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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My battle with gluten free breakfast!

So today I decided to make myself Quinoa Porridge! It took about half an hour to make which for breakfast is a bit of a drainer, so when I sat down and ate it, I thought to myself: “this better taste good!”

Guess what – it did! It tasted bloody brilliantly in fact. A little sweet so I’ve learnt for next time to add less golden syrup… but a part from that it was warm, crunchy (for the chopped almonds) and incredibly filling!

The afternoon has come and I can still feel a happy stomach and a sigh of relief!

My batttle with gluten free breakfast actually feels like it’s getting easier!

Back in the day before I knew of my Coeliac Disease, breakfast was simple. A couple pieces of toast, fruit and a cup of tea or if I had a bit more time – then I’d treat myself to eggs on toast, maybe even with a bit of bacon.

In the past year or so I’ve been learning what it’s like to live on a gluten free diet and breakfast as been the hardest meal to conquer. I’ve tried everything! From packaged rice porridge, fruit and yoghurt and of course gf cereal. Toast was set aside as gf bread is expensive and it’s hard to find a good loaf out there that isn’t like a brick.  Nothing has seemed to fill me up and I’m usually hungry about an hour after eating! It’s been frustrating as anything plus not exaclty that healthy either. Snacking is NOT a good alternative, that’s for sure.

It’s nice to finally be feeling like I can start the day like most normal people do – with a good breakfast! Since eating the Quinoa Porridge, I have felt fuller and have gained more energy. It put me in the mood to have a productive day. Instead of feeling sluggish and ‘starving’.

Being a coeliac has it’s moments and it’s definetly a learning curve on how to be a better cook in giving myself a healthy, delicious and filling diet. One that I can ensure will give me the most nutritients and thus allowing me to be the best that I can be.  When I discover new recipes like the porridge I made today I am faced with mixed feelings. Somewhere between triumph and feeling excluded. Triumph because I can eat something and enjoy it and exluded because I’m not a part of the ‘normal’ world anymore.

I know that these days being on gluten free diet is easier than it was ten or even five years ago but it doesn’t take away the ‘sucky’ feeling I have when I have to go food shopping, go to a restaurant, a friend’s house, a party or can’t be bothered and want take-way. There isn’t really an easy way out and today with my porridge I’m ok with that but maybe tomorrow things won’t be so easy.

I know I have to stick to the diet for my health and stay positive which I do with all my determination. But all I’m saying is – sometimes I wish I didn’t have to. Sometimes I wish I could walk across the road and buy some fish and chips and finish off the meal with an ice-cream in a cone – now that would be a real treat!!

In the meantime: here’s to brekky! You don’t know how amazing it is until you can longer find a simple way to enjoy it.

Signing off so I can more fun learning how to be a better gluten free cook! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Oh Baby It’s Cold Outside!

You know you are on holidays when it gets to 3:00am and you’re still awake. The day couldn’t have gone any slower and your pjs become the attire of choice…unless you need to buy chocolate. Well at least this is what happens in winter. Winter days are filled with dreaming up your next hearty but comforting dish and you can’t help but to indulge on baked goods… and knowing that tomorrow you’ll be wearing 3 jumpers just to keep warm makes it all the worth-while. This morning I nearly decided that  I would read all day long with a cup of tea and a cat on my lap, but as I realised there were forms to fill in for my up-coming N.T trip this wasn’t going to be possible…

But I will make it up to myself 🙂

At this point in time though it’s not just that I’m on holidays it’s also that I’m really close to finishing my degree! The day that I never thought would come is soon here and although I’m excited I can’t help but to take a big swallow and sigh!!

I cannot believe that I’m sitting here half-way to finishing my degree – I keep having this terrible dream that I’m in a classroom on my first day and all I do is stare at the kids… I don’t know what to do on my first day – I will, I know I will…but in the back of my mind I’m second-guessing myself… It’s almost like I need other people to stop saying that I’ll be fine and to say I’ll be rubbish – just so I can be determined to prove to them they’re wrong…but that’s crazy!!!!!

All these irrational thoughts are crazy… I just hope I’m not the only on thinking them…

Am I the only one thinking them?

This is crazy! This is crazy! This is crazy!

Why do I do this to myself? Think like this?

I guess it’s partly human nature and partly going back to not believing in myself and also partly totally normal but still!!

Urggghhh…

I’m sure it will all come into place I just sometimes wish we didn’t have to go through all of this before it did or that I could just magically see exactly where I’ll be next year.

Ahhh I seriously dislike not knowing what I’ll be doing…

This is crazy! This is crazy! This is crazy!

*deep breath*

Tonight I will dream:

Knowing what to do, knowing that mistakes are ok and knowing that I will be ok no matter what happens.

Tomorrow I will:

Write a list of things that still needs to happen before NT and tick them off as I do them so that I’m not sitting around stressing

and then we’ll go from there…

Is it too late to bake a cake?

I’m conjuring in my mind the perfect layered cake perfectly decorated, GF and utterly delicious…

Right now… maybe I’ll have a sneaky scoop of ice-cream with drinking chocolate on top? hmmm yes… Ice-cream in winter that’s what we all need!!

Ok. Good plan.

Lets go and execute it!!!

Lesson of the day (haven’t done one for ages…):

RELAX! It’s all good. 🙂

Signing off to make a yummy concoction.

A Purple Foods Tea Party

 

As a child a read a book where the characters in this book decided to have a red food day – they would treat themselves to all their favourite red foods and make it a celebration of their favourite colour.

I though have always loved purple and thought that celebrating this colour in eating food of that colour would be much harder – I mean all I could think of was eggplant, plums, beetroot, blackcurrant or foods that had more a purple tinge than colour…

However this afternoon I decided that I would use my purple carrots and make carrot cake which brought back the idea of having a party with all the foods being purple. It seems to be that the rediscovery of food in their natural colour of purple have been made with the carrot, potato, corn, capsicum, etc Although most of these foods do have many colours the idea behind making a ‘discovery’ of the purple form is that they are the superfood…

Or making discoveries in the western world??

It seems to be that superfoods are a part of the ‘modern’ world… but as I’m not one to eat these things because they are popular in the media I will continue with the idea of eating my way through many of these purple foods – to see if I’m eating them because they are purple of if I simply prefer them.

Once of course – I have more recipes under my wing I will of be having this purple foods tea party to live a childhood wish and to see how many foods I can produce that are purple!

As I’m known for being a sweet tooth and baker – I’m sure as well as the veggies there will be many treats on offer… yum!!

If you chose to comment on this post – please send me recipe ideas. (make sure they are gluten free!!)

Looking forward to this celebration of food and colour – maybe one day I’ll try another colour?

But for now I’m signing off for chai tea and my carrot cake [oops to the nearly 10 at night 😉 ]

GLUTEN-FREE VEGEMITE!!

I actually cried after having a bite of a rice cracker with GF Vegemite. Then after the cry I’m pretty sure I screamed and then sang.

I couldn’t believe how great it tasted and how wonderful it felt to eat something that was such a huge part of my life.

It’s not just the Vegemite though.

There are other things that are making me reminiscence and other things that I miss deeply.

There are dates coming up that are allowing me to think like this and with this I will make this post short.

Moments like I had with the GF Vegemite are pretty awesome. It also allows you to see that sadder parts of life are there and sometimes you have to give in to them and that’s ok.

Just as long as after-wards you enjoy the GF Vegemite.

Happy eating and enjoying life – taking it for what it is. 🙂

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!