Monday, July 28, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 2 Day 1 (2nd pass)

Well, after having a heaping helping of Life lately, I figured I'd start back at week 2 again, which was tough for me but not too tough. Today at lunch, I did 12, 12, 9, 7, and maxed at 20. It was tiring, but wasn't too bad. I think I would have had a very tough time if I would have tried to jump right back in at week 3.

I've been eating restaurant food for most of the last 3 weeks, and I'm feeling blah. I am hoping that I can get back into the groove of an exercise routine and start getting some energy again.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vacation Food - Update

EDIT: The Pseudo-sourdough recipe has been broken out here. I've put it in its own post, with pictures.

The food portion of the vacation went swimmingly, if I do say so myself. The two chicken meals were fantastic--but I had cooked them in dutch ovens before, so they were pretty sure things as far as I was concerned.

I forgot to bring the griddle to cook the pancakes on, so I ended up putting the lower parts of the dutch ovens upside down, putting coals on the tops, and putting the lids upside down over the coals. That heated the lids pretty well (although it took about 15 minutes for them to really get up to a decent cooking heat!). I had supposed that I could cook bacon first and use the residual fat to lube the lids enough so that pancakes wouldn't stick. Guess what? They stuck anyway. Fortunately, I had some cooking spray that I could use. Next time, I'll plan on cooking the bacon on one lid and the pancakes on the other; or better yet, next time I'll bring the griddle!

I had planned on cooking the bread on coals in a 10" dutch oven; however, we were running late that day, and people were getting hungry, so I opted for using the cabin's oven. Unfortunately, the oven was about 50 degrees hotter than it showed on the dial. It's a good thing that I checked the bread half an hour before it should have been ready, or we'd have had more charcoal for the fire! But it came out well notwithstanding the oven problems.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

100 Pushups - Update

I've had an...interesting few weeks.

Before I left for my camping vacation, I fully intended to continue my pushups for that week.
However, due to varied schedules, all 5 family members sleeping in the same tiny cabin, and really, really dirty floors, I ended up bailing on every single workout. I rationalized, though, since I was getting plenty of exercise hiking and lifting Dutch Ovens.

So I was still recovering physically when we got back on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday I was still recovering. Wednesday through Friday, I was travelling for work and just got lazy; however, I did swim laps for about 15 minutes on Thursday night.

Saturday, my wife and I left for Maine to attend the funeral for her sister, and were in Maine until Thursday. I was just trying to make it through the week without really losing it...and pushups were the last thing on my mind.

So, today I have decided that I will start week 2 over again this next week. I'll do an exhaustion test today or tomorrow (but I can tell you that I'll be exhausted before I start!) and launch into week 2 on Monday. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Family Vacation Food

In a short while, my family and I will be taking a vacation to Allegeny Park in New York. We're renting a pair of cabins with Kara's sister and her family, and we're going to split the meals between the two families. So here's some of what I plan on cooking:

Dutch Oven Chicken Supreme

Apricot Chicken Divine


2 Tbsp. margarine

2 Tbsp. cooking oil

6 chicken

1/2 c. white flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. apricot preserves

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 c. nonfat yogurt (or sour cream)

2 Tbsp. slivered almonds

At-home Prep

Cut chicken into large pieces and pre-cook. Measure flour and salt into a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Combine preserves, mustard, and yogurt in a zip-top bag.


Preheat DO for 10 minutes with 10 coals below and 14 coals above.

Shake chicken in plastic bag with flour and salt until coated. Melt butter and oil in DO. Place chicken in single layer in the DO. Spread preserve mixture on the chicken and bake.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, rotating DO 90° and lid another 90° every 15 minutes to prevent burning.

When warmed throughout, sprinkle the almonds on top.

40 in a 10 (Biscuits)


4 tubes refrigerator biscuits (totaling 40 biscuits)

A few butter pats

Cooking spray

At-home Prep



Preheat DO for 10 minutes with 9 coals below and 15 coals above.

Liberally spray inside of DO with cooking spray. Arrange biscuits on end in concentric circles. Jam them all in there. Dot with butter pats, but don’t drench.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, rotating DO 90° and lid another 90° every 15 minutes to prevent burning.

(Edit: I neglected to mention that the following recipe is courtesy of Alton Brown, from the Good Eats show entitled "Going Dutch.")

No-knead Pseudo-Sourdough


17 1/2 ounces bread flour, plus extra for shaping

1/4 teaspoon active-dry yeast

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

12 ounces filtered water

2 tablespoons cornmeal

At-home Prep

Measure dry ingredients into large ziplock bag. Measure cornmeal into small ziplock bag. Measure extra flour into small ziplock bag.


One day before:

Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 19 hours.

Day of:

After 19 hours, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and turn it over onto itself a couple of times. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shape dough into a ball. Coat hands with flour if needed to prevent sticking. Sprinkle the tea towel with half of the cornmeal and lay the dough on top of it, with the seam side down. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the other half of the cornmeal and cover with the towel. Allow to rise for another 2 to 3 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

Oven baking:

While the dough is rising the second time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 5-quart Dutch oven in the oven while it preheats. Once the dough is ready, carefully transfer it to the preheated Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 to 212 degrees F. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Outdoor coals:

Heat charcoal in a chimney starter until ash covers all of the coals. Place 20 to 24 coals on a Dutch oven table. Set a 5-quart Dutch oven on top of this rack and allow to preheat during the last 30 minutes of the second rise. Carefully transfer the dough to the Dutch oven and cover with the lid. Place 20 coals on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 to 212 degrees F. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving

Chocolate Lover’s Delight


1 1/2 c. water

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 c. light brown sugar

1 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows

1 box chocolate cake mix; prepare as directed

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cooking spray

Whipped cream

At-home Prep

Mix cocoa powder and brown sugar in a baggie large enough to hold them in addition to the water. Mix the wet cake ingredients in a small ziptop bag and put into a cooler with the whipped cream.


Line the bottom and sides of a 12” DO with foil. Mix the water, cocoa powder, and brown sugar together and pour into the DO. Add marshmallows and spread them out evenly. Pour cake mix over marshmallows. Sprinkle chips over batter.

Bake with 8 coals on bottom, 14-16 on top for 60 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream.

Nature Photos

One "closet hobby" of mine is taking macro nature photos. I don't know whether I'm any good or not, but I sure enjoy doing it.

Shower Anagrams

I adore word games. Boggle, Scrabble, Balderdash...all favorites of mine. Perhaps my ebullience was incited by an Etymology class in High School, or perchance the preoccupation is innate. Either way, I like words.

After one of my kids took a shower in my shower, I found tons of those foamy stick-on letters and just had to do something with them. For the last month or so, I've been making anagrams. I've been able to use every letter on the last two or three tries, but it has been challenging. Fortunately, I have some leeway with how I place the letters; for example, the "9" character can be a 9 or a 6, but can also serve as a p, g, q, b, and d. The "W" can serve as a W, M, E, or 3.

So did Barbie really sink logy wasps? I don't know. But if she did, would I be ok with it? Indubitably.

Friday, July 4, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 2 Day 3

This one was tough: 15, 15, 12, 12, max > 15. I managed it, but gave myself 4 minutes between the 4th and the 5th set--double the "suggested" time. To be honest, I'm really worried that I won't make it through next week! I suspect that my exhaustion test will put me at level 3, but I, too, may be repeating week 3 a few times until I can get through it.

100 Pushups - Week 2 Day 2

I did day 2 yesterday, July 3rd, but went to bed right afterward and didn't blog it until today...but I had some time to reflect on my progress so far. More on that later.

So the program for yesterday was 16, 13, 11, 11, and max > 15. I managed to tackle it, but this was the first time that I maxed out at the minimum max, if that makes sense. When I hit 15 on that last set, I was . I couldn't get another push up, and I was struggling to even get to 15. I'm a bit nervous about Day 3, and even more nervous about next week when the first set on Day 1 is 25--4 more than my initial max. The plan's creator, Steve Speirs, mentioned that just finished week 3, and is going to repeat it because he struggled with it. So my 6 week plan may become 7...or 8. Or more, depending. But I fully intend to get to 100 consecutive push ups.

Why? I'm not sure. I've been wondering about that since yesterday's set, and I think it has to do with making goals. I used to work out with a guy from work. We'd bench press 2-3 times a week, and I'd do pull ups and sit ups, too. But when he left, I didn't really have anyone pushing me at the gym any more. I've been going to the gym with my coworker, Roberta, but we do different things at the gym at different levels with different goals. Actually, as I implied, I don't really have much of a workout goal anymore, which is why I think I've been rather lacking in motivation.

But when I found the hundred pushups site through Reddit, I was intrigued. It's a short-term goal, it seems difficult but not too difficult (maybe I'm fooling myself, but I'd like to think that I can do it!) and it doesn't involve running or specialized equipment. (I've got a neurological problem in my left foot that makes it go numb or shoot pain up my leg if I run for very long.)

So this new goal has kinda given me a shot in the arm, so to speak. And anything that'll get me motivated to exercise is good, I think. Oh, and I tried on a T-shirt today that was a leftover from Scout Camp. I thought I grabbed my large, but it was the leftover medium and I pulled it on without realizing it. Well, it was a bit tight, but it fit rather well, if I do say so myself. It emphasized my chest which, although not large, is not the chicken chest it was 15 years ago. It was noticeable enough that my wife commented on it, which was nice. Maybe I'll keep going a while on this push up thing. :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

100 Pushups - Week 2 Day 1

Once again, I was a bit nervous to see how I'd do this week since things are stepped up a notch. Somewhat surprisingly, Week 2 Day 1 flew by! The plan for today was 12, 12, 9, 7, max > 10. I took the first 12 slowly, so I could pace myself; but the second twelve, I did more quickly. On the 9 and 7 sets I was still feeling good, so I did them quickly too. I started the max set slowly, and eeked out...was it 13 or 15? I forget. Either way, I think I'm doing all right!