Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Bits and bobs

Oh my goodness - been a non-stop few weeks since Fish River Canyon Ultra and with FEAT in little over a week... If you haven't got your tickets yet, book 'em soon-soon through Computicket. R140. FEAT is on Thurs, 6 Oct.

Lemon curd
I like lemon curd. Really like the stuff. My mom's friend, Ros, makes it and over the years I've been very fortunate to get a jar here and there. I've been in the mood for it so I asked Ros for her recipe, which is actually her mom's recipe. There's a funny story behind this. In Ros' words:
"When my mom died, I made lemon curd for the old dears for whom she used to make it – according to her recipe with a double boiler, etc. They were appreciative but pointed out that it was not entirely up to my mother’s standard. Once I started using this recipe [and making it in the microwave], they said that I had finally made some curd as good as my mother’s. I didn’t ever tell them the awful secret." 
I've made a good number of jars of the stuff now (I've eaten lots but I've also given a few batches away) and have experimented with lemon, lemon-orange combo, strawberry and pineapple. Although I'm not big on straight-up strawberries ('raw'), I do like them in stuff and strawberry juice. As for strawberry curd - delicious! Pineapple tastes great but the consistency isn't right - I think I put in too much juice (I borrowed my dad's juicer for this and other projects).

Wiki says:
"Fruit curd is a dessert spread and topping usually made with lemon, lime, orange or raspberry. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely-flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.
In late 19th and early 20th century England, home-made lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam, and as a filling for cakes, small pastries and tarts.
Curds are different from pie fillings or custards in that they contain a higher proportion of juice and zest, which gives them a more intense flavor.Also, curds containing butter have a smoother and creamier texture than both pie fillings and custards. Additionally, unlike custards, curds are not usually eaten on their own."
I laugh at the last sentence. I've only ever eaten it from the jar, on its own... One of my plans with learning to make lemon curd was to use it for something; in a dessert, cake or tart. This is yet to be done. My dad has a granadilla (passion fruit) plant. We're going to pulp and juice them when they're ready and I'm gonna make tons of passion fruit curd.

Cookin' up a storm
You know how the weeks flash past and then you realise that you haven't seen people for months? Got a friend over for lunch about two weeks ago and got excited about trying out a new recipe or two. I really like Pick 'n Pay's Fresh Living magazine. Neat, tidy and super recipes (great photographs) that are simple in their ingredient requirements and always current with products actually available. It's also a cheap buy at R13.95.

One of my new discoveries is a roasted beetroot pasta dish. I boil the beetroot first to reduce roasting time and to skin them before roasting. Once they're ready, mix up a 'vinaigrette' of lemon juice, balsalmic vinegar, olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast. (they roast with cloves of garlic; I add only a little crushed garlic as I'm not big on garlic). Then, when cooked, zing in a food processor until smooth.

Add to cooked pasta (I favour spaghetti 'cos I like the shape) and mix well. Pasta turns bright red! Beetroot sauces shouldn't be as much a sauce as a coating - red pasta with bits of puree beetroot here and there.They add the beetroot leaves to the cooking pasta for the last few 1-2 mins to soften; and these get mixed in (my beetroot were leafless). Crumble ricotta cheese over it to serve. I made this as an accompaniment, not a main dish.

First O map
I created my first O map for the AltX Sports Expo, which happened this past weekend. I've known the theory of making an O map for ages; it's another story actually doing it. As maps go, mine is ok. I only had one site outing so there are a number of sections requiring details and footwork; and there are some elements that can be removed as they're unnecessary. This is the challenge of mapping. Always to remember that terrain is mapped according to runability and also that maps are representations, not exact replicas...
I used only a small section of this for an O activity at the expo but am hoping that we'll get to use my map next year. Area is nice and big for a colour-coded event but not sufficiently technically challenging. So, it may be well suited to a night event perhaps? Have rotated map to fit nicely here. North is to the right.

If I had to use two words to describe mapping 'time consuming' would work well. But it can also be described as 'immensely satisfying'.

AltX Sports Expo
This new Alternative and Extreme Sports Expo took place this weekend. I was meant to be there with a few hats on but ended up only really with my orienteering hat on. I set out two grid courses (to teach people how to orientate their maps) and had a short and a longer O course.

The Expo was sadly poorly attended. Friday was certain to be quiet because of it being a work day, it was miserable weather on Saturday - it even drizzled; and Sunday was lovely weather but low attendance. Some people said the R80 entrance fee was too steep, which I can see if you bring along a whole family. I think that the expo lacked structure with not having a fixed schedule of activities and displays.

The venue was brilliant; the air, urban, water and wheels arenas were an excellent idea; and the main stage was definitely the best set up I've ever seen but was abused by having the power lifters there for so long with their ongoing Rammstein music (only a few songs that seemed to be on repeat; and that one good 'song' wasn't even played). It really was an impressive stage and I'd love to see a really dynamic night-time programme utilising it (in addition to daytime activities).

I do hope that the Expo will be around next year and this time with more structure to it; fixed workshops, talks and activities. There's definitely a place for it and the concept is a really good one.

Suzie Q and Toby J pole workshop
I ducked from the Expo on Sunday afternoon to go to this advanced pole workshop. Whoop-whoop, what a winner. My plan with attending this workshop was to learn to do moves that I couldn't do so that I'd have stuff to work on for weeks. My wish was fulfilled and my arms are stiff! I was ok yesterday and I taught class last night but today I'm really feeling it. Really super to meet Suzie Q and Toby J. They're unbelievably strong and it is really a treat to watch them doing moves and making them look effortless, which they're aren't. They did a couple of doubles moves with us, which was fun. I have only done very little.

A handstand on Tarry's back.
Me, Dina and Tarryn with Suzie Q and Toby J.
It's the Miss Pole SA competition on 7 October. Tarryn and Dina will be taking part in the duets division. Girls, I'll be there cheering for you. xxx

After the pole workshop I zipped off to catch the tail-end of an acroyoga workshop and learned a bit of stuff in the limited time.

New crochet project
After finishing off the granny square blankie I didnt' touch my hook and yarn for over a week because I had so much other stuff on the go. But I've been itching to make something. Anything. Love the colours and the transformation from a length of yarn into something. I've got a bunch of leftover yarn from the blankie so a few nights ago I started on this. The big reveal when I'm done. I'm only doing about three rows a night so it will take me a few weeks still.

Fish River Canyon Ultra
I wrote a blog about my run shortly after it (a month ago already!) and was delighted to received this photo, taken by Timmy, yesterday. It really gets across the beautiful day and lovely calm of the canyon (and boulders, boulders, boulders). I've set it as my desktop background.

Filling up with water during the Fish River Canyon Ultra.

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