Half term…

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Walking in the leaves in the rain.

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The park looks so pretty, even in miserable weather.

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Baking Christmas cakes.

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Seeing Dave Gorman.

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Runs in the daylight.

2014-10-28 12.02.31Muddy shoes (should have worn my trail shoes).

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A leisurely breakfast.

2014-10-29 10.11.09Tesco treats from my mum.

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A walk through the fields, spotting poppies.

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A haircut ready for a wedding. And yes, cake is the best part of a wedding.

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Baking cakes ready for the wedding.

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Don’t the cakes look stunning?



Oven baked risotto

Recently Andy’s mum gave us a vegetarian cookery book. We have tried a few recipes from it, and our most recent success is a vegetarian risotto. I am not a huge fan of rice usually, but I do like a nice flavourful risotto, although if I was out I would not often choose one as I worry about what sort of stock has been used.

The book is a Good Food book (101 Veggie Dishes) but the recipe is here too.

It is pretty simple to make- chop the onion and cook it in the oven a bit, add the rice, vegetable stock (we don’t use wine, we use a small carton of passata instead) and rosemary, and leave in the oven for more, then drain a jar of antipasto peppers (Aldi do a jar for 99p), add that and some spinach, and bake again.


Last week we bought a huge bag of spinach, so it would not all fit in the risotto- I added some to my plate so the warm rice wilted it a bit too. The recipe says to use vegetarian parmesan- style cheese, but we have just grated a little cheddar to melt on top.

Much easier than one that cooks on the hob and needs constant stirring.

We are ones to get stuck in a bit of a meal routine, so it was great to try something new and we have had this for a few weeks now, as it is lovely and warming on a chilly evening.

Have you tried baking a risotto before? Are you good at trying new meals or do you tend to stick to the same ones?

The Sock Mine (review) and other running ramblings

Hey peeps,

How are you all??

2014-11-01 11.14.39First up, I was sent some socks from The Sock Mine. They make a range of technical socks for different sports including running, hiking and even snow sports. They kindly sent me a pair of their Cool Runner with Coolmax ladies socks. First up, I love that they have the L and R marked on each sock.

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I decided to wear these on Tuesday night, when I went for a trial at a local running club. They were comfy, but they are fairly thin, so I think they will be perfect for warmer weather. I like the ankle style sock too (no gaps between my leggings and socks) but they do trainer liner style ones too if that is more your thing. The price is reasonable too- £10 for these socks, which is pretty similar to other technical socks out there.

So, the running trial. I decided to go this week as I had a course (which finished at 4) so it would not be a rush to get there after work. Well, I chose a pretty miserable day to do it- it was pouring with rain and pretty cold. I parked up about ten minutes before we were due to meet, and sat in the car for a bit but then didn’t want to be late! Only two people turned up (including the group leader). After we did a little warm up we started running and after a few minutes I was asked to run ahead of the group leader so she could assess me. Straight away she talked about trying to relax my shoulders- I know I am terrible at this but it was so interesting that she picked up on it right away!

After about a mile of gentle jogging we did a section of intervals/ fartlek running- we used lamp posts to walk to one, jog to the next and sprint to the final one- repeated several times. Those sprints were tough! Then we ran steadily back- I was a bit faster than the other person who came, so I was then told to run ahead two lamp-posts, turn around and come back. At one point I saw a baby hedgehog too- made it all worth it!

We finished with stretches (luckily the rain had eased) and I really felt a warm glow by that point. I think I am going to join anyway- how exciting!

I went to Sweatshop on Wednesday as usual- lots of fireworks were going off while we ran which was quite fun. Normally I am nearer the back, but a friend and I were right at the front – she is a bit faster than me so eased ahead at the very end, but I was pleased I kept up with her for that time, and even managed one mile beginning with an 8- not too shabby!

In half term I made some caramel shortcakes for work:

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I didn’t have enough of the round cases, so I made a few in little loaf cases too. On Thursday night I went to pump- last week I upped my squats weight and my legs were so sore over the weekend. I was going to wimp out, but once I was there I decided to go for it again- I reasoned that after a break the first week is always the toughest, so probably it would be the same with upping weights.

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It was super tough, and I enjoyed a cake when I got home. At least at the moment my legs are not as bad as they were last weekend.

This morning I went to parkrun- I tried to keep up with my dad for as long as possible, but at around 4k he went ahead. It was so muddy and squelchy- I was glad of my trail shoes but at times I was slipping a bit. My Garmin said 29.07 (which I think is quite accurate as I pressed “start” as they said it and not as I went over the start line) which would have been a course pb, but alas the timer malfunctioned so I got 59.59 as my official time. Ah well, it was a great morning for it- cool but before the rain. I even met someone from Sweatshop there (and another couple were marshaling).

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Then I had a go at making pumpkin french toast- an egg, a blob of pumpkin, cinnamon and a splash of almond milk with some brioche.

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Apples cooked in coconut oil.

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Then the toast (although I think maybe it would be better to cook the apples after).

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Oh yes. I think the recipe needs a little less pumpkin as it didn’t soak into the bread as much, but it was good all the same.

How has your week been? If you are in a running club, what do you like about it? Do you like ankle socks or trainer liner socks? (And do you like the L/R markings?)

* I was sent the socks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Starbucks freaked me out!!!

But as you will see, it has not stopped me visiting them…

Recently I have been having a Monday morning treat of a visit to Starbucks on my way to work- I am out of class and always have a mountain of paperwork to get through, so it is a nice treat.

They normally ask for your name now (did anyone see Dave Gorman’s thing about that? Worth a hunt on Dave if you didn’t- Modern Life is Goodish), but one week they didn’t ask me. When I got back to my car I noticed that they had written my name- creepy! I think this was my 5th Monday- not as if I was in there all the time!

2014-10-13 08.06.03Excuse the chipped nail varnish!

Later that week I was sent an email saying that I could get a bakery item for half price, and double stars. Andy was out on Thursday evening which meant cooking my own dinner before body pump, and I left work pretty late. I decided to pop on my way home to get a pre-pump drink, and a post-pump treat.

2014-10-09 18.05.11I did have a sensible dinner I promise!

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Yummy bean and mint falafels with salad and hummus.

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And this was waiting for me when I got home.

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Then the other weekend after the 15k race (and slightly tricky journey home) I had to dash back to work on Saturday evening as there was a disco. By the time that finished it was after 6pm but Andy would not be back from football for another hour at least, so I popped in for a drink, and got us a cinnamon roll to share. When I got home I lay on the sofa with my laptop- what luxury! (Spot the glo-bracelet I was given at the disco!)

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However, the staff redeemed themselves in the final week of half term. We had consultation evenings for two nights, which are just such tiring evenings (on top of full days of teaching) and by Thursday I was so tired, losing my voice, I got into my car to come home and realised I needed petrol. I drove to the petrol station near work, only to see it was all cordoned off. It was right by Starbucks, so I popped in for a drink to take home. I am sure I smiled (and I always say please and thank you) but I think I must have looked like I needed cheering up, as it was only when I got home that I noticed that someone had drawn a smiley. Starbucks staff take note- I much prefer a smiley to my name.

The petrol saga continued on Friday morning- I went to Asda before work, but it was cordoned off. Never mind, I thought, there is a new petrol station opening along the dual carriageway on my way to work, I can just go there. Well, when I got there the sign said “now open”, but the entrance was still fenced off! Argh! Luckily the petrol lasted until Saturday when I finally managed to find an open one!

Are you a fan of the name-on-the-cup fad? Any shops where you are a regular?

Edible Gifts for the festive season

Shhh, it is not many weeks until Christmas will be upon us.

With that in mind, Sainsbury’s asked for some ideas of pretty edible gifts that people could make, so here are my two.

First up, Marzipan Chocolates, because it isn’t Christmas without marzipan.

All you need for this is some chocolate- I used 200g dark chocolate, and some marzipan- around 50g.

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Melt the chocolate (I do it in the microwave, but you can do it over a pan of boiling water if you prefer), and chop the marzipan into little pieces.

I have a chocolate mould from Lakeland, but you can use little cupcake cases instead.

Spoon a small amount of chocolate into each mould/ case, and leave to set for a few minutes.

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Roll the marzipan into balls, and put one ball in each case.

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Then top with the rest of the melted chocolate, and leave to harden.

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Sorry for the picture- it was no longer daylight when I did this!

Then you can pop them out of the cases (or leave them in if you used paper cases) and put into little bags ready for giving away.

2014-10-29 10.12.19I got these little bags from ebay- check that they are suitable for food use when you buy them, as some are not.

I have also made these before and added in a dried cherry with the marzipan, or you could add in a whole almond to amp up the nut factor.

Next up, the king of edible sweets, Christmas Pudding Fudge.

I first made this a few years ago after seeing the idea of adding the pudding on The Pink Whisk website, although I use a different fudge recipe. It has become a festive regular for me as it is so lovely to give as a gift.

You will need:

100g butter

1 tin of light condensed milk

450g dark brown soft sugar

1 small (100g) ready-to-eat Christmas pudding

You will also need a sugar thermometer, and an electric whisk.


But, the key to this is in the preparation. 

Put the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a pan.

2014-10-31 17.28.38Chop up the pudding (it does not need to be small pieces as the beating later on will blitz it down), line a brownie pan with baking paper, and get your electric whisk ready.

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I also like to have a side plate ready to catch drips from the beaters.

Then, and only then, begin to make the fudge. Patience is also key here. Gently heat the mixture and stir frequently.

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It will darken quite quickly, but don’t worry.

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Keep stirring. Don’t worry about the bubbling around the edges, just keep stirring.

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A few minutes more….

I have an electric thermometer, and I prefer to keep it on the F setting, as the C setting is not as accurate I don’t think. So the mixture needs to be heated until it reaches 235F (or 113C, or the soft ball stage if you don’t have one). Then take it off the heat, remove the thermometer and spatula (I put them on the side plate so they don’t stick to the work surface) and carefully add in the chopped up Christmas pudding.

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I have turned off the heat here but it still bubbles a lot so be careful when you put the pudding in, as if it splashes on you it will really burn.

Then, get your beaters going.

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This can take a while. It will go from very easy to mix, to feeling stiffer and leaving trails for longer in the mixture.

The longer you beat it, the crumblier it will be, but I prefer it to be softer, rather than crumbly like Scottish tablet, so you can always put a bit on the plate, leave to cool for a minute and see if it is the texture you like. If not, keep on beating.

I tend to stop when it leaves thick trails in the mixture, and when you stop some of it still clings to the beaters.

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The stalactites stay there on the beaters as a cooks perk!

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Then pour it into the lined pan, and leave to cool. The pan will be very hot, so make sure it is on a heat resistant surface when you leave it.

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Leave overnight to cool, at room temperature, before slicing into small squares and bagging up ready for gifts.

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I do sometimes use ribbon, but these bags came with little ties.

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What edible gifts do you like to make/ receive?