There and back again

Had the bus to myself this morning, so I sat up front with Andy, the driver, and enjoyed the view. It was a stunning morning.

The days are ever-shortening and although the bus picked me up after 9am the shadows were long.

long shadows

long shadows

Under an almost cloudless sky, it was a little chilly and so my hat, scarf and gloves had their first outing of the season. Until now it has kept unseasonably warm despite much wind and rain.

I also wore a sweater to town for the first time this winter and I soon regretted that. The sun was quite warm by the time that we reached Kirkwall, but nowhere near as warm as the over-heated shops. I was fit to drop long before I ever reached Tesco.

Notable buys today included chestnuts for our new healthy eating regime and some Merguez sausages from Donaldson’s. Kirkness & Gorie supplied fresh pesto for Thursday’s salmon and also a bottle of that highly expensive sherry that we have a taste for.  I kept the cheese order to a minimum, buying only one small piece of Pecorino with Truffle and a peedie slice of Gruyère for the French Onion Soup that I have a hankering for. Cheese and diets do not make a happy combination, sad to say.

Quite a few goodies leapt from Shearer’s shelves and into my trolley and I briefly wondered if I might smuggle the cat out…

comfy cat

comfy cat

… seeing as he was ready-packed in a hamper box.

Lunch was a delicious toasty and side salad, courtesy of Zio francos’.

Tesco was the same hell that it always is but at least they had some veg on the shelves today. I may have bought more than we can eat before it goes off… but I look forward to some cooking fun in the coming days.

I started a Ferry Sock, which may or may not become a Birthday Sock.  Maybe if I go to town again next week and the week after, Mr L will have a timely gift.

Mansock

Mansock

I looked up from my knitting on the way home and saw that the sky was on fire. Luckily I had my camera to hand.

Weather portent?

Weather portent?

If the Shepherd is right, we look to be in for another good day tomorrow.

I’m having a day off from the treadmill. I think I can get away with it, having lugged a metric tonne of shopping back and forth across Kirkwall today. After eating a £10 supper for two (well, half of it) I feel a little full to be exercising.

 

Week 3

Stats update: I’ve walked 32 Km on the treadmill in 2 weeks. I confess this last week was far less productive than week #1 was. All the same, I have managed at least 15 minutes every day.

We’ve indulged a little over the weekend. I feel a little bad about that. I know that the 5:2 diet says to forget about dieting on non-fast days but I do think that we went too far in that direction…

Today sees the beginning of week #3 and our fifth fasting day. I am serving up the leftover dahl from last week, which I froze together with the cabbage thoran. I’ll thin it down to make a soup. There are 400 calories-worth each in it, so Mr L can have a small naan on the side. I shall have a dollop of a freshening tomato relish to satisfy my eye as well as my palate. I’ll dress it with that low-fat chilli dressing from Cochrane Cottage.

Then I shall go to Spinning Group and breathe garlic fumes at all present.  The sun is out, I may walk up and take my knitting instead of my wheel.

I have switched to weighing on Sunday mornings, which do not follow a Fast day, so my weight has apparently gone up a little since I was weighing following a fast. I am sanguine. It’s a long road to follow and the curve will show a downward slope again soon enough. It’s a slight bummer coming back out of “double figures”, of course but it is only temporary.

Baking Bucket List: Bagels (every one’s a fluffy one)

Bagels have been on my ToDo list for a long time. This week, completely out of the blue, Mr L asked if we could try making some. He came to me already armed with research although I added some of my own.

Felicity’s perfect bagels use Malt Syrup, which I do not have but I noted in her article the use of Diastatic Malt Powder, which I do have, in some recipes. I also took good note of her approval of Richard Bertinet’s recipe, from Crust: From Sourdough, Spelt and Rye Bread to Ciabatta, Bagels and Brioche.

So, armed with the right book but without the 20g of honey called for, I winged it and added Diax.

Bertinet’s recipe begins with a fermented dough, which I left in a cold environment (my kitchen!) overnight.

Overnight ferment

Overnight ferment

This is how it looked after lunch today.

I expected a stiff dough, having read the Perfect Bagel article but this dough was so stiff after adding the remainder of the ingredients that neither I nor the Kenwood could knead it. I introduced a little extra water and let the machine do the hard work after my wrists had given up and were screaming at me.

After resting the dough for 20 minutes I found it to be wonderfully elastic and the hole-making part of the process was great fun and very easy.

A dozen dough balls

A dozen dough balls

Bertinet advocates punching a hole into the dough balls with the end of a rolling pin. Mr L took care of that part of the process and I did the hole-stretching bit, with two opposed fingers working the dough around until the hole was large enough to pass the ring over my hand and onto my wrist like a big pasty bangle.

The simmering was done with military precision, using the stopwatch facility on my smartphone…

30 seconds each side

30 seconds each side

… and after draining the bagels were dunked into either poppy or sesame seeds…

Seedy toppings

Seedy toppings

… before being baked, six to a tray…

Six to a tray

Six to a tray

… for a little longer than the recipe suggested (10 minutes).

12-minute bagels

12-minute bagels

We thought that they looked great and pretty authentic, but what would we know – neither one of us has been to a New York Deli!

Possibly another two minutes would have been good

Possibly another two minutes would have been good

We had our bagels as soon as they were cool enough to eat, and sandwiched them with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I also added Horseradish Sauce to mine and an accompanying salad was dressed with the Lime drizzle from the pack of fat-free dressings that I bought last week.

Tea time

Tea time

We found them agreeably chewy, though perhaps a minute or two longer in the oven might have improved them. They were far nicer than the cardboardy ones that Mr L usually gets from the supermarket and I think we shall be refining our recipe and making more bagels in the future. I must try and source the malt syrup.

Elsewhere in my life: I finally blocked (after a fashion) the Ladies Circular Cape in Shell Pattern that I completed knitting back in February 2013!

Fluffy and gorgeous

Fluffy and gorgeous

500

So, what does 500 kilocalories look like?

Persian Chicken Curry from the 5:2 Skinny Curry recipe book, served with a spiced cauliflower and green pepper dish that we often make, from a cheapo Simple Indian Recipes booklet. The veg recipe calls for considerably more oil than I used for the fast day – I throttled back to 1 tbsp. With 150 kilocalories to spare, we topped off with 75 grammes of Basmati Rice.

Tasty and satisfying, the Persian Chicken Curry was declared good enough to eat on an ordinary day.  The recipe makes enough for 4, so Mr L suggested refrigerating the second half and having the same again today.

Thursday's slightly more than 500

Thursday’s slightly more than 500

The reheated chicken curry, with “The Best Lentil Dahl” from Fast Cook, and Turmeric and Cabbage Thoran from the Skinny Curry book actually added up to over my 500 – Mr L topped up to his 600 with some rice. In fact I could  not finish mine and this, together with not having used the full amount of dessicated coconut with the cabbage, almost certainly got me back to 500 or less.

The dahl is actually made with split peas. I think that I prefer the creaminess of lentils but this was fine. The recipe made 6 servings and will probably reappear on Monday as a hearty soup offering 400 calories… and room for a small piece of naan to dunk. The remaining cabbage will get tossed in to add a little leafy goodness. Waste not, want not and all that.

I felt a little more energetic today and cranked up both speed and incline on the treadmill, though am still a long way off meeting last week’s very enthusiastic start.

If Mr L’s training injury settles down sufficiently we shall go to town tomorrow. If he’s still hobbling I guess I shall have to go alone. I still need a knitting project – nothing that I have on my desk just now is at all suitable for a ferry ride. The doily is growing but in no danger of finishing any time soon – currently Round 39 of 134. Hugo is off the blocking mats and now on a hanger in the bedroom. The Cecchetti sweater is sitting in a lumpen heap, depressing me mightily. It confirms only that I have no knitting skills whatsoever.

Well, it’s the weekend once more. It does come around quickly these days!

Warm and delicious

There was no photograph of the cabbage and chestnut bake, this due mainly to the fact that it was late and we were ravenous and it looked sooooo good. And it was. Absolutely delicious. All that treadmill nonsense had me running late in the kitchen and the cooking itself was time-consuming, so poor old Hugo …

More

I know it’s boring

I know that it’s boring and I know that I said I would not be a bore but I’m kind of enthused by my first week’s stats, so here they are.

Look at that – TWELVE miles this week – and four and a half hours on the mill. They used to sentence folks to hard labour on the treadmill in Victorian days, you know.

Day in, day out

Day in, day out

Eight hours a day. Blimey.

I did manage an hour today; an extended walk of 4.5 kilometres. Sadly the treadmill didn’t talk to iFit properly so my workout data got lost. I had to enter it to the best of my recollection through the manual system, which is OK but I did  lose all of my heart rate monitoring data.

Trying to push up the time on the mill over the coming days and aim for 25 km a week – that’s about 15½ miles and not a great deal more than I put in this week, so it should be achievable. Perhaps not in the coming week, with one day spent in town.

I’m away now, to make that cabbage and chestnut bake.

Recipe search

Mr L is hankering after a dish that both he and I recall, though I think that we made it in separate lives. I have checked all of our likely cookery book sources and cannot find it. I’m wondering if the Interwebs can come to our assistance.