Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Great British Bake Off

What an amazing leaving present from my friends at work: ‘The Great British Bake Off’ Cookbook. Each chapter is devoted to a different type of baking: cakes; biscuits; breads; tarts etc. And each chapter contains a ‘Showstopping Challenge’ with three alternative recipes: ‘easy’; ‘takes a little time’; and ‘needs a little skill’. These are then followed by more recipes, some from the Bake Off contestants and some from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. 

I decided to start with the first recipe in the book, Mocha Marbled Cake, a Showstopping Challenge-Easy recipe. The recipe was indeed easy to follow and the cake didn’t take very long to make. It involved making two sponge mixtures-chocolate and coffee- and then marbling them together. The cake tasted lovely, but not too different from a normal chocolate cake. I’d add more coffee next time to achieve a stronger coffee flavour. The marbled effect also didn’t turn out quite as well as expected and certainly didn’t look as good as the picture in book. Maybe I got carried away with the swirling of the two sponge flavours and ended up just mixing them together.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

London Triathlon

The London Triathlon was the final event in the British Super Series and my last triathlon of 2012. As we had done for Strathclyde, we travelled down the day before the race, this time staying with a friend who lives near the race venue. Getting from King’s Cross to our friend’s house turned out to trickier than we’d anticipated and ended up taking us two hours by tube and bike. We made it eventually though and with enough time to grab a bite to eat and a hot chocolate before the race briefing.

Race day and I didn’t have a great swim, but felt strong on the bike and run and managed to finish in seventh place. This meant that I moved up the British Super Series rankings to win the series, which I was very surprised about but very happy too. This time I was the only family member competing, but my husband, parents, brothers, brother’s girlfriend and friend who we’d stayed with had all decided to come along and watch. It was great hearing them all cheering for me and it definitely gave me a little bit of extra energy each time I cycled or ran past them.

Trying to get back to King’s Cross again proved to be quite a challenge and after cycling around in the rain for 30 minutes we decided to cut our losses and get a taxi. After over an hour travelling through the London traffic (and £45 on the meter!) we finally made it to the station. Again, we were just in time to get some dinner and another hot chocolate before jumping (actually more like hobbling by this stage) onto the train.

Report here:

Friday, 21 September 2012

Go Faster Flapjacks

We’re travelling down to London on Saturday so will need a substantial supply of snacks for the journey. I tend to get through a fair number of cereal bars a week (about five boxes). But each time I buy them, I feel guilty thinking: ‘I could save myself a fortune (or at least a bit of money) if I made these myself’. So with an afternoon off work I decided to bake my own snacks for the weekend. In the absence of a good ‘Nutri-Grain Elevenses’ recipe I went for cranberry and white chocolate chip flapjacks. I just hope there are still some left tomorrow...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Pink 'n' sparkly cupcakes

An unusual habit maybe, but I quite enjoy flicking though cookery books and looking at all the different kinds of cakes and biscuits I could bake one day (if I had the time/ingredients/patience). However when it comes to actually baking things, I’m not very adventurous and tend to stick to either flapjacks or banana bread-mainly because they are simple to make and require quite basic ingredients. This weekend though, I thought I’d push the boat out and bake something a wee bit fancier than normal-cupcakes. The cakes themselves were really easy to make but the icing was a bit trickier and I still haven't got the hang of it.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sir Chris Hoy

What a great autobiography. Once I started reading it, I really struggled to put it down. That is, until I started to near the end and tried to make it last longer by reading only a few pages at a time! Hopefully Sir Chris will write another one in a few years time to include London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. Throughout the book I came across many little snippets I’d like to write out and stick on my fridge as inspiration, but I’ve limited myself to just one. It’s actually not a quote from Chris Hoy but from Graeme Obree (The Flying Scotsman);

'Determination, desire, dedication, and a steadfast refusal to accept the expectations that other people might have of you, are infinitely more important than natural talent, whatever that might be.'

Chris talks very highly of Graeme Obree in his autobiography citing him as one of his role models. He sounds like a very interesting character, so I think I’ll read his autobiography next, oh after Pendles that is...

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Strathclyde Duathlon

Good first run, slow transition, dropped on bike, OK last run. And a lovely weekend with family in Glasgow. We travelled up to Strathclyde Country Park on Saturday for a course recce ahead of the race on Sunday. Unfortunately the swim was cancelled due to poor water quality which was a shame as the lake looked lovely, if a wee bit chilly. The bike course was great-I like a few hills- and there’s not much to say about the run course, except sadly it’s as flat as a pancake. Quite a few family members were also competing at the weekend-my Aunty in the Glasgow Half Marathon (started by my cousin) and two more cousins in the Strathclyde triathlon (now duathlon). Following our respective races, we all met up in Glasgow for a delicious BBQ (trying to pretend it’s still summer-even in Scotland). Looking forward to the next family gathering already…