Today was a good day. I didn’t think it was going to be (I’m home alone for the next couple of days, and that always makes me tetchy) but it was.
After taking Ben to a job interview (think positive thoughts, people!) and then getting in some groceries (spending money: boo. Chocolate soya milk: yay!), I got home (11ish), got changed into my running gear, and got myself psyched up for a run. And then it started hailing. I waited a bit until it cleared, then bit the bullet and went out for a run.
Half a mile down the road, the heavens mocked me by re-opening. Fortunately, I had the forethought to wear my stylish rain coat.
Oh yes. I ran in the rain. And I felt EPIC for it. Thanks to my eclectic running playlist (featuring Outkast, Swedish House Mafia, Pendulum and LMFAO, amongst others), I felt like a bit of a powerhouse. And when I got home, I went a bit Rocky on it all – tried using the pull-up bar Ben put in the shed doorway. I pulled it OUT of the doorway. Replaced it. Tightened it up. Managed 3 half-pull-ups and 3 half-chin-ups (couldn’t quite manage to raise my chin above the bar).
Next, as Ben is away, the garage is empty and there’s space to hang up the punch bag. Let me tell you – lifting a punchbag to the ceiling in order to hang it up is a workout all its own. I managed a full 30 minutes punching and kicking (HARD – no wussing about) thanks to my equally eclectic boxing/weights playlist (freshly compiled whilst recovering from those pull-up attempts). Bjork – Oh So Quiet makes for a fun stretch/box/stretch/box combo and cool-down.
Back to the pull-up bar (I will not be defeated) – my muscles must have been warmed up from the boxing, because I managed 3 PROPER pull ups. OK, I could hold them for about a second, but my chin was definitely above the bar! Get in.
A few sets of deadlifts, Pendlay rows, calf raises and turfy outdoor push ups (I managed 5×3) and I was DONE. Aaaaand stretch. By this time, the sun had come out (typical). All that was left was to breath in the fresh air and cool down in my back garden.
And the best remedy to all this? A lovely shower and dinner of a huge steak and a mound of peas and fried onions. The steak is not just for the benefit of my torn muscle fibres, but I am giving blood tomorrow and need the iron (allegedly). It never stops! AROO!
It’s now only 4 days until my 5k. I’ve raised over £300 so far (thank you to all my sponsors so far – you’re fabulous ). I’M READY.
Final note: DOMS are setting in. I regret…. nothing!
Kennedy’s are arguably the best fish and chip shop in Streatham. I would happily argue this until blue in the face.
Last night, I got myself some post-surgery celebration chips – with cod, onion gravy and mushy peas. You know how you have to fast before surgery, even if it’s minor? Well, by the time I got home at 8pm, I was famished. Kennedy’s made it all ok. Kennedy’s are WONDERFUL. Not only is the fish superbly white and fluffy, in a crisp, golden batter, and the chips fat and plentiful, but the service is efficient. Long live properly FAST food.
The mushy peas were nothing to write home about (not bad, but not amazing like the fish and the chips). But the onion gravy? Om nom nom.
I ended up stuffed after just half a plateful – I guess that comes from fasting all day. But leftover chips for breakfast? Thank you very much…
I got this bad boy as a belated Christmas present from my big brother (see here why it was late), but I can confidently proclaim: it was well worth the wait.
This weighty tome from Jeff Potter looks like a text book, but dear lord, if all my text books were this readable, I would have read them all cover to cover by now.
Cooking For Geeks is made up of some science, some “hacks”, some interviews, and tonnes of little nuggets of fascinating facts.
Maybe you’ll love it for the recipes (whilst I haven’t yet tried any, they all sound amazing). Maybe you’ll love it for the miracle berries, or many of the other weird and wonderful additives (which sound AMAZING and I must experiment). Maybe you’ll love it for the stupidly dangerous over-clocked oven (pizza cooked in 45 seconds, anyone?).
If you’re me, you’ll surprise yourself by finding the section on pathogens the most interesting.
The only annoying thing is probably the fact that this book is written by an American, for Americans. Broiling? Seriously? It’s a grill. Also, the references to the FSA make you wonder about our own, British food standards. Must…do further research…
But the problems presented by that fact are minimal. Far too small a problem to detract from the pure joy that is getting immersed into the strange and wonderful world of geeky cooking. Yay!
There is also a Cooking For Geeks website to accompany the book. Double win.
Ben and I had marvellous designs to escape London before the royal wedding. We’re not big on royalty or crowds or any of that, so we thought we’d run away to the coast. There is a cave at Broadstairs that Ben has wanted to sleep in for years, and now seemed as good a time as any.
We left London at 6:50 yesterday morning. We got to Margate around 9. It was frigging freezing. We stopped at Angela’s Cafe (no customer toilets? Hmm.) by the seafront for some breakfast, then made our way to the supermarket for supplies. We decided to buy some burgers to cook on the little camping stove for dinner, as well as getting a lot of biscuits and so forth.
We then headed on the Joss Bay. It was super cold, so on went the winter coats (cry – I thought I was done with mine until October).
We went for a wander down the beach – aside from us, the only brave souls out and about were dog walkers. There were some insane surfers at about 9pm that night, but little during the day.
A walk up to the intended cave showed us a not so promising start: the chalk roof over the entrance had caved in, leaving a massive pile of rubble and a foreboding sign. Of course, Ben pays signs no heed…
And after a hell of a lot of convincing, I am helped up to the cave, too (good photo opportunity). It was clear we weren’t the only ones that ignore notices – there were signs that someone had recently been up there for a drink and a little campfire.
We weren’t so insane as to hop into the sea at this point – the wind was quite something, and it was overcast. Instead, we thought we’d head back to Margate for a dander. A bit of shopping (including Primark – it just seemed right, in Margate), and then the all-important fish and chips at Beano’s (we were by the sea, afterall). Well, I say fish and chips. I had scampi and chips (with gravy, om nom) whilst Ben had chips and a battered sausage.
Then (because outside London, shops SHUT at unreasonably early times) we wandered down the seafront to look at the old amusement arcades (Ben loves arcades – yay for arcade games!). We shot a few things (House of the Dead 2 is good fun) and had a laugh at the lameness of the prizes available.
After this, we drove back to Joss Bay. And it started raining. And it was still cold. And we wussed out. Fine, there, you win. It was just too bloody miserable for sleeping on the beach, even in a cave (which gets tide-locked). And London (and home) was just too temptingly close. So here we are, in London, on D-day.
I have so far managed to not watch any Royal Wedding stuff on the telly (I really have no interest – I bear the lovely couple no ill will, but they are just people… I don’t know them or anything). In fact, I stayed in bed until about 10 – yay for Bank Holiday Friday.
We’re still thinking about driving out to the country side this afternoon to make those burgers.
Everyone loves pizza (not true actually, I have a couple of friends who have declared a hatred of the stuff). OK, pizza is a good fall-back meal. But some pizzas are better than others. We all have our favourite toppings (I LOVE capers and the odd anchovy. Ben is a meat fiend).
And is it just me, or are takeaway pizzas getting really expensive? Hmm.
There is something really satisfying about making your own pizzas (from scratch, I mean, dough and all). You can control the thickness of the base, load on whatever and as many toppings as you like, and get creative with stuffed crusts if you’re feeling brave.
Pizza is REALLY EASY TO MAKE. Please don’t be afraid – don’t be fooled, it’s really straight forward. Here, I’ll show you…
You will need:
- 250ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried yeast
- 375g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Whatever toppings your heart desires
MAKE IT, GODDAMNIT!
- In a small jug, mix the water with the sugar an yeast. Yay, yeast! It stinks like stale beer, but it’s aliiiiive. Let the mixture stand in a warm place (in the sun, or on top of the tumble dryer (on) are good ones) for about 10 mins to let it froth a bit
- Pour the yeasty water into a bowl with the floor and salt, and hand mix until combines. Splat the dough out onto a clean, floured surface, and knead it for another 10 mins. This is very therapeutic. Imagine it’s someone’s face (someone you don’t like, ideally).
- Pop the dough into an oiled bowl, and cover with a damp tea-towel. Leave in a warm place (airing cupboard? Above a radiator? Just not under a cat) for about an hour. It’ll double in size – very exciting!
- While the dough is expanding and expanding in all of the directions it can whizz, prepare your toppings. Certain things will need pre-cooking – mushrooms, onions for example. But peppers, capers, cheese, deli meats, sweetcorn will all be fine. Use your intuition
- When the dough is nearly ready, preheat your oven to about 200 degrees C.
- Your dough will make two decently sized pizzas (or one ENORMOUS one). So out onto a tray it goes (half or all of the dough, depending on how many pizzas you want), squish squish til it’s your desired thickness. There is little science to this.
- Put on your toppings! I advise a base of tomato purée or something similar – passata, pesto are both good too. But why not try gentleman’s relish, or Marmite if you’re brave (it’ll be damn salty)? I like to put cheese on last of all, as it goes all melty over the top and prevents some of the other toppings from burning.
- In the oven for 15 mins
Other topping ideas -
- Try different cheeses – not just mozarella, but how about feta, brie, or your other favourite cheese?
- PEAS. I <3 peas so hard.
- Olives, ofc.
- Try different cured meats - pepperoni is not the only option. Parma ham, thinly sliced chorizo, sliced bratwurst all work well.
- Sun-blushed tomatoes make a nice change from “normal” ones.
- Pineapple isn’t the only fruit. Srsly. Try figs.
- CRACK AN EGG ON IT. OMG this is one of my favourites. But please be aware that you may have to bake the pizza a lot longer (and in a less hot oven) to cook it nicely through. Maybe you want to fry the egg in a pan and just dump it on the cooked pizza?
If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you can’t have missed it: I am a Graze convert. There, I said it. Perhaps this makes me a pretentious, middle-class 30-something, but I don’t care. Graze is good.
What is Graze? In a nutshell (haha), they are a company that send you healthy snacks. Wait, wait! Don’t be put off! They are DELICIOUS. Let me give you some examples of my favourite things so far:
- kalamata & halkidiki olives with chilli & garlic
- fire nuts - chilli almonds, chilli cashew nuts and wasabi coated peanut crackers
- love mix – dried cherries, goji berries and organic apricots
- great fire dragon - jumbo chilli maize, roasted & salted maize and satay broad beans
And those are just four of the hundreds of different options available. I haven’t yet had the same thing twice.
So, what’s the point?
Well, having tasty, healthy snacks around means that you’re less likely to grope for the biscuit tin. And, if you graze through the day (whenever you’re peckish) you’re less likely to pig-out at dinner time. There’s more info about the philosophy behind grazing here.
I’ve been grazing for a month now, and I haven’t looked back. The joy is, a Graze box fits through most letterboxes (unless you’ve got an inexplicably small letterbox like Angharad), so even if you’re not in when your weekly delivery arrives, the postman has no excuse, and it won’t end up in your local sorting office.
Fancy giving Graze a go? If you use a promotional code, you can get your first box free, and your second half price (usual price per box is £3.49 inc p&p). You can cancel your account at ANY time, so don’t worry about being roped in forever.
Oh, you want a promotional code..? Go on then. WD1V8QK3. Tell them I sent you.