Monday, 2 May 2016

Spring Madness

I don't remember when or why I agreed to do it, but last weekend I took part in a 50K - The John Muir Way Ultra Marathon - something of an act of madness as it has been five years since I did anything longer than a Marathon. It meant an earlier rise than I would prefer for a Saturday, but with it being a fairly local race, Stuart and I got off lightly compared with some who had further to travel.  There were quite a few familiar faces taking part, so we had a chance for some chat when we met at Foxlake, outside Dunbar, before a couple of buses took all the runners to the start in Port Seton.  It was bright, but there was a chilly breeze, which made me determined to keep my jacket on for as long as possible - as long as possible turned out to be a mile and a half in as I suddenly felt considerably warmer. 

There was a lot that was very familiar along the route - while I haven't necessarily taken the paths and tracks making up the 50K, I've run alongside some of them.  It was nice to see one of my running club friends at Dirleton - Neil Jones - who ran with me for a bit and had a chat. As there were some bits of the route that were new to me, I would like to run along them again, though on a training run rather than a race.  I did feel really tired two-thirds of the way in, also feeling a little ill, which is usual for me on longer events, but I did manage to finish with what passes for my sanity intact.

I don't think this running lark ever gets any easier, some days are better than others - the training run the previous Sunday was an utter slog from start to finish - twenty three and a half miles and none of it felt comfortable. The run this Sunday, while shorter at twenty miles, just felt so much better in comparison, even with a headwind in parts.  I can't say for sure what made it much more of an enjoyable run, but it was, even though I felt dressed more for winter.  The unsettled weather makes it so hard to decide what to wear - I've gone out in something of a blizzard a couple of times over the last week or so, for the conditions to completely change part of the way round my run. Mad.

One of the things about doing a long race, as opposed to a long training run, is that I lose my appetite for a while afterwards - rather than feeling I could eat my way through everything in the house, I find it difficult to eat very much and should probably just pick at one or two things which take my fancy. I usually enjoy the pasta Stuart makes on a Saturday for tea, but I found it a struggle to get through it - the amount of pasta seemed to look more with every mouthful. 

Fortunately, by the next day, I was back to normal and craving something filling for tea, so softened some chopped leeks in butter, cooked around 250g of spinach, mixed it with the leeks, seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg, crumbled in some feta and wrapped the whole lot in flaky pastry, then baked it for 30 - 35 minutes at 200C.

I feel as if quite a bit of my cooking at the moment is still the kind of thing I would make in the winter - I do make a few salads to serve on the side along with some other vegetables - I seem to do that all year round, but the main element of a lot of the meals I have been making of late are the sort of warm, comforting things that, I suppose, are more appropriate to the weather.  The night before the 50k tea was an aubergine layer - sliced aubergine soaked in slightly salted water, dipped in seasoned flour and fried until golden. I made a tomato sauce - onion, garlic, some chopped peppers, tomatoes, with some fresh basil stirred in at the end of cooking, then did a couple of layers each of aubergine, the tomato sauce and mozzarella, finishing with a little grated parmesan, then in the over at 180C for about 30 minutes. I think that fuelled me round a few miles the next day.
Some other dishes we've munched our way through recently that have been of the warming sort have been Scarpaccia - courgette tart - from The Hairy Bikers Big Book of Baking.  This is basically a batter with courgettes sliced in it - obviously, I ignore the bit of meat they include - adding some strips of red pepper this time around.

 Of course, being a lover of spicy things and habitually buying chillies every week, there has to be an Indian dish somewhere along the line.  A slightly battered paperback "Vegetarian Indian" by Shehzad Husain has some interesting recipes - the Panir and Vegetable Roghan Josh below has almost as many ingredients as a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, but really doesn't take too long to cook. The almonds and yoghurt in this give it a nice texture - I made some coriander naan for Stuart, as he's not a massive fan of rice (unless it's in some Italian dish, what's it called again.....oh, yes, risotto), while I had a green rice (coriander, basil, green chillies). So, something to suit us both.

So, talking of Yotam, I tried another of his recipes from "Plenty" - Mee Goreng - tofu, noodles, bean sprouts, beans and one or a dozen other ingredients.  A first with this recipe - I liked it - something less winter-warmer!

After the mention in a previous post of a peppery cheese used as a filling for some patties, I had to buy some more to just enjoy with biscuits and a fruity chutney. This cheese, if I'm correct, is made from unpasteurised cows milk from Hennart Freres - the pepper is the rind gives it a nice kick.
While I haven't been making biscuits for cheese I have been baking bread again - German Three Cereal Bread from Linda Collister's "The Bread Book" - a mixture including rye flour, oatmeal and linseeds - this is a really tasty loaf.  
After the attempt at a malt loaf earlier in the year where I somewhat murdered the yeast (rather over-heating it), meaning it didn't rise as much as it could have, I gave Mr Hollywood's recipe another go.....

 ....should have made double - it was gorgeous!

No comments:

Post a Comment