Kung Fu Café
Since 2011

Recession Proof Body Workshop | Peanut Butter Energy Bars (Vegan)



Well, a couple of weeks ago, Recession Proof Body visited us lot at CFP to give a workshop all about street workout and calisthenics.


The image above is of Lee, Ranjit, and Sai (from left to right), and I nabbed some of these images from their Facebook page (the others are either from my phone or from Claire Summers!).

Lee and Ranjit took the course that day, and of course, the first thing we all notice about them is the size of their arms. I knew what sort of movements we’d be going over today, and I had only ever seen people perform them on YouTube before, and so I feel that that standard of skill in calisthenics wasn’t actually real; I couldn’t wait to see them being performed before my own very eyes!

I do believe, as well, that these guys are being featured in every issue of Muscle and Fitness magazine for 6 months showcasing their various abilities and progressions to achieve their skills.

There were around 20 people in this workshop, and the workshop itself involved learning about some movements and their progressions, and trying them out ourselves, as well as watching some amazing demonstrations! The movements we covered were:
• Push up variations
• One arm push ups
• Pull ups
• One arm pull up
• Ring muscle ups
• Bar muscle ups
• Front lever
• Back lever
• And various progressions!

The picture above is Ranjit just before completing a strict one arm pull up, and Lee doing a strict ring muscle up with an extra 20kg plate!

The emphasis with street workout is that everything is strict! Most people have this idea that in Crossfit we ‘kip’ everything. Kipping is great to keep the intensity in workouts, but we do train a lot of strict stuff in Crossfit, too! I love it! I feel so bad-ass when I rep out strict pull ups and dips. Yeah buddy. I just find the gym memes on Facebook really hilarious! For example, take the one I found here:


The last time I checked, Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Dan Bailey, etc., sorta looked like the guy in that meme, am I right? Anyway, going a little off topic now! Back to the movements…

The great thing about these sorts of workshops, is that people discover their hidden skills; some people were pleasantly surprised with how strong they were! But of course, no one is going to be able to replicate the skill that these guys have, but they do give very useful progressions that people can follow, and how they achieved their ability. It’s a great reminder that we’re only human, yet with hard work and dedication, we can indeed achieve superhuman abilities. I will definitely be incorporating these things into my workouts, because I had no idea how to go about keeping strength training interesting and displaying strength in so many different ways.


Personally, the things I’m quite good at are the basic strict movements, such as pull ups, dips, and push ups. But I need to work with my front lever (I couldn’t get my abs to engage… just my arm pits!), and my explosive strength!

A lot of these moves are incredibly creative. We saw Ranjit perform strict bar muscle ups, which involves incredibly explosive strength, and then he showed us the sort of things they would do “for fun” or at comps, such as a cross grip bar muscle up, or a bar muscle up where you start with your hands with a chin up grip, and end with a pull up grip!

These displays of skills and strength were incredibly beautiful to watch, and these kinds of things are what I like to fill my weekends and spare time with. Some people don’t understand, but fitness is its own reward. I’m always working towards achieving various goals in a wide range of disciplines (currently it’s my PhD, Spanish, and Crossfit – all of which encompass many goals), and so I don’t understand why there’s so much hate in the world. Instead of hating another group of people or directing your energy towards destruction, why not create a better world for yourself, and others, by inspiring others and pushing yourself beyond your limits? I genuinely believe that if more people strived towards goals, there would be less hate.


So, yes, if you’re looking for motivation or even just a show, these are your guys! I was so buzzed the week after (and even now just thinking about the workshop) that I had such a brilliant week after, just because I was feeling so inspired after talking to these guys and being coached by them! I had rejuvenated energy, and more guidance for my own strength goals after just a one-day workshop, and so if they come back to the South West again, I’d love to see them in action again! Hopefully by them, I would have hit some of my own strength goals. 🙂



I’m definitely incorporating these progressions into my own training. I remember at the beginning of the workshop, Lee said that they don’t squat too much because they don’t want their legs too big for things like front levers, etc.! I still can’t tell if he was being serious or joking playfully :-/ Ranjit mentioned that if you did want to develop leg strength, pistols don’t really do anything for you, unless they’re weighted, and I agree, from personal experience! He also said that he runs and squats, but he focuses mostly on street workout now.



After being inspired by the amazing Recession Proof Body group, I thought I’d write up this recipe for peanut butter energy bars, because if you’re going to be doing their routines, you’re going to need a lot of energy! These bars are great to take into work or competitions, as they’re easy to wrap up or pop into lunch boxes.

If you store these in the fridge, I’m sure they’ll keep longer, but the texture changes as I suppose the peanut butter solidifies. I prefer these when they’re room temperature, if not warm!

Also, I LOVE these when they’ve come straight out of the oven, covered in the melted chocolate, popped into a bowl, and smothered with double cream… it is absolutely the BEST comfort dessert!



Not only does this recipe make for some amazing bars, but it’s a clever way to sneak in more fruit! Especially bananas; they can improve insulin sensitivity and provide an abundance of minerals to treat your DOMS… so these really are a great workout snack! Check out Well-Being Secrets to learn more benefits of eating bananas and the best ways to keep and store them, as well as for a few more banana recipes. 🙂

Peanut Butter Energy Bars
Adapted from: All Recipes, Peanut Butter Girl, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Enough for a 20 x 20 cm mould

Ingredients
Base:
• 4 x bananas
• 2 cups peanut butter
• 2 cups oats

Fillings:
• 2 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup seeds
• ¾ cup whole almonds (cashews, walnuts, etc.)
• ¼ cup whole pistachios, shelled (macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)
• A handful of toasted coconut
• ¼ cup goji berries (cranberries or other dried fruits)
• ¼ cup cacao nibs
• ⅓ cup honey (optional)

Topping:
• 200g dark chocolate
• 3 tbsp coconut oil
• Pinch of desiccated coconut, cacao nibs, or flaked almonds, to decorate

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mash the bananas with a fork in a large bowl. You may wish to gently melt the peanut butter over the hob in order to make it mix more easily. Add the oats and mashed bananas into the peanut butter, mix well, and then transfer back to the bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients (the above ingredients are what I added, but I didn’t use honey. Feel free to add in whatever you want!) and mix well, before transferring to a baking dish lined with non-stick baking parchment (I used a silicon mould, so it was non-stick anyway!). Bake for 20 minutes.

Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a saucepan with the coconut oil. Melt over a very low heat whilst stirring to combine. Pour over the top of the bars, and leave to set. When partially set, I sprinkled the top with cacao nibs and desiccated coconut. Flaked almonds would also work well, too!

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. I prefer to eat them when they’re room temperature, though!

First made: 19.07.2014

A Trip to Paris!! | Macaron Délicat à la Thé Vert

Beware: Photo heavy and ramble-y post! 🙂


“Like a good Chanel purse, the macaron is timeless and elegant, and always a treat!”
Bake Bellissima



I absolutely love a good cuppa tea, and being British, tea is a large part of our daily lives. However, I also love the Japanese culture, and have taken a very fond liking to their sencha 煎茶; whenever I’d have green tea in a Japanese restaurant or café, it would always have a delicate taste and leave my mouth feeling refreshed, although others would complain of how weak the tea appeared to be. But for me, I think that’s the key! I love the way these leaves are processed and I love how soft and subtle the flavour is. I bought some good quality sencha tea bags, but to use a whole teabag would make the tea so strong that it leaves a bitter after taste in your mouth, even when using warm water (as opposed to hot)! I had never liked Chinese green tea because of this reason, but perhaps it’s not the flavour of the leaf, it’s just its strength that I dislike. So now I simply rip open the teabags, and use literally a small pinch of leaves, pop them in the bottom of my cup, and pour over hot water, and I absolutely love the taste! I just keep the ripped teabag in my empty pot of Teapigs matcha, which has made a very useful pot for varying my sencha around! Not forgetting that the matcha itself was beautiful! I’ve converted dad to green tea because of this, too, and now I feel that I can enjoy this lovely Japanese daytime ritual into my daily life, too.

So yes, I love a good British cuppa, and also a gentle chawan of matcha. I’m very confused as to what to believe regarding the health benefits of tea; some say that it counts towards your daily water intake, although I think that these days most “experts” agree that it doesn’t because of its caffeine content. However, I have read that tea has as much caffeine, if not more, than coffee, but it simply releases it over a slower period. Both green and black tea contain around 30,000 polyphenolic compounds, some of which have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and inflammation, and their exact biomechanical mechanism is still not clear.1 Also, polyphenols can act as antioxidants, and for a long time this was thought to be the reason for their health benefits.1 However, recent studies have shown that this only plays a small part in their effectiveness.1 Yet, according to Disler et al. (1975), drinking tannin-containing beverages such as tea with meals may contribute to the pathogensis of iron deficiency if the diet consists largely of vegetable foodstuffs. 2



Anyway, regardless of whether it’s healthy or not, I believe that it’s a marvellous beverage! It’s perfect for any occasion: celebrations with loved ones, get-togethers with friends, consoling one who’s upset, as a snack, a post-meal cleanse, a breakfast necessity… and so I decided to infuse matcha (powdered green tea) into macarons in order to celebrate my love for tea and the Japanese culture, and also because I’ve just recently got back from a trip to Paris! These were originally a trial of green tea macarons to be had as a spring treat for Father’s Day, especially seeing as dad took quite an interest in the Japanese culture, and they were secondarily going to be for celebrating a trip to Paris should my abstract have been accepted. But they came out so well the first time I decided not to make them again, and the next time I will make them, I will try and feature a different flavour, I think. Flavours I’ve love to try and make include, and are not limited, to a few I have just quickly found on Foodgawker:


• Chocolate macarons with an orange ganache, or orange macarons with a chocolate ganache!
• Lime macarons (green) with a coconut buttercream (white), sprinkled with desiccated coconut
• Pistachio macarons (green) with a raspberry or strawberry buttercream (pink/red)
• Rose macarons (pink)
• Vanilla macarons (white/light) with a Nutella filling (dark brown)
• Basil macarons (green) with a strawberry ganache (red)
• Matcha macarons (green) with a match and white chocolate ganache (green and/or white) with a dusting of matcha
• Chocolate macarons (brown) with a dark chocolate and pepper ganache (dark and spicy!)
• Lavender macarons (pink) with honey-early grey infused buttercream
• Chocolate macarons (brown) with a peanut butter frosting (yellow-brown)
• Vanilla macarons (pale) with vanilla bean buttercream and a fresh strawberry (to make it very pale pink)
• Chocolate macarons (brown) with a coffee ganache
• Custard cream macarons (or another English biscuit!)
• Wasabi macarons (with strawberry, ankou, or white chocolate filling)
• Savoury macarons with dill, cream cheese, and salmon

I went to Paris to present at my first ever international conference, the 10th International Conference on Diffusion in Solids and Liquids DSL-2014. Seeing as this is a food blog, I won’t talk too much about the conference, but will focus on my various pâtisserie exploits of Paris! 🙂 Originally, I was going alone, but then Ed suggested that perhaps he could come along. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out because our dates for various things clashed, which was a shame. 🙁 But I thought “hey, why doesn’t my bro come?” He agreed, and so he came! I could have gone alone, as I’m always up for doing things alone, but this was just a little holiday (as we spent a few days extra in Paris after the conference), and doing things in the capital is always much more fun with a friend than alone.

The conference venue, Le Tapis Rouge, was absolutely stunning, and I felt so privileged to have been there. I did feel rather out of place at first, so I was pleased that I decided to dress up relatively smartly, although there were others there in jeans and white trainers! We even had amazing live instrumental music and delicious pâtisserie in our coffee breaks, such as madeleines, pains aux chocolates, and even macarons, along with various other hors d’oeuvres… yum! The conference itself was interesting, and I met two lovely fellow researchers, Özer who is a fellow PhD student from Turkey, and Igor who is a researcher from Russia with 43 publications, and spent the evening gala meal on the Wednesday with them and my brother.



Myself, Igor, Özer, and Tim, outside of Cathédrale Notre Dame 🙂

I was really quite disappointed with my presentation. It didn’t go nearly as well as it did in the practice runs, and I was way more nervous when I presented at the CRES conference last year in front of about five times more people, including Iain Stewart! I think the proximity of the audience (i.e. I was standing really close to the audience in Paris) and perhaps knowing that the speciality of the audience in Paris was closer to my field than the geologists at the CRES conference, but I still don’t understand why I got quite so nervous. Usually, I read quite a bit from a script that I have, because I know then that everything will go according to plan, and that’s always worked really well for me and I can still project my voice well. But this time I was just a nervous and jittering wreck. I also think I had too much content to get through in the allocated time… which was fine when I was confident in presenting, but then as soon as I lost confidence, everything went out the window! I didn’t run out of time, but next time I will reduce my content so that I can speak slower and more thoughtfully, but it’s difficult to know until you’ve run through the presentation under more nerve-wracking circumstances. I wanted to put in as much as possible, but there were some things I should have left out, even though it was nice to have them in… oh well. It was an experience, and I was quite down on myself for a few days afterwards. As long as I learn from it then it would have been worth it. I just feel so lucky to have had this experience, because if it wasn’t for Omya and Plymouth University, then I wouldn’t have gone to Paris.

So, naturally, being in the capital of France, one has to sample as many pastries and delicacies as possible. Tim and I went to LOTS of places, and I tried a few of the things I set out to try. On the first morning, we had an early morning breakfast at Du Pain et des Idées. I wanted to visit this bakery as I had heard (more like read on blogs) a few things about it. As we walked to Rue Yves Toudic, Tim pointed the bakery out saying “that looks like a really nice place,” and it turned out to be the place! Tim had a snail pastry with raspberry and cream cheese, and I had a pain au chocolat with banana. It was absolutely delicious, although I have to say that mine was slightly burnt on the bottom. Nevertheless, the layers inside were soft, the pastry was crisp on the outside and the flavour was amazing. Tim also made a really good choice with his pastry flavours, although I think that whatever we chose would have been great.

Later that day we went to Jacques Genin, who according to David Lebovitz, may be the makers of some of the best caramels in the world. On the first of our visits, we tasted seven of their beautiful chocolates: milk chocolate, grapefruit milk chocolate (couldn’t taste much difference to the natural), ginger milk chocolate (lovely combination of flavours!), dark chocolate, dark chocolate infused with tea (what type of tea I don’t know, but the flavour was extremely subtle if non-existent), raspberry dark chocolate (I found it quite “fragranced,” but Tim really liked this one), and basil dark chocolate (very distinctive, and probably my favourite one!). We also had a green and purple pâté de fruit (or “Posh fruit pastels”), and we think the green one was kiwi and the purple was blackcurrant. The flavours were really delicious; they must use real fruit extract. We bought a couple of fruit jellies for friends and families, and left.


The following day we decided to return, and had a dégustation of six caramels this time, along with a thick hot chocolate to share, which is just like the Spanish chocolate a la taza that I love so much, and a mille feuille vanilla. The caramel flavours we tried were mangue passion, natural, café, pistache de Sicile, noix de cajon and cassis. I’m not a massive fan of caramels but they were definitely of the variety to make me want to try and make my own some day! We bought some caramels as gifts for others, and cried as I handed over my debit card. The caramels are sold at 110 € /kg, and the pâtés de fruits at 90 € /kg…

The next morning we had breakfast at a the bakery Liberté; I really enjoyed the clean and modern look of this place, and seemed really busy yesterday lunch time when we walked past. We bought all sorts of things, such as a pistachio financier (with a possibly raspberry filling), a large madeleine, pain au chocolates, pain aux raisins (which is Tim’s favourite), a Viennese chocolate bread, and a large chocolate log. Unfortunately, the chocolate log bread actually seemed a little undercooked, as it was quite doughy in some parts, but the quality of their cakes and pastries made up for this tenfold! The only thing I would complain about is that there was nowhere I could get a British cuppa to wash it all down with!


Of course, we tried some nouvelle cuisine, which was delicious, and again, I wept as I handed over my debit card. But it was definitely a lovely treat and something I’m going to try and do myself at home! We went to L’Office and Chez Marie Louise, but this is all for another blog post. 🙂 We also had an amazing falafel at L’As Du Fallafel, and delicious crepes at Crêperie Josselin, my two favourite hangout spots. Actually, I think L’Avant Comptoir was probably my favourite, and I made a special stop there just to try Le Beurre Bordier, or the Bordier Butter, that I’ve heard so much about. It took us a second glimpse to make sure we found the right spot, as the stand-up wine bar is a little hidden. The place smelt absolutely delicious and reminded me of the best Spanish tapas bars you could find, with cured meats in the background, wine glasses everywhere and their menu, with each of their different tapas, hanging on card from the ceiling. We each had a different glass of red wine, and ordered a portion of poitrine de porc caramélisée and a mini crème brulée; the only complaint I have is that there wasn’t enough. The pork was cooked to perfection, and the crème brulée was the best I’ve ever had, with a wonderfully caramelised top, yet not too caramelised (i.e. burnt), and a very smooth, creamy and rich pudding underneath. We also helped ourselves to baguette slices and Bordier butter… if I had the means to store the butter in our hotel rooms and carry it back, then I would have found some to buy to take back home. It was some of the creamiest butter I’ve ever had!

Of course, I visited Ladurée, and sampled six of their macarons: réglisse (liquorice; unfortunately we couldn’t taste any liquorice…), l’incroyable guimauve chocolat coco (chocolate and coconut “guimave;” the subtle taste of coconut was lovely), l’incroyable guimasse fraise bonbon (strawberry candy “guimave;” Tim really like this one!), caramel fleur de sel (salted caramel; by far my favourite, as the combination of salt and caramel is always a winner!), fleur d’orange (orange blossom; couldn’t taste any orange, but I guess orange blossom doesn’t taste of orange! It sounded intriguing, though), and menthe glaciale (iced mint; a seasonal flavour, and was nice, although not my favourite macaron flavour). We were quite lucky with queuing in this store, because I walked in when there were only a few others in there at the counter; after I arrived, suddenly a flurry of other people did, too! I would loved to have stopped off in their café for some tea and pastries, but we decided that we already had enough that day!



I also tried to visit Pierre Hermé, but unfortunately the queue was so large that it backed out into the street, and people were shielding themselves from the rain using their umbrellas. I had already dragged Tim around many pastry shops and things that day, so we decided not to queue, especially seeing as we were to have macarons from Ladurée, anyway. However, I’m by no means an expert in the art of pâtisserie, but I must say that going by other people’s reviews that the photos I’ve seen, I am slightly tipping to the side of preferring Pierre Hermé’s macarons over Ladurées. This is because the macarons from Ladurée usually have a shell that’s not as dome-shaped as Pierre Hermé’s, and their feet seem to protrude over the edges. Either way, I’m sure they both taste equally as great, and Ladurée do claim to be the creators of the first ever modern day macaron that we enjoy today. Tim also said that mine tasted just as good as Ladurée’s and so to me, that was a great compliment! Thanks, bro! 🙂

And finally, we visited Sadaharu Aoki, which is probably my favourite pâtisserie that I’ve found in life so far! We bought a bamboo, which is layers of biscuit joconde, crème au thé vert, ganache au chocolat noir, punch au thé vert (altering layers of matcha-infused buttercream, dark chocolate ganache, and biscuit sponge). I was tempted to go for matcha-adzuki, as it combined traditional Japanese flavours like matcha and ankou (red bean paste). But I love the combination of matcha and dark chocolate, which is also what prompted me to use this combination for this macaron recipe that I’ve posted. We also bought a tarte caramel salé, one of the most sought after pastries in Paris. They were both absolutely delicious, but as Tim said, nothing that I couldn’t make myself. Of course, I took this as a large compliment, and so my next baking mission is to make a lovely little entremet, that I will try and develop my own recipe for, and also a chocolate caramel tart, as there is a recipe I can follow for that here. These are the sorts of things I’d make for dinner parties, perhaps a trio of desserts, being macarons, a tart of some sort, and a joconde or opera entremet.



Macarons, in actual fact, are definitely better up to three days after they’ve been made (three days is what Ladurée recommends!). This is because the flavour from the ganache has its chance to impart itself into the macaron shell via osmosis. I find that macarons are nice when they’re fresh, nicest after a few days, and then after that they shell gets a little soggy; the flavours are there but the shell doesn’t have that crispness to it on the outside anymore. I remember biting into my first ever batch of chocolate macarons after a few days left to “marinade” in the fridge, and the flavour was so rich; much better than I had ever imagined!

I struggled deciding what filling to put inbetween green tea/match macarons; I love the visual impact pink and green has, because it stands out right away, yet they complement each other quite naturally, I find. So I decided to make a pink buttercream of raspberry and strawberries. Now, I absolutely love buttercream, but I found that it just didn’t complement the macaron that nicely, because it’s just too sweet. Cover a birthday cake in it, why not? But I don’t think it was meant for macarons, not this one at least. I also wanted to use typical Japanese flavours, such as wasabi and ankou (red bean). But the wasabi would have also been green, and I wanted to try and make a contrast of colours, but the ankou filling I made was too runny, unless I added lots of icing sugar, in which case it would have been a buttercream, which I didn’t quite want. So I decided to go for a rich classic ganache combo that I really love: green tea and dark chocolate.



Matcha and dark chocolate just go really well together; fact! That’s what made me choose the Sadaharu Aoki’s bamboo entremets over all of the others; because it had Japanese flavours that just meld really well with typical Western ones. I went really upmarket and used Tesco Finest dark chocolate in my ganache, and I had a choice of two flavours: Tesco Finest Peruvian 70% dark chocolate, single origin, fruity with subtle red berry notes and Tesco Finest Ecuadorian 74% dark chocolate, single origin, floral & spicy with subtle notes of green tea. I certainly preferred the latter; it was rich, dark and spicy, and really went well with the macaron shell. The other flavour was just too sweet and perfume-y for me. Here’s some more blub regarding the Ecuadorian chocolate (it sounds delicious!):

“Made with cocoa beans from plantations in Esmeraldas, Los Rios and Manabi in Ecuador. A slight hint of coconut aroma contrasts with the rich earthy tones of this Ecuadorian bar. The initial flavour of molasses is followed by notes of green tea, with a depth of gentle woody spices to finish.”

I also really struggled with what to decorate the macarons with. I would liked to have done so with a chocolate “paint” or a cocoa powder dusting, but decided to settle with a matcha paint and a sprinkling of broken sencha leaves from a teabag. The paint was a little too translucent, and when it dried it didn’t have the effect I was hoping for. I also didn’t have a brush so it was difficult to get the desired design, too.

To make the macarons, I decided to go for the chocolate macaron recipe, as it’s one of my favourites and has worked really well for me each time I’ve tried it. But perhaps the cocoa powder stabilises it in a different way to the matcha, or was it simply my technique this time wasn’t good enough? I think that I knocked too much air out of the batter during the macaronage phase, or perhaps I simply didn’t stiffen the peaks enough, because after the hour of waiting, the piped macaron batter had flattened almost entirely. And also, at 45 minutes, the tops weren’t sticky to the touch before baking as is the case with the chocolate macarons. This is the ratio of ingredients that I used(which yielded 10 shells, although 3 of them were green, oddly shaped, and undercooked, so fell apart…):

• 35g egg whites
• 40g ground almonds
• 67 g icing sugar
• 11g granulated sugar
• 1 tsp matcha

Ratios:
• Eggs: 1
• Almond: 1.14
• Sugar: 2.23; icing: 1.91; granulated: 0.31

I also put these macarons on the top shelf of my oven (top shelf out of three shelves in oven) and then some in the lower third portion. The ones on top rose nicely, but browned; that made me REALLY disappointed because they looked perfect except for their colour! I also think that rotating the pans, even if you think it’s unnecessary, to ensure an even rise of the foot, because you don’t know if there are hotspots in your oven or not. And the ones on the lower shelf didn’t rise enough because the top macarons were shielding them (do not use a fan assisted oven… so I used top-bottom heat!). Luckily I could practice this a few times because we make such small batches of macarons at a time! It’s a bit fiddly, but it’s worth it, I think. Patience is definitely the key, because I can only cook one tray at a time in the lower third of my oven for (almost?) perfect macarons! So, I put the lower macarons in the top shelf for a few extra minutes, and they then rose spectacularly, but collapsed with an uneven foot as soon as I took them out of the oven and sank unevenly (wish I had a photo of when they immediately came out of the oven!). Perhaps this is also a sign of them not being in the oven for long enough? Here, it says that if the tops don’t move from the feet when nudged, they’re done. I don’t know if they were done or not but I’ll test next time!

The next recipe I decided to try was adapted from Not So Humble Pie, and I think was successful, because I had to make my sugar ratio a little higher:

• 100g egg whites
• 120g almonds
• 200g icing sugar
• 30-35g granulated sugar

Ratios:
• Egg white: 1
• Almonds: 1.2
• Sugar: 2.3-2.35; icing sugar: 2, granulated: 0.3-0.35

I followed the same recipe as for the chocolate macarons, but I whipped the egg whites for longer and don’t think I “knocked” as much air out as previously.

I left them on the side for an hour and still thought that they were slightly “tacky” to touch, but put them in the oven anyway and they came out really well! I did pipe very small shells, as they do spread out a lot more than you think! I did this by drawing a small circle on the underside of the baking parchment with marker pen, using a cork from a wine bottle as the template, and I would make sure that my piped (*ahem* dolloped) macaron batter was within that small circle, so ideally they would all spread out to the same degree. They spread out perfectly and the “feet” were even! For me, the best results for even feet came from baking my macaron shells on the underside of a roasting dish that I have in the lower third of the oven (so that they don’t brown!). The ones on the circular pizza dish I rotated every 5-10 minutes to ensure that they feet were even, yet on the roasting dish I didn’t have to… I think I’ve found my method! 🙂

According to Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings, having to leave the macaron shells on the side to “dry” before being put in the oven is a myth, and that not leaving them to dry works for her (and in Singapore the humidity is 60-100% every day!). I have to say that I’m a little scared of having cracked shells and no feet, and so I always have left them to “dry” before baking them as I’ve had those aforementioned baking disasters before. But it must have been other factors that contributed to those things, but perhaps drying them can be my own macaron ritual! 😉

I think I tried to fool myself into thinking that these were healthy; made with eggs and almonds, and infused with green tea! But then of course there’s the icing sugar in the shell, the granulated sugar in the shell, and the chocolate! I suppose that cream and butter in the ganache are healthy, though, but not the amount of sugar in the buttercreams. 🙂 I would love to try and make paleo macarons someday and see how well they come out!

Anyway, onto the recipe! I tried to be all posh and that by putting the name in French, as if they were part of my own pâtisserie shop (one can dream, can’t they?), but I came up with all sorts of combinations for names in French… I’m not sure which is correct, and I should probably ask Ed (especially seeing as I took some all the way up to Aberdeen when I saw him there!):

• Macarons à la thé vert avec ganache au chocolat noir ou de la crème au beurre de haricots rouges et fraise.
• Crème au beurre de haricots rouges et fraise.
• Macarons au thé vert avec ganache au chocolat noir ou crème au beurre aux haricots rouges et fraise.
• Macarons à la thé matcha et crème à la haricots rouges.
• Macarons à la thé matcha et la crème de haricots rouges.
• ???

Macaron Délicat à la Thé Vert
Kung Fu Café and Not So Humble Pie
Makes 8-12 shells (4-6 macarons)

Ingredients
For the matcha shells:
• 43g ground almonds
• 67g icing sugar
• 1 tbsp matcha
• 35g egg whites
• 15g granulated sugar

For the dark chocolate ganache:
• 100g dark chocolate
• 100g double cream
• 35g butter

To decorate:
• cocoa powder
• matcha
• sencha leaves
• cocoa powder or matcha “paint”

Preparation
For the macaron shells:
Add a splash of lemon juice to a very clean bowl together with the egg whites. Whisk for about 30-60 seconds until very frothy. Sprinkle in the granulated sugar, and continue to whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form (the kind where you can hold the bowl upside down over your head!).

Then sieve in the icing sugar, matcha and ground almonds together over the egg white peaks. Now, this is the part some people refer to as “macaronage” (i.e. macaron-ing). Use a wooden spoon or pastry scraper to knock the air out of the batter. Use the spoon to scoop the batter around the outer edges of the interior of the bowl and then almost scrape the batter down the middle of the bowl in a zig-zag pattern until the final consistency is similar to that of magma. A useful video to watch can be found here.

A test to see if the batter is of the appropriate magma-like consistency is to take a clean plate, and dollop a spoonful in the middle. If the peak slowly disappears into itself, then the batter is ready. If it’s still visible after about 30 seconds or so, then it needs some more air knocking out! If the batter is too runny, then you’ve over mixed!

Prepare a heavy-duty baking sheet with baking parchment. Spoon the batter into your piping bag (or icing syringe, etc.), and dollop macarons onto the parchment paper, leaving at least an inch worth of space between each shell. This depends entirely on how large you want your macarons.

Bash the tray on the surface of the worktop 4 times, rotating each time. This forces air bubbles in the macaron batter to rise to the top. Use a toothpick to pop any large ones. Leave the macarons on the side for an hour to air dry, so that they’re not sticky or tacky to a light touch.

Preheat the oven to 155◦C, ensuring that you do not use fan assist. Pop the tray into the lower third of the oven for 16-18 minutes.

Leave to cool completely before peeling the shells off the parchment.

For the dark chocolate ganache:
Melt the butter and chocolate over a very low heat until melted and combined. Remove from the heat, pour in the cream, homogenise well and pop in the fridge until thick enough to pipe. Before piping, leave the bowl out of the fridge for a while to bring the ganache up to room temperature.

Assembly:
Fill an icing syringe or piping bag with the ganache, and pipe some around a macaron shell leaving about a mm of edge, working your way into the centre. Then, very gently pop the other macaron shell on top, and press VERY lightly to make the ganache pop out and spread to the edges of the shell but no farther, and so that there’s a smooth, unblemished edge around the ganache. Be very careful not to crack and break the shells with your fingers.

Pop in the fridge for anywhere between 2-5 days before taking out of the fridge to bring it up to room temperature before devouring. 😀

Shells baked: 16.03.2014
Shells filled: 17.03.2014

Du Pain et des Idées
34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France
Website

Jacques Genin, Fondeur en Chocolat
133 Rue de Turenne, 75003, Paris, France
Website

Ladurée
21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France
Website

L’Avant Comptoir
3 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006 Paris, France
Website

Liberté
39 Rue des Vinaigriers, 75010, Paris, France
Website

Pierre Hermé
72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France
Website

Sadaharu Aoki
35 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris, France
Website

References
[1] Uncovering the secrets of tea, Chemistry World, January 2013, Page 31.
[2] Disler, P. B., Lynch, S. R., Charlton, R. W., Torrance, J. D., Bothwell, T. H., Walker, R. B. & Mayet, F. (1975) ‘The effect of tea on iron absorption’. Gut, 16 (3). pp 193-200.

Happy 20th Birthday to My (Not So) Little Brother (and Happy Father’s Day!) | Simple Chocolate Cake with a Peanut Butter Filling



Happy 20th birthday, Tim

The above Polaroid is my brother celebrating his 10th birthday in our family home. Yesterday, he turned 20, and I can’t believe where the time has gone.



Yesterday, he also got back from the Isle of Wight; it was a two-week trip he had to undertake as part of his geology and ocean science degree. The unusual thing about it, is that it was out of term time… Tim’s degree is actually really full on, and he’s only just finished his second year. Just before he started this academic year, he had to take a field trip to Spain for two weeks before term time. He also gets a LOT of work during the year (I should know, because I’ve been there helping him when the chips were low!), and with his dyslexia and dysphraxia, I really don’t think Tim could have done any better. 🙂 We’re so proud of him and he’s come a long way! I think that calls for a celebration in itself. 🙂


I looked through Tim’s photos, hoping there would be some nice ones, and it was a typical “feldspar jockey’s” (thanks, Sheldon Cooper, for the diminutive 🙂 ) camera… nothing but photos of rocks! Rocks, rocks, and more rocks! Oh, there were three photos of the above fish n’ chip meal, and two photos of the above Isle of Wight landscape, which looks beautiful. Other than that, it was all rocks… Considering how hot it was, I was expecting more photos of the scenery! The photos below show how much of a tan he got from two weeks of collecting samples… looks like he went abroad on a lad’s holiday or something; but no, it is possible to get that tanned in the UK! 😀

I decided to make this recipe because it’s simple. I usually try and make more extravagant, interesting and bigger cakes than a simple chocolate one, but this time is a little different; Tim’s just got back from the Isle of Wight as part of a trip for his geology degree, and I know he will be moaning about not having eaten well while away… so rather than make a large cake, we have a smaller one simply for celebration purposes.

I would loved to have made a cake from oats and peanut butter, because it’s the typical bodybuilding food and would go well with his exercising theme… perhaps for the next special occasion, just in case it doesn’t turn out nicely! For his next birthday, though, I’m going to make a superhero themed cake! 🙂

Unfortunately, this cake wasn’t flat on top after it had been baked, and it was on the website from where I got the recipe. It didn’t even rise evenly, but I still think it looked nice! I think that if I had baked it at a lower temperature, like this chocolate cake, then it may not have risen and would have had a flat top! I’ll have to experiment in the future for when I make the superhero cakes! 🙂

Mum said that she really enjoyed the cake, and I was a little worried, because I know she doesn’t like chocolate cakes; she always says that they’re too dry, and I do agree with this sentiment. However, she said that this was the best chocolate cake she has ever had, and that it even topped this one that she liked a lot! She said that the peanut butter really set off the cake, and there was just the right amount; not too much and not too little. It reminded us of a Reese’s peanut butter cup! 🙂 And I also feel that the ganache/fudge icing really helped to moisten the cake, too! It was lovely, and definitely something I’d make again. Just make sure you mix all of the baking powder and soda in thoroughly; I accidentally got a clump in one slice, and trust me, it doesn’t taste very nicely!



He’s always been my best friend. 🙂





Oh, and of course, happy Father’s Day, dad. 🙂

Simple Chocolate Cake with a Peanut Butter Filling
Adapted from: King Arthur Flour
Makes a one-tier 20 cm cake

Ingredients
For the chocolate cake:
• ⅔ cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup plain/all-purpose flour, sifted
• 1 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
• ⅓ cup cocoa powder, sifted
• 1 tsp baking powder, sifted
• ½ tsp baking soda, sifted
• 1 tsp instant coffee granules
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 x eggs
• ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 tsp vanilla
• ½ cup + 2 tbsp water

For the peanut butter filling:
• ¾ cups peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
• 1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ⅓ cup double cream

For the chocolate ganache:
• 1 cup chocolate (I used a combination of dark and milk chocolate, as mum’s not too keen on the dark, bitter stuff)
• 7 tbsps of double cream

For decoration:
• roasted and salted peanuts

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C. In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, coffee granules and salt. Then add the eggs, oil, vanilla and water, and beat until smooth and homogenised. Pour into one 20 cm cake tin (lined with baking parchment if not silicon), and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan.

To make the filling, simple beat all of the ingredients together until homogenised. When the cake is cool, carefully slice it in half and generously spread the filling over the cake, and assemble.

For the chocolate ganache, simply melt the chocolate with the cream over a very low heat. Leave to cool until it’s a spreadable consistency (i.e. not too runny), and cover the cake. Decorate with the peanuts, and put in the fridge to set.

Baked: 11.06.2014

Divided We Fall 2014 | Mum’s Pecan Pie

According to the recipe in this cookbook, this pecan pie is “a classic American version of our own old-fashioned treacle tart.” It was a lovely surprise! The weather this past week has been absolutely spectacular and this weekend my brother and I have escaped to our country manor (a.k.a. our parent’s house) for some great company and good grub. 😀

We went for a a lovely walk around the last castle built in England: Castle Drogo, built in 1911. The weather was a lot more overcast than in Plymouth (which makes a change!), and unfortunately I forgot my DSLR. The hot chocolates were really good; not sweet at all! And sitting outside in the beautifully well kept gardens was lovely for the soul. Next time we go we’ll take a picnic and my camera, as the valley and rolling hills were absolutely stunning, especially when bathed in sunlight. The only downside to the beautiful weather was that my hayfever played up a bit this weekend. But no matter; it’s still beautiful around here and as the days go by the more I’m pleased that I decided to do my undergraduate and PhD here, in the South West of England; close to my beloved family <3 . Last weekend, we (team Chocolate Thunder) went and competed at the Divided We Fall games to compete with 99 other teams. Some of the photos on this page are from RX’d Photography. Another person from out box went up to volunteer as a helper for the weekend, and he was awesome! Such a supportive teammate 🙂 I learnt a lot during this weekend. I learnt a lot from this weekend.


WOD 1 felt pretty good; it was definitely nerve wracking, but at the same time I also felt as ease, because we already did this one before (it was one of the qualifying WODs; hence why it was called “repeat”) I knew that we just had to do it again! The last 100 wall balls between Samantha and I sucked; I just wanted to take a break for a few seconds but knew I couldn’t! We did better than I thought we would: we came 26th for this WOD! Although still way off of the times of the top teams (they did it in 22 minutes or something like that!).

REPEAT
For Time 600 Wallball 20/14LB
EMOM 30 DU

NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
2 Male athletes start:
300 Wallball 20LB
EMOM 30 DU
Once the male athletes complete 300 Wallball the female athletes begin immediately the clock does not stop or reset.

2 Female athletes continue:

300 Wallball 14LB
EMOM 30 DU
One athlete working at a time partition reps for Wallball and DU as needed
The Wallball cannot be continued until all 30 DU reps have been completed. If the DU are not completed when the next minute begins another 30 DU are added. Athletes may have the skipping rope in their hands but cannot begin until the start of each minute.
STANDARDS

Wallball: The wallball shot, the medicine ball must be taken from the bottom of a squat, hip crease below knee, and thrown to hit the target. If the ball hits low or does not hit the target, it is a no rep. If the ball is not caught between reps, it must come to a full stop on the ground. Catching the ball bouncing off the floor is not permitted. Athletes can switch after the ball has hit the target while the ball is in the air provided the standards mentioned are achieved.
Double Unders This is a standard double-under in which the rope passes twice for each jump. Only successful jumps are counted, not just attempts.


WOD 14.1: Repeat

Samantha and Luke did WOD 2; and they did really well 🙂 What more can I say? 😀

UNBROKEN
In a 9 Min Window
Establish an Unbroken GTOH
9 – 6 – 3 rep max

NOTES

2 athletes are needed – 1 Male 1 Female
In minute 0-3
9 Rep Max Unbroken GTOH.
In minute 3-6
6 Rep Max Unbroken GTOH.
In minute 6-9
3 Rep Max Unbroken GTOH.

1 athlete lifts at a time. The remaining team mate can help load / deload when not lifting. The athlete must call out the load to the judge before attempting the lift and collars must be used.
The athletes can decide how many attempts each athlete has in each time window. If a Rep Max is not achieved in a given time window a score of 0KG will be recorded.
Example: Male athlete fails to get a unbroken 6RM during minutes 3-6 scoring 0kg but the female athlete achieves an unbroken 6RM of 50kg the score for that section is 50kg (0+50kg).
The scores for both athletes and all 3 sections are added together for a total score.

STANDARDS

GTOH The barbell is taken from the floor and finishes with hips the knees fully extended, feet under hips showing control with elbows in front of the bar. The athlete may use a Power Clean, Squat Clean, Muscle Clean or Split Clean.
Once the barbell is on the shoulders it must finish with the weight fully locked out overhead. A shoulder press, push press, push jerk or split jerk may be used, as long as the elbow, shoulder, hips and knees fully extend, and the bar finishes directly over the heels with the feet inside shoulder width. If a split jerk is used, the feet must be brought back together with the hips, knees and elbows fully extended before the repetition is completed.
All reps must be touch and go. Resting overhead is allowed. Resting at the hang or rack is also allowed. The bar cannot be rested across the thighs.
Updated standards video:


WOD 14.2: Unbroken

Simon and I did WOD 3, and this was the one I was the most nervous about. I know Simon’s knee was painful, so he was nervous for that. But I had no excuse other than I’m rubbish at pistols. I can pistol on my right leg, but my left leg has always been hit and miss. I wore oly lifting shoes but the heel elevation just isn’t high enough (when I do happen to do pistols at the box I always put my heels on a 2.5 kg plate, and that works just fine). I also think that I took too long to hold my foot and set myself. Such time wasting! But oh well, it definitely was a weak point of mine. I also struggled with the chest to bar… if it was pull ups, I could have done them quite well (as I can do pull ups while hanging from the bar with only my fingers), but chest to bar requires me to have more of a grip, and I found that my hands kept slipping off of the bar! I think it was just too slick, and I guess my hands were sweating more than usual, too. All in all, this WOD didn’t highlight my strong movements, and was the one I was the most nervous about. Oh well. I was so disappointed with this and after this WOD my morale was at rock bottom. As you can see, this really made up drop a lot of places.
CLAY
10 Min AMRAP
12 Burpees
8 Pistols
6 CTB Pull Ups

NOTES

2 athletes are needed – 1 Male 1 Female they cannot be the same athletes from 14.2 UNBROKEN
1 athlete works at a time and must complete a full round before next athlete can begin. Athletes completing a round must “high 5” at the end of a round before the new athlete begins.
Score is total reps.
STANDARDS

Burpees – Each burpee must be performed so that chest and thighs touch the ground at the bottom. There is no requirement for how they stand up. At the top the athlete must jump so that feet leave the floor, the hip is fully extended and the athletes hands are clapped behind their head.
Pistols (One Legged Squats) – Athletes must alternate legs for each repetition. If at any point they cannot complete a repetition on a leg, they cannot alternate legs until a repetition has been completed on that leg. The one-legged squat begins with the athlete standing and the hip fully open with the knee fully locked out on the squatting leg. The hip must pass below parallel at the bottom of the repetition, and the opposite foot (non-supporting leg) cannot touch the ground until the repetition is completed with control. The non-supporting foot must be in front of the supporting foot during the entire repetition. You may hold the foot of the opposite (non-supporting) leg with your hand while performing the one-legged squat.
CTB Pull Up – This is a standard chest-to-bar pull-up. Dead hang, kipping or butterfly pull-ups are allowed, as long as all the requirements are met. The arms must be fully extended at the bottom. At the top, the chest must clearly come into contact with the bar into contact with the bar below the collarbone.


WOD 14.3: Clay

I was also dreading WOD 4, because I know my deadlifts are bad and doing that many overhead squats at a heavy-ish weight (38-39 kg) is not pleasant. Samantha went first out of Samantha and I, and I think she struggled with this one. Perhaps she was fatigued from the previous WOD and I know she was having shoulder pain. I took over her last 9 overhead squats, and had I have known earlier that I could have swapped with her at any time (once we swapped, though, we couldn’t swap back), I think it would have been best to have just done 7 minutes each. Oh well! I’m pleased with how well I did in the last few minutes I had to do. It was certainly a boost for me after the previous WOD!

ANARCHY
FOR TIME
21-15-9
DEADLIFT 225/155LBS
OVERHEAD SQUAT 135/85LBS
NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
1 Male and 1 Female athlete will be working at the same time. Athletes will have a bar each but will need to change the load at the completion of each Deadlift set 225lbs to 135lbs for Men and 155lbs to 85lbs for Women. Then again at the completion of each Overhead squat set. 135lbs back to 225lbs for Men and 85lbs to 155lbs for Women. The resting athletes cannot help with changes. Collars must also be added.
Once the first Male athlete completes the 21-15-9 the next male may begin. Once the first Female athlete completes the 21-15-9 the next Female may begin. Time is called when the last athlete finishes.
There is a 15min cap for this workout and each uncompleted rep will incur a penalty.
STANDARDS
Deadlift – This is a traditional deadlift with the hands outside the knees. Sumo-deadlifts are not allowed. Starting at the floor, the barbell is lifted until hips and knees reach full extension with the shoulders behind the bar. The arms must be straight throughout.
Overhead Squat – The hip crease must be below the top of the knee at the bottom. A full squat snatch is permitted, but not required, to start the movement if standard depth is achieved. The barbell must come to full lockout overhead with the hips, knees and arms fully extended, and the bar directly over the middle of the body.


WOD 14.4: Anarchy

I believe that we were supposed to do WOD 5 on day 1. But as the event ran way over time we did it first thing on day 2. I was nervous for this one, but it turned out to be one of my best WODs. The guys’ morale was really quite low on day 2. Luke was knackered and Simon nearly broke his thumb when power cleaning, and as a result I think he struggled with them. When Samantha and I jumped in we really did quite well and I think this definitely would have been our WOD!

GUN RUNNER
For Time:
42-30-18
Clean 185/135lbs
Burpee Box Over Jumps 30/24in

NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
Male athletes go first and can break the work up as needed – only one works at a time. Once they complete the clock does not stop or reset and the females go. When performing the burpee box jump if alternating the athlete cannot begin the burpee until both of the previous athletes feet have hit the ground after the box over jump.
There is a 20min cap for this workout and each uncompleted rep will incur a penalty.

STANDARDS
Clean – The barbell is taken from the floor and finishes with hips the knees fully extended, feet under hips showing control with elbows in front of the bar. The athlete may use a Power Clean or Squat Clean.
Burpee Box Over Jump – The bottom of the burpee has the athlete face down with the chest and thighs touching the ground. There is no requirement for how they stand up. The athlete must face the box and jump over the box to the other side. The jump must be a two-footed jump. Landing on top of the box is allowed, but not required. Each rep, including the final rep, is complete once the athlete has jumped over the box.


WOD 14.5: Gun Runner

WOD 6 was a simple WOD. Unfortunately, the morale was so low at this point! Simon was frustrated because he couldn’t snatch with the state of his thumb, and that cause a little ruckus. But I was pleased with how I did! I got 47.5 kg (105 lbs) and did 1 hang snatch at 115 lbs (52.5 kg) and failed on the 2nd. I think I could have done the 3 had I have been calm enough and there was enough time; that 10 minutes between 4 people goes REALLY quickly! There’s a picture of me snatching at the bottom of this page, and for some reason the mobility in my legs looks a little worse/shaky than usual. I’m going to attribute that to the ache in my quads from the pistols adn 300 wall balls the day before!

ABEL
In a 10 minute Window
Establish a team total 3 RM Hang Squat Snatch
NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
Each athlete will have as many attempts as they wish to establish their heaviest 3-rep hang squat snatch. The workout will begin with an empty barbell and a stack of plates. It will be the team’s responsibility to load the bar for each lift and declare the weight to the judge prior to lifting. The score with be the total of each athletes heaviest 3 rep hang squat snatch.
STANDARDS
This movement begins with the athlete deadlifting the barbell and stopping at this position prior to snatching. The athlete may not lower the bar past the knees after deadlifting the weight. The barbell must be received in the overhead squat position. A power snatch followed by an overhead squat will not be permitted. Only the feet may touch the ground during the lift.
Resting overhead is allowed. Resting at the hang is allowed but the bar cannot be supported by any part of the body.


WOD 14.6: Abel

I think everyone was pleased that this was the last WOD! I was at the point where I felt like the group’s morale was so low that I just wanted to go home. Samantha did so well with the rowing (she rows better than most guys!), as did Luke and Simon. I was to roe 500 m and only rowed about 300 m (maybe less?)… I got down to a 1:37 m /500 m split, but only for about 100 m. My quads then cramped and I had to get off the rower as I slowed right down to 1:55! This has highlighted how much I need to learn to push with my glutes, and then have the “quick hands” with the pull into the rest, as Samantha says. When Luke got on after me, he was surprised how little he had rowed… then realised that was because I didn’t row the 500 m! Samantha got on to finish the last 750 m or so. There was a point where she got so tired and stopped, and she had less than 100 m to row! We were shouting at her to switch, but then realised that she may as well continue. Unfortunately, in those few seconds, the team next to us (an awesome team from CrossFit Cumbria that we spoke to for the whole event!) beat us by a second! It goes to show high tight competition is! And how important planning is and knowing your strengths and weaknesses are. The placings were separated by only seconds. But after this, I felt so bad, especially in combination with doing badly on the pistol WOD.

SAMCRO
Row 3km For Time:
NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
Teams can break the work up in any order
There is a 15min cap for this workout and each metre not rowed will incur a penalty.
STANDARDS
Row – Final Athlete must remain on the rower until the display reads greater than 3000 meters. The athlete may coast over the required distance, but cannot make an attempt to get off the rower (e.g., unstrapping early or standing up) until they are past the required distance. The athlete may adjust the damper setting and foot positions at any time during the row and team mates can help with this. Athletes must keep feet in footstraps when rowing.


WOD 14.7: Samcro

After all that, we finished 44th… not the best finish (I think Luke was disappointed), but we did say that we wanted to be in the top 50. And it’s true, that it’s not the placing, it was definitely yhe experience. And sometimes it’s good to do these things to realise more about yourself and keep yourself motivated. I guess for me it was a make or break thing. It was our first big comp! And it highlighted the importance of planning and that playing to your strengths can be a huge advantage when the WODs are in your favour! I saw on Facebook that the team that qualified 112th (so must have been invited when teams from the original 100 qualifying teams dropped out) came 28th after the weekend!

The comp then cut to the top 12 teams, who then went on to do 2 more WODs.


Our final placing…

Post-DWF I was feeling so unmotivated that I didn’t go to the box to train all last week. I learnt that you need to train around the right people to get the best out of you, and that in the world of sports, things are very ephemeral; just because you do badly doesn’t mean you’re bad and can’t improve, and just because you do well doesn’t mean that you’re the best. It also highlighted to me how that I really need to stay on top of my own training and start programming myself, and really build some tenacity when WODing. I was going to try out some programming but Maz at the box convinced me that I’m intelligent enough to programme myself, and that I should utilise all of the knowledge at the people from the box. She’s right, she really is. I can do it myself! 🙂


Anyway, after DWF, and spending some time to recover mentally, someone had also made the Oreo cake, which seemed to be a huge hit! It really made me smile!!! 😀


Oreo cake was a big hit!! 😀

Anywho, after a stressful week (re: uni work… starting to slow down a bit now; waiting around for my supervisor to read my report, and struggling with this modelling stuff… I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it. And now Paris is getting closer, I’m wondering if it’s wise that I do go and present my work… as much as I’d love to, I just feel like I need more time to prepare myself mentally and physically… time’s moving too fast :'( ), and spending it indoors, it was lovely to train for fun yesterday morning, and be treated to some lovely food by my lovely mother. 🙂 Thanks, mum and dad! 🙂 🙂 <3 🙂 🙂

Pecan Pie
Page 224 of The Dairy Book of Family Cookery
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
• 200 g (7 oz) English butter
• 175 g (6 oz) flour
• pinch of salt
• 3 x eggs
• 15 ml (1 tbsp) milk
• 175 g (6 oz) demerara sugar
• 150 ml (¼ pint) maple or corn syrup
• 2.5 ml (½ tsp) vanill flavouring/essence
• 175 g (6 oz) pecan nuts, halved
• fresh double cream to serve

Preparation
Whisk 150 g (5 oz) butter. Gradually stir in the sifted flour and salt; beat well after each addition. Add 45 ml (3 tbsp) cold water and mix thoroughly with the hands. Knead lightly with extra flour, as this pastry is sticky to handle. Chill.

Roll out the pastry and use to a line 23-cm (9-inch) ovenproof flan dish; flute the edge. Chill the case while preparing the filling.

Beat the eggs and milk together. Boil the sugar and syrup together in a saucepan for 3 minutes. Slowly pour on to the beaten eggs and stir in 50 g (2 oz) butter and vanilla flavouring.

Use half the nuts to cover the base of the pastry case, spoon the syrup mixture over and cover with the remaining nuts. Bake in the oven at 220°C (435°F) mark 7 for 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 170°C (325°F) mark 3 and cook for a further 45 minutes, until the filling is set. Serve warm or cold with the fresh cream.

Devoured on a beautiful summer’s day at my parent’s: 17.05.2014

Happy Easter! | Primal French Apple Tart

Happy Easter, everyone!

Unfortunately, today is raining so much! The first time in about a week. Fortunately, the last week has seen absolutely stunning weather. On Good Friday, I woke up in such a bad mood, feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things I had to do, with worries, stress and insecurities, so I decided not to go into work/uni, not to do any of it, and go home to my parents house down the road. Tim didn’t come with me as he was doing his own thing that day. But I’m so glad I went.

We went for a cream tea and a walk at Hazelwood House, an early Victorian house that was the home of the Peek family for generations, just down the road from my parent’s.

“The Peeks were originally tea merchants who later amalgamated with the Freans to become famous for tea and biscuits. In its pre-war hey-day the house was a hub of a 1000 acre estate with four farms; a chapel and a schoolroom for children living on the estate. They even had their own Mausoleum as well as a separate burial ground for staff. Those pre-war years saw dances in the drawing room and Boxing Day meets outside the front door. The beautiful wood-lined stables housed hunters and no less than nine gardeners were employed to keep the gardens. Servants lived on the top floor and estate workers came through the back door to the office behind the kitchen to collect their weekly pay. Post war years saw the decline of this style of living. There were fewer staff; the chapel became a squash court and the schoolroom a billiard room. Keeping up with the extensive gardens, driveways and buildings became too difficult to manage and soon the lifestyle that there once was had gone.”

“In around 1986 the son who was to inherit the estate decided to put Hazelwood on the market. Property developers bought it and sold off the adjoining farms and land leaving 67 acres, the heart of the estate, which they planned to split into 27 small lots and sell off for separate development. It was at this point, in 1988, that the present owners came upon the house and through a miracle found the money to buy it and give it a new lease of life for all to enjoy.”

The sites around Hazelwood House were absolutely beautiful. And there was a sweet little Jack Russell that followed my dad and I when we went walking around the grounds. She was weary of us when we first arrived by soon realised that we meant no harm, and seemed to latch onto us. Any excuse for a walk, I suppose!

We had to book our cream tea in advance because they make the scones fresh on site. Our scones were so fresh that they were warm when we got them! They weren’t your typical scones either, but perhaps made with whole wheat flour and spiced. It made a nice change. 🙂

We also went for a visit to Topsham, and a little walk around there. It’s the area where my parents live which reminds me of my childhood, and also of video games such as The Legend of Zelda. I believe Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of said video game, said that he was inspired by the surrounding area of where he grew up in Japan, and that led to him creating the worlds and landscapes where The Legend of Zelda took place. I feel inspired in the same way. 🙂

I feel so lucky that I live where I live, and I’m so glad that I didn’t move after my undergrad. My parents live in a beautiful area surrounding by rolling green hills and hedgerows, and I’ve moved just down the road to live in the perfect city by the sea. I love where I live: the climate (although more sun and a little more warmth wouldn’t hurt!), the beauty, the people… I’ve been so lucky. I would describe my life as serendipitous, which actually was one of the many names I was thinking of calling my blog, and everything for me has turned out fantastically. I’m so lucky for my family, location, experiences, work, how things have turned out, and even who I am, I suppose. 🙂

Now, that’s not to say that I’m going to stay in Plymouth forever. I won’t rule out moving, but I certainly am not ready to leave just yet. 🙂

One thing I’d love to make for my family as a starter is a wild garlic soup. There’s a photo on this page of wild garlic, and it smells lovely. If you squeeze the oils out of the stem, a beautiful and subtle garlic scent is released. I’d also love to make a horseradish also using that found in our wonderful edible hedgerows.

So yes, basically, this Easter I’ve done nothing other than enjoy my family with my newfound happiness (as my PhD is back on track, I feel like I literally have nothing to worry about – other than trivial issues which I’m continually learning from 🙂 ), and eating! One of the pictures here is of some really divine Jeff de Bruges chocolates sent from Ed’s parents from France. They send them every year (which is really very lovely of them 🙂 ) and I love the cute little farm yard animal shapes and Easter themed chocolates. They’re really very smooth and I could eat the whole box to myself.

And I even did my first ever WOD alone!

It sounds pretty trivial but I think (or at least, I hope) it was a big mental barrier broken down for me. I’ve only recently got comfortable doing strength stuff on my own, since starting a 5/3/1 programme at the beginning of the year. But I’ve never really worked out alone. Partly because I dislike it as it’s not fun, but mostly because I never work hard enough, and I get stupidly scared; scared of working too hard, scared of finishing, scared of being tired, scared of being looked at and laughed at. It’s stupid, but it’s true.

I didn’t feel tired whilst doing the WOD, but sometimes I think it’s a subjective thing. I know, though, that I’ll be unhappy with whatever workout I do because I know I just don’t work hard enough, but I’m so afraid of doing so. I really need to get into the mind frame of doing something imperfectly rather than not doing it at all. As Scooby, Tom Venuto, and parts of the Overcoming Gravity book say, that it’s better to do an imperfect workout than waiting for the perfect workout that never happens.

But whether I worked hard or not, hopefully it’s a mental barrier broken for me. I am a very emotional person, and by that I mean that my emotions govern how well I do things. If I’m feeling tentative or scared, then I won’t have a good session and get annoyed and frustrated with myself. If I’m working with people and feeling happy and confident, then it’ll be great. That’s why I work better in group sessions. But now they’re 1.5 hours (rather than 1 hour long) for something like a 20 minutes WOD, I’m better off learning how to suck it up and do it myself to save time.

I just want to get into the mind set of doing things alone and not needing anyone to do anything. If I can work with someone great, but now I don’t have a consistent training partner and I train with various people randomly. I want to not rely on others and stick to my own commitments, regardless of whether other’s can push me and train with me, or not.

The WOD was 5 rounds of:
• 250m row
• 12 alternating pistols
• 12 pull ups
• 90s rest

Anyway, onto the apple tart! I love French apple tart, but here is my almost paleo version… it has double cream in it, so it’s not paleo. But I wonder if it could be replaced with coconut milk to make it so? It can always be made without the creamy base.

I made this for a dinner party at a friend’s house last weekend, and I also made a chocolate mousse tart with an Oreo base. This is actually great with store-bought custard! 😛

Oh, and when making this, you don’t need nearly as many apples as you think! I suppose that looking at the tart, it looks like a lot of apples went into it, but an apple goes quite far! 🙂

Primal French Apple Tart
PaleOMG, BBC Food and 86 Lemons
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
For the crust:
• 2 cups almond flour
• ¾ cup coconut flour
• 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
• 1 x egg
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling:
• 15g unsalted butter
• ½ tbsp lemon juice
• 65g honey
• ½ tbsp apple juice/calvados (if not, just lemon juice will be fine!)
• 4 apples (used the standard supermarket ones), washed, core removed and cut into segments (just cut around the core)
• 100 ml double cream
• 1 x egg

Preparation
To prepare the crust, mix all of the ingredients together, and press into 20 cm silicon tart case.

For the filling, heat the butter, lemon juice and 15g (1 tbsp) of honey in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and everything is mixed well. Remove from the heat, stir in the apple juice and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Pop the apple segments in concentric circles, overlapping as you go. Brush the apples with the butter mixture, slide the tart into the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce to heat to 200°C and bake for 20 more minutes until the apples have caramelised.

Meanwhile, whisk together the double cream, egg and remaining 50 g of honey until well combined. Pour the mixture over the tart, and bake for a further 10 minutes until the mixture has just set. When I poured the mixture over, it covered most of the apples. If you want the pie to look bursting with apples, I got around it this way: I got 3 more apples, sliced them as before, fried them in butter until they were a similar texture/cooked like the apples in the tart, layered them on top of the mixture, sprinkled with flaked almonds and continued with the baking.

Set aside to cool.

Made 11.04.2014.

Two-Ingredient “Healthier” Pancakes with Nut Butter and Honey Sauce | Shrove Tuesday

Happy Shrove Tuesday everybody! Today is the last day before Lent (a time of abstinence before Easter Sunday), and so pancakes were eaten and indulged in as they contained all of the things that were forbidden during Lent (such as butter and eggs!).

Now sure, you’re probably saying “Pancake Day is always on a Tuesday and I’m just too busy to make pancakes before going to work.” So I’m going to show you a recipe with minimal ingredients for some really simple, but delicious, American-style pancakes! (I do love Crêpes, but that’s for another post 🙂 ).

These pancakes use only two ingredients that are pretty much in everyone’s pantry. And to be honest, you can make these pancakes with just eggs and NOTHING else! Just follow the same recipe below, but leave out the flour portion. My brother and I go through phases where we have eggy-crêpes almost every morning with nut butters, fruits, sometimes leftover meat and maple syrup. Delicious!

For the past few months I’ve been eating lots of junk food. And I’ve put on weight! But I’ve also gained strength. I am a large advocate of the paleo diet; always have been, always will be (unless the scientific evidence proves otherwise). But I’ve always known that the paleo diet promotes health and is great for fat loss, whereas the Zone, for example, is something that focuses on performance. I know a few people down at CFP who have complained about a loss of energy when doing WODs when following a strict paleo diet. I do agree, from my own experience, that it’s great for daily energy levels and body composition, but personally, I think it did hinder my strength gains a little (it’s difficult to tell though, to be perfectly honest! It’s a combination of a lot of things, but I think that eating more calories, even from junk food, have helped to make me stronger). So I think, for me at least, a paleo diet with a few modifications (i.e. more carbs, perhaps? More general calories? But NOT just junk food full of sugar and wheat!) would suit me and my training well, and I think that these pancakes fit the bill!

There are lots of recipes I’ve found, paleo and otherwise, and some also call for many ingredients that I don’t feel are necessary. Most recipes that make the softest and fluffiest pancakes call for the fewest ingredients. Maybe when you understand the function of ingredients a little better you can alter things a bit to your tastes, likings and needs at the time.

You can replace the oats with other flours and ground things, like flax seeds, almond flour, coconut flour, oat flour, etc. It has the same effect although the texture may vary a little. Try is out to get your favourite flavour and texture! This recipe is similar to this paleo pancake recipe, although as the oats in this recipe cook and makes the pancakes slightly less eggy. Either way, they’re all delicious combinations, and there’s no point in me talking about it. Just try them out and decide for yourself which flavour combinations you prefer! 🙂

I love these pancakes with different fruits in the mixture, on top of the final pancake, cooked, raw, etc. I also love nut butters, syrups and honey, lemon juice, fruits, meats, etc. So good!

You can also freeze them, and to pop them in the toaster to reheat on really busy mornings!

Anyway, I took these photos a long time ago, and am pleased with how they came out! I still don’t know anything about anything when it comes to photography, but I remember trying to play with the backgrounds a little more than just having a plain ol’ white background (although easier to work with!).

I like to keep the backgrounds as simple as possible, because as an amateur, I find that the more elements there are in my frame, the more difficult it is to arrange something with a nice composition and flattering colours – at my level, the simpler, the better! And sometimes, simple photos are nicer, too, as I also dislike crowded photos with too many elements. I guess I get that minimalist side from my dad!

I’m pleased with the first photo in this post, because I think that it sets a scene, and I love photos that do that. It makes me think of someone’s worktop in a modern kitchen, who’s just prepared their pancakes whilst drinking OJ, quickly slapped some butter on top and has just turned around to pop something in the sink before taking their pancakes to the table to scoff before a busy day. 🙂

These photos have no post processing either (the same with all of my photos – only a few I’ve attempted to correct for white balance. I used to shoot in RAW as well as JPEG… but I stopped because I just don’t know what to do with a RAW file! All I know is that they take up a LOT of space! So when I learn how to use them, then I’ll start shooting in RAW again. I think I’m getting better at composition and food styling, as well as knowing which angle would complement the food better along with the type of lighting, even though I still don’t know what I’m doing with a camera on manual. At least my intuitive senses when working with light are getting better. More of my photos are being accepted by FoodGawker and Tastespotting (although just because they accept or reject a photo, doesn’t mean that your photography is good or bad… Emma Gardner has stopped submitting photos to these two sites), although I do have about four times as many photos rejected than I have had accepted. But it doesn’t bother me. I’m still proud of my photography progress, considering it’s only a hobby and not the focus of my life or career (for now!). Ironically, the very food photo I took with my DSLR was accepted by Foodgawker, even though I’d tried desperately to get something accepted using only a digital camera (I had previously with Tastespotting). So in that way, it is the camera that takes nice shots, and not the photographer! Hee hee 😉

Happy pancake-ing! I’ll be making them for breakfast AND dinner! 😉 What will you have with yours?

Two-Ingredient “Healthier” Pancakes with Nut Butter and Honey Sauce
Syrup from: Southern Plate
Makes 6 pancakes

Ingredients
For the pancakes:
• 6 x eggs
• 6 heaped tbsps of rolled oats (or flax seed, coconut flour, almond flour… of course the texture of the final pancake will be different)

Optional extras for pancake batter:
• 5 tbsp milk (or coconut milk, almond milk, buttermilk…)
• 2 tsp vanilla essence
• dried fruit
• cinnamon
• toasted coconut
• nuts
• chocolate chips
• fruit (see below)
• bacon
• peanut butter

Fruit:
• banana
• blueberries
• nectarines
• strawberries
• cherries
• apples
• etc!

For the peanut butter sauce:
• crunchy peanut butter (or nut butter – or even chocolate or Nutella!)
• honey (use twice as much honey as there is butter)

Other optional syrups/sauces:
dulce de leche
• Nutella
• honey
• (whipped) double cream
• yoghurt

Preparation
For the pancakes:
Mix the eggs, oats, and any extras in a bowl until homogenised. Heat a large non-stick frying pan until hot, so that when the batter is dropped onto it, it sizzles. Use a large spoon to spoon on two dollops of pancake batter, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for about 4-6 minutes. Then use a spatula to flip and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Fruit preparation:
Chop up the fruit before making the pancakes. You can either incorporate the fruit raw into your pancakes or serve on the side, or you can fry in their own juices on low (or a little higher with some butter) and serve them on the side or incorporate into the pancake batter.

For the syrup/sauce:
Put the honey and butter in a non-stick milk pan, and continuously stir over a low heat until it all blends together and is nice and runny. If you would like a sauce, as opposed to a syrup, keeping cooking and stirring over a low heat until the syrup thickens into a sauce. Be careful not to overcook it though otherwise the texture will be dry and a little brittle.

Sunday treat: 04.08.2013

Deep Dish Paleo Berry Pie | An Ode to Pie

Ahh pie. So comforting. There’s nothing like burying your problems, woes, and tackling procrastination by tucking into a large serving of pie with a heavy helping of clotted cream (hmmm, on further introspection, this is not a healthy habit; I should do something about this)…

I can’t believe it’s the end of January already; I’ve never understood the cliché phrase “Where does the time go?” more at any point of my life than I do now. I guess being busy is a good sign, because it means that my glass is full, overflowing if you will.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, because I don’t believe that you need a new year to make goals. Why is a new year going to be any different to the previous one if you don’t make changes? Once the clock strikes midnight, and it’s no longer December 31st, but January 1st… how has your life changed in such a way that your goals are finally achievable?

What I’m trying to say, is that New Year’s resolutions are goals that you must have been holding dear to your heart and think of often, so why is it that overnight you can suddenly achieve your goals? Heck, you don’t even need a new week to start new goals and decide that you’re going to go for it. You just need a new moment, or the present. And I think that’s what commitment is; deciding that you want to achieve your goals at every new moment, rather just because it’s customary to do so at a particular time.

Anyway, the goals I am working towards, in no particular order (not resolutions, because these are things I’ve been working on for a while, and haven’t made just because it’s a new year!):
1. Start writing thesis;
2. Get better at running, rowing, and endurance-y stuff;
3. Get really strong!
4. Try my hardest to fit in Spanish studies;
5. Eat clean and to not be influenced by bad eating habits and the eating habits of others;
6. Be happy and continue my spiritual growth.

Last week, I had some good news with my PhD! I was in contact with a Japanese researcher, who invited me to study in his lab if I could obtain a JSPS Fellowship. However, Omya will not allow me to go because of patents, secrecy of research, etc. Nevermind! Perhaps this is something for a future endeavour. 🙂 And I also received an email saying that I was “accepted” to present at a conference… in Hawaii! Well, I’ve made the first hurdle! My abstract was accepted, and now I need to hand in a manuscript, and from there, they’ll decide if they really do want me to present. But to be honest, I doubt I’ll be able to get adequate results in such a short space of time, and even if I was, I don’t think I’d obtain the funding to be able to go. This saddens me, however I will try my hardest, and if it doesn’t happen, then it just wasn’t meant to be.

Anyway, I still made time to post this pie recipe this week, and bake a few other things, as well as take photos of them (and post them to Facebook). There’s no point in saying “I’ll wait until I’ve done this to do my hobby” or something similar… you just have to grab it. Which is why I bake and take photos; I love it! It reminds me that life is something to be enjoyed NOW and not to be put off for another time. You have to MAKE time for your achievements, for your work, for your family and hobbies, and you have to sacrifice and prioritise for them all. I personally think that you can have and do it all, but just not at once.

And, onto the pie!

I didn’t really expect much from this pie… I just sort of threw it together. I felt like making something hearty and relatively healthy (compared to other desserts). But now I think it’s going to be a delightful addition to my repertoire of recipes! I mean, sure, it’s a paleo pie, but even if you’re not on the paleo diet, this pie is absolutely fantastic and I really prefer it to conventional pies, as it’s not too sweet. I used cherries and blueberries, but you could easily use other fruits. Favourite combinations of mine are apple and blackberry, forest fruits, and peach and raspberry (my mum makes a delicious peach and raspberry crumble… mmmmmm!).

I made this for one weekend when we were all together at my parents’ and we had this with mum’s rib-eye beef! Was delicious!


The morning that I had baked this pie, my brother and I were working in the living room, and the pie was cooling on the kitchen worktop. I went into the kitchen with the lights off, and the light from the living room was shining through the serving hatch and illuminated the pie in such a picturesque and angelic way that I had to capture it was it was! I’ve never been a fan of using indoor lights, and always try to use natural lighting, but I had a good tripod and the right angle, and I think the pictures below came out beautifully, despite the darkness and small amount of fake light!

I also took photos at my parents’ house, because I absolutely love their rustic kitchen as it’s large and beautiful, and full of light, but I really struggled with the composition. Well, more so the lighting and angles to make it look delectable without making the colours look flat. The typical example would be taking photos of salads: with the right lighting and angles they can look crisp and delicious, but with the wrong lighting (i.e. in a dark restaurant with a flash) it can look limp, boring and lifeless.

I love how the crust of the pie is stained purple, and the colours inside. 🙂 And how it looks so impressive yet is so simple to put together! And, a great gift idea would be mini pies!

The pie is delicious when hot and straight from the oven, with a generous dollop of clotted cream. But then this is also wonderful cold with double cream as well. If you leave it for a day after baking and before eating, the flavours mingle with one another and with the pie case. It’s perfect all year round: hot in the winter, and cold in the summer!

The pie case is also great for savoury pies, because it’s not sweetened with coconut flour, it goes with every taste! I used it to make a savoury beef pie that was absolutely delicious! 🙂

Thursday training:
1km run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
800m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
600m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
400m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
1 min pull up rig hang (weighted if possible)
400m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
600m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
800m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
1km run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg

Deep Dish Paleo Berry Pie
Serves 8-10
Case adapted from: Elana’s Pantry; filling adapted from The Yoghurt Pot

Ingredients
For the pie case:
• 4 cups almond flour
• 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted (approx. 2 heaped tbsp coconut oil if hard)
• 2 x eggs

For the filling:
• 350g cherries, pitted (fresh or thawed from frozen)
• 350g blueberries, (fresh or thawed from frozen)
• 250g mixed dried fruits (soaked overnight in hot water)
• 3 generous tbsp maple syrup/honey
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp arrowroot powder (optional)

Preparation
Drain the dried fruit that has been soaked overnight in water. Mix all of the ingredients for the filling together in a saucepan, bring to the boil, and let simmer for around 10 minutes (if not using arrowroot powder, maybe simmer for 15 minutes to evaporate a little more of the liquids?). Then set aside.

In the meantime, prepare your pie cast. Mix all of the in a large bowl and homogenise well with the back of a spoon. Line a cake tin with baking paper (my cake tin had a removable base, and was 15cm in diameter and 8 cm in height), and press the case mixture all around the cake tin, ensuring that the walls are thick enough to hold the weight of the fruits. (I used about ¾ of the mixture for the base and walls, and the remaining for the top.)

Pour in the berry filling. Then pat the remaining pastry mixture on top of the filling. Make sure to seal as best as you can any gaps between the lid and the walls of the case, without splashing juice anywhere!

Pop the pie into a preheated oven at 200°C for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 160°C for 15 minutes. I then let my pie cool in the oven.

If you wish to present the pie to guests, I recommend to cool the pie entirely before removing it from its tin, so that it holds its shape better.

This is delicious straight from the oven when hot and fresh, but is also beautiful the next day, as the juices inside become a sauce, and the flavours mingle with each other and the pastry case.

Bon appétit! 🙂

Baked and constructed: 24.01.2014 @ the Kung Fu Kitchen! 🙂

Paleo Quiche with a Grainless Crust | Primal Games 3

What an event! The Primal Games 3 was just so epic! What a way to send off the old before moving into a brand new venue just down the road after Christmas. I can’t WAIT! 😀 The only thing that marred it was having to wash the Tupperware boxes when I got home. 😛

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to compete this time, but was able to cater, along with a very strong and lovely physio friend, Sam (who makes a killer primal cheesecake!) 🙂 …she’s pictured in the yellow hat below!

Well, who won the event? Crossfit Kernow! Followed by CFND (North Devon) coming in second place, and third place was taken by Crossfit Exe!

Everyone hit PBs in some kind of way, and the atmosphere was electrifying! It was so fantastic to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. One woman from Crossfit Avon told me that when she last saw me do a load of kipping pulls ups that it inspired her, and that’s something she holds in her memory bank. It really touched me and I’m so glad that I’ve made a positive impact on someone. It’s one of the most amazing feelings I’ve experience in life, and don’t think there are too many more feelings that can top that! 🙂 I will remember that for the rest of my days, and will make a mental note to remember this when I’m feeling blue!

The food went down a treat! I hope we made a profit (yet to count everything up!). It all sold out (apart from a few salad boxes), and I had people throughout the day asking me for recipes for things, and got great feedback in general… I even already have people on Facebook and in person asking me for some more goodies! I’m so honoured!

On the menu we had:
*Savoury*
A huge salad (with tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, coconut, dried apple, nuts, egg, etc.) and dressing (balsamic vinegar and vinaigrette).
~ 25 slices of pork, apple and sweet potato meatloaf
~ 25 honey and lemon roasted chicken drumsticks
~ 20 homemade beef burgers
16 slices of paleo pizza (made with almond and coconut flour) topped with tomato, cheese, spinach and mushrooms

*Sweet*
24 slices of sweet potato pie with an chocolate-y oat-based crust
~25 banana & nut paleo brownie bites
~25 coconut brownie bites
~20 banana and date sponge cake bites
~ 20 protein balls made with a combo of nuts
~20 slices of primal cheesecake

And of course, there was Sam’s cheesecake. Oh boy, that stuff is lethal. If ever she is in my debt for anything, she’d have to pay me back in cheesecake, I’ve decided.

Throughout the day, I heard cheers and shouting and screaming and barbells hitting the deck. Unfortunately, where I was, I couldn’t see the action at all, so whenever I heard the crowd go wild I’d get this surge of energy go through me; I wanted to WOD so badly! And seeing these people perform was incredible! Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and seeing teams having to communicate and work together was definitely eye opening. Crossfit is very tactical, indeed.

Oh, and I even saw an amazing woman deadlift 165kg. I’ve never seen a deadlift look as easy as this one. It’s great to know that it is possible to do such feats! And Alan from CFP got a 130kg clean I believe! How cool is that?! I can’t even fathom lifting that much!

I was so worried about how the food would go down. Making food for over 100 people definitely came with its challenges, especially as I wasn’t using my own kitchen and equipment…. especially when the oven is very different to your own! And so things didn’t come out the way I had expected, and I worry so much as to what people will think of everything. It was lovely to have a kitchen other than my own to work in, but I think when you know your own gadgets, equipment and are in your own place, it’s so much easier!

The oven didn’t seem to cook the sweet potatoes well enough, and so I wasn’t very happy with how my brownies came out (they’re like my signature baking item, I suppose!), especially the banana ones, so I redid them, and they came out a little better. The gas oven in the kitchen I was working with cooked the brownies thoroughly on one side, but the other side remained uncooked, so I turned the pan around to even them up, but they just ended up being overcooked. I also wasn’t happy with the meatloaf in that the apple and sweet potato weren’t homogenised in with the pork as much as I would have liked. And I didn’t like me sweet potato pie because being unable to homogenise the sweet potato properly meant my pie looked slightly anaemic! And the pizza base came out too thick due to the size of the pan I had to use, but in some ways I think that actually was quite nice to have a thick crust, so people could sample some primal stodge!

I really hope that everyone feels as though the food warranted their money. Sometimes cooking for the masses takes the fun out of a hobby, and making things in a production line style takes away the time that you’d normally spend on preparing dishes for special, individual people. That’s not to say I didn’t put love and care into what I did, just that it was stretched out in such a short space of time, and there’s only so much to give!

I also spent the end of last week and weekend worrying entirely, not to mention the next few days I’ll probably spend worrying what people thought of the food! The day before and the morning of the event I was so nervous (as nervous as doing the Battle of London WODS, of which I cried during 2 out of 3 of them!)! I just need to learn to relax, focus on what’s at hand, and forget about what’s done. But I think that’s something a lot of us struggle with. 🙂

I would love to do this event again in the future (of course, if I’m allowed), but unfortunately we’ll have to see how my studies go down. Studying for a PhD full-time and doing other degree modules part-time, as well as training and general life is hard enough as it is, and I’d rather be decent at what I do than spread myself too thinly (as tempted as it is to take on more than what I can chew; I am rather ambitious!). We will have to see! But whatever happens nit he future, I’m a part of CFP’s history, and for that, I’m proud!



If anyone’s reading this from the Primal Games and feels to leave a genuine comment about the food, please leave a comment on this blog post (or on Facebook!); you can leave it here anonymously (or email me; go to the “contact” page), if you so wish.

Anyway, onto the recipe in this post!

I was also testing out a reflector I bought from Amazon. It’s awesome! It has four different reflectors and a diffuser that compresses into the size of something you can easily store in a cupboard. You can see in the photos above the difference with using no reflector and just natural light (on the left), and the silver reflector (on the right). It definitely highlights the colours a lot better than without. But different situations, angles, light and composition calls for different techniques. 🙂

I also have a 500W halogen lamp and a 135W 5500K tungsten lamp to try out, that I managed to buy cheaply! Can’t wait to try!



You can’t see the crust so well, as I had way too much egg filling, and after baking the crust (which naturally shrinks a little), the eggs spilt around the outside of the crust, and so was baked around it! But it tasted great, either way!

The egg mixture was very creamy! I liked it, but I think most people are used to their quiches with cheese. Cheese would have definitely gone down well! 🙂

Paleo Quiche with a Grainless Crust
Adapted from: Preppy Paleo
Makes 8 slices

Ingredients
For the crust:
• ¾ cup coconut flour
• ¼ – ½ cup melted butter or coconut oil
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:
• 5 x eggs
• ½ cup coconut milk (or regular whole milk, if primal)
• ½ tsp crushed garlic or garlic powder
• pinch of pepper
• 1 tsp salt
• any other fillings! I used mushrooms, chives, halved cherry tomatoes, and cooked pigs in blankets! 🙂

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

For the crust:
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl until well incorporated. Then press and spread into a cake tin (I used an 20 cm diameter beautiful silicon cake mould), all up the sides, too, to make a pie case. Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.

For the filling:
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add in the remaining ingredients. Add to the pie crust and decorate as desired (with leftover mushrooms, for example), and pop into the oven for another 30-35 minutes, or until the centre is firm and cook through.

Leave to cool completely, as this enables it to be cut cleanly. Or can you just eat hot if you don’t mind slightly messy slices! 🙂

Baked: 14.11.2013

Paleo Pad Thai (sort of…) | Random Post Alert!

Phew! So how on earth am I going to summarise everything that I’d like to talk about in this post? Well, I can but try!

The day I cooked this was this summer and from what I remember it was a lovely day, not only because of the weather, but because we went to Mount Batten as a family. I love days like that, and reminisce about them frequently. As I’ve got older, I definitely cherish time with my family more and more. Not that I never did before, but I think now I just really appreciate the value of these moments and times, as there will be a time when we won’t be able to be together so easily anymore. Of course, life moves on and I’ll probably be with a partner, as will my brother, and my parents will be enjoying a life of not having teens and twenteens bothering them, but let’s just enjoy the now. I absolutely love Plymouth and my life here, but I just need to learn to separate myself from every day little stressors. (I have been in a little depressive mood all week, but maybe it’s a weather thing? Today is actually sunny and I’m looking outside of my windows and feeling pretty happy right now!) 🙂

Dad really really enjoyed this dish. That’s not to say that mum and Tim didn’t, but I knew this was dad’s sort of dish, and the fact that he enjoying my paleo spin-off was all the approval I needed!

I can be a little slap dash with food at times when getting it on the table, especially as I like to get it piping hot to my guests, but getting this colourful one-pot dish to look bad is difficult at best! This is definitely one of my favourite dishes to prepare.

It is paleo, but of course the peanuts aren’t. You can always sub them for cashews or some other nut. And of course I subbed noodles for cabbage, so it’s sort of a pad Thai. I just altered it to my tastes and needs, and the availability of ingredients. 🙂 Also, the recipe called for sugar and tamarind paste, but I didn’t bother adding any of those, and the dish was still delicious, unique and had subtle exotic hints.

Anyway, I have a lot going on at the moment. Trying to keep up training with Crossfit (and those who Crossfit know that THAT encompasses EVERYTHING!) and staying motivated for the Battle of London (The London Throwdown), and next weekend is the The Primal Games at CFP, for which I’m catering (which takes about 3 days worth of work in total). Then I’m also actually (and finally!) being more social, so going out socially (wow, what’s happened to me!?), trying to pursue hobbies (such as cooking, photography, blogging, reading), and of course, the PhD. I have a lot going on with that at the moment. I’m demonstrating about 6-7 hours a week for 5 weeks, have two presentations to give in the next two weeks, and have a load of data I need to gather ASAP. Oh, and how could I forget… the Spanish course I’m doing with the OU!

I’ve been getting myself so worked up about things recently, and I feel as though I have to do everything all at once. I genuinely believe that you can have it all, but just not at once, which of course, is a shame. There are so many other things in life I’d love to do, but they just won’t ever happen. I just need to not take on too much at any one time. But then at the same time, we only have one life. I’m so lucky to have the one I have, and I’m just trying to make the most of it. But I think the key to unlocking the potential of any life is to be positive, and to not be dragged under by the little things.

Sometimes when I get so worked up over things, I think it means I need time off of it. I need to prioritise. Maybe I should stay away from food photography for a bit and focus on Spanish. No more working myself up over that and focussing on the PhD, too. I also haven’t been to Crossfit in 5 days (because I was away over the weekend, and then when I returned I felt so bad over my BOL WOD 1 that I just thought “what’s the point in doing Xfit if you’re so bad at it?!”), and next weekend I’m feeling the pressure of it being taken up as a result of catering for the Primal Games.

I think I need to emotionally detach myself from things, but not to emotionally detach myself from the enjoyment I get from them and wanting to better myself. For example, the other day I finally bought a new smartphone! I’ve had my old phone for possibly 6 years, and now I’d like an upgrade for several reasons. The main reason being to keep in touch with my boyfriend more easily I suppose, especially after I just saw him the past weekend for the first time in 4 months, and I don’t want to feel that detached from him if we ever have to go through another similar period, again! So this way, we have no excuse to not stay in touch with one another.

But the thing is, I don’t need a smartphone. Everything I have is perfectly functional; my current phone, an iPod, a digital camera… but I know I would use it and make full use of it, too!

Also, this week I spent some money on photography props; about £55 in total. I bought a reflector, a halogen lamp, and a tungsten lamp. I’ll definitely be trying them out, as I feel it’s the next step for me to work with (oh, and learning how to actually post-process my photos using Corel PSP X4, rather than doing nothing to them!). But I feel so guilty about it. Oh, and I spent some money on Kindle books, too. I feel so bad, and it’s been eating away at me, and it always does. I need to learn to either spend money or be happy with it, or not spent it and be happy with it. I mean, it’s not like I went out drinking, I invested in my hobbies.

But anyway, after 5 days of not training and after not doing well with the BOL WOD 1, I went training today, and felt amazing. I think I’m hardwired to move, socialise and create. That’s funny… isn’t that what we’re all hardwired to do? There are whole blogs and books and programmes out there designed to get people to do more of that stuff (Marks Daily Apple being one that comes to mind, for instance!); it’s a natural antidepressant. And as I keep saying, gives us purpose in life. I truly believe that that is the key to happiness.

Anyway, I’ll just briefly explain my Battle of London WOD 1. The WOD was as follows:
Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 12 minutes of:
20 Cleans 45/30kg
20 box jump overs 24/20″
20 Cleans 60/40kg
20 box jump overs 24/20″
20 Cleans 75/50kg
20 box jump overs 24/20″
As many cleans as possible at 90/60
Score = total reps.

I only got 126 reps. And I felt really bad afterwards. Comparing myself to other people in the box, I did the worst! Ok, don’t compare yourself, blah blah. Everybody does it. Sometimes it’s a good way to see where you are, but generally it is only a useless exercise. Because this is what it results in: self-torture.

I lamented for ages about how I should be better.

Ok, so I’m going to make excuses and say that perhaps it just wasn’t my WOD, although I do like power cleaning more than anything else, and I’m usually good at box jumps. I also don’t follow any program; I just turn up to group WODs. I think I did relatively well up to and including the 40kg cleans, but I was dreading the 50kg, and in my head I was telling myself how it’s nearly my bodyweight, how weak I am, and that I don’t want to go too fast because I’ll burn myself out… I was so tempted to give up and cry whilst doing the 50kg cleans, and that afterwards was the dreaded 60kg! I kept saying that I’ll never be able to get one, at 60kg, etc., etc. If it wasn’t for Shelley I really would have quite in the midst of the 50k cleans. I really freaked myself out and stalled so many times DURING the WOD (by going over to get chalk, looking at the bar, etc.). It’s funny because I had so much nervous energy, and after the WOD I still had energy, but the nerves had gone, and immediately came regret. Well, instantly I was relieved that it was over, but I didn’t get that feeling and buzz of awesome, I just absolutely floored myself. I would love to get the chance to re-do it. I’d change the way I did a few things, use the box jumps as a rest period, go all out on the cleans (as I know 30 and 40kg were relatively easy, 50kg was definitely heavier, but I definitely could have done them faster… and I only got 6 reps at 60kg… I attempted a few but didn’t rack the bar, because I was too scared to get under it. Funny thing is, is that even other people noticed that I just pulled the bar up to my chest and didn’t get under it and they were wondering why!?).

So that’s partly why I also feel really bad about myself and Crossfit at the moment.

And of course, I’ve been eating WAY too much recently! Or badly, too! As earlier, I’ve said that I’ve been going out socially a lot more, even for lunches at uni, a few parties and meals out, and a few coming up, and then of course it’s Christmas, I’ve been having more and more “one offs” as they’re not frequent… but these infrequent things are now turning into frequent things, and I can even feel myself saying in my head “go on, just this once, it’s not often!” I DON’T want to get into the habit of that! For example, I’m now eating more beans and grains than I once was, eating more sweet things, drinking less green tea and smoothies and eating more eggs and oats.

But it’s ok, I’m aware of it, and I will do something to fix it!

The most important thing I learnt though, and something I really need to drill into my head, is that I’m not perfect, and no one is. Was I expecting to be the best? I need to stop feeling to guilty, wrapped up in the past, things that have no importance. The important things were (and still are) is that my family and my significant other still love me, even if I performed “poorly” or have been eating too much. They still love me. It must be because of who I am, and not what I do. 🙂 I guess I need to heed my own words a little better, as usual!

Another thing to add to my “wishlist” would be a high speed blender and a great quality juicer (to juice hard roots like carrots and sweet potatoes), both which will have to be easy to clean! Here is an interesting article in juicing v blending, and goes well with blog post summarising green smoothies and juices.

So now moving to a more positive note, I’ve prepped/tested out some foods for the Primal Games in a weekend’s time, and of course, they were delicious! The menu’s gonna be great, and I’ll also be working with another girl who is absolutely awesome at Crossfit and so lovely, too! It’s great to collaborate with likeminded individuals on such projects; makes it so much more fun! We’re also thinking about doing the European Inferno together, too!

And another lovely lady from CFP also gave me a sample of a couple of her own paleo treats! One of them being this banana bread and another being a sort of paleo fudge.

They were both delicious! This girl can cook! The banana bread was so moist and soft, and the fudge wasn’t sickening like regular fudge is. It was silky smooth and left a lovely aftertaste. She said that she didn’t like the fudge herself, as it was too sweet and the lighter layer was a bit watery. Yes, it was a little oily/drippy, but that’s just because of the ingredients used. I personally thought that it was delicious! I could have had a cup of tea and a huge mound of that stuff, and just stuffed my face all afternoon while sitting through this radiation safety lecture I had earlier today (as our lab has now turned radioactive!). I’ll definitely be getting that recipe from her! 🙂

Oh, and recently, Pete Howe, owner of Crossfit Taunton, has been featured on the most recent cover of Men’s Health! Not only is he an ex-marine and an awesome Crossfitter, but he’s bodyguard to Elton John and David Furnish… and I was in his team in the first Primal Games at CFP! He’s definitely an awesome guy, and on that day team spirit was high! I remember when I was determined to get that 60kg ground to overhead, and I warmed up with 55kg, after which he told me not to “peak too early” as a laugh, and assured me that the 60kg was easily mine. It really relaxed me, as I always get so nervous when it comes to competitions and always let myself and the team down!

And finally, Frankfurt! Let’s briefly chat about that. 🙂

My boyfriend (Ed! Let’s call him “Ed” from now on, instead of meticulously saying “my boyfriend” every time!) works far, far away ( 🙁 ), and the company he works for sent him and all of the other graduates to a two week training thing in Norway. However, for insurance reasons, they can’t put lots of people on the same plane at the same time, and so he and a few others had to stop off at Frankfurt. They decided to stay for a few days, and invite their other halves over! And you know what? It was amazing!

I was ridiculously nervous about going, but I actually had nothing to worry about! I was nervous for a multitude of reasons; one being that I hadn’t seen Ed in over four months (work commitments, ugh! That dreaded ‘w’ word!), and meeting his friends and colleagues (of course, I wanted to make a good impression). I realised that I do get on with people and there are different levels that different people sit on within your life. Not to say that other people mean less but that only some people have prime significance in your life, and others come and go. Just enjoy the good ones when they come, and if they’re really good, treasure them. 🙂

We stayed in a lovely apartment-hotel that had a lovely swimming pool and sauna as well as being right near town! I really enjoyed the breakfasts we had in a little bakery on a quiet road, sitting outside and just chatting. Yes, I had pastries and bread! And honestly, they weren’t as good as I hoped (although they were good; it was actually quite nice for a change to not worry about what I’m eating and just eat whatever the heck I wanted!), but of course, the company was way better. 🙂

We also ate out in two lovely restaurants; one of them a traditional German place called Adolf Wagner (with long tables, rammed full of people and apple wine… basically cider!), and in an African restaurant (as you do in Frankfurt, you know!).

The German place did large platters of meats, which the others opted for (as they had to be a minimum of two people, I believe), but I’d had similar in Spain and I find that, personally, to be a rather boring option. I went for a different meal on the other hand, and Ed did, too! I went for veal liver with apple, mashed potato and salad, and it was very, very tasty (please see blurred image below!).

And in the African place, the six of us (three couples that night, as opposed to the four in total) went for three platters that involved a mix of their dishes, ranging from stews and dips, served on a large platter lined with Eritrean pancakes (Edit, 24.02.2014: I’ve found a link here saying that they’re Ethiopian Injera, and there is even a recipe for a few dishes of the dishes we seemed to have had!), and extra on top. Ed and I ate our way through the most! 😉 We sat in a lovely mud hut inside the most buzzing of places, with really friendly staff and beautiful music and atmosphere. I didn’t take a photo, unfortunately, but I was hoping to nab it from someone else. I’ll add it if I get it! 🙂 (Edit, 18.11.2013: Photo added! 🙂 )

We even went to the zoo one afternoon, and managed to see quite a variety of animals! Well, of course we would at the zoo, but I meant that the animals all seemed to be ‘out’ that day. 🙂

I also loved the reptile house! Reminds me of my childhood, which was spent wanting to be a marine biologist, idolising Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin, and studying as much as I could about turtles. Oh, the memories! I also used to love safari videos and desperately wanted to visit a rain forest and conduct all sorts of studies and observations and go on all sorts of adventure and expeditions! Learning for the sake of learning! 🙂

In the picture below you can see me staring at my favourite fish! He just seemed like that grump cat you see on pictures all over Facebook and Tumblr these days! 🙂

Although the trip was only three days, I actually had post-holiday blues (mixed with the post-holiday buzz; how bizarre!). I felt really very loved throughout the trip and was just a weekend of indulgence, probably because it was a very long-awaited weekend! It was so nice to not think about work, be in a situation that felt dream-like, and to stay away from the internet and work! I can’t wait for the next weekend! Although, if Ed visits Plymouth, that would be great, but at the same time my mind is usually filled with work.

The last time Ed visited over Easter was lovely, although I remember fretting about work for a lot of the time. Maybe next time I’ll take a couple of days off and just have an extended weekend, just like in Frankfurt, and I’ll cut myself off of the internet, too. Maybe a bit of Crossfit and cooking (leisurely – just like the old times we had together), but apart from that, nothing else! I think I’m going to learn to cut myself off from the everything else. Another skill I need to add to my list of personal development and improvements! When’s the next weekend break!?

The photo of the gecko below was taken with an iPhone! How awesome is that quality?! You can even see his little tongue. 🙂

Wednesday WOD @ CFP:
In a 50 min window complete the following in any order:
A) OMEM for 10 – 1 Bear Complex (keep weight the same)
B) 3:00 max reps bench press 50/30
C) OMEM for 12 mins:
Even minutes 3-6 strict toes 2 bar
Odd minutes 3-6 strict HSPU’s
D) 3 x 400m run 1:1 work/rest
Yeah buddy

Paleo Pad Thai
Adapted from: Closet Cooking and About Thai Food
Serves 4

Ingredients
• 2 tbsp butter
• 2 x whole red chilies, diced
• 4 x cloves of garlic, grated or diced
• 2 x onions, diced
• a knob of ginger, grated or diced
• 4 x spring onions, diced
• 175g cooked prawns
• 2 tbsp dried coriander
• 60g dried mango, chopped
• 60g dried cherries
• ¼ cup of chicken stock
• 8 tbsp lemon (or lime) juice
• 3 tbsp fish sauce
• 3 tbsp soy sauce
• 4 tbsp roasted peanuts or cashews
• ½-¾ head of savoy cabbage, sliced into strips
• 2 x limes

Preparation
Heat the butter in a large pan/pot, turn the heat down to medium, and add the chilies, garlic, onions, spring onions and ginger. Sweat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add in the prawns, herbs and dried fruit, and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Pop in the chicken stock, lemon juice, fish sauce and soy sauce, cook for a few more minutes on medium-low. Then add in the nuts and cabbage, cover, and cook on low until the cabbage is soft like noodles.

Serve with lemon wedges and any extras. We had raw “giant sunburst peas,” olives, lime and homemade honey-mustard-mayo 🙂

Made for my beautiful family: 03.08.2013

Rave at the Box (any excuse to bake!) | Quadruple of Primal Treats

Menu du jour:
1. Banana & nut brownies
2. Coconut brownies
3. Honey, lemon & almond cookies
4. Chocolate & pistachio biscotti

What a week and what a crazy weekend! Where do I start?

Firstly, I should probably apologise for a very photo heavy post. But these brownies are just so damn photogenic. I love the colours of these banana brownies in particular, and the fact that they’re a little thicker/taller than the coconut ones (although the coconut brownies are a little gooey-er) makes them slightly easier to shoot.

I also tried a slightly different set up when taking these photos; I put my white boards on a coffee table so I could get differently angled shots easier than before, and it seemed to work! I took the Friday afternoon off because a) I was being incredibly unproductive that afternoon and all of the labs were packed, and instrumentation I needed was in use, and b) it was sunny and so I wanted to make the most of the light (as it had been dark and raining all week!). Although, it did get too sunny that afternoon (too sunny?! Yes!) and the direct sunlight made the shadows too harsh! Can’t win, eh? But I managed to get around it. 🙂 (I have posted a photo of my set up, but please excuse the cables; I was testing my internet connections and there usually aren’t that many!)

So anyway, onto the food!

Although these treats are technically primal (paleo for the most part), they’re still concentrated (i.e. too many nuts, lots of honey, maple syrup, dried fruits, etc.), and so they’re still only a treat. I need to keep reminding myself of this; I swear there were twice as many of these treats before I took them to the party at CFP, but I just ate most of them in the space of two days. I tried my hardest to resist, but I just couldn’t. I would have eaten them all if it wasn’t for the potential shame of turning up with an empty box and broken promises!

Of course you can alter the sweetness with the amount of honey/maple syrup you add, and as well as the squidgy-ness with the amount of sweet potato and flour. Also, the more things you add, the less squidgy they will be (hence why the coconut brownies look a lot moister than the banana ones!).

These also go superbly well with coconut cream! How do you make coconut cream, you ask? Just open a tin of coconut milk, mix well, put in a mason jar and pop into the fridge overnight, et voilà‎! Coconut cream! It’s light to taste and so delicious! Although these brownies are moist enough to enjoy without anything else. 🙂

Just make sure that the brownies are cold before you cut them, otherwise they’ll crumble a bit too much! Although if you’re like me and put a million different things in them, it’s always going to be difficult to cut a clean slice every time.

And don’t get rid of your sweet potato skins! They make excellent pizza bases! Just put on some toppings and pop them in the oven. 🙂 I would love to try and make these with avocado or beetroot. I would also like to try these with oats, too. I’ve used black beans in brownies, and they came out really well, although a little drier. I think my next test will be to try them with mung beans as they’re a little bit mushier in texture and may make for a softer brownie. We will see and I will post the results at some point! If they come out well, I may well try and scale it up to make it in to a cake for my brother’s birthday. He’s into health foods and getting as much protein as possible. Beans have a lot, so I’ll make it into a protein cake! I could even add protein powder and peanut butter, but I think adding a large chunk of meat will be taking things a bit too far…

The honey almond cookies were supposed to be biscotti, but I think I accidentally put in twice the amount of honey and syrup, as well as too much baking powder! So when I popped the batter (yes, batter, not dough!) on a baking sheet, I thought that it was too runny, but it sort of kept its shape. And when I had baked it for the first time, it was as flat as a pancake (and just about spilling over the edges, too!). It still tasted really nicely though, and would have been a shame to have got rid of those lovely ingredients. So I scooped the batter back up, made them into cookie shapes, and baked them again. And ta daaaa! Saved biscotti turned biscuits!

I’ve never even been a big fan of biscotti. They definitely have nice feelings and associations… when else do you have biscotti other than with tea or coffee? And tea and coffee means either a break, time to relax, or good old ramblings and nattering with someone special. Or that first cup of tea in the morning… that’s to die for! Anyway, getting off topic… the photographs on the other blogs made the biscotti look SO divine, so I thought I would give it a go! But one thing that puts me off of biscotti is that they are SUPER crunchy! I like crunchy things, but sometimes they’re too hard… maybe I’ve just had bad biscotti in the past? But either way, the ones I baked weren’t hard at all – they were still quite soft and fairly chewy with a really nice taste! More like soft biscuits/cookies than hard biscotti and remind me of Roman sweets. 🙂

The brownies are definitely my sort of thing though! Especially the banana ones, as I love banana! But then again, the coconut ones were so chocolately and moist, so I liked those, too. I did have a lot of complements the night that I took them to the rave at the box! And even afterwards, on Facebook, someone posted that they only remembered having little brownies/cakes that tasted delicious. I’m glad they went down so well! I’ve even had several people ask me for recipes, and so, here they are! Today, someone from the box even posted photos of this sweet potato pie that they had made, but added pumpkin in, too, and served it with Swedish glacé (dairy free ice cream)… and it looked so good!

It turns out that I have inspired quite a few people to cook more things and eat more paleolithically, and I’m always really pleased to hear such feedback. And not even regarding food and nutrition, but I’ve recently had feedback about how I inspire some people down at the box with their training and various other things. It really touches me every time I hear something like that, and really makes me feel great, as though my work on this planet is helping me to fulfil what I set out to do. If I can inspire people to try new things and push harder in order to try and better themselves in some way, then I am very happy, indeed. 🙂 That’s what I believe we’re all here for, and I believe that’s what optimises the human experience!

Earlier that day we had a “leaving WOD,” beautifully crafted and it was a partner WOD, too, which are always fun. The atmosphere was epic! I was with Emily and we kicked butt! The WOD was as follows:
Cash in: kettlebell handwalk in plank position in pairs (using 3 KBs)
WOD: 30 partner alternating wall balls 9/6
30 partner alternating pull ups
30 partner alternating sit ups
30 partner synchro skips (1 rope)
30 partner alternating press ups (legs of one partner on another)
30 partner alternating plate complex 20/15
-burpee
-cluster to overhead
-2 x alternating OH lunges
Both partners then stand on a 2.5kg plate for 5 seconds to finish WOD!

The photos from Crossfit are not mine, but nabbed from Facebook. 😀

The photos of the hoodie are also another surprise in the post I received last week from a friend I made at PrimalCon a few weeks ago! It was such a thoughtful gift, and the postcards are of Emerald Bay around Lake Tahoe, as we toured there one evening on a beautiful boat. In return, I have posted a load of English tea to the US! He has tea most probably for life! Although if he drinks it at the rate I do, it certainly won’t be for life! I was very touched by this gift, as it was incredibly thoughtful, and will take place in my heart along with a few other special gestures I’ve received in my lifetime. Thank you. 🙂

Oh, what else? Plymouth Raiders won their basketball match on Sunday night again Durham Wildcats! It was a great match to watch and I’m so glad I was with my favourite people!

I could go on about a lot of different things, but I will stop there, and maybe save it for next time. 😉 Here’s Monday’s WOD!

Monday’s WOD at CFP:
(After-party WOD I think!)
“The Grim Reaper and his gurned up mate”
In pairs with a 40 min timeout:
100-70-40
Push press 35/25
SDHP 35/25
KB swing 24/16
Press ups
Sit ups

Banana & Nut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

Ingredients
• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x large bananas, chopped (+ 1 for decorating!)
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ~1 cup dried fruit and nuts (I used a mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, dried goji berries, pecans, dried physalis, large raisins, golden raisins and a handful of macadamias!)
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Use the one banana reserved for decoration by chopping it into 25 slices and arranging them on top of the batter. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

Coconut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

Ingredients
• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ½-1 cup of toasted, flaked coconut
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)
• White chocolate and double cream to decorate

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

I melted white chocolate (not paleo, I know!) with double cream, spread it across and sprinkled flaked coconut all on top for decoration.

Chocolate & Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from: Paleo Spirit

Ingredients
• 1 cup almond flour
• ¼ cup coconut flour
• ¼ good quality cocoa powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup pistachios, halved/crushed
• 100 g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. The dough should keep its shape when pressed together, otherwise you may have added too much syrup!

Form the dough into one 1″ thick log on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Cut into ½” thick slices, place on their side, and put back into a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool before decorating and serving. I covered the biscotti in the white chocolate/double cream glaze I made for the coconut brownies, but it didn’t look as nice as I hoped it would! I think pure, intense white chocolate would have been better, but we live and learn! 🙂

Honey, Lemon & Almond Cookies
Adapted from: Steak, and Sass

Ingredients
• 1 cup almond flour
• ½ cup coconut flour
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• zest of 1 lemon
• 8 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup slivered almonds

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. Spread onto a baking tray (with large sides!) lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Scoop the dough up, shape little balls of equal size, and press onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Let cool entirely before serving.

All baked in my lovely kitchen: 24.10.2013