May 2011 Archives

in arts and media , on the relationship front |


video link: http://youtu.be/PWKZVbG9egQ

mm sent me this, an old hymn called “I know who holds tomorrow” from the album by Alison Krauss & the Cox Family. I’m not as religious as mm, this was very beautiful though.

and each step is getting brighter
as the golden stairs I climb
and every burden is getting lighter
and all the clouds are silver lined
and, over there the sun is always shining
and no tears will ever dim the eye
and the ending of the rainbow
where the mountains, they touch the sky


in eating and drinking |

vealchopwinesauce

Free range veal chop from the real food festival a few weeks ago. I lightly browned it and then finished cooking in the oven. Meanwhile I made the sauce. I don’t normally make separate sauce or gravy, although I know the principle — the sauce makes the dish. It’s too much bother for one portion. I find it’s often enough to just have s&p plus the juices from the de-glazed pan (okay, I use flavoured salt and flavoured pepper so there are about 10 different ingredients in my s&p, that’s the secret).

This time, inspired by Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s recipe, I made a reduction from red wine, garlic and thyme. It tasted too sharp and vinegary so I added a drop of honey and a teaspoon of apple & chili jam. It was just right, lifted the whole dish to another level. I might have to invest in one of those very small saucepans to make sauces.

in being healthy |

kinvaraorange

I brought another pair of shoes into rotation today, these Saucony Kinvaras in what they call vizi orange. The Vomeros are about 2 years old and I got the LunarRacers about a year ago. I didn’t bring the previous pair of Motos from Chicago and I’m careful with the Racers. This means the bulk of my running this year has been with the Vomeros so it’s time to share the burden a little.

This is the first non-Nike sneakers I’ve had for a long long time. Actually I can’t think of when I’ve not worn Nikes. The Kinvaras have had overwhelmingly excellent reviews, that it’s a minimalist-styled shoe that is extremely light (7.7oz) with enough cushioning that distinguishes it from the likes of five fingers. I wanted to try them out.

Oh boy. Just one longish run (12.35km today) and I’m a convert. They’re light with more support than the LunarRacers and most importantly, they felt comfortable. Normally running shoes need to be broken in, but these were great from the get go. I’ll probably order another pair next time I’m in the US.

They come in the usual white and black and blue (and pink for women, ugh). I couldn’t not the orange, they look so cool. No, I wasn’t self-conscious running about in bright orange shoes, in fact I was quite proud. If only I was running at speeds that match their image.


in eating and drinking , outside interests |

ldnwholefoods02

There are 5 Whole Foods in London, the largest, at high st ken is only a bus ride away. I’m so glad I made the trip. Had lunch at their restaurant — a kind of high end food court with salads, sandwiches, hot food, Mexican food, vegetarian, pizza, Japanese. Tried the shabu shabu of lamb with udon and veg. Nice, but pricey. A very decent iphone pic here.

The store itself is split on 2 floors and by London standards very large. Actually, it’s comparable in size to the Ashland store. I couldn’t help myself and came home with a veritable treasure trove of food I love and have missed: t-bone steak, osso bucco (in brown packaging underneath steak), tahini, clay pot yogurt, my beloved goose island beer, passion fruit, legbars (blue) eggs, abate pears, heirloom tomatoes, coulommiers cheese, st nectaire cheese — altogether £53, not cheap. I remember Car saying Whole Foods = whole paycheck.

And then I had to go to Tesco afterwards to get regular stuff like ham, fruit, vegetables and salmon, which set me back another £20. I was on whatsapp with mm throughout and I told her I bought more than enough food for 2 people for a week. Hee.

in eating and drinking |

freebfast

This is what I collected this morning at the station, free food — vitamin water, soy milk, tea bags, cereal bar, soy yogurt. The soy milk people have been there all week, and it was nice to have free breakfast for 5 days. I don’t like the after taste of regular milk (not even skim) so this soy milk was great. Their marketing may work, I’m going to look for chocolate soy milk, which is perfect for post long runs.

in techtalk |

storegps

Tesco is testing out in-store sat nav system at one of its stores near London. Shoppers enter their shopping list items and the app gives a map of where the items are within the store. They’re only testing the android app at the moment, and from what I read, it’s a unit attached to the trolley. (Above image only an illustration.)

The aim is to reduce walking? Like those game show where you grab the most within 1 minute and you keep the stuff. It’ll be useful for Top Chef contestants. I’m not sure if this is coming from Tesco’s marketing department, won’t they want shoppers to wander around the aisles and see stuff that they impulse buy? Plus, isn’t the GPS supposed to be extinct in 5 years?

in being healthy |



So nike+ is 5 years old. I’ve had my fair share of nike+ devices over the past 2.5 years of running. They are offering the nike+ gps app free, I can’t remember if I ever paid for mine, hmm. There’s also a challenge, every 5km logged in nike running will be entered into a lucky draw. The prize is fantastic: 2 bibs at either Chicago 2012 or Nike Women’s marathon in SF, both in 2012. Although the chances are pretty slim, I never have any luck in lotteries or prize draws.

in photography is life |

natgeotrees

This picture of camel thorn trees set against orange-tinted dunes at sunrise in Namibia that was in the National Geographic is probably one of the most perfect picture I’ve ever seen. Breath-taking. My little mara tree pic that I use as avatar pales in insignificance.

in challenges |

Three goals met. The others are on target, except I probably will delay getting the furniture till after I come back.

    health
  • run 50km // done 54.14km (33.64miles), should get to 75-80k
  • sub-30min 5k // done 29:44min
  • keep to maintenance calorie target x20 // 12 of 20
  • measure bp

  • food
  • fruit or juice x24 // 14 of 24
  • vegetarian day x4 // 2 of 4, one day a week
  • alcohol under 21 units total // 12 of 21, should never have opened that bottle of wine last week

  • home
  • skype with mum // nope, but did with Sis
  • buy living room furniture // probably not doing it till I’m back
  • LL rewrite up to chapter 10 // done


in eating and drinking |

gingericecream fiveminticecream

I ran 12km this morning, so I’m allowed ice cream. I had this Waitrose stem ginger ice cream that’s supposed to be “seriously creamy”. Well, it’s okay, but why do they have to put chocolate bits in it?? Sigh. Looking around the ice cream cabinets at Tesco or Sainsburys and it’s 90% chocolate or caramel or one of those very sweet flavours. The Haagen-Dazs page on ocado shows: cookies & cream, choc choc chip, pralines & caramel, chocolate midnight cookies, cookie dough, vanilla, belgium chocolate, white chocolate & raspberry, dulce de leche. The only respite from the chocolate, cookies and caramel attack is strawberry cheesecake. Sigh. I know H-D has many more flavours in the US. Why aren’t they available in the UK?

It’s the same story when I look at Ben & Jerrys available here — phish food, chocolate fudge brownie, cookie dough, cherry garcia, caramel chew chew, half baked. I wonder if British people only like chocolate or heavy flavoured ice creams? I know there are other choices, but I don’t find that there is enough for me. The problem is I’m confined to smaller stores, and therefore the choices are not great.

What I miss are the delicate five ice creams: mint, lemon, strawberry, vanilla bean. Only 5 ingredients. Frozen yogurts. Talenti gelatos and sorbets. Starbucks ice cream. Dairy Queen. Even rainbow sherbert. I’ll stop now.

in eating and drinking |

mondriancake

This beautiful mondrian cake is enough to make me want to go to SF MOMA already. Made by pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman who is part artist, part chef:

she bakes a big oblong white cake and smaller yellow, red and blue cakes, and cuts them into long thin shapes. She coats each of the pieces in ganache - a thick, rich covering of cream and dark chocolate - reassembles it all in a long loaf pan, lets it chill overnight, then ganaches the whole thing

Not hard technically, just takes time. And oodles of creativity and inspiration.

in techtalk |

ipadmba

I’m probably getting an ipad 2 next time I’m in the US. I gave my ipad to my niece and sometimes I miss it. I use the mba mostly at home but I think that it will more likely bridge the gap between the mba and the iphone. There’s a really interesting article from Business Insider on The Atlantic about how people really use the ipad. Usage has increased; almost 40% of respondents use it as their primary computer and over 70% use it to read books. Perhaps the one chart that I will use as justification is that over 70% of people think that ipads and macbook airs are not mutually exclusive.

in photography is life |

nz0209qt

It all started with a post by flickr designer Timoni West on how the page that shows us recent uploads by our contacts is broken. The baton was then taken up by Jason Kottke, who goes further to say that flickr has become the place to put every single one of your photos instead of how it was intended to be, sharing of good quality photos.

Oops.

I’d forgotten the original purpose of flickr. And I willingly confess that I do use it for storage rather then display. I don’t blindly upload every photo, I rename, photoshop and sort. So at least my collection isn’t random and difficult to navigate. It’s the only site, apart from my website, that I pay for. $25 a year is acceptable (well, it’s $50 for 2 accounts but who’s counting).

So, in the spirit of sharing best photos, here’s one of my favourites and I would say top 10 of my best work. Taken at Queenstown, NZ. Not photoshopped. It’s been my wallpaper for over 5 years.

in eating and drinking |

quornstirfry

Another vegetarian wednesday. Last night I made a stir fry with quorn pieces, broccolini, baby corn, mange tout, red and yellow peppers. Easy to heat up for lunch. Didn’t have it with anything but could have added noodles or rice or pasta or something starchy, except I try not to eat too much carbs.

in in the news , money business |

ukcpi

Despite actions to the contrary, with inflation at a record breaking 4.5%, astronomical taxes, killer housing costs and a net take home that feels like it’s been halved (I dare not do the analysis lest it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy), I can only tolerate so much. I know I’m already very lucky, that my complaints boil down to how much less I’m saving and not that I can’t afford to buy food. Still am unhappy about this. And don’t start about work. In my mind I have dates and plans, preliminary at this point.


in being healthy , challenges |

running20110516

5.01km 29.44min 5.56min/km

It’s frustrating. Routinely going sub-30 for a 5k should not be this difficult. I know the solution is to run more. Does it really help?

I had a conference today that I didn’t need to be at till 10am, so I had an hour. I thought I’d try running in the morning. Did some sort of fartlek on the home straight of the track — 300m normal speed, 100m faster speed. In reality it was more like 250m normal speed, 75m faster speed, 75m snail’s pace.

in about me , eating and drinking |

chickenstock

Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m slowly accepting that I’m here now, I made chicken stock today.

in eating and drinking |

stellacidre

I like Stella Artois beer for its nice clean taste. Plus, of course, it’s reassuringly expensive. Just a couple of weeks ago, on royal wedding day in fact, they launched their own cider, called so imaginatively, Cidre. I bought one yesterday and tried it today. Pretty clean, not too sweet, quite apple-y. And no longer reassuringly expensive, it was the same price as the Magners and the Koppabergs.

in objects of desire |

kettle1 kettle2

There’s an interesting question on the kitchn about whether to buy an electric kettle. You can hear the double take from everywhere that is not the US.

The first time I visited Chicago, I was astounded that people in the US don’t use kettles. Those that do, use stove top ones. The rest boil water in the microwave. For everyone in the UK, most of Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada and the rest of the world, a kettle is the most basic equipment in the kitchen, before microwave and toaster. And it’s almost 100% electric. Cordless too. In Asia, it’s the hot water dispenser that prevails. I mean, permanent hot water available, who doesn’t want it. When I gave mine to my downstairs neighbour, she was ever so pleased. I lived for a while without one, boiling water in a saucepan. As soon as I could, I got a basic cordless stainless steel one from Kenwood. Again, basic.

in being healthy , challenges |

beatbanana

garmin: 4.68km 28.05min 6.00min/km

Race #3, I did end up registering for the beat the banana race.

It was held at Hyde Park at 6pm, so I left the office at 4.30pm to get there to pick up my bib. Received the t-shirt in the mail earlier this week. I’m glad it wasn’t that hot, and it’s a short distance. It was a nice cotton (sigh) t-shirt, but cotton and racing are incompatible. But, this is a fun run, so can’t expect more. About 500 people, and one guy dressed as a banana. No chip, so I had to time myself. The distance was advertised at 5k, but the garmin said 2.91miles (4.68km), which seems right. I wasn’t going particularly fast and 28min for 5k didn’t feel right. Pace was exacly 6.00min/km so I would have just made it to the 30min mark.

The race is supposed to beat the banana guy, who had about 20 seconds headstart. But when I rounded the last corner towards the finish line, he was coming down the course, running with some people for a few meters and encouraging the rest. I got a high five. Such a nice gesture, he either finished or didn’t cross the finish line until after the last person was done.

This was a charity run. I had a low profile campaign, raised a modest £125 for the world cancer research fund. I got a medal and a goodie bag — water, banana, and a few WCRF booklets on healthy living and healthy recipes. Got a bus home, and was showered and having a curry dinner by 7.45pm.

in in the news |

giroitalia

I loosely follow cycling, if I see it on TV I’d watch it a bit. I was very saddened to read about the horrific accident that claimed the life of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt. I can’t help but cry at watching his teammates and friends lead the peloton in a tribute on the neutralised stage 4 of the race. Each of the 23 teams took turns leading the peloton, and his team Leopard Trek the last 6km to the finish line, together with his best friend Tyler Farrar. Not many videos yet on youtube because of copyright, but this picture tells the story already. To see the sombre faces of the racers, the dignified way they paid tribute to their colleague, and to read that his team Leopard Trek has pulled out of the race. Very very sad.

in eating and drinking |

shakshukalunchbox

When I made shakshuka for the first time, I liked it very much. So for this week’s vegetarian day, I thought I’d have it for lunch. Made the base last night — garlic, tomatoes, red pepper, yellow pepper. Brought 2 eggs with me, cracked them into the base and microwaved in the office. Took about 2mins to get to the soft-boiled stage. Scooped it up with a naan. All done in a lunchbox. Healthy and filling.


in being healthy |

rotatorcuffpain

Several times a year, I get hit by rotator cuff pain. The first time it happened was about 10 years ago while on holiday in Australia with mm, it was bad because I couldn’t lift my arm or push it back without being in excrutiating pain, and I had to shift gears while driving. That was the first time that pushed me to find a chiropractor.

This time, it was after the run on Friday. I woke up Saturday and it was tough to get dressed. The whole left shoulder hurt, the right side of my neck hurt (it’s all connected), I couldn’t lift my arm and the most simple action had to be done by moving the whole body. Luckily it’s on the left, I’ve never been so glad to be right-handed. Wasn’t helped by going to the food show and buying a huge amount of stuff that I had to carry in my backpack. Sunday’s run was also pretty painful. I don’t know if running causes the injury or not, it predates my running days and I thought that exercising helped all the aches and pains I’ve had over the years.

I don’t have a chiro or PT here, so I had to figure out something to help myself. Thank goodness for the foam roller. There are a bunch of exercises on youtube and I followed a couple of them. Helped a tiny amount. Then last night I slept without a pillow keeping my neck straight and it seems to be a little better. Range of motion has increased, although it still crack loudly and in certain positions I feel twinges. I went running today with the aim of loosening up. Fingers crossed.


in challenges |

Rachel set this challenge leading up to GCLS, from 8 May to 7 June. It bugs me that it’s not calendar month, because I’m neat that way, but it’s that’s just me.

    health
  • run 50km
  • sub-30min 5k
  • keep to maintenance calorie target x20
  • measure bp

  • food
  • fruit or juice x24
  • vegetarian day x4
  • alcohol under 21 units total

  • home
  • skype with mum
  • buy living room furniture
  • LL rewrite up to chapter 10



in eating and drinking |

ldnrealfood018cheese&nsbp;ldnrealfood028macaroon

I was at the real food festival early, even before the doors opened at 11am. It was a nice day out, lots of stalls and demos at the exhibition centre:

  • Cesar Garcia from iberica showing us how to make 3 spanish dishes in 30mins, including a nice looking red berries gazpacho
  • Mark Gilchrist showing us how to skin a rabbit
  • Polish food, Chinese food, Indian food, Welsh food, food boxes, organic everything
  • beer, cider, wine makers
  • cheese, cheese and more cheese
  • game meat, meat pies
  • sauces and condiments
  • sweets, baked goods, dessert, coffee, tea, drinks

ldnrealfood035purchases

And many many more. I was there till past 3pm, sampled lots and my backpack was very very heavy when I went home. This is what I bought, from left to right: beer, cider, buffalo burger, ostrich burger, venison chops & filet, calves liver, Indian meals, chutney, organic caviar, apple & chili jam, jerk seasoning, balsamic vinegar, assorted cheeses, naan, beef pie.

in being healthy |

running20110506

5.01km 31.19min 6.14min/km

I thought I’d go do a fast 5k after work. It was sunny, the track was crowded. Sigh. Not fast at all, it ended up being as mediocre as all my runs.

What is fast? Read this on a rw thread:

  • real world fast = you are the quickest runner in your office
  • age group fast = you occasionally get a ribbon
  • actually fast = you are in the top five of a race
  • really fast = you have an actual medal from national or international competition, or you wear a bib # that is a single digit
  • astoundingly fast = your bib simply has your first name

I’m not even at #1, there are a couple of twentysomethings at work who must be faster, and definitely the guy who does 4-5 runs a week, 22min 5ks, who are faster. Double sigh.

in in the news |

av2011

I haven’t been following the debate on alternative vote as closely as I should have so no, I didn’t vote. I’m so used to living in countries where I can’t vote that I was surprised to receive my poll card a few weeks ago. I put myself on the electoral register for the purposes of getting a parking permit (in case I wanted to buy a car), certainly not for political reasons.

in easily amused |


video link: http://youtu.be/bPLXwrj7i7Q

May 4th is star wars day, a play on “may the fourth be with you”. Heh.

in photography is life |


video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q57RmNlpH4E&feature=player_embedded

Although iphoto 11 can share pictures directly to flickr and facebook, it’s still very rudimentary. Can’t edit sets, can’t add descriptions, can’t add tags and most importantly, pictures get uploaded to the photostream in the default is date order. Doesn’t work for me cos I rename and regroup pictures, I end up with a mess.

The days when the share function wasn’t available for older iphoto versions, I used a couple of external tools. So I sucked it up and spent $10 on the upgrade to flickrexport. Now to get photoshop installed on the mba and I’m back in business — it’s no big deal, I can still use photoshop on the mbp, it’s just a short walk to the other room.

in eating and drinking |

ldnstrfood012hogroast

This was the highlight of the real street food festival at the south bank this bank holiday weekend. A whole roast hog. Several, in fact. Served in a white roll with apple sauce, rocket and crackling. So good, I had two of them. Two sandwiches, not even I can eat 2 whole pigs.

Aside from roast pigs, there was a seafood van, pulled pork, churros, burgers, indian lassi, curry, crepes, cakes, beer, cocktails and many more. It was a gloriously sunny day, perfect for a day out with good food. I texted my friend S and his girlfriend, and we met up for a good chat and a couple of drinks.

More pics, the whole set at flickr.


in eating and drinking |

roastgressduck03

Easy roast gressingham duck recipe. Cut off as much of the skin and fat, make sure the skin is dry, rub salt all over. Roast at 180-200°C for about 1 hr. The best part, roast potatoes with the duck so they are cooked in the fat. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I’m not allowing myself the potatoes unless I go running.

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