Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Running Free Online

Part of the Juneathon challenge I signed up for includes logging your running and training  on the 'Running Free Online' website. So, having already created my account, I've just uploaded an Avatar (same one as on here - boring I know..), and then I've just created a training log for tomorrow's training, as I already know what I will be doing.

Here's the html that the training log just generated, which I figure I can post here if I switch to 'html' view.. shall I try it ? Ew, see below - that worked ok. I am hoping that this Juneathon thang could work ok !!

See the activity on RunSaturday
Type:Run - Cross Country
Distance:2.00 mi

Sunday, May 29, 2011


So, what's all this Juneathon malarkey about ? Well an email popped into the inbox addressed to BB inviting him to join 'Juneathon'... I took a quick look and saw that all you have to do is excercise every day in June, so run it, log it and then blog it !

Well, BB doesn't blog so I thought I'd just sign myself up. And I did. Also, I've been thinking of a way I could get more sports into my blog (rather than food) so this seemed ideal ... and I had wanted to up the exercise ante, and this seemed like the answer to my prayers.

And then I had a rethink. Firstly, I barely find the time to blog usually, so how am I going to blog AND log every single day in June, and also fit in the extra exercise time ?? Next weekend I am away all day on Saturday, so when will I exercise then..?? Sunday I have a half marathon, will I really want to do anything the day after ?

So, before I have even started the Juneathon I am already trying to find shortcuts to get throught the month - how bad is that ? Here's what I came up with...

1) Does my usual walk to work count ? Monday to Friday I walk to work, it's about 2 miles. On a day when I don't run, I have still walked my 2 miles.. so, does the walk count ??

2) The day after my half marathon, will 'stretching' count as exericse?

3) Does spectating at a sports event count ? Today BB did the Bridge Triathlon in Dartford, and OK, I didn't exericse, but I did get up at 6am and hang around for FOUR hours, just for the race to start... and when it did I ran around from pillar to post taking photos and fetching drinks etc. So, does supporting a fellow 'athlete' count ?

So if any of the Juneathon folks are reading, please do leave me a comment and let me know !

In the meantime, I will be doing a little mini blog every day during June to let you know how I get on and what I am up to exercise-wise, and if you fancy joining in yourself then please click the 'Participant' image above and find out all about it, and then Sign Up !!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sports Nutrition aka Gatorade and Power Bars

So, at some point I need to start training for Kielder marathon. I've been doing some good running lately. Yesterday was a 4 mile off road run, today about a 3-mile run on-road, tomorrow back off-road for 4, followed by a day off on Friday, and a superdy-duperdy long run on Saturday for about 3 hours. Usually I would do my long run on Sunday, but BB has a triathlon on Sunday. So, Saturday it is.

It is said that when running for more than an hour, one needs to start thinking about 'nutrition'. Actually, that should probably have a capital 'N' as it's rather important. If I run a half marathon (as I am on June 5 - Seaford half marathon across the South Downs btw), I will take a couple of gels and gulp them down with water at the water stations. The trouble with this, for me, is that I cannot run and drink at the same time. So, I have to stop and walk and drink and tick-tock ! I'm supposed to be in a race, no ?

Thankfully I have a solution for this, for my birthday this year, I was bought the most amazing aquapack. Basically, a rucksack that you wear on your back and in the rucksack is a waterproof bag, and a tube coming out of the bag that stretches round to your mush. So you can suck on the tube and run all at the same time. So, what to put in the bag ? I recently tried grape flavoured Gatorade, which I really liked. So, I will be trying that in the Aquapack this weekend. BB also got me a Powerbar to try the other day. I didn't like it, it was too much of a chocolate bar, something I would need to be sitting down and eating, certainly not running and eating. So, I will need to come up with something else... Many people eat jelly beans and jelly babies for the sugar hit. Ironmen (Iron people?) use malt loaf and jam sandwiches for the slow release carb, so I guess I will need to find something like that.. I'm liking the sound of jelly beans actually..

I'm just thinking it's funny that even when I'm writing about running, I'm actually still writing about FOOD!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Croquembouche Success

Well, it was a hard week, but I got there in the end.. this is what I did :

Tuesday evening- made the first heart cake

Wednesday evening - made the second heart cake. Iced the two cakes

Thursday evening: Decorated and ribboned both cakes, ready for transportation on Saturday

Friday - Attended wedding rehearsal.

Friday evening - Made 9 litres of chocolate sauce, about 5 litres of pastry cream and 3 saucepans of caramel (first batch got burned - oops!)

Saturday morning -Piped pastry cream into 300 profiteroles. Transported cakes, bridesmaid, and profiteroles to wedding destination. Deposited bridesmaid. Went and built croquembouche.

Saturday afternoon - Collected bridesmaids and made our way to The Wedding

Saturday evening   -  Time to let my hair down (Note to self: Never, ever, ever drink Harvey's red wine ever, ever again)

I think you'll agree the cakes are lookin good. Ew! I love a bit of self praise.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Croquembouche Countdown

So, next week sees me making a wedding cake (of which I cannot give many details) and a Croquembouche for the lovely Em and James. Today, my friend - the lovely bride Em came to visit. She is marrying her love James next week at the Royal Military Academy chapel here in the UK. We were talking cakes and practising Croquembouche building, when she casually said 'Oh, the chef there said to me: 'Can you make sure your chef brings their own whites', ' and Em looked at me, and to be honest it didn't really click for a minute. And then it did. The head chef at the Royal Military Academy was referring to me as a 'chef' and to me bringing my own 'whites'. Well, I could have easily screamed out loud, but I just calmly replied to Emma that I didn't have any, but I had an apron and proper hair cover and gloves etc.

That was swiftly followed by an overwhelming sense of both the enormity and pride to be taken in the task, and the honour of bing allowed to use the military kitchens. Me, I, will be building a Croquembouche to serve 100 people at the most famous UK Royal Military Academy and they are allowing me to use their kitchen, and they are expecting me to be in chef's whites. Oh. My. Goodness. I really can't mess this one up.

Tomorrow I will do a test run, and I will post a photo on here.

Fortunately, I don't have to plate the desert, but I noticed that many of the recipes mention how troublesome it is to serve, and then don't post a photo, so here's one... The profiteroles will be served with chocolate sauce, this will be brought in a jug to each table along with the deserts. The caramel looks rather 'sharp' and it was, but then it is called 'crack in the mouth' and it certainly lives up to it's name.

I mentioned before about the chef's job coming up at work (where I work in IT) and several people saying 'There's your dream job', well, yes it would be, but surely you need the training first ! First thing on Monday I will go down to that kitchen and ask the lovely manager, whom I know well if I may please borrow a set of chef's whites - if he even has spares ?? I dread to see the look on his face - he only ever calls me to fix his computer problems. I don't think he even knows that I cook - why would he ?

I guess that's why we should never judge a book by it's cover, you never know what you might find beneath once you turn that first page... Wish me luck with this one guys, it's the biggest, most important thing I've done so far in all my culinary adventures.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Limoux Restaurants Guide

It is advised that you book in advance for all of these restaurants - particularly for Saturday evenings and the busier seasons. If you find that any of the details below are wrong, please let me know and I will make an update.

Bon Appetit !

La Ciboulette  -- 1 Avenue Fabre d'Eglantine - 11300 Limoux. Tel 04 68 31 73 00.
I jogged past this one last week. I have never dined there, but it has a fantastic reputation. I looked at the menu outside and noticed that the prices start at 14 euro for a green salad, in the 30 euro mark for a steak..  So, higher end than most in the locality.

Tantine et Tonton -  29 Avenue Fabre d'Eglantine, 11300 Limoux, France Tel: 04 68 31 21 95
I have not been to this restaurant, but I have certainly heard of it. It is high-end, both in quality of cooking and price - needless to say it's on my wish list of places to go...

Le Cafe Gourmande - Place de La République - 11300 Limoux
This is located in Limoux square, you can't miss the array of cafes and resturants on the 'place'. They sell brochettes (kebabs) in the summer - either beef or lamb or fish, which are really nice. They also do a lovely tapas selection dish that comes with parma-style ham, breaded squid with aioli, olives, lovely bread etc; which is enough for two to share.

The only problem is that they do not serve food all year round, although I think they have started serving food by Easter. You also need fine weather to dine here, as inside there are only three tables (as we found out during a storm last summer). Again, reasonably priced.

Restaurant Chinois Perle d'Orient 13 Rue de la Goutine - 11300 Limoux Tel 04 68 31 13 36
There's no tastier Chinese, than a French-style chinese. The nems (Vietnamese crispy spring rolls) are my personal favourite. Lovely restaurant, good service, tasty food, reasonably priced. They also serve a red wine, a  merlot, called 'Matibat' rich is from a vineyard just outside Limoux and where I buy my wine from when I am there.. If anyone wants to know where to find the vineyard just leave me a comment and I'll explain. :o)

Entre Terre et Mer - Avenue Camille, Bouche - 11300 Limoux. Tel 04 69 31 37 32
Literally translated as 'Between sea and earth' they served meat and fish together. It was an odd place, but we had a really, lovely meal there. It is now under new management and called something else - Helpful, and I have not yet dined there.. The address is the same though, housed in a now bright pink building opposite a petrol (gas) station. You can't really miss it. It is located on the road going out of Limoux in the direction of Carcassonne, you can walk there from Limoux town centre.

Le Flassian - Avenue de Languedoc. 11300 Limoux
A friend was recently singing the praises of this one, but I have not been there so cannot comment.

Restaurant L'Hibiscus Hameau de Vendemies - 11300 Limoux. Tel 04 68 31 53 58
I have only heard about this one, but have not visited yet. One more to add to my list !

Brasserie Le Grand Café - Place de La République - 11300 Limoux. Tel 04 68 31 08 14
This restaurant is popular with tourists and always busy, we dined there just last week. They do tasty pizzas, lovely salads, steak and pastas. So items to suit most palates.. A little more pricey, and the service a little slower..

Le Concept - 9 Place de La République - 11300 Limoux. Tel 04 68 74 29 73
Lovely food, pizzas salads, meat dishes etc. Located right next door to the busy cafe/bar on the square where everyone sits outside. You can sit outside and just have drinks instead of food if you prefer. Reasonably priced with good service.

Here's a photo I took of our meal there last summer : which was Margherita pizza with anchovies for CC,  a most strange concoction for BB which consisted of lamb chops, brie cheese, salad, parma ham and french fries and a goat's cheese salad for me, which came with bacon (which is a little unusual), and as I recall was very good. I just knew that me saying 'Wait! I want a picture of this one for my blog!' would come in handy at some point. :o)

La Goutine - Vegetarian restaurant - 10 Rue de La Goutine, 11300 Limoux.
Practically opposite the Chinese restaurant mentioned above. I have not dined here, mostly because there's no menu. The menu changes daily... so for me that's offputting - being the control freak that I am !

Hotel Relais Royal - 8 Rue Maréchal Clauzel, 09500 Mirepoix, France. Tel: 05 61 60 19 19
Barely thirty minutes drive out of Limoux is one of the prettiest hotels/restaurants I have seen in a long time. Again, not really one for the children, although I think they will do what they call a 'menu enfant' for about 40 euros. Great ! So, I haven't dined here, but I would love to. They have a 'Menu de Degustation' (Tasting menu) for about 60 euro a head. Again, I would suggest you book in advance. I recall they had a 'special menu' for weekday lunchtimes too which I think was about 30 euro. I was last there sniffing the menu outside the place about ten days ago.. When I go, I'll be going for the 60 euro menu - in for a penny and all that. This beautiful town is also well worth a visit, particularly on market day.

Hotel Relais Royal in Mirepoix

La Cafe'Leclerc  - Route de Carcassonne 11300 Limoux. Tel 04 68 31 68 37
As well as a bar that serves icecream, waffles, pancakes, coffees, quiches and paninis, there's also the restaurant 'proper' where you can get a whole range of salads, meat dishes, cheeses, deserts, wine. All served cafteria style, but really very, very delicious and all cooked on the premises - no re-heating in microwaves..eurgh..

If you fancy a drive for dinner, Carcassonne (La Cite) is about 35 minutes away and all of the outdoor restaurants in the restaurants area' in the remparts of the medieval castle also serve many varieties of lovely food and are reasonably priced.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Back to reality

Well, I'd love to stay and write a while, but I'm too stupid-busy. Whenever I get back from my hols and back into the humdrum, I realise what a rollercoaster my life really is..

Instead, I am going to tell you what you can expect to see here in the next few weeks to whet your appetite and keep you coming back for more.. and no, it's not porn.. it just sounds like it.

Number one: Marathon training  - I signed up to run Kielder Marathon in October remember ? So, I guess I had better get training.. BB is trying to coordinate my 'nutrition' so before/after today's run I tried out a litre of Gatorade and a protein Powerbar. Yukm.

Number two: Cupcake's birthday cake - A lovely heart-shaped strawberry-festooned thingy. One day I'll post a photo.

Number three: A review of Shape Up Trainers by Skechers. A birthday gift from BB to be worn every morning on my 30 minute walk to work. I wore them for the first time today, and all I can say is that I find it amazing that these shoes actually make my bottom hurt. I can feel my glutes working so hard, it's not even funny. Right now, I'm dreading that walk tomorrow morning.

Number four: Croquembouche Go on, google it - I dare you ! This is the cake that my lovely Em has 'challenged' me to make for the most important day of her life - yes, in just 17 days time. Yes, you heard me correctly. Have I made one of these before ? No. Can I make caramel ? No. Can I spin sugar ? No. Can I build horrendous pyramid shapes on the morning of a wedding ? No. Do I know what base I am standing it all on ? No. Can I back out now, purleaseeeee ? No. Seventeen day folks, seventeen days. Pray for me.

Number five: Eleven plus tests CC is preparing for the eleven plus tests which will get her into a good school. It's a nightmare, it's stressful, it's expensive. I've still got six months of it - and no guarantee of a place at the coveted educational institution.

Number six: Pets  CC is desperate for a dog or guinea pigs or preferably both. Saturday we will go to the The London Pet Show just to have a look and let her stroke some 'furry friends'. We are already bunny babysitting for a couple of weeks at the end of May - maybe that will satisfy the pet thing. Tonight she showed me the most touching powerpoint presentation (I think that has to be the best candidate for an oxymoron if ever there was one),  she had made saying how she will love them, and groom them, and feed them and give them water (note the lack of walks for the dog tho - and poo-picking) Kids eh ? Photos of rabbits and guinea pigs.. coming soon.

Number seven: The ironing .... and it's calling.