Where does the time go?

Hello again,

It seems like a million years ago since I posted anything on Fittitude Freedom so I wanted to check in and say hi.  I’m sure you all are accustomed to these breaks by now and are aware from time to time how life has a way of changing the direction you are going and the things you are doing.

Changing directions

It’s hard to believe that another semester is over. Two down and how many more to go?  I just finished up with my final exams yesterday and it feels great.  I do know now that I am even more confident that I am moving in the right direction for my career.  Unfortunately, there is no fast tracking this goal of becoming a registered dietitian so I just need to relax and enjoy the ride.  I’m trying to finalize my schedule for next semester with the nutrition and food services courses I need; but, you will be happy to hear that I am definitely taking a digital photography class.  That means that you can expect some prettier photos on this blog come the new year. Well at least we can all hope for some better pics besides the ones that I normally upload from my iPhone.

I am happy to report that I am running consistently again. Not that I want to jinx myself by announcing that news to the world, but it feels good to hit some pavement again.  I finally transitioned to more runs on the roads vs. the trails that I spent my summer and most of the fall training on.  It’s a good thing that my body did not reject the road surface because the last thing I needed to do again was to trip over a tree root on a desolated trail because of the dreaded darkness this time of year.   Just because I can run doesn’t mean that I am going to do anything crazy like run a marathon.  I am taking several days off a week and keeping the daily mileage under 6.5 miles.  And trust me, it’s nice to finally see the overall pace in the 9:something minute category again.  Occasionally, I treat myself to a nice sprint at the end of my run on the green of local golf course.  The thrill it is to see sub 8’s on my watch for a 100 yard dash.  I never knew how excited I could get with such a small accomplishment.  If you have ever been sidelined due to injury, you know what I mean. Every baby step counts.

I hope all of you are enjoying the holiday season and finding time to relax with all the hustle and bustle going on.  I just don’t understand where the time goes.  I can’t believe 2012 is almost over.

And did any of you see the Roger Waters / Eddie Vedder “Comfortably Numb” combo last night for the 12/12/12 Sandy Relief Concert?  Two words- TOTALLY AMAZING!!  Now that would be a concert tour I would wait in line for weeks for to get tickets.

Please check in to tell me who was your favorite artist from the 12/12/12 Sandy Relief concert or simply just to say hi in the comments.  Hope all is well!

 

 

 

Little Miss Muffet

Well hello there- It’s been awhile since I posted and wanted to check in. This week marks the 4th week of the fall semester and the first round of exams have started which probably explains why I have been MIA from blogging. I also celebrated my 47th birthday on Friday that rolled into a weekend full of fun activities with the family. Have I mentioned before that I have no idea where all those 46 years went.

I kicked my birthday off by wearing this chef uniform for the 3 hour lab I have once a week on Fridays at the Copper Turret Restaurant in Morrisville, NY. Yep, it’s the traditional black & white get up. Reversible double breasted white coat in case one side gets stained, oddly fitting black pants with an elastic waist, non slip black leather shoes ( thank heavens for Dr. Marten’s – they always come in handy when you need a sturdy shoe), topped off with a baseball cap with the Copper Turret logo. No toque with 100 pleats for this gal- I wouldn’t be worthy of wearing such a cap since I don’t know 100 different ways to cook an egg yet. If you are working in a restaurant or with food, there is a pretty good chance that some kind of uniform will be required so I just gotta go with the flow and suit up.

 

Don't even think about laughing at that hair net!

Don’t even think about laughing at that hair net!

Notice the pretty hairnet and no Copper Turret baseball cap. That’s because this day was spent at the Morrisville dairy incubator on campus making mozzarella cheese. Do I hear any yums out there?

Our class arrived at the dairy incubator at 8:00 am sharp with excitement to make cheese. There is only one person that officially works at the incubator and her job is to make fresh cheese for the college and the Copper Turret. What a fun job that must be!

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After stepping in this foot bath, all of us approached a large stainless steel heated vat that was filled with fresh milk that was just pasteurized. That is no joke, it is my understanding that the milk in the vat came from a cow that was milked only 3 hours before we arrived. The woman in charge was gently stirring the vat of milk and carefully monitoring the temperature and pH of milk.

Once the milk was at the proper temperature and pH, she added white vinegar followed by rennet enzyme. The rennet enzyme causes the milk to coagulate and form curds and whey which are the needed ingredients to make cheese so in my opinion, the rennet is the magic ingredient.

Lots of gentle stirring and waiting in between each step was going on until the curds were at the desired texture and firmness. The next step was to comb through the curds with a horizontal then vertical curd knife. This cutting process allows the whey to separate from the curd so that after about 20 minutes, the whey can be drained from the cheese vat.

After all the whey was drained, the curd was cut into 8 large blocks to complete the whey drainage.

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The next step of the cheese making process is where I came in. The fun part! The cheese curd blocks were cut into much smaller pieces so it was manageable for a novice like me to heat in the microwave, knead, reheat, and finally stretch and form into a mozzarella ball. I forgot to tell you that I had already pre- planned a pizza party for dinner cause the rumor around campus was that we were taking lots of the fresh cheese home with us.

All of the students in my class got to take the mozzarella cheese ball they made home. In addition the remaining curds were put into plastic bags and I think we all took 4-5 pounds of fresh curd. I did ask the instructor how to modify the heating up of the fresh curd part before stretching the cheese because I don’t have a microwave anymore. I have attempted a few different techniques with heating it in hot water but have a long way to go to replicate the same cheese consistency that I stretched in the lab.

I am so glad that I got the opportunity to watch and learn how to make mozzarella cheese. The taste of this cheese was amazing and it probably was the freshest and most delicious mozzarella I have ever eaten.

It is my understanding that it’s not that difficult to make at home assuming you have the right equipment & ingredients on hand. There are several websites and instructional You Tube videos online on how to make cheese and I need to check them out before I try this out on my own.

The pizza also came out amazing and I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of it to share with you.

And just so you know, I didn’t eat my dinner on a tuffet and there were no spiders to frighten me away.

Have you ever made homemade cheese before? If so, what kind.. cheddar, blue cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, brie, swiss, limburger-kidding on that one? Please share your cheese making experiences in the comments?

‘Tweet’le-Dee & ‘Tweet’le-Dum

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Last year shortly after launching my blog, Fittitude Freedom, I signed up for a Twitter account. At that time I had no clue what I was going to do with Twitter, what a Twitter handle was, or how I should use this up and coming online social networking service with my blog. All I knew as that I needed to get with the social media program STAT since my goal was to connect with a captive audience.

Over the past year I have learned the basics and figured out how I could automatically integrate Twitter with my blog to send an announcement out to the few followers I had about when I published a new post. Let me tell you, I was totally psyched when I figured out how to do that. And to astonish you even more, I added Instagram to my social network repertoire this summer. Impressed yet? Probably not. I’m sure many of you out there are light years ahead of me when it comes to using multiple social networking platforms.

Once I got the basics down, I caught the twitter fever. I started following some of my favorite stores, blogs, newspapers, road races in an effort to receive instant news about what was going on in their life and happening in the world. I love the fact that the messages are short and sweet due to the 140 character limit and I can quickly scroll through tweets faster than email or Facebook. And if the title captures my attention, I just click the link to read more. Signing up with Twitter shaved off about 50 pounds from my email inbox.

As of yesterday, I was following a total of 33 tweetors. I guess that would make me both a tweetor and a tweetee, right? Today I am now following only 31. I’m sure that following 31 is not considered alot in the Twittersphere, but in my opinion 2 tweetors were taking advantage of a good thing by sending way too many tweets in a 2 minute time period.

Again, this is my opinion only. If one twittor (Tweetle-Dee) finds it appropriate to send a massive number of blast tweets in a row (let’s just a random number like 25 ), followed by another tweetor (Tweetle-Dum) retweeting the same messages over and over again, don’t you think we lost the whole purpose of twitter? BTW, this is not the first time Tweetle-Dee and Tweetle-Dum have overloaded my tweet home page. Last I knew, Twitter was not a tool to post a diary about your every last minute activity.

I am actually posting this to hear what you have to say about how many tweets is enough in one day by one tweetor? Please respond to comments and share this question with others so I can read what other opinions are on this subject matter. Perhaps I am off base with my line of thinking and need to lighten up.

BTW, please follow me on twitter…. I promise not inundate your Twitter home page with my every minute day to day activities.. Just click on the Twitter icon from my home page.

 

 

Oh, Deer!

Lookey who greeted this morning at Green Lakes.  This little fawn was more concerned with munchin down on some breakfast that he didn’t even flinch an inch when I snapped the photo less than a few feet away from him.

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Obviously, he was enjoying the blades of green grass. You know, a little fiber every day is good for regularity.

As you all know that whatever I did to my body during the Boilermaker, set my ability to run back yet once again.  Since the onset of this injury in March of this year, I have seen 3 doctors, consulted with a back specialist in NYC via the telephone, had 2 back X-rays, 1 MRI & 1 CT of the spine, 2 sacroiliac joint steroid injections (one on each side) and an another injection to the back near the spine.  And can you believe with all these experts, I still don’t know what is wrong with me and why I can’t run like a normal human being.  Due to my desire to rule every possible diagnosis out and get to the bottom of this,  I  asked my primary care physician to set me up with a neurologist appointment to make sure everything is AOK with my internal wiring.

The MRI suggested that I had spondylolisthesis which is the technical term for a slipped vertebra or another word for degeneration of my back because I am getting old.  The MRI report also stated that I had a very small synovial cyst near one of the discs and possibly a fracture.

However, more recently I was told that I don’t have the slippage that they once thought and that a hairline fracture could be the culprit of my running woes.  Good thing I didn’t listen to the first doctor and go under the knife due to a problem I didn’t really have.  Not sure what they would have done with the unused screws and bolts left over in the operating room since there were no vertebrae out of whack to fuse together.  Not to preach, but for this reason is why one should always seek another or two second medical opinions.

I have been logging some good miles inside the comforts of my home on my bike trainer.  If you can believe it, I rode for a complete hour and a half.  That is definitely a record for me. I’m actually starting to like the bike.  It’s a great way to multi-task or catch up on any shows you missed.

Today was a really good day despite my running setback.  I tested the water on the trails again.  To my surprise, I was able to run non stop for 5 minutes.  I ran for a total of 5 followed by a 2-3 minute walk.  I’m not going to get too excited until I see how I feel tomorrow. I will keep you posted.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions of what I should do to get me back to running, I would appreciate your thoughts in the comments.  I gave up on Dr. Online awhile so maybe one of you have had a similar injury and found the magic cure.  

Thank you for reading Fittitude Freedom!

 

Trail Time

Note:  I’m sorry if you have received some of my posts that are in process or half done…. Don’t know what has happened with my blog but somehow it has published without me pressing the publishing key…. I need to look into.

Today is day number 2 of my fall semester and so far so good.  And I have sneaky feeling that I am really going to enjoy my classes this semester for two good reasons.

The first- I will be taking two of my classes at the Copper Turret Restaurant in Morrisville, NY.  There will be some classroom instruction on food safety, theory, etc. as well as some serious kitchen time dedicated to understanding the food service industry, improving my culinary ability and food preparation skills. That means I will be slicing, dicing, chopping and bopping doing whatever is asked of me so I can get a good grade.  I am really looking forward to improving my knife skills and expanding my horizons in the kitchen. To be honest, I really could use a lot of help in the knife skill category because I cut everything with a small serrated knife. Tim is always worried that I’m going to chop off a finger or two in the process.  I know, I know serrated knives are primarily used to slice bread not vegetables, meat, and the contents of the refrigerator.

The second- Is this textbook.  Don’t you just love the beautiful photo of the artichoke on the cover?  This book is definitely over priced but for all of the amazing cooking techniques you get and recipes to go along with each food category section, I think it is totally worth the price.   I’ll let you know what I think of it as I delve into the chapters.  I also needed to purchase a subscription for culinary lab online for purposes of the class.

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So I survived the long lines at the college bookstore and made it out alive to tell you about it.

After my class today, I wanted to explore the Harry Lang Cross Country Trails located behind Colgate University in Hamilton, NY.   Years and years ago, (I’m talking late 1990’s) I remembered one of the Rave Runs in Runner’s World  featured a picture and short article about the beautifully groomed running trails in Hamilton, NY.   Every year since I saw that article I have been meaning to go there for a run but never have.

Unfortunately, I could not locate the photo or article from Runner’s World in my old magazine collection or the internet but wanted to share this picture I found online so you can see what I mean about how inviting the trails are.

Photo of Harry Lang Cross Country Trails & 3 runners - c/o Internet

Photo of Harry Lang Cross Country Trails & 3 runners – c/o Internet

I decided that today seemed like a good day to finally check these trails out.  One of my classmates, Lauren, decided that she wanted to join me since she is considering a half marathon in the fall.

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It took us about 10 minutes to go from the Morrisville campus to the Colgate Campus and about 20 minutes driving up and down some serious hills with two stop and ask someone for help on where we needed to go to find these trails; but eventually we found trails.

Let’s just say that today was a day of exploration.  We found awesome trails to run on and other trails that were not so great for even walking.  This discovery was worth the agony of the rocks and roots.  I definitely plan on going back there now that I am acclimated to the lay of the land, the landmarks – it will make my trail map more meaningful!