I’m flying home tonight after extensive training in Fort Lauderdale. Despite being extremely cautious for the entire trip, I crashed while skating twice in two days last weekend. You can say ouch alright! The casualties include scraped elbows, knees, right bum, right shin, right thigh, and two bruised & swollen knees. Ice packs and elevating my legs both help to control the swelling but there is only so much I can do. Bending my knees became a chore and at times I can hardly straighten out the joints due to excessive swelling. Such is the not-so-glamorous life of being a skater.
Despite of a couple of unintended meetings with the pavement, I had a good time last weekend training with my teammates at our annual team training camp. The strawberry jam, blood orange marmalade, oatmeal raisin cookies, and pecan brownies were heartily enjoyed by all. I tried a different brownie recipe from my trusty standard. Guess what? I think I have a new favourite! This David Lebovitz recipe originated from Robert Steinberg, the founder of Scharffen Berger. Of course I made it with Scharffen Berger 70% dark chocolate. Let me tell you, all the superlative and praise for this brownie recipe are well-deserved. Every bite of moist tender brownie burst with deep dark chocolate flavour and mellow sweetness of Georgia pecans. I cannot wait to make it again for friends back home.
As for the raisin oatmeal cookies, I have mixed feelings about them. This reduced fat recipe comes from Cook’s Country and it relies on stewed raisin puree to keep the cookies moist and flavourful in place of some butter. I made it using the very awesome Kerrygold Irish Butter (oh how I love this stuff. Why are they not available in Canada?). The batter was unusual because all the butter was used to toast the rolled oats until they smell irresistibly buttery and fragrant. There was barely liquid from egg and raisin puree. I really was not sure the batter would even come together. Well, it did. For easier handling, I chilled the dough until solid before dividing and shaping the cookies. The cookies spread to uniform thickness during baking. I must admit the taste was spot on with emphasis on oats and raisin. It did not rely on butter and sugar to provide flavour. However, I was less than thrilled that the cookies came out looking more rustic than I would like. Call me a perfectionist but I want a whole tray of uniformly round cookies. That is something you cannot expect from this recipe.
Spending a whole weekend hanging out with my teammates reminded me of why I’m proud to be a member of Asphalt Beach. I was surrounded by supportive friends who love to skate and are dedicated to training. Even though some of us are stronger and faster than others, the passion for our sport are equal. I was a little sad when our weekend training camp came to an end and everyone departed in different directions to head home. However, I’ll see many of them soon enough at upcoming races across the continent (and beyond! Three of our team members intend to race in World Master Championship this May in Germany).
This is only the beginning of race season 2012.