Food

Harvesting Wild Blackberries

One of the better things about returning to the countryside, as the Ninja Turtle has found, is that time slows down enough for one to think differently. Sure, the city life in Lyon offered the duo plenty of exciting activities year-round, and one is constantly engaged, amused, stimulated… but perhaps that was the problem. It was very hard to disconnect, pull back and simply have some time for oneself.

In the quiet and calm of the campagne, far away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and the commerce, the Ninja Turtle becomes much more pensive. And in her reflections, she begins to feel an immense sense of gratitude, despite her malady. There is, after all, a lot to be grateful for, despite everything.

Grateful for each moment she is alive.
Grateful for each person who’s come into her life.
Grateful for each experience that brings joy, or a lesson.
Grateful for each emotion and every new sensation.
Grateful for the hurt, the sorrow and the pain
Grateful that despite that, she still has much to gain.
Grateful for the kindness from strangers she receives
Grateful for the love friends and family give.
Grateful for existing in this messy world
Where life can sometimes be incomprehensible
Grateful for just being here today
Grateful for tomorrow, come what may.

There is so much richness in life, when one chooses to receive. The Ninja Turtle, in her leisurely strolls along the country road, recently chanced across wild blackberries growing in abundance, free for the picking and ripening at a deliciously alarming pace.

When GodzillaPin returned from his cycling trip a couple of days ago, the Ninja Turtle could not wait to bring him blackberry harvesting. OK, fine, she’ll admit it. After spending 2 hours harvesting blackberries alone the first time, and having the unfortunate experience of falling into the blackberry bramble (an experience which she will never wish upon anyone) when trying to reach for the higher branches, she knew she needed a helping hand from someone less vertically-challenged than herself.

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Enter GodzillaPin, 6’1.

Of course when the Ninja Turtle first proposed blackberry harvesting, GodzillaPin thought it was going to be a breeze. Little did he realise that battling the blackberry bush thorns and the stinging nettles that grow alongside, this was less of a leisurely pastime, and more of an extreme sport.

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After about an hour, the duo decided that they’d had enough (enough of being pricked, and enough blackberries to last a few days), so they hurried home excitedly to taste the fruits of their labour.

The Ninja Turtle had recently made a rich chocolate and beer streusel cake, and the acidity of the blackberries married well with the sweet dessert. They also tried the blackberries in a soy yogurt and fruit salad parfait.

They say that on the road to recovery from eating disorders, there are good days and bad days. That was a good day for the Ninja Turtle, and for that, she is grateful.

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Food

Every meal tells a story

It’s been a while since this blog has featured a Tasty Tuesday post, so today, the Ninja Turtle has decided to share a few pictures of some meals, and what makes an otherwise just-another-plate-of-food kind of special.

The first time the Ninja Turtle bought and cooked plantain. GodzillaPin likes it really ripe and sweet, fried in coconut oil, while the Turtle likes it still starchy green, boiled and mashed.

The first time the Ninja Turtle bought and cooked plantain. The duo learnt that GodzillaPin likes it really ripe and sweet, fried in coconut oil, while the Turtle likes it still starchy green, boiled and mashed.

The time when GodzillaPin went grocery shopping alone and decided to spoil the Ninja Turtle by buying a kilo of asparagus. Do you know how expensive that stuff is?!

The time when GodzillaPin went grocery shopping alone and decided to spoil the Ninja Turtle by buying a kilo of asparagus. Do you know how expensive that stuff is?! You’re looking at a skillet of true love.

On weekends and public holidays, when GodzillaPin doesn't have to go to the office, the duo like to sleep in a little bit, and have breakfast together. When they first met, GP only ate sweets at breakfast, now he's a convert. That's a sunny-side-up on Nordic toast, dusted with Australian dukkah. The basil sitting on the slice of bûche de chèvre came from the potted plant, a gift from their German friend Batman.

On weekends and public holidays, when GodzillaPin doesn’t have to go to the office, the duo like to sleep in a little bit, and have breakfast together. When they first met, GP only ate sweets at breakfast; now he’s a convert. That’s a sunny-side-up on Nordic toast, dusted with Australian dukkah. The basil sitting on the slice of bûche de chèvre came from a potted plant growing in their apartment, a gift from their German friend Batman.

That time when the Ninja Turtle was too exhausted to cook dinner after a day of work, running, laundry, housekeeping, managing the bills, etc etc... GodzillaPin took over in the kitchen and it's generally a 50-50 chance of disaster or miracle. This time round, it was a miracle.

That time when the Ninja Turtle was too exhausted to cook dinner after a day of work, running, laundry, housekeeping, managing the bills, etc etc… GodzillaPin took over in the kitchen and it’s generally a 50-50 chance of disaster or miracle. This time round, it was a miracle.

Post DNF-race, the Ninja Turtle was on an alcohol-fat-and-sugar bender to drown her sorrows (and after months of deprivation, she's earned it!) Dinner that night included a bottle of champagne, duck rillette with gold-flecked wine confit on pain d'épices (gingerbread).

Post DNF-race, the Ninja Turtle was on an alcohol-fat-and-sugar bender to drown her sorrows (and after months of deprivation, she’s earned it!) Dinner that night included a bottle of Mercier champagne, duck rillette with gold-flecked wine confit on pain d’épices (gingerbread).

A close-up of the gingerbread-duck-confit combo. It may look disgusting in this photo, but taste-wise, it was THE BOMB.

A close-up of the gingerbread-duck-confit combo. It may look disgusting in this photo, but taste-wise, it was THE BOMB. The gold flakes add a touch of extra luxury.

Finally, this was the dish the duo recently shared at a Canadian restaurant - caribou steak with cranberry sauce. Did you know that Charles Darwin was as enthusiastic about eating exotic animals as he was about identifying them?

Finally, this was the dish the duo recently shared at a Canadian restaurant – caribou steak with cranberry sauce. Did you know that Charles Darwin was as enthusiastic about eating exotic animals as he was about identifying them?

Anyone else with interesting and memorable food tales?

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Food

This Runner Eats the World

Not long ago, someone asked the Ninja Turtle what a runner’s diet looked like. Well… it’s not all energy gels, protein bars and shakes, you know. GodzillaPin is a man who loves to eat, and the Turtle is a runner with an appetite to match his. They don’t like eating out ‘cos it’s expensive, and here in Metz, it’s hard to find good not-French-cuisine food. Plus, the portions are tiny.

So here’s what they fix up at home instead.

A scallops and greens pasta (although the pasta was buried beneath the mound of yumminess).

A scallops and greens pasta (although the pasta was buried beneath the mound of yumminess).

Ginger and garlic cod en papillote. Mother Turtle cooked a lot of steamed fish back in Singapore, and this was the closest approximation the Ninja Turtle could get. Served with stir-fried beansprouts and purple rice, cos... carbs,

Ginger and garlic cod en papillote. Mother Turtle cooked a lot of steamed fish back in Singapore, and this was the closest approximation the Ninja Turtle could get. Served with stir-fried beansprouts and purple rice, cos… carbs,

Seasonal foods taste the best. Here's a salad of endives, apple, walnuts, dressed with a walnut  and white wine vinaigrette.

Seasonal foods taste the best. Here’s a salad of endives, apple, walnuts, dressed with a walnut and white wine vinaigrette.

Vegetarian for the night: a chickpea and aubergine curry, made with some freshly grated ginger cos they were feeling fancy.

Vegetarian for the night: a chickpea and aubergine curry, made with some freshly grated ginger cos they were feeling fancy.

Finally, a 十全大補汤 which translates to All-Inclusive Great Tonifying Decoction. The Ninja Turtle slow-boiled this chicken and mushroom soup for 3.5 friggin' hours.

Finally, a 十全大補汤 which translates to All-Inclusive Great Tonifying Decoction. The Ninja Turtle slow-boiled this chicken and mushroom soup for 3.5 friggin’ hours.

They also had a Basque pork, vegetable and lentil stew, as well as a minced beef tortillas dinner, but those were gobbled up before the photos were taken. The whole point is this: runners eat a lot, and they TRY to eat healthy when they’re not living off Gatorade and granola bars, but healthy eating is far from boring. In fact, it can take you around the world.

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Food

Baking Frenzy

Although he doesn’t know it yet, GodzillaPin is a lucky man… upon waking this morning, the Ninja Turtle was struck by baking fever and decided to bake not one, but two batches of biscuits. Of course, there’s always a risk when experimenting with never-tried-before techniques or recipes, that things can go horribly wrong. But that’s just a risk GodzillaPin will have to take.

Strictly speaking, it’s not the first time the Ninja Turtle has baked a batch of biscotti (she did her first try before the duo left for Nice). However, the last batch was a trifecta of baking fail: a little too strong on the orange flavour, the slices were a tad too thick, and insufficient baking time. Calling them enjoyable would be bending the truth, but those biscotti were edible for the first two days. Day three onwards, they became a personal test of will of an epic proportion – GodzillaPin hates waste and refused to throw them away, but wouldn’t eat them lest he broke his teeth. Three weeks of tantrum and tears later, the biscuits were unceremoniously dumped in the bin, with a murmured apology to starving communities all around the world.

So, this time round, she used a different recipe and tried to learn from past errors. Also, this time round she refused to repeat the very expensive mistake of using all her organic almonds in something that could go wrong.

Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

225g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
135g sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
Chopped dark chocolate
Dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius (350 Farenheit).
Mix the first three dry ingredients in a bowl.
In another, beat sugar and eggs for a good 5 minutes. The recipe NT followed stated to use an electric mixer, but she’s an amateur experimental home baker, and can think of three dozen more interesting ways to spend money on an electric mixer for now, so instead, she got a nice workout for her arms doing this step.
Add the orange blossom water to the egg+sugar mixture.
Stir in the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until combine. Chuck in the chocolate and cranberries.
Pour it onto a baking parchment and bake for about 25 minutes.

It comes out looking like this. A giant cookie. Resist the urge to eat it at this stage.

It comes out looking like this. A giant cookie. Resist the urge to eat it at this stage.

Remove the monstrosity from the oven and reduce heat to 165 Celsius (330 Farenheit? Math geeks please verify this thanks.)
After about 10 minutes, the pastry should have cooled enough to be sliced with a serrated knife (bread knives are perfect for this) into thin slices. The Ninja Turtle aimed for about 1cm.
Return the slices into the oven with the cut sides facing up, and cook for 10 minutes, then the biscotti to bake the other side for another 10 minutes.

With fingers tightly crossed and the kitchen god smiling upon you, it should turn out a little like this.

With fingers tightly crossed and the kitchen god smiling upon you, it should turn out a little like this.

The second recipe is not new, just a slight variation on the Earl Grey Tea biscuits.

Sablés à la confiture

250g flour
125g sugar
125g butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Jam

Beat sugar and egg like in the above recipe (basically, viciously). Add in vanilla essence.
Pour in the flour, and stir. Then, using clean hands, use your fingers to work the combination, which should resemble a gritty, sandy mess at this stage.
Cut in the butter and mix until the dough is nicely combined.
The recipe didn’t specify this stage, but the Ninja Turtle rolled the dough into 2 logs of about 2cm diameter.
Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
Slice the dough and flatten it to about 1/2cm thickness, and stick your thumb in the middle of each. Fill the holes with jam.

Homemade jams courtesy of Grandma Rabbit: Rhubarb, red currant and apricot.

Homemade jams courtesy of Grandma Rabbit: Rhubarb, red currant and apricot.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes.

In half an hour, GodzillaPin will be coming home to a big surprise.

In half an hour, GodzillaPin will be coming home to a big surprise.

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