traditional recipes gives you normal tasting food.  It is actually kind of gross eating the cake since you are essentially just shoveling fat into your mouth without the satisfaction of eating cheesecake.

Besides, I think I should stay away from such fatty food anyway.  At least it wasn't sweet like the American desserts I usually get.

Maple no-bake Cheesecake.  It does look kind of nice doesn't it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

So much for the run

Today has been a very conflicting day of wanting to do yoga, failing to do yoga, going for a run, and gaining all the calories I burned by eating my way through a lot of food with my friend over dinner.

So I went for a run (at the school gym) yesterday morning after being cooped up all week.  Ideally I was supposed to go for a yoga class to give my legs a break.  Except my plan to make the 10am class completely went into shambles as I was unable to get myself up that early.  So after getting up at noon, I ended up going for a 25-minute run (again at the gym) to make up for my failure.

It was nice.  Spring is finally here.  I was able to go to the gym in my running capris and a light jacket.  I broke into a nice sweat, and was happy that my endurance is getting better and better.

And later in the afternoon I went shopping with my friend for our egg-tart making, movie-watching date.

We got a recipe from another friend for egg-tart, which the said friend had made for us several weeks before and was absolutely divine.  But the crust of the tart was a bitch to make so we started our first try today with trepidation.  It requires cake flour, bread flour (we used all-purpose instead), LOTS of butter, and plenty of patience.  The complete recipe is here if you want to give it a try (it's in Chinese).  I also made jalapeño bacon poppers from a Buzzfeed recipe.  It was super easy, delicious, and fattening.

So over Julie and Julia, which my friend hadn't seen, we had homemade garlic bread, beef stew, some stir fried veggies, my jalapeño poppers, and egg tart (one per each person since we were stuffed by that point).

So now I'm going to pop a few Prunelax pills (I don't do this on a regular basis, just when I feel that I have gone too far), watch a few episodes of Castle, and go to bed.  Will probably go for another run tomorrow.  I think I will restrict my yoga plans to once or twice a week from now on.  But we'll see how that goes.


Egg tart.  Overall it came out pretty well.  The only problem was that the recipe called for 6 tarts with the amount of ingredient, but our cupcake pan must be too small because there was way too much crust dough per tart when it came to molding the dough.  In the end we had too much crust and a lot of leftover filling, which made us over-baking the tarts.  The crust was a big dry, and the tarts are HUGE. Still tastes good, but definitely room for improvement.

Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the jalapeño poppers.  It was super easy to make.  Just wrap a piece of bacon around half of a gutted, chive cream cheese-filled jalapeño, and bake until the bacons are crispy.  They are so good!