Friday, 26 July 2013

Try to keep up

Alright y'all, fair warning: this post is going to be choc-full of all sorts of mish-mash bits and pieces.  Just letting you know so if/when confusion sets in and you get a little lost, you'll know why ;)  I'll try to keep it as orderly as possible with the use of subject headings (perhaps I've been spending too much time writing assignments...)  Let's get on with it then.

First on the list because, y'know, food.  Food is awesome.  Especially breakfast food.  So the roll call for this week's 'oatmeal trials' (which is what I've started calling it) is:

Double chocolate, orange and cranberry baked oatmeal.  Recipe below - yep, I made this one up!  It was pretty good too!

Orange, maple and pecan  I added ground flaxseed (linseed)

Dark chocolate and orange - meh.  Perhaps it would've been better lightly sweetened.  I think a lot of American cocoa powders have sweetener in them already, whereas ours don't.

French toast  Not bad, would happily eat it again.  And yes, I have a tendency to drown things in maple syrup.  I looooooove maple syrup!

Sticky date porridge with 'caramel sauce'.  Recipe below - I made this one up too!  And guess what?  More maple syrup!

Berry kiwi - the colour is due to using frozen blueberries, and I added some cashew nuts.  I felt like something a little chewier, so I used wholegrain oats instead of regular rolled oats.

Blueberry muffin baked oatmeal - I was nice and shared with Deane.  Served with a giant blob of yoghurt, and again made with wholegrain oats.

Green monster oatmeal - I was... unimpressed.  It tasted fine, but I wouldn't rave about it.  Served with dark and white chocolate chips.  Would've been boring without them!

Coconut cream pie oatmeal - my favourite of the week I think.  Although my tummy is a little angry about it...

As you may have guessed, I'm still really enjoying trying out new porridge flavours.  I'm keeping a list in my head of all the ones I really liked (such as the carrot cake porridge, coconut cream pie oatmeal (with an asterisk next to it to denote possible digestive issues), cinnamon banana latte porridge etc).  With over a hundred different recipes already on the list to try, I didn't think I'd be coming up with my own recipes any time soon.  But that I did, while in Napier and in need of using up some dried cranberries, along with the urge to try orange in a porridge.  Thus was born the:

Double chocolate, orange and cranberry baked oatmeal
1/2 c water or milk.  You could also use orange juice if you want a stronger orange flavour.  I used milk.
1/2 c rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 orange, segmented
handful of dried cranberries
handful of chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and lightly grease or spray an individual serve ramekin.  In a bowl, mix together the liquid, oats, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.  Fold in the orange segments, 3/4 of the cranberries and 3/4 of the chocolate chips, then pour into the prepared ramekin.  Bake for 25 minutes, then serve topped with the remaining cranberries and chocolate chips.

I rather enjoyed the bursts of flavour when there was a chunk of orange on the spoon.  You never knew when you'd get one.  Unlike the stove top orange oatmeal recipes where the little pulpy bits break up and disperse throughout the porridge, these orange chunks don't get a chance to fall apart and have more of an impact.  Yum!

Then the other day I was contemplating what to have for lunch, while lamenting the fact that I don't get to make date scones or sticky date pudding because the kids would never eat it.  Hunger and cravings overtook my brain, and everything all kind of melded into the:

Sticky date porridge with 'caramel sauce'
1/2 c rolled oats
1 c milk (I think I used unsweetened almond milk, although it could've been 'lite' cow's milk...)
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 c dates, roughly chopped (I cut mine into quarters)
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp plain, unsweetened yoghurt
1 tsp maple syrup
Combine and use for topping

Bring the milk to a boil with the chopped dates (you'll want them to soften up so add them right at the beginning).  Add the oats, then turn the heat down to medium-low.  Once most of the liquid is absorbed, add the maple syrup, vanilla and salt.  Once it is cooked to your preferred glugginess, serve topped with the 'sauce'.

So delicious!  And I no longer have the urge to bake an entire sticky date pudding with toffee sauce.  Win!  And yes, I ate porridge for lunch.  Nothing wrong with that ;)

Other experiments
While we're on the subject of trying out new recipes, I created another, non-oatmeal recipe last weekend in honour of the new Whittakers' L&P White Chocolate release.  Jill, I'll be sending you some very soon ;)  I had a laugh when my sister and I were trying this chocolate for the first time.  We were happily munching away, and I commented "it's a bit different, aye".  Then I later noticed that it says exactly that on the packaging!  Haha, proof that I must indeed be a true-blue kiwi :)

I recall flicking through my twitter feed and glancing at a comment from somebody regarding the length of time it would take for people to start creating recipes for this new chocolate, which got my brain ticking once again.  I was originally fixated on scones.  You know the lemonade scones that everyone makes - that's the recipe I use when I'm making scones for a weekend lunch.  So quick and easy, and completely fail safe.  And you can use different types of carbonated soft drink depending on what flavour you're going for, such as ginger ale.  I thought some of these scones made with L&P and chunks of the chocolate would be quite nice, since I'd made some chocolate toffee scones recently that turned out pretty good.  I suggested this to my friend while at knitting that Sunday, and she commented that some muffins would probably work quite well also.  (Just quietly, she also gave me a good bagel tip - slice the bagels in half before putting them in the freezer, so you can just grab one out and pop it straight in the toaster when you need it, rather than having to defrost it first and then slice it.  Awesome!  I've already utilised this brilliant 'why-didn't-I-think-of-that' pro tip ;)  Cheers Zoe!  Of course, now I feel the need to experiment with making my own bagels and filling the freezer with them...  More on that soon).  I agreed, and decided to try it out when I got home:

Lemony L&P White Chocolate Muffins
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g Whittaker's L&P White Chocolate, chopped into chunks (can't really avoid product naming here!)
zest of one lemon
2 eggs
3 tbsp melted butter
1 c L&P, aka Lemon & Paeroa (or here!!)  For my non-NZ friends, this could be substituted with lemonade, or the drink we call lemonade and you call by brand-name (ie: Sprite or 7Up).  I'm looking at you, America.

Optional glaze
Using the juice of the lemon you just grated the zest off so as not to waste it (I usually end up throwing out the lemon because it sits there all naked and dries up, then becomes useless), mix in 2 tbsp sugar and warm in the microwave for about a minute after you've taken the muffins out of the oven, and brush over the tops for extra lemony-sweet flavour.

Preheat oven to 190ºC and prepare a 12 hole muffin pan.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and chocolate chunks.  In another bowl lightly beat the eggs, then add the lemon rind, butter and L&P or lemonade.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined, then spoon into muffin pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

You'll notice that there is no sweetener added to these muffins - I decided to omit the sugar because of the chocolate and fizzy drink.  Feel free to add a couple (or three) tablespoons of sugar if you prefer a sweeter muffin.  These are best served warm soon after they're made, or re-warmed for about 20 seconds in the microwave.  Much like the lemonade scones, I would recommend eating them within two days.

More food stuff.  Yes there's more.  Food is important, y'all!
While in Napier I got to use my mother's waffle maker.  We were on holiday, the kids love waffles, and I'd specifically bought some buttermilk at the supermarket so I could make some.  I'd imagine her waffle maker doesn't get used terribly often since my dad has a bad habit of not eating breakfast, and mum usually sticks to cereal or toast.  While using this waffle maker, I decided it was better than mine.  Don't get me wrong, I love my waffle maker - I've said before that it was the best use of Fly Buys points ever, and we use it ALL THE TIME.  However, mum's waffle maker does two waffles at a time, and it has the deep holes that Deane likes to fill up with ridiculous amounts of syrup (hmmm, must make that coconut syrup again soon...)  I asked mum if she'd mind swapping waffle makers with me, but she did one better and kindly bought me one instead.  Woohoo!  It's already been used a couple of times in the past week, and I'm planning on making a double batch of waffles to put in the freezer (along with the bagels.  I'm getting there).  I sent my other one to my sister.  Not sure she'll ever use it...  By the way mum, I found a couple of 'single serve' waffle recipes you might like to try (here and here - we tried this one and it was yum!  Although a pinch of salt would be more than enough, just quietly) - can't imagine it'd be too hard to substitute ingredients for what you have in the pantry.  Or you could try one of these...

Breakfast has become such an important part of my day, I've ended up adding it to my kitchen menu board:

And yes, Monday also has dessert listed.  I had to use up the rhubarb :)

I've been thinking about spending a day in the kitchen making breakfast freezer-fillers in preparation for next week's new schedule, with the start of the new trimester.  Statistical Analysis is kicking my butt, so I'm going to spend a little more time with it.  Luckily Accessing Information is comparatively quite easy.  (Ooh, by the way, finally got my grades for the last two papers - B+ for Library Systems and Processes, and A for The Information Industry.  I was 1% away from an A+!  Boo).  I'll be starting my days fairly early (5.30am?  We'll see how long that lasts...) in order to get my exercise done first, then I can get on with study without distractions, and still have time to do everything else (namely, knit and read, and watch stuff with Deane.  Oh, and housework I suppose...).  Things on the list are:

  • Whole grain bagels
  • Breakfast burritos made with flatbread, scrambled eggs, bacon, salsa, grated cheese and maybe some black beans.  I'm going to try this recipe using wholemeal flour, or a mixture of white and wholemeal.  I've had good results with just white flour, but I'm trying to move away from eating too much of that.
  • Waffles (for the kids, of course ;P)
  • Wholemeal bread, pre-sliced (I have the Alison Holst cook book with this recipe.  I'm thinking that typing out and sharing this recipe on a blog is a copyright breach, but since it's there I'll link it)
  • I guess I'd better make some white bread (or white with some oat or whole wheat flour) for the kids, in case they decide they want toast one morning.  Or for T to have toast soldiers with his eggs.
All these can be quickly reheated in the microwave or toaster, which is an added bonus for when Deane is in a hurry and has to dash out the door, usually because he gets up far too late and doesn't have time to get ready.  The man's time management skills are severely lacking.  Although most mornings I make him breakfast anyway.  Plus they'll be really handy for when I've been on a long run and am so starving when I get home I don't want to spend time cooking and just want to eat.

I think that'll do for food for now (although I did finally make this bread and butter pudding after contemplating it for years (seriously) and it was just as good as I thought it would be.  Yay.  Thanks to my mother-in-law Alison for buying the Rosedale apricot fruit loaf while in Napier and prompting me to buy my own to make it!).  Moving on...

Crafty things
Sadly, I didn't get any more spinning done after plying and skeining the first lot of cormo.  Well, I did a little spinning, but not a significant enough amount to do anything with.  The Tour de Fleece finished last Sunday, and I did not achieve my goal.  I'm okay with that.  I was busy knitting stuff for mum's birthday:

Wurm hat, knit with two leftover balls of Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport yarn from Deane's Doctor Who scarf in the colours Charcoal and Red Fox.

Mum had asked for a hat for her birthday, since I had already knit her some fingerless mitts and a shawl.  However, this hat would clash horribly with said mitts and shawl, so I decided some new mitts and neckwear were in order.  Hence, she also got:

A mock brioche cowl, knit with Indiecita DK 100% baby alpaca yarn.

And a pair of Susie Roger's reading mitts, also knit with the Indiecita DK 100% baby alpaca yarn.  Because it is soft and warm and just full of awesome.

With all that grey knitting, I figured it was time for a happy, colourful knit.  So I cast on some Kai-mei socks (yay Cookie A!) in my Needle Food 'There's Flowers in My Salad'.  I've finished the first one, but it's really hard to photograph.  Here's a picture of the foot patterning:

Pretty!  Although sadly, the colours look rather garish in the photo :(  It's actually a really nice colourway, and I think you all know how much I love my Needle Food yarn (sadly, no longer available.  I have one skein left after this one.  I'm saving it up for a special occasion).  Once they're finished, I'll try to get some decent pics to share with you.

I managed a weak little 2.5km run on Sunday, a few laps around Victoria Park on the grass.  I was being overly conservative due to the shin splints still hanging around.  The 'one week miracle cure' didn't work (no surprises there), so I'm continuing this week with more stretches and exercises, icing once a day and resting.  However, this weekend (tomorrow in fact) I'm going to go for a 5km trail run near the Hunua Ranges.  I found a group that does 5km park runs through either Cornwall Park or Barry Curtis Park every Saturday at 8am.  I'm really looking forward to it!  I'll try the Barry Curtis Park run first, but if it becomes a regular thing for me, I'll most likely do the Cornwall Park run more often just because it's closer to home.  But I was really in need of some running buddies, and somewhere to run off-road since running on concrete was likely one of the main reasons I got shin splints.  I've printed off my barcode and I'm rearing to go.  I have the next Unitec race next Sunday which is 10km, and the thought that my fitness level has decreased with these few weeks rest is making me a little anxious.  I've been lazy and haven't done any cross-training.  One of the reasons why I decided to resurrect the (slightly modified) daily schedule:

I've put aside the half marathon and marathon training plans for now, and for the next little while I'll just run what/when I can.  Those half marathons are looming, and as much as I'm looking forward to running them, these injuries are digging their toes in and don't want to budge just yet.  I'm trying to be patient and work around that.  Not sure how well I'm succeeding...

This post has become ridiculously long so it is definitely time to sign off.  I have some probability and statistics to study, and a bunch of laundry to get stuck in to.  Not to mention, two boys who need their hair cut!  Have a great weekend!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thats some great oatmeal experimenting! my favourite at the moment is actually bircher! yum.

    I have a pair of reading mitts that look almost identical to yours!