Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How was your run?

Shea and Cian are in much better form. They are still covered in spots (Shea much more so than Cian), but they have stopped itching, and we can all breathe a sign of relief. On Sunday night I tickled Shea’s toes when he was in the bath, and he smiled his first smile for at least 5 days, which was wonderful to see again. He also slept for 13 hours last night, even without the help of medication, which he hasn’t done since … ever! And we had to start giving out to him for being naughty, which we didn’t have to for a week. Things are definitely getting back to normal.

Talking about things getting back to normal, the typical Irish weather has returned to Kerry, and it is disgustingly wet and cold. I can take the rain on its own, but the wind makes for awful conditions that I’d rather do without.

When I came home this morning, we had the following short conversation:

Niamh: How was your run?
Thomas: Wet and cold.
Niamh: Not much fun then?
Thomas: Not really.
Niamh: But ultimately worth it?
Thomas: Definitely!

I have nothing to add to that.

19 Jun: 12 miles, 1:38, 8:10 pace
20 Jun: 5 miles, 46:13, 9:26 pace


  1. It should be because nothing compares to running, even with the weather against you :)

  2. Ahhhh, but the nasty weather makes you so strong. Go Thomas!

  3. Hang in there Thomas, at least it's not snowing these days! Glad the kids are feeling better and getting into mischief again.

  4. glad to hear the kids are getting better.

  5. I am sure the boys will be wreaking havoc again real soon. Looks like you did an actual recovery run.

  6. glad the kids are feeling better. that has to be a total relief. I love your conversation about running in the rain/wind. Everytime we come back from a run like that, we look at each out and say, "yep that was REALLY hard." then we laugh and say,"but at the same time fun and totally rewarding" when you can get through runs in the crappy weather it makes marathon day look so much easier...that is unless it's rainy and windy on marathon day....eek :-)

  7. I would welcome wet and cold for a change!

  8. Two months ago you asked me the pastiera's recipe. Now I'm in Naples on holiday and I've found the recipe. I'm writing it here: Neapolitan Cuisine has many dishes identified with one festival or another, which in the past were made only then: le lasagne del Carnevale, for Carnival, struffoli at Christmas, and a several Easter pastries, the most important of which is the Pastiera, a centuries-old dish that appears in innumerable versions, each made according to a closely guarded family recipe...
    • The pie crust:
    • 1 pound flour
    • 1/2 pound lard (at room temperature)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 4 yolks
    • The grain:
    • 1/2 pound well-drained soaked grain
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • The zest of a half an orange
    • A walnut-sized piece of lard
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • The filling:
    • 10 ounces ricotta (purchase this fresh from a delicatessen)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 eggs, separated
    • 1 vial (1/4 cup) acqua di fiori d'arancio (not orange extract -- purchase this from an Italian deli)
    • A pinch powdered cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup minced candied citron
    • 1/4 cup minced candied orange peel
    • 1/4 cup candied squash (cocozzata, in Neapolitan)
    Continuing with the introduction,
    "Nobody escapes its allure," writes Caròla Francesconi, "an allure due not so much to its goodness as to a subconscious love that's transmitted from generation to generation."

    One has to remember that she's writing for Italians here; the ingredients are particular and this is something a non-Neapolitan might find quite strange.

    However, anything that can burrow into the regional psyche, bearing with it the "perfumes of spring," is powerful stuff.

    The major variations are in the amount of acqua di arance, a non-alcoholic somewhat oily orange essence (if you cannot find it use orange extract) and the use of crema pasticcera (pastry cream), which some families include and others do not.

    As I said, this is particular; it requires presoaked grain, which takes time to prepare (Neapolitan delicatessens now sell canned presoaked grain, and you may be able to find it near your house). To start from scratch, purchase 1/2 pound whole grain and soak it in cold water for two weeks, changing the water every two days (this is Caròla Francesconi's soaking time; another cookbook suggests three days, changing water daily). Come cooking time, drain it and cook the amount indicated. The pastiera is traditionally served in a 10-inch diameter round metal pan with a two-inch rim; Neapolitan pastry shops sell the pastiera in the pan and it is presented so at even the most elegant table.

    And now the recipe:
    Begin the day ahead by cooking the soaked grain with the milk, zest, lard, sugar and vanilla over an extremely low flame for at least four hours, or until the grains come apart and the milk has been absorbed, so that the mixture is dense and creamy.

    The next morning make the pie crust: Make a mound of flour, scoop a well in the middle, and fill it with the lard, sugar and yolks. Use a fork or pastry cutter to combine the ingredients, handling the dough as little as possible (don't knead it). Once you have obtained a uniform dough press it into a ball and cover it with a damp cloth.

    Pass the ricotta through a strainer into a large bowl, stir in the 3/4 cup sugar, and continue stirring for 5-6 minutes. Next, stir in the yolks, one at a time, and the grain. Next add the orange water; begin with half the amount and taste. Add more if you would like it orangier, keeping in mind that the aroma will fade some in baking. Stir in the cinnamon and the candied fruit as well, then whip the whites to soft peaks and fold them in.

    Roll out 2/3 of the pastry dough and line the pan. Fill it with the filling. Next, roll out the remaining dough and cut it into strips, which you will want to lay across the filling in a diagonal pattern (lift them from the pastry cloth with a long spatula to keep them from breaking). Bake in a moderately hot oven (180 C or 370 F) for an hour or slightly more. The filling should dry almost completely and firm up, while the pie crust should brown lightly. Serve the pie in its pan, and continue to enjoy it over the next few days for breakfast.

  9. Thomas,

    I am glad to hear your kids are getting better.

    Love that conversation..

  10. Hey, soon you'll have flour and M&Ms all over the floor again!!

  11. So happy to hear that things have calmed down in your home..that the kids are feeling much better.

    Great job putting up with the nasty weather.

  12. Just catching up on your blog, Thomas. Yikes - Chicken Pox! Poor babes. Poor Mom and Dad too. I am glad to read that it's starting to get better.

  13. Hey - Sorry not to have been around for a few days - perils of PC moving and decorating. Glad to see the spots are working their way through the systems and all will be well.

    As to the weather, I have to confess to hitting the gym this week. I hate running in the wind. I can manage rain, despite wearing glasses, but the wind kills me, so fair do's for heading out in the wild weather.

    Midsummers day - that's a laugh!