Friday, 10 October 2008

Cumin, I've been expecting you.

As I did say I'd report back about the meal, I will.

It was delicious. Although I knobbed up the amounts because the recipe is for 4 and I had to make it for 1 - and I have no ability when it comes to adapting stuff like that - thus lending it a peculiar one-off quality that even I would find hard to recreate, it was still delicious.

It's possible someone once said that the mark of a great recipe is its stoicism in the face of complete mishandling and hopeless application. If they did then I hope I never get trapped in a lift with them, the wordy git/s.

I've got that pin sharp pain in my chest again. Not sure why because apart from faffing around in the kitchen rustling up a distant facsimile of the recipe mentioned above (and described in more detail below) I haven't done anything. Pretty soon I'll have decided on at least four possible causes, all of them fatal, and my days will be numbered. Then it will go away and I'll forget all about it.

Tomorrow I'm going to go up to the lake and try it out, perimeter-wise. Right now I'm going to watch Jonathan Ross. He's a hoot, he is.

Sponsor me, would you?

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I've never used it knowingly in a recipe before. I'm sure it's been present in loads of stuff that I've eaten over the years but in my kitchen it's always ended up at the back of the cupboard, unwanted and unhappy. Same with some dried chives that I'm sure are actually little bits of blotting paper.

I'm not sure why I've been so dismissive of cumin. And it really doesn't matter. Thing is, I've just made a salsa with plenty of cumin in it, and it's delicious. I wouldn't, as I say, have thought of using it before but now I'm hooked. Kind of.

Anyway, the reason I've suddenly discovered this brand new spice is a website-cum-blog (that doesn't quite sound right, does it?) I happened upon while looking for information on what kind of diet I should be following during my training. I can't link to it just yet because I want to get the permission first, but it's by a woman who writes a lot about running - as well doing quite a bit of it too - and who also happens to be rather an excellent cook. And the best part about this dual expertise is that she's come up with a whole load of recipes that are evidently super-good for you but also, and it seems rarely, the sort of things that you actually would quite like to eat.

I never thought such a thing was possible! Not that I really thought that hard about it before. I've been under the apprehension that most wholesome recipes, or at least ones designed with particular fitness regimes in mind were a bit mundane and dull. If you look around you'll find that most of them really are. But the one I'm cooking tonight is corking, and most of the others on her blog and website seem of similar allure. At least to me and my tastes. I've never really been one to munch on lentils in the afternoon or get excited about flageolet beans and cranberry canapes for a monk-ish supper.

So I'm happy about that.

Now I'm going to finish making this particular meal (seared tuna steak with cranberry! cous-cous and a salsa involving the cumin along with mint, coriander, lemon, more coriander, tomatoes and olive oil) and I'll tell you all about it when it's done.

That's really something to look forward too, isn't it?

I don't ache! Crikey.

I was mucking about. I'm aware it's not going be anything like cake, or any portion of it. I just feel a little less overwhelmed by the novel idea of achieving something this physical. I hope this isn't arrogance masquerading as confidence.

Oddly enough I feel like I want to go out for a run again today. Not because the run last night was particularly exhilarating, it wasn't, but because I can see how it can become that way, and in not too long a time at all. It's like the first time you smoke a cigarette. After you've finished pinwheeling around trying to grab hold of something, then maybe retched something vital-looking up and gulped it back down again, perhaps even going so far as to actually admit to the 'pal' who gave you the cigarette in the first place that there's no way you're ever going to do that again cos that was disgusting!, you very speedily broker a short-term contract between your common-sense and your need to be cool that allows a couple more goes at it, to see if it gets any better. This contract is stretched out a little, then discarded altogether when you catch yourself in a shop window and you're about as sexy as you can be, especially when it comes out of your nose.

Yeah, it's exactly like that. well, you know what I mean.

There's an urge to beat the little no-nos that your body kept putting in your way, like the way the legs started feeling like soggy cotton wool after only 3 minutes of hitting your stride, or the pin sharp pain at the middle of the sternum that suddenly arrived about half way in and then never went away. I know that everyone gets these and other niggling pains and problems in the beginning and I know they will fade away the fitter I get. But I also know that trying too hard, attempting to overcome them too soon can have somewhat disastrous effects - or at least that's what everyone tells me.

Which is irritating, because I'm impatient. I want to be up at Dunorlan lake, for instance, able to lap it 6 times - 3 and a bit miles - without stopping or slowing down, maybe listening to something like Bizet or one of the Strausses (not the one who did all the polkas; I'd hate for someone to find me inert by the side of the path, pop my earphones out to try and raise me and then when I do come round they're trying to stop sniggering and dancing like a really effete Captain Scarlet), or even Wagner, if I was feeling violent.

Then again, the other side of me is perfectly willing to do sod all today. If there's one thing I'm really very good at, it's that.

But that's no good anymore. I've glimpsed the perfectly attainable version of myself feeling fit and happier for it, and though that sounds ridiculous after only one evening jog.. well, it is ridiculous, I suppose. Melodramatic, again. Maybe the sort of thing I should keep to myself.

However I look at it, I'm encouraged that I feel this way about it. Rather than wanting to shirk it, I actively want to do more of it. This must be a good thing. Maybe the thing about it that feels wrong is going on about it, so I'll stop that now.

I'll let you know if it changes though. Discouragement is the most hurtful of things, but one of the few that you can eradicate entirely on your own. Maybe writing it down here will help.

Right now, though, I'm feeling like this is perfectly possible, and even that I may end up being quite good at it. I hope so.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Running Club

Humpty Dumpty, eh? Did you know the rhyme was originally a riddle? Are you interested? A humpty-dumpty was slang at the time for a clumsy, maladroit person. But if such a person was to fall off a wall he probably wouldn't be so hard to put back together again as it is in the rhyme, unless it's a riddle. Do you care? I don't, to be honest. I just brought it up because I've long had suspicions about the involvement of all the king's horses in the attempt to save the poor fellow.

For one thing, they don't have opposable thumbs. This in itself isn't, I suppose, such a big thing as most, if not all of the king's men probably did have them, and at least one of theses blokes was likely to be a surgeon. Or at least very dextrous and confident in critical moments.

But what skills could a horse bring to such a situation? Whether HD is a person or an egg, which it turns out is the answer to the riddle (those 18th century riddlers were a riot, weren't they? Proper head-scratchers they came up with, too), it seems a little daft to rely in any way on horses to be helpful in his/its recovery.

I care even less, now that I've thought about it a bit more. Also, it's reminded me of my disappointment when I found out, after all these years searching (somewhat lacklustredly, I admit) for the answer to the big question, that - of all things - the hokey cokey turns out to be what it's all about. And it's not even mentioned in the bible. At least, not directly. It's alluded to in the bit where Jeremiah viciously takes the piss out of an albino for not being able to do the 'mash potato' without frowning, I think.

This has nothing, of course, to with my training for the marathon. But it is helping me put off writing about my first running club experience tonight.

Not that it was rubbish, nor great. It was just a little disappointing. The woman who runs it, Sarah, said a couple of things that stuck, and gave me hope. She obviously knows a fairly scary amount about the whole running thing, and has a very matter-of-fact and quietly amusing way of putting stuff. But necessarily this stuff - the ins and outs of getting fit for running like someone who's not totally out of his depth and on the verge of conclusive embarassment and shame by dying after 6 miles of flapping like a terrified swan - must be shared amongst others, the rest of the people attending the running club.

And I will not accept anything less than complete and exclusive attention.

Hmm. Might have to set my sights a bit lower. If I could afford it I would massage my insecurities and lack of ability and understanding of the necessary discipline by procuring a PERSONAL TRAINER. Someone with the patience, for an agreed fee, of a saint, probably.

Still, 3 miles eh? I could hear Vangelis humming along as I pounded down the high street, desperately hoping nobody I know spotted me. I reckon this marathon lark has been blown out of some proportion.

It's gonna be a piece of cake. Yes indeed.