I've been doing a lot of baking recently. I got a great book from Mottisfont which has lots of charming regional old recipes from the National Trust's great country houses, I splurged on the January edition of Delicious (seduced by the header Comfort Food), and of course I rely heavily on Queen Berry for inspiration too. As a result, the kitchen is groaning under the weight of assorted brownies, lemon and poppy seed cake, cherry Bakewells, sticky marmalade cake, Cornish Splits, Bath Buns, doughnuts, camembert melt pastries, green Thai curry, vegetable and cheese bakes, Eccles cakes, raspberry ripple ice-cream.
Here's the recipe (only don't cook them in fairy cake cases because they like them so much they refuse to come out. Grease a bun tray instead and pop the mixture in there direct).
45g brown sugar
2 teaspoons honey
25g flaked almonds
handful chopped hazelnuts
handful chopped almonds
handful mixed raisins, sultanas and cranberries
some glace cherries, roughly chopped
40 g plain flour
120g chocolate (I do both milk and white).
1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
2. Melt butter, sugar and honey in saucepan until well combined but not boiling.
3. Take off the heat and stir in all the other ingredients.
4. Drop small spoonfuls of the mix into the bun tray moulds and flatten the top a little.
5. Bake for 10mins till golden brown.
6. Cool in the tray then cool completely on wire rack.
7. Transfer to fridge for half an hour until cold. and set hard.
8. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.
9. Spoon teaspoons or more of the melted chocolate over each individual Florentine.
10. Return to fridge to set.
11. Remove the Florentines from the bun tray and keep in a sealed container in the fridge (if they last long enough)
All this baking is to keep up with my increased food intake requirements courtesy of the running. Now fully recovered from the 14 mile run, I set off for last Saturday's Parkrun focused on obliterating my previous PB of 23:22. My goal for 2017 is to get into the 22 minute bracket, that seems like a respectably fast 5k time to me. I don't mind if I come in at 22.59, I just want to get in under 23 minutes.
There were over 900 runners in the park on Saturday. I put myself about a quarter of the way down the field for the start, set off fast and pushed all the way round. No chatting to friendly old chaps for me this week :o). I ran my legs off and my lungs out. I knew the time was good, until I got to the final half k when I realised far from being up, I was in fact 40 seconds down.
Not quite sure what had happened, I had a quick mental conversation with myself that ran along the lines of there's no point running myself ragged for a slow time, so I took the accelerator off and slowed down, more or less trotting over the line. I had a chat with the guy behind me in the funnel, bemoaning my slow time, then I saw M and started to tell him I'd ended up slower than the last PB despite really pushing it, except I realised as I was talking and looking at the GPS that I wasn't slower at all: I was actually 16 seconds up. My finish time was 23:06. I was absolutely furious with myself. If only I'd kept running I'd have come in in under 23 minutes and got my goal of 22 minutes something. I don't think I've ever been so cross with myself. It was all I could talk about for most of the rest of the day (pity my poor family, eh?). It didn't even register that I'd taken 16 seconds off the last time and set a new PB. I've never been so disappointed in a faster time before!
M, of course, was typically sanguine. You've learnt something new: never stop racing in a race, and: you'll smash the 22 minute barrier next week, was his confident verdict. I'm just cross I let the opportunity go and now I have to do it all over again this Saturday and what if I'm slower?
M grinned at me fuming all the way home and when I asked him what was funny he said well, it puts paid to the myth you've been peddling that you aren't interested in racing times, doesn't it?
Every cloud, eh?
Hope you're all well. L got his place at the A Level college he wants to go to, so we are all breathing sighs of relief :o)