Thursday, 27 February 2014

Running Away With Your Thoughts

Phil and I had only just been talking a couple of days ago about the psychology of running.  I even found a book in a store this week called 'Running with the Pack' which covers this area.  I'm very much looking forward to reading it.

`Most of the serious thinking I have done over the past twenty years has been done while running.'  Mark Rowlands has run for most of his life.  He has also been a professional philosopher.  And for him the two - running and philosophising - are inextricably connected.

It is basically an area that I feel I need a lot of work in if I am to become a better runner.  My mind is far from focused at times and too easily distracted by thoughts of things to do and worry about.  I figured that I should really be concentrating on the running and getting 'in the zone' instead.  Isn't that what all serious runners do to improve their running? 

Phil then found this short film and sent me the link.  It is a really clever little idea of a film that made me realize that running isn't just a means of getting physical; it's also a 'mental space'.   I've been thinking it's wrong to let my thoughts 'run riot' but really it's totally normal and as important in some ways as the physical side of running.  Sure I would love to reach some form of zen meditation whilst chasing a PB but if all the other stuff chooses that moment to have some personal counselling instead then who am I to argue with myself?

The head is a funny place to be in when you are running. Hopefully the zen bit will follow in time.

A film by Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley

Pounding the tarmac through the seasons, a band of runners are brazenly challenged with intimate questions as they pace their routes.  Liberated from responsibilities, their guards drop dramatically, releasing funny and brutally frank confessions, and weaving a powerful narrative behind the anonymous masses.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A Vegan Restaurant in Cornwall!

In about two weeks Cornwall will be treated to the opening of the first vegan cafe in the county.  I thought it would be years before momentous events such as this would happen in Cornwall and believed that the only way of possibly ever enjoying fully vegan culinary establishments was to travel to the likes of London.  But pinch me, it is true, Cornwall is indeed seeing the opening of Wildebeest very soon and the chosen location is Falmouth.

Wildebeest‘Welcome to Wildebeest, a brand new vegan cafĂ©/bar situated in the bustling harbour town of Falmouth, Cornwall. You’ll find a warm and friendly environment, an exciting menu using the freshest ingredients, delicious drinks and sweet treats. Our vibrant, diverse dishes draw inspiration from around the world – we want to share the food and drink that we love, so at Wildebeest you can enjoy everything from noodle soups and tostadas to cupcakes and cocktails. Everything we serve is vegan, but our aim is to delight herbivores and carnivores alike!'.

The sample menu looks amazing and I am sure will act as a magnet for all vegans and veggies living in and visiting Cornwall, and hopefully those curious and adventurous omnivores who appreciate exciting, quality culinary experiences.

We wish Josh and Rose all the luck with their new venture and will be sure to visit at the earliest opportunity.  Check their website out and give them a ‘like’ on their Facebook page to let them know we are all behind them.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

No Idea Lasagne

You know the feeling; you have had a hard day at work and you just want to chill out when you get home.  Yet you know that a really good plate of food will do just the trick in turning the day around for you; if you could only be arsed to cook it.  

That was the scenario that faced me last night.  I stared at our weird assortment of vegetables (aubergine, cabbage, a red pepper, carrots, onions, a few mushrooms, home grown lentil and mung bean sprouts and avocado) and nothing immediately sprang to my tired and lazy mind that I fancied eating.  Then I started to rummage in the store cupboard and found lasagne sheets, a can of chopped tomatoes and that vegan store cupboard must; nutritional yeast.  Another glance at the vegetables started to back up the plan of a lasagne and I set to work, after checking that I had plain flour and enough soya milk for a white sauce.  I was suddenly on a ‘ready, steady, cook’ mission!

The first step was to fry up the onion.  Often I start with this stage not knowing exactly what I’m eventually going to be cooking but my mind was already in multi-tasking mode as I simultaneously chopped up the aubergine, de-seeded the pepper and started on the white roux sauce.  The aubergine was then tossed in to cook away with the onion whilst I placed the whole pepper on a baking sheet in the already heated oven to roast.  I had plans to place the chopped up roasted pepper on the top ‘cheese’ sauce layer of the lasagne rather than lose its flavour among the main layer of veg.

With the white sauce (oil, flour, nutritional yeast and soya milk) now bubbling and thickening, I then added a dash of balsamic vinegar and a quick grate of nutmeg to finish it off.   I then halted suddenly wondering whether the aubergine mixture was enough to fill out the lasagne before I realised that I had the few mushrooms to use and that can of chopped tomatoes.  It still felt like it just needed something extra to bulk it out so I investigated the freezer and discovered a part bag of veggie mince left over from Christmas.  Perfect.  With a dash of veggie Worcester sauce, a spoon or two of tomato puree and a sprinkle of herbs the veg layer was complete and I was layering it all up into a loaf tin (complete with the roasted red pepper and a bit of vegan cheese on top) just before I had finished my first cup of tea since getting home.  It had been a fast and furious mission and the fact that the kitchen suddenly looked like a whirlwind had hit it was beside the point.  A 'reasonably healthy but proper winter stodge' meal was on its way! 

There was however now time to add a bit of a virtuous vibe to proceedings.  The cabbage and carrot provided the basis for a quick coleslaw made with a left over quarter pot of vegan sour cream, a scattering of hemp seeds and a dash of cider vinegar.  The sprouts and avocado would also feature on the team of raw side dishes.  All that was left to do was a quick tidy and wash up before I was sat in front of the roaring open fire waiting with chilled anticipation for my well-earned plate of comfort food to finish cooking.

It made me think that sometimes you just have to get on with it.  It’s a bit like going for a run.  You waste so much time dreading the run but once you are up and doing it you feel okay.  Then afterwards you feel pretty damn pleased with yourself for making the effort. 

There is no photo though as that was far too much effort last night!

Be bothered, be adventurous and enjoy!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Storms, Surfers and Seagulls

Today we were storm tourists.  We thought about checking out what the Red Bull Mission Three crew were up to at Bluff, down near Hayle.  However, once checking on the website, it indicated that everybody had had that same idea and spectator traffic was at a max.  The idea of driving to a nice quiet parking place and then walking around the coast path to avoid the crowds was made less tempting by the heavy rain and gathering wind so on that basis we decided to catch up with the action via the more luxurious benefits of the internet later.  

That said, we still had a strange fascination with being 'one with the storm' so headed down west to see what was happening.  We found ourselves down PZ (Penzance) way with the added lure of a visit to the local health food store Archie Browns.  

Overlooking St Michaels Mount, we marveled at the tumultuous seascape where normally a glistening blue calm resided.  Even the pirates of the sky, the seagulls, were struggling in the face of the oncoming deep sigh of nature. 

We drove along the seafront of Penzance and along to Newlyn to see the much reported effect of the recent storms.  Despite being past high tide, the normally placid seafront was being lapped by incoming waves and was littered by sea debris.  It was obvious that it had already taken a lashing.  The pebble and seaweed strewn basketball court along the seafront was understandably deserted.

Upon approaching Newlyn Phil thought he had spied surfers in the water so we went along to investigate.  It appears, despite the noisy abusive weather, there were places of opportunity when it came to surf.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Incoming! Storm Force Cornwall

Dawlish destruction: With high tides combined with gale force winds and further heavy rain, some parts of the UK are bracing themselves for more flooding

View of the railway line at Dawlish, Devon, which has been left hanging in mid-air after the sea wall was washed awayIt was a pretty rough night on Tuesday and another eventful drive to work on Wednesday morning. 

The news is full of the fact that the main railway line to Cornwall is now completely out of action due to the sea attacking the line at Dawlish in Devon.  

The rail journey down to Devon and Cornwall is one of the most picturesque rail journeys in the UK but it has its disadvantages too when it comes to its proximity to the sea.  It could be March before this is reinstated and that's if the weather behaves in the meantime. That is unlikely any time soon though as we have yet another storm on its way Friday night and into Saturday.  

The swell chart looks even more amazing for this next storm (very rarely do you see black on these charts).  Things are just getting crazy down here.  You expect a bit of wind and rain in the West Country during the winter (even in the summer!) but I don't ever remember such a prolong period of abusive and wild weather. 

This coming Saturday will see the fourth big storm in a row since 'Hercules' struck on 6th January.  The storm on Saturday is not meant to be as big as 'Hercules' but the wave heights are expected to exceed those of the previous three storms.  Whilst some fear the oncoming tide of continuing weather madness others reap more adrenaline based activities from the unprecedented conditions.  The Red Bull Mission 3 Live Windsurfing competition heads to Cornwall to chase down the storm as I write.  

Follow the action live here.  It could be an exciting distraction from the continuing battle against the stormy winter weather.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Cornwall's Big Wednesday

Well, guess what?  It's raining and it's windy.  It has been for quite a while now and it looks like it will be until, well who knows?  Driving to work from north to south coast has become more like a water park ride than a simple country commute and everybody seems to be getting pretty fed up with it all now, particularly those sadly effected by the threat of flooding.

However, if you put all the threat and inconvenience aside (if you can), it does make for exciting weather particularly so as the media are going crazy over the prediction of  'Big Wednesday' surf tomorrow and an even bigger Saturday swell.  

The "largest waves" ever is being screamed from the headlines but this refers to the size of Wednesday's expected swell, which is forecast to be 28 feet at high tide.  While huge, these are not the biggest waves ever to have hit Cornwall, rather this is set to be the biggest nearshore swell size anywhere in the world on that date with more predicted for Saturday.

It sounds all very exciting though and the swell showing on the charts heading for the Cornish coast sure looks exciting too.  Watch this space and we hope that everybody stays safe whether they are 'battening down the hatches' at home or oohing and aahing at the sheer power and beauty of nature as it crashes against our beaches and cliffs. 

Well, I'd better post this now as the wind is building and the rain thrashing against the window and the news has just announced power cuts across Cornwall.  Better get the soya candles ready and post this quick!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Scott Jurek - Eat (Good Salsa) and Run

Another great book that Phil gave me for Christmas was Scott Jurek's 'Eat and Run'.  I devoured it; both the story and also the recipes included.

For those of you unfamiliar with Scott Jurek, he has dominated the sport of ultra marathons for almost twenty years. The man has run 165.7 miles in 24 hours.   He is also vegan and therefore a great advocate of the physical benefits of a plant based diet.   I just about manage 3 miles in 26 minutes so, although some may argue that he is 'a tofu dog short of a picnic' for running those distances in one go, I personally think the man is a legend.  

His book, 'Eat and Run', documents his unremarkable childhood and his quest to find his own personal meaning, in his case through running.  It then documents his ascent to global dominance in long distance running, and his realisation of the importance of a plant based diet to fuel such mind and body boggling success.  It is with this in mind that he includes simple but effective recipes within his book.  One such recipe is that for a seemingly ordinary Salsa Verde but, just like the unassuming qualities of Scott belie the extraordinary physical talents of the man himself, this recipe too is full of surprises.  It is no ordinary salsa verde.  We know because we recently made it.

Scott's version is meant to be 'brilliant green' (hence Salsa Verde) but due to using a dried poblano chilli, Phil's was rather more brown in colour.  We were fortunate to have a little stash of home grown tomatillos in the freezer which were just crying out to be involved in this particular recipe once suitably thawed out.

Scott Jurek's Salsa Verde (p.220 Eat and Run)

Coconut oil or canola oil (Phil used rapeseed oil)
12 medium tomatillos
3 garlic cloves unpeeled (Phil used just 2)
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
1 - 2 Jalapeno peppers (optional) (Phil used 1 teaspoon of Serrano green chili sauce)
1 Poblano pepper (Phil used 1 dried and soaked)
2 sprigs of fresh coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C and oil a baking tray.  Roast the tomatillos, garlic, onion and peppers for about 20-30 minutes until lightly browned (Scott's recipe mentions covering the tray with foil but Phil didn't bother with this).  Cool slightly then peel the garlic and de-seed and stem the pepper (if you used fresh).  Add everything into a blender and blend until smooth.

Keeps about a week in the fridge or it freezes well.

We have enjoyed this 'salsa marron' (brown in our case!) in various capacities this week but quite the simplest and most delightful has been in a bowl sprinkled on top of tortilla chips and fresh green lentil sprouts.

Enjoy!.........and have a read of 'Eat and Run'.  It will inspire regardless of whether you are a runner or not.