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Saturday, May 13, 2017


Looking in the refrigerator...

"Hmmm,those mushrooms won't last much longer."

"Oh look, half an onion."

I reach for the butter and stop...

"Wait, I've got some cured and smoked Berkshire pork belly somewhere in here."

I quarter and slice some potatoes to cook in some pork lard I rendered from seasoned pork shoulder that I had cooked in the electric pressure cooker a few nights ago.

I dice the onions and mushrooms while the bacon browns in the pan.

I then cook the onions and mushrooms in the bacon grease with the bacon.

This mixture goes in a bowl when done.

I cook two eggs over medium to put over a serving of the now crispy brown potatoes.  The yolk is nice and runny.

I spoon the mushroom/bacon/onion mixture over this,  then adding some ketchup and sriracha sauce.

I wolf it all down and chase it with some orange juice.

The best breakfast that I've had in a long time.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Operation Luttich

Yesterday I finally ran the Mortain scenario.  There was a lot to set-up.  There was a lot to explain.  I forgot to mention some things.  The game got off to a bumpy start.  The terrain was frustrating for both sides, but particularly for the Germans.  Historically correct, but perhaps not making for the best game.  Also 9 people might have been too many.

Still the display pleased me to no end.

Some photos:

The 120th and 117th in the vicinity of Mortain, the Abbey and in Barthelemy.

The Germans do some Aerial recon.


The 117th in and around Barthelemy

The 120th on hill 314 and 285.  Their Heavy weapons company is backwards.

Birks on the hill

The Germans arrive

An assault on the Abbey with Panzer IV (F2s serving as Hs)

Panthers attempt to force their way through to Mortain and get close assaulted.  With no Infantry support, the were destroyed.

Panzer IVs moving through Mortain on their way to Romagny

The American 3rd armored division CCB says no..

The "Lost Battalion" is cut-off, but continues to hold hill 314.

Things look grim for the 117th as German forces approach and spotting rounds land.

American Air Support arrives..

The Germans push through Barthelemy

The 119th moves up through the Apple Orchard to support the 117th

The 119th holding Juvigny.  Edwin Sutherland is on the hill.

General Hobbs is concerned

General der Panzertruppe Funck looks on

The rules were a hybrid of Pulse of Battle:WW2, Oman, and Panzer Korps, Granillo.
They need some stream lining, and I'm thinking of going away from the sequence deck entirely.  I like that both rule systems use the d4-d12 combat system.  I like the general readability of PoBs combat charts.  I like the Battalion assets from Panzer Korps.

I have it that each company shoots as in PoB.  The player then decides which company gets a bonus from their Heavy Weapons stand.  Having Armor assets in Infantry battalions give certain bonuses, and AT guns also have advantages, but their immobility is problematic.  I'm not a big fan of wall to wall trucks and half-tracks, so I use single stands to represent the Infantry battalions transport assets.

A Good Sign

Image result for Good sign

This week I ran my last super long run of 15 miles before the Santa Cruz Half-Marathon.

I held a 9:05 minute/mile pace.

On Friday I did my last long tempo run of 7 miles at a 8:10 or better pace, including one sub 8 minute mile.

On Wednesday I did 4 x 1.5 mile strength intervals, starting at 8:10 and finishing at 7:50 for the final 1.5 miles..

So all of my runs of substance met or actually exceeded what Hanson's prescribed paces for finishing a half marathon in 1 hour 45 minutes.  I hadn't been able to due this for a few weeks now.

So I feel this is a good sign.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Quick and Easy Terrine

Hill Sprints

I did 9 of theses starting at 8.7mph and finishing at 9.5mph all at 8% grades for ~10 seconds.  Total miles for the day was 5.


Nine out of ten times if you ask me to pick between French and Italian cuisine, I'm going Italian.  However, my one weak spot is a French terrine or pate.  Normally, I'll break out the pork trimmings, heart, and liver from our free range pork to make this divine dish.  I grind it and carefully process with my own seasonings...

This time I had some hamburger from grass fed beef thawed and some partially thawed Johnsonville "hot" sausage. 

I was planning on ragu using the beef and my altered recipe that I had acquired while taking a cooking lesson in Balogna, Italy.  I changed my mind at the last minute, really Jonesing for terrine and took out the sausage and threw it in the microwave for a partial thaw.

Why the partial thaw?  I want to keep the meat really cold for the Cuisinart so that it doesn't "break."  If the fat gets too warm, it melts and the whole mess separates.

So I threw the meat (1 pound of hamburger, and 1 pound of sausage) into the food processor with:

1 cup cold milk
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Eggs
10 grams of salt
A finely processed mixture of black peppercorns, white peppercorns, red peppercorns, fennel and oregano (maybe half a teaspoon).  I have a blade coffer grinder dedicated for making my spice blends like this.

The whole thing is processed for about a minute until it is "sticky."

I then fold into this mixture:
Half an onion finely diced
A celery stick also ""
Three cloves of garlic (see above)
And a small can of sliced black olives (Lindseys 3.8 oz)

This was done in a steel bowl on ice to keep the fat from "breaking."

I slapped the mixture into a loaf pan, stuck a temperature probe in, cooked at 350 Fahrenheit until internal temperature was 145 Fahrenheit.  The water bath for cooking was in the oven pre-heated and ready to go.

I crashed cooled the finished terrine in a cold water bath.  I placed a similar pan on top with cans in it for weight to press the terrine.

I then prepared a pasta primavera.  My wife offered up some frozen pesto she had made last summer.  I cut zucchini, red peppers, carrots, celery, onions and garlic.  This got cooked in olive oil while I boiled some Penne pasta.   I mixed all of this together (not the terrine) with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.  The pasta really stole the show for this culinary episode.

For the second night of serving this terrine (now properly aged and cooled), I made pressure cooker mashed potatoes using:

1 large sweet potato
2 Red potatoes
3 Yukon golds
2 Russets
2 cloves of garlic
half an onion finely minced

After pressure cooking, the potatoes were mixed with a cup of preheated milk and 1/2 cup of melted butter.  I added 2 table spoons of sour cream, sprinkle of salt and Parmesan cheese to taste.  Oh, I had some drippings from the terrine that I added in at this point.  For greens, I served broccolini.

The terrine had a much better texture and flavor the for this meal.  You can never really rush a good terrine.  It is like soup in this way.
The mashed potato was also really awesome - one of the best I ever made.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Preparing for Santa Cruz

It hasn't been easy.   It hasn't been like it was when I trained for Merced.  I'm not hitting new PR's left and right.  I feel like I've been running with an injured left foot.

Hill Training
When I first started hill training I took it on in terms of finding my maximum potential.  I started with only a few repeats of 8 seconds at 6% incline on the treadmill.  By the time I threw my back out training for Merced I was running at 9.4 miles per hour at a 10% incline, 10 sets.  I've not been able to get back there.

My training was supposed to be like:
Monday - hill sprints 6 miles, 12 sets at 6-10% grade ~9mph.
Tuesday - easy 5 miles
Wednesday - intervals/strength, 9 miles total
Thursday - easy 5 miles
Friday - tempo, 9 miles total
Saturday - hill sprints (as Monday) when Sunday is an easy long run, otherwise and easy 6 miles
Sunday - 2 hours of running or 15 miles if Hansen's calls for 14 miles

I gave up even trying to do hill sprints on Saturday.  Monday has turned into a 3.5 mile easy run ended with 6 sets of hill sprints, 8 seconds each at 8% grade, 8.7-9.2 mph.  Oh well, I can't PR every time I run a half-marathon.

These have been going well.  Just this last week I did 3 x 2 mile strength runs at 8 minute per mile pace.  However, Hansen's only calls for 8:13 pace.  I convinced myself that if I didn't run any mile at 8 minute pace, then how could I expect to hold that pace for 13.1 miles?  I've seen two opinions online.  Let's think of them as hypotheses.

1. "I always run faster on race day, usually a full minute off my per mile pace," or something like that.
2. "You need to be able to hold your expected pace for half an hour to hope to run that pace during race day."

At Merced I ran an 8:05 pace.  However, during my training I was hitting 8:10 or faster during tempo runs, so it seemed like number 2 might be closer to the mark for me.  I don't know.  Maybe I'm over training.  Maybe that is why my left foot feels injured most of the time.

These were going okay.  I was hitting and holding the 8:20 or faster pace up to 5 miles, then I got a cold.

Last Friday I couldn't hold the 8:20.  I'm not sure if it is the cold, the fact that I switched from interval to strength training the week before and I'm going faster than the training plan calls for.  I'm not sure if it isn't my left foot.  It also may be because I started training too soon and I'm burning out before the race - I had it in my mind that race day was April 21st, but turns out it was May 21st.  That goofed a lot up in terms of pacing my training.  I didn't catch the mistake until about 8 weeks into training.

Long Runs
Also was going well until recently.  The training plan calls for three 14 mile long runs, two weeks apart, the last two weeks before the race.  I felt that my endurance could have been better for Merced and decided to increase these to 15 mile runs.  I can go the distance, but I'm not getting anywhere near to holding the pace.

Injured left foot?  Over training on Strength Training?

I'm also not doing the "easy" 10 mile run in between the 12/14 mile long runs called for in the plan.  I like running for 2 hours on Sunday.  It is my thing, my spiritual moment.  Ten miles just doesn't feel like enough on that day.  But I do run "easy" pace when those 10 mile days are called for, and hit 11-12 miles in 2 hours.  It just happens.  Of course my pace for 15 miles isn't much (any?) faster.

When I started this bout of training I decided that I would do everything to not peak too soon.  I thought maybe during Merced, with the back going out, all of the short distance PRs, that maybe I peaked too soon.  Of course I knocked a whopping 5 minutes off of my previous half-marathon PR.  So is peaking too soon bad?

Nevertheless, I resisted trying to run faster than training pace, until recently when I convinced my self of number "2" hypothesis for strength training.  Also, being off on the timing for the start of my training has thrown me off of my commitment.  I figure its too late, I blew it.  I'll just have to wait until the next training cycle and nice flat Merced to run a new PR.

So, since I have nothing to lose, I will back off on my strength training.  I will reduce my speed to 7.3 mile per hour (8:13 pace) on the treadmill for all the rest of my training.  I will keep my tempo from going faster than the 8:23 pace - although no danger of that in recent runs. I will be happy to hold that pace for this Friday's 7 mile tempo.

In a nutshell, I will invest in hypothesis "1" above in the hopes that I will run at least 24 seconds faster on my tempo pace on race day and achieve a sub 1 hour 45 minute half-marathon.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Preparing for Mortain

I'm preparing for a big play of ...hmmm, well I'm not sure what to call it.

It's World War 2 based on "Victory at Mortain" by Reardon.  The Germans referred to this as Operation Luttich.

The core of the rule set I am using is "Field of Battle:WWII" by Oman, with concepts borrowed from
"Panzer Korps" by Granillo.

Anyways, I need a lot more variety in my collection to do the scenario justice, but hope to put on something close enough to call it: "Mortain - or Something Like It."  I've posted the half-tracks.  I suppose I should post pictures of the German Trucks.  Here are some recently finished German Support stands and Panzer IVs.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

More Tracks

I forgot to show the track in the ground effect I put on the back.

Playing with the phone camera to see if it takes better pictures than my tablet: