Friday 31 December 2010


But at least it wasn't ow.  We cycled in this morning, via the gym to pick up my bike lock, and took it really easy.  The roads were almost completely empty even through we set of at normal tubing to work time, rather than cycling to work time.  My thumb held up nicely with the trigger downshift on the chain ring so that was good.  Then when I went for my shower at work, the bit of nail pinged off, taking a bit of skin with it.  Not too bad actually, clean, very little blood and it's a bit tender as the skin under the nail is exposed, but overall OK.

Feeling good!  Small party later.  Bit of prep to do as soon as I get home.  Bye bye 2010!

Thursday 30 December 2010


I gymmed!  And only had to drop the squat and swing with dumbbell from the routine as that requires too much grip from the thumbs and could have resulted in either a dumbbell flying across the gym or the tip of my thumb opening up. Neither of which was an attractive prospect.

And this is what I did:-
  • Squats with 70kg (counter-weighted Olympic bar with 2x 20kg, 2x 5kg and 2x 2.5kg on it) - 3x10
  • Core pendulum swings (lying on the floor, legs up, swing legs/rotate hips) - 3x10 each side SUPERSET A
  • Lunge with single arm swing opposite arm to knee (same side arm and leg working) 8kg dumbbell - 3x10 each side SUPERSET A
  • Clean and press 35kg barbell - 1x3 then fail
  • Clean and press 32.5kg (Olympic bar with 2x 5kg and 2x 1.25kg on it) - 2x10
  • Reverse lunge with row (cable machine) 15kg - 3x10 SUPERSET B
  • Side plank with row (8kg) hold plank throughout each set - 3x2x10 SUPERSET B
  • Leg raise with press - 20kg ViPR - 3x15

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Looking OK

I didn't go to the minor injuries clinic today.  Mostly because I checked my thumb this morning and it still isn't green or black, or funny-smelling and it's hurting less and with these lovely finger bandages on, it's well protected from bangs and knocks.  So.  I shall attempt some gymmage tomorrow and see how that goes.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

What to do.

Warning: graphic description of minor wound below.

My thumb is really rather sore.  I'm dosing up on ibuprofen a few times a day and making sure it's not going black/green/purple once a day so far.  It hurts all down the inside of my thumb, up into the knuckles at the base of my index and middle fingers and up the inside of my index finger.  Pressure on the back of the nail, or near the tip on the soft side, is a big no-no.  So I'm pretty much keeping it straight and not using it for anything.  Which means that many day-to-day tasks are annoying and fiddly, but it also means I have no grip in my left hand.  Which means that cycling will be tricky, never mind the fact that changing down on the chain ring uses a thumb operated trigger that's as stiff as all hell even with a fully functional thumb.  And gripping anything in the gym... also a problem.  I can't grip a bar or a handle with any meaningful strength, even pulling up my tracksuit bottoms is difficult!

So, if it's still not great tomorrow, I should probably take it down to the minor injuries clinic near work to see if there's anything can be done to help it heal more quickly.  When I was picking the seed out of the flap of skin on the soft side of my thumb, I did notice that it looks like the knife blade sliced through the thumb nail at the back at a quite shallow angle, through the skin and flesh on the tip of my thumb to just below where the nail and skin part at the tip of my thumb for about 2/3rds the width of my thumb.  The flap of skin glued itself with blood, up onto the inside of my nail so I had to peel it off the inside of my nail (after picking out the chilli seed with a needle) and push it back down to join the flesh where it should be before dressing the wound.  It bled an awful lot once I'd taken the pressure off the flap, so I'm pretty sure that if there was no nail covering it, I'd be looking at a few stitches for sure, but due to the nail you can't really see the damage very well and the rest of the nail, along with some tightly wrapped zinc oxide tape, is holding most of it in place.

Thumbs.  Quite important to most stuff we humans do, it turns out.

I think I need some more tea and Christmas cake.

Monday 27 December 2010


I've been... Busy.

Lots of stuff happened related to being at work lots of hours a day for several weeks and some stuff I might talk long after it loses the power to make things interesting.  I managed to fit in a couple or three gyms in per week, but dropped off the cycling.  I've eaten for England, but not got heavier so I'm just waiting for it to hit me.  I've totally failed to see my trainer at all so have been evolving and mixing and matching new stuff into my gym routine to stop it stagnating toooo much.

Christmas has been pretty good.  Just the two of us.  My first ever Christmas meal I've cooked at home for us and the turkey just keeps giving.  My main present was a pair of stunning Global knives, a sharpening tool and a magnetic knife holder.  And this evening I christened the knives making turkey curry, chopping and slicing garlic, onions, carrots, peppers, chillies, roast turkey...  Literally christened one of the knives whilst chopping the chilli peppers and sliced through my thumb nail nearish the top, into the top of my thumb at an angle and embedded a chilli seed into the cut before I'd even noticed the knife had cut.  Those knives are -sharp- and incredible.  And chilli seeds in cuts really rather smart, I can tell you.  And the very best thing you can do with a cut like that is press on it really hard until the bleeding stops, rather than picking about in the slice with a sterilised needle to get a chilli seed out.

We went to the gym earlier and I hauled out an old routine as my latest one is well over 2 months old and really too stale to be any good now.  So I looked back to a routine several iterations back and cranked up the weights somewhat:-

  • Squat and swing with 24kg (like a kettlebell swing) - 3x10
  • core pendulum swings (lying on the floor, legs up, swing legs/rotate hips) - 3x10 each side SUPERSET A
  • Lunge with single arm swing opposite arm to knee (same side arm and leg working) 8kg dumbbell - 3x10 each side SUPERSET A
  • clean and press 30kg barbell- 3x10
  • reverse lunge with row (cable machine) 15kg - 3x10 SUPERSET B
  • side plank with row (8kg) hold plank throughout - 3x10 SUPERSET B
  • leg raise with press - 20kg ViPR - 3x15 SUPERSET C
  • Pressups on ViPR - 3x5 SUPERSET C
But.  I really need a new routine.  Hopefully I'll be able to get the trainer at the local gym that I'd prefer.  Committing to a set time during the week just doesn't work for me any more.  So training sessions really need to be at the weekend and that means going to the gym near home.  Which, thankfully, is cheaper too.

Sunday 5 December 2010


Some of the foods we've been munching through this last 3 weeks...

Lamb neck fillets with apricots and apple, on a bed of couscous, peas and sweetcorn:

Roasted pheasant with roasted sweet potato, potato, red onions and parsnips:

Cavolo Nero and Bath cheese with wholemeal fusilli, tossed in olive oil:

Saturday 4 December 2010

So. Busy.

These last three weeks have been really quite busy. All I've been doing is sleep, commute, work, cook and eat. There really is so much going on at work that there's not much time for anything else. There was a race this weekend I'd been preparing for, but due to the road conditions to get there, it's been postponed now until another weekend.

The Abel & Cole deliveries have been helping to keep something interesting going on in the kitchen. Today's lunch was a gorgeous coleslaw made with shredded red cabbage and carrots with a couple of boiled eggs. Really tasty and so pretty as well.

As I've been on a down week exercise-wise, preparing for the race which now isn't, I need to hie me to the gym this weekend to make up for it a bit and at least guard against the danger of muscle loss. And we're going to see Harry Potter tomorrow so this is a lovely respite from the constant low-grade slog at the moment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday 20 November 2010

What a WEEK!

This last week, in fact this last fortnight has been seriously busy and difficult at work so I've had no time to do much more than sleep, commute, work, commute, cook, eat, sleep.  Writing here, social media and human interactions have fallen utterly by the wayside.  Quality time with kitties and Mr TOTKat has dropped well below the levels I'm happy with, but we went out to a gig at Koko last night and spent the whole time lounging on a sofa in the lounge bar, listening to the music and watching the stage via a screen in the lounge.  That was sooooo nice.

The lack of time outside of work-related activity has been frustrating and left me with little energy or enthusiasm to cook and prepare meals.  So, aside from a planned meal out on Tuesday, I've ended up buying lunch twice this week and we had fish and chips on Thursday night so I'm feeling pretty down about my diet.  If I stand back and look at the grand scheme of things, I'm still in a much much better place than a large proportion of the population in terms of minimising consumption of hugely processed food that's prepared by someone else/in a factory (even my fish and chips is made from scratch in the shop, the two lunches were Pho soups from EAT, who are relatively "good"and the meal out was Pizza Express which although it was pizza, again the ingredients aren't too bad compared with, say, a frozen pizza from Iceland).

I have managed to cycle to work and back twice, been to the gym twice so far and run home the last 6.2km of the journey on one day; with a planned gym session tomorrow and perhaps a run later today.  That's pretty good on the exercise front, so at least that's fared well even if I've ended up with 4 out of 40 meals (and I'm calling all of the times I eat during the day a meal as they roughly work out as a sort-of even spread of kcals throughout the day) not made by me.  Cor!  Er.  Now I look at it, that's only 10% of the number of meals (though it's 24% of the total kcals of the week, which is not ideal but still not terrible when my aim is 80:20 clean:dirty).  I am usually so much better than that, which is I guess why I'm so horrified at what's happened this week.  I don't mean in a supercilious or holier-than-thou way, I have just always been pretty keen on making stuff from scratch even before I got healthier; it's how I was brought up - food just doesn't come in packets or cardboard boxes and jars of ready-made stuff.  I've never understood the likes of Findus Crispy Pancakes or the kind of stuff you get from Iceland - that's not food!

Am I being unfair on Iceland here?  I know I have a similar opinion on Aldi, Kwik Save, Lidl etc. but that's probably because I've never set foot in one of those and all I know of them is the adverts on television for packaged, factory made, hugely processed foods made with low-quality ingredients and flogged off for ridiculously low prices.  Is it an unfair judgement on these shops?  Am I just being a food snob?

Monday 15 November 2010

This stuff is -good-!

...the carrot cake I baked yesterday, smeared with Nutella.



That is all.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Alison's carrot cake and a venison chilli

Alison's carrot cake looked sooooo good I decided to make some today :o)

Carrot cake - serves 12 (370kcal per slice)


  • 150g Flour, Spelt, Organic Wholemeal, Wholesome, Waitrose
  • 170g Flour, Bread, Wholemeal, Very Strong, Canadian, Waitrose
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder, Average
  • 2 Tsps Cinnamon, Ground, Average
  • 1 Tsp Ginger, Ground, Average
  • 3 Eggs/177g Eggs, Medium, Free Range, Organic, Columbian Blacktail, Waitrose
  • 150g Sugar, Cane, Organic, Whitworths
  • 200ml Oil, Groundnut, Average
  • 225g Carrots, Raw
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract, Average
  • 75g Walnuts, Pieces, Organic, Crazy Jack
  • 150g Raisins, Organic, Waitrose

1. Set oven to 190* C (375* F). Grease a loaf tin and set to one side.
2. Combine flour, baking powder and spices in a large bowl.

3. Grate carrot, chop walnuts, measure out raisins. Put to one side.

4. Add eggs to sugar in a separate bowl and whisk until creamy.

5. Add oil and vanilla extract and whisk again.

6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet. Fold in.

7. Add carrot, nuts, sultanas, and stir until evenly combined

8. Pour into loaf tin, bake for 40-45 minutes.

9. Allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool through to cold before slicing.

Slice and serve with a hot mug of tea.

 And the venison chilli - based on a recipe from Abel and Cole and including some green peppers I grew myself :o)

Venison chocolate chilli - Serves 12 (approx 260kcals per serving - 16g carb, 28g protein, 9.5g fat, 4.5g fibre and 2.8 portions F&V)

  • 1kg Venison, Mince, Lean, Wild, Abel & Cole
  • 255g Peppers, Capsicum, Red, Raw, Chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Raw, Finely Chopped
  • 1 large Onions, Raw, Chopped
  • 30g Chocolate, Dark, 70% Cocoa Solida, Extra Fine, Lindt, Chopped
  • 200g Peppers, Capsicum, Green, Raw, Chopped
  • 2 Tsps Oil, Olive, Extra Virgin
  • 2 Tbsps  Tomato Puree, Double Concentrate, Italian, Waitrose
  • 2 Tins  Tomatoes, Plum, Tinned, Organic, Waitrose
  • 2 Cans  Kidney Beans, Red, In Water (drained Weight), Essential, Waitrose
  • 1 Chilli Peppers, Chilli, Mixed, Raw, Finely Chopped
  • 1½ Tbsps  Cumin, Seeds, Whole, Average
  • 1 Tbsp  Cinnamon, Ground, Average
  • 1 Tbsp  Paprika, Average
  • 450g Mushrooms, Closed Cup, Roughly Chopped
1.  Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan

2. Grind up the cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle while they're still hot

3. Mix in the other ground spices

4. Soften the onions, garlic and chilli pepper in a non-stick pan with the olive oil

5. While that is going on, chop the peppers

6. When the onion mix is soft and looking a little translucent, add the meat

7. Mix well and allow to cook for a little while until at least 75% of the meat is brown, then add the spices

8. Add the peppers and tinned tomatoes, mashing up the larger chunks of tomato and allow to bubble for a few minutes

9. Add in the mushrooms and make sure they're coated with the juices.

10. Add in the chopped chocolate and drained kidney beans and stir to mix well.

11. Bring to a bubble and simmer for at least an hour on a low heat.

12.  Allow to cool and divide into portions.  Try to make sure you make this at least a day before you want it as it will benefit from chilling/freezing and re-heating.

Abel & Cole

Finally, I decided we'd try Abel and Cole for at least some of our grocery shopping.  Having settled on a small veg box for a weekly recurring delivery, I noticed there was venison mince on special offer - cheaper than the 5% fat Aberdeen Angus beef mince from Ocado so well worth a go.  Of course then there were also venison shanks which looked interesting and on special offer too.  I threw in some pork and leek sausages to give them a try as well and, well, the results have been pretty amazing.  Not only were the sausages some of the tastiest we've had, but the potatoes are so flavoursome!  We've had the potatoes twice now, once mashed with carrot and butternut squash with the sausage juices mixed in, and once with the venison shanks.  They're so... potatoey.

Venison shanks were a tiiiny bit too big for my Star Chef, so I had to take a hacksaw to the bones to shorten them a little.  It was quite hard work, but mostly my own fault due to not putting a damp tea-towel under the chopping board.  The bone ends went into the cooking broth so as not to waste the flavour and marrow.  But there was sooo much meat on those shanks - 265g meat per 400g shank (raw weight) - it was an amazingly hearty meal.

Venison Shanks in Madeira and Beetroot (serves 2 hungry people - 665 kcals per person including potatoes):-
  • 20g butter
  • 2x smallish onions - chopped
  • 3x beetroots - chopped into 2-3" pieces
  • 2x 400g venison shanks
  • 3x small potatoes (approx. 300-350g)
  • 400-500ml beef stock
  • 150ml Madeira
  • splash of olive oil
  • 2x bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
 Season the outside of the shanks with salt and pat firmly.  Heat the olive oil in a small pan and sear the outside of the shanks.  Melt the butter and soften the onions in that butter.  Stir the flour in with the softened onions to mix thoroughly, then sit the venison shanks on top of the onions in your slow cooker.  Add the stock and Madeira and stir through well.  Cook on low (stew/soup setting) for an hour before adding the beetroot and bay leaves.  Cook for a further 3-4 hours on low until ready to serve with the potatoes (don't peel them, it's so much nicer!) which have been cut into chunks and boiled for 10-12 minutes until yielding to a fork.

Serve the shanks, vegetables and cooking liquor into a wide, shallow bowl per person and top with the potatoes.

It was all really tasty, sticky on the lips and extremely filling!  And the venison will just fall away from the bone if you pull on it gently with a fork, you honestly will not need a knife at all.  And the beetroot gives the whole thing an amazing colour.

I'll be making a venison chilli later today for freezing down.  Can't wait!

Saturday 13 November 2010


The Weight Watchers Pro Points giveaway winners are tam and laura(*):-

Congratulations!  If you two ladies would like to drop me an email with the address you want me to send your prizes to, I'll get them packed off to you.

* - numbers were assigned in posting order: 1 LNR, 2 LNR's friend, 3 tam, 4 laura, 5 Linz M, 6 lovelydeane, 7 Rachel Edwards, 8 ~ Cee ~ (dog was not counted for obvious reasons)

Friday 12 November 2010

Giveaway reminder!

The last day to comment is today (by 23:00 GMT)!  Comment on the giveaway post with why being a healthy weight is important to you and you could win some Weight Watchers goodies or a variety pack of teas.  Winners will be picked tomorrow and announced over the weekend.  Good luck!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Tasty lunchies and chin-ups

I've been having lots of fun with the Star Chef and the wide-mouthed Thermos  since I got them and it's SO NICE to have home-made, tasty, hot, nutritious lunches!  Seriously!  The latest one was a spiced soup of parsnips and apple:-

Serves 4 for lunches (approx. 200kcals per portion, 27g carb, 4g protein, 8g fat, 3 portions F&V):-

  • 500-600g Parsnips
  • 1 Medium English Apple
  • 2 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 15ml Groundnut or other flavourless oil
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Powdered Turmeric
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1.25 litres vegetable stock
  • 4 Tbps half fat crème fraîche
  • Toast the coriander and cumin seeds then grind them with a pestle and mortar.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the onions and soften for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic.
  • Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the ground spices, along with the turmeric and ginger, stir and cook gently for a few more minutes.
  • Chop the parsnips into 1 inch chunks.
  • Add the parsnips to the saucepan, stir well to coat with the spices and oils, then pour in the stock.
  • Season and simmer for half an hour with the lid off, then half an hour with the lid on.
  • When the soup has been simmering for an hour, remove it from the heat, and use a hand blender to make it smooth - leave a few chunks if you'd like to.
  • When you're ready to serve it, either now or after chilling/freezing into portions, peel the apple and grate it into the soup. Simmer the soup for 3-4 minutes/reheat in the microwave/slow cooker, decant into bowls and add a small dollop (15g) creme fraiche and grind over some black pepper to serve.
I did all of the cooking steps in my Star Chef, first on "fry" mode for the onions, garlic and spices, then on "soup/stew" mode once the stock was added.  Only one pan to dirty, that way.
    I'm trying to wind things back a bit this week after last week's huge exercise haul and the end of the week with a dodgy innards.  So, I've cycled into work once and gymmed once so far (gymming and cycling home tomorrow) but the gymmage has gone a bit hybrid now, mixing two routines for a bit of variety:-
    • Warm up - 500m on L7 on the rower (01:55/500m pace)
    • Squats on the Smith machine - 3x10, Olympic bar plus 35kg
    • Chin ups using the Smith machine for a bar - 3x4, bodyweight
    • Squat and overhead swing - 3x10, 20kg dumb-bell - superset A
    • Reverse crunch with leg raise - 3x15 slowly - superset A
    • Walking lunges with kettlebell - 3x20, 24kg kettlebell
    • Squat, one-arm clean and jerk - 3x20, 14kg dumb-bell
    And today my abs and pecs are saying "HI!" quite loudly :o)

    But seriously!  12 chin-ups!  OK, they were in 3 sets of 4 and apart from the first one in each set they weren't completely from hanging, but I'm still really really pleased with them!  I fully intend to get a photo of me doing some in my new "Strong is the new skinny" tank vest when it arrives :o)

    Monday 8 November 2010

    Strong Is The New Skinny

    Thanks to a Facebook post by Rachel Cosgrove, I've come across a great new movement... Strong Is The New Skinny, based on a particular post in a blog, which is taking shape and making strides.  While I think "Strong Is The New Beautiful" is a great message, "Strong Is The New Skinny" is more powerful right now.  Skinny has been king (or even queen) in the modelling, film and entertainment world for such a long time even for the front cover of some fitness magazines for women which just seems absurd.  Skinny is not something to aspire to in the same way that Morbidly Obese is not something to aspire to.  Neither is good, neither is healthy and neither is something that should be put on a pedestal as the ideal of beauty, yet Skinny is there right now and has been for many decades.  I want to see Strong up there where Skinny is.  And I want to be part of getting it there.

    Though I'm laid up in bed feeling crap, I'm still excited and thrilled by videos like this one:-

    OK, so some of the pull-ups and lifts are a little snatched and silly, but the overall effect... that's what I want.  Yes, women have a different hormonal make-up from men but it shouldn't get in the way of aspiring to strength, health and fitness.

    Now, to get me a couple of gym-tops with that slogan on it... annoyingly the "official" ones are sold from the US and suffer from the usual  problems with import duty and the messing about with the Royal Mail to get the delivery released etc.

    Sunday 7 November 2010

    It's all about the vitamins

    Feeling under the weather and a bit concerned my fruit and veg has been low the last week or so, I've gone for a recipe from Tone It Up Blog a Warm Flannel Hash, a nice variant on hash browns that involves sweet potatoes and beetroot.  Lots of B vitamins from the beetroot and complex carbs in the sweet potatoes and tons of fibre from both.  Topped with a chicken breast baked with honey and Dijon mustard.  Juicy and really very tasty as dinners go.  Although the hash didn't crisp up very well as it was too thick and not mushed enough in the pan or cooked hot enough it was still really nice.  So pretty and colourful too!

    Stomach in revolt

    I have no idea what's causing it, but I'm feeling pretty vile in the guts and have done for about 3 days now.  So this morning I'm having a nice bowl of fruity porridge with Total 2% stirred in.  Morrissons are doing a nice frozen mix of berries at the moment with cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries in it so that went in along with the raisins and a little squirt of agave nectar.  It's so pretty as well as comforting and tasty.  Hopefully it'll help soothe my poor belly.  And I should probably give the gym a miss today; I've been twice this week and cycled 120km, so I think that's probably enough (4,700kcals!)

    Saturday 6 November 2010

    Fluffy white rice

    Ohyes, I have cracked the rice doohickey setting on the Star Chef!  It was tricky to get the amount of water right for a small amount of rice but the third time was the charm.  For 2 people on a lower-carb diet, 100g rice and 280ml water is -perfect-.

    And I made a rose veal stroganoff with the rice:-
    • 2x rose veal escalopes
    • 100g half fat creme fraiche
    • 1tsp smoked paprika
    • 1x medium onion
    • 250g chestnut mushrooms
    • 10ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 15ml cognac
    • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • salt to taste
    Slice the veal into strips.  Chop the onion roughly.  Slice the mushrooms.  Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the onions.  Cook until golden and soft, then add the veal strips and cook until the veal has turned colour on the outside.  Add the mushrooms and paprika and cook until the mushrooms are soft and juicy.  Add the cognac and creme fraiche, season with the pepper and salt and cook through until the alcohol has come off the cognac (lean over the pan and sniff, once you can do that without your eyes stinging/feeling sensitive, it's done).   Serve over fluffy, white rice.

    Rose veal is particularly good as the calves are free to roam and not shut up in crates.  Also veal tends to be leaner than the usual beef cuts you get.

    Friday 5 November 2010

    One of -those- weeks

    Don't forget the giveaway! Comment on that post before the end of 12th November to be in the running to win.

    I've been a bit quiet this week. This is mostly because it's been one of -those- weeks. Up at 6am every day, cycled in and out to work Monday and Tuesday, in on Wednesday for a full day offsite meeting on Wednesday followed by not cycling home, then cycling home Thursday and in and out on Friday. Gymmed on Monday, missed the Wednesday session due to being away, no replacement session on Thursday due to a lack of towels at the gym so took a towel on Friday to get a second session in - which was fabulous!(*) Meanwhile I've been in the office/work 8am to at least 6pm every day this week. Needless to say, I'm a bit tired and I've not had much chance to do anything except commute and work.

    So, food has suffered a little in the evenings. Though we've not succumbed to a takeaway so far, Thursday night's dinner was a couple of toasted bagels with poached eggs, chorizo, cream cheese and Marmite (not all on the same bagel!) because I'm a bit sick of cooking at the moment and I'd not got anything out in the morning as we'd planned to go out and changed our minds during the day.

    I did have some fun with the Star Chef again this week. This week's experiment was baked potatoes...

    6 hours on the "soup/stew" setting, having cut into them, stuffed the cuts with sliced garlic, rubbed the skins with olive oil and salt, and they were soft all the way through without being mushy. I do want to see if I can find a way to get the skins a bit drier though. Maybe a different setting? It'd help if I knew what temperatures the different settings related to as I'd like to try the "bake" setting but I'm not sure how hot that gets. Worth another go next week I think.  But again, it's the convenience of being able to set the timer and actually have baked potatoes that's just brilliant.  We've not had them in ages 'cause they just take too long to cook in the evening.

    * - not only did I do 3 unassisted chin-ups in a row, I did 5 in total with some rest in between.  Also, my trainer was doing his training session at the same time with some of the same exercises, so we ended up doing them pretty much together.  My 3 sets of 10 each side one-arm, squat clean and jerk with 12kg, 14kg, 14kg vs. his at 24kg, 26kg, 30kg... that one was -fun-!

    Monday 1 November 2010

    Good lunches are on the way

    The combination is finally here; the Star Chef along with a wide-mouthed Thermos and I'm sorted for hot lunches.  Finally!

    So, the idea is to set the Star Chef to cook or re-heat something overnight to put into the thermos in the morning so I can have hot food at work through the winter.  I've got lots of stuff in the freezer ready to go and loads of ideas for soups, stews and small-bite casseroles.  Salads?  Pah!  6.45 this morning saw the decanting of the soup I put on last night (2x tins of Marrowfat peas, including the water, blended with a hand blender and a pack of sliced ham chopped into it with a bit more water to top it off - makes 2x good lunches) into the Thermos.  It was a tiny bit messy and I think I'd be better off pouring than ladling next time.  Come lunch time (after 1pm), the soup was very much warm enough to be good.  Not piping hot or mouth burny, but plenty plenty warmth enough for a good lunch.  We're not allowed a microwave at work, so this is pretty much the only way I'm happy with that I can get a hot lunch where I know what's in it (places like "pod" are good at giving an ingredients list that's clean, but...), plus I object to the prices you end up paying in The City for prepared food.

    Hurrah for technology and simplicity both!

    Giveaway - Goody Bag from Weight Watchers

    Following the Weight Watchers Pro Points post, I have a goody bag from Weight Watchers that I'm going to give away:-

    • Weight Watchers magazine
    • Pro Points starter pack
    • Weight Watchers jam
    • Weight Watchers mini bottle of wine
    • Weight Watchers chocolate biscuits
    • Cookery book by Weight Watchers
    • Pro Points calculator
    • Weight Watchers USB stick
    All of these could be yours if you leave a comment on this post, by 12th November, telling me why being a healthy weight is important to you.

    I'll choose the winner with a random number generator where the number will be assigned to an entrant based on the order in which comments are received.  First prize is the WW goody pack and there are a selection of individual teas as second prize.

    Saturday 30 October 2010

    The Latymer at Pennyhill Park

    I had a fine haul of presents for my birthday, which started with a shared half bottle of Krug with my toasted bagel with a poached egg and a candle on top :o)  Cookery books, some really bright bicycle lights, wide-mouthed Thermos (yay! hot lunches ahoy!) and a tasting collection of wine from the Camel Valley.

    I'd been given warning to pack various outfits into a bag for a couple of days away already but the main event was still a secret until I opened Mr TOTKat's birthday card in the morning.  Dinner at The Latymer at Pennyhill Park!  We've been to Pennyhill a few times already but only ever eaten in the brasserie there.  It's tricky to get a table at the Michelin starred Latymer but this time we had a booking.

    Without a pause for thought, the tasting menu was chosen and the wine selection to go with it...

    The menu

    Poached and roast duck liver from Langres, duck and beetroot consomme, Sour dough crisp, artichokes, truffle emulsion, Pedro Ximenez foam

    Marinated rainbow trout, slow cooked octopus, seaweed salad, dill mousseline, warm seaweed tea

    Cassoulet of clams, baby squid, poached quail egg, squid ink gnocchi, clam veloute

    Freshly baked breads with unsalted butter

     Us, enjoying a glass of Perrier Jouet

     Poached breast of royal Anjou pigeon, mustard cream cabbage, roast kohl rabi, glazed new season black figs, bread and bay leaf puree

    Red mullet, roast Scottish langoustine, anchovy beignets, Cornish samphire, bagna cauda jus

    The Latymer from a corner table

    Poached fillet of Limousin veal, sweetbread, pickled baby onions, roast cavalo nero, lavender jus

    Fourme d'Ambert, Beaufort, smoked paprika crisp, pickled apples, celery cress

    Glazed pea cassonade, Yorkshire strawberries, mint ice-cream, crispy tapicoa

     Coconut parfait, confit pineapple, rum gel, marinated raspberries

    Bitter chocolate delice, pistachio marzipan, coffee tagliatelle, caramel powder, almond foam

     List of petit fours

     Very strong coffee

     The petit fours


    It was a fabulous tasting menu - I could have had one or two courses fewer and felt a bit less stuffed at the end but I don't regret a single mouthful of the whole meal.  I did have to cheat a little bit though, and stick some of the petit fours in my handbag for later.