Day 2- High Wycombe to Frome

Today’s ride was hot and hilly. Getting on the saddle this morning was the most painful, even with padded shorts and specially shaped bike seats, our bottoms were sore!

After easing into the saddle, we ascended on the first hill climb of the day. It was long, hot, steep and full of cars, but it was good practice for the hills to come.

As this is primarily a blog about food, I thought I should tell you about what we eat to keep our energy levels up! Gel bars. Can I get an “mmmmm.”

No. Because they’re pretty gross. You wouldn’t want to eat them for pleasure, unless you like tubes of sweet flavoured goo. Orange is my least favourite as it tastes a little like curry flavoured goo. On the other hand they are perfect for cycling!

On the flip side, our amazing support, 1 man team, Gill, has also made some amazing Gill bars, an upgrade from Gel. They are oaty, seedy, buttery and fruity. Probably the best flapjack I have ever eaten, especially after 30 miles hard cycling. Gill has been our absolute saviour on this trip! She has made us lunch, met us with water, medicine, rescued us when our legs were too tired to peddle any more, the list goes on! The team wouldn’t be able to ride with life her, so a big thanks!

We have just got back from a rather late but huge country pub lunch, not a chip was left lonely! Next stop, bed.

Tried to post pics but I don’t have enough Internet!

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Day 1- Chelmsford to High Wycombe

The first day is complete! 60 miles for me, Ellie and Susie Q, and 80 miles for Konrad, Matt and Papa smole. I am amazed by everyone’s efforts, especially the boys for doing the last leg after intense heat and rough terrain!

The route today was a fairly easy cycle out of Chelmsford, it involved a quick-tips session with papa about how to cycle efficiently which helped a lot. It then got tougher as we reached the busy outskirts of London, several detours were made and things were very stopy-starty. (That’s an official term) This made it hard to keep momentum going!

Next challenge was the off-road terrains we were faced with on the cycle paths. Sand, rocks, gravel and crater-filled concrete put a spanner in the works when it came to riding fast. Nevertheless, we all powered through and finally got off the beaten track.

Highs of the day include several sing-songs, a rabbit running across the road, arriving at the premier inn.

Low points of the day include needing a wee and not being able go in the woods, a dead rabbit, sore bums, Konrad’s nipple rash, my constantly twitching thumb from the ride making it hard to type!

Tomorrow we cycle 90 miles to Frome. But first things first, sleeeeeeep.

More pictures to follow tomorrow when I have the energy! In the mean time, this is what colour konrad’s bath went.

P.S apologies for any spelling/grammar errors, my brain is not in gear. No pun intended!

Dirty bath water

 

Dirty bath water

 

Bike Bars

So tomorrow we cycle to cornwall EEK. After weeks of waiting, hard work (for some…) and excitement the time has finally come! Chelmsford to Cornwall in 5 days. Some call us crazy, others say we have been brain washed by cycling aliens, I agree with them all. But we are certainly ready for an adventure!

So prepare for a week of lycra filled pictures, dodgy bikers tans and possibly a few grazes. Prepare for stories of singing cyclists, crying cyclists, lost cyclists and sleepy cyclists. Prepare like I have prepared for this ride… (I have not.) But I did prepare in the food department! Yes fatty over here may not care about the size of her muscles, but she does care about the happiness of her tummy; behold bike bars.

They are dead easy to make, lowfat, high energy, and perfect to enjoy after walking the dog in the park, or with a cup of tea when the weather gets more British.  I hope I have room for a few in my rucksack.

Flapjack

You will need:

  • 397g tin of condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 300g of your favourite muesli- if you are on a budget Lidl’s own is great
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 150g mixed dried fruit

. Set the oven to 150C and line a tin with baking parchment, the smaller it is the thicker the bars

. Heat the condensed milk and golden syrup in a heavy based saucepan for around 7 minutes. Then add the muesli, seeds, and dried fruit

. Stir the mix together so it forms a thick paste and the condensed milk has coated all the ingredients

. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tray and place on the middle shelf of your oven for around 30 mins until slightly chewey but golden on top. The longer you bake them, the crunchier they become.

Wish us luck and check back here tomorrow to see how our first day went!

Flapjack

Make your own Mojito

Mojito’s are my all time favourite cocktails. I keep trying different ones but none of them compare to a classic or even-not-so classic mojito. I work in a cocktail bar, so I’m cheating a bit with this recipe as I make it over and over again for customers.

If you want to know a bit of history, the mojito made it big during the prohibition period in America. This is when all alcohol was banned for consumption. To get round this, Americans would escape to cuba to indulge in both sun and rum!

I suggest using a cuban rum like Havana Club or Bacardi to stay authentic! To tell if a rum is originally from Cuba, look for the ‘Sello de Garantía’, the seal of authenticity which is fixed to each and every bottle that is exported, by the Cuban government.

Mojito’s are cold, refreshing and light; making them perfect for drinking on a hot summers day or evening.

Mojito's

To make your own cuban style mojito you will need:

  • Caster sugar
  • Limes
  • Lime juice
  • Rum- white or gold depending on preference
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • Crushed ice
  • Soda water OR lemonade, ginger beer or apple juice.

If you are lucky enough to have a proper cocktail kit with bar spoon etc, I’m guessing you know a thing or two about making them, therefore I will write this suggesting equipment everyone has at home so that everyone can make one!

  • tea spoon
  • long sundae spoon or regular fork
  • high ball glass

1) Pour 4-5 tea spoons of caster sugar into your glass, I like mine extra sweet so I usually use 5. Then squeeze in half a lime, and 1 tea spoon of shop bought lime juice. Then add 50 mls of rum and stir it all together with the fork or sundae spoon to start dissolving the sugar.

2) Fill your glass up half way with crushed ice. Take about 12 mint leaves, and one chopped up mint stem in the palm of your hand; clap it, wipe it around the top of the glass and then throw it on top of the ice. We phrase this slightly more crudely at work… Then use your spoon or fork in a churning motion to mix in the mint with the ice and bruise it to release the flavour.

3) Pull up a few of the mint leaves with the spoon so they are spread through your drink, then fill the glass completely with crushed ice, before topping with soda water.

4) Serve with a sprig of mint by the straws and a wedge of lime.

If you have a really sweet tooth, you can top it with lemonade or apple juice. I also love mojito’s with ginger beer, especially if you are using a spice or gold rum.

Quick and Cheap Student Pizzas

This easy recipe leaves your wallet full and your tummy fuller.

Being back at my university house for just a week has left me with minimal ingredients and to be honest, minimal enthusiasm about cooking! Que, this student pizza, it’s cheaper than dominoes (although this doesn’t come with the garlic sauce which is so worth it!)

Quick student pizza

You will need:

For the base

  • Your favourite wraps

For the toppings

  • Cream cheese
  • Pasata
  • chopped onions/ spring onions
  • Mozzarella
  • Cheddar
  • Your favourite toppings

This is the laziest recipe ever, but I guess it’s short and simple

1) Set the oven to 180 C grill

2) Spread the cream cheese on the wrap, followed by the pasata and chopped onion

3) Add the mozzarella and grated cheddar cheese

4) Top with your favourite toppings- I used mushrooms, pesto and rocket!

5) Grill for 5-10 mins, keep an eye on them! One is great for lunch, or have 2 for dinner. You could even sandwich together the wraps with cheese to make a stuffed base

I ate mine with a pot of garlic mayo… not quite the same as dominoes sauce but it did the job. If you have any other quick, cheap recipes feel free to share.

Quick student pizza

THE Bike Ride

In nearly 3 weeks today, the long awaited bike ride to Cornwall begins. I will be riding from Chelmsford to Land’s end over 5 days (and a over lot of hills), with my family and friends.

Today I took my noble steed for a spin for the first time, and clipped into the peddles.

Yes. I did fall off. I forgot to unclip, however I won’t be doing that again!

Over next few weeks I will be trying out different foods for fuel on here, and asking for all the help I can get! Cycling tips, good fuel recipes, must-have products, and crossed limbs of luck- send it all my way!

My Steed - Thank you Papa Smole
My Steed – Thank you Papa Smole

(Note the potting table behind him and remember it for a DIY blog post to follow on making your gifts extra special)

Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

Fresh pesto is my new obsession. I can’t describe how much better it is than that stuff out a jar! It’s cheesier, garlicky-er, basily-er, errrrmazing.

You can buy it from most supermarkets in the bit where they sell fresh pasta and italian stuff. Me and my italian-food obsessed friend want to make pasta soon, and I can’t wait to pair mine with some of this pesto.

Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

We used Cod, but you can use any white fish. Make sure it’s from a sustainable source, and preferably has one of these symbols on it because fish are friends and the ocean is cool.

Fish guide

You will need:

  • 1 pot fresh pesto
  • 1 lemon
  • white fish fillets- one per person
  • green beans
  • Organic tomatos on the vine
  • British asparagus spears
  • New potatoes- boiled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

1) Set your oven at 180C. Prepare your green beans and asparagus. To get rid of the tough ends on the vegetable, bend the spear from the base and it should snap at the point where it is less woody. Then blanche the greens for 6 minutes until supple. Pop these to one side while you prepare your fish.

2) lay the fish fillets onto a large deep baking pan with a good glug of olive oil. Throw in the beans, asparagus and vine tomatos to the pan, then place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. If you want you can add your new potatoes to the pan and squash them slightly with a fork to oven roast them.

3) After 10 minutes, remove the pan and spoon 1.5 tbsp of fresh pesto onto each fish fillet before returning to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

4) When the fish is baked, serve and enjoy al fresco or at a dinner party.

Pesto is also pretty easy to make, so you could try it with your own! Let me know if you have any great pesto recipes.

Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

How to: Drinking Jenga

As much as I love food, I also enjoy a drink. Being a student and working at a Rum/ Vodka bar makes the ocasional it hard to avoid.

A few weeks ago I went home because it was my second mum’s birthday! She’s known me since I was born, and along with her daughter (my best friend) we have enjoyed many a holiday in Cornwall together. She has cooked for me, bought me bandages when me and Polly went rollerblading and it all went wrong, let me sleep round her house countless times, and can occasionally relate to my problem of being a bit dozy. I once watched her get chased by a wasp on Polzeath beach, it still makes me laugh.

Anyway, in celebration of her big day, I made her a game. Drinking Jenga.

Jenga

All you need is:

  1. Wooden Jenga set
  2. Permanent marker pen
  3. Paper

The idea is that each block you remove from the Jenga set comes with a drinking instruction or a forfeit  What’s great is that you can make it personal to the person you are giving it to.

Instructions:

1) Come up with a list of rules and number them 1-15. Because it was Julies birthday mine looked like this:

Julies drinking rules

2) Lay out all the bricks from the Jenga, and with your permanent marker label them on the underside of the brick with a number. Make sure there are the same amount of every number until you only have a few bricks left, then chose your favourite rules.

3) Rebuild the tower and you are ready to go. Each time someone gets a number, it correlates to the rules. Simple!

You can come up with any rules you like, the more imaginative the better.

Snickerdoodles

Nope, I didn’t know what these were either, I just made them for the name. But they did not let me down!

Imagine a biscuit, which is a bit like a cake but tastes like a cinnamon sugar donut. That is a Snickerdoodle.

They are a lot more known in America it seems, but I think Britain should bite the biscuit and get involved too, these things are incredibly moreish. I have eaten 5 already today.

Snickerdoodles

Sorry to Snickers fans, they are not included in the recipe, but I reckon you should buy a Snickers anyway, and melt it over one of these doodles with some ice-cream- Snickersnickerdoodles.

This is Nigella Lawson’s recipe with a tweak!

You will need:

  • 80g wholemeal plain flour
  • 170g plain flour (alternatively use 250g of plain and no wholemeal flour)
  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

1) Cream together the sugar and butter until it is fluffy.

2) add the egg and vanilla essence and continue to whisk it until smooth and creamy.

3) In a separate bowl combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt, then add it to the butter mix and stir with a metal spoon until it is all mixed into a dough.

4) On a plate, spoon out the sugar and cinnamon. Roll walnut size pieces of dough into balls in your palms, then roll them in the sugar and cinnamon. If you are unsure of the size of a walnut (I was…) then imagine a large Brussels sprout, or a golf ball.

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

5) place your Doodles onto baking parchment, you can get up to 32 of them out of the dough! Or you could try making giant ones.

Snickerdoodles

6) Bake at 180 degrees for 15 mins, then remove to cool.

Eat them warm with tea, or dipped in jam. They’re just as great cold. Let me know what you think of them!

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

 

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Lemon Meringue Pie

A zingy lemon filling with a golden crisp top meringue and absolutely no soggy bottoms. Mary Berry would be proud.

Happy April!

I hope you are all owners of slightly rounder stomachs in the wake of Easter, if not please come and help yourself to my chocolate before I resemble Augustus Gloop.

The sun is shining today, so maybe spring has finally arrived (touch wood, white rabbits). Either way, I am going to provide you with a springy zingy recipe to celebrate, and bombard you with cheesy puns and sayings along the way.

This is the first Lemon Meringue Pie I have ever made, so it’s proof that anyone can make it with success. The proof is in the pudding!

Lemon Meringue Pie

I was helped by life long best friend Polly Wicks (can’t get rid of her), who was especially good removing egg shells and taking pictures. There were a few ups and downs along the way; at one point it nearly fell on the floor, which I’m sure Mr Pigley would have been very happy about. But we made it out the other side mostly unscathed.

Confession: I didn’t make the pastry due to time constraints, laziness, and a short attention span. Next time I will I promise!

Also, before we start I would like words with whoever invented the spelling for Meringue. Seriously give me a break, my spell check has never had to work harder.

Lemon Meringue Pie

You will need:

  • Sweet short crust pastry- bought or made. Don’t feel guilty if you cheat, Delia does it!

For the filling:

  • 2 level tbsp cornflour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
  • 125ml fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
  • juice 1 small orange
  • 85g butter , cut into chunks
  • 3 egg yolks and plus 1 whole egg

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites at room temperature, avoid all yolks!
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 2 level tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

1) First you need to bake your pastry so that it retains it’s shape and there is no soggy business. Roll it out and lay it into your 23 x 2.5cm pastry tin with push out base. Leave the excess over the edges as the pastry shrinks in the oven, you can cut it off afterwards. I didn’t do this… I call it literal shortcrust pastry.

Bake it at 180 degrees for 15 mins with greaseproof paper and rice on it to weigh it down and stop the pastry rising.

2) Remove the greaseproof and bake for another 4 mins.

Lemon Meringue Pie
“Short crust” pastry

3) Leave this to one side and begin to make your filling. For this you need to stir your sugar, cornflour and lemon juice together on a medium heat in a pan. Do this until it is slightly sticky, then add your zest and orange juice, plus however much water you need to make the orange juice up to 200 ml.

4) Stir until thick, bubbling and smooth. Then remove from the heat and stir in the butter chunks until melted.

5) Beat in the egg yolks and whole egg- save the egg whites for the meringue. The trick with separating egg yolks is to crack the egg in half, keeping the yolk as a whole in one half of the shell and the white dribbles out. I’m always scared when I do this! But try this tutorial.

6) The mix will be thick, yellow, custard looking and jelly like. Remove it from the heat and now make the meringue.

Lemon Meringue Pie

7) Beat the 4 egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Make sure there is no yolk or shell in the whites- polly was in charge of this!

She likes pugs
She likes pugs

8) Add the sugar gradually with the corn flour. It will still form thick peaks and have a glistening sheen to the mix. If it is ready you can hold your bowl upside down and the mix won’t fall out!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

I was actually very scared...!

I was actually very scared…!

9) Reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case, then spoon on the meringue starting from around the edges or it will sink in the middle.

Lemon Meringue Pie

10) Bake in the oven for 18-20 mins at 180 degrees until the meringue is slightly golden and crisp on top. Let it cool in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave it to cool for another 1hr.

Lemon Meringue Piem

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie