Thursday, 2 November 2017

One of those days

I'd agreed to get up silly early.  Ethan and his mates needed to get to Chelmsford for 5:00am.  I had lots of work to do and one early morning wouldn't kill me.  If I dropped the boys off I could be at my desk for 6:00am giving me a good couple of hours of head down thinking time.

The boys were all ready when they needed to be, they got to school as required and I got my early start at work.

I'd packed breakfast in my handbag to eat at work which had decided to leak all over my handbag and its contents.  So the first job at work was washing everything and cleaning it of my "overnight oats" (not a euphemism).

Head down, thinking and doing happening very efficiently.  Meeting at 9:00 and then straight into another meeting.  Just as I come up for air I get a call.  The people due to fix my front door tell me they'll arrive at 11:30.  They were scheduled between 12 and 5.  I hop in the car and race home (as much as one can race across town).

On the way home husband calls and tells me his car is parked at the front and the gas company have dug up the entire street and decided to put barriers up at the back of our house.  I have nowhere to park off street, our cleaner is due and has nowhere to park and the door idiots have nowhere to park.

I park down the street passing my cleaner's car struggling to find space.  i phone Dave and tell him the cleaner is out back.  He can't do anything about it because he's immobilised with a bad back.  

I need to put a parking permit in the car but I'm parked a way away from my house.  I can't get in through the front door thanks to scumbag burglars and their August visit.  I fight my way into the back of the house going through the gas company barriers.  I express my annoyance to the gas company folk because blocking my drive was not something we'd been told about.  They tell me they'd tried to knock on the door earlier in the day but there wasn't an answer.  "Yep, because we were both at work, but I need four vehicles parked on the property now, or in the next half hour."  They'd seen my husband's car leave the house but not my "blue" car.  "Yes, that's because I left home before 5am and then, because I was up, dressed and functioning I went straight to work!!!"

They made it possible to get to the back of the house.  I'd parked elsewhere, my cleaner had parked elsewhere, but it left a big space for the door idiots.

I grabbed a visitor permit and went back to my car to protect it from the traffic wardens (bearing in mind I'd paid a penalty charge notice for Dart Charge earlier in the day - that really annoyed me).

I got in checked in with the cleaner who I hadn't seen for months.  Checked husband's state of disability, and decided that the gas workers had been very accommodating so I went to offer tea and coffee.

Five teas and coffees later, plus one for the cleaner and one for me, I plugged in laptop and started work.

Door idiots arrived.  I told them there was a lovely big space at the back of the house that I'd arranged especially for them.

They opted to park on double yellow lines across the road.  They were cutting me a temporary front door from a lump of wood and thought doing that on a Black and Decker Workmate in the middle of the road opposite the house was preferable to a safe space behind the house.  Whatevs.  I offered them tea and coffee and they declined.

Back to work.

"Can I use the loo?"  It's like having toddlers.

"Here are your mugs back."  It's really like having toddlers.

I go to check on husband.  He wants drugs and wants to know how to get them.  I ensure he has phone and doctor's phone number.

Back downstairs I notice that post includes card to collect package to collect from Post Office.

Back to work.

Questions come from door idiots on regular basis.  Do I want a letterbox, a lock etc. etc.  

I knew I would have be at home accommodating door idiots at this time so I'd booked supermarket delivery.  Just as everyone and everything is in the house, the Tesco delivery guy is avoiding the extension lead in the hall to pop the shopping in the kitchen.

I decide door idiots tea and coffee again.  They're in the market this time.  I check husband.  He wants lunch and tea, and drugs.

Cleaner leaves, I make tea, coffee, and lunch for me and hubby and then deliver, including crossing the road to deliver teas to the Black and Decker workmate in the middle of the road.

I need to get back to work but door idiots think they need more time to cut holes in wood.  I tell husband as I deliver tea and lunch, no drugs.

I know I need a quick exit and my car is parked too far away to support that so I move it to the back of the house, in the space that the door idiots didn't want.

I go back to the laptop.  Just as time is evaporating husband emerges hunched in pain to tell me to go back to work.

I jump in the car and get to work in the nick of time.

Meeting done I prepare to leave, and then I bump into a couple of people I need to catch up with.  An hour later I'm finally walking out of the door.

I have the card for the undelivered parcel so stop off at the sorting office.  It's the monthly gin delivery - "Wahay!"   I called Dave - do I need to visit the surgery to collect drug order aka prescription?

Dave advises that prescriptions for mega drugs available for me to collect.  This gives me a good excuse to collect the referral letter that's been sat at the surgery for several weeks.  I really don't want to have to see a specialist and leaving the referral letter sitting at the doctor's surgery gave me the perfect excuse not to do the sensible thing.

Home, and Hannah makes me a cup of tea.  Husband is vertical albeit it a bit crooked.

I decide that I cannot be arsed to cook.  I propose fish and chips and there are smiles all round.

Dave decides to attempt a careful walk with Hannah to collect drugs from pharmacy while I collect fish and chips.

At home later I enjoy fish and chips and gin and tonic.  I'm broken, but decide I still have the energy to type a blog post.  


Thursday, 19 October 2017

My first Harvey

I was probably eight or nine years old.  I'd been quite good at learning the recorder and my reward was violin lessons.  I don't know what sadist made that link, but that's the way it worked at my primary school.

My parents played along and bought me a violin (which was an utter waste of money).

I think my violin teacher was called Mr Comely, a misnomer if ever there were one.  He was short, portly and had the complexion of a sweaty vampire.

I can't recall whether the lessons were one to one, but I remember I didn't enjoy them.  I didn't complain because mum and dad had bought me a violin which hadn't been cheap.  I mean it was a cheap violin but, apart from my bicycle, it might have been my most expensive possession.

I think the violin lessons took place in Miss Tilney's class.  I liked Miss Tilney and I think she liked me; she used to teach the Year 2 class and I used to pepper my writing with long words I'd selected from the dictionary in an attempt to appear intelligent.  She was strict but I never incurred her wrath.  

Mr Comely used to make me sit on his lap.  I can't recall why; why he insisted, why I complied, why I didn't tell anyone... but I can remember my reticence and my discomfort.  And I think that was the extent of it.  Thankfully I've never done any hypnosis and I'm OK with not remembering anything else. 

I could try and argue that this experience soaked into my psyche and is the reason I have failed at all future musical endeavours but, in truth, I've just never had any talent. 

The Weinstein thing has got my goat, it really has.  It's made me remember so many things that were just plain wrong, and it started very early.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Sexism in the forces? Surely not!

Hannah joined the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) through school a couple of years ago.

The meetings took place at the boys' school across the road and it all worked, until recently.

Last year, the teacher from Hannah's school who supported CCF, stopped his involvement to spend more time with his family.  The boys' school response was swift.

  • No new girls were allowed to join.
  • Girls had to pay a fee, and so did the boys, but the girls had to pay more.
  • The start time was brought forward making it impossible for the girls to arrive in time meaning they miss "fall in" and "parade" every week.  They could still register, but they couldn't participate fully.
  • All meetings about camps happened at the boys' school, during the school day making it impossible for the girls to attend.  The consequence of this is that they don't know camps are happening and don't participate.

Promotions were handed out recently and, in Hannah's year, none of the girls received a promotion.  With the number of promotions dished out, the girls didn't get their fair proportion, and Hannah believes the girls are far more attentive and capable than many of the boys.  Additionally, one of the boys promoted has very poor attendance.

This sounds like sex discrimination, and she's only 15.  I don't want to say "Suck it up, that's life." because it shouldn't be like this, but the Army won't listen to one whiny mother.  I'd like them to be forced to recognise their whole attitude is in no way encouraging girls into the armed forces.  I'd like equality.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

An ordinary day in which I go out

I remembered to get some food out of the freezer the night before and pop it in the fridge.  Dave would need something when he got in and the children could have a snack because they'd had a main meal at lunchtime.

I remembered to take the homemade brownies out of the freezer the night before and cut them into slices and pop them in a cake tin.  It's much easier to get sharp edges when cutting gooey things before they've completely defrosted.

I remembered to check with Dave "You're OK to take Ethan to Scouts and Hannah to Explorers?" and I took the time to make sure he knew exactly which children needed to be where and when.  I offered to take Ethan to Scouts, in case it helped, but was told firmly that "No, I plan to get back in time to do that."

I woke up early at six and decided that getting out of the house and into work early would allow me to plan and feel happier about the "big meeting".

I remembered to take the brownies out to the car and when I got to work, I set up the meeting room (including moving the furniture around and checking the IT equipment), remembering to leave instructions about the WiFi, the teas and coffees and allergens in the brownies.

I remembered to get money from the cashpoint and collect some keys that had been cut for our desk drawers.

I spent the next couple of hours trying to talk to as many of the meeting presenters as possible trying to ensure everyone knew what they were going to be talking about or discussing.

Before the meeting I remembered to set up a Webex, and dialled in.  

The meeting didn't go to plan, but that's life.  All through the five and a half hours I could sense the notifications on my phone.  WhatsApp and Facebook going "ping" every few minutes with things I clearly needed to know.

After the meeting I tried to get to some of the presenters to provide reassurance or clarity or just to say "Thank you."

As I left work I checked my phone.  Lots of messages and not enough time, but somebody wanted to park at my house for the evening.

I drove home remembering to stop at the Post Office to send Dave's erroneously ordered Amazon purchase back from whence it came, because I'm nice like that.

Before I got back in the car I checked messages and said "Yes" to the friend that wanted a parking space.  Then I spotted another message; a different friend with the same request.  I needed to think about that before replying.

When I got home I remembered that Ethan was going to be late home because he was attending a meeting about cadet camps.  It transpires these were: two in Romania at £800 a pop and one in Morocco for £900 a pop.  I remembered I hadn't yet paid the deposits for the Scout Camp to Ireland.  

Assessing the parking situation once I was home, I reasoned that if I allowed one of my friends to block me in (that's OK, I didn't need my car) then both friends could park at the house and there would still be room for Dave.  I sent a second affirmative message re parking.

I checked my voicemail - someone at the insurance company wanting a call back.  I called and provided details over the phone about the stolen laptop and then followed up with an email.  And then there was a phone call.  Another agent appointed by the insurance company wanted to come and assess the damage to the front door and alarm system.  Appointment made for Friday afternoon.

I caught my reflection and tried to call the hairdresser several times with no reply.

I then remembered I was a bad friend to someone who could do with support right now.  On World Mental Health Day, the one thing I could do was make a call and plan to meet up.  Meeting for breakfast on a Friday, plan made.

I checked I hadn't booked a supermarket delivery, and I hadn't, so I realised I might just have time for a run.  Just as I was changed into running gear, Ethan arrived home.  We had a quick catch up and I closed the door with the instructions for him to do his saxophone practice, make a sandwich, eat it, get ready for Scouts.  I should have added tidy the bedroom but that's permanently on the to-do list.

On my first lap Ethan called.  I'm not a good runner, and expecting me to think, talk and run, is a stretch.  He told me my car was blocked in and that we would need extra time to get to Scouts.  I told him that "Dad was planning to get back in time."  We checked Dave's location, he was still at work but there was plenty of time for him to return.

On my second lap, Dave called.  Could I take Ethan to Scouts?

Amid a string of expletives, I confirmed that I could because, technically, I could.  And when I'm asked to do something like that, generally, I try and help.  Yes, my car was blocked in, but yes, Scouts is within walking distance if you have 60 minutes spare (30 there and 30 back).
  
I cut my run short and went home to find Ethan listening to music at full volume and eating a sandwich.  I sent him up to his room to change and popped the second half of his sandwich in a bag.

When he came down I said, "Right, we're running to Scouts."

I had a bit of an issue with Ethan running and trying to finish his sandwich at the same time.  As we passed the ambulance station I was yelling about the Heimlich manoeuvre and telling him that choking and suffocating is not a nice way to die.

Ethan arrived at Scouts early and I turned and ran and walked home.

Dave was at home when I got back.  He'd actually arrived home with plenty of time to have driven Ethan to Scouts.  And my car was no longer blocked in which made it look bizarre that I'd chosen to run to Scouts.

While I showered and dressed Hannah returned home from her weekly "revision" session at a friend's house.

Dave drove me and Hannah to Abi's house where we collected her and then I was dropped at the curry house for curry and beer, which I felt I'd earned.

I didn't sleep for long enough, I never do.  There's always something to be done, like a blog post.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Not so dirty pot noodle

A post shared by Ann Cardus (@a4ann) on

Do you hanker after Pot Noodle but deny yourself because you know they're full of things you shouldn't really be eating?

Here's a solution, a homemade pot noodle that's only a little bit dirty.

I don't think these should be made precisely so I'm going to give you a guide rather than exact measurements.

You will need:

  • A pot of sorts with a lid, I use Kilner 500ml pots
  • Ramen noodles
  • Cooked meat - I use chicken
  • Any old veg chopped up small - think red pepper, spring onion, peas and sweetcorn from the freezer, beans (green or otherwise)
  • Flavourings.  I add a smidgen of the following: light soy sauce, Thai chilli sauce, fish sauce, rice wine
  • Some leafy green stuff - I've used spinach and kale and preferred the former
If you can, prep in advance and store in the fridge.  Ideally, if you've used any frozen veg, you want it to have defrosted when you add the boiling water.  If you are preparing just before eating then ensure frozen veg is cooked.

In the bottom of the pot place half a pack of ramen noodles.  These are the ones I used: chicken flavour.  There are plenty of similar products and they often contain a packet of powder and sachet of oil.  Open these and sprinkle/drizzle half of these over noodles.  

  • Add meat so that there's a rough layer on top of the noodles.  
  • Add veg.
  • Add whatever flavourings you fancy - don't overdo it.
  • Add leafy green stuff until your pot is bursting.
  • Store in the fridge until required.
  • Five minutes before serving, add boiling water to near the top of the pot.  
  • Seal the pot and leave for five mins
  • Turn pot upside down a few times to mix all the flavours
  • Serve in the pot or, if you're feeling a little more sophisticated, in a bowl



A post shared by Ann Cardus (@a4ann) on

Friday, 29 September 2017

"Yeah, and..."

I parked the car in a tight space today.

I didn't use the self-parking thingy but my car does have parking sensors and a rear view camera.  I was also parking next to shop windows so there were some reflections to show me how far I was from the car in front and behind the car.

When I stepped out of the car there was an inch between the car and the kerb, and I hadn't hit the kerb once.

My parking efforts had been observed by a man who was sat in his car with the window down.  As I stood up, he called across with "I wouldn't have attempted that.  I'm impressed."

There are two ways to interpret this comment:

1.  "Wow!  Those are some seriously amazing parking skills.  I'm impressed."
2.  "Wow!  You're a woman, and you managed to park in a space that I, as a man, wouldn't have attempted.  I am comparing your efforts with mine because I don't expect a woman to be good at parking and, as a man, clearly, I am good at parking."

I'm sure he meant the first of these...

Friday, 21 July 2017

Lemon or limoncello (poppy seed) drizzle muffins


Ian said he had some limoncello going spare at home and, as a recent convert to baking, he was looking for a recipe to use it up.

I have tried a lemon and poppy seed muffin recipe in the past but it wasn't the greatest, so I experimented.

I think this recipe should do the trick.  And if you don't have limoncello, then just use lemon juice from a bottle to make up the difference.

You will need a 12 hole muffin tin and 12 muffin cases.

Ingredients
  • 230g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 4 tbsp poppy seed (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 250g yoghurt or buttermilk (if you have neither of these, make buttermilk by adding a tsp of lemon juice to milk)
  • 85ml corn oil
  • Zest of one lemon

For the drizzle, which is a crunchy drizzle:
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 40ml limoncello (or lemon juice from a bottle)
  • 175g ish granulated sugar

Method
  • Put muffin cases in the muffin tin
  • Turn oven on to 160 degrees C fan oven
  • Zest the lemon and set to one side
  • Stir flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb together with poppy seed if using
  • In a separate bowl mix (barely more than a stir) the egg, yoghurt or buttermilk, corn oil and lemon zest
  • Combine the dry and wet ingredients by stirring - not mixing, not beating, not whisking, but stirring.  Stir until no dry flour visible (scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spoon)
  • Pop into muffin cases and pop into the oven for 20-24 mins until they are nicely browned on top. 
  • Feel free to use the skewer test to see if they are done (inserted skewer should emerge mixture free)
  • Whilst muffins are in the oven, juice the lemon, add the limoncello or lemon juice and granulated sugar and stir
  • Do the washing up and have a cup of tea, or slug from the limoncello bottle
  • When the muffins come out of the oven, give them a few minutes before skewering the tops about six times per muffin
  • Then you need to spoon on the drizzle mixture.  This is best done with a teaspoon and you need to mix as you spoon the drizzle mixture so that you have a decent amount of sugar mixed in.  The drizzle shouldn't be too runny so you may need to adjust the sugar content until it's appropriately spoonable for you
  • You could dust with poppy seeds but they'll just go everywhere
  • Leave to cool
  • Eat, with tea, coffee or bubbly
  • These are freezable.  When defrosting give them an hour or so, or a quick 30 second blast in the microwave.  I prefer defrosting these naturally as I like these muffins cool rather than oven warm


Friday, 16 June 2017

Optimism

I am, at heart, an optimist.

But there are times when having a positive outlook, and maintaining it, is a challenge.

With Brexit, Trump's appointment, the recent election, terror attacks and now the terrible fire in the Grenfell tower block, I'm struggling.

The fire has just made me so sad.  I keep saying I can't imagine what the victims, their families, the firefighters went through, and it's true, I can't.  But it hasn't stopped me trying, and that's what's making me sad.

I look at the responses of some of our politicians and it's all so cold.  I wonder if they are so far removed that they can't even try to imagine what it must have been like, or whether there's an emotional barrier they're maintaining to prevent the thoughts from entering their consciousness.

The raw anger and hurt makes complete sense and the contrasting, composed demeanour feels alien.

This should hurt and it should make us sit up and listen.  Sometimes, being sad is an appropriate response.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Fried head

So, today was the day I went for my very first MRI scan.

I wasn't worried.  I'd watched enough medical dramas to know that I'd be OK providing  didn't have metal embedded in my brain or eye.

It always seems like such a peaceful experience in TV shows like House; all is peace and quiet until the patient is discovered to have ingested metal and then all hell breaks loose.

I took the completely unnecessary precaution of removing my necklace and wedding ring; they were imaging my head so anything below the chin was irrelevant as far as the magnets were concerned.

I was told the machine would be noisy which didn't make sense because it's always silent on the telly.  They provided me with headphones to protect my ears (the reason for the scan) and asked me if there was a radio station I'd like to listen to.  It was just after Archers time in the afternoon so I asked for Radio 4.  I thought I might concentrate a bit more and keep still if I listened to the spoken word rather than music.

Well the machine was flipping loud but I managed to catch most of the Radio 4 Drama.  I should have chosen a music station because I found myself listening to a drama called "What will survive?" described thus:

"Kate and Ash are grieving the loss of their mothers. Ash lost his mum six months ago and is struggling to come to terms with her death. When Kate's mum Ruth is rushed to hospital and abruptly snatched away from them the family are thrown into the turmoil of grief all over again..."

The show included a scene in which Ruth is in the Intensive Care Unit attached to some life support machine that beeped a lot. Ruth dies when the beeping flatlines.

I listened to this, in a hospital whilst lying inside a noisy machine.  I survived.

They didn't tell me whether they found anything so I have the joy of going back to the crazy torture ENT guy in about 10 days.

The point of all of this is to recommend that for an MRI scan I recommend listening to joyful, happy music, not the death throws of an elderly lady in a radio drama.


Friday, 17 June 2016

Camp cake

Hannah had signed up to family camp and, being the supportive family that we are, she was going alone.

One of the requirements of the camp is that participants take cake to share with fellow campers.  Hannah left it too late to bake anything, so I stepped in, and this is what I baked.

NewImage

It’s a traditional chocolate sponge cake recipe, covered in buttercream with a smattering of white chocolate buttons.  I was impressed at the height of the cake - some cakes rise better than others, and this was a good one.

You will need two 7 inch cake tins, preferably with deep-ish sides.  The need a circle of baking parchment on the base and I greased the paper and the sides of the tin. My mum used to flour her cake tins too but her tins weren’t non-stick, whereas mine are.

Ingredients:

  • 225g baking margarine - I use Stork and it has never failed me.  I buy the Stork in tubs - the stuff sold in blocks is best for pastry.  This may seem like a baking crime (surely butter is better) but margarine produces lighter results than butter.
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs (I used large eggs and they should be at room temperature)
  • 40g cocoa mixed with 4tbsp hot water (if you use medium eggs I would use 5tbsp of hot water here)
  • 225g SR flour (I used plain flour with 3tsp baking powder because I resent cupboard space being used for plain and SR flour)

For the buttercream:

  • 220g butter which needs to be soft and squidgy
  • 340g icing sugar
  • 110g cocoa
  • 2-4 tbsp milk
Optional decoration:
  • 17 white chocolate buttons

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees.
  • Beat sugar and marg together for quite a while until it’s super light and fluffy. The colour should change as you beat it with the colour getting lighter and lighter.
  • Add the eggs and beat some more.  You will have a curdled mixture at this point.  You could add a bit of flour but I wouldn’t.  The curdling will not adversely impact the end result.
  • Add the cocoa and water mixture and beat again.
  • Fold in the flour.  You could use a mixer again here but the recipe said fold, so I folded. 
  • Scrape into cake tins and try and level the mixture out as best you can.  It sort of self levels a bit anyway so precision isn’t fantastically important.  If you have digital scales though you can use them to try and ensure you have even mixture distribution between the tins. #geekcooking
  • Bake on the middle shelf for 45 to 55 mins.  A light press on the top that gets a bounce back determines doneness.
  • When baked allow to cool for a couple of mins before turning out onto a wire rack.  A tall cylinder (like a tall mug) can be used to help push the cake up through the tin. Put the mug down on the surface, put the cake half on the mug and gently push the sides of the tin down to release the cake from its metal prison.
  • While the cakes are cooling you can make the buttercream.
  • Very gently beat the butter, the cocoa and half the icing sugar.  If you start mixing vigorously you’ll have icing sugar clouds everywhere.
  • Once the icing sugar is incorporated you can carefully add the remaining icing sugar and the milk.  Reserve a bit of the milk because the milk amount is what determines the texture.  You’re aiming for spreadable.
  • Once the cake has cooled spread enough buttercream on one half and sandwich the two halves together.
  • Put several splurges of buttercream on the top of the cake and use a palette knife (or maybe the back of a spoon) to speed the mixture around to cover the top.
  • To cover the sides I prefer to put more buttercream on the top and then gradually ease it onto the sides.
  • If you have an excess of buttercream you have two options: eat it or freeze it.  Buttercream freezes very well and can be beaten again when defrosted before using.
  • I’m not very good at decorating cakes but to get the look in the picture, grab a fork and work the icing upwards using the fork.  Continue the working the icing from the outer edge to the centre.
  • You’ll end up with a quiff in the centre of the cake.   Place a white chocolate button on it and then place remaining buttons around the edge of the cake.
  • To serve, give to your daughter and let her take it to Scout camp ensuring you’ll never see it again. 

 

Monday, 16 May 2016

1970s Yoghurt in a flask

When I was growing up my mum made this, not often, but I remember it.


It's cheaper than shop bought and it feels more wholesome simply because it's homemade and you're responsible for what goes into it.
To make 1.2l you will need:
  • A flask - I treated myself to a gorgeous cranberry 1.2l Thermos flask (which, as an aside, comes with a fifty year guarantee)
  • 1l UHT whole milk
  • 50g skimmed milk powder
  • 6 tbsp live yoghurt (or 90ml)
  • A cooking thermometer
  • Funnel
Method:

  • Fill the flask with boiling water to heat it up and then mix the skimmed milk powder with the milk in a saucepan.
  • Heat gently to 46°C stirring all the time
  • When you reach the right temperature, add the live yoghurt and stir well.
  • Empty the flask of the hot water and fill with milk mixture using the funnel to avoid making a mess.
  • Pop the lid on and store for 8-24 hours.  The closer to 24 hours, the creamier the result.
  • Pour into one or many receptacles and when cool, pop into fridge where it will be good for about five days.  I store portion-sized amounts in jam jars in the fridge and mix with lemon curd when I want to eat it.  Ethan likes a raisin and runny honey whereas I'm a also a fan of stewed rhubarb.
  • You can keep some of the yogurt you've made as a starter for your next batch. If you want to this can be frozen and defrosted when needed.




Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Moving thoughts, or thought on moving

So I've just finished week 3, and I have some random thoughts.

You have to see a lot of molehills before you see a mole (and I'm still waiting to see one).

Running through mud is a pain in the backside. The upside is that if you end up with mud splashes on your running gear then it looks like you've tried hard.

Running is easier when you're listening to music.

It's really, incredibly annoying when the app you're following that tells you when to run/walk crashes.

It doesn't matter when you go out, it's better to go out then not.

Planning your route so that when you hear the words "Your workout is complete" just as you see your house, is a source of satisfaction.

Planning your route so that the running bits are downhill or on the flat and the walking bits are uphill is also an art form.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Chocolate and pear not upside-down pudding

I saw this recipe, read the instructions and there were things that I didn't like.

Firstly it required putting skillet or frying pan in the oven. Now I know that some frying pans are simply not meant for the oven. I think mine would be OK, but why would I want to risk it?

Secondly, the cake, which has gooey elements, needs to be turned upside-down and there were cautionary words in the instructions to "be careful not to burn yourself". I'm very good at burning myself so I have adapted the recipe to avoid melting frying pan handles and also to avoid heat-related injuries. If you do burn yourself then don't come running to me - I've removed the highest risk element.

You will need a frying pan (not for the oven) and a pie dish - approx 20-25cm in diameter. I'd say a tart or quiche dish wouldn't be deep enough.

You can do quite a bit of preparation ahead of the cooking bit allowing you to appear super organised as you just chuck everything together at the last minute.

Serves 4-8 based on level of appetite and greed

Ingredients

  • 35g butter (preferably unsalted)
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 4 ripe pears, peeled, cored and thickly sliced (I find pears to be fickle beasts when it comes to ripeness so I used the drained contents of two tins of pears)
  • 150g plain chocolate
  • 180g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200ml buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, and frankly who does, then use milk soured with lemon juice - you add the lemon juice, wait a bit and the milk goes all yucky - perfect buttermilk substitute)
  • 75ml vegetable oil (I like to use corn oil)

Method

  • Melt the butter in a frying pan
  • Stir in half the sugar and heat for a couple of minutes stirring continuously until it becomes a light caramel colour
  • Take off the heat and scatter in the pears
  • Ensure the pears are coated in the sugar mixture and then transfer to the pie dish
  • Break the chocolate into bite-sized pieces (or if you’re as much of a glutton as me, maybe half bite-sized pieces)
  • Scatter the chocolate pieces amongst the pears in the dish
  • In a clean bowl mix the flour, cocoa, bicarb and baking powder
  • In a separate jug or bowl which together the eggs, remaining sugar, buttermilk and oil
  • Mix the flour mixture with the egg mixture to form a batter.  This can now be kept in the fridge until needed for the cooking bit.
  • When you’re ready for your domestic god or goddess moment, turn the oven on to 180degrees C (fan).
  • When the oven is at the right temperature pour the batter on top of the pear and sugar and then bake for 40 minutes.
  • Stand for five minutes prior to serving.

The squidgy, oozy nature of this dessert is by design not accident.

Delicious with ice cream, cream or the filthy, dirty squirty aerosol cream that lives in our fridge.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

I'm back and it's pretty ugly

My three months off running has just come to an end.  I can officially re-commence running.

In the intervening time I have acquired trail running shoes and some nice running gear for when it's wet and/or cold.

What I appear to have lost in the same three months is any fitness my previous exercise might have bestowed upon me.

I decided to start from scratch again with the C25K app.  I'm very conscious that if I get at all disheartened with my progress I'll crumble and any willpower or motivation will evaporate.  So if I keep the goals achievable, I'll stick with it.

It was muddy and slippery and my trail running shoes didn't stop my sliding and they still gave me numb toes.  I think I slid less than I would have in regular trainers though and the numb toes thing is just me.

I have been out twice, once in the cold, and once in damp and miserable conditions.  I also have a cold so am taking it easy.

It's OK.  Running is better when it's beautiful and cheery outside but this is OK.  I plan to keep trying.