Sunday, June 12, 2011

Competitive Snacking

There is a heartiness goes along with outdoorsyness that I feel demands rewarding snacks of a wholesome nature. Admittedly, this opinion is derived largely from competitiveness with and jealousy towards the slightly-more-senior-than-us types who brave the cold of the 40ft for a brisk morning dip, followed by a major tea-drinking session. See, I've been going out there with my partner in outdoorsy crime Raedi* to get some decent open water swim practice in before my next triathlon (which is in - how did that happen - three weeks - GULP), and, in typically greedy and juvenile fashion, I've been wistfully eyeing up the treats that the oldies bring along. And while their flesh-baringness seems far more worthy of reward than our comparatively wussy wetsuitedness, our hearty half-hour swims surely merit celebrating through the medium of food. Such seemingly nutty behaviour is deserving of some nutty snacks.

*TIME FOR A TANGENT! Raedi gives running courses. Now, often when people decide they're going to take up running, they think that they can just throw on a pair of trainers and get out there and pound away and all of a sudden reach that fabled 'addiction' state. While the beauty of running is that you really can just head out and take a good crack at it without a great deal of investment, as long as you are good at ignoring things like torrential rain in June, that is often the very thing that leads people to do it completely arseways, end up disheartened (not to mention nursing an injury) and jack the whole malarkey in. I was returning to my house after a run one day when I saw a man flailing around in a ginormous tracksuit, and I got the impression that he was after robbing someone's house. On closer inspection, he was attempting to run, and given his technique and choice of clothing I suspect that the poor creature may not have survived too long in his efforts as a runner. Without a little wisdom and guidance, you might find that your efforts aren't automatically followed by super-fit amazingness. Those post-running endorphins may elude you and you may be mystified as to why on earth people willingly put themselves through this voluntarily and, in fact, for fun. Spend a little money on a running course and that elusive runner's buzz will more likely come your way and stay there - give it a go.

Cereal-y bar thingies are such a swizz; they're marketed to make you think that they're a healthy and wholesome alternative to choccie bars, when in actual fact they are equally calorie-laden and often just as crammed with nasty additive stuff. The homemade kind may not be entirely low-fat, but since you're in control of proceedings you can at the very least ensure that there is a decent dose of fruit and nuts that will impart some sort of respectable nutritional positivity. The baking bit of the fabulous and beautiful Ottolenghi cookbook has a recipe for granola bars that lured me in with its loveliness to a sufficient extent to overlook the whole butter/sugar content end of things. I mean, who could resist the allure of a concoction that begins with the roasting of that treat-y-est of nuts, the pecan: 45g, 140 degrees, eight minutes.

In the meantime, after they've had a good chopping, 45g dried apricots and 45g dried sour cherries get pumped up in a bowl of hot water for ten minutes.

The not-so-healthy but entirely essential caramel with 95g butter, 85g honey and 95g sugar...

...brought to a gentle simmer until it hits the point of being a light, bubbly golden ooze.

The other bits are easily cobbled together: 45g pumpkin seeds, 30g sesame seeds, 30g ground almonds, 190g oats, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, along with the fruit and nuts.

The whole lot is scooped together in one big glorious golden texture-filled orgy.

In it goes, patted down and smoothed over and baked for (oh, the precision) 22 minutes.

These are best made the night before eating, otherwise they can descend into something of a sticky mess. The only danger is whether they will survive right through to that ravenous state of post-swimmingness. 

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