Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Park Run number two.

Last week I wrote about my family tempting me to take part in the Park Run in Bodmin at Lanhydrock house. This week with the family gone and frost on the ground outside I dragged myself out of bed into the freezing conditions to do another 5km run.

Park run is really good because it's free and hosted through volunteers but the best bit is the support on the website. Online you have a constant score board and stats on your event as well as loads of other events and you can see for yourself if your times and fitness is improving.

The first week after not running for a very long time I achieved a time of 35:48 yet this week I have already set a new PB of 33:38. I would like to keep attending park run each week to get fitter during the winter months until I return back to surfing in the summer which will take priority over running but for now I want to set myself a personal challenge of running the whole course and not walking up the big hill towards the end of the course and getting under 30 minutes to complete the course.

Bodmin Park Run
Image from http://www.parkrun.org.uk/lanhydrock/photos/

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas comes early in the photobrook house

When I was in my early twenties I made the decision to move over 300 miles away from the family home, to sunny Cornwall leaving my family in Essex. So when it comes around to Christmas I find it hard to see my family, getting time off work to make the journey back to Essex, for my family to get the time off to make the journey to Cornwall and then there's fitting in my partners family as well, it all becomes a challenge fitting everyone in.

This year my family from Essex decided to make an early Christmas visit to us and celebrate Christmas early. The first weekend in December my family made the journey down to Cornwall whilst we prepared the Christmas decorations, gifts and food to create Christmas just a few weeks early.
christmas table and decorations

With the table prepared and the family enjoying an afternoon glass of wine it was time for me and the boyfriend to rise to the challenge of creating a full roast Christmas dinner for eight people, 
The key to a good roast dinner is having a well timed schedule. Starting with the meat and working backwards from when we wanted to eat we worked out the the huge joint of pork would need three hours to cook. So at 4pm with the joint laced in huge amounts of sea salt it was into the oven whilst operation peeling veg commenced. With my boyfriend, my sister and my mum on hand we had spuds, carrots, parsnips and swede sitting happily in pans of water ready for their appearance in the schedule. 

With a christmas roast dinner it's all about the trimmings and even though we were having pork we had to have a giant sharing yorkshire pudding and cauliflower cheese thrown in for good measure, not to forget pigs in blankets, onion gravy and homemade apple and cinnamon sauce. Whilst the pork cooked for the first hour the veggies were prepared and the onion gravy and festive apple sauce made. This is the easiest recipe and so much nicer than apple sauce from a jar so I thought I would share the recipe below.

Christmas Apple Sauce Recipe

 2 cooking apples - peeled, cored, and chopped into chunks
 1/2 a cup of granulated sugar
 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
 2 tablespoons water

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water. On a medium heat dissolve sugar, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft and have turned into a thick sauce. It's really that simple and tastes amazing!!

With an hour to go the roast veggies went in, the pork came out to rest and the yorkshire goes in. 
Pork for Christmas
With tummies rumbling and the wine flowing we were all delighted when the sharing yorkshire pudding came out and we could start dishing up after our military operation of preparing the perfect pre Christmas dinner. 
Giant Yorkshire pudding

Family Christmas

The family have now gone back to Essex and the house feels rather quiet but we still have the comfort of lots of left over food and wine from the visit to keep us fed and watered.

Do you have a favourite festive recipe? Do you make something challenging only at Christmas? I'd love to hear about your favourite festive recipes and your perfect additions to any roast dinner in the comments below.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Park Run in Cornwall

When I was at school I was keen on running, I used to train at the melbourne athletics stadium in Chelmsford and compete in 800 and 1500metre races for the county. I also used to heavily compete in cross country running for my school. But once I moved to Cornwall my surfing took over and so did my cycling and I barely used to go out running at all.

When some of my family started doing Park Run in Essex I was intrigued by the event, each week I would see pictures on their facebook pages and times and new PB's and at the back of my mind thought maybe this could be good fun?

When the family came to visit this weekend they wanted to keep up with their Park Runs and not miss a week so decided to attend the organised Park Run in Cornwall as tourist runners. I thought when better to give this a go than with some of my family. I was already thinking that I would be slow and that I wasn't particularly fit and I would certainly struggle against my family who run every week.

Arriving to Lanhydrock and having read the course is down hill to the river then back up hill to the finish I was slightly nervous to say the least when I saw just how steep the valley was. I haven't been running in years so thought I would start off gently at my own pace and just try to enjoy my first run. Within seconds all the runners had disappeared off into the distance and I was left at the back of the group trailing along behind.

At the end of each Park Run you are able to achieve a time for your circuit and was pleasantly surprised that my first ever 5km run with absolutely no prior training I managed to achieve a time of 35 minutes and 48 seconds. Admittedly I was only 4 people off being the last to complete the course and the other runners in front of me were serious runners completing the course in 16 minutes but for my first one I was pleased.

Once my legs stop aching I'll decide if I am brave enough to run the course again without the support of my family by my side and try to improve on my time and get fitter by taking part in the free Park Run events.

For those that haven't heard of Park Run here's some more details. There are over 300 locations across the UK where you can take part in timed 5km runs. Anything from 50 to 500 runners often take place in each race and all races are put on by local volunteers and are completely free to enter. If your not running one week you can volunteer as a race marshall and support the events in other ways. For more information visit http://www.parkrun.org.uk/ 


Padstow Christmas Foodie Festival

For anyone that reads my blog on a regular occasion or for those who have dropped by for the first time will quickly see I have a passion for food. Eating it, baking it, and sharing food with good friends and family. The Padstow Christmas festival is an extremely popular weekend festival celebrating many of the top chefs in the country including some home grown favourites like Rick Stein.

I took the day of work on Friday and headed over to the festival in the morning. Anyone that knows Padstow will know that it is only a small fishing village peppered with a few shops mainly art galleries and clothes shops but it is beautiful but you would struggle to spend more than a few hours in the town. However this weekend it's hard to leave! Arriving at the festival in the morning and close enough to lunch to warrant sampling many different foods, beers, ciders, wines and even speciality gins we spent a good few hours just in the main food hall. Their were many demonstrations going on but it was impossible to get into some of them and even the ones that were ticketed you needed to queue before hand to get your tickets and I did miss out on seeing a few favourite chefs that I had wanted to see.
Fresh fish at the padstow Christmas festival

Padstow Christmas festival

Outside of the food demonstrations and market we had the bustling town to explore but the weather was nothing short of bitter! We walked a way along the camel trail and the icy breeze coming off the water was unbearable. There's only one thing to do in Cornwall in weather like this, wrap up warm, take a brisk stroll and head to the pub and at this time of the year mulled cider and muller wine are flowing well in most of the pubs.

After a sit down a warm up and a drink it was time to head back out into the cold and this time for a spot of music. The Grenaways are a local band from the Polzeath area and were playing in the late afternoon so decided to stop and take a listen and they were amazing. The guys showed what talented and dedicated musicians they are struggling to play instruments with frozen fingers, and ice cold winds but they pulled in a good crowd of people and filled the harbour with their folk/blues sounds.
The Grenaways playing padstow christmas festival

The Grenaways playing padstow christmas festival The Grenaways playing padstow christmas festival
After seeing the bands full set we had become quite numb so back inside for another pint and a warm up, before venturing back outside for the fireworks. By the early evening the harbour town had really started to fill up, there were people selling mistletoe and twinkly lights to the children and families were pouring onto the streets to watch the firework display. After a failed countdown attempt and the ferry to Rock causing a delay the fireworks went of with a bang and were a perfect end to our evening. After spending several hours at the festival and eating and drinking more than my body weight in food it was off home for a well earned cup of tea and time to put my feet up.

Padstow Christmas lights

Fireworks in Cornwall

Padstow fireworks

Having visited Newquay last weekend for the Christmas light switch on and Padstow this weekend for the Christmas festival it would be rude not to make the annual pilgrimage to Mousehole to see their spectacular Christmas lights as well.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Newquay Christmas Beer Festival and Light Swtich on

Last weekend saw the start of Christmas in Cornwall with the Newquay Christmas light switch on with a lantern parade, a visit from santa and his reindeer, a firework display plus a beer and music festival thrown in for good measure.

I arrived into town just as santa was passing through with his sleigh followed behind by two very cute and very small young reindeer. As the children from local schools arrived with their home made lanterns parading through the town with the sounds of a marching band the Christmas spirit was really in the air.

After the procession through the town and with the streets bustling it was time to move down to the harbour to watch the fireworks.
Christmas in Newquay - CornwallChristmas in Newquay - Cornwall

Friday night was finished with the wonderful Wille and the Bandits playing in the marque and made for a great evening in Newquay with the beer festival lasting right through the weekend until the sunday evening.
Fireworks in Newquay

In Cornwall Christmas and lantern parades are extremely popular from the smallest of children from the village schools to the university students from Truro and Falmouth putting on a show stopping event in Truro. The Truro City of lights is a grand affair and the signal of the start of Christmas in Cornwall but it is always worth visiting the smaller towns and harbours in and around Cornwall for more lovely festive lantern parades.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Where's good to go cycling in Cornwall??

Since Christmas last year I was lucky enough to get a new bike and since then have got into my cycling around the Cornish countryside. I'm not a brilliant cyclist and don't have any lycra and often get over taken by keen passionate riders beasting out on the Cornish roads. But it makes me happy, I stop several times to enjoy the scenery and the sounds and see Cornwall from a different pace of life and see things differently then when I go whizzing past in my car. 
I love the beach and the sea and a favourite route is to cycle from my house to the north Cornish coast.
I've cycled to Mawgan Porth, I've cycled to Padstow, and i've cycled to Watergate via Porth and Whipsederry but this week I though I would do some inland cycling instead. Heading from my house I ventured up into Goss Moor which I love as it is quite and off roads but still nice and flat and easy to cycle without the worry of slowing down traffic on the roads.
Goss Moor Cornwall
Goss Moor isn't your typical Cornish scene, there's no ragged cliffs or stunning beaches, it's quite and calm there's the distant sound of the A30 rushing by and the pinging of electricity in the overhead cables but it's quiet and peaceful. I'll often pass the odd dog walker or runner but there's a great sense of being in the middle of nowhere on your own, the place isn't over run with tourists and pay and display car parks it's just natural and there to be enjoyed. 
Goss Moor Cornwall
Goss Moor Cornwall

Goss Moor trail Cornwall
Although it is peaceful and calm and quiet you do bump into the occasional other user on the trails and paths and this weeks cycle was no exception as I was greeted by several of the grazing cows that live on Goss Moor. Now being an ex city girl I haven't got a clue with cows and faced up and close to them I will admit I was a little scared. They are huge and have crazy eyes that just stare back at you and I wasn't sure of their mooooooves. Sorry about the pun!!!

I tried shouting at them to move, and flapped my arms and even tried ringing my bell! that doesn't work by the way. All of the cows moved bar this one that just stood across the path blocking me from getting past, not knowing how to get around the cow I thought I could just go back the way I had come and try a different route but as I looked behind me there were another 4 cows closing in on me. Now I'm sure any farmer reading this will think i'm stupid but I was just really weary and didn't know what to do and have to move the cow on. After several loud moo's in my face from this non moving cow the creature obviously saw something tasty on the other side of the path and did a full turn and head down eating. This was my chance so I peddled as fast as i could to get past the heard. As I past the tail swished and the loudest moo was heard I peddled faster to get away and looked back as the cow was simply eating without a care in the world!!! 

Cows on the Goss Moor trail Cornwall
Feeling slightly traumatised that I was so freaked out by a mooing cow I decided to leave Goss Moor and head up to St Dennis this time via roads and not in a nature reserve. As I headed up hill away from Goss moor the sky was turning darker and darker and the forecasted heavy showers were definitely looming so with a quick stop in St Dennis I turned around and headed back via the roads to home. 
Looking towards St Dennis Cornwall
I clocked up 13 miles on my bike and although this wasn't as many miles as previous weeks I was pleased with my trip out and can't wait for the next mini adventure with just me and my bike and the open road.
Where's good to go cycling in Cornwall

Although this isn't the exact route this was the rough route that I completed, It's just impossible to highlight cycle paths on Google Maps accurately, It wasn't the furthest i've cycled but i didn't want to venture to far with the weather turning worse. Gladly my decision to the venture to far was the right choice as not long after I returned home the heavens opened and it poured down! 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

What to make with leftover pumpkin

As Halloween has been over two weeks ago and we still have a mountain of the vegetable left over i've been trying my hand at making different pumpkin recipes. I've previously shared my baking adventure using leftover grated pumpkin to make Indian Dahl burgers as well as making a large quantity of pumpkin cream soup but for this bake I wanted to make something sweet so attempted a winter spiced loaf. 
Baking with Pumpkin
With a combination of grated pumpkin, honey and melted butter this was added to dry ingredients of flour sugar and spices including cinnamon and ginger. Mixed together and added to a loaf tin this was then cooked low and slow to produce my winter loaf. 
Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin Loaf

Although my loaf looked nice this wasn't as much of a success as i had hoped and the bread felt quite wet and underbaked. I think If i try the recipe again I will squeeze a lot of the water out of the pumpkin as the loaf was quite heavy, My baking is definitely a learning curve with some recipe's that work and some than don't. It took me about 5 different recipes before I found one for banana loaf that worked and all previous attempts turned out raw, or heavy or just pure inedible. Now that I have perfected my banana loaf it is time to perfect my pumpkin loaf. Although I might just have to wait until next years Halloween before I have spare pumpkin to give this recipe another go. 

Digital Peninsula Training in Penzance

I was lucky enough to get funding to take part on a digital E-mail marketing course down in Penzance on Monday and Tuesday this week.

The first day the weather was horrific and I parked as close to the course center as physically possible and dashed in and dashed back out. I was trying to avoid the rain and trying to stay as dry as possible but this was impossible and got soaked through on the 5 minute walk back to my car.

As Tuesday arrived I had checked the weather forecast, left home early and parked a little way out of Penzance from where the course is held. This gave me the chance to enjoy a nice walk along the promenade before the course started.

I normally work on an industrial estate and park right outside the main doors and walk straight into work so this morning having a nice walk along the sea front felt like a nice change and even a little bit like a weekend treat enjoying parts of Cornwall that I don't normally explore.

Penzance Promenade
Penzance Promenade
Penzance Jubilee Pool
Penzance Marina
If your lucky enough to have a walk to work as beautiful as this I'm very jealous, as tomorrow I will be back to the industrial estate at the back of Redruth!!!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Homemade rhubarb and custard pie

A few weeks ago I made a Banana and cream pie and this week wanted to change the recipe slightly to make a rhubarb and custard pie. Rhubarb is one of my all time favourite things and anything cooked or baked with Rhubarb is a winner to me. 

I used the same recipe and method as I did with the banana version but this time used wilted down rhubarb. With the rhubarb a little water and some dark brown sugar I reduced the rhubarb down over a low heat whilst I made the pastry base. 
Cooking rhubarb in a saucpan
With the pastry made I decided to lay in a little thicker in the dish than I had used on the previous bake as well as cook for 5 minutes less to give a softer pastry case.
Homemade pastry with honeyBaking beans to bake perfect pastry

Cooked rhubarb
With the rhubarb cooked down nicely I put through a sieve to remove as much liquid as possible as didn't want the base of my pastry case to go soggy.
Straining rhubarb
The rhubarb is then added to the pastry case and left to cool whilst the home made custard is created. You leave the custard to cool and then add to the pie, In the last pie I made with the banana I added another layer of cream to the pie and then coated in sprinkles however this time I wanted the flavours of the rhubard and custard to be the main affair. 
The only addition to the top of this rhubarb and custard pie was rhubarb and custard sprinkles. With a bag of hard boiled rhubarb and custard sweets smashed into crumbs these were scattered over the top of the custard to give a swirly pattern to finish of my pie. 
Rhubarb pie

Rhubarb and custard pie
 The banana and cream pie was amazing but as the pastry was thicker and a little softer and the pie used my favourite ingredient rhubarb this was definitely my preferred version of this pie. 
As I love experimenting and love baking I'm thinking of adapting this recipe once again and trying a version with raspberry and white chocolate. When ever I change a recipe it doesn't always work and often not even edible but now I have perfected the pastry and the custard I'm hoping to keep expanding on baking delicious pies for desert. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Homemade Pumpkin and Dahl Burgers

I love baking and I love being a bit creative and with one giant Pumpkin sitting in the kitchen from Halloween and a Giant saucepan full of Pumpkin soup I was struggling to find other ways to use the remaining vegetable.
Pumpkin Burgers

Looking in the cupboards for inspiration I found a rogue tin of Indian Dahl left over from a camping trip earlier in the summer and thought about making the tin of dahl mixed in with the pumpkin into burgers. With a bowl full of grated pumpkin I squeezed a lot of the water out of the vegetable through a tea towel and blended up the tin of dahl. I mixed the dahl paste with the grated pumpkin and mixed in a heap of breadcrumbs and made the shape of burgers out of the mixture and then coated in more breadcrumbs.

I cooked the burgers and was surprised when they came out of the oven still holding their shape and not just a soggy mess of pumpkin and dahl paste in the oven.
Indian Pumpkin Burgers

Added to a soft bun with some sweet spinach and a layer of mango chutney made a surprisingly tasty Inspired burger. When I have ideas of what to cook and how to cook they don't always work and I know I should try to use recipes more often as some of the ideas and inventions I have don't work but for once this idea was a good one and will definitely make them again when I have a surplus of Pumpkin to get through!

Indian Dahl Pumpkin BurgersIndian Dahl Pumpkin Burgers