Tag Archives: cookies

50th Parkrun

It has taken me almost 5 years, but I’ve finally done it: I’ve run 50 parkruns! Remember when I ran my first parkrun in April 2013? That run is still one of my fastest parkrun times (ignorance is bliss when you don’t know about the hills on the course). I ran parkrun occasionally but not consistently for the first 4 years, but when I started getting into the 30s last summer/autumn, I resolved to make it to 50 parkruns by early 2018.

Post-50th parkrun email. In the 50 Club!

I would’ve hit 50 before this weekend if I hadn’t gotten a bad cold over Christmas – I had plans to run 2-3 parkruns over the holidays! – but here we are on 17th March 2018 and my goal has been achieved.

When you look at how many people have run upwards of 100 and even 250 parkruns, 50 doesn’t seem like much, but it still takes commitment to get up for a 9am run on a Saturday. For me, it helps that F gets up over two hours earlier (!) than me on Saturdays to cycle in Regent’s Park, so my 7:50am alarm doesn’t seem too bad compared to his wake-up time.

In celebration of my impending 50th parkrun, I baked these oatmeal raisin cookies to share around afterwards. Fellow Heathsider Shaan was running his 25th and Hannah was running her 30th parkrun, so they provided some millionaire’s shortbread (yum). Gabi mustered a few other Heathsiders to join us at Finsbury Park, and it was fun to be cheered on my milestone before the start.

Some Heathsiders post-parkrun

Did I mention it was snowing and blowing this morning? You can see bits of snow on the grass in the photo above. After a balmy week of 10+C temperatures, the mercury dropped on Friday night and Saturday morning was a brisk 2C with some gently falling snow that the wind subsequently whipped around up the backside of the Finsbury parkrun course. But we braved the elements and felt extra virtuous for it. I had a busy week and felt tired so decided to run a steady Z3/4 parkrun and came in at 24:02. Not so speedy, but a solid time and a good up-tempo run for me.

My 50th parkrun stats

Now that I have reached my 50 parkruns milestone, let’s take a moment to look at my parkrun history. While a lot of people try to run as many different parkruns as possible – dubbed ‘parkrun tourism’ – I’m a creature of habit and usually run at Finsbury Park or Ally Pally due to their proximity to my flat. I have run Hampstead Heath parkrun once and F and I even ran a parkrun in Liverpool when we were up visiting friends a few weeks ago.

I love parkrun because you can run it however you want. When I feel like testing my fitness, I’ll go to Finsbury park and hammer it (did that last weekend, hence this week’s steadier run). If I’m up for a scenic run on mainly trails, I’ll go to Ally Pally and sometimes push it but sometimes run at social pace with Gabi or Jo. I’ve volunteered twice and need to do more of that to give back to such an amazing community.

Now that I’ve reached 50 parkruns, what’s next? In general running goals, I have a number of 10k races coming up over the spring and summer so I am working on building my endurance and long run distance. Maybe I’ll try to do Hampstead Heath parkrun more often and build that into my weekly long run. We shall see. For now, I’ll rest on my small laurels and enjoy the weekend!

Parkrun tourism at Princes parkrun, Liverpool!


Festive Cookie Party!

This year, Thanksgiving crept up on us before we were able to organize a friendly get-together, as we have done for the past couple of years. So instead, partly inspired by this NY Times feature and partly by remembering that my mom has hosted cookie decorating parties, F and I decided to host a festive afternoon Plätzchenbackparty (“cookie-bake-party”) in early December.

A bit of festive decor

So we chose a date, sent out WhatsApp invites to friends, searched for cookie recipes, and calculated how much mulled wine to make. I got my upper body strength training by using our handheld mixer to make loads of cookie dough the night before, and we stocked up on icing (powdered) sugar and food coloring.

On Saturday, friends came and went throughout the afternoon. Many cookies were baked: I made basic sugar cookies and chocolate cookies, and others contributed Scottish caraway biscuits, Lebkuchen, and shortbread. Once the icings were made – simple powdered sugar + milk, and F made this royal icing – people got down to some serious decorating business. There were plenty of drinks to go around, holiday tunes played in the background, and the atmosphere was warm, cozy, and festive. Highlights included Shana’s Shakespeare cookie cutter (and the creativity that those cookies engendered) and the ever-elusive Christmas jellyfish…photos below!

Race Recap: Sunday League Cross Country – Cheshunt

It’s autumn, which to many a runner might be synonymous with cross country season! It has certainly become so for me over the past few years. I’ve traditionally taken part in the competitive Met League Cross Country (XC) series with my club: men and women run separately (and the men’s race is longer than the women’s – grr), runners score points so the faster you are the better, and there’s an enthusiastic rabbling atmosphere.

Heathsiders getting ready to run XC at Chestnut. Bobble hats at the ready!

Today I ran in another XC league that my club participates in: the slightly lower-key Sunday League. Here, men and women run a 5-mile course together (gasp!), there’s significantly less rabbling, and you don’t even need a race number.

This was my first Sunday League XC race and I loved it. While I do enjoy the raucous, hyped-up Met League, the Sunday League – at least this particular race around some fields in Cheshunt (don’t ask me where that is) – felt much more like a “regular” trail race. Everyone runs together, and there’s good marshaling but not so much spectator action on the course, making some sections quite peaceful.

Pre-race Heathside contingent. Photo credit: Marco M.

I’ve always heard that the Sunday League is more inclusive than the Met League, and now that I can compare the two, I’d tend to agree. That said, I’ve never felt too slow for the Met League, just a bit more pressure to really race.

I had no such expectations today and decided to run by feel and enjoy myself. J and I set off together and used the first kilometer to warm up and try to settle into a rhythm on the crowded trails. Once the pack of runners thinned out, we were able to pick up the pace and run the next couple of kilometers under 5:00/km pace. I was surprised how comfortable the faster pace felt – I think the long runs and semi-regular hill workouts have helped my fitness – but reminded myself that we still had a ways to go.

The course was three undulating laps on grassy trails. Luckily, it was dry so I was fine running in my regular trainers (I ordered trail shoes to arrive on the Friday before, but they never came!). There were a couple of spots where we had to run over rounded furrows – we dubbed them “moguls,” and they were quite tricky to navigate while maintaining a rhythm.

J and I caught up with C towards the end of the second lap and C and I ran together for a few kilometers. I was pleased to go through 5km in under 25:00, although C passed me and stayed ahead for the rest of the race (no hard feelings! She’s an incredible runner). I started to feel my legs and concentration waning in the past couple of kilometers, but tried to stay steady and push to the finish. As the finish line came into view, I dug in and was able to sprint past two or three runners to finish just two spots behind C, who had a great race. I don’t have the official time yet, but my watch read 40:14 for the 5.08 miles (7:55/mi or 4:55/km average pace). Very pleased with that.

There was plenty of cake to go around after the race, and I contributed these salted chocolate chunk cookies (thanks, smitten kitchen!), which another runner joked were good for refueling because the salt would help replenish electrolytes. But of course!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Sunday XC League outing and am already looking forward to the next one at Trent Park in a couple of weeks. Maybe my trail shoes will have arrived by then… I’ve really enjoyed doing more trail races in the past few months, at Trent Park and on the Ridgeway trails. It’s remarkable how much opportunity there is for trail racing in and around such a metropolis as London. We are fortunate to live in north London, with Hampstead Heath just a couple of miles away.

Race Recap: Perivale 5, for the fourth time

It’s the first weekend of December, and you know what that means? Time for the annual Perivale 5 — a flat, suburban race that is always well-organized by Ealing Southall and Middlesex AC (water, banana, a t-shirt, and a Twix bar after the race? Yes, please!).

It was a glorious day for a road race: a chilly 3-4 degrees C, but bright and sunny with little wind. Some of us were hemming and hawing about what to wear given the cold, but once we warmed up I was glad of my wardrobe choice: thicker capris, a t-shirt under my vest, and gloves (which I even pulled off in the last mile). I hadn’t really run since the previous weekend, as I had a bit of a stomach virus during the week. It didn’t keep me from work but definitely kept me from doing any extra physical activity. I thought I still might be able to manage finishing in 38 minutes but felt quite nervous so decided to see how it went and listen to my body.

The start was slowish, with lots of runners bunched up on a narrow sidewalk, but I managed a 4:54 first kilometer and once it thinned out was able to settle into a pace of just under 5:00/km. I knew I wasn’t on pace for 38 minutes so readjusted my goal to aim for under 39.

My second and third kilometers were 4:49 and 4:51 and I was starting to warm up and get into a good rhythm while steadily passing a runner here and there. I faded a little in the fourth kilometer — my slowest, as you can see from my Strava race analysis below — but was buoyed by making it to the halfway point. You can do it. Just 2 miles to go, I thought as I passed the 3-mile marker.

It helped to pass another Heathsider just after 3 miles — he told me that Gabi was just up ahead, so I made it my goal to try and catch up with her before the end of the race (thanks/sorry, Gabi!). That was enough motivation to make my sixth kilometer my fastest, at 4:37, as I caught up to Gabi near the 4-mile marker and pushed on towards the finish. Once on the track for the last 350 meters, I tried to quicken my pace as much as my legs would let me, and had a good last lap to finish in 38:37 (7:43/mi, 4:49/km pace) — not brilliant (and nowhere close to my PB from three years ago), but a bit faster than I’ve run Perivale for the past two years, and a negative split! I’ll take that as an achievement. I was knackered at the end and glad to share these cookies and H&S’s delicious banana cake with the rest of the Heathside contingent.

In case any nerds are interested in my race analysis, courtesy of Strava.

In case any nerds are interested in my race analysis, courtesy of Strava.

What’s Been Cooking?

Hello, everyone — long time no blog. Apologies for my blogosphere absence; I have been lacking in motivation recently, still a bit burnt out from last fall’s DELTA course (I passed all three modules on the first go, thank goodness). I’ve also been wondering what the point is of re-blogging recipes that I haven’t changed all that much. And, if I do continue blogging, in which direction I’d like this blog to go. More musical? More sporty? More education-related? I’d love to hear what you enjoy most about my blog, so please leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to see more of.

Now to today’s topic: what’s been cooking in my kitchen? I’ve tried some great new recipes lately (okay, in the past six months…) but haven’t modified them much, so I’ll just link to the original recipes below. Here are some highlights:

parmesan, kale, & white bean soup + tortellini

parmesan, kale, & white bean soup + tortellini

  • Parmesan Broth with Kale, White Beans, & Tortellini (smitten kitchen). F and I collected parmesan rinds in the freezer for an entire year before we had enough to make Deb’s soup. It was worth the wait — umami-salty, warming, and satisfying. We added tortellini for some extra heft.
  • Miso-Coconut Chicken Soup (i am a food blog). I made this one way back in September. Unfortunately, F was sick that weekend so I ended up eating most of it myself, but I loved it and look forward to making it again at a time when we can both enjoy it. Creamy but not too rich, great over rice.
  • The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (i am a food blog). These. are. SO. good. Crispy edges, moist and chewy insides. F dubbed them “maybe the best cookies I’ve ever had.” Now that’s saying something! Use whatever chocolate you want (I used extra dark) and don’t leave off the sprinkling of sea salt on top. I passed this recipe onto J, whose family devoured them in no time.
lemon poppy seed muffins

lemon poppy seed muffins

  • Double Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (Cookie +  Kate). In my mind, it is hard to beat the combination of lemon and poppy seeds. Let’s be honest, lemonanything is pretty great. I had combined lemon and poppy seeds before in pancakes but not in muffins. This recipe presented great flavors, although the muffins were a teensy bit dry for me.
  • Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze (Bon Appétit). F was away last weekend and I wanted to surprise him with something tasty upon his return home. He loves lemon cake, so I tried out this one, which had been sitting in my “make this” bookmarks for ages. It was fantastic, remaining moist for a couple of days. I took a bunch to work and four of us devoured it pretty quickly. F’s only comment was that it could be even more lemony, so next time I’ll use the zest of 2 lemons in the cake batter.

Of course, those aren’t the only things I’ve been cooking. We’ve done many of the usual dinner rotations, like pizza and roasted root vegetables and various stir fries. I reprised chocolate beet cake for dinner with friends last month — this time adding a tasty pink cream cheese frosting — and whipped up an apple dutch baby pancake for a Sunday brunch.

What have you been cooking up recently?


Recipe: Four-Ingredient Lemon Pudding

A few weeks ago we had a fun board game night over at Charlotte and Thomas’s. Pre-game dessert (we needed our strength for five hours of Dominant Species!) consisted of delicious lemon puddings with crushed ginger nuts (aka ginger snaps). Charlotte gave me the recipe, and I had the opportunity to make these tasty little puddings last week. S&T arrived from Rochester for two weeks of research in London, and we fed them dinner on their first night here, finishing with the puddings. T, who is Russian, said they reminded her of her childhood. The secret? Sweetened condensed milk, which T said was one of the only occasional sweet treats that she got growing up in Soviet Russia.

just add crushed ginger nuts on top

just add crushed ginger nuts on top — or eat them plain

In sum: these puddings have four ingredients, take 5-10 minutes to whip up, require no baking, and are absolutely delicious. Tangy lemon meets sweetened condensed milk: what’s not to love? Thanks to Charlotte for the recipe! I’ll definitely make them again and again.

What’s your favorite easy spring dessert? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to leave a link to your recipe.

Four-Ingredient Lemon Pudding (adapted from Charlotte’s recipe; serves 7-8 — cut recipe in half for less)


  • 794g (2 cans) sweetened condensed milk (sometimes just labeled “condensed milk”)
  • 300mL double cream
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • juice of 4-5 lemons (200-300mL)
  • 20 ginger nuts (ginger snaps), crushed


  • In a large bowl, whisk the condensed milk and cream together until smooth.
  • Add the lemon juice and zest, whisking until thickened and smooth.
  • Spoon the pudding into pots/glasses, then cover and refrigerate them until the pudding is set, 2-3 hours or longer.
  • Before serving, add some crushed ginger nuts/snaps to the top of each pudding.


Recipe: Smitten Kitchen’s Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Since I cannot contribute driving to cross country and road races, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide post-race treats for the club-mates who generously let me snag a spot in their cars. So far this season, I’ve shared my granola and easy energy bars, both of which received praise and recipe requests. For last weekend’s post-Met League cross country treat, I decided to make some sweet-yet-relatively-healthy oatmeal raisin cookies (if you want über-healthy, make these banana-oat snack “cookies” instead). Of the few recipes I had bookmarked, the smitten kitchen one looked the best, and I fortunately had all of the ingredients on hand — not to mention that smitten kitchen recipes almost always turn out amazingly well, so I knew it’d be hard to mess these up.


I didn’t make too many adjustments to Deb’s already perfect recipe. My cookies didn’t turn out as thick as hers, despite the fact that I chilled the dough for half an hour before baking the cookies. I used big, juicy “flame raisins” (they’d been the cheapest at Tesco) and all the walnuts I had around — feel free to use more or fewer, or leave them out, depending on your preferences.


The cookies turned out beautifully: crisp edges, chewy insides. Divine — and addicting. They got rave reviews from my running club-mates (glad you all liked them!). Now, what to make for the next race…

What are your favorite post-race or post-exercise refueling treats?

Smitten Kitchen’s Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (very slightly adapted from smitten kitchen; makes 16-18 medium cookies)


  • 115g (1/2 cup = 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g (2/3 cup) brown sugar, packed (I used dark brown)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 95g (3/4 cup) plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120g (1.5 cups) rolled oats
  • 120g (1 cup) raisins
  • optional: 45-60g (1/2 – 3/4 cup) walnuts, chopped


  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir this into the wet mixture, then add the oats, raisins, and walnuts and stir until just combined.
  • Optional: Chill the dough for 20-40 minutes in the fridge.
  • When the dough is done chilling, preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
  • Place tablespoon-sized balls of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then bake for 9-12 minutes or until the edges are golden-brown. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring.


Recipe: Chewy Molasses Cookies

Sorry for my recent blogging lapse — MA essays tend to take precedence at the end of term. To make up for it, here’s a recipe for tasty, spiced molasses cookies that are sure to brighten your winter evenings.

help yourself

help yourself — it’s the holidays!

These chewy, warmly spiced molasses cookies scream “holidays.” That’s why I made them — along with these cocoa brownies — for a casual mulled wine evening in mid-December. Adapted from Joy the Baker — I pretty much followed her directions except didn’t roll the cookies in sugar; I think it’s excessive — the cookies turned out soft and chewy with crispy edges. The flavor was great — F loved them — but I found them a bit too cakey. I’d imagined a denser, moister cookie. Maybe I should use more molasses next time? Less flour? Let me know if you have any suggestions.

In any case, chewy molasses cookies are a must for any wintertime holiday gathering, as their ginger and cinnamon spice profile equally complements hot chocolate, mulled wine, or any other warm holiday drink.

Chewy Molasses Cookies (adapted from Joy the Baker; makes 16-20 medium cookies)


  • 2.25 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses


  • Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together the first three ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In another medium bowl, beat the spices, butter, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the egg and molasses to the butter mixture and beat for another minute or so, until the mixture is smooth and lighter colored.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet mix little by little, beating on low speed until just incorporated.
  • Roll large tablespoonfuls of dough between your palms to make neat little balls of dough. Place them a couple of inches apart on the baking sheet, and bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cookie tops are cracked. Let cool slightly before transferring the baked cookies to wire racks.