Food + Wine, Fun

Pizza, Headbands and Mud. Lots of Mud.

I’m coming to you today from my couch…in my fathers old sweatpants and raggedy t-shirt. And I’m deciding which part of my body to ice.

This is what I looked like in my parent’s driveway at 9 am yesterday morning after we dropped our kids off…

And then at 10am in Mount Pleasant, NC…

(You’ll see the ‘after’ pic in a bit…)

Yesterday, I completed the physical challenge of a lifetime. Apart from birthing two children (where both times the epidural failed), competing in Tough Mudder was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It’s a 12 mile long, 25 obstacle event, which takes an average of 4 hours to complete…if you even make it to the finish line. So it’s kinda like a half marathon but every few miles, you get to swim under a bridge in 34 degree water or climb over 12 foot walls, or army-crawl through mud while being shocked with 10,000 volts of electricity. Or, what seemed to be the photographer’s favorite event for me, jump off a 20 foot platform into 8 feet of mud water…

…and then swim across the lake to climb out using a rope wall..

What’s interesting about completing the event (in roughly 2 1/2 hours, mind you…even with one of our teammates having an injury and myself suffering from hypothermia…(more on that later)) is that it honestly wasn’t as physically challenging as I thought it would be. I mean, it was hard. It was the hardest physical event I have ever even thought of doing…I’m not a race runner, never competed in anything but high school sports. But I found that my body was more capable than I ever thought it could be. It honestly wasn’t nearly as hard for me as I feared it would be. There were things I just couldn’t completely do, I’m gonna be honest. I have never had the upper body strength and body type needed to do anything similar to a pull-up, so those courses involving such an activity were impossible for me to do perfectly. But the running never got hard (and I have never ever run that much in my life), and my muscles surprisingly stayed strong up until the end.
And today I am sore. My entire body aches, much like it did after having my babies, (although the location of aches are a tad different…). But I feel elated, much like I did after having my second child. I sit here thinking,
‘I did that. I ____ did that.’
 
I look over that photo of me climbing out of the mud water and I smile. It seems like it was a lifetime ago, or like I’m looking at a photo of another person. And if weren’t for the aches, pains, bruises and scrapes that tattoo my body, I would believe that it was someone else in that photo.

But the coolest thing is that it isn’t someone else climbing out of that mud water after jumping from a 20 foot platform, after running 10 miles.

That Mudderfudder is me.
And I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I seriously and truly would. Only I would never, ever do it in the cold weather again. Never, ever. That was my worst enemy. Not the electric currents shocking my body as I climbed over hay stacks, not the 5 mud walls I climbed over faster than everyone else in my group, not the higher than high wall that I climbed without the help of the rope…no. It was the cold. During the last two miles of the run I was shaking uncontrollably.  I couldn’t form a sentence. I couldn’t make my teeth stop shattering or arms un-tense. When I crossed the finish line, after sprinting through the second electrical wire event, staff members came and wrapped me like a burrito in a foil blanket and sat me in front of heaters. 
It wasn’t until an hour later, when I could put dry clothes on, that I started to feel normal. 
After we drank our celebratory beers and ate our Cliff Bars, my husband and I pulled off all our muddy clothes, put them in the plastic bin I had in the trunk, threw our shoes into the garbage bag (usually your clothes can be washed and saved…we soaked/washed ours 4 times). And the bucket of water after the soak looked like this:

But your shoes have to go bye bye. This is what mine looked like after I was done:

And we climbed inside our warm minivan. We were worn out, quiet, and I think a little bit in shock. But we knew we had just done something incredible. 

We drove home, stopped and had a foot-long from Subway on the way (the people inside were downright scared of us as we entered), and started the cleaning process at the house.

 

Every single part of my body was covered and caked and drenched in mud. I washed my hair 4 times. I stood under the shower head for 30 minutes, waiting for the brown water to stop.  Then I put on the clothes I am still wearing at this very moment and we opened a bottle of champagne and drank it by the fire.

 
We were both in bed at 730. 
 
I’m so very proud of myself and my husband and everyone else who did it with us yesterday. We proved something to ourselves on that course, covered in blood, sweat and mud. We proved that anything is possible. The human body is an unbelievable thing. The human mind is outstanding. 
 
And I finally proved to myself that I am, in fact, One Tough Mudder. 
 
Hoorah. 
 
And I may or may not be wearing my headband as I type this. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The night before this event, my husband and I carb-loaded. We decided to make pizza but since I had been thinking of coming up with a gluten free pizza crust (for those of you who have requested it),  I decided to make it gluten free, but still high in as much good fiber and carbs as I could make it.
Here’s what I came up with…
*Gluten Free High Fiber Pizza Dough
(Makes 1 large or 2 small-medium pizzas)
First, we bloom the yeast…
In a small bowl or ramekin, combine:
– 1 TB yeast granules
– 1 tsp sugar
– 3/4 cup warm water (good bath water temperature)
Mix it all together and let it sit for 3-5 minutes, or until it looks like this…

If it doesn’t rise and become bubbly after that amount of time, give it a couple more minutes. If it still doesn’t bubble, your yeast is most likely dead. So try it again with new yeast (check the expiration date) and/or with water that’s the right temp (105-110 degrees).

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the following dry ingredients…
– 1 cup brown rice flour
– 1 cup white rice flour 
– 1/2 cup coconut flour
– 1/2 cup tapioca flour (cornstarch can easily be subbed)
– 1/2 tsp xantham gum
– 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 

Mix well to combine all the dry ingredients in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and once your yeast mixture is ready, slowly add it to your dry as it mixes.

Next add:

– 3 TB extra virgin olive oil 
– 3/4 cup more warm water 

Mix well until a dough forms, then switch to the dough hook and ‘knead’ your dough on medium speed for 5-7 minutes.

Transfer the dough ball to a well oiled bowl.

Oil the top of the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside in a warm place for 2-3 hours. You won’t see a lot of rise with this dough, but the flavors do develop the more you allow it to rest before baking. 

 
After a couple hours, when you’re ready to make your pizzas, remove the plastic wrap from your dough bowl. 
The dough should be springy now and fragrantly yeasty.
Lightly oil a large cookie sheet (or 2 quarter sheet trays if you’re making two smaller pies like I did) and with oiled hands, gently press the dough out to be about 1/4 inch thick. It will not rise and you need a thin crust with this dough so be sure to pat it down well. (Truth be told, it feels like you’re spreading play dough onto a cookie sheet, but that’s just what happens when you take away the protein from a dough…)
Place your prepared crusts in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. After baking, your crust should look dry and may have a few cracks. No worries.
Bump up your oven temp to 400 and add your favorite toppings to your crust…
(We opted for the retro ‘Hawaiian’ style for one, and a white mushroom for the other…)
Bake at 400 for 7-10minutes, or until the crust edges have browned a bit and your cheese has melted fully. You may have to finish in the broiler if the toppings are moving along slower than your crust.
Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

It holds together extremely well and has a great taste. (But leftovers become stale, so make only what you plan on eating right away!!) Obviously the texture is different from a glutinous dough. This crust is firmer and more dense, but you simply have to know and accept that going in. I think for my family and me, the traditional pizza eaters that we are, the greatest test was that the kids ate theirs not knowing anything was different and my husband went back for double seconds.

So I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I like my gluten and I like real and good food so when I create and publish recipes that stray from the norm like this one, I’m standing behind them not as someone who has forgotten what normal pizza dough tastes like and therefore may not be the best judge. I’m standing behind them as an experienced cook who (in this case) just ate gluten 6 hours prior to eating this pizza.
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