Walk in the woods

I have been having my delicious bircher muesli for breakfast, and today I added a few chopped brazil nuts as a topping. It was super tasty! I love the fact that it is so versatile (like porridge really) and can be topped with all sorts. I also made with with cherry yoghurt and that made a nice change too.

Then we went for a walk in the woods (Bill Bryson style only no danger of bears) at a National Trust house in Bucks. On the way we stopped to pick up lunch- I had a lovely sandwich with philadelphia, roasted peppers, spinach and a chipotle relish (smokey, not too spicy, just how I like it).

It was so nice to spend a few hours walking outside in the fresh air, luckily the weather held out until we had to come home. We often go for walks in the evening but only by our house, so seeing different scenery (plus no cars) makes it much more refreshing.

Once home I made some cinnamon chai, and had a slice of the gone-wrong banana bread. This time I spread it with dark chocolate PB and it was amazing! The banana-PB-dark choc triangle has to be one of my fave flavour combos, and the banana bread has a lovely dense texture so it is quite a filling snack too.

After that I went in the garden and did some weeding, dug up the potatoes (a much better harvest than last year), cut some more courgettes (not sure what I am going to make with them yet- need to look through my recipes) and moved the strawberry runners. I have one strawb plant that is kicking out loads of runners- they are settling in my lettuce bed which is fab because I dont seem to be able to grow lettuce, so it is going to be turned into a strawb bed!

I am glad I got out there when I did because now it is raining again, honestly what is wrong with the summer?

We are off out this evening for a birthday celebration.


Garden excitement!

Well I knew it was going to be a hot one today, and was up early anyway so I went out for a shortish 2.7 mile run. I went a little slower than my last few runs (10 minute miles) and had a bit of energy at the end so I added on a little loop. All in all my run was 3.7 miles, which took me 37 minutes on the dot! I felt like when you are at the petrol station and try to get the money right on the dot! This time I took water with me, as on Wednesday by the time I was nearing home my throat had totally dried up. I had drank a cup of water when I woke up but I think that in the mornings I need to make sure I drink enough. I don’t normally take water with me on shorter runs but it is so hot at the moment that I think its only sensible. When I got home I found a breezy spot outside and did a good 5 minutes of stretching, trying to cool down. I am just glad that I went out at that time (was home by 9.15am) as it has only been getting hotter as that day has gone on.

After a shower I was starving, so had a mega breakfast to refuel. I had 110g of raspberries and strawberries, big dollop of Rachel’s organic rhubarb yoghurt, a sprinkle of fru grains and a scoop of home-made muesli. Yummmy yum yum!

Now for some big news! I have finally decided what to do with the home-grown blackcurrants. After pondering for a while I hve decided that other people may wish to share in the delights of home-grown produce, so I made a cheesecake for Sunday tea tomorrow. I spent ages looking through my books and trawling the interent, but I could only find either baked cheesecake recipes (which I didn’t fancy) or ones which need gelatine (which I don’t eat and don’t have a veggie substitue for). So in the end I adapted my key lime pie recipe (which by the way is also amazing) and made my own.

So here is runningcupcakes’ blackcurrant cheesecake:

Melt 75g butter/ marg and mix with 150g crushed digestives and a tsp ground ginger. Press into a large round flan tin (ideally with a loose bottom) and chill in the fridge.

In a big bowl mix a tin of light condensed milk with 300g light cream cheese and whisk gently until combined. Not too much in case the cheese splits.

(Key lime pie- use 300g 0% greek yoghurt and slowly add zest and juice of 3-4 limes- whisk for several, maybe 10 minutes).

Pour mixture onto base and chill.

To make the sauce I put the blackcurrants in a small pan (maybe 250g? I didn’t weight them but was probably the size of a small punnet at least) with a splash of water and a tsb sugar. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and gently simmer for 5- 10 minutes. Add more sugar to taste if needed.

Let it cool for a bit and then spoon gently on top of the cheesecake- it mixed in a bit and gave a lovely marbled effect. Chill overnight and then slice and enjoy! I am looking forward to trying it tomorrow 🙂.

If you made key lime pie you could grate some lime zest over the top before serving.

I spent a few hours this afternoon reading in the garden- I put my chair in the shade and it was lovely. I also took some photos of all the things growing (the courgette plants have got so big that I am not sure if I will know when they have fruit on them ready for picking!). Also the tassles on the corn are massive and flopping over, but I have no idea what they will look like at thay turn into corn- all I know is that they are wind pollinated, and when the ends go brown I should look and see if they are ripe. I think I still have a while to wait!

Last night after a walk I tried one of the banana peanut butter muffins and they were delicious- very nutty, not too sweet, nice and chunky and very filling. They reminded me of the banana nut muffins you get a lot in the US (except maybe half the size!). With banana things sometimes they can be too squishy but in this recipe the ratio was just right, so they were moist but not soggy.

Garden excitement

I had my usual pre-run breakfast of cornflakes and raisins, and headed out at about half ten. I wasn’t sure how far I would go, because it has been so warm and it was heading towards midday. But in fact there was a strong breeze which helped keep me cool. I headed up to the lakes, ran around them both, then up in a loop around the park and back around one of the lakes. At one point I have to cross a narrow bridge and when I got to it there was a big white goose there, but I was going too fast so I ran past it with my arms high up (it seems nearly as tall as me- at least it could get my fingers) and luckily it didn’t seem bothered. In the end I did just under 7 miles in 67 minutes and I really enjoyed it. Although I liked training for the half marathon, at the moment I really enjoy 6-8 mile runs, as they feel like I have done some “proper” exercise, but not so far that they wipe me out for the rest of the day.

Once home and stretched I had some Graze Bounty Hunter mix, which is coconut cubes, cranberries and chocolate drops. I had a shower but I was still hungry so I had a delicious lunch; a carrot and apple muffin (made these back in May and froze some) which I warmed in the microwave and spread with smooth peanut butter, a massive bowl of strawberries, raspberries, yoghurt and a sprinkle of treacle granola, some hazelnuts and a glass of coconut water with pineapple. A very fruity lunch indeed!

I also had a walk and was surprised how warm it was even thoiugh the breeze has really picked up and dark clouds were blowing over.

I made some cupcakes for tea later- Black bottom cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery . These are a dark chocolate cupcake marbled with a vanilla cream cheese chocolate chip cheesecake mix, and they were so good! I had one after tea today- delish. The chocolate cupcake is very dark and rich, which is a good contrast to the sweet cheesecake swirl. A fab post-run treat.

I have also been so excited about my garden. I went out there this evening and have collected my first “wave” of blackcurrants. Seriously, last year I got 6 or 7, but this year it has got massive and there are loads of bunches hanging from it. Now I need to decide what to do with them- any ideas?

I have also found some tiny green tomatoes on the tomato plants, some tassles on the sweetcorn, and a few more little courgettes. The pumpkin plant has grown all over the other plants (I did tie it to some canes but it has gone crazy) so I have tied it up some more, and also tied up the butternut squash plants as they are getting tendrils so they seem to be climbers too.
It is looking great out there at the moment; all this sunshine has been doing them the world of good.

Perfect running weather

I think I am back to normal which is fab! This morning after breakfast I went out on a run. I didn’t want to do a super long run, (last time I did 9 miles on the Saturday following the half and it really knocked me out for the day!) but I wanted to feel like I had got a proper workout in. I went up to the lakes, around both lakes (no geese this time), around the park for a bit and then back around one lake. It was nearly 7 miles so a nice run, in 71 minutes, so I am still managing to keep up my new slightly speedier running. Running around the park was really enjoyable, it was nice to be away from the traffic although I did have to keep my eye out for rabbit holes and mole hills! It was cloudy and overcast but good weather for running as it kept me cool. I had on some new Capri pants from Nike, and they were pretty good. Although the site I ordered them from (she active) doesn’t have a size guide, so I went for medium but it turns out that is 12-14 which meant they were a little on the baggy side. They are supposed to be compression ones but hey-ho, at least they didn’t fall down. The downside is that they have no pockets (I was so sure they had a back zipped pocket and I spent about 5 minutes checking!) and I do like to fill my pockets with tissues, my mp3 player, raisins and other assorted items! Anyway my water bottle holder has a zipped pocket so the mp3 player went in there. I listened to the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack which was fab, very summery with a good measure of Elvis thrown in.

I have been out on a walk too, and also pottering about in the garden for a bit. I got very excited today, first of all because I picked my first strawberries of the year (including one being eaten by a baby slug eww- the joys of organic gardening!), and secondly because two, yes, two of my courgette plants have baby courgettes growing on them. Including some yellow ones! I have only ever had yellow courgettes (zucchini) in America before, and when I saw the seeds I decided to have a go at growing them. After my courgette jungle at home I was not sure which plant was which when they finally went outside. So I am so excited to see that they are growing! My pumpkin plant has grown loads too, I keep tying it to the canes but it seems to have finally worked out how to hold on for itself- the tendrils have wrapped around the canes too, and it has a few flowers growing too. The apples on the tree are getting bigger than golf balls now, and my potato plants are getting big. It’s all so exciting!

I was having a look online for some inrpiration for baking (it had to be something that could fit in my top oven as the big oven is broken. The top oven is smaller so cookies were out, or so I thought..). Anyhoo I came across a recipe for Oatmeal raisin bars on Carrots’n’cake (http://carrotsncake.com/2008/08/oatmeal-raisin-bars.html ), and they looked tasty (score) plus they cooked in a small glass dish (this would fit in my top oven, double score!).

I have changed the recipe a little (I like to weigh stuff out) into chocolate chip cookie bars.

In a bowl I mixed 120g oats, 50g wholegrain spelt flour, 60g brown sugar, 23g sunflower oil, 50g apple sauce, 1 egg, 1tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp cinnamon and some chocolate chips. I mixed it all up and put it into the dish which I lined with baking paper. This went in at 180C for about 30 minutes. I cut it into 10 bars once cool and it is yummy! One bar is about 140 calories and makes a pretty good treat!

I have also been looking into independent shops nearby and have found a nice looking “health-food” store which I will be popping to fairly soon. It is always nice to go somewhere new to get inspiration, plus it stocks a lot of delicious looking things that I normally order online.

Tomorrow I am having a super busy day (2 lots of family to visit for father’s day plus a surprise party shhhhh) so I am sure I will not be doing any baking. But someone is coming to fix the oven on Monday so hopefully I will be back to normal soon!

Oat and Raisin cookies

Yesterday evening after dinner (bean burger, salad, tomatoes, sweet potato =yum) I tried out another recipe. This one was for oat and raisin cookies from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook . I love oatmeal raisin cookies but have never managed to find a recipe as good as the ones I have eaten on holiday- they always end up too crunchy like hob-nobs. A tip I have picked up (can’t remember where from) is to soak the raisins first, normally in water (but could be other liquid) to plump them up. This seems to do two things; they are lovely and moist, and they don’t burn in the oven.

So after soaking the raisins I mixed up the dough- I halved the recipe again (so in theory should have made 10 cookies) but in fact made 18 pretty generous sized cookies! I used half normal flour and half wholegrain spelt flour and I am loving this flavour in cookies- subtly nutty- it really went with the oats and cinnamon. I also used those vanilla oats which made them smell amazing!

They needed to cook for longer than stated, and once cooled I could not resist. The verdict? Pretty good. Scrumptious in fact, the texture was just right, nice and chewy, not crunchy, the raisins were sweet, you could taste the subtle cinnamon (cinnamon makes everything taste better) and the oats added a nice texture.

I will be making these again. Next time I might try an oatmeal raisin peanut combo, maybe use some PB instead of the butter (well I used olive spread but it’s the same).

Today I have been pottering around in the garden and I was most excited to see berries on my blackcurrant bush! They are little green berries, but there are loads of bunches! Compared to last year where I only had a handful (possibly 7, I can’t remember the exact number but it was hardly any) I will have a decent harvest!

I had to pot on yet more courgette plants (I have a recipe for courgette muffins which look like they would be amazing with soup for lunch)- once it all starts producing I am going to be busy in the kitchen.

I also planted some carrot seeds (some from the gardeners world dig in campaign and some that I had in the garage), some salad leaves and more sweetcorn seeds. I really need this weather to warm up so I can put everything outside, I am running out of space on all the windows!

I am off to London later to see Flight of the Conchords, which is going to be hilarious I am sure.