Category Archives: Recipes

Long Two, Shortbread Three

I planned a long run again this morning, after a week where things had been a bit quiet from a training point of view.

It was a bit of a late start, but eventually I got going, starting out along the canal and disused railway to Bramley, but unlike the week before last, I turned off towards Shamley Green to get a few hills in. I did this route recently, but after getting through Farley Green and Albury, I took a right turn towards Shere, and then went up a trail towards Coombe Bottom, which still makes the children laugh every time I mention it.

Shortbread with Liz's Caramel

The hills were pretty much over at that point. Only about 1200ft of ascent over what turned out to be about 19 miles in the end. I am hoping to double this distance in the next 4 months or so of training, be far more comfortable with the hills, increase my speed, and my overall endurance with back-to-back long runs on consecutive days – too much to ask? We shall see.

As I didn’t get out too early, I got back just after midday and was exhausted and starving, having not had breakfast, a habit which I will have to change! The feelings of nausea and light-headedness passed after food and a couple of hours.

We started the afternoon with a quiet book reading session and then, as I had expended so many calories in the morning, I made some more millionaire shortbread later on 😎

The last batch we made was good, but the caramel was not perfect, so this time we used Liz’s fantastic tried and tested ‘Boil the cans of Carnation Condensed Milk for 2-2½ hours. After cooling, the normally creamy liquid cam out as a thick golden lump of pure caramel, which I then mixed with butter and sugar to pour on top of the already prepared shortbread. I can recommend this approach.

I’ll get the feedback from the children tomorrow 🙂

Happy Mothering Sunday

Well it was doubly good to have had Liz back by today and yes, the children have made a great fuss of her.

Having said that, she was not feeling quite so ambitious with her plans to trial her new-found energy, after a full day yesterday, but then if a Mother can’t rest on Mothering Sunday (i.e. the more traditional name for the more commercial and prolific Mother’s Day in the UK) when can she rest.

Cards Galore

Liz had planned to take the children to church, but decided against it in the end and stopped at home watching a DVD called ‘The Canvas’ which is a spiritual discussion some of our friends from SA have send through to her. As Liz kindly insisted I go for a run, I took the opportunity to go out for a jaunt which, although flat was along some of the old routes I’ve not done for some time, so it was pleasant being along the familiar Shalford / Bramley / Wonersh / Shamley Green route, and I enjoyed it even more as I maintained a fairly even pace throughout. I’ve also managed to meet my weekly mileage this week, somehow, but will probably be revising my schedule at some point soon, so I’m not too hung up about this anyway.

The children had a couple of parties today for us to ferry them around to, one this morning, which we managed to lift-share and one this afternoon for Savannah which one of the mother’s Kate, who was staying at the venue, offered to pick her up and drop her back, which was fantastic and much appreciated, and which allowed me and Morgan to get on with our attempt at chocolate éclairs, before cooking a roast mother’s day meal, while ‘mother’  rested 🙂

With the chicken and vegetables roasted, a few extra steamed veggies and lashings of gravy, a fine, if late, time was had by all and the éclairs were a hit as well. Some even made their way next door by way of thanks for Friday’s fish pie supper (Thanks again Cecilia).

The real trials start tomorrow.

Close to Millionaires

This is becoming a bit of a habit really 🙂

Sunday baking with the children, for the children – with the obvious benefits of tasters during the preparation and samples afterwards, just to be sociable, of course!

Today’s delight, made by Savannah and myself, the simple pleasure of Millionaire’s Shortbread.

The recipe we followed is here but these were the ingredients we needed:

Millionaire Shortbread - Homemade

For the shortbread:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 175g butter, softened

For the caramel:

  • 100g butter or margarine
  • 100g light muscavado sugar
  • 2 x 397g cans condensed milk

For the topping:

  • 200g plain or milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Savannah helped out with the shortbread base, basically pastry, but with sugar in as well, and perhaps a touch more butter, which we cooked first in a round flan tin (probably about 12″ round) – she had great fun rubbing the butter in with her hands and pressing the dough into the tin.

The caramel layer was easy enough, but I had to adapt as we had one tin of Nestlé ready made caramel, and one tin of condensed milk, so we made up our caramel with the condensed milk, light muscavado sugar and butter and then after it was boiling, added the ready-made caramel and then simmered for 15 minutes or so. I tested it by dipping a spoon in the boiling mixture and after leaving it in the freezer for a couple of minutes it was set, and so tipped the sweet mixture into the tin to cover the shortbread.

The chocolate was easy to melt in a bain-marie and pour over the top of the cooled caramel layer.

All that remained was to allow the creation to cool in the fridge.

A couple of things struck me about this; first, when we popped to Sainsbury’s for provisions after all our effort, we saw crate-loads of mini-tubs of caramel shortbread – on sale, 2 for £2.50 – very disturbing! Secondly, I suddenly realised why I like ‘Twix’ so much.

Still, now we have our own boxful of homemade shortbread, and the children love it – another success – oh, and Twix is Liz’s favourite as well 🙂

Sunday Lunch and Eton Mess

Another Sunday of cooking as Dad was staying for lunch.

One of his favourites is Eton Mess, the traditional English concoction of strawberries and cream with bits of broken meringue mixed in, so last night I made the meringues. The recipe is the same as the mix on the top of the lemon meringue pies I’ve made recently, with the obvious difference being that they are cooked a lot longer to dry them out.

The recipe I used was a Delia Smith recipe, from her ‘How to Cook, Book Two’ is online here but needs: –

  • 6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 rounded tablespoon unrefined icing sugar
  • 1 pint (570 ml) double cream

 

Helping with the yorkshire pudding

With firm double cream, strawberry purée and broken up meringues it was ready to go, but before that we had an even more traditional English, roast beef and yorkshire pudding.  Savannah helped me all morning while Liz and Dad were at church.

I didn’t get a picture of the made up dishes, as they were all eaten far too quickly – maybe it should be called ‘Eaten Mess!’

Yes, she wore her princess tiara all the time 🙂

In the afternoon we did very little, unsurprisingly after the mountain of food we consumed!

I am surprised that my blog is ending up either talking mostly either about training or food 🙂 but perhaps I shouldn’t be, after all most of us only run (or do any form of activity) at least initially, so we can eat more.

More Meringue and Cold Batteries

As promised, we went over to our good friends, Will and F.J. today.

The children were very excited to be going over to see them as their children, Ollie and Guy, are similar ages (6 & 3) and they get on really well with our four and vice versa; and anyway, other people’s toys are always more exciting!

Hummus dips and Olives

We had an activity free day, for the first time in many weeks, as Liz is on a rest day and I’m making the most of a rest week and letting my ankle settle down for another day, so we decided to makes other lemon meringue to take with us, so that was the morning occupied.

The timing was perfect, after a lazy breakfast, and we were ready to roll as planned at about 11:30.

I thought that things had gone too smoothly and on reaching the car and trying to start it, although it turned over initially, did not fire and after a few seconds the cold battery which had not been used for a few days was struggling to turn the engine and eventually stopped altogether.

Great.

Liz made a quick call to the breakdown people though and, amazingly, they were with us in less than 30 minutes. The paperwork I had to fill out with the mechanic took longer than to fix the problem, which involved a simple power tank (battery) jump-start. The engine fired into life instantly and we were on our way only 40 minutes behind – top marks to Green Flag.

We then had a nice afternoon of socialising and food, some fantastic roast chicken with rosemary and salmon and lots of dips, hummus, aubergine, olives, breads and a couple of beers. The children played very well for a few hours and it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I’m sure we’ll have a return match before too long.

Baking Day

We’re off out to friends for dinner tomorrow so decided to do some baking today.

Blue Peppermint Mice in preparation

So after the obligatory bread for lunch, I made some mini-custard tarts to take with us, although writing this at 5:30, I seriously doubt whether they will make it to Sunday lunchtime! With the children we attempted to make some peppermint mice as Luke had missed out on making some at his school yesterday. So, basically lots of icing sugar, various colours and peppermint essence and lots of creativity.

I guess once we resigned ourselves to the fact that mice were going to look anything but, we had a laugh, but a bit more preparation for the ensuing mess might have been a better idea as well, especially since they all wanted different colour mice (Joshua is always blue, Savannah is always pink, Luke varies between green and orange and Morgan is a red, white and black colour man.

Oh, and the custard tarts were very nice and a few have survived for tomorrow 😉

Jitters

Corn and Sweet Potato Muffins

Another busy day today and for various reasons I didn’t get down to the gym at lunchtime – so no pace run today. I normally get jittery when I haven’t run on a day when I was supposed to run. Today was no different. So I spent the afternoon panicking about whether I could do my run this evening, but by the time I got home, it was too late and the children were eager to read.

Morgan was drawing as normal, and Luke and Savannah read their books to Liz and myself – their reading is absolutely fantastic for 6 and 5 year old children. Liz had baked some really yummy corn and sweet potato muffins as well, which although still hot, we all tried before the little one’s went to bed.

I’ll try to combine a pace run into my midweek long run tomorrow morning, so early start again tomorrow.

 

Lemon Meringue Pie

Had a bit of a late run this morning as I really wasn’t feeling like running in the dark again.

Glad that I got out though. As it was a shorter one as I finish up my rest week, I wanted to get a bit of a speed in today. I did the same run as I’d done last week to Newlands Corner on Monday, but in the dark of the morning. Things were much better today though and I managed a faster time than I did for the same course the week before – the light, and rested legs clearly make a big difference.

I was back before 9am and my wonderful wife made us all corn pancakes again, so while she and Savannah went to get some things at the shops I made some bread for lunch while the boys continued to play with their Star Wars figures.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I had promised everyone that I would make a lemon meringue pie on Sunday, for a variety of reason. Mainly because it was something that my mum always used to make for me, but also because I’d actually never made one and so after her birthday on Friday, I thought it an apt celebration and memento of her life. I had searched out a recipe and started baking after lunch. It all turned out rather well, as you might be able to see from the photo, but was unfortunately too rich for all the children (I’m sure that will change in a few years :-)) so we offered the remainder to the neighbours to share with them and their children. They were very appreciative.

I will try to make the lemon cream a little firmer next time, and perhaps have a slightly thinner layer of meringue on top, but I was pleased with the pastry which I think was my best pastry in a pie to date.

Not really one for the health conscious though 🙂

Last easy run tomorrow, and in fact this week is my last training week where I plan to be doing less than 20 miles. Not that significant you might think, but considering 11 months ago I had a gap in the bone between the top of my hip and the rest of my leg, I have to remember I’m not doing badly.

Rest day baguettes

My rest day today, so an easy start to things. Liz was supposed to have a long run to do, but has been having trouble with her achilles so decided to rest today as well.

Baguettes Proving
Baguettes Proving

One of my other Christmas presents was a baguette baking tray – essentially a double cradle with hundreds of holes in, to give the base that professional bakery look to it, and I guess to allow even cooking all around for a crisp and crunchy crust.  So, while Liz took the little ones for their Saturday swim, I baked the bread for lunch – it didn’t turn out too badly, even though I do say so myself 🙂

The children started to do their homework earlier, violin practice, reading, etc, but as our house is on the market at the moment and we had two couple turn up at short notice with the estate agents to view the property, so this disrupted the chores somewhat. It’s always difficult to tell if there is any interest from viewers or not; we are always quite cagey when we go round to view houses as well, playing our cards close to our chest. Obviously it would be good to get thing moving this early in the year, so fingers crossed for substantial offers!

After lunch and viewings we settled down for an easy afternoon and watched a BBC Top Gear ‘Nativity’ special – a bit close to the knuckle in places but highly amusing watching the three presenters trying to navigate and negotiate their open-top sports cars from Iraq to Bethlehem, a la Three Kings.

Watched ‘Super-8‘ in the evening – will write that up sometime. Top film from Messrs Spielberg and Abrams.

Iskiate or chia fresca

Step 1
Combine 1 tbsp. dry chia seeds with 10 oz. water in a small glass or bowl. Chia seeds absorb over nine times their weight in water, making for an effective timed release of water and nutrients later.

Step 2
Stir the mixture gently with a spoon to keep the seeds from clumping together.

Step 3
Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes. When chia seeds in water are soaked for at least 10 minutes, they form a gel with the consistency of yogurt.

Step 4
Add 2 tsp. fresh lime juice and 2 tsp. sugar to taste to your chia gel.

Alternatives
Add fruit juice instead of the water and lime juice to make up the mix with different tastes – we often make it up with orange juice and in the mornings add blue-green algae or green barley powder.