Friday, February 25, 2011

My 100th post - and a Favourite recipe - Sesame Peanut Noodles

My 100th post - can you believe it ? What better way to celebrate with one of my favourite recipes - Sesame Peanut Noodles. The raw vegetables in this make it super healthy too.

As I venture further towards vegetarianism, and even veganism, this is a recipe that ticks all the boxes and tastes great too. It is, of course, from my favourite tv cook, Nigella Lawson, and is taken from her book - Nigella Express. 'The clue's in the name' as we say in my house, and this really is a rapid recipe. I buy my noodles fresh from the supermarket which makes things even quicker, but you could easily boil up your own, noodles don't take long do they... ? This is served cold, so you would want to chill your noodles before using them in this recipe, although secretly I think it would be quite nice with warm noodles too.

 I, of course, make my usual modifications  depending on what I have in the fridge, as I did here. Here is the original recipe with my changes in italics.


Serves 8 (apparently.. I think more like 4 as I eat this in HUGE mounds)

For the salad

125g mange tout    I substituted pak choi above
150g beansprouts
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into small strips
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 x 275 g or 1 x 550g ready-prepared egg noodles could be substituted with rice noodles or non-egg
20g sesame seeds I rarely add these, although it is lovely with them
4 x 15ml tbsp chopped fresh coriander  I don't usually add this either...

For the dressing

1 x 15ml tbsp sesame oil       This adds a most lovely taste to the salad
1 x 15ml tbsp garlic oil         I use olive oil, not garlic oil and probably half this amount,
1 x 15ml tbsp soy sauce      with a little more soy sauce instead

2 x 15ml tbsp sweet chilli sauce
100g smooth peanut butter    I always use crunchy, I love the little peanut bits
2 x 15ml tbsp lime juice        Sometimes I use lemon juice, but I'll admit, lime juice is better


I love this, it's so easy, but you do need to find yourself a massive bowl otherwise, when you toss the salad with the dressing, the salad and noodles jump out of the bowl, so save yourself the flaff of having to switch bowls half way through (as I usually do), and get out your biggest bowl.

1. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl, not the huge one.

2. Put the mange tout / pak choi, beansprouts, red pepper strips, sliced spring onions and the noodles into a bowl, the huge one.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly to coat all of the salad in the dressing.

4. Put into bowls or lunchboxes, or some other serving vessel and sprinkle on the sesame seed and chopped coriander.

5. Tuck in !

Monday, February 21, 2011

My top ten reasons to practice Yoga

There are various reasons why I choose to practice yoga, here's my top ten :

1) Yoga is all about breathing and stretching. Although I am a runner, like many runners, I neglect to stretch enough.Yoga gives me an hour or more of pure stretching - Perfect.

2) In yoga you work at your own level, like everything else, the more you go the better you get. Yoga, when practised enough, can make you really flexible. My brother took up yoga at his local gym just before his fortieth birthday, when he was struggling to reach his feet to get his socks on (!). Now, not twelve months later, not only is he teaching yoga, but he has lost about two stone in weight and can do a full splits. It's not just through yoga that he has achieved all of this of course, but the yoga has definitely helped his flexibilty, and the change in him has been just amazing.

3) People think yoga is easy.. wrong ! It can be quite hard, and it definitely raises your heart rate - and that's a good thing.

4) Yoga is non-competitive. Resist the urge to look around the room and see what others are doing, yoga really is all about you and what you can do. For me, this is a change from my running, where it's all about who's in front and who's coming up from behind.

5) Yoga teaches you how to breathe. As someone who quite frequently breathes too rapidly and too shallow, yoga reminds me how to breathe.. slowly and from my stomach.

6) Yoga practise is all about focusing on the present moment and what you are doing right this minute, right now, and forgetting everything else. For me, most of the time I am thinking about a gzillion other things, yoga lets me zone out, and quite literally free my mind.

7) Most yoga classes have a relaxation phase between ten and twenty minutes in length, where you lie on the floor and let your body sink into the floor and totally relax your whole body. I honestly think that I have felt more relaxed doing this, than when I'm asleep sometimes !

8) There are many different types of yoga. I'll be honest, I would love to try hot yoga, I would imagine as your muscles warm up you can probably get an even better stretch, and a better yoga experience.

9) Yoga can be practised by everyone, children, pregnant women, the elderly, male, female etc..

10) Yoga gives a whole body and mind experience. I leave yoga classes feeling energized, refereshed, relaxed and warm.

If you know of a yoga class near you, go on, give it a go ! Nameste.

AN UPDATE> I wrote this last night, before I went and tried out a new yoga class, it was wrong, wrong on a couple of levels:
Firstly, the room was cold, too cold. Usually once you are warmed up you can take your lighter hoodie top off and do your yoga in a loose fitting top. I took my hoodie off, but after a few minutes I put it back on. Cold rooms equals cold muscles which can result in pulled muscles. The room should be warm.

The teacher should walk around the room and check your poses, I know that in some classes the teacher will just call the poses and the breathing, but I need to know if I'm doing it right or not. This teacher did come and see me when she heard my knees crunch, but not when I was doing other positions.. which is a shame.

I have another class to try out on Thursday, which is half an hour longer than the one I did on Monday, and also slightly cheaper, so it will be interesting to see how this one differs. This class is a brand new, never-run-
before class, so it will be nice to be there for the first class ...

UPDATE no. 2: Thursday - I am now back from my second yoga class this week, and what a treat it was. A warm(ish) room, plenty of blankets provided too, lovely incense wafting, a teacher that cared enough to come and check out our poses, (some interesting poses at that - shoulder stand, or fish anyone?), with a nice warm up..and the most amazing relaxation session at the end. I will definitely be returning next week, and if I was able to, I would go to the Saturday class too - praise indeed !

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This week  I have been thinking about the year ahead.. Yes, only just now, and yes, I know, it's nearly March.... That just about sums up my world, constantly chasing my tail.

Having done a post about my I was fifth woman success last year, I had not yet got round to redeeming the voucher that I had won against my next race. So, when we went to the triathlon show last weekend, and I saw that the Human Race event organizers had a stand, I asked them if I could still redeem my voucher and they said I could. So, I entered the  Whole Foods Market Breakfast Run 2011 this is on Sunday 27 March 2011.

I had also read, again before Christmas, a review of the Kielder marathon in 220 magazine. Billed as the most beautiful marathon in the UK, I thought silently to myself... If I ever do a marathon, let this be the one. It looked absolutely stunning.

Earlier this week, an email from Salomon dropped into the mailbox offering priority entry to the above marathon and having read about last year's trials of obtaining a place, I thought, This is my chance. So, guess what ?? I have signed up for my first ever marathon. I'm looking forward to it, although I know the training could get heavy, but like everything else, I will face that as I come to it.

Well, I hope you guys reading this are not like me and chasing your tail, and that maybe you might get chance to check out the links above...

But, for now, Nameste.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentines Day Brownies!

I was determined today to firstly use my new heart-shaped silicone tin, and secondly to make a valentine-based dessert and finally to actually get it on here in case anyone deemed to make it in time for the big lunch or supper on 14th February.

Here's the silicone bake mould that I bought last week. Incidentally, I went back to the supermarket where I bought this with the hope of buying the smaller cupcake tray after all... and guess what ?? Well, of course there were none left. Typical.

I wasn't sure what to make in my lovely mould. I guess that given more time, I would have liked to make an ice cream based dessert, probably with meringue and raspberries, but I didn't have enough ice cream or any meringues, so that was a non-starter. I considered lemon pudding, but I knew I wouldn't have time to steam it...

In the end, I plumped for the classic chocolate brownie. Easy and quick to make, and delicious warm with ice cream. Also, although Biscuit Boy likes most desserts, he and Cupcake both particularly like Brownies. Our Valentines meal will be a family affair this year, Cupcake is nearly ten now so there's no point trying to feed her early and rush her off to bed. She has a later bedtime, so it's lovely that we can all eat together. Our main course will be the beef stew that I made earlier this week, served with garlic bread and these brownies and ice-cream, probably served with some tayberries for desert.
So, no effort for me as it's all ready to go ! Yippee.

So, on to the brownies...I chose another Nigella recipe. This one is from the 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' cookbook. I halved the quantities in the recipe as the recipe said it made 48 (!). I did not add any walnuts as Cupcake doesn't like them. If I was making them for me, I would have added them as I think they add a lovely taste and texture. Next time !


185gr soft unsalted butter

185gr best quality dark chocolate

4 standard size eggs (e.g. not large eggs)

0.5 tablespoon vanilla extract

250gr caster sugar

110 gr plain flour

0.5 teaspoon salt

150 g chopped walnuts (optional - or you could use other nuts, like pecans, or some white chocolate chips or dried cherries or cranberries...)


Preheat the oven to 180 deg.

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low flame.

2. Whilst that is melting, mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.

3.Once the chocolate is melted add the chocolate to the egg and sugar mixture.

4. Add the flour and salit, and walnuts to the mixture if needed and mix in.

5. Tip the mixture into your tin and bake for about 25 minutes. The mixture will need a lot longer than 25 minutes, if you prefer a drier browner. Check it every 5 or so minutes after 25 minutes, remembering that it will continue to cook when cooling.

6. My brownie went in and out of the oven three times before it was not running liquid - I just hope it's not rock hard tomorrow... Either way, I think the final look is quite cute, and I love the little cracks in the heart. Nothing's perfect is it ? Least of all love.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

NOTE: If you use a silicon cake mould, place the mould on a baking tray to slide it into the oven as they're too floppy to hold..

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rocky Road

I was just looking through my previous ninety-odd posts thinking that surely I had written about Rocky Road before and I was very surprised to see that I have not. Rocky Road is a much loved treat chez moi, but when you read the ingredients list below, you will see why I refrain from making it too often - it's a real diet-breaker...

They sell an absolutely scrummy version in The Hummingbird Bakery in London and their recipe is in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (which I, of course, have in my cookbook collection). However, the Rocky Road recipe that I follow is by my trusted cook, Nigella Lawson. It can be found in her 'Nigella Express' cookbook and this is how it is done:


125g soft unsalted butter

300g best-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tbsp golden syrup
200g/7¼oz rich tea biscuits
100g/3½oz mini marshmallows
2 tsp icing sugar, to dust (optional)

50gr dried cranberries (I added these as I fancied a bit of sour in with all that sweetness, I liked it, Cupcake didn't, but she is not a lover of dried fruit .)


1. Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat, scoop out about 125ml of the melted mixture and set aside in a bowl or jug.

2. Place the biscuits into a plastic freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin until some have turned to crumbs but there are still pieces of biscuit remaining. I thought I would be clever and wack my bag on the work surface, However, the bag split and sent biscuit shards scattering across the kitchen floor. Not good.. so use a damn rolling pin ok ?

3. Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan, then add the marshmallows. It willl look like this: I also added my scrummy sour cranberries at this point.

4. Mix it all together, until all the biscuit is coated in yummy chocolatey sauce and looks all messy, like this:

5. Tip the mixture into a 24cm/9in square baking tin and smooth the top with a wet spatula. I use a brownie tin.

6. Pour over the reserved 125ml of the melted chocolate mixture and smooth the top with a wet spatula. This gives a lovely solid chocolatey topping.
7. Refrigerate for about two hours or overnight.

8.To serve, cut into 24 fingers and dust with icing sugar.
I didn't actually smooth mine down with a spatula, or cut it into 24 fingers or dust it with icing sugar. Sometimes, Biscuit boy had great wedges and sometimes I had dainty pieces literally the size of my finger. It's your Rocky Road, you eat it how YOU want to.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Random Foody Stuff / Valentines Day etc

Unfortunately I've no time for a proper blog post, but last night I made Jamie Oliver's beef stew recipe from the book 'Jamie's Dinners' - here's a link to the recipe:

It's been baked for three hours in the oven and is now in the freezer ready to be eaten on Valentine's Day evening. Mondays are my work late day, so Cupcake and I don't get home until 5.30 and BB not until 7.15 so I can take the beef stew out of the freezer on Monday morning and pop it into the oven to reheat when I get home. I already have some garlic bread and some red wine, so that will be a lovely family meal, with all of the effort already done ! Perfect.

I still have not used my new lovely enamel pudding bowls, although I did find an excellent looking Christmas pudding recipe earlier tonight. Who knows when I will start making them - I could start now, as the puddings will keep for a year, but in the meantime, it's nice to know that I've got a recipe that's raring to go. 
Here it is:

Incidentally, I will replace the suet with chopped apple - you know I like my veggie alternatives.

Back to Valentines day - today whilst in Lidl I bought a large heart-shaped red silicon cake 'tin'. So, I absolutely have to make something in that for Valentine's day, this will probably be some form of chocolatey sponge with some fruit and cream - lovely. Unfortunately it is not shown on their web site, they also had some heart shaped silicon cupcake 'trays' but I figured for me the larger one would get more use.

Well, I'm hoping I'll get chance to christen all of these new items soon, and with that, it's off to bed.

Night night fellow web surfer/bloggy people.

Incidentally, if anyone should ever want to leave me a comment, please don't forget to click 'Preview' and enter the captcha phrase. A couple of friends mentioned they had commented - but I haven't been getting them. Just in case you wanted to leave a comment, you never know.... :o)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heritage Gifts and Enamel Bakeware

For some time now I have been covetting the enamelware that Jamie Oliver uses often in his Thirty-Minute meal television programmes that are currently airing on Channel 4. He uses all sorts of enamelware - cups, baking trays, colanders, little pie dishes. And so, I thought to myself - I want some of those !

I will often have a little thought like that, and then make a mental note to check out the cookware aisles of the supermarket as I do my shop, and also, obviously, to check out the charity stores when I pass by them. So, I have been doing that.

I keep telling myself that I did once see them in Sainsburys, but when I looked again and then checked on-line, I found nothing....
So, it happens that it was this past Friday evening when I said to myself, it's time to get online and buy some enamel bakeware ... and this is what I found.

I had already checked out the Lakeland selection.They do a Traditional Enamel 20cm Pie Dish for £2.99. delivery on this though will set you back £4.25 ...

Then I went to another online favourite - Amazon.
They will sell you a Falcon Enamel 20cm Oblong Dish also for £2.99, but this time delivery is only £1.20. A saving dear friends of £3.05, which would actually buy you Jamies Little Book of Big Treats which I think looks like a cute little cook book - and it's for charity. Say no more.

But ..I have not finished yet...Oh no, Siree ! For when I carried out ye old Googley search, I found the site that would beat all others. Proudly presenting... a company based up in Stroud in Gloucestershire. Their Falcon Enamel 22cm Pie Dish is only £3.01, and delivery is only £3.50.

I was able to order the following:

Falcon Enamel 8cm mug
Falcon Enamel 22cm Pie Dish
Falcon Enamel 28cm Bake Pan

Falcon Enamel16cm Pudding Basin  (I got two of these - perfect for Christmas Pudding gifts)

All of this for the grand total of £12.30, with £3.50 for delivery = £15.80 in total.
What excellent value. I placed the order on Friday evening, received the usual confirmation emails etc, and the consignment arrived today and it's only Tuesday. The package was extremely well wrapped, the invoice correct. All of the items are lovely - and I cannot wait to start using them !!
So, Heritage Gifts - you are my STAR of the week.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pirie 10 - Race Report

Today I completed the Pirie 10 race. A ten mile cross-country race across Farthing Downs in the Surrey countryside.

The race was organized and run (no pun intended !) by South London Harriers, which is the club that we all joined back late last year.

The race was hard. It consisted of two five mile loops. Whenever I think of cross country running, I now mistakenly think of trail running which consists of running trails, eg forests and paths, and tree stumps and hills through the woods - you get the picture. Cross country I have since learned, is NOT that. Basically, imagine a bare field. No trees, no animals, just grass. Now imagine it's a field on a hill, now imagine it's windy and you've got to run up the hill. That's what the race was like, running up bare-arsed fields with just a tiny bit of trail thrown in.  Not my kind of race...

Considering this was a race organized by a running club, I expected to come in at the straggly end of the competitor list - and I was not wrong, I managed 1 hour 40 minutes, which isn't a bad time in non-running circles. In running circles, it's not so hot. For example, at the race awards at the club house later, I heard that the second female had managed 1 hour and 12 minutes. Not bad eh ?

I was not the last across the line though, and I think the hill training that I do in France and in Oaks park helped immensely.
Would I do the race again ? Maybe ..... I can't fault the race, it's just that I have an extreme aversion to completing the same race twice. There are so many races out there after all....