I’m resuming this log again after a long lay-off.  I’ve been lifting, but not recording my training, and want to start keeping good records so that I can better track and evaluate progress.

I’m coming off a heavy teaching semester where I was only getting to the gym 1-2 times per week.  I more or less maintained strength, but feel fairly out of condition, and am carrying a bit more bodyfat than I’d like (though it’s not too bad).  As such, I’ll be spending the next 6 weeks or so doing a conditioning-focused block.  I’ll keep the lifting pretty minimal and supplement it with conditioning circuits and sprints to try to get into better shape and strip off a bit of bodyfat.  After this cycle, I plan to focus on strength with the shorter-term goal of hitting 405-265-435 in squat/bench/deadlift.

For lifting, I’ll follow a modified 5/3/1 type scheme, which is really 8/5/3.  In each case, I will work up to 80%, 85%, or 90% in fives sets, going for AMRAP on the last set.  I will also cycle through the rep ranges in a staggered way, so that I’ll use different rep ranges for different lifts in a given day.  Since I’m not doing assistance work unless it’s worked into the conditioning circuits, I will sometimes substitute lift variations, especially on 8- or 5-rep days (e.g. front squats for back squats, incline or CGBP for bench, SLDL or SGDL for deadlifts, Klokov press or push presses for overhead press).  I’ll do squat and bench on Mondays and Thursdays, Deadlift and overhead pressing on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Thursday’s training

  • Squat: Bar x10, 135×6, 185×6, 225×6, 275×6, 315×6
  • Front squat: 300x3x5
  • Bench: Bar x10, 95×6, 115×6, 135×6, 160×6, 185×6, 205×6, 225×2
  • CGBP: 155x6x5
  • Pendlay rows: 185x5x5 (supersetted with CGBP)
  • Hill sprints x10

Friday’s training:

  • Deadlift: 165×5, 205×5, 250×5, 295×5, 335×7 (straps and belt on last set).  Est. 1RM = 412
  • Klokov press: Bar x10, 65×3, 85×3, 100×3, 115×6. Est 1RM = 138 (=> 172 on press)
  • Clean & push press/Pullups: 135x3x6/BWx3x6
  • Farmer’s walk: 1 lap w/70s, 1 lap w/80s, 1 lap w/90’s (had to pause twice with the 90s)

Hey guys here is a beautiful first try of a ciabatta bread recipe by the legendary baker, Peter Reinhart.  The bread took me 4 days to make but let me tell you it was well worth it after i tasted it.  Very good bread:) Thanks to Elise for the new baking stone and Mom and Dad for the Super peel, they worked well to create this beautiful and delicious bread.

This is something that Casey really likes to make and it is so good and so easy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 (or as many more or less you want) bell peppers sliced (any color)
  • 1/2 large onion sliced or 1 small onion
  • 2 packages of McCormick Fajita seasoning
  • I would say about 1 steak per person sliced
  • Tortillas
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Salsa (optional)
  • Spanish or Mexican Rice (optional)

Directions:

We like to use our dutch ovens to do this dish but it is just as yummy over the stove.  Put the sliced peppers and slice onion together in one pan (or dutch oven) and saute them together.  Cook the meat in another pan (or dutch oven).  Add fajita seasoning to meat.  Combine peppers, onion, and meat together and serve on tortillas.  Sometimes Casey likes to make up some Spanish or Mexican rice and put it in the fajita too.  He likes to put salsa and sour cream in it.  I like to dip it.  They’re so good though!  I hope you guys like them too!

You can put as much or as little of some things as you want.  I put a generous amount of cheese on the bottom and top.  I don’t use as much corn and I don’t use as many tomatoes.  It still turns out really good.

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 box of spanish rice
  • 2 tblspn extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno cleaned out and chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 3-4 cups Mozzarella cheese
  •  Parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Start a large pot of water to boil.  In medium skillet add olive oil, onions, garlic, jalapenos, salt and pepper.  Cook until translucent.  Add ground beef, brown, DO NOT DRAIN!  Cut tops off peppers, clean out, add to boiling water, cook about 4 minutes.  Remove and set upside down to drain..  Add rice from box to skillet mixture and mix well.  Cook and stir until rice is brown/golden, about 3 minutes.  Turn heat up a little and add seasoning from box, the tomatoes, and water.  Allow mixture to come to boil.  Add beans and corn, return to boil.  Place lid on and turn heat to simmer; cook about 15 minutes or until rice is done.  Let stand about 5 minutes.  Place a little mozzarella cheese in  of peppers , then a little parsley (optional), then add rice mixture.  Top mixture with mozzarella cheese and parsley.  Arrange peppers in pan.  I like to pour whatever is left of the mixture into the bottom of the pan around the peppers and put some cheese on top of that.  Place it in the oven until cheese melts.

ENJOY!!!

White Chocolate Pecan Bread with Dried Cranberries

Melissa asked me a couple of weeks ago if I could try to replicate a White Chocolate Pecan bread sold at the bakery of her local grocery store.  This is my attempt to make something in that spirit.  I haven’t tried that bread myself, so I don’t know if this is anything like it, but Amie and I can’t stop eating it.  Aubrey and Isaac weren’t willing to try it, but that just means more for us🙂 .

I added dried cranberries in addition to the pecans and white chocolate, because I thought it sounded good (it is!).  However, if you prefer to stick to just the white chocolate and pecans, I would increase the amount of each of those so that the total amount of “mix-ins” is about the same.  The bread dough itself is 50% whole white wheat with a touch of honey, which gives it some extra flavor and softness, but using white wheat rather than the normal red wheat keeps the color lighter and makes for a nice contrast with the cranberries and nuts.  I used white wheat that we bought from the Bishop’s storehouse and ground ourselves, but it’s pretty easy to find whole white wheat flour in the supermarket these days.  It’s nice in general for adding whole wheat to baked goods without them seeming too “whole-wheaty”.

A look at the interior

The white chocolate in this bread melts and almost disappears.  You see empty pockets in the interior of the bread where the white chocolate chunks were, with just some gooey remnants of white chocolate around the edges of those cavities.  You can see the coloration of where the white chocolate melted and seeped into the bread around the spaces left by the former chunks of solid white chocolate, and you can taste it in the bread.  If the white chocolate pieces in the supermarket bread remain intact, that would indicate that it’s not really white chocolate, but rather “white pieces”, which is made from hydrogenated oils and wax instead of cocoa butter, from which true white chocolate is made.  I used a Ghirardelli’s white chocolate baking bar, which is the only product in the chocolate chip and baking chocolate section of our grocery store that is actually white chocolate.  “Chocolate” is the key word you want to look for on the package, and you can check for cocoa butter in the ingredients to confirm.

This recipe takes two days, using a sponge, or pre-ferment.  That is you mix up a portion of the dough ahead of time with a tiny amount of yeast so that it can ferment for a long time before mixing it in with the rest of the dough.  This significantly improves tast and texture of the bread.  It doesn’t take much work, just some planning ahead.  As I discuss below, you can also use the fridge to slow down and stretch out the rising times in order to fit your schedule while also giving the bread the time it needs to become great.  For both the initial rise and the final proof after youve shaped the loaves, you can stick them in the fridge halfway through and leave it for several hours until you have time for the next step.  I’ve had good success with this approach lately.

Sponge:

  • 120 g white flour (about 1 cup)
  • 75 g water at room temperature (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/16 t. dry instant yeast
  • Final Dough:

  • 120 g white flour (about 1 cup)
  • 240 g white whole wheat flour (about 2 cups)
  • 275 g water (about 1 1/8 cups)
  • 2.3 g (3/4 t.) dry instant yeast
  • 10 g salt (about 1 3/4 t.)
  • 14 g honey (2 t.)
  • all of the sponge, cut into about 8 pieces
  • 55 g coarsely chopped pecans (about 1/2 cup)
  • 55 g coarsely chopped white chocolate (about 1/2 cup?, or half of a 4oz baking bar)
  • 55 g dried cranberries
  • Method:

    1. 12-16 hours before you want to mix the dough (and at least 17-21 hours before you want to bake the bread), mix the sponge ingredients together and let it sit out on the counter, loosely covered.  It will form a soft ball of dough initially, but will double in volume and become loose and bubbly over the 12-16 hours of fermentation time.
    2. Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until they become fragrant.  Don’t let them burn, and do let them cool off completely before you add them into the bread.
    3. When the sponge is ready, combine all of the ingredients for the final dough except the pecans, chocolate and cranberries.  Knead in a stand mixer or by hand until the dough is moderately well-developed.  This is a fairly soft and wet dough, and will be very sticky at first, but as the gluten develops it will become less sticky and merely tacky.
    4. Once the dough is sufficiently kneaded, fold in the pecans, chocolate and cranberries and knead by hand until they are evenly incorporated into the dough.

      Starting the initial rise

    5. Form the dough into a smooth ball and place it in a lightly oiled container, covered with a lid of plastic wrap, and let it rise at room tempurature for 2-2.5 hours.  At around the 30 and 60 minute marks, turn the dough out onto the counter and do a “stretch-and-fold”: grab one side of the mass of dough with both hands and stretch it out, then fold it back onto the top of the dough.  Do the same from the other side of the dough so that it is folded in thirds like a letter.  Then do the same from the top and bottom, so that you have a nice ball of dough, and return it to the bowl with the smooth (bottom) side up.
    6. After the 2-2.5 hours of rising, divide the dough into two pieces, and form these into balls.  Do this by gentlly flattening out the piece of dough and stretching and pulling the edges in all around the piece of dough and pinching them together on top to seal the seam.  When you turn the ball of dough over, you should have a nice, taut surface.  Take two pieces of clean cloth (linen or cotton) and dust them generously with flour so that the dough won’t stick.  Place a ball of dough in the center of each one, smooth side down, and pick them up by the corners of the cloth and set them into bowls to proof.  Let them rise, covered, for 1.25-1.5 hours.  Alternatively, you can let them rise for 30-40 minutes and stick them in the fridge for several hours until you are ready to bake them.  This can be useful for working around your schedule.  For example, I let them rise and begin proffing before church, then stuck them in the fridge and baked them when we got home.  You can also use the fridge to slow down the initial rise to fit your schedule.  Just stick the dough in the fridge about halfway through the 2-2.5 hour rising time, then come back to it when you have time.
    7. About 20-30 min before your loaves are done proofing, preheat the oven to 500F with a baking stone in the center rack.  Also put some sort of oven-safe metal pan on the floor of the oven, which you’ll pour water into for steam when you start baking the bread.

      Finished proofing, ready to bake

    8. Once the loaves and oven are ready (if you’ve proofed them in the fridge, you can put them into the oven cold, no need to let them warm up first), invert the bowls onto a flour-dusted peel or rimless cookie sheet and remove the cloths.  Slash the top of the loaves with a bread knife or razor blade, and slide them onto the hot stone.
    9. Pour about a cup of hot water into the pan on the floor of the oven and immediately shut the door.  Turn down the oven tempurature to 450F.  Bake for 12 minutes with steam, then rotate the loaves and bake for another 15 minutes or more until the crust is deep brown, but not burnt.  Turn off the oven and leave them in there for anouther 5 minutes or so with the door cracked, then set them on a cooling rack.
    10. Allow the loaves to cool completely before slicing, or else the interior will be a bit gummy
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