Friday, January 24, 2014

As Bad As Store Bought Cookies

I made a huge batch of choc chip cookies yesterday, and made a mistake of reducing the sugar by half.

I baked them longer than required,  giving it a nice crisp and crunchy bite.

But as a result of the lack of sugar, and with dark chocolate chips, they taste pretty flat.

Like Coles' or Woolworth's store brand $2 cookies. Hah!

So there's go my Chinese New Year cookie gifts and these 'gems' will remain in my kitchen for the occasional munching. It'll serve their purpose, I suppose, when we need a biscuit or two.

On the other hand, my batch of peanut cookies are the BOMB. My friends are sharing photos of their peanut cookies and they look equally good.

But I'm so happy with mine, because I know it's what my dad would like, as he previously hounded me for a salty version. So to finally succeed in achieving it, I am happy.

On the other hand, I am really sad that I won't be spending CNY with my family(ies). They are my best fans. I've been making them CNY cookies for the past 2 years! I was hoping I'd be home this CNY but the hubby has work stuff on that weekend, which I think is fekking bollocks. 


*takes a deep breath*

Anyway, the beef casserole has been simmering since last night, and I can't wait for dinner!

Previously I didn't reduce the stock enough so the pie was a bit too wet. So I'll have to make sure I do it right this time. It just smells horribly, ridiculously, amazingly mouth-wathering argh!

Gotta go!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Brushing Off The Cobwebs

I should be going for my run now, or preparing dinner. But my butt is glued to the couch, hoping that Nadal will beat Dimitrov in the Australian Open semi-finals. (Well, he did!)

I have baked some peanut cookies this morning, so I'm pleased that at least I've got something done. Though it seems like I may need to bake another batch. Ahh, how the aroma reminds me that Chinese New Year is around the corner.

A shame that I won't be home and have my families wow over my cookies...

Lunch: Couscous with smoky paprika prawns.

I am trying to eat plain and uninteresting food until I knock 2kg off my tubby trunk, sticking to the motto that we eat to live, and not vice versa.

Less carbs and small portions are the key, and sometimes I get a sense of satisfaction with going to bed with a growling tummy. 

Because then I wake up the next morning looking forward to a grand breakfast of toast or cereal with 1 soft-boiled egg...

And then starve until lunch time arrives.

And boy, am I ever eager for the clock to strike 12!

Dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day: Cottage pie with sweet potato.

A few weeks ago, I made cottage pie for the first time and it was great. The aroma of the beef stewing in the pot wafting through the air was so mouth-watering. Recipe was taken from Coles' website. I am drooling as I recall the taste ... so I'm hoping to make it again tomorrow! :D

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Two Bays Trail Run 2014 - 56KM Race Recap

I can't believe a few days week has past since last Sunday's run! Photos and excitement from the event are still flying around Facebook in a flurry - it's as if nobody wanted the day of fun to end. The course photographers did a fab job and it's no wonder everyone's downloading their pictures! :)

I get giddy with excitement when I recall that day and I wished we were doing it again this weekend!

I mean the long run! 
Not at crazy race pace! :D

Group photo with some peeps from Surf Coast Trail Runners.

Date: 12th January 2014 (Sunday)
Venue: Cape Schanck for 56KM, Dromana for 28KM
Time: 7:10am for 56KM, 7:00am for 28KM
Cut Off Time: 8 hours for 56KM, 4 hours for 28KM
Technicality: 2-3 out of 5. 
Difficulty: Easy/Medium. No poles required.

I was all jitters two weeks before the race. I couldn't stop thinking about it while I was doing my training necessary runs. I wanted to ace it (hit my target time) just so I could rejoice and scream on top of my lungs, "YES! I DID IT!" and sing along to Katy Perry's "Roar".

But I had my doubts.

The strategy was to buy as much as time as possible by completing the 1st half in 3 hours, so I would spend 4 hours on the 2nd half if need be. I was sure that 30KM into the run, my energy would begin to wane and my mind would start jeering at me maliciously to be realistic and slow down.

Such is the mind of a quitter!

The problem was, I soon realised as the day drew nearer, that no way in hell was I going to make the 1st half in 3 hours. Let's be realistic, shall we? 

So I told myself to get it done in 3:15. Sounds less stressful!

(Well, maybe it was possible, but I would be too spent to run a good 2nd half!)

We stood somewhere in the middle of the pack before the start line. I believe those in Hawaiian clothes, board shorts and swimwear get the privilege of starting right in front. ;)

There was a bit of a traffic jam just a few metres into the start as runners had to run through a stile / barrier / gate (what do you call that?). Some climbed over while some of us waited patiently our turn to walk through it.

I was stuck behind a small pack of slow and steady paced runners during the first 5KM. It was good for me as I told myself that it was just a warm up and I'll break away after the 1st aid station.

Looking fresh as this was just 1KM into the run. :)
Photo credit: fstop5.

But oh gawd, it felt really slow at some points that I was getting rather impatient!

All smiles at the 1st aid station. :)

That's a lot of people ahead of me!

The next 5-6KM thereafter was a bit better. I kept to the left of the single track as much so as to make way for runners who would want to overtake me.

Somewhere after 11KM - 13KM (I can't recall the exact distance), I had to slow down. There was some guy hot behind my heels so I really didn't want to slow down, but ... I had to.

I had to take a picture to remember this moment.
I think this was along Rogers Road?

There was soooo much sand!

I kept trying to find a good spot along the sides to run. I kept moving as quickly as I could. I spotted the guy ahead of me who kept appearing and disappearing from my sight and really wanted to catch up with him.

But dang it, it felt like this beach was never going to end.

This darn stretch lasted for about 1KM or so!

I soon lost sight of the guy ahead of me and it amazed me just how fast he ran along the stretch.

It felt like an obstacle course!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Melbourne Runner Profile: Gregor Hartnell

Gregor is a funny colourful character in the trail running community, and is one of my favourite people whom I first met at the 2013 Surf Coast Century 100KM. A few weeks ago during the Christmas break, he took a few of us scrambling up a rocky trail (which we have now named it as Gregor's Twist) and then some more.

He has graciously indulged me in this quick interview which means, I'll probably have to pay buy him a beer soon. ;D
Running along Mt Bogong in December 2013.

1. Have you always been a runner since your school days? Or were you more of a football/rugby/cricket kind of guy?

Never was a runner until recently – a footy cricket kinda guy!

2. You mentioned that you started running since 2009/2010. What made you decide to pick up running?

Like probably a lot of people, I started running to lose weight and slowly progressed from 1km to 2km to a 5km to a 10km and so on….. I guess I just caught the bug!

3. From there on, you jumped straight into the world of ultra running. Was it because you preferred the scenery which longer distances provided or you were inspired by someone/something? :)

After I finished my first marathon (Melbourne) in 2008 I just couldn’t believe I had run that far and didn’t collapse or die! I guess from there I thought…. I wonder how far I can push myself. I always felt I was mentally strong and not blessed with speed so that’s how it all started.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Onde Onde Requires Glutinous Rice Flour

Because I enjoyed the onde onde from Lim's Nyonya Hut, I was inspired to make some of my own.

And of all times to do so, I chose Christmas morning so I could bring them over to my friend's house for lunch.

It took me us (YB eventually had to lend a hand) 3.5 hours!!

Pandan (screwpine) leaves. Bought them for AUD$2.80 (15 pieces).

The main recipe I referred to is from Rasa Malaysia and tweaked based on other references from Malaysian Kitchen, Thoughts Transcribed and My Dear Tummy.

The ingredients are as follows:
250gm of glutinous rice flour
100gm shredded/dessicated coconut
200ml pandan juice*
150gm gula melaka (palm sugar)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tbsp of sugar

*To make pandan juice, blend 10 pieces of pandan leaves with 220ml of water. Drain.
Alternatively, 200ml of water with 2-3 drops of pandan essence? Just assuming!

Not too sure whether it did give me 200ml of pandan juice or not. Probably a little less!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Werribee Gorge State Park - The Year End Walk

Werribee Gorge State Park is situated near Bacchus Marsh, on the other side of the Western Freeway from Lerderderg State Park (where we went for our Wild Wombat Fat Ass 30 run). After a long drive from Melbourne, it was pretty deserted by the time we arrived at the car park of Quarry picnic area at 2pm on Tuesday, 31st December 2013.

The activities you can do there include walking, picnicking and rock climbing. We opted to take the Circuit Walk (10KM) which would take an estimated 4.5 hours to complete.

A glimpse of Werribee River below.

Photo credit: The hubby.

 We went straight ahead just to be sure we weren't missing any awesome views before we returned onto the track.