Honeycomb experiment

So for years I have wanted to make honeycomb, but all the recipes I have seen have sounded too scary, and have included weird things like glucose syrup, which I have not even seen in shops. Imagine my delight when the latest Waitrose magazine included a recipe for honyecomb, and all it needed was sugar, golden syrup and bicarb. I had to give it a go!

All it needed was 100g sugar and 4 tbs golden syrup- it ended up being very sticky so I think next time I would only use 3, but that is the trouble with volume and not weight amounts. Anyway, you heat it up until it reaches 140C, and then beat in 1 1/2 tsp bicarb with a wooden spoon. I had lined a large baking tray as I had no idea how much it would puff up, but a normal one would have been fine. It did spread quite a bit, so a smaller tray with high sides would have been better for chunkier pieces.

It didn’t take that long to set, so then I went about breaking it up and dipping it in melted chocolate.

Then I took it into work today, and it was gone by lunchtime!

I am so pleased with how it went, and now I have another item I can make for Christmas gifts.

In other news, my hip has been better today, but still not right. I am a bit worried about the physio appointment tomorrow (I hate that sort of thing anyway), especially if the pain is all gone. I am hoping she can work out what it is even if I can’t feel it any more.

To stop myself being tempted by pump I booked a haircut this evening, so after work I raced over to Welwyn, sat in Starbucks listening to marathon talk (I am so behind, but I heard my recap of the Brighton 10K- they liked my Royal Flush negative split!), drinking a chai latte, before going to the hairdressers. Then we are packing as tomorrow evening we are getting the Eurostar for a weekend of Christmas markets in Europe. Exciting!

Anyone been to a physio before? What shall I expect?? Also what shall I wear- I don’t even have tracksuit bottoms…

Have a lovely weekend!

Pumpkin pie slices

So, at this time of year I love to make a pumpkin pie. But I am not much of a pastry fan, so I sometimes make one with a sort of cheesecake base instead. On Friday evening I decided to get baking, and this was what I made:

For the base I crushed about 150g digestive biscuits and melted 75g butter- I added some cinnamon to give it some flavour, pressed it into pie dishes (and mini loaf pans) and baked for about 5 minutes.

Then for the filling. This is super easy. And to be honest if I was making it just for me I would just make the filling and bake it as it is so good, like a thick spiced baked custard.

Mix together 1 tin (425g) pumpkin puree (on offer on Ocado at the moment), 1 egg, a little tin of evaporated milk (200ml), 200g coconut sugar, 1 tbs plain flour, 1 tbs peanut butter, and a tsp of cinnamon, ginger, a little ground cloves, and lots of grated nutmeg. (I also added a little orange extract as I thought it would go well, but this is not essential). Pour this onto the bases and bake at 170C for around 30 minutes.

Then it will be dark and smelling amazing, plus it won’t have much wobble left.

As I made lots of little ones we gave them away at the weekend- one to my parents (dropped it off after Parkrun) and one to Andy’s parents.

On Sunday I went on a run in the morning, and then spent a lot of the day working. We went to the cinema late Sunday afternoon (to see Philomena, which was so good but also emotional) and then we came home to soup, sourdough bread, and then pumpkin pie slices. Delicious.

Now on to my woes. On Monday my leg was feeling a bit stiff, but I had planned a rest day anyway. I popped to town after work to do some shopping, and then to the supermarket, and I was fine walking around. However I woke up at 4am this morning in a lot of pain- my hip! It feels (yet again) like it has popped out slightly. I have been on google- possibly I have a groin strain? Or it might be something to do with the joint- I think this is more likely as it seems to come and go. Anyhow, I could not get back to sleep, or get comfy, and I was hobbling about in the morning barely able to put any weight on that leg. Luckily there is a sports clinic near me (the place I went to for my sports massages all those years ago) so I gave in and rang them up today, and I have a physio appointment for Friday. I was chatting to Andy about it, as it has happened on and off for a while now- in fact the first time I can remember was before the Olympics as we went to Derbyshire for the weekend and stopped to see the torch relay, but I was having trouble walking through the town to see it.

But it meant of course I didn’t get on my planned run today, and will be giving Sweatshop a miss tomorrow too. Although as the day has worn on I have felt better and can move about more, so I might manage a walk tomorrow if it feels better than today. Grrr.

On the plus side, yesterday I managed quite a bit of Christmas shopping, so I feel pretty pleased to have begun that, seeing as about 5 people told me it was only a month to go. I might even attempt some honeycomb as I have always wanted to try and make it, and the last Waitrose magazine I picked up had a pretty simple looking recipe in there.

Are you a pie / pastry fan? Anyone feeling Christmassy yet? December is fast approaching!

Stir up Sunday success!

So as I mentioned in my last post I spent some of Sunday making a Christmas cake.

Sainsbury’s sent me the ingredients and the recipe (which is also here if you want to have a go)- soaking the fruits overnight is optional but I prefer that as they plump up so well. I used cherries in place of the dried cranberries, as I prefer that, but you could use any dried fruit you like.

Looks like a lot of butter but it made two good sized cakes

The first step was to melt the butter and sugar together with orange juice and zest, brandy and dried fruits. I always use this technique when making brownies- I much prefer it to creaming butter, so for me this wins hands down and I think I will use it with other fruit cake recipes from now on. Plus you just have one pan to wash up after.

Then you let it simmer for ten minutes- the raisins swelled up so much and the smell was just wonderful.

Then you add in the flour, ground almonds, nuts, spices and eggs. I was worried it would not all fit in my pan but luckily it did.

Instead of making one large cake I have made two smaller ones- I baked them for about 1 hour 40 (the recipe suggests 2 hours for one large cake)- until the skewer comes out clean.

The tops of the cakes are so shiny and they look lovely and rich.

This evening I covered them both in marzipan, and will add some icing decoration later in the week once the marzipan has dried.

I must say this is the easiest fruit cake recipe- melting it all in the pan was just so simple- it does the hard work for you- plus it filled the house with the smell of Christmas.  Using a pack of mixed dried fruits adds to the ease- I had to chop up the figs but if you wanted to use just small fruits then it would work just as well. As you all know I love making things anyway, so would always choose this over a shop bought one, but I think that if you were making a hamper for someone you could make smaller ones of these (just reduce the time slightly- The Pink Whisk blog has some great tips for cooking times for different tins) and I promise that the recipe is suitable for the beginner baker.

Have I tempted you to make one yet?

*Sainsbury’s provided me with the ingredients to make the cake, but all opinions are my own.

Back running!

Hey peeps, I hope you have all had a lovely weekend. After a chilled out Friday listening to the film podcast and watching a film, I was up bright and early to pick up my Dad and brother on the way to Parkrun.

I wasn’t sure how I would go seeing as the last time I had run was last Sunday- I thought I would just see how I felt. I did have a quick google to see what my pace should be to beat my pb, but when I saw it was 8 something I decided to ignore that.

It was a frosty morning- the car park was a little slippery in places, and I kept on a long sleeved top over my t-shirt, and gloves. The sun was so low and at the start we were running right towards it; the park looked beautiful in the sunshine.

The run starts off on a path, but a lot of people start on the grass as it narrows later on, past a fenced off park. My Dad and brother were ahead of me right at the start as I felt quite unsteady on the grass as the mud was thick (and the people ahead had sort of broken the light frost so it was not stiff) but I kept on overtaking people. I glanced at my watch a few times and always saw 8 something, but didn’t want to think about it too much. I felt like I was pushing hard, but seeing as I had rested pretty much all week and had no ache in my hip I kept on pushing. With the finish in sight I saw that my watch said 25 something- then I was trying to judge if I could get there in a minute so just started counting in my head and went for it.  It was a fast finish and I felt a bit sick (but by now I know I won’t be, it is just that feeling of really pushing hard that I am starting to get used to)- my Dad and brother were waiting for me so we quickly queued up for scanning before we got too cold (especially my Dad who finished about 6 minutes ahead of me).

I remembered to stop my watch on the finish chute, so I had an inkling that I had a new pb, and was so pleased when the text came- 26.29! 20 seconds off my last pb!  Despite being number 145 I was only the 21st female, and third in my age group- the highest ever I think!

I popped in to see my Mum when dropping my Dad and brother off (my brother also got a pb) and she made me some tea and insisted on giving me the last slice of her homemade ginger cake- a lovely breakfast.

After a shower at home I had some vanilla scented rooibos tea (more from Teaple)- to warm up again, before rushing about to get ready as we were going for lunch at The Grove with Andy’s family. I have never been before but it was amazing (and so pretty with pumpkins decorating the room)- the lunch was a buffet and we took our time- I enjoyed so much delicious food; chickpea and roasted pepper salad, gorgeous fresh hummus with crispy flatbread, char-grilled vegetables, tomato basil and mozzarella salad, sweet potatoes with chilli (not too spicy), pumpkin cake, blackberry and apple crumble and apple cinnamon popcorn.  Late in the afternoon we headed back, the brothers picked up their dogs and we put on wellies and coats and had a lovely hours walk through some field, before heading back for hot tea and an evening of games. It felt like an early Christmas.

This morning I was not that hungry, despite not having dinner, so I had a few dates and then headed out on a run. In the end I did 6.7 miles- I didn’t look at my Garmin at all so I have no idea how long it took, but I felt good

On Friday night I soaked some fruit in brandy and spices, as I was sent some ingredients from Sainsbury’s, for Stir up Sunday. So today I have been baking some cakes using their recipe- smelling good so far.

More on that another day!

Anyone else doing a Stir up Sunday? The recipe from Sainsbury’s is the easiest one I have tried as it is brownie style- you melt the butter and sugar in a pan, and then add everything else in- so much easier than creaming the butter for ages. The recipe is here if anyone fancies having a go.

Resting and working

So hooray for Friday! It has been a long week. On Monday and Tuesday I had a sore hip- I think I slept funny or something, but it meant I was limping about a bit, so I didn’t go for a run on either of those days. I ended up getting back late both nights (Tuesday I didn’t get home ’til 7pm) with work to mark, so it wasn’t as if I was sat about twiddling my thumbs.

On Tuesday I had got out something from the freezer to defrost, I thought it was going to be a pumpkin/quinoa risotto thing, but it turned out to be a chickpea stew.

Andy made dinner on Monday- lovely sweet potato chilli:

I had one slice of goats cheese left so I added that as he uses real chillies and it is often very spicy.

I was planning on going to the Sweatshop run on Wednesday, but then as my hip was only just getting better I changed that to going out on my own for a gentle run. But I had such an awful headache so I just came home and rested some more.

I have been enjoying the Teaple tea- the peppermint one is the best I have ever tasted, and I have had a lot of mint tea!

As I had some time on Wednesday I made a double batch of brownies.

One half is orange and ginger (I added some orange extract, 2 tbs marmalade and some chopped crystallised ginger) and the other half is almond and marzipan- I was going to add in cherries but I didn’t have any.

I have taken them to work and asked people to donate some money to the typhoon rescue effort (a good idea from Anna, thanks).

Yesterday my hip was totally back to normal- I think I could have managed a run on Wednesday but there is no point wondering about that now. I booked on to pump but had slightly lower weights for the squats and lunges as those are the ones I was worried about.

Recently we have been having loads of new people coming to the pump class, and I have said it before and I will say it again- why don’t they come to the class on time? When you book on it asks you to turn up before the class starts, but we keep getting people coming in either dead on the time it starts, or later, so then we all put down our bars and rush about trying to get them their steps, bars, mats and dumbbells.

Also, why don’t they listen to the recommendations from the instructor (or the other class members)? The person behind me last week was the worst for this- we kept saying to her “that might be a bit heavy/ you can always add more weight on the outside” (as the weights pretty much stay on the bar without clips)- would she listen? No. So about a minute in to each track she would put the bar down and hardly join in for the rest. It was not until the penultimate track that she actually paid attention and put on her bar what was sensible.

What are your plans for the weekend? I am going to Parkrun tomorrow, hooray! Then we are going out for lunch and a walk with Andy’s family- the weather looks good too.