Back into baking

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I got so excited when I saw the cake tin for these cakes, I honestly couldn’t let them go and had to buy them.

In my quest to get back into baking I thought that I would try making these cakes but with a cake mix. I haven’t done a lot of baking for a while and although I’m pretty good at cakes I thought it best to ease myself into them.

In creating these cakes I knew that I was getting myself into something more than just a simple cake. The process was straight forward… I mean cake mixes are sinch! But as I was doing so I was delving into an array of childhood memories… I had these Babushka dolls when I was a little girl. I remember they had elements of red in them and flowers of some kind.

I remember opening the big doll then the next size up and so forth until I had all the dolls lined up in a row. The trick was getting the dolls back inside and having the pattern perfectly lined up so they didn’t look sloppy and so they closed properly.

I don’t know where mine are anymore which I believe to be sad because if I did then I know I would still have them. I would still keep them as a treasure. I might even on the odd occassion play with them as I did when I was a child.

On the night of my 21st birthday my older brother gave me another set of these dolls. Except these ones were of a teacher. So totally his style. Inside the smallest of the dolls was a butterfly necklace that had purple gems on the wings. It was a beautiful gift. I still have the doll and necklace and although it’s not quite the same as the pretty red one with the flowers, it’s still such a lovely thing to have.

Then sometime last year I caught up with a friend as the days were creeping closer to Christmas. Here in Melbourne we have beautiful arcades in one of them there is a shop full of these dolls. Now my friend here loves these dolls more than me so we had to go in. There were so many different kinds!! I couldn’t believe it, it was incredible. My friend and I started sharing our Babushka doll stories and I learnt more about them then if I had simply googled…

They’ve also become a bit of a trend so I wasn’t all that surprised to find a cake tin that meant you could have Babushka doll cakes but it was still felt pretty good to see them sitting there in the shop.

The icing details may not be perfect but I’m pretty happy with my little creation.

So tempted to have one before dinner but I know that I shouldn’t… 🙂

Signing to be soon be enjoying these delicious sweet looking cakes!

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Christmas is all around

Christmas

It’s Thursday the 27th of December here in Melbourne, Australia. 30 Degrees celisus and extremly windy. I am just having the last bites of my Christmas Pavlova and sipping on a hot chocolate.

In my current state I feel a sugar coma about to commence, I’m tired, not at all hungry and can’t stop sneezing. The celebrations of Christmas is over but the holiday itself still pushes on.

Since the 20th of December I have been in a whirlwind of family. My Auntie and Uncle are visiting from DC (Washington) which is always a time of excitment and chaos…

It started with dinner at a favourite middle eastern restaurant…then a long trip to my grandparents farm… then to my mother’s house at the beach… by the 23rd –  17 of my family members including myself sat down for an assortment of foods for our Christmas lunch…
by Christmas eve it was just Mum, my brother and myself… and Christmas Day we enjoyed the meal pictured above…

And here I am feeling relieved to spend time with myself… contemplating what the new year is yet to bring while occassionally taking a glimpse at the pile of washing waiting to washed.

“Oh there’s always tomorrow!” I say to myself

But no seriously it really has to be done…

The day itself is over. But as I look out the window or wander through my house.

I see that Christmas really is all around…

Signing off because the sugar coma really is setting in…

PS Do I sound like Hugh Grant in Love Actually??

 

 

To be yourself

Lately I’ve been caught up in so much of what is going on in other people’s lives, but what for? I’m me and that’s ok. I should just be who I am and the best that I can be…

I should not feel sad or anxious about not having something that another person may have just because I feel like I should have those things. If those things are not here right now than that doesn’t matter maybe they’ll come and maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll come tomorrow and maybe they’ll come in a few years time…

I’m reading this book called “down to earth” … ( http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9780670075928/down-earth)

It’s very inspiring…

One of things that I have just read is

“Stop living according to the expectations of others and focus on building a life that is unique to you”

The book is centred around the idea of simple living. Since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I have gone from thinking all I will rely on is the gluten-free substitutes but cook how I used to e.g spag bol (Spaghetti Bolognese) but with G-F pasta, flourless chocolate cake…etc, then I decided to branch out and try new recipes and before you knew it I had a cupboard full of different ingredients…

I started to think if living gluten-free meant 20 ingredients that used to only take 4 or 5 that, that was a bit insane… I have the gluten-free 4 ingredients cookbook… but most of those recipes are good but a bit too basic…I still want to be able to eat delicious food just not spend so much money…

The great thing about this book is it gives you so many ideas on how to live your life fully but simply and not only that but it gives you a guide for each stage in your life in decades so 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and retirement.  It emphasizes on how if you’re not already living the life you want then it’s never too late to start. (The writer of this book is in her 60s and looks back on her life when she takes the plunge into the concept of simple living…)

It’s true to say that I’m very much a homebody and have always been very happy with that. I want to do things like travel – through my own country and the world…

I want to continue my education (on my own terms…), I want to learn another language, etc,etc

Let’s face it I want love and babies…

And tea and cake

and cats and dogs

and I want to be happy in a place that I call home… I want that home to be filled with photos of friends and family

places I’ve been…

I want my own veggie patch, herb garden… to have lots of flowers

I want to give back to the world so that not all my sentences start with “I want” like they have been…

and acceptance lots of acceptance…

but I think the place to begin is in myself otherwise I don’t think all those things will happen…

If I accept that I am who I am and that no body and I mean no body can take that away from me then I think I will be a better person… along the way I will learn from others of course but I can’t let influence take over and create someone I’m not because that will crush me before my time and no one wants that…

I’ve had a huge lesson of the day:

Be happy with who you are and who you will be!

Signing off because my feet feel frozen!!!

(15 days till Darwin, 15 days to 30 degree weather that’s celsius btw…)

I have writer’s block!!!

I have the urge to write but don’t know what to write. This is a rare occurence for me. A rare occurence indeed. Ususally I can write at any time even if it’s about the most mundane things… But this evening as I decided it was about time to write again – anything, just anything to get me going – I thought but I have nothing that I want to write about…

So instead I’m going to try this thing called a ‘stream of  consciousness’ or a continuous flow of thoughts in writing whereby I write all my thoughts as I think them… goodness I hope this isn’t over sharing

Here we go: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3,2, 1…

What am I afraid of? I’m listening in my mind to this song about someone being afraid of something to do with love but what is that I’m afraid of? Obviously I’m listening to this song because I can in some way I relate to it but I’ve never been in love so am I afraid of it? But I have had a broken heart just not in the traditional sense of it… my eyes are drooping so really I should sleep but I know as soon as I climb into bed it’s not going to happen that’s all I want to write  now… sleep gosh there is a part of me that wishes I wasn’t on holidays…

The sound of my fingers typing is a soothing sound that I like because it means that I’m writing something that’s just for me something that no one has to like it’s just for me just for me that’s what I like best about this typing though is very different to holding a pen or a pencil I feel as though somehow handwriting is nicer than typing…goodness I’m so old-fashioned why am I so old-fashioned?

If you look at my hair you wouldn’t think it was old-fashioned or the act of shaving it off maybe I’m partly old-fashioned and partly not… I miss you, you know… here I am getting that sinking feeling again of missing a person you love wait love in its traditional form isn’t all about the love between man and woman or woman and woman or man and man love can be friend and friend pet and owner etc but come on I am human I want the other kind…

Gosh people could be reading this soon what if I just deleted this entire post. Emma keep your eyes open. No. Go to bed. No awake. Awake is where you’ll be when you feel like this…

I am strong I know it other people know it and if I cry it’s not a sign of weakness it’s not it’s just not…hmmm why not have a sip of hot chocolate with almond milk yes that’s right I spent more than any normal person should on one litre of milk just so I knew what it bloody well tasted like and crap it had to taste so bloody good that I’ll buy it again why just why food for me has become an expense I mean I know I don’t need almond milk but in so many gluten-free recipes they use almond and rice milk so I thought oh what’s the harm in trying this milk it’s meant to be good for you so why bloody not the only problem is because I also didn’t want the milk loaded with sugar I got the bloody organic one I want so much to be healthy so I don’t have to go to fing hospital but I also don’t want to be poor why make people who have fing coeliac disease pay for it out of their hard-earned money why… so back to that crying thing yeah it’s happened

oh good it’s stopped sigh deep breath sigh and deep breath

ok I’m ok

19 days till I fly to Darwin why did I sign up for swirl I mean I know why but now I’m scared I’m excited but lets face it if I was lying I’d be saying I’m so excited and so honoured to be given this opportunity blah w****r is what I would call myself if I said that because it’s not true I mean the teaching thing the story telling thing great the bloody remote thing what was I thinking oh yeah I wanted the challenge crap I have to eat gluten-free food what was I thinking…oh this is stupid I’ll be fine no seriously ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ok need to change my thoughts to something different.

Saw “Annie” today it was so fantastic and being able to see it with a great friend made it all the worth while and leaving the theatre we saw a wedding party who gets married in winter idiots. oh there would have been many reasons but seriously idiots.

ok I need to stop this otherwise the whole world if the whole world is reading will know my inner most thoughts and I don’t want that…

 

Activity complete. Back to normal:

It’s always good to write like that once in a while and it got me out of my writer’s block.

If there are readers of this post please don’t take my thoughts too seriously they were literally in the moment I didn’t plan what I was writing they came to me at the moment – also I’m tired so any worry or concern or even a positive emotion has been heightened by 1,000… plus the last time I did this I was in a state of joy and there were very different results I can tell you.

Lesson of today (to writers):

Writing all your thoughts like this can be a great way to ‘unleash’ anything that needs to be taken out of your mind to you free you up and write and also you might be surprised in what you come up with – some great story could come out of it!

*note* I read over what I wrote in the end for spelling and grammar in no way though did I delete anything that I wrote – that would defeat the purpose.

 

 

Reflections of the year gone by

This time last year I was faced with my first Easter of being a Coeliac… because last Easter was when I got diagnosed. I remember in the rush of last-minute shopping before the shops were shut. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to eat a decent meal again. It was such a huge shock.

I know that it could have been far worse, but at the time it felt like everything was falling down around me.I couldn’t enjoy Hot Cross Buns, Lindt Bunnies or Fish n Chips on Good Friday – three Easter essentials, felt really big…and I was at my grandparents farm, with a grandmother (retired doctor) who didn’t believe that Coeliac Disease was real and a mother who didn’t know to what extent not being able to eat Gluten meant… they were all trying to be supportive but didn’t know how, which is ok and I am not upset at them – but they were people who I turn to and who I was with and I couldn’t really do that.

Irraitableness had set in big time – which I think I mentioned in a post “living life the coeliac way” (or something along the ways) but most of all it was about facing not being able to eat anything I wanted.

For quite a few months after I was still processing how and it meant to be a Coeliac I attended Coeliac society meetings, I put in a lot of research, etc on what it meant and still to this day I am making new food discoveries.

The only difference now is that it’s finally become an exciting thing as opposed to a sad thing. By this I mean before I was sad of what I couldn’t eat, now I’m happy of what I can. Plus I have an excuse to buy cookbooks, go to the healh-food for ‘weird’ ingredients and have a cupboard dedicated to flour.

Let me show you some of these discoveries… please note I’m not at all a food photographer and that it’s not me trying to take great or even good photos it’s just about the content…

– The flour that I now keep… plus some other GF things, GF plain, GF self-raising, Xanthum Gum, GF Baking Powder, Polenta, GF Yeast, Dried Apricots, GF Corn Flour, Lupin Flour, Almond Meal, Quinoa, Quinoa Flakes, Rice Flour, Buckwheat Flour, Corn Crumbs, Rice Crumbs, Soy Flour, White Chia Seeds, Caster Sugar, Brown Rice Flour and possibly a couple of things that I have forgotten… Plus there are still more flours on my to purchase list.

Gluten-Free cooking and baking isn’t just as simple as substituting flour, there are some recipes that I have found that will use five flours just for one, I know that I don’t have to cook like this and there are ways to keep to keep it simple and usually that’s what I do… but when I have one those moments where I have to try a new recipe it’s nice to have these flours on hand…

      

These are all the cook-books that have guided me… 4 Ingredients – was a great starting point, it let me see that I wasn’t limited, the bible has given me more variety in my diet, Sue Shepherd is amazing…haven’t made anything from her book though and Indulge says it all – info on flour and recipes that you can truly indulge in… from this I made the Choc-Berry Buckwheat Pancakes – yum, yum, yum and soooooo easy to make.

The Emma Smoothie:

– Yes it’s purple – well at least this one…

Base ingredients – Greek Yoghurt (sometimes you have to check for Gluten), Milk and Fruit. I then add things like Chia seeds (An old house-mate now friend told me about this one), Honey, Golden Syrup – Maple if you have it and so prefer, Cinnamon, Chocolate, Almond Meal, nut meg would be great… pretty much anything… favourite fruits for an Emma Smoothie – mixed berry or mango… It’s so simple but so delicious and incredibly filling!

The BEST GF bread that I have found is from a cafe on my street – it actually folds, is fluffy, looks like break, isn’t like a brick, tastes amazing, etc… here is one of my sandwiches:

– Seed bread with Spinach, Egg, Olive Oil and Feta – sounds a little boring, but honestly tastes really great – and it’s the first time that I decided not to toast it… I can tell you that picking up a normal “boring” sandwich for the first time in a year felt absolutely incredible that I actually felt like my life had changed.

Some of my friends sometimes say to me when they talk about what they have for lunch “Oh just a boring sandwich” my response is “Oh if life were that simple” and I used to be one of those people who winged about having a sandwhich…and now am thrilled at the opportunity – mainly because this bread costs $7 a loaf and I don’t want to spend that much a week…so bread or at least this bread – is a treat… ha…bread as a treat…

Other favourites include – mozzarella on olive bread and strawberry jam on pumpkin bread – cos the pumpkin bread tastes like scones!! 🙂

Thoughts on packet mixes… you have to buy them cos otherwise there are just some things you miss out on like cinnamon donuts… which I crave ALL the time… here is the GF version (yes from a packet):

– It’s pretty easy once you get to the frying bit – but seriously these don’t taste (from memory) any different to the normal cinnamon donuts and next time I’m adding jam!

Treats from here and there:

– Macaroons from the Lindt Cafe – one on the left I can’t have, one on right – the Champagne one I can – yum. Macaroons though at a cafe at uni – I can have and all the flavours…

– Most of my food is now organic, not really by choice, but it’s much more affordable now and I’m getting really into it- this is as you can read from the label Organic Lemonade which was purchased from Hooked a healthy seafood place or fish n chips whichever – which is so far the only place I have found does GF fish n chips and even their burgers are GF too – it’s ALL great and doesn’t make you feel as though you clogged up with grease.

– I started drinking coffee last year when my Aunt and Uncle were here visiting from DC – cos of their love of coffee shops and ordering quickly especially on the road… I stopped asking if the Hot Chocs or the Chai Lattes were GF (I know I shouldnt…blah) and decided that coffee was easier…next to this beautiful Cafe Latte is a Cranberry and Hazelnut Meringue (I think it was Hazelnut…some nut anyway) – with something else inside which makes it cake like without being a cake…truly delicious… This cafe also has GF bread which means that most of their meals I can eat as long as I ask for the GF option… I love when this happens because I feel somewhat normal again.

Ah yes McDonald’s – It is on a rare occasion that I go there especially now, but when I do I either get the ice-cream or the hash-browns… there are other things I’m pretty sure I can eat, but as I’m there for a treat and not a meal – it’s not really that critical that I make sure I bring my own bread just so I can eat their cheeseburgers again. Now I know that this lid full of ice-cream looks somewhat dismal…it really isn’t because it’s great to be able to have a small pig-out…besides the cheeky raspberry lemonade that is hiding made it really worth the while.

Even those forced to be incredibly healthy in some respects need ice-cream from McDonald’s or Maccas as we say here in OZ…

There are so many moments when I crave bread, pasta, pizza, donuts and all of those yummy gluten laden foods and days when I want to cry because I can’t eat them…or am frustrated at a restaurant, etc…

But after a year of being diagnosed I think I’m doing pretty well and I have to say that I’m pretty fortunate to live in a suburb that has a bunch of cafes that caters for someone with intolerance, allergies and coeliacs…plus as it’s become more “mainstream” – supermarkets are now stocking things like Xanthum Gum and Quinoa which makes life easier and more affordable so I can buy shoes… 😀

Because really that’s all we need is a good pair of shoes or 20…

Nah but seriously the fact that I can eat bread that folds even if it’s occasionally is pretty damn good!

Lesson of the day or year I should day:

We are all capable of jumping over hurdles and breaking down walls. We are all strong enough to live with what we are faced with. We are all wise enough to call upon friends and family and we are all brave enough to be happy in discovering new things.

Crying isn’t a sign of weakness and neither is hope, it’s knowing that when you have hope you are incredibly strong.

Signing off because I really need to get something eat even it’s 11:00pm – because after talking about all this food I’ve become hungry – here’s to getting the most out what you can eat!!

Living life the Coeliac way…

I did not know what it actually meant to have Coeliac Disease when I was first diagnosed, like a lot of people I thought that Gluten meant that I couldn’t eat bread, pasta, cake, etc – things that simply didn’t have wheat…basically I did not know to what extent that would mean. It’s not as simple as cutting out bread. I was oblivious to the point that I ordered Chinese food the first night I was diagnosed… Gluten though is in pretty much everything. From bread to ice-cream. It included a lot of my favourite foods, my staples, snacks, etc. It meant that the majority of things I ate I had to check and make sure they didn’t have gluten. I thought it also meant – no chocolate. No chocolate – how would I cope in life without chocolate? How would I be going to a birthday party and not being able to eat the birthday cake? How would I be not being able to order take-away as readily? There were so many questions that I was now asking about my diet and also the possibilities of other illness/disease/problems… I had a list that quite possibly could have stretched across the land of America and back and I wouldn’t have known where to start. I packed up my worries and went to the doctor – she said forget the list and focus on the diet.

However, the diet had to begin on the Easter weekend 2011… I was going to my Grandparent’s farm with my Mum which normally I love, but this diet and things being closed – it was a weekend where I was as irritable as anything because I was hungry… so hungry I was snapping pencils in half the dining room… so hungry that I ended up having a one way argument with Mum – just because I needed to release my anger…before storming out of the house and sitting in the car for 20 mins…it was another one of my not so fine moments… most people who know me well would be glad to have not been there.

After a weekend of avoiding hot-cross-buns and anything that tasted good… I survived. Back in Melbourne… it was time to go shopping… Because this diet was still very new to me I was sticking with things that I were guaranteed gluten-free, so either fruit and vege or that had a label on it which clearly stated it had no gluten…

I couldn’t really live like this forever so I got the 4 ingredients GF version…tried out a few more recipes and thought that for a while I could keep it simple but having more variety…

I then started teaching rounds… and had to stay at a friend’s house because the school was too far from where I lived – but this was almost impossible because I sill didn’t know what I could eat for dinner. I prepared a whole bunch of things, took a bunch of GF marked food and took a whole bag full of food for the two weeks that I’d be staying there and thought this would be ok…um no. Instead on my second day of teaching rounds I came back to their house where I was expecting a roast for dinner and got a trip to the hospital… about five days later and no appendix on Mother’s Day I was out of hospital and off to Mum’s work where I walked in clutching my stomach (cos the docs told me to hold on to it) – I laughed because my mother is a mid-wife – and I was hobbling into to her to work place…holding my stomach, after already been scrutinised as to whether I was pregnant or not. Last year was soon known as the: lets see how many times I can be asked if I’m pregnant or not??? The answer is still: NO!

I went to stay with Mum for some TLC and came out deciding that I needed a new school…

For months I didn’t have one…but eventually was ok with that because it meant that I was finally able to have the time to sort out what this diet meant. I joined the Coeliac society, went to a few of their meetings…including the label reading one – which was GREAT because it meant that I learnt that in Australia – wheat, barely, etc was in bold and I found out that glucose and dextrose even if it came from wheat didn’t have gluten… I felt a new way of living was about to begin… and bought a new cookbook – so perfectly named the Gluten-Free bible, a bible for eating gluten-free eating! whoot…

The super-market finally didn’t feel like the most daunting place to go and my diet finally saw some variety. I got a new school which did mean having to do a 7 week block but also meant that it forced me to learn what it was like to be incredibly organised with food. I made, polenta marmalade cake plus a huge array of other gf baked goods and snacks, salads, curries, rice-paper rolls, gf pasta bakes, other gf pasta dishes, meat and vege, stir-fry, etc, etc, etc… I even started eating take-away food again and tried new restaurants that I never would have tried otherwise…

My food was ALL new, not just Gluten-Free, but fresh, organic, natural and most importantly full of variety… my family were still calling me and asking me how my diet was going but seriously it didn’t matter…

then Summer school rolled around and I got slack… and was also getting bored again… plus I had been to a friend’s wedding where my dessert was a plate of fruit and I left feeling hungry…I’m really grateful to them though to making sure I could actually eat and it’s not actually anyone’s fault…that, that was what was on offer…  I think though that not having a proper routine meant that I could just survive with things I had in the house and my job has me eating at other people’s houses which meant that I didn’t need to take my lunch where I went. I also discovered that uni (especially during summer) was the worst place to find gluten-free food!

Beginning the uni year I bought myself a new cookbook – called Indulge by Rowie Dillon – giving a fresh take to Gluten-Free food and it even has a whole entire section on GF flours and the science behind it…I now have a whole new range of flours…an am learning a whole new way of eating. Because the start of the year I felt almost as though I had to begin again, it was tough and hard and I think it finally sunk in what it meant.

I then received an email today which talked about the Coeliac Awareness Week in March! Which meant that I’m now supporting a cause that directly affects me – that’s usually not how it goes because I’m so used donating money or participating in an event that has to do with causes which I believe in but doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with me – except of course my interests.

http://www.coeliacawareness.org/

Everyone!! I mean, everyone!!! Needs to be more aware of Coeliac Disease, what it means for people who live with it and also what it means when you have to cater for them in any capacity whether it be a uni/school cafeteria/tuckshop/cafe/etc, at a restaurant, at someone’s house, a party, a wedding…you name it.

Also people who are coeliacs or any food intolerance or allergy needs to realise that you’re diet doesn’t have to be restricting if you are open-minded and organised. But try to relax and still have those moments where you don’t do the cooking!

Lesson of the day:

We are all becoming more aware of what people have or are going through and it’s amazing to know there are people there to support you! 🙂

Signing off… I hope you all enjoyed your dinner!