Cheese Fest

Last weekend was a cheese lover’s dream: a paradise full of different types of cheeses, freshly cooked street style food loaded with cheese and cooking demonstrations using, you’ve guessed it, cheese. I went to the Cheese Fest in Leicester last Saturday, a festival celebrating the taste, beauty and glory of cheese. I treated my sister as she avoided eating certain types of cheeses while she was pregnant, and she is a big cheese fan.

Cheese lovers were in their element at the Athena where the festival was held. There were plenty of stalls including local producers and much loved French and Italian cheeses. All of the stalls had samples of any cheese you wanted to try, from fresh feta to crunchy cheddar in various strengths. There were also many odd but interesting flavours to try, including charcoal, raspberry and prosecco and sticky toffee pudding cheddar. I wasn’t overkeen but it was fun to sample unusual flavours.

Look at the cheese!

There were also stalls selling accompaniments that complement cheese, such as homemade chutneys, crackers, biscuits and olives. I do love chutneys so I bought some locally produced ale chutney which has a beautiful taste. There were other foods you could buy for those less inclined to cheese, including rocky road brownies, baklava and ice cream. I bought an Easter theme rocky road slice full of Cadbury Creme Eggs and Cadbury Mini Eggs, which was delicious.

A funny name for cheese

We watched one cooking demonstration while we were at the festival. There was a cook on stage who prepared a pizza with a stuffed crust oozing with cheddar. He put all sorts of ingredients on top of the pizza, including sliced and grated mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzled it all with olive oil. From what we would see the finished pizza looked nice once it was cooked, but we didn’t get to try it.

My sister and I decided to have some lunch while we were at the Cheese Fest. It was hard to make a decision and we both wanted to have something which you can’t usually order at a restaurant. We could’ve had grilled cheese sandwiches, halloumi fries or nachos drizzled with cheese sauce. In the end we went for a mac n cheese waffle, which was macaroni cheese cooked in a waffle iron and then cut into four pieces, served with BBQ sauce or maple syrup. It was very tasty and a different way of eating the much loved macaroni cheese.

Mac n cheese waffle

I’d definitely go to the Cheese Fest again! My sister and I both really enjoyed ourselves and it was great to see so many different types of cheeses to sample. You could’ve easily filled yourself up on samples if you liked. You can find out more about the Cheese Fest here and see if it’s heading to a city near you!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Short and sweet

It’s been almost half a year since I ran my first half marathon, and I’ve only been on four short runs since then!

Firstly I completed a 5km Santa Fun Run at the start of December last year, which was really fun and I highly recommend. Secondly I went for a 7km run during the Christmas break with one of my friends, who was training for her first half marathon. Thirdly I attempted 10km on the treadmill at the gym in January this year and got bored so I only did 7km again. And fourthly I went for a surprise run yesterday morning, which turned out to be shy of 4km.

After almost 4km yesterday

This is rather shocking and you’re probably wondering why I’ve not kept up the running as much as before. There are several reasons for this (call them excuses if you wish), with the main one being the weather. I mentioned recently in my blog that I wanted to go out running again last month, but we had the Beast from the East in the UK which deterred me from running outside in -6 degree temperatures and on icy paths.

Another reason is simply time. I’ve had plenty of chances when I could’ve gone out for a long distance run, or even a 5km parkrun on a Saturday morning if I used my time better. There are occasions where I’ve had a morning or afternoon which have been the perfect opportunities to go out running, but I didn’t because I wasn’t motivated enough, something else came up or I just wanted to rest.

I would say that another reason for not going out running as much is because I’ve already ran a half marathon. This time last year I was really focused on training, increasing the distance I ran gradually until I reached 21km/13 miles. I guess you could say I’m being smug, as I was so determined to run my first half marathon last year and now that I’ve done it, I know that I could probably do it again. I shouldn’t really be thinking like this, as I’d like to beat my time and aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes, so I will have to start training again very soon.

Despite not running so much, I have been going to the gym at least once a week recently so I’ve not stopped exercising altogether. I tend to focus on cardio which I can feel afterwards in my thigh muscles. I’m also pleased with how my run went yesterday, despite it only being almost 4km. I didn’t feel tired towards the end so I greatly increased my speed to really get my heart rate going. I knew that I could’ve easily gone further, but I didn’t want to as it had been just over three months since my last run.

This short run also feels like the start of getting back into running again too, as I was up much earlier than I needed to be yesterday so rather than staying in bed, I got up and put my running shoes on!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #24

A belated Happy Easter to you all!

I was away in a lovely seaside town called Sheringham in Norfolk for a week with family and friends. My nephew was on his first holiday and even went swimming for the first time at a local leisure centre! It was nice to have a week away and the weather wasn’t actually too bad; I realise that other parts of the UK had it much worse over the Easter weekend.

First day in Sheringham

I am now back to being a carnivore after a successful third year of giving up meat for lent. I had a fry up on Easter Sunday morning, which included bacon, sausages and black pudding, I devoured a hog roast pork bap after swimming with my nephew and enjoyed a juicy rump steak last night when I got back from Sheringham. Each time I eat meat again I remind myself that I couldn’t give it up entirely and become a full time vegetarian- meat just tastes so good!

What a hog roast!

However during the period of lent, I don’t miss meat too much. I have the odd occasion where I fancy a bacon sandwich or a lamb roast dinner, but otherwise I enjoy trying out vegetarian options. Last month I had a go at making dauphinoise potatoes and veggie burgers, two new food cooking ventures for me. I also enjoyed making quinoa during lent and quite often had it in salads for lunch or mixed with sweetcorn and other beans for dinner.

Since giving up meat for the first time three years ago I have cut down my meat intake. I generally try to have meat just once a day for one meal, opt for vegetarian options and eat more fish.

Last month also marked three years since I started my blog! I find it crazy that it’s been that long, it doesn’t feel like three years to me. I really do enjoy keeping a blog and I will continue to post about my three favourite topics: feminism, fitness and food.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Veggie burgers

Lent is almost over, which means I can eat meat again on Sunday! The period of lent always seems to fly by; sometimes I don’t get to be as experimental as I’d like to as I don’t always have the time, but when I do I like to push the boat out and try cooking something new.

So last weekend I had a go at making vegetarian burgers for the first time. I looked over a few recipes online for a general idea and had a browse through the fridge and kitchen cupboards. In the end I decided to go with red kidney beans, chick peas, sweetcorn, cooked quinoa and spinach. On reflection I won’t use quinoa again for making burgers as it was very hard to work with and it made the burgers dry up a bit when I was cooking them. Nevertheless, they were still tasty!

After draining a can of red kidney beans and half a can of chick peas, I mashed them together using a potato masher. I don’t have a blender but I didn’t want the beans completely mashed up, so using a masher worked for me. I then stirred in the cooked quinoa, sweetcorn and lightly chopped spinach. I also added a splash of lime juice, a little sprinkle of seasoning and a dash of cumin for flavour. Finally to combine it altogether, I added a beaten egg. I’ll probably just use a little bit of egg wash next time as the mixture felt quite soggy from using a whole egg.

Veggie burger mixture

Once all of the ingredients were combined, I made six patties. The quinoa was a bit tricky as it was mostly all over my hands and was hard to combine. I managed to make six patties in the end though, which I then coated in breadcrumbs before placing in a frying pan lightly coated with oil.

Cooking in the frying pan

I cooked the vegetarian burgers for about 15-20 minutes. I wanted to make sure that they were done thoroughly as I used kidney beans and chick peas that hadn’t been cooked. As the burgers were cooking a few of them started to fall about a little bit, but most of them held it together. I turned them over gently, until they were golden brown on each side.

Veggie burgers ready for eating!

I had two of the six burgers for my dinner, with rice and lettuce. I didn’t bother serving them in a burger bun, as they had fallen apart and were nice to eat with the rice. At least I know now that quinoa is best eaten with a salad, and not made into a burger! I’ll definitely have another go at making vegetarian burgers in the future, as they were a great and healthy alternative to the usual beef burgers.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Fantastic fundraising

My apologies that this gratitude is a bit overdue, but my mother and I were waiting for the final total of our fundraising.

As many of you will know I ran my first half marathon on 15th October last year, and my mother walked 10,000 steps a day for the whole of October. We both decided to do joint fundraising for the Association of Air Ambulances, a charity which works hard to provide air ambulances across the UK and requires a lot of funding.

My mother and I are both over the moon with how much we raised between us. We recently received a £200 donation, so our final total is £3013!

Our fundraising efforts in a magazine

We’d both like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored us in our physical challenges for a worthy cause. I am definitely considering running at the Leicester half marathon this year so I will probably choose a different charity. Any suggestions?

Thank you again for your support!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Three Years

On Thursday 5th March 2015, I wrote my first ever blog post… how has it already been three years since I set up my own blog?!

On this anniversary I usually like to thank those who read my blog, suggest ideas for potential posts and share my content. I am also grateful for those who have supported my blog over the past three years in the three areas which I focus on: feminism, fitness and food. Therefore I thought it would be a nice idea to look back over the three years and see how I have developed as a feminist fitness foodie!

It wasn’t until about six months after setting up my blog that I decided to brand myself in the way I do today. I originally focused on my Leicester heritage as my identity, with the tagline ‘Ey up’ which refers to a colloquial saying ‘Ey up me duck’. After a while I realised that feminism, fitness and food are important parts of my identity, so I changed my tagline to how I am known today: feminist fitness foodie.

Fitness

It was when I was out running on Thursday 5th March 2015, training for my first ever long distance run, that the idea to set up my blog was born. I knew for a long time that I had always wanted to write a blog, but I didn’t know where to start or what to focus on. While running I suddenly thought it would be a great idea to document and keep track of my training in the form of a blog.

Fitness is definitely the primary focus of my blog, and the topic I write most about. I am amazed at how far I have come in terms of my fitness. Since starting my blog I have ran in plenty of races, such as discovering the parkrun (5km) while on a holiday in Guernsey, completing two Race for Lifes (10km) in aid of Cancer Research UK and trying out eventful runs such as the Color Run (5km) and the Iron Run (6km).

Completing my first long distance run (10km)

When starting on my fitness venture, I never imagined that I would run a half marathon, which is the greatest fitness accomplishment so far and one which I’m still incredibly proud of. Coming from a childhood of bullying because of my body weight and not being taken seriously in physical education lessons used to deter me from thinking that I could achieve anything such as running a half marathon. I’ve proven it all wrong and learnt throughout my fitness journey that it doesn’t matter if you’re overweight; you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.

I completed my first half marathon on Sunday 15th October 2017 at the Leicester Marathon in a time of 2 hours and 47 minutes, while raising an incredible £2837 for the Association of Air Ambulances. My aim this year is to beat that time and raise more money for a worthy cause (I’ll decide on a charity nearer the time).

Foodie

 I have my father to thank for my passion for food. He taught me how to cook and inspired me to try out different foods and recipes. To this day we still suggest ideas to each other and take it in turns to cook the family meals.

The anniversary of my blog also marks how long I have been giving up meat for lent. When I started my blog it was actually during lent, and the first time I had decided to give up eating meat. This means that the foodie part of my blog tends to be the most active during the period of lent, as I have a go at experimenting and trying out different vegetarian alternatives, the most recent one being quinoa.

I’ve never looked back at the first time I abstained from meat, and for the third year running I have adopted a vegetarian diet. I usually feel like my body has had some sort of detox when I’ve not eaten meat for over 40 days, but I must admit that I do look forward to eating bacon in a hot cross bun on Easter Sunday, another tradition which I’ve adopted.

Stuffed sweet potato skins

Of course I post throughout the year about food, including new recipes which aren’t vegetarian, baking sweet treats for charity events and special occasions, and even about food festivals.

I’ve been to the StrEAT Life Festival at Alexandra Palace in London for the past few years which is always good fun. I get to catch up with university friends and choose tasty food from a wide range of stalls, including Greek, French and Caribbean. I am very much looking forward to the Cheese Festival in Leicester on Saturday 14th April, which I’m treating my sister to as she is a huge cheese fan, and had to abstain recently from certain types of cheeses while she was pregnant.

My passion for food will never waver. I can’t imagine living without good food and I always aim to make everyday tasty!

Feminism

And finally onto feminism- one of the more controversial parts of my blog but an area which I believe is becoming less stigmatised and something which more people are proud to be associated with.

Feminism is an important part of my life, as I’m a believer in equality across all genders. It wasn’t until university that I realised that I could identify myself as a feminist, and one of my favourite aspects of my course was learning about gender theory. I learnt more about the history of feminism, masculinity theory, the different types of genders and most importantly, how gender is a social construct (it can be argued that sex is a social construct too).

I felt empowered after becoming enlightened about the implications of gender, and I’m glad to see a shift in attitudes towards gender. We’re all human beings at the end of the day, so it only makes sense that we’re equal. I believe that the world is making progress in terms of gender equality and it’s only the minority which we hear about on the news (I’m sure you know who I mean).

Some of you may remember that I posted about my dissertation on my blog. I was studying a Masters in English Studies when I first set up my blog, and my dissertation was titled ‘Fo(u)r Women’: British Female Poetry of the Second World War. I focused on four female poets who wrote about their experiences of the Second World War, as it is widely known that women’s experiences were underrepresented and that they served a major part in the war effort. There are so many amazing female poets but I could only focus on four for my dissertation, so I looked into Alice Coats, Vera Bax, Slyvia Read and Wrenne Jarman.

Handing in my dissertation!

Yesterday of course was International Women’s Day, which had a particular super woman theme on my social news feed. People were posting about the super women in their lives, whether it be their mothers, daughters, historical figures or even modern day celebrities- it was those women they find to be influential and powerful.

I have several super women figures in my life, most notably my mother who is an incredible woman and has always been there for me, and my sister who is doing extremely well as a new mother. I’m lucky to know so many fantastic women who I’m proud to support and know as my friends.

Recently people celebrated 100 years since women in the UK first gained the right to vote (those aged 30 and above). It wasn’t until 1928 when full emancipation was achieved, when all men and women aged 18 and above could vote. I find it intriguing that New Zealand was the first country in the world to allow women the right to vote in 1893, and then other countries eventually followed suit. Considering the course of human history, it’s only really very recently that women are on equal grounds to men in terms of the vote.

 

Again thank you to everyone who reads and supports my blog. Writing is one of my passions so I’m thrilled to be still writing my blog. Here’s to the next three years!

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Dauphinoise potatoes

You wouldn’t think that it’s been -6 degrees with lots of snow recently where I am in the UK- it’s now raining and it feels much milder in Leicester. A whole week of weather misery has just swept by and has left behind wet and muddy conditions. I’ve actually been off work this week which I’m now glad about, as I wouldn’t have fancied walking to work in snow and skidding on ice.

With a free weekend on my hands (as I was supposed to be down in London but you know, weather), my parents suggested that I make Dauphinoise potatoes with dinner today. It had been a long time since I last had them, and they are the perfect comfort food for cold and wet weather.

I consulted a couple of recipes to get the gist of preparing Dauphinoise potatoes, and the basic ingredients are thinly sliced potatoes, double cream, milk, garlic and grated cheese. It’s that simple but together they all make a tasty vegetarian accompaniment for a main meal.

Firstly I peeled four large potatoes and thinly sliced them. I then placed the slices to soak in a bowl of cold water, which I left for about ten minutes while I prepared the sauce.

Sliced potatoes in cold water

I made the sauce with 300ml double cream, 300ml milk and two small finely chopped cloves of garlic. When the sauce started to simmer, I drained the potatoes and then placed them in the pan with the sauce. I stirred the potatoes quite a bit to stop them from sticking to the pan, and cooked them in the sauce for about ten minutes on a medium heat.

Potatoes in a simmering pan of sauce

I then placed the potatoes in a large dish, attempting to layer the slices in a nice and presentable fashion. I poured the remaining sauce over the potatoes and sprinkled them with plenty of grated mild cheddar cheese.

Potatoes ready to bake!

I placed the Dauphinoise potatoes in the oven for about half an hour on gas mark 5, until the cheese was nice and crisp on top. I must admit, the potatoes smelt divine when I opened the oven door to check them.

Dauphinoise potatoes

It looks more like a cheesy pasta bake from first appearances, but it looked incredible for potato lovers when I used a spoon to cut into the Dauphinoise potatoes. My family and I had salmon wellington for dinner tonight, served with a good helping of tasty sliced potatoes and sugar snap peas.

Et viola!

I didn’t expect Dauphinoise potatoes to be so easy to make, but they really are and it’s a tasty way to eat some carbs when the weather isn’t at it’s greatest.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂