Category Archives: Food

Challenge update: A whole bunch of updates

Writing several blog posts at the same time of the month on the same general topic seems a bit pointless, so instead I’ll be combining them into a single post at the start of each new month.  I’ve also been pretty lax about posting these regularly, so there’s a bit of a backlog to go through as well.

February – Exercising (complete)

My challenge for February was to do some basic exercises every day.  Nothing back-breaking or crazy hardcore though, my goal wasn’t to turn myself into the Hulk, just improve my general level of fitness so that every time I tried to move the sofa I wouldn’t spend the next week with sore back and arms.  My plan was to start with some basic press-ups and slowly build up throughout the month to a slightly more rigorous regime, but in the end I didn’t really progress from press-ups, aside from doing more of them.  I also ended up missing the occasional day here and there in the rush for work and didn’t realise until I was just about to head out the door.  In the end though it turned out this was enough as the times when I did have to actually exert myself and start moving around heavy objects I felt completely fine afterwards.  I also found it a lot easier to lug my fold-up bike around while walking around train stations.  As this has worked well for me so far I’m going to try to keep this up as a regular habit of mine.  I’m not sure when or if I’ll move on from the sort of level of exercise I’ve done, but for now I don’t really see a reason to try to change it up much more than I already have done.

March – Sugar free (complete)

As mentioned before, I wanted to try to give up sugar for a month to see how much it would change how I taste food.  In theory I would start enjoying and tasting food more without needing any extra sweetness.  This challenge wasn’t so bad at first, but as time went by it got more and more difficult.  While it was easy to avoid the temptation of a slice of cheesecake or block of fudge to begin with, it become pretty hard to do after the first couple of weeks.  I knew that a lot more foods contained sugar than you’d think, but the number of things I wasn’t able to east was staggering.  By the end of the month I’d started having dreams where I’d secretly buy Haribo from the local shop and gorge myself on them.

The biggest disappointment was that after all of this it didn’t actually make much of a difference to the food I was tasting.  Even when I started eating sugary sweets again after March there wasn’t much of a change from the way they tasted before.  The challenge was interesting as a test of willpower, but it’s not something I’d like to relive again any time soon.

April – Doing some woodworking (complete)

April’s challenge wasn’t even spoken about before it was over.  Originally I was going to learn to sew so that I could repair most of my torn trousers and shirts myself.  But then I noticed that the local DIY shop was closing down in a few weeks time and was having a “25% off everything” sale.  So I decided that instead of keep planning to buy a long table to support our guinea pig cage and give a little extra storage, I’d just go ahead and build one.  So I measured everything up, figured out how large the table should be, then picked up the supplies.  Unfortunately we were then treated to several wet weekends so I couldn’t take everything outside to do the drilling (don’t have anything close to a workshop so the messy stuff must be done outside).  Long story short, I didn’t get to start actually building the tables until the 28th.  It almost destroyed my palms, but in the end I managed to get it done in the 2 days I had left, and now it’s far easier to clean around the guinea pig cage, and we’ve got enough storage space to finally make some room in the study.



There’s still a few more things I’d like to change before this is completely finished though, I’d like to add a couple of cage doors in the side to make it easier to feed the guinea pigs without having to loom over the cage so much, and shorten the legs by about 5cm as it’s slightly too tall to see into from the chair next to the cage.  Also need to put something in to stop all the hay falling from out of the hay rack…  Well, at least I won’t run out of projects to work on.

A slight realisation

By this point I’d done 4 monthly challenges, not a huge number granted, but enough to realise a few things.  While it was certainly an interesting test of willpower to give up sugar or gaming for a month, it didn’t really give me much satisfaction to complete them.  Building a table on the other hand, something which took far less time and was much less hassle was a much more enriching experience.  With that in mind the challenges I’m going to set myself for the rest of this year are going to be more about doing things and making stuff, rather than NOT doing things.  Taking up a few new hobbies is certainly be more enjoyable than giving up old ones unwillingly.

May – Electronics (In progress)

This month I’d like to finally get to grips with working with electronics.  I’ve dabbled very, very briefly with things over the past few years, but I’d like to make a point of understanding exactly how to set up build up simple circuits, how transistors and resistors work, and how to use a soldering iron without turning everything into a giant goopy mess.  So far the things I have to work with are an electronics set and guide (including soldering iron) that I’ve had since christmas,


A Maplin’s Lie Detector Kit I got for my birthday last year


And a Minty Geek Electronics Lab I picked up from a Maker Faire a couple of years back.


The plan is to finish working through these before the end of the month, and do enough reading on the side to understand out the more complicated electronic components.  That way I should know enough to be able to get by when/if I decide to take up another project in the future involving electronics, like maybe build a TV-be-gone, the most useless machine ever, or try to do something fancy with my Raspberry Pi.


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March Challenge: Sugar-free

A bit late writing about this one up, but I started on the 1st March so I’m still good, just a tad lazy.

For March I’ve decided to give up sugar.  That pretty much says it all, but a little explanation and clarification is probably needed.  Some years ago when I was trying to figure out what was causing my stomach so much pain I decided to have an allergy test, which was soon followed by an elimination diet after being told I was allergic to nearly everything under the sun.  I found out a few months later that the test I’d taken was utter baloney and I’d just become massively intolerant to caffeine, but in the meantime I’d noticed that ordinary food had started tasting far better than it used to.  One of the things I’d given up was sugar, and after a few weeks of having porridge and cereal without several buckets of sugar I found that even a regular bowl of Weetabix was suddenly delicious.  When I finally did start having sugar again I went into sugar shock after my first bite of fruit crumble.  Food was much more enjoyable during that time and I’d like to try getting back to that point again for a little while at least.  I guess trying to be healthy also plays a small part in it too but that’s not my main reason for doing this, otherwise I’d be going the whole hog and skipping out on things like Pizza, chips, and other delicious junk food.

To clarify, I’m not giving up any and all food & drink that contain sugar as that’s next to impossible these days.  Things that contain a negligible amount of sugar such as bread and some cereals I’ll still have, while anything loaded with the stuff is out.  I’m also going to avoid most sauces as they tend to come loaded with a hefty amount of sugar too, although I don’t think I can always help this when going out for a meal.  Same thing for fruit juice, there’s just too much in there for me to not count it, although I’ll still be eating regular fresh fruit.  Since I’m doing this to get rid of my sweet tooth, then all artificial sweeteners are out too.  No point doing this unless I’m going to do it properly.


Posted by on March 5, 2013 in 30 day challenge, Food



Not quite the Master Baker yet

Well, it turns out that I’m not all that great at making Gingerbread.  Took a lot longer than expected in the oven, but that might be the new oven which we hadn’t used before now.  Worse though is that it’s a lot drier than expected and doesn’t have all that much flavour.  Maybe it just needs more ginger, but I’d also expect it to taste a tad bit sweeter too.

I’m not giving up though, I’ll just have to try again in a couple of weeks, maybe using a different recipe.  Hopefully I’ll have internet access at home then.  These things could really do with a bit more fancy editing, pictures and the like.

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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Food, NaBloPoMo



Wherein I learn to become a Master Baker

I’ve not done any baking for well over a year so I think it’s well past time I got back into the habit.  A friend at work is leaving at the end of this week too and I just picked up a nice glass baking board so it looks like now is the best time to get back into it.  I’ve decided to go with gingerbread since I’ve never made that before and it should prove interesting, not to mention delicious.

It’s going to take a few hours to make including chilling the mixture and actually baking it, so I’ll be making a second post later today about how they turned out.  If this turns out well I’m going to try baking more often, not every week, but at least once a month.

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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Food


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Of Angel Delight and cream

Last night I messed up.  I stepped into a realm where only gods should tread and paid the price for it.  I noticed that we had a carton of extra thick channel island cream that needed to be used up that same night.  I’m not sure why we had it, possibly for a cake that it was never used with, but it was pricey enough that I didn’t want to just throw it out.  I also remembered that we had a packet of banana flavoured angel delight mix.  Sure you’re supposed to make it with milk, but cream is just like milk right?  Right?

And so I took out the whisk and started to mix up the fateful concoction.  I should have realised something was wrong when it became so thick that the entire bowl was stuck to the whisks, but I just added some water to thin it out a little and kept on going.  Eventually I had a huge bowl of something that looked about right, very well mixed and as thick as it should be.  I’ll say this for using cream, at least you don’t have to chill it for an hour to get it to set.  That’s about the only good thing I can say for it though.

The mixture tasted VERY creamy, but to not a sickening degree not yet.  You could only just taste the banana, but I put that down to it trying to add a subtle flavour to the mix rather than overpowering everything with fruit.  It had just enough flavour in it to make you want to take another spoon full to taste it again.  So I spooned some out into a bowl and everything seemed to be going fine.  It wasn’t until afterwards I realised the downside of eating what amounts to entire bowl of cream.  I felt so full my stomach wanted to explode, and I’d barely even made a dent into the mixture as a whole.

Once the banana flavour fell away all that was left was an overpowering taste of milk and cream, to the point where I wasn’t sure I’d ever taste anything else again and it only got worse at time went by.  I even tried eating other things to try and get the taste out, including several slices of bread, but it didn’t change a thing.  The mixture was just lying on the side taunting me and so I had to do something that I despise beyond most other things.  I threw food away.  It’s not something I’m proud of, but if I feel myself putting on pounds with every spoonful.

After the fact I decided to take a look at just how unhealthy the whole thing must have been.  Turned out that the small bowl I’d had was in the region of 1000 calories (that’s about 40% of the RDA), over half of which was pure fat.  I’m not sure I’ll be touching cream again any time soon, and even putting milk on my cereal this morning took a lot to muster

So please, learn  from my mistakes.  Never try to make Angel Delight with cream, the consequences are dire and the taste just isn’t worth it.

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Posted by on August 25, 2010 in Food