Monday, 16 May 2011


Two weeks ago we walked for 13 miles on a sunny Sunday. We tok a bus to Balerno on the southern edge of Edinburgh and headed for a pathway that runs all the way to Leith.

Yesterday we walked for 16 miles on a soggy Sunday morning. It was breezy and a little damp but we kept going. Down the road, across a park, through Stockbridge, along a river, into the city, past the castle and over to the palace, around a windswept extinct volcano, through a park, back past the castle, and down down down and along to the flat. Then we made lunch, collapsed and watched seven episodes of Mad Men.

In two weeks we'll be walking for twenty miles.

Then, two weeks after that, on the 11th June, I'll be having a very quiet Saturday. I'll be eating porridge for breakfast and probably pasta for lunch. I'll be resting. I'll be slathering vaseline on my feet and pulling on my leggings, socks and trainers. And on top? Well on top I'll be wearing a bra. I'll have a fleece in case it gets cold but mostly it will just be the bra. The bra I have yet to decorate. The bra that shows that I, along with 10,000 others, will be walking either a half-marathon or full-marathon from midnight to raise money for breast cancer. I'm doing the full 26.2 miles. I'll be walking through the night and then, come Sunday morning, after Chris has collected me from the finish line and has helped me up the two flights of stairs to our flat, I will fall into bed and dream of the following weekend, of boarding a plane, of meeting up with friends, of holidays.

If you would like to you can sponsor me online here. Last time, in my felt watermelon slice bra, I raised £720 and, at 6am, when my body was giving up and my legs were on auto-pilot I reminded myself of that money and what it would be used for and it helped.

Friday, 6 May 2011


I've told you before how much I love asparagus. How much I have always loved asparagus.

I usually drop the spears into boiling water for just a few minutes and eat them with melted butter. I have roasted it and grilled it but I would always find myself going back. But then, this week, we ate asparagus twice in two days, twice in two days after waiting until the first week of May to finally buy some, and both times I followed Nigel Slater's suggestion in Tender to preheat the oven to about 180°C, place a large piece of foil in a baking dish, put the asparagus onto the foil, drizzle over olive oil, some lemon juice, a sprinkle of sea salt, close the foil to make a loose parcel and bake, for about 15 - 20 minutes. And, while it baked, I focused on two new recipes, both from Super Natural Every Day, both keepers. On Wednesday we ate asparagus alongside white beans and cabbage, yesterday with a quinoa cake and fried eggs. If I wasn't going out for dinner tonight I would probably eat it again.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


We go through phases with salads round here.

First and for a long time there was a couscous salad. Couscous, olive oil, lemon juice, mint, red pepper, cucumber, spring onions, feta. It was easy, familiar, we made it a lot.

Next came chickpeas with roasted butternut squash, beetroot, feta. It took a little longer to make, a salad to warm rather than cool.

Then, last Summer, I bought Plenty and a quinoa, wild rice and basmati rice salad with sweet potatoes became the new favourite.

But, as time went on we found ourselves considering lighter options. Moving away from Winter roots. I read this on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef and thought, yes, carrots, fennel, kale, feta. Yes. So I chopped carrots and fennel, tossed them with a little olive oil, some caraway seeds, cumin seeds, and aleppo pepper flakes and roasted them for about 20 minutes. I added kale to roast for five minutes at the end. You just want it to crisp up slightly. I cooked the quinoa and the basmati and wild rice, chopped some spring onion, some fresh mint and parsley, feta. I tossed it all together, grains, vegetables, herbs, cheese.

Serves 4 (or 2 greedy ones for dinner with just enough leftovers for lunch the next day)

4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into large chunks
2 bulbs of fennel, quartered and sliced
½ tbsp of olive oil
½ tsp of caraway seeds
½ tsp of cumin seeds
½ tsp of aleppo pepper flakes
2 handfuls of shredded kale
150g basmati and wild rice mix
150g quinoa
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
a small handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
leaves from a few sprigs of fresh mint, finely chopped
sea salt

Use more or less of any of the spices or substitute, fennel seeds work well instead of caraway.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the carrots and fennel onto a large baking tray and toss well with the olive oil, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, aleppo pepper flakes and a little sea salt. Place the tray into the oven to roast for about 20 minutes or until the carrots and fennel have browned slightly and softened. Add the kale to the tray, toss well with the other vegetables to coat the kale lightly in oil and roast for a further 5 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven.

While the vegetables are roasting cook your rice mix according to the packet instructions. To cook the quinoa either throw it in with the rice about 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time (my method) or cook it separately.

Once the rice, quinoa and vegetables are cooked combine them in a large salad bowl and add the spring onions, herbs and feta and taste for seasoning, I usually add a small sprinkle of sea salt. Serve, enjoy, and, if you're anything like us, prepare to make once a week until the next salad comes along.