Moorea (French Polynesia 2019)

Moorea (French Polynesia 2019)

The morning of our third day in paradise started with a buffet breakfast at the hotel.  Our checkout time didn’t correspond to when our shuttle was to transfer us from the hotel to the pier for our boat ride to our next island so again we had to sit and wait in the lobby area.  Thankfully this was much shorter than before.  Our shuttle driver turned out to originally be from Cali and had been in French Polynesia over 18 years but his daughter is currently going to school in Cali.  The boat ride from Tahiti to Moorea took about 45 minutes.  It was a smooth trip over and gave great views of both Moorea (ahead) and Tahiti (behind).

We were picked up by another shuttle bus and taken to our hotel (another Intercontinental) with a brief stop at the Hotel Manava to drop off the majority of folks.  The trip took about 45 minutes overall.  The day turned out to be very clear and beautiful but also meant the sun was very intense.  At check-in I was just standing there and just dripping sweat.  What I learned about all  the resorts is that the main areas (reception, lobby, etc) are all open  buildings (meaning there’s a roof to shield from rain but there are no walls/doors creating an open feeling overall but meaning there was minimal ventilation – ceiling fans).IMG_20190519_113323.jpg

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View from our lanai

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Tahiti (French Polynesia 2019)

Tahiti (French Polynesia 2019)

***This is a very image heavy post***

A few months ago my wife emailed me about a deal to French Polynesia.  Admittedly I had no idea where geographically this was.  I of course had heard of Tahiti and Bora Bora before.  We actually had been watching a show that was based out of French Polynesia and I thought how gorgeous it was.  On a whim, I though “why not?” and we booked the trip.

After doing some research, I learned this set of islands was in the south Pacific (essentially directly south of Hawaii) and only an 8 hour flight from LA (not bad!). So a few months later in the middle of May we made our way to these tiny islands by way of LAX (stopped to see some family before).

 

Unfortunately our trip there (and back) were both redeye flights and I’m terrible at sleeping on airplanes.  We had moved seats to the bulkhead thinking we’d have more legspace but in reality I couldn’t extend my legs fully and it was uncomfortable.  I ended up sleeping maybe 30-60 minutes total and arrived exhausted.   We landed around 5 am when it was still dark out.  Luckily going through customs was smooth and our baggage came out quickly.  They did have a small band set up as you walked to customs (they were just setting up when we deplaned).

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Tahiti in the early AM
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Right before customs

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Italian Bread

Italian Bread

I realize that I haven’t posted in quite a while.  Life has just been going on.  I haven’t been all that inspired to create a post.  This weekend I decided to get back into the baking game.  Perusing through The Fresh Loaf, I came upon this recipe.  Rather than create 2 large loaves, I cut the recipe in half.  I also recently purchased some non-fat dry milk to test out since it is easier to keep than fresh milk.  Since there are only 2 of us eating the bread, I also elected to divide what I did make into 2 smaller boules.

Ingredients:

Preferment

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup bread flour (or AP flour) – I used bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Dough

  • Preferment
  • 2.5 cups bread flour (or AP flour) – I used 1 cup bread and 1.5 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup dry (non-fat) milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp (1.5 tsp) sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp (1.5 tsp) salt
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp (1.5 tsp) olive oil
  • 1 cup water

I made the preferment the night before my combining all the ingredients listed into a bowl and covering it and leaving it at room temperature.

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The next day I mixed all the ingredients of the above Dough together into a large mixing bowl.  I dumped this onto my counter and proceeded to knead it.  I don’t know if it was due to the recent rains we’ve had making the house more humid but this dough was way too sticky.

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I ended up adding in about an additional 1/4 cup of flour to make the dough more easily handle-able and knead-able.  After kneading for around 12-14 minutes I placed the formed dough into an oiled bowl.

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I let this sit covered at room temperature for about 2 hours to allow it to double in size.

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After doubling I did a stretch and fold (within the bowl) to get some air out and then let it rest an additional 30 minutes.

I then dumped the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop surface and divided it in half.  These were each formed into a ball shape and covered and let to rest an additional 20 minutes.

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Following the rest, I formed each one into a boule, creating a tight seal on the bottom of the dough.  One of these boules I placed into a bowl with a lightly floured cloth and put in the fridge since I was only going to bake one at a time (couldn’t fit them both in my oven).  The other one I also formed into a boule and put in a floured cloth bowl at room temperature for 1 hour.

I pre-heated the oven to 425 with a dutch oven (with the lid slightly ajar…I had read about dutch ovens cracking in the oven if they were empty and covered).

Once the dough had doubled (or close to it), I placed it on parchment paper and created an “X” over the surface and placed this in the dutch oven covered.  I did spray the bread with water just before covering it.  I baked this at 10 minutes and then removed the lid.

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I then baked it an additional 20 minutes.  It had a nice crust.

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Midway through baking the above boule I removed the other one from the fridge to let it come to temperature.  I waited until I had a partial spring back of the dough when you pressed it with your finger.  I put this boule on parchment paper and created some cuts on top and then placed this directly on a baking steel (instead of a baking stone).  I also sprayed this with water and baked for ~28 minutes.  This one was a little over-baked.

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The taste and crumb came out great for both of the boules.  I was happy with this first-time Italian bread experiment.  Will definitely make again in the future.

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-StewsCat

2018 Year-end running summary

In the end I ran the 2nd lowest total yearly mileage since I started regularly running in 2010.  I can chalk up 2010 to a low mileage due to moving from the midwest to SD and also for a very crazy work year.  This year’s (2018) low mileage total can be chalked up to a lack of motivation and lack of races.  I only ran one organized race this year, which was a half marathon early in the year (link here).

2018 Total miles: 542

Total runs: 142 (Avg 2.8 runs/week)

My total number of runs was only a little less than last year but the main difference was the distances per run especially the latter half of the year.  I am proud to have managed to do regular runs (albeit on a treadmill) during our cruise in 2018. Continue reading “2018 Year-end running summary”

Chocolate chip cookies!!

Chocolate chip cookies!!

Ever since I started baking, I focused moreso on bread and didn’t really do much dessert type baking.  I wanted to make some chocolate chip cookies for work so looked up some recipes online.  I found a few and then picked one.  I am not exactly sure where I got it from now (oops!).  I also wanted to try making puffier cookies vs the really thin flat ones.  In the end I think they turned out pretty good.  It’s a really easy recipe too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature butter (preferably pull it out in the morning and make cookies later that evening)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (or whatever chips you like…peanut butter, butterscotch, etc)
  1.  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  2.  Cream the butter with the two types of sugar
  3.  Beat eggs and vanilla into the butter/sugar mixture
  4. Mix dry ingredients with butter/sugar mix.
  5. Add chocolate chips and incorporate

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