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Showing posts from 2016

Learning to Run

This was at the end of November 2014: 
30 day challenge complete: after a programme of walking/jogging/gasping on the treadmill for 30 minutes, every day for the last 30 days, this morning I managed to run 4.8km/3 miles...  but in 33 mins not the 'promised' 30. If I'd thought about the maths at the beginning of the 30 days I'd have set speed goals. But never mind, I'm fitter! Now to keep it going and reach a 6.5 mile goal (no time goal though) in the next 6 months
I did. And I kept on running throughout 2015, taking part in three officially timed races, two 10km and one 5km, the 7.5 mile Beast of Bryn mountainous challenge in South Wales, and the Maidstone Harriers Turkey Run. The inspirations for the latter were the prize of a Christmas Pudding, hot chocolate and all the mince pies you could eat at the end, and bacon baps and mulled wine at the home of Leah Ripley, fellow runner and member of Meopham & Malling Ladies Joggers. The Hungry Writer morphed into The H…

Read Me

The Number 1 song in the UK on the day I was born, 3rd June 1958, was Who's Sorry Now by Connie Francis. In my desperation for something even slightly more celebratory I try the USA: Sheb Wooley's The Purple People Eater. Okay, one last shot, Canada: All I Have To Do Is Dream by the Everly Brothers, which also happens to be the Number 1 Country Song on that day. I'll take that.
I found myself on the This Day in Music website because of Paul Cuddihy, author of Read All About It: My Year Of Falling In Love With Literature, who proudly boasts Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks as his birth date song (some of us are luckier than others) during his year long account of reading his books rather than just buying them as literary insulation for his dining room wall.
Are writers more likely to do this than non-writers? I don't know - you tell me. I'm not as bad as I used to be: my move to France in 2006 forced me into a surgical cull rather than pay almost as much to…

Things have changed

Things have changed for the hungry writer. I'll let Dylan have his say first:


I'm not a worried woman with a worried mind, although I do drink champagne. It's just that my life has changed over the last two years: I started running and I've written much less than I ever have since I first began around 25 years ago. So I can either change the blog title to 'the hungry writer who doesn't write much and runs' or I could just blog about whatever engages me, when and if I feel like it. Or I could stop altogether. 
Because something else has been circling my mind over recent months too: reading. Is it happening on the web? Does the popularity of Twitter and Instagram, and the ease of making snappy status updates on Facebook, mean that most people on social media really don't want to read more than a sentence or two? Are blogposts going the way that critics said 'real' books would go? (Except they haven't: they're on the rebound.)
Maybe no decisio…

Pie, pie glorious pie

So often when we talk about food we are talking about family. In fact that was how the hungry writer blog began, nearly six years ago: weekly memories or life stories linked by the theme of food. Food is nurture and love. It can be celebration and anxiety too. It can also be a battleground, as the parents of young children know so intimately! Which is rather a satisfying segue into the family featuring in this week's blogpost: The Radfords. Because if anyone understands the feeding of children, really, really understands, it has to be Sue Radford who, with her husband, Noel, has 19 children. You can read about the family on their website but don't rush off yet as what I really want to talk about is pie. And specifically Radford's pies.
Noel Radford has been a baker for 25 years and opened his own bakery in 1999 in Heysham, Lancashire and makes pies with locally sourced ingredients. That, along with his skill as a master baker, means that the pictures of the 'filled to t…

From crop to cake: courgettes

It's not what I imagined when I first pushed the seeds into damp soil. Or even when I watered the first show of green, or transplanted the seedlings into bigger pots, then finally those startlingly robust plants into the earth beneath the espaliered pear trees. 

And not even when light transforms them from vegetable to chalice and you think they are capable of so much more than their natural selves. 

Synchronicity. Happenstance. Serendipity. Some of that perhaps: the BBC Good Food's recipe called for 350 grams of grated courgette and the first two ready for picking, washed and topped and tailed, weighed 351. 
And here is their transformation into sweet cake. 
And this is how it was done:

And this was breakfast on a July Sunday morning but minus the cream cheese frosting the recipe recommends as, in my opinion, there's only so far a courgette should be pushed. 

But there's some home-made orange syrup in the cupboard and some fresh custard in the fridge and a sweet, sprin…

Hunger games and telling stories

Being home in Wales for a week means eating out at least two or three times with Mam and Dad. We have our favourite casual lunch place - La Memo in Port Talbot - who serve a home-made lasagna you might sell one of your children for, or at least swap them for a day or two of hard labour. It's a family run place and their reputation is built on their fuss-free and friendly service and the reliable quality of their food. And lovely little surprises like this, which arrived after the following conversation:
Me: could I have a Macchiato, please? Turkish owner: what's that? Me: an Espresso with a splash of milk foam on top. Turkish owner: oh, Espresso Cappuccino style.
That's the one.
Two other regular lunch haunts, outside of Port Talbot, were less successful. One has been slipping into the arena of dismal failure since its make-over a year ago. When a kitchen's primary function is a grill (as the majority of the rest of the food is, let's be honest, pre-prepared) it's di…

Opening the box. And Teisen Lap.

We were looking for an old black and white photograph last time I was home in Wales: my parents sitting on an outcrop by the River Nedd where it enters Briton Ferry, beside the road bridge that opened in 1955. 'I'll have a look in Granny's box,' my mother said.

Granny's box, that now holds photos, a small Welsh bible and newspaper clippings, was the tin box my D'cu (Grandfather) took to work with him when he was a Doubler in the Tinplate Works in Llanelli, pre and post WWII. One of the men who bent, or doubled, sheets of hot rolled iron or steel bars in half with a large set of tongs before they were rolled again, maybe three or four times, and subsequently coated with tin. I remember that he always wore his belt buckle fastened towards the back, a legacy from those years to avoid catching the handles of the tongs in a front fastened one and a mishandled sheet slicing through flesh.
I don't know what he carried in his box to eat during his dinner break. I can …

The Past and the Present of Peanut Butter. And a dose of donkiness.

Facebook reminded me of this haiku I posted 6 years ago today. 

peanut butter fudge/ we really don't mind/ if it rains today
I was living in France in 2010 and six months away from starting this blog with stories about family and friends all linked by the theme of food. But the signs were there! 
The recipe was Sophie Dahl's, and it must have been one featured on her TV programme that year, The Delicious Miss Dahl, as it doesn't appear in her book, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights. A book you can now pick up from 1 penny (plus postage) on Amazon which surprised me as I really loved the TV series and the book is really pretty too, with uncomplicated and inviting recipes. But then I looked at a few of Jamie Oliver's titles and the penny price for used copies applies to them too. And he's as popular as hot salty chips by the seaside. 
And 6 years later I'm back with my spoon in another jar of peanut butter making these cookies as a post run snack for my running fri…

The Knack of Running and some Snick-Snacks

It's not rocket science. You put on a pair of daps, go outside and run. But then you start reading about gait, cadence, foot-strike, the best shoes for you and you wonder if you're doing it right. (Even though you've been running since you were 4 years old!) But there are a myriad articles about runners' injuries to shins, knees, hips. So you should probably talk to an expert, shouldn't you? And suddenly it becomes rocket science. A different kind of rocket science depending on which expert you talk to. 
I'm sounding a little sour because ever since I took an expert's advice and changed my running shoes a couple of weeks ago I've been tip-toeing around the house like the Sugar Plum Fairy because of a strained Achilles tendon. And over the last year not one expert has ever warned about changing shoes gradually, doing short runs in the new ones before chucking the old ones out. I just put them on, thought, 'ooh comfy', and set off for 10km. 
But ice…

Running through History: Addington, Kent

I am hoping that I never ever need to use one of these when I'm out running. This one's in an adopted BT phone box at the top of the hill leading to Addington Village Green, but as I'm tackling the climb up from the A20, past the entrance to West Malling Golf Club, there's something oddly reassuring about knowing it's there! And it seems that any village with a redundant phone box can take steps to change it into a mini-medical centre - read how here.
footsteps heartbeats the breath and measure of my days 
Addington, aside from being the name of the village, is also the neighbouring parish to Offham, where I live, although we used to lie within Addington Parish until boundary changes a couple of decades ago. The original rectory to Addington Church is across the lane from me. And the land the houses in our small hamlet are built on was once part of Addington Park, the estate and gardens belonging to the Jacobean manor house, Addington Place. The manor house changed h…

The Sprout of Gratitude, The Crumb of Romance and The Gloop of Disappointment

I am not the best patient. I know that. When I'm ill I like to be left alone, for the most part. A bit like a cat: just let me curl up in a corner and heal quietly. I don't snarl or bite though. And I do appreciate, and respond civilly, to regular cups of tea or Lemsips. And the occasional snack. The kind of snack that appeals to a convalescent, someone with a light appetite, something visually tempting. Hot toast with melting butter. Some lightly scrambled eggs with a sprinkling of chives. Even a mug of Heinz tomato soup swirled with a little creme fraiche. 
There was an M&S chicken pie in the fridge. Hmmm ... not sure, maybe. But I'd probably eat some lightly cooked vegetables. An hour later, Tony called me. And I really don't want to sound ungrateful. But sprouts? Vigorously boiled sprouts? Sprouts, of any texture, just don't whisper: get better soon. I ate some. They were very soft. That was the only sprout of gratitude I could muster. 
Hungry Writing Prompt W…

With and without striped pyjamas: children who starve

Degrees of sadness and/or joy, yes of course, but I don't think I've ever finished a novel so beautifully written that left me with such a sense of chilling and inevitable hopelessness. When I read the following, towards the conclusion of John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, I had to stop and remind myself to breathe:
... if I had a pair of striped pyjamas too, then I could come over on a visit and no one would be any the wiser.
The book was first published in 2006 and the film was released in 2008 so I'm sure lots of people are familiar with the story of quirky, nine-year-old Bruno whose family moves from Berlin to a place he pronounces 'Out-with' when his father is appointed camp Commandant  by the 'Fury'. 
'There are no monstrosities on the page' a review in Ireland on Sunday said. That's right. There are bright store fronts, fruit and vegetable stalls, caf├ęs that serve frothy drinks, a house with servants and plenty of food: chocola…