Friday, July 30, 2010

Yellow Courgette and Lemon Cake

With this glut of yellow courgettes at the moment, I was trying to think of a recipe that Biscuit Boy might actually like. Biscuit Boy likes all things sweet and cakey, and I remembered reading a recipe that Nigella Lawson had made using green courgettes and lime juice. So, I decided I would make the same thing but use yellow courgettes and lemon juice instead. Nigella filled her cake with lime curd, I used lemon curd.

Interestingly, you cannot taste the courgettes in the finished recipe, but they do add a lovely moistness to the cake (good news for Biscuit Boy !). I doubled up the ingredients as I had a lot of courgettes to use, but you could halve the recipe and acheive the same results.

Here is the recipe.


450gr yellow courgettes, grated and left to drain.
4 large eggs (or 5 medium ones)
300gr caster sugar
250ml vegetable oil
1tsp bicarbonate soda
1tsp baking powder
Juice of 1 lemon

For the filling: Lemon curd

1. Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and whisk until creamy.
2. Add the flour, bicarb and baking powder.
3. Add the courgettes and lemon juice.
4. Whisk until all mixed together.
5. Poured into a prepared backing tin. I always grease, and then line the tin(s) with baking parchment.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is springy when touched, and a skewer comes out clean.

I filled a square cake tin and a small round 4inch cake tin with this mix. Half of the mix would fill 2 x 21cm sandwich tins.

7. When the cake is cool , either chop in half  lengthways through the middle and fill with lemon curd, or if you have made 2 sandwich tins, sandwich them together with lemon curd...

NOTE: If you fancy a frosting on this, Nigella uses a mix of cream cheese, icing sugar, lime and pistachio nuts. This is a little too heavy for my liking, so I did not use a frosting. If I had used one I would have substituted the lime juice for lemon juice, and not used any nuts. I think a simple dusting of icing sugar works just as well.

Here's how the whole cake came out .... Enjoy !

Courgette Woteva aka Vegetarian Tagine with Couscous

Whilst making Cottage Pie tonight, I also made 'Courgette Woteva' as it ended up being named by Biscuit Boy. I had actually planned to call it 'Vegetarian Tagine with Couscous' but, there you go ....

So, I picked one long, and two yellow round courgetttes/zucchini from my garden and chopped them up.
I chopped 1 white onion and 2 red onion.

I grated 2 large fat cloves of garlic

I added a selection of herbs - rosemary, and a couple of thyme variations from my herb box in the garden.

What did I do ?
First I sauted the onion and garlic
Then I added the courgettes and sauted those too, until soft.
Then I chopped and added all of ther herbs.
I was going to add normal tomato passata from a jar, but when I remembered that BB has an aversion to courgettes, I decided to make it a dish just for me and add the jar of tomato and chilli sauce that has been languishing in the cupboard for quite a while (BB is not a fan of chilli either..)

OK, so by now I was on a roll and I was thinking I have to go down the North African, Morroccan Tagine route with, so then I added
A good squeeze of lemon juice
(I had no preserved lemons otherwise I would have used one of those instead)
A squirt of harissa (I hadn't used this before, so I squirted some into the pot and then tested a tiny, weeny bit on my finger and it nearly blew my head off, so I had to spoon some of it out - oops !)
A teaspoon of Ras-El-Hanout (Haven't used this much before either, but like I mentioned I was on a roll...)
Another jar of tomatos, but this time with olives - still on the Moroccan theme

Once this lot was in the casserole, I just left it to bubble away with the lid on, and let those lovely flavours all meld together. We left for swimming.. 'We need to turn back!' I said halfway down the road. 'I've left the gas on'. BB practically wheel-spinned the car in his haste to not be late for swimming, but I got back and turned the hob off.

After another great swim we were in the car on the way home. I mentioned how I was SO looking forward to having one of the almond cakes, that a neighbour bought us from France, with maybe just a little icecream when we got back. 'No you won't',  BB said. 'Why on earth not ?', I asked.. 'They're gone, I've eaten them .' came his proud reply, just like the cat that got the cream. 'So, what can I have now then?', I said thinking out loud...

'If I'm hungry I'll eat anything, except for courgette 'whatever'' and so the dish was named. Of course, with BB's London accent it became 'woteva'.

I snuck a spoonful when I got in - tasting good, nice and sour.. Here's a picture of it taken the next day with some lovely couscous.

Bon Appetit !

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Broad Beans

There are so many things I could write about today - cottage pie, vegetarian tagine.. my new running compression legging 'thingies', but I finally decided on broad beans - although I don't yet have a photo I'm afraid. I was thinking about broad beans the other day (like you do..) and I was thinking that in a way they are similar to avocados - that same clean, fresh taste, that lovely green colour. I was thinking then how very different they are, one a bean the other a fruit, and then it occurred to me that there is one recipe where they are used in a similar way and that is in a broad bean puree or guacamole. Think about it, do you think in a blind tasting you would be able to taste the difference between a guacalmole made with avocado and one made with broad beans, you know I think I'd find it difficult.

I would never try and freeze or tin, or preserve an avocado in any way. I would say, also, that it's not a good idea to try and preserve broad beans, people do... In the supermarket recently, I decided to buy a tin of broad beans, just to try them out. I guessed they would still be in that tough outer skin and that I could just take those skins off. Well, I tell you what, was I in for a big surprise or what, and totally not in a good way. The tinned beans bore no resemblance whatsoever to fresh broad beans. They were pale grey in colour, I took the skin off they were still grey and mealy. This was to the point where I could completely mush them between finger and thumb. Eurgh ! Absolutely nothing like fresh broad beans. In the bin they went.

To blanch my broad beans I often boil a kettle of water, put the boiled water in a glass jug and then put the podded beans in the water. After about five minutes I drain the water and then peel the beans of the tough outer skin revealing the bright green bean beneath. I think at this point the beans could safely be frozen and then plunged back into hot water to defrost.

There is another bean that I have found similar to broad beans and that is soy beans which I have had frozen and fresh. I bought a couple of bags from the Chinese Supermarket recently. They are great in stirfries and other mixed bean recipes.

Happy bean eating !

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Aftermath..

The good news is that the legs are not aching and the blister is healing. I am left inspired to sign up for another triathlon. At some point I will take a look for something that sounds interesting. Really need to bone up on the swimming before I can be let loose on the general sporting public again.

In the meantime, my world has turned mad busy with cupcake's school holidays, garden veg to harvest and weed. (I mean weed the garden... not that I am growing weed !! Purlease!) Not to mention a holiday to think about at some point.... Ho hum, life is good. I feel lucky and privileged to have all of these things that keep me busy, and that I have a fit and able body to be able to fulfill them. Life is good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Andover Triathlon July 2010 - Telling it how it is ... or how it should have been ...

So, I'd finally signed up for a triathlon. Of course, I've done a couple before - Stratford, Brighton, Dorney Lake - so there are a lovely selection of swims. There's a pool-based swim (Stratford), sea-based (Brighton) and lake-based (Dorney). One of the reasons I chose Andover was for the pool-based swim. So far, so good.

I got my little tri box ready with my gels, racebelt, my goggles, and my trainers and my cycling helmet, amongst other things.. I decided to wear Biscuit Boy's triathlon suit as I've never bothered to invest in one myself. I always feel that any triathlon is mental preparation as well as anything else, so the previous day found me, Biscuit Boy and Cupcake in Hyde Park in central London cheering on the professional female triathletes as they competed in the ITU World championships. I was inspired... '..that'll be me tomorrow...' I whispered in nervous anticipation to myself. I even invested in some compression socks which you wear on your calves (like little compression bandages) - either during or after a race. Anyway, here's the first of a couple of photos and on to the race.

Sorting out my transition gear.
We arrived in plenty of time, at the lovely private prep school where the event was hosted. The race instructions clearly said to register before racking the bike, so we got race numbers and went and prepared in the car, then into transition I went as you can see on the left. You could put your bike whereever you I set up everything just so, and on to the swim.

Swim caps and a race briefing were offered ten minutes before the start of the swim. Race caps were distributed according to swim speed. Four colours to a lane, red being slowest and setting off last in the lane. I was a red. We were to complete 20 lengths of this 22 meter pool so making up the 440 meters. You had to keep track of your own number of lengths which I actually found OK to do, although at the time I was a little worried. To help you out, those kind folks from Andover triathlon stick a board in the water saying '2 lengths remaining' when you have 2 lengths left. That helps. Or, it would have helped. In my case, this did not happen. I did not have a good swim. At all. Firstly, my wonderful goggles that work so well when they work, failed, miserably and so after every, single, blasted length I was forced to stop and empty water out of them. Horrendous. Secondly, I am not a strong front crawl swimmer (that's why I train with nine year olds - yes, serious !) so after about fifteen lengths well, it no longer looked like swimming I'm sure.. Every other colour hat in my lane overtook me, how embarassing ! So when they got the '2 lengths to go' signage, the chap said to me 'You've got four lengths ok ?' So, I struggled on.. and finally got to the end. Now for the REALLY embarassing bit. At the end, you have to climb out. No using the steps, and in this pool the end was quite steep - well to me it was...

No one else seemed to have a problem getting out, but when it came to that last length and getting out at the end.. all I can say is that there was NO ENERGY left in my arms. So, I tried to heave myself up, and I just couldn't .. then the same chap came over and went to help me... Bear in mind, that the next wave of swimmers are all now sat at the edge of the pool waiting for me to drag my fat derriere out of the pool so they can start their race. Being such a friendly bunch of folks, by now of course they're all giving me a litle clap.. oh no I'm thinking 'Sympathy' can it get any worse... ? I tell you if I hadn't been the swimmer I think I would have been howling with laughter.. I politely declined the offer of help, that would have just been even more humiliating - you can't say you've completed a triathlon if you had to be dragged head first out of the pool can you ??? So, I kinda swung one leg over and use the lane rope as a kind of lever.. and well, I was just a beached whale, flapping on the shore's edge..

Moving on to T1 (from swim to bike). Here's a picture of me getting to my bike.

I seemed to take an inordinately long time in T1, which looking back I'm upset about.. well, not upset, but well you learn from your mistakes... and I made plenty. Firstly, I thought I would wear glasses on the bike, (clear lensed because I don't like dark lenses) and popped them straight on. Seconds later, they have steamed up and I can't see a thing. Off they come again (several seconds wasted). Then since I was wearing a triathlon suit for the first time, I was going to be using the pocket at the back of the suit to hold my gels (aka food). By now I have put my race belt on (with my number correctly attached and facing the right way) so I can't actually get to my pocket very easily. So, I may just as well have thrown the two gels straight over my shoulder and saved myself some time as they would have ended up in the same place as they did anway- the floor. Did I say that when I took the cycling glasses off they scattered across the floor too ? No ? Well, they did... so another few seconds spent 'scrapling' around on the floor, and no, I'm not finished yet. On to the helmet. I had decided to borrow Biscuit Boy's helmet. It's more comfortable, it's not as old as mine.. I did, of course, pre-race try taking it off and on, and on and off and try doing it up. Well, I shouldn't have bothered, because I could NOT do it up on the day. 'The strap's twisted' said the extremely helpful chap beside me. I untwisted and after about three more goes I was finally done up. Trainers next. I had put talcum powder in my trainers, so that's good. I had left them pulled open, with my lovely lock laces stretched to the limit and yet it still took me an age to get my feet into the darn things...

Of course, by this point I was on my own anyway. Everyone else was long gone.. so off I went just me and my bike. Biscuit Boy tells me I was in T1 for about three minutes, that's about 2mins 30secs too long..

There's only one words to describe the bike course : 'Awesome' and sorry, one more 'Hilly'. The course in the blurb is described as 'undulating' - I suppose that should have been clue enough. I thought that had meant 'gently undulating'. Isn't 'undulating' the word you use when it's 'gently undulating' - otherwise you would just call it 'hilly' no? Take it from me - it's hilly. You might by now be thinking, well you're just a wannabe triathlete not a real one... well, the bike is my strongest point I did the 30km in just over an hour - and at some points I was in my lowest gear and cycling out of the saddle (by anyone's guess that's hilly). It's just hilly ok !!!

Ok, calm. The good news is that I managed to overtake two maybe three people and so redeem some of my poor efforts so far. The scenery on the bike is just beautiful, as you cycle through all the 'Wallops'  - 'Upper Wallop', 'Lower Wallop', 'Middle Wallop' (?) - Don't take my word for this bit though - I just remember seeing the word 'Wallop' a lot as I 'sped' by. Whatever they were called, these villages were picture postcard pretty, with thatched roof cottages, beautiful gardens, country pubs, just imagine your perfect English villages - this was them. I loved, loved, loved the bike course, despite the hills. Incidentally, I had noticed that my feet were numb about two thirds of the way through the bike course- but there wasn't a lot I could do by that point was there ? Had I laced my trainers too tight ?

With all the fuss in T1 I had forgotten to drink anything, so by the I came back into T2 I was thirsty. This time I did NOT hang about. I racked my bike, took off my helmet. Grabbed my 'Lucozade sport' and off I went. As usual, my legs were numb from the bike. I thought back to the girls I had watched the day before in Hyde Park - how do they do it ? I gulped down the Lucozade Sport, it tasted over-sweet and as it was such a hot day, over-warm too. The run was very much like the bike, 'through the wallops' and 'hilly'. So, a similar kind of route to the bike, albeit a lot shorter. I passed about two people on the run I think, thus further redeeming the ridiculous swim and T1 'mess' I had made earlier.

Turning the corner and seeing the sign for the school was of course blissful. The crowds cheered and my photo was snapped as I crossed the line. The post race refreshments were top notch (bacon or sausage butty anyone ?) and everyone tucked in heartily. Refreshments and service of them was great, which always goes down well with competitors and spectators, (and organizers!) alike.

One thing I will say about the bike and run course is that I found it a pretty solitary race, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, although I think the sight of someone in the distance does give you that incentive to push it a little bit harder..well, it does for me anyway. As it is I probably saw 4 or 5 fellow triathletes on the whole course. Of course, there were few spectators actually on the course too, but there were a couple of  'Come on 53!'s, which is always an encouragement.  The upside of these quiet, country roads and the early start was of course a lack of traffic, I did not see many cars either.

If you're looking for a very friendly race, very well organized, with a few hills and a quite solitary course then this is the one for you.

Here are my results:
Overall female position: 28 out of 39
Swim time: 440m: 12mins 21 secs - 35 out of 39
Bike time: 30km: 1hr 12mins - 25 out of 39 (including horrendous transition time)
Run time: 8km - 44mins 59secs - 25 out of 39

Would I do it again ? In a heartbeat. That's the problem with triathlon, it's addictive. How do I feel today ? Proud that I finally got back in the triathlon saddle. Oddly, I am also not aching .. does this mean that I did not push myself hard enough, or that those compression leggings did really work for those post-race aching calf muscles. I will be trying these out in training so watch out for a review soon.

Finally, a huge Thank you to Andover Triathletes and all of their volunteers for putting on a great race, and here's a link to the club for those that are tempted for next year. Go on, you know you want to !

Friday, July 23, 2010

Yellow courgettes !

I actually thought that this year I had planted yellow long courgettes, and also traditional green, long courgettes. However, as you can see from the photo below it would appear not !

I have lovely bright, bright yellow long courgettes, and also these lovely round ones. Tonight I chopped all of this up and sit fried it - mainly because I wanted to see what the inside of the round one looked like - well, it looked exactly like a courgettes, only obviously there was more of it. Looking at this now, I am thinking how good those round ones would be to stuff. Basically, chop the little head off and the green (just like you would on a pumpkin), scrape out the inner. Then, chop the inner and saute with garlic, onions, mushrooms herbs and cheese. Pile the filling back into the courgette 'case'. Wrap the whole thing in tin foil and bake in the oven at 200 deg. for approximately 15-20mins. Maybe leaving the tin foil off for the last five minutes.. Or, you could just toss the courgettes on the barbecue wrapped in foil and take the foil off for the last few mins. This is a lovely vegetarian meal, if it wasn't for the cheese this would even be a vegan meal... which pleases me immensely.

I have many of these all coming to fruit right now. I know I could make some form of chutney with the courgette, but that seems to be such a waste of a garden-fresh vegetable. I have before used thinly sliced (with a vegetable peeler !) courgettes as an alternative to a pasta layer in a lasagne. I have to say it really worked, tasted delicious and really lightened the lasagne... I also fancy grating raw courgettes, or maybe cutting really long, thin matchsticks of courgettes seasoned well and tossed in a mix of olive oil and lemon juice and then mized with some cheese - maybe some feta or goats cheese, and maybe some broad beans or soy beans in there too. All piled high on a piece of ciabatta or french bread. If I make that I will take a photo and put it on here..

You know what, I'm even making myself salivate at the thought...

Nature's Bounty - love it !

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's funny....

... how sometimes I can write a post and then the very next day see something SO relevant. Usually I don't add it, but today I thought I would...

.I was on the train reading the Sunday Times supplement (yeh, I know it's Thursday but this is the first chance I've had to read them, and that's only because I remembered to pack them in my work bag ...), specifically the Travel section and there was a feature on hip areas in cities. My eyes, of course, searched for French cities and, of course, there was Paris. The relevance here is that they spoke of 'BoBos'... 'What is a Bobo?', I hear you cry. Well, when I was in France in 1994. a 'bobo' was a little cut on my french friend's son's knee. eg 'Tu t'as fait un bobo?' Now, apparently, it means 'Bourgeois Bohemian', cool eh ? What had I called it ? Oh yeh, 'City Hippy'. I found another term, this was 'Urban Hipster' - far more 'London-ish'.

So, when in London I will be an 'Urban Hipster' and when at Labour of Love, I can be a 'Bobo' - although when there I am more 'bo' than 'bo'.. if you know what I mean...

Nameste friends!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Massaging My Inner Hippy

Is it just me, or do we all have an 'inner hippy' ? After days of wearing corporate suits, catching trains and buses and slurping down air conditioning, I long to let my hair down (quite literally) and tip toe bare foot through a field with arms full of flowers, a guitar swung over my shoulder and daisy chains around my wrists and ankles. Can't you almost sense the smell of freedom ?

I love my inner hippy - she is the girl I long to be. The woman that doesn't give a damn about petty stuff and just 'is'. I mostly get to let my inner hippy out when I visit Labour of Love. In the area of Labour of Love there are more animals than people, more countryside than roads and absolutely no air conditioning despite the high temperatues - walls of stone a foot thick take care of that. When I am there, I am not at work, I am on holiday. So, out goes the city stuff and out comes the hippy stuff, I get to not wash that often.. (Not always through choice!), I get to walk in the hills, and I get to just be.. Soon I will also have the guitar as well, as a friend who is leaving the area has donated hers to my Hippy Lifestyle Plan. I like that 'Hippy Lifestyle Plan' I think I will refer to that from now on.

Sometimes my worlds collide, so it was with interest that the other day that I saw a website advertising a running club called 'Vegan Runners', now my hippyness does not stretch to veganism (yet..) but I have had some contact with some vegans when I did a cake stall a couple of times at Kingston Green Festival. Now there's a hippy event if ever there was one. Kids got to paint a van (yes an actual van) with paint. How cool and free is that ? I feel that I could possibly easily become a vegan, but the only product I have switched the whole family to from a Vegan perspective is 'Pure' Margarine which is soy-based and 'vegan-friendly' (is that a word?) So, note to self: Check out the Vegan Runners web site.

You know it's almost as if the more 'city' things I do, the more 'hippy' things I need to do to try and create a sense of balance. Are other people like this ? Please do leave a comment and tell me...

I just remembered why I was looking at Vegan Runners.. someone on there apparently did a review of Andover triathlon. Why was I reading about Andover triathlon ??? Oh my goodness, because I signed up to do it... This. Sunday. Oh. My. Goodness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Swimming 2

I am just now back from my second swim training session (the one where I swim with the kids). I have to say it was fantastic and I had a really great time. There were only 4 of us swimming so we get the full attention of the coach. Tonight we worked on our arms and doing the front crawl arms properly and feeling the stroke through your triceps and shoulders (if that doesn't get rid of the bingo wings, nothing will !!)

So, for most of the lesson we used a pull buoy and focussed on arms. It's a lot harder than it looks, with all those things to remember, like ...
- Your arm being straight when it enters the water
- Your arm stretching forward as it enters the water (like you're trying to reach that biscuit just that little bit too far away from your reach...

- Your arm going through the water with a high elbow, rather than a straight arm. A straight arm will raise your body in the water which will slow you down, whereas a high elbow will not and you will have the power to follow through to the 'tricep bit' as you finish the stroke pushing your arm back behind you. That's the 'money' part apparently.. the part that gives you the most bang for your buck - or the most speed for your effort.
- Oh yes, and don't forget to breathe...

See I told you there was a lot to remember, just as well we didn't add legs into the mix as well eh ?

I missed the last session and immediately wished I had gone, so I don't think I'll be missing this again for a while. Like I said, it was fantastic.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tayberry and Lemon Loaf Cake

I'm always writing about my gorgeous tayberries and now they are starting to come to the end of their crop, and I'm so SAD !!! I knew we wouldn't eat them all at once and they do turn mouldy very quickly so I have frozen quite a lot of them to see me through...

When in season I pick the tayberries daily, hull and clean them and then lay them out in this pizza tray and put them in the freezer. The next day I pluck them from the tray and put directly into a freezer bag. That way I have individually frozen berries, rather than a berry 'clump'.
As well as making Banana bread on Sunday, I also made the Tayberry and Lemon Loaf Cake.

Here is what I used:

175gr Self Raising flour
100gr Demerara sugar
2 eggs
125gr butter (or margarine - I use PURE soy)
Approx 200gr frozen tayberries
6tbsp (a good splodge) of natural yoghurt
5tbsp lemon juice
Extra sugar and lemon juice to sprinkle
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Here's how I did it.

Preheat the oven to 200 deg.

1. Melt butter (or marg) until just melted, add sugar and stir to melt. Add beaten eggs.
2. Add self raising flour and bicarbonate of soda.
3. With the basic cake made, now add your flavourings 3tbsp of the lemon juice, the splodge of yoghurt. Mix this into the mixture.
4. Now add the frozen berries. There is no need to defrost them. In fact they are better frozen as they do not bleed their juice into your cake so easily. Also the liquid element of the cake with the yoghurt and water make for a really moist cake.
5. Pour the mix into two one pound loaf tins, prelined in those lovely Lakeland tin liners that I keep on mentioning (
6. Before putting the cake in the oven sprinkle the top with sugar to make a nice crust.
7. This cake is not overly lemony to make it more so, you could add some chopped lemon rind when adding the other flavourings.
8. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Approx 30 mins.
9.When the cake is out of the oven, place on a tray to cool. Whilst the cake is hot take a tablespoon of lemon juice and pour over the top of the cake. This mingles in nicely with the crunchy sugar and soaks through to the cake.

This is lovely with icecream and more fresh tayberries.

Enjoy !

Exercise: Walk to work : 1.5 miles approx. Lunchtime run in Hyde Park: 4 miles, Feeling good.

Managed a new PB today of 30mins for the 4 miles. Felt very strong on the run. It's *so* good when you have a run like that - nothing beats it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Loaf Cake

I am the Queen of the Loaf Cake. On Sunday afternoon I decided to use some of the fruit I have in the freezer and some of my store cupboard items and makes some yummy cakes. I had bought another half dozen eggs on Saturday, and subsequently added them  to the other dozen that were slowly aging in the fridge. I am always amazed at my ability to hoard the most lovely food in my cupboards, so, just like that, I can be baking ! It's great ! But then I suppose as a committed foodie this is hardly surprising.
So, I used up the glut of bananas in the freezer and made banana bread, here is what I used:

350gr SR flour
200gr butter (in my case PURE Soy margaine - animal free)
About 6 frozen and then defrosted bananas (this is important because they carry a lot of water, which you need to drain as much as possible)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
A grating of Willy's 'real' solid cocoa
About 4 cups of mixed nuts and seeds (Probably 300-odd grams-mine had walnuts, pine nuts, brazil nuts, goji berries, sunflower seeds and pumpkins seeds )
100gr dried fruit (pre-soaked in water to plump up)
2 eggs

1.Put the dried fruit in a bowl and cover with water (or rum!) to plump the fruit
2. Drain and mash the defrosted bananas.
3. In a different bowl, melt the butter, add sugar and then add eggs -  and mix.
4. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking poweder) to the wet ingredients - and mix.
5. Add the dried fruit, nuts and seeds and bananas - and mix. (chop any whole nuts into smaller pieces)
6. Add the cocoa - and mix.

This filled three 1lb loaf tins. I line the loaf tins with loaf tin liners which I buy from Lakeland. This makes it really easy as it means you don't have to wrestle with greaseproof paper and margarine to grease the tin. It also makes life easy getting the cake out of the tin as you can lift it by the edges of the liner and put it straight on a cooling rack.

Cook at 200 deg. until the top is springy and lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

We have yet to eat this so I must take a photo of them and add it here - Watch this space!

Actually, we haven't eaten it yet because at the same time as making the Banana Bread, I also made Tayberry and Lemon loaf cake which I am eating write now with freshly picked tayberries. There will be no photos of that as I just asked Biscuit Boy if there is any left ... his answer ... ?
A lip-smacking 'No'.

Exercise: Walk to work : 1.5 miles approx. Lunchtime run in Hyde Park: 4 miles, Feeling good.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yoga... Finally !

Today, I finally got to a yoga class. My friend had come over during the week and we have been to numerous classes together before over the last few years - yoga, exotic dancing (at the local leisure centre) and even badminton once..

So when she mentioned wanting to lose a few pounds and I mentioned that we had said about going to yoga and that I knew of a local class, she jumped at the chance - as did I.

The class took place in a converted house near to where my friend's mom lives, so we parked the car there and walked the five minutes to the house. As soon as we walked through the door, someone approached us 'Are you new ? You need to take your shoes off !' Well, how were we to know ? Never meaningly offensive,  we quickly removed our shoes. The other class member showed us to the instructor who asked us whether we had practised yoga before (they always say 'practise' like you're a GP or something...) and we said that yes we had, but not for a while.. and yes, we are injury-free and not pregnant.

So, the class started nothing out of the ordinary, some warming stretches, some salutations, some varied poses, and a nice bit of post-relaxation at the end which was actually very good. You know when you are about to fall asleep and some limb or another twitches? Well, that actually happened during the relaxtion at the end of the session, which to me shows that the relaxation must have been working.

The only downside is that I think the class was quite expensive, although having checked they are charging the going rate.. it's just that for that amount I could belong to my gym for a month, go to yoga once a week and swim, use the gym and go to the other classes...

Whilst I may not return to that class, it was a joy to be back in that environment so I will continue to search for another class to try and in the meantime I will dig out the Yogalates DVD and give that a go, or maybe the yoga on the Wii which I have tried before and is actually quite good. Well, Nameste everyone. Peace !

Monday, July 5, 2010

Finally - A Relaxing Day Off!

Today Biscuit Boy and I had a day off work. Cup cake was at school, so it was just the two of us. What to do ? Of course, we did what we always do on a day like this and took out the racing bikes and headed for the hills. Well, one hill in particular that National Trust Area of Outstanding Beauty - Boxhill. Here's a link:

We left at 0850 and arrived at 10.30, so a good 1hr 30mins of cycling, in fact we extended our usual route a little, when there was only 2 miles left to the destination, BB called out 'Shall we carry on ?' I was feeling quite 'fit', so I agreed. I really enjoy cycling, but not in traffic. Fortunately this route has a lot of small winding tree-lined roads or roads with fields either side, but we also have to cut across a busy 'A' road, twice I was passed by a huge lorry that literally made my bike shake, and I'm being honest when I say I struggled to stay on.. that's probably an exageration, but that's what it felt like. Refreshed by coffee and coffee cake (Yum!) we headed back, leaving at 11am and returning by 12.30 - all in all we cycled just over 50km, My back was really aching but other than that I felt good, energised and happy. Oh, the restorative benefits of exercise, it's no wonder it's recommended for beating depression. I had a totally 'feel good' feeling. Back home, that continued after a quick shower and change, it was back out for a spot of lunch. We live really near to a huge IKEA, so we both continued the healthy theme with a salad.

Later, BB gave me a break from the school run and also Cup cake's new swimming class. So, all in all (Other than the hour spent giving the garden chairs a second coat of varnish) I had a really nice, happy, relaxing day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tayberries and Writing

This lovely soft fruit is a hybrid of a raspberry and a blackberry. The garden is not nearly large enough but I have a sprawling tayberry bush that produces an incredible amount of fruit.  The gorgeous weather at the moment means I have been picking a big bowl of them every day.

There are too many to eat them all in one day, especially as the strawberries have done really well this year too. So, I will hull and rinse them and then freeze them on a baking tray, that way they do not freeze in a clump, but as individual berries. I then prise the frozen berries off the baking tray the next day and put them in a zip-loc bag for later use.

One of the things we do with the frozen fruit, especially on a summer's day is let the fruit defrost slightly and then pour over white chocolate sauce, or we might make a 'Croydon Mess' (??) with a tayberry splattered merringue and cream. Lovely. In the colder months I will add them to chopped apples and cover with crumble. Delicious.

On another matter, I have found that interesting anecdotes and other subjects I would like to write about will pop into my head at quite a frequency, usually when running - and then pop right out again ! Does this happen to everyone else ? This is downright annoying !! Is this why writers carry little notebooks with them, so they can stop and jot ?? More significantly so .. does this actually mean I am really becoming a writer ? You know, I think this could signify the start of something special,  I guess I better go get me that notebook.