Month: April 2011 (page 1 of 6)

Shared today on Google Reader

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Food Connect recipe contest

Help me win some veggies!
Got a second? I’m trying to win a recipe contest held by Sydney Food Connect. It closes this Saturday, and the winner gets a month’s worth of free veggie boxes. All you have to do is click a few “like” buttons on Facebook! If you can help:

  1. Go to Food Connect’s Facebook page and “like” it.
  2. Scroll down on that page til you spot my “Hearty Pumpkin Chili” from April 8.
  3. “Like” my post.

That’s it! If I have the most likes on that page on Saturday, I’ll win. (Note: You have to “like” it on Food Connect’s page, not on my profile.)

Dads: The Original Hipsters

Dads: The Original Hipsters. I LOVE THIS.

Shared today on Google Reader

Shared today on Google Reader:

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Smoky Cape Retreat

We are officially booked into the Smoky Cape Retreat for my marathon in June!

The Ten Best Bookstores in Sydney

The Ten Best Bookstores in Sydney. Five of those are within walking distance of my house, and a couple more on on the way to work. I like that.

RunningBlog: Achievement unlocked!

Achievement unlocked!
This was week 23 on my marathon training schedule, and that means it was my second-to-last long run: 23 miles. That’s 37K!

For those who’ve never trained for a distance running event – most training plans max out at less than the actual race distance. So for a marathon, you top out at 20 miles in training and trust to adrenaline to get you the rest of the way on race day. But Galloway’s plans have you run the actual race distance a month before the event. That means in three weeks I’ll be running the full 26.2 miles / 42.2 kilometers. It’s daunting to contemplate, but I remember that JayDub said he regretted not running the whole distance before his first marathon. I don’t want to toe the line on race day without 100% confidence that I can last the distance.

So without further ado… I ran 23 miles yesterday! It was even more of an accomplishment considering that I started coming down with a cold the day before. But I got it done, and I’m so, so happy. It took me five-and-a-half hours, and I finished with a big smile on my face. Read on for the detailed run report.Cross-posted from dailymile:

What an amazing run. I’m so glad I went. There was serious doubt yesterday that I’d get it done. I came down with a sore throat in the afternoon, and I felt crappy all evening. Consensus on DM and elsewhere seemed to be that as long as I wasn’t running a fever, as long as all my symptoms were “above the neck,” as long as I was well-hydrated and ran slowly, as long as I LISTENED TO MY BODY – then I was okay to run. My alarm went off at 5:15 this morning and the first thing I did was take my temperature. “36.4,” I said to the Snook. “Am I allowed to go?” “You’re allowed,” he said. I was actually thrilled. 🙂

The sore throat was still there, but excitement and adrenaline were masking it. The Snook made me a coffee and I had a bagel with peanut butter. Then he went back to bed while I finished my preparations. I had laid everything out the night before so there was no chance of forgetting anything. I had my Endurolytes; I had my gels; I had my BodyGlide; I had my anti-inflammatory gel; I had my charged battery case; I had my sunscreen and hat. I hit the road at 6am just as the sun was starting to come up.

The first couple K’s through Glebe were uneventful. I knew my right glute and hammy would be an issue, but so far they were behaving. I was feeling good. At the 3.5K mark, I got an SMS from my friend Fiona that she was waiting for me at the start of the Bay Run. Awesome. I climbed the hill of Victoria Road and met her walking towards me at about 5K. With that, we headed off for two loops of the Bay Run.

I did 1:1 run/walk the entire way. I was having 2 Endurolyte capsules every hour, and an energy gel every 45 minutes. I drank and refilled my water bottles as needed. Again, this nutrition and hydration strategy worked brilliantly. My stomach wasn’t upset and I never hit the wall. Fiona and I were having a great time chatting about life and everything else. (I think I convinced her to do a half-marathon with me in September!) It was quiet out there at first, but the number of runners and cyclists steadily increased as the morning wore on.

Halfway around our second lap, I received an SMS from the Snook that my run wasn’t actually updating online. Turns out that Fiona’s message at 3.5K had caused Runkeeper to crash, and even though it was still recording the distance for me it wasn’t uploading it to the web. So I stopped the workout at 16K and restarted the app, which fixed it. That first part of the run is here.

I left Fiona at the base of the Iron Cove Bridge and headed back up Victoria Road towards home. I still felt good overall. My right glute was becoming more painful, but it wasn’t hindering me too much. My time per km had slowed by about 20s though. Eventually I made it back to the house, only about 15 minutes later than I’d planned.

Pit stop! The Snook set to work refilling all my water bottles, energy gels, and Endurolytes while I used the toilet and changed my shirt. I liberally slathered anti-inflammatory gel all over that right leg. I also popped a couple paracetamol. And then I was off for Centennial Park to meet up with Kunaal.

This is the second run in a row where I have actually become EUPHORIC once I hit the 25km mark. Seriously, I don’t know what it is. But instead of hitting a wall, I started to feel STRONG. I felt like I was having fun! I had a big stupid grin on my face! I got to the park and only had to wait a few minutes before Kunaal arrived. He and I then set off for two laps around the Grand Drive together.
The gel I’d put on my leg at home seemed to be helping. My pace actually started to pick up again! (Maybe it was just our fun, gossipy conversation.) Eventually Runkeeper announced that I’d reached the 33K mark, so I knew that I was once again in uncharted territory. Kunaal gave me a big high-five.

By the time he headed off to catch a bus and I headed home, I only needed one more km to reach my goal. And there running to meet me was the Snook! He gave me a big hug as we ran up Cleveland Street together. I was drenched with sweat, and my legs were filthy with dirt, and everywhere below the waist as aching and tired. But I had a massive smile on my face. I did it! Once we reached 37K, we walked the rest of the way back to the house where I had a hard-earned chocolate milk. Second half of the run is here.

Thanks to everybody who offered advice last night. I’m so glad I got the run in. YOU GUYS, ONLY 5K MORE AND IT’S A MARATHON. And my training program has me doing that in 3 weeks! (And then 4 more til the actual event.) EEEEEK!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #13: Wonky Summer Pasta

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #13: Wonky Summer Pasta
This is our 13th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We went with “Wonky Summer Pasta, Herby Salad, and Pear Drop Tartlets.” We picked this recipe because we had tart cases left over from the Frangipane Tarts, and because I was carb-loading in preparation for a really long run. We hadn’t seen this particular episode, but upon Googling I found a dodgy site that let us watch it online. We felt like we had a good chance of bringing this one in under 30 minutes!

Wonky Summer Pasta, Herby Salad, and Pear Drop Tartlets

Substitutions: We used smoky bacon instead of pancetta, simply because it was easier to find. I bought a fancy bag of mixed salad greens at the Farmer’s Market rather than go for the watercress/rocket he used. We used strawberry jam instead of raspberry in the tarts. Other than that, everything else was as-written.

Quick verdict: Pretty nice! This is one of the easiest and quickest meals in the book. The pasta and the tarts didn’t turn out 100% fantastic, but we suspect those flaws were in our preparation rather than the recipe. (More on that in a minute.) The salad was a highlight for me, definitely one of the best in the book so far. Our elapsed time was 33:26 (fastest one yet!), and I think we could easily get this one down under 30 with practice. In terms of score, it’s hard to say. If we had done everything perfectly, it probably would have been an 8.5 or a 9 out of 10. Our actual preparation probably only merited a 7.5 or 8 out of 10 though. Read on for a photo essay of the preparation, including our mistakes!Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. We were excited to use a new attachment on the food processor: the egg whipping blade! The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 190C. We had a baking tray for the tarts and a big ceramic bowl for the pasta. We had a large pot filled with water on to boil for the pasta and a frying pan waiting for the bacon.

First up are the ingredients for the pasta: eggs, parmesan cheese, lemon, basil, and fresh lasagne sheets.

Pasta ingredients

Next the bits for the salad: bacon, garlic, fennel seeds, salad greens, fresh mint, fresh tarragon, red/green grapes, balsamic vinegar, and lemon.

Salad ingredients

Now the ingredients for the tartlets: shortcrust pastry cases, strawberry jam, tinned pears, egg whites, sugar, vanilla, ice cream. NOTE: If we were smart, we would have blind-baked our pastry cases before starting. Ours were unbaked. Jamie’s were pre-baked. This would turn out to be a problem. If yours are unbaked, BAKE THEM FIRST.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans! Big pot is about to be filled with water for the pasta. The frying pan is for the bacon.

Pots and pans

The food processor, ready and waiting. The egg whipping blade is in first, but the grater disc will also be used.

Food processor

And we’re off! You start with the tarts. Here I am blithely putting strawberry jam into the bottom of unbaked pastry cases. (This was never going to end well.)

Putting jam in the cases

Meanwhile the Snook has separated two eggs. The whites are now getting whipped in the food processor with sugar and salt.

Whipping egg whites

I’ve removed the pear halves from the can and I’m now slicing them up.

Slicing the pears

The pear slices get arranged artfully on top of the jam. (I should also note that we have six small cases instead of the four bigger ones the recipe called for.)

Applying the pears

The Snook works on the pasta sauce directly in the serving bowl. To his egg yolks he’s added extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Now he’s grating in the lemon zest before juicing the lemon. NOTE: The recipe calls for using the zest and juice of TWO lemons. Ours were pretty big, so he only used one. Our pasta still came out really sour.

Prepping the pasta sauce

I’ve got my smoky bacon sizzling on the stove now. Once it got crispy, we threw the fennel seeds in there as well.


Meanwhile, the meringue has finished so it’s time to plop it on the tartlets!

Putting on the meringue

My finished meringues. I tried to make them all arty with bits sticking out the way Jamie did. These go into the hot oven for 6 minutes.

Ready to bake the tartlets

After a quick wash, the food processor is now put to use grating a hunk of parmesan.

Grating parmesan

The other crucial ingredient for the pasta is basil. Here the Snook is bashing half the bunch with a mortar and pestle.

Bashing basil

And here’s the resulting little pile of squished up basil in the bowl (with the parmesan too). He also had to chop up half the basil and put that into the sauce as well.

Basil added

The oven has dinged, so it’s time to take out the tarts! The meringues were nicely browned. This is the point where the Snook noted that the crusts looked totally raw though. We ended up putting them back in a low oven for a while in the hopes they’d firm up. (They didn’t.)

Browned meringues

Finished salad! I didn’t get any photos of the assembly because it was so simple. Basically: dump greens in a bowl; tear in some fresh mint and tarragon; add a handful of halved green and red grapes. Put the now-crispy bacon and fennel seeds on top. The dressing is olive oil, bacon dripping, balsamic, lemon juice, salt & pepper mixed up in the little jar nearby.


The pasta is the last thing to happen. Here’s the Snook slicing into the rolled up lasagne sheets to make the wonky noodles.

Slicing the pasta

The noodles get dropped into the pot of boiling water.

Boiling the noodles

The Snook took a cue from Jamie on the episode and rested his pasta bowl on top of the boiling water to warm it.

Warming the pasta dish

Once the pasta is cooked, you have to work FAST! Here’s the Snook scooping it out of the water and tossing it into the waiting sauce.

Scooping out the noodles

Now he’s tossing the pasta with the sauce. You want it to be pretty loose and slurpy at this point, as the noodles will really suck up the liquid.

Tossing the pasta

Here’s the finished pasta complete with extra parmesan and basil for garnish!

Finished pasta

The completed meal of Wonky Summer Pasta and dressed Herby Salad.

Finished meal

And here is the completed dessert of Pear Drop Tartlet with vanilla ice cream. Note: It’s still in the tin. That’s because you couldn’t remove the tin because the dough was raw. We ended up scooping the jam/pear/meringue out of them and eating it that way.

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: I’m not really sure what the point of cutting your own noodles is. (Quoth the Snook: “It’s a bit wank. Unless you’re cutting unusual shapes, it’s just silly.”) Fresh tagliatelle is just as available as lasagne sheets! We’ll use pre-cut next time. The finished pasta was really, really lemony. I actually liked that! The Snook felt it was too sour and had to add a fair bit of salt to counteract it. I’d recommend that you go easy on the lemon though, especially if yours are big or very sour. We both thought the salad was excellent, and the addition of the tarragon and mint really made it interesting. Also, grapes + bacon! Who doesn’t like the sound of that? The dessert was visually stunning but such a disappointment because of our error with the pastry. (We didn’t pre-bake them with the frangipane tarts, but those turned out okay, presumably because they bake for longer than the meringues.) I’d love to try it with the crusts all perfect and crispy. All in all, this was a simple and easy meal to throw together. The pasta was a nice alternative to carbonara, and the salad is unusual but not weird. It’s also pretty much the perfect meal for carb-loading before a big race! 🙂

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Shared today on Google Reader

Shared today on Google Reader:

You can follow me on Reader here.

Shared today on Google Reader

Shared today on Google Reader:

You can follow me on Reader here.