Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A day dream

I often dream of the day where I can go out somewhere to eat and I will be able to find something at the first restaurant/cafe I go too and not have to traipse around the 2,3,4 different places finding something that I can eat.

I went out with some friends today and had a hot chocolate to start with, the girls had raisin toast but as there was no gf options, I just stuck to the drink. After some chatting and catching up we decided it was time for lunch, I went to ask what gf lunch options there were. My first choice was the soup of the day, they had run out of soup and the only other option I could have was a salad (it was freezing cold, so not my first choice!), they girl did actually suggest at the gf cakes, the entire 2 that were available! Not actually something I would eat for lunch!

The next cafe we asked had pumpkin soup, my first question was did it have stock in it, the reply was I'm sure it doesn't but I'm not really sure??? WTF!!! I wasn't going to take the risk.

I ended up having sushi, always a safe option and opted out on the soy sauce (I'm pretty sure the little fish have gluten in them). The Sushi was great as it always is, at Narellan Town Centre for the local readers, always made fresh.

The annoying thing is its really not that hard to provide gf food, if you can do gluten sandwiches and wraps etc just buy some gf bread, charge more for it if you have too, but just to have that option would be fantastic!

It's embarrassing when you are the one who has to make everyone move around from cafe to cafe finding somewhere you can eat something at. My friends and family are very considerate and understanding (even more so since reading my blog) but I still feel bad that it is me making everyone move from place to place.

The scary thing is in Australia in the last few years the availability of gf products and food as greatly increased! I often think how fortunate I am to have been diagnosed only last year, when it is something that is understood to some degree by the general public and catered for at various supermarkets, restaurants etc (even if only to a small degree).

Monday, 30 May 2011

Why do we feel embarassed about being a coeliac?

Although I am now very open and accepting of being a coeliac and of having a disease that effects the bowel, for many years I wasn't.

I think it was because I have endometrosis, which is very painful and has some rather horrible long term and short term affects and some doctors would completely dismiss that I had this disease and attempt to down play my symptoms by telling me I had IBS. My symptoms were always at the worse when the endometrosis was also at its worse (around that time of month). I always found it so hard to try and comprehend how someone could think that my problems were related to my bowel (wrong end)!!! I have since spoken to a nutritionist who has informed me that the combination of endometrosis and coeliac is a rather horrible mix! No wonder why I was in so much pain.

For some reason endometrosis and fertility based diseases are more socially acceptable than disease that affect the bowel such as coeliac disease. Thankfully this perception is changing in society and it will only continue to change for the better if people are more open and accepting about their condition.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I had problems from childhood that now I can all refer to as coeliac disease. I remember having bad pains in my stomach for a long time, my mum actually took me to the doctor to find out what was wrong. I had some tests, I think x ray and maybe ultrasound which showed I was constipated (one of the symptoms of coeliac disease). I recall the doctor telling me (I was about 8), that if I didn't go to the toilet regularly I would end up with a bag!!!!. I was needless to say petrified, I didn't want to have to poo into a bag!! Thinking back now the doctor should have done some tests, changed diet etc not scare the crap (literally) out of a little girl and make me think it was my fault. I guess that's where my embarrassment about any bowel problems etc comes from.

Since being diagnosed I've spoken to many people about coeliac disease and endometrosis and I wasn't the only one who had that story. I've listened to people explain their symptoms (so so similar to mine) and then use endometrosis as the only reason for the problems. Even if they have listened to me and have been assured that it is a valid problem, that yes they have endometrosis but coeliac or a gluten intolerance is making the symptoms worse, they still are reluctant to even contact their doctor. I heard one lady I was speaking to say that she didn't want to be the one at the restaurant, at a barbecue, at a party who can't eat a vast majority of food and would rather put up with the symptoms then deal with the embarrassment of being the one who couldn't eat anything, a pain when going out.

My advice to everyone and particularly suffers of endometrosis or poly cystic ovaries, if you are suffering any of the symptoms that I spoke about in my post where I gave the symptoms and information, and you suffer from the puffer fish straight after eating gluten rich foods such as bread, pasta, pizza etc, go and talk to your doctor. Or if that thought scares you try and eliminate gluten from your diet for a short period of time, see how you feel without it, then introduce it after a week and see what affects it has on your body. The diet test will be the best indicator.

Recipe of the Day
Caramel Meringue Pie
This is a family favourite, mum used to make it for special occasions, I never understood why it wasn't a regular dish until I made it. It takes a bit of time, particularly stirring the caramel. I've modified this recipe to make it gf (thus the coconut based pastry).

1 large cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons flour (whatever gf flour available)
70 g butter (diced)
1 cup milk
2 egg yokes
2 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 cup maize corn flour
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups coconut
120g melted butter

 Pastry: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Mix corn flour milk coconut and butter into a bowl, add more coconut if the mixture is too runny. with a spoon press the mixture into a pie dish (make sure it isn't too thick). Place in oven for 10-15 minutes to lightly brown.

Caramel: Place butter and brown sugar into an electric mixer for a few minutes, add flour. Mix 1 cup of milk a egg yokes to butter mixture. Put in a saucepan on low to medium heat stir constantly until thickened (takes 10+ minutes), stir in vanilla. Put caramel into the cooled pastry dish.

Meringue: Mix egg whites with a hand held mixer until it starts to get thicker. Add caster sugar and mix until soft peaks form. Put meringue on top of the caramel and put in the oven for 10 minutes to brown the meringue.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

What an effort, what a friend

Apologies readers for my absence yesterday, I actually thought at 11.45pm last night that may be I should get on and write a quick apology but then I figured I'm sure everyone will understand. I did spend a few hours in bed not very well yesterday (this was meant to be my blogging time!), by the time I actually managed to get up I had to start cooking for dinner (we had friends come over, a great night!), I had no time to blog.

So here I am.....

We went out to dinner on friday night to a friends house, shes a great cook! Having been out with me several times, listening to the frustrations I've had trying to find somewhere or something to eat and reading the blog, she was on a mission to cook me something nice that I wouldn't normally eat or cook myself.

After being on a gf diet for over a year, I've become accustomed to the lack of choice, the high prices and the non appetising choices of gf products that are sold at supermarkets! Saying that it does still annoy me at times! But my friend was not used to it at all, she scanned the small section of gf products at the supermarket, looking for gf bread crumbs (she was going to make a schnitzell!). The closest thing that she found was rice crumbs and being someone who is a fantastic cook she knew they just wouldn't work the same. Being very determined, she remembered how her mother used to make breadcrumbs (from bread not out of a box!), so she set off to find some gf bread.  This was an ordeal in itself as it took a trip to 3 different supermarkets before she could find somewhere that stocked gf bread!

I'm going to endeavour to tell you all how she made the bread crumbs for the schitznel and the schitznel itself and I am going to have this as the feature recipe......

Recipe of the day
GF Schnitzel

1 loaf gf bread
Chicken breast
gf flour
egg yoke

Method (this is read like a story as I didn't make it and am telling you how to make it as I was told by my friend)

She spread the bread out on a baking tray or dish and placed it in the oven on a low to moderate temperature (the purpose of this is to dry out the bread). We all know that gf is horrible to toast it burns on the outside but is still goey on the inside!! Consequently this made the drying process in the oven a lot longer than non gf bread. My friend said it took about 1 hour to try properly, after 20 minutes of cooking, she checked and turned the bread every 10 minutes. Once it was dried properly, she then placed the bread in a hand held mixer but a food processor etc would do the same thing, and mix/puree bread into a fine crumb mixture (if the bread is still too wet, return to oven for further drying).

The crumbs are now done, cut chicken breast in half (so they aren't too thick to cook). Have three bowls or trays/plates prepared with gf flour, egg yoke and bread crumbs. Then coat chicken in flour, egg and press down in bread crumbs. My friend lightly fried the schitznel in a pan then finished cooking in the oven.

The schitznel was beautiful and no one else (including the 3 men) couldn't tell the difference between these gf schnitzel and ones that they had eaten before!

What a friend, and what an effort she went to! Just to ensure I had something nice to eat that was something I wouldn't normally have! The recipe will definitely be something I will be trying in the future! I didn't turn up empty handed though, I brought a caramel meringue pie!! (it will feature in tomorrows recipe).

A thank you to the people who have contacted me about my research project into the impact of a gf diet on people or children with autism or who are on the spectrum. I will be going to meet with some parents of children with autism who are using the diet and seeing benefits. I will keep you posted on my findings.Please continue to contact me if you have any experiences with the gf diet and autism.


Friday, 27 May 2011

Hot bread and homemade soup

I made bread today..... It was just a packet mix gf (on special) but boy was it good!

My sister came over and I got to play with my gorgeous nephew, always guaranteed to make you smile. We had the capsicum soup I made yesterday (see yesterdays blog for recipe) with some lovely warm, hot bread! The bread was steaming when we spread the butter onto it! Yummy!

It was so nice to have hot, nice bread to dunk into some hardy, homemade soup. The best thing about the bread was that fresh from the oven, it didn't actually taste like gf bread. My sister enjoyed the bread as much as I did, then she had a bit when it had cooled down. The GF taste was back! Yuck!

Tomorrow I will use the rest of the bread for toast or toasted sandwiches, because it will have that chewy, glue like texture that gf bread does, unless it is steamy hot. And I will savour the flavour of that fresh bread straight from the oven.

Recipe of the Day
Beef Stroganoff

I got this recipe from Taste, here is the link for the recipe
 I used chuck steak not rump much cheaper I follwed all steps of recipe but once everything was cooked, I transferred to the slow cooker for 6 hours! Meat was beautiful! I did have to add more water and stock and additional tomato paste, make sure you check it after a few hours and add more water etc as needed.

I also had this with gf corn and rice pasta. I was a bit cautious, but it actually tasted rather nice! Better than other pasta I have tried, just be careful not to over cook it!

The restaurant of the week will be in tomorrows post!


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Wouldn't it be nice!

I remember what it was like to go out and eat BD (before diagnosis) despite the puffer fish and other symptoms of eating gluten, I loved the choice of food on the menu! Every single thing I could eat, if I wanted too! Imagine that!, the choice, the freedom!

Eating out as a coeliac is a completely different matter! The complete lack of choice is completely mind blowing, sometimes there may actually be nothing at all that you can eat!

I went to a cafe today with some old friends, and was very excited to see they had GF cakes (something they didn't have previously)! But its sad when you excited over a 3 different types of cakes you can choose from! Then you glance out of the corner of your eye to the gluten filled cakes!, the variety, the size! GF cakes are generally rather small (granted these were all cup cake like size) but many cafes were I live don't stock anything else! I looked in envy at the size of the cakes my friends had and indeed how nice they looked! GF food doesn't have to be small and lack presentation of flavour!

It's not just cafes, I've been to restaurants were there are three GF options on the menu for both main and desert. Thankfully on this particular occasion I had my first choice of main with any problems and no puffer fish! The GF deserts did look great, the waitress came back to me after I ordered to inform me that 'whoops, that desert wasn't gf they made a mistake!!', I looked at the menu and picked another gf option, she came back again to tell me this time the desert was gf but they had sold out. I ended up with a desert but it wasn't what I wanted!, my third choice!

I often dream about the day when we can go out and the majority of the meals will be gf or at least have a gf option! Wouldn't it be nice.......

Recipe of the Day
Roasted capsicum, garlic and tomato soup

4 red capsicums (peppers for USA readers)
3 cloves garlic
Olive oil
400g can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt Pepper
1 Litre of chicken stock (I used powdered stock)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. De seed capsicums and cut in half, place in a large baking dish. Peal garlic and add to capsicum. Pour some olive oil over the capsicums and roast in oven for about 20 minutes or until skins start to bubble and go crispy (darker looking). Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes, carefully peal skin from capsicums. Roughly cut capsicums and put them into a large saucepan with garlic, add tomato, stock, rosemary and thyme and salt and pepper. Cook on medium to low heat for 30 minutes. Add more salt pepper, rosemary and thyme to your taste.

Remove from heat and puree soup, ensuring all capsicums is chopped up. Serve and eat!!


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Back to basics

I lost the food battle tonight. You know the argument that happens between husband and wife, partners, housemates etc, takeaway or cooked meal! I was going to make home-made pizzas and have them as the recipe of the day and it fitted in perfectly with the state of origin! My husband had other ideas, he wanted Thai. Though I must admit it didn't take much twisting of my arm to agree (and he managed to get me as I just pulled up outside the supermarket)!!

As I thought about what I was going to put up for my recipe of the day (we are still eating yesterdays cupcakes!) I thought why not make it on icing! Icing you say, WTF!! But though I've been making icing for many years I seem to stuff it up every time. I always ending up making way too much icing because I add too much milk! And there's only so much icing you can eat! (though a flashback from childhood my cousin is a bit of a chocoholic, if there was no chocolate she would actually make up chocolate icing and eat the whole lot!!!)

On a different tangent before I write the recipe, I am in the process of researching the impact the a gluten free diet has on children or adults who are in the autism spectrum. I've got two university degrees and several years teaching; the one thing this has taught me about research is that secondary sources (books, academic papers etc) are good but primary sources (first hand encounters etc) are what really provides you with the nuts and bolts, the real evidence of whatever it is you are researching. So although I will be reading academic papers, articles, websites, the most effective research will be from talking to parents and caregivers of children who are in the autism spectrum to find out if a gf diet has resulted in any behavioural changes in their child.

My blogging friends, I am asking you a big favour, if you know someone who is on the autism spectrum and has tried the gf diet, ask them if they have any success with it an email me or alternatively give them my email address I'd love to hear from all people. If you even have a question, no matter how silly it may sound, comment on the blog or email me, I'll respond as best as I can.

Without further ado here is the recipe......

Recipe of the Day

 1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon milk (have more milk aside as you may need to add more)
1 teaspoon cocoa (for chocolate icing)

Place icing sugar, margarine, cocoa and milk into a bowl and mix well. You will probably need to add a bit more milk (this is the part I always stuff up, do it SLOWLY!!!), 1/2 tablespoon at a time. The best thing is with icing, if you add too much milk you can add more icing sugar and if you add too much icing sugar you can add more milk!!

1 cup of icing sugar may not be enough to cover a large cake, but a 1 cup basis is easiest to work with when making more or less icing!

If you want to make a vanilla icing, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence. But if you fancy some lovely bright coloured icing, be very CAREFUL with how much food colouring you add, one extra drop can make icing look like play dough (trust me I've done it many times!)

Good luck with the icing and I hope this works for you (remember icing is meant to go on cakes!).


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The power of the blog

I've had a crap day! (I'm not talking about being frustrated because I couldn't find somewhere I could eat gf food safely or having to deal with the puffer fish!) It all started literally a few minutes after I woke up and got a phone call with unexpected, unfair and unjust news (no one died and everyones' health is fine) but what I was told was ridiculous! The kind of news that makes you cry with anger and frustration as you begin to prepare yourself for yet another fight that you shouldn't have too.

You might be thinking what the hell does this have to do with gluten??? It doesn't directly but this post is about the power of the blogging community.

As I went through my day and numerous calls I had to make, I felt like just curling up on the lounge and watching a dvd, forgetting about the world (and I guess wallowing if only for a bit in my own self pity).

Then I realised I hadn't written a post for the blog and I hadn't cooked anything or taken a picture of the food to put on the blog! As you know I am posting a recipe of the day as well as writing about other things. You might think, who cares, it would have been fine but its what really lifted my mood (along with some support and love from some great friends and family).

You see I'm the kind of person who is there for friends and family no matter what time of the day or night, what I'm doing or how I'm feeling, if someone needs me I will be there, if I said that I will do something there has to be a pretty good reason for not doing it.

So knowing that I have a fantastic blogging community, people who I don't even know from all over the world read my blog daily and would be expecting for the latest post and recipe to be put up, got me off the lounge.

I knew what I was going to cook, I got the recipe book out, turned the oven on and got started. To focus on the cooking, making sure I didn't mess it up ,my mind started to tune off and the stress and anger started to ease. It was great to see the patty cakes rising and come out looking great, to make the icing and ice the cakes, to take a picture of the cakes for my readers (as I said I would), to make my husband and myself a cup of tea, to watch him enjoy eating what I cooked and to taste the nice fluffy cake and the sweet chocolate icing myself, washed down with a mouthful of hot tea.

Thank you to my readers, to the blogging community for giving me something that I have to do, no matter what (obviously there are a few exceptions), for making me focus on the smaller things and forget (if only for a while) about the bigger things.

If you or someone you care about is having a crap day, or a shit week, month or year, if you can go and see them, listen, but then take them out or give them something to do, even if its helping go grocery shopping or to walk the dog. It will allow them to focus on the smaller things in life, to forgot just a little about the bigger problems.

If you have a daily commitment to someone or something (aside from work), it could be walking your dog, writing a blog (didn't mean to rhyme), no matter whats happened in your day, try and carry through with that commitment. It will make you feel better, trust me.

Keep on reading xxxx

Recipe of the Day
Patty Cakes
Recipe is from the 'Gluten Free Bible', this recipe can be used for a plain cake, patty cake etc

Makes 12 Ingredients
125g butter (I softened and melted slightly in microwave)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup gf self raising flour
1/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup gf cornflour
11/2 teaspoons gf baking powder
3 tablespoons lukewarm milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celiscus. With a electric mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth and light. Add vanilla and an egg and beat well. Add the other egg and beat again.

Sift the flours into the butter mixture and mix, add milk to make a smooth, moist batter.

Spoon the mixture into creased patty cake tins, only 3/4 full. Bake for 12 minutes or until firm and golden. Place on a wire rack and cool, ice (frost) and eat!

Thank you again

Monday, 23 May 2011

The nuts and bolts of gluten

I've had a few readers contact me and tell me that they have not only enjoyed reading the blog, but particularly learning about gluten and the impact it has on some people.  I was honoured to have such comments, this meant that my goal of reaching people through this blog is well on the way to being achieved.

When I reflect on the posts I have written, I haven't really given a description of what a coeliac is or the difference that and a gluten allergy/intolerance. This might help readers understand the puffer fish and why it is so important to follow the gf diet, we aren't being a pain in butt when we ask thousands of question when we eat out, its really important that we don't accidentally eat gluten.

The following information is from the Coeliac Society of Australia http://www.coeliac.org.au. I guess the first question is what is coeliac? Firstly it's an autoimmune disease which affects 1 in 100 people! "It is a permanent intestinal intolerance to dietary gluten". Left untreated the lining of the small bowel becomes damaged. Unfortunately coeliac isn't something that just happens you are born with a genetic predisposition to the disease, so thanks alot mum or dad!!! (in my case I think dad!!). Basically in coeliacs any consumption of gluten causes an abnormal reaction predominately inflammation and damage to the small bowel.

What are the symptoms? For those of you who have been reading my blog you will know that bloating (I describe it as the puffer fish) is one of the most obvious symptoms, ummmm wind (yuck and perhaps not polite to talk about but one of the symptoms, and I have to confess that I still find 'fart' humour rather funny!), anemia (I also suffered from rather severely), tired/lethargic (a side affect of anemia too), there are other symptoms (your bowel working too much or hardly at all) and some more serious ones left untreated can lead to miscarriage, infertility (both very scary for me as I have endometrosis which has its own horrible statistics for this), depression and cancer! Not very pleasant to say the least.

How do I find out if I have it? Unfortunately the only exact diagnosis is a endoscopy, a camera down the throat (I call in channel 9 camera crew doing some research, you have to make light of the situation). There are blood tests that can be done but they aren't conclusive.

Can it be cured? At this stage there are no cures, the science and medical world are in the trial process of developing a vaccine for gluten. The very good news is that it is very controllable, by following a strict diet, the symptoms disappear and you are able to live a happy regular life.

What's the difference between a gluten allergy/intolerance and coeliac disease? An allergy/intolerance to gluten gives a person similar symptoms to that of someone with coeliac disease but it doesn't have the same damaging affect on the small bowel and extreme health issues. Some people with an intolerance may choose to eat small amounts of gluten if it doesn't affect them or they may completely remove it from their diet. My advice would be if you are experiencing any of the symptoms check with your doctor, you need to ensure that you aren't a coeliac. There are lots of health benefits from gluten containing grains if you don't suffer from coeliac disease or have an allergy to gluten, so not always a good thing to remove completely from your diet if there isn't a medical need.

I hope that this information has been relatively helpful and given you an understanding of the nuts and bolts of coeliac disease and gluten. In future post this week I plan on writing about the pros, cons and success of a gluten free diet for autism and various behavioural problems (particularly in children, as I am a qualified, and experienced teacher I feel that my experience teaching students with various problems combined with research I will do, may be beneficial to parents and care givers).

Recipe of the Day
Stuffed Chicken Breast with handmade chips and vegetables
Serves 2 (double ingredients for 4)

1 large chicken breast (I used 2, 1 small and 1 medium, and there is half left for dinner tomorrow night!)
2 slices gf ham
Dijon mustard
2 pieces of swiss cheese
approx 1/4 cup white wine (I used a traminer riesling, it was what we had in the fridge, any white would work)
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
Olive oil
3 washed potatoes cut into eighths
Sea Salt
Mixed vegetables (I used frozen vegetables that you steam in microwave for 3minutes, easier than chopping lots of vegetables or throwing away vegetables that have gone rotten)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place cut potatoes into a baking dish lightly coat with olive oil (the less oil the more crispy the chips will be), sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary and place in the oven.

Flatten chicken with the back of a wooden spoon. Coat chicken with mustard add ham and cheese, fold the breast in half and place in a baking dish/tray. Lightly sprinkle rosemary and thyme on chicken breast. Put some oil over chicken and add wine and chicken stock (in liquid and on chicken). Put chicken in the oven for 25 minutes.

Put vegetables in microwave for 3 minutes or as specified.

Plate up chicken, potatoes and vegetables and lightly pour liquid over all.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

This is ridiculous!!!!

This is ridiculous!! The words my husband uttered after walking out of two restaurants because there was nothing that I could eat on the menu! It was lunch and we were having a nice meal out.  We weren't in our local area and we decided to go to one of the rather large clubs in western Sydney with numerous dining options.

The first choice only did fried seafood etc, they did provide an all you can eat buffet but as my husband reminded me how do you know there's not gluten in the satay???

Off we trotted to the second option, my first gripe isn't about the lack of gf food it's the advertising. There was a rather large sign out the front stating lunches for $15 with a soft drink, this was also at the table. But in very fine print was weekdays only!!! What a marketing ploy! Then we sat down, there was no little gf symbol on the menu but I asked if they did gf pizza bases, no they didn't. My second option was soup of the day, but that was minestrone, so full of pasta! There were a few options that I could have had, but I wasn't paying $30+ for a steak for lunch! Once we were informed of the food options, I said to the waitress we are going to have to go somewhere else!

Option three was back to place one to ask if they would do a grilled piece of fish for me, 'We only do fried food here, you will have to go to the other cafe for that!'!!!!

Now we are up to option four!!!, we went to the cafe, the prices were ridiculous for most things, but I did find a risotto on the menu. After the issues I've had in the past with risotto I went asked if there was gluten in the stock. The girl at the counter was rather polite and asked the chef, who was a cow (this would be the most polite way I could describe her)! I heard 'risotto? It's rice,why would it have gluten!!!' I had to explain to her that there is gluten in some stocks, she had no clue!!! Seriously love where are your manners!!! And your a chef, surely you should have some knowledge of whats in the food you cook!

We were running out of options, so I braved it and ordered the risotto. Thankfully the puffer fish didn't emerge, but we were both still annoyed at the lack of options and the attitude of the chef. On the way home I was already drafting a letter by telling my husband what I would say to them in an email if the puffer fish emerged!

Maybe I will write the email about the complete lack of gf options at the number of dining facilities at the club and we can't forgot the attitude of the chef!

On a different note I've set up a Facebook page for the blog, Its Mishaps and Mayhem of a Gluten Free Life
have a look at the page and click on like.

Recipe of the Day
This is from the book Gluten Free Bible, I'm sorry there's not a picture of this recipe, I made these the other day and they were gone before I had a chance to take a picture. I will upload a picture later this week.

Coconut macaroons
2 large egg whites
1  cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons rice flour
2/3 cup caster sugar
Optional 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (I haven't cooked these with the zest)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks form (I use hand held electric mixer) and fold in coconut, flour and sugar, mix well.

Form little mounds of the batter on the tray and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown (set timer for 18 minutes just to check).

Cool on a rack before storing

Enjoy xxx

Saturday, 21 May 2011

GF baking isn't easy

Gluten free baking is not like normal baking, cakes don't usually rise as much, dough has a different texture and things don't always work out.

I've had lots of success with gf cooking and baking but it is important to share there have been lots of interesting concoctions......

I remember one morning getting up to cook myself and my husband some pancakes for breakfast, I had a packet mix which a friend had given me. Good idea but a massive mishap! They turned out a weird grey colour and had the consistency of a glue like dough. My husband took one look at the pancakes and put some toast on, I had to prove a point, so I smothered a few pancakes in golden syrup and tried to eat them. Tried is probably the best word to use, I could only eat a few mouthfuls, they were rather disgusting! So the whole lot got tossed in the bin!

Then there's the shortbread that I attempted to make.... You have to make the dough and put in the fridge for 30minutes to 1 hour, we had to leave a family emergency and it was several hours before we got home. I got the dough out of the fridge when we returned and proceeded to cook it. I really don't know if it was because the dough was in the fridge too long (that's my excuse and I'm sticking too it!) but it wouldn't brown up and was in crumbly chunks! I tasted a bit and it did resemble shortbread but it was just too hard to eat. After all that time and effort, the shortbread too ended up in the bin. Washing up endless dishes after baking is bad enough, when you have an end product that you can eat and enjoy, it sucks when you ruin the dish and you are washing up what seems like thousands of dishes with no reward at the end!

My most recent blunder in the kitchen was actually the day I posted up the recipe for brownies! I've cooked these endless times before and thought it would be nice to have for afternoon tea. I was caught up in the excitement of starting the blog and mixed everything up but forgot to put the sugar in. As I poured it in the tin it didn't look quite right and I couldn't figure out why, then I tasted it. YUCK!!! No sugar, I poured the mixture back into the bowl added  sugar and put it back in the pan. It just didn't turn out right, it tasted a bit funny and stuck to the pan, most of it ended up in the bin too!

I thought it was important to share my blunders as well as my success stories. Each day I post up a recipe that I cook and it works out, but there are often things that don't. So don't be afraid to have a go with cooking and messing up a dish is part of learning, the important thing to remember is to make sure you get back in the kitchen and have a go again and have fun while your doing it!

Recipe of the Day
White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Sauce
From The Gluten- Free Kitchen by Sue Shepherd

I cooked this for the first time last night, everyone loved it, every last mouthful was eaten! I didn't have panna cotta moulds, so I just used some glasses.

Serves 4

1 cup cream
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used essence and it was fine)
1/3 cup sugar
50g white chocolate
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon powdered gelatine

Hazelnut sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons coco powder, sifted
11/4 tablespoons GF cornflour
11/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur (I used Frangelico)

Heat cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until chocolate has melted.
Combine the boiling water and gelatine in a small heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a larger bowl of boiling water, stirring constantly until the gelatine has dissolved. Stir the dissolved gelatine into the chocolate mixture. Pour into panna cotta moulds (or glasses, see picture if unsure of amount) and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight until set.
To make the sauce, combine the sugar, cocoa and cornflour in a small saucepan. Stir in a little milk to form a thick paste, then add remaining milk and mix well to ensure there are no lumps (I used a whisk for this). Stir over medium-high heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, then remove from heat and stir in hazelnut liqueur. Transfer to a jug, over and refrigerate until ready to serve, pour over the panna cotta.


Friday, 20 May 2011

A dress for the puffer fish

I know that I had a wedding story for you last post, but this one isn't about my wedding, it's about my sister's.

She got married in 2008, BD (before diagnosis) and our lovely friend made both the wedding and bridesmaid dress! Which was fantastic and as I was the only bridesmaid I had a big say in the design with only the bride to keep happy and not 10 other bridesmaids!

The sad thing was that my primary concern and design request was that it had to be loose and flowing around the stomach because I had no idea when the puffer fish would emerge. Remember at this stage we didn't know what was causing it but thought it had something to do with endometrosis.

Thankfully for my sister, we both liked 50s style dresses, which fit in perfectly with the theme and allowed for the puffer fish, without everyone thinking I was 5 months pregnant!

I remember the lead up to the wedding, I was so scared that my stomach would explode and I wouldn't be able to fit into the dress, not only that I was worried about being doubled over in pain. I had my collection of pain killers and anti inflammatory's ready on the day in case the puffer fish reared its ugly head.

I was fortunate that the puffer fish did not rear its head on the night of the wedding and everything went off smoothly.

The sad thing is that I had to design a dress to accommodate the possibility of the puffer fish!

Restaurant of the Week
The Arthouse Cafe at Narellan is my recommendation for this week. I have eaten there on various occasions for breakfast lunch and dinner. All meals have a gluten free option (though they don't have any gf toast for breakfast) and the waitress and chef are very accommodating to your needs. I did select the risotto here for dinner and checked with the chef what stock they used, thankfully they make their own stock and the puffer fish did not emerge. The GF symbol on the menu makes selection easier and provides for a more relaxing and enjoyable dining experience.

Recipe of the Day
Lamb in cranberry sauce
This recipe is from taste.com.au, the originally recipe was for lamb shanks but on the advice of my butchers I use Lamb forequarter chops (they are much cheaper and taste just as good)! I have also changed the recipe to cook in the slow cooker at the end (the meat will fall off the fork).
I'm cooking this tonight, so I'll add the picture when its cooked!

Serves 4 adults
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1kg lamb forequarter chops
20g butter
2 tablespoon plain flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine
275g jar whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup fresh rosemary sprigs (I used dried rosemary)
1 tablespoon thyme
Mashed potato to serve

Heat oil in large saucepan over high heat. Cook chops, in two batches, brown on both sides. Remove to plate.

Melt butter in dish until sizzling. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and slowly add stock, wine and cranberry sauce. Season with salt and pepper and rosemary and thyme and bring to boil.

Put lamb in a slowcooker and add sauce and put on medium heat for 5+ hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes (add cheese or garlic for a twist on traditional mash).


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Wedding mishaps

For those of you who have read my profile will know I was recently married, December last year. It was wonderful, honestly the best day of my life. The reception was at a function centre at the beach, with the glass doors looking out onto the water, beautiful!

Anyone who has been married knows the thousands of things involved in making the big day happen. As a coeliac my first question when we started looking at venues was can you provide a gluten free option for me (without being grilled chicken and vegies!!, had that before). At our chosen venue I was guaranteed that the meal would be gluten free and that they cater for people with dietary requirements frequently, not a drama madam!!

I put faith in their claims and was very excited about the food tasting that we were invited to attend, for free (though the overall price of the venue for the wedding per head I'm sure we paid for it in those costs!).

We went along and were given a three course meals with canapes, there was a wedding in the next room and the chef made extra for us and some other couples who were having their reception at that venue in the near future.

The entree wasn't something that we would have first picked a pork belly dish, it sounded very fancy and exotic on the menu (as most dishes do). It was surprisingly delicious, we were sharing the meals, but I gobbled up my half, scraping the sauce, it was so delicious!!!

As you know I enjoy to cook and I loved this entree, I asked the waitress if she could find out what was in the sauce, I wanted to give this a try at home! She came back a few minutes later after talking to the chef, to tell me that of the many things that were in the sauce, soy sauce was one of the main ingredients. My first thought was crap, I hope they have used gluten free soy sauce! Surely though, a big function centre like this, knowing my dietary needs who ensure that it was gluten free, so I pushed the anxiety to the back of my mind and enjoyed the rest of the meal.

During the final course I started to feel a bit funny, maybe it was just that I ate alot......

Sure enough it started in the car on the wary home, the puffer fish reared its ugly head and the pains and wind started (not a pleasant trip home for both of us!!). I felt crap for the rest of the night, the first thing I did when we got home was heat up my beloved wheat bag and curl up on the lounge.

My first phone call the next day was to the wedding coordinator, to let her know that there was something in the pork belly sauce that contained gluten, probably the soy sauce and I had a reaction! I was not happy!! What if this happened on my wedding day!!!, the puffer fish isn't a good look in a wedding dress! It wasn't just me I was worried about, for some reason we had a number of guests who had dietary requirements, mainly due to allergic reactions! One good friend in particular was highly allergic (anaphylaxis) to peanuts, I certainly didn't want her having a reaction on the wedding day!

Every phone call or meeting we had (and there were a few) after the food tasting, I mentioned my concerns and how important it was that they adhered to the dietary requirements!

As much as I liked the pork belly, it just wasn't worth the risk on our wedding day, not a fun way to spend the wedding night either! So I opted for the prawns (which were lovely), and definitely no risk of containing any form of gluten.

People's ignorance of how much food contains gluten, particularly chefs is rather annoying! This mishap, along with numerous others, has taught me to ask further questions even if the meal states its gluten free. If you think there is something like stock or soy sauce in the meal, ask the waitress to check that the product the chef is using is indeed gluten free. Don't worry about appearing rude or annoying, trust me its much better to ask, even if it annoys the waitress or chef then to have the puffer fish emerge and spoil your night!

Recipe of the Day
Chinese Marinated Pork Ribs
Serves 4 adults

12 pork ribs
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup port (cheaper kind)
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground chili (optional)
2 cloves finally chopped garlic

Place ribs in a bowl and pour all ingredients into bowl, mix through, ensuring ribs are well coated. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour (the longer the ribs are in the marinade the better). Cook ribs on a grill for 15 minutes or until cooked through, baste with marinate as you are cooking.

I served ribs with rice and vegetables. I cooked the rice in a rice cooker and added 1 teaspoon of beef stock to the water, gives the rice a bit of flavour. I also cheated for the vegetables and used frozen steamed vegetables, you just place the bag in the microwave for a few minutes and serve. They taste good and its better than throwing away vegetables that have gone rotten in the vegetable crisper!


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A Belated Birthday Toast

Happy Belated Birthday to you, Happy Belated Birthday to you, Happy Belated Birthday to Mishaps and Mayhem of a Gluten Free Life, Happy Belated Birthday to you!!!!!!!

It's been a week and a day since I started writing this blog! I wanted to say a massive thank you to all my fantastic readers! When I started this blog I  thought it might reach a few people but I have been completely overwhelmed! In a week I've had a little over 400 people read my blog! And not only that you come from many different countries. So a big thank you for reading to my readers from; Australia, America, Germany, Denmark, Malaysia, Greece, Ireland, Canada and Singapore!!!! Apologies if you are reading from a country which I haven't mentioned but and advanced thank you to you!

I would love for my readers to let me know what access to gluten free food is like in your country, or your town, whats your dining experience been like and did you have similar problems to me before or indeed after you were diagnosed? 

For my overseas readers I understand that the restaurants that feature in my 'Restaurant of the week' aren't of any use to you unless you are travelling to Australia (which would of course be fantastic and highly recommended). So I thought it would be great if you would share with me a restaurant in your city/town, in your country (you can email me and I won't share you identity if you don't want to, only your country). With your help I can create a blog that provides people who are on a gluten free diet, safe places to eat when they are overseas. I haven't had the opportunity to travel overseas AD (after diagnosis) but I know that's something that would worry me, the puffer fish emerging and ruining my holiday!

For my faithful Aussie readers, I know that you come from all over this vast country, so the same thing for you. Send me an email of a favourite restaurant or just somewhere that you have been that has  been accomdating to your dietary needs, email me the details and I'll feature it in 'Restaurant of the week'.

My email is mmoagflife@gmail.com

Also readers this blog isn't just for me, it's for you too, the reason why I started writing was to provide people with an honest encounter of my life as a coeliac to let people know they are not alone in their plight and to also provide a resource for readers that shares recipes and restaurants etc. So let me know what you would like to see or read more of and I'll to my best to accommodate your suggestions.
I'm new to the blogging world and I am in the process of making the blog more user friendly and also making following me easier to do. I've had reports from several readers that they have been unable to follow me or to successfully write a comment. As soon as I get a few things figured out and up and running (I may be calling on the assistance of some very good computer savy friends) I will put a posting up that walks you through step by step how to follow me and how to write a comment. I am also in the process of setting up a Facebook page for the Blog and I will keep you posted when that's up and running!

So once again thank you for reading, if you are liking what you are reading or I have helped you in some way, pass the blog details on to your friends who you think will like it. And finally it's our belated birthday and as we can't all party together have a celebratory glass of red, white, beer, spirits, tea, coffee (whatever floats your boat) tonight. Though for those who like beer or scotch etc, be mindful that anything made with malt has gluten in it, not a fun thing for lovers of these drinks (not only can't you eat so many other things, but your favourite drink has gluten in it too!!!) Enjoy whatever you have, maybe even cook up one of my recipes (today's recipe is so easy and sooo yummmmyyy!!!) to have with your drink.

I look forward to hearing from you with all the details of those restaurants overseas and throughout Australia!!

Recipe of the Day
Popcorn pudding
Recipe is from the Gluten Free Bible by Jacki Passmore
This recipe is so easy and so very yummy! It doesn't taste much like popcorn at all. I made it to take to the in-laws for desert, and picked this recipe as everything that was needed to make it was in my cupboard or fridge. I wasn't quite sure how it would taste but everyone loved it, all plates were left without a crumb! It doesn't look that appetising but it tastes wonderful.

Serves 4
5 cups plain cooked popcorn (I just used microwave popcorn)
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup sugar (I used caster sugar)
2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Thickly butter a 4 cup over dish.

Crush popcorn (I put popcorn in a large bowl and crushed with the back of a large metal spoon) and pick out any unpopped kernels. Combine popcorn, sultanas, sugar and milk and pour into the dish.

Bake for about 40 minutes until set and golden on top.

Serve warm or cold with ice cream.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

My gripe with product placement

I was out with a girlfriend yesterday and we wandered into one of the big supermarket chains to get some munchies. She headed straight for the biscuit aisle to get some Tim Tams, unfortunately full of gluten!! So I trudged off to the 1/4 aisle of gluten free food. I shouldn't really complain, I know that in the past 5-10 years the range and availability of gluten free products has greatly increased, BUT it still has a long way to come!

Anyway as I was browsing through the various products, sadly none were as tasty as Tim Tams, something caught my eye. In a very good play of product placement was two very long rows of home brand rice crackers, the Japanese kind.  I started to get excited, this was something that I loved to eat BD (before diagnosis) but all the products that I had found contained gluten.

I picked up the packet and read the bag, I'd learnt my lesson from previous mishaps!. Low and behold it contained wheat flour and wheat starch! What makes it even more infuriating is that in bold letters and the bottom of the ingredients list is contains gluten!!!

Let me clarify in the middle of the gluten free products, which only make up 1/4 of a very large supermarket aisle, with rather large ticketing (the product was apparently on sale), is gluten filled snacks!!! Seriously, did anyone think to read the ingredients before placing the products in this aisle in prime location!!!! Obviously not!

Most people who have been diagnosed or are aware that gluten has some affect on them have learnt over time after various mishaps that you need to read the labels even if the product or the product placement looks okay. But what about those poor people who have only just found out! Think they are doing the right thing and end up in agony with the puffer fish emerging! Or indeed the family and friends of people who are gluten intolerant and think they are doing the right thing, buying some food that their beloved can eat!

Argghhh!!! Just really annoying. So please if you work in a supermarket or somewhere that sells gluten free food, please ensure you read the ingredients list before placing the product in prime position for gluten free buyers.

And yet another warning for the coeliacs and gluten intolerant readers, please don't be lured in by clever product placement and marketing ploys! It's a sucky part of not being able to eat gluten and shopping takes longer but PLEASE read the ingredients list of everything you buy, even if the positioning and labelling looks okay (use common sense though, it can't claim it's gluten free if its not, so the GF wording on the front means less reading for you!).

Recipe of the Day
This is another recipe from the 4 Ingredients Gluten Free Cookbook
The additional ingredients of the extra carton of cream, vanilla essence, icing sugar and jam is things I have added, for serving with scones.

Makes 12
4 Cups GF self raising flour (I ended up using the entire box)
2 tsp GF baking powder
2 x300ml cream
375ml can lemonade (sprite for US readers)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Sift self raising flour into a bowl, mix thoroughly and make a well, pour in cream and 3/4 of the lemonade. Mix with hands to make a firm dough (I added more flour as it is very sticky and wet, you won't get the consistency of gluten scones). Roll onto a GF floured surface and knead into a high round mound. Cut with scone cutter (I didn't have one so just formed small round molds), onto a greased baking tray close together. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

While scones are baking, pour second carton of cream into a bowl with vanilla and icing sugar, beat with electric mixers until cream has thickened (this is how my grandma made cream, lovely and sweet). Put into a serving bowl.

Remove scones from oven and serve warm with jam and cream, and a nice cup of tea or coffee.


p.s My profile picture is going to be my blog logo, its my design of the puffer fish, rather appropriate I thought!.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Read the label before you eat it!

As time has gone by I've become more confident in what I eat. Although at times I have forgotten that there is gluten in things like sauces etc. I'm going to share another mishap story with you....

It was several months into the gluten free diet and I was having dinner at the in-laws. A lovely meal (no I'm not sucking up!) of prawns (shrimp for American readers) and salad. I LOVE seafood and particularly prawns, its a genetic thing I think for anyone who has seen my grandfather sit down to a plate of prawns. There was also some lovely seafood sauce that I piled on to my plate and dunked my prawns into. Yummy!!!

After gorging myself on the prawns, for some reason I picked up the bottle of seafood sauce and started to read the ingredients. WOOPS!!! it contained wheat flour and wheat starch! Maybe I should have read the label before I poured the sauce all over my prawns!!!

About 30 minutes later, the pufferfish emerged, the pains started and yet another embarrassing trip to the bathroom!

Thankfully I have found some brands of seafood sauce don't actually have gluten in them! Good news for me and all those coeliacs who love seafood sauce.

Morale of the story read the label before you eat!!!!

Recipe of the Day
This is from the 4 Ingredients Gluten Free Cookbook
Chocolate Mousse Patty Cakes
250g milk chocolate
3 eggs
1/4 cup GF self raising flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Melt chocolate in a saucepan (put in a smaller saucepan, with the smaller saucepan in a larger one filled with hot water, prevents chocolate burning), stirring often. Mix eggs and flour with a whisk and stir in chocolate with a wooden spoon. Grease a patty cake tin (recipe says it makes 6 I made 7) and spoon in mixture (not too high as they will rise). Bake for 20 minutes or until sides are set but centre is still liquid. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve with ice-cream or cream.



As you may notice I've given the blog a bit of a revamp! I hope you like it, I'm new to blogging so I'm experimenting along the way and I must say having a lot of fun with it!

Along with the revamp I've also decided that I'm going to post a recipe a day, calling it 'Recipe of the Day!'. When I first thought of starting this blog it was going to be more about recipes etc but as I started to write and people started to read my blog, I am really enjoying sharing my story and my experiences with everyone. The solution to my problem was to have the best of both worlds by having a daily entry about my gluten free life and sharing a recipe with everyone each day too. But there's also something else I wanted to include in my blog, as I find it difficult finding restaurants and cafes that cater to someone who can't eat gluten. When I looked on the net there were some websites blogs etc which had restaurants etc that were in the city but nothing out here. After many frustrating and sometimes painful experiences finding something to eat at restaurants (some even claim that their food is gluten free and 30 minutes later the puffer fish shows its ugly head and I'm in agony for the rest of the night!!, clearly NOT Gluten Free), many of these places or experiences I will devote a blog post to at a later date!, I realised that there was a need for a resource that provided people with SAFE places to eat at, with true gluten free food.

Each week I will share somewhere I have eaten that sells genuine gluten free food which I haven't reacted too (so fingers crossed you won't either). I figured that Friday is probably a good day to share this information, you might even like to try it Friday night or over the weekend. Tomorrow I will share with you the Restaurant of the week.

If you have a gluten free recipe that you would like to share with me, please email me and I will try it and your recipe can feature as the 'receipe of the day' , the same if you have been to a restaurant or cafe that has done a good job with their gluten free food, I'd love to share it with everyone.

Recipe of the Day

The first recipe that I'm going to share with you is my favourite and one of the first gluten free recipes I tried. Fortunately I love to cook (there's very little in pre-packaged gluten free food available in Australia), so when I first discovered that I was a coeliac I headed straight to the trusty domain of google and to one of my favourite websites, http://www.taste.com.au/ , and typed in gluten free. I was very pleased to discover that there was actually lots of gluten free recipes available.

What I wanted though was something sweet (I have a notorious sweet tooth) and tasty. I found a recipe for gluten free brownies. From the very first time I made them, they have been a massive hit! They have now become my token dish that I take to birthday parties, lunches, dinners, make when people come over or just for my husband. They are easy to make, my husband has recently starting cooking them! And I have to say he does a very good job of them! My printed out recipe is well used, butter and cocoa are smeared onto the pages, a sure sign of a much loved recipe (and a messy cook, but mum always told me a good cook is a messy cook!).

Without further ado here is the link for the recipe, I hope you enjoy. Oh and two tips make sure you sift the flour and whisk the eggs, it really makes a difference in the taste if you don't.

Enjoy and happy cooking (make sure you lick the bowl!!!)

p.s think I will make some for afternoon tea. yummy!!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Testing the waters

I've spoken before about my denial of having any reaction to gluten, despite the obvious and I think even when I found out that I was a coeliac I didn't really think that there would be that much of a difference in my overall health. Thankfully I was really wrong! It's funny how you get so used to feeling run down, tired and you get used to the puffer fish that it just becomes your normal.

I was keen to start the diet straight away and headed to the supermarket to stock up on as many gluten free products as I could. Not that there was that many! My first choice of cereal was gluten free cornflakes with berries (blaah!! rather tasteless!), I later resorted to GF coco bombs, not the healthiest alternative but they had some flavour.

I stuck to the diet, starting cooking with GF flours and started to feel better. It wasn't as hard to pull up my jeans and I could go out without the fear of the puffer fish emerging! People started commenting on how good I looked and the bags under my eyes started to disappear!

It was a few weeks into the diet when I decided I would test the waters and see how much of an effect gluten had on me, I ate 1 chicken nugget.  Within 30 minutes the puffer fish emerged, the pains and wind started and I felt like crap! I forgot what it was like to be so bloated, it feels like you need to relieve the pressure in your stomach by poking it with some pins (please don't try this!). My husband and I had planned to go on a date night and see a movie, put I couldn't fit into my pants and even with the old pull up style pants I looked 4 months pregnant and was just feeling too crap to go out. So I put the tracky (sweater for USA readers) pants on and we stayed in a watched a DVD!

Theory well and truly proven, I definitely had a massive reaction to gluten. Before I started the diet I could have eaten a nugget and had not nearly the effect on me that it did after the diet. I guess the build up of gluten in my system just meant that I was so used to it. I'm sure that it would have been affecting me and doing some damage though.

Diet works, and no intentionally eating gluten for me! I'm amazed when I hear that people occasionally will eat a McDonalds cheeseburger and deal with consequences of eating gluten! Of all the things that you could possibly eat with gluten in it, a McDonald's cheeseburger! Seriously WTF!

Morale of the story folks stick to the gluten free diet, it's not worth the consequences.

Recipe of the Day
Creamy Chicken Pasta

Serves 4 adults
2 Chicken breasts, chopped
150g diced bacon
6 mushrooms (medium sized), sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup chopped butter
1 cup cream
3/4 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese

Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil, heat, add garlic and bacon on medium/high heat for a few minutes. Add chopped chicken, oregano, rosemary, thyme (add more herbs according to your taste) and pepper to the pan and put lid on saucepan. Add mushrooms to pan and reduce heat to low.

Sauce: Melt better in a saucepan, add cream and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add Parmesan cheese and stir in well, ensuring cheese melts. Add pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary (season to taste, adding more pepper and rosemary if you like).

Drain the oil from the chicken, return to stove top and add extra herbs and pepper to taste. Add the sauce to the chicken dish and mix through on low heat.

Serve with rice noodles or gluten free pasta. I made this dish for my husband, sister and brother in law, I cooked them normal pasta and myself rice noodles. Cook rice noodles or pasta as per instructions on packet, rice noodles are best if soaked in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.

Place pasta or noodles in pasta bowls and top with creamy chicken.


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Food for thought and to eat!

For all my readers a big apology, the blogger sight has been down all day yesterday and I couldn't write anything! It did show me how addicted I have become to this whole blogging world! I'm loving it!

As promised I'm going to include the 'Recipe of the Day' and 'Restaurant of the Week', though my plan is when I get a little bit of assistance to have a separate button at the top of the page for the recipes and restaurants, so there isn't too much info in the blog posting. But please be patient with me as I get it all started.

I have been thinking about what restaurant to feature in restaurant of the week and thought I would share a mayhem experience of mine, dining as a coeliac. As those of you who can't eat gluten or indeed have any allergy know, it's all about the attitude of the people at the restaurant, the chef and their understanding of what is gluten or the food your allergic too. I've been to places which actually advertise a Gluten Free Menu, I was very excited! That meant I didn't have to agonise over the menu and figure out what I could eat then go into discussion about it with the waitress. I ordered a risotto at this venue (I won't name and shame just yet), aside from the fact there was way to much in the plate, by the time I finished it didn't even look like I touched the sides, but as we were sitting chatting, my stomach started to gurgle.

 The pufferfish slowly reared it's ugly head and I had to unbutton my jeans in the restaurant, then the pains started. By the time we left I really wasn't feeling good, we called in at my sister in laws on the way home, my first stop was the bathroom. Kind of embarrassing.............

So my conclusion was yes  there was gluten in the risotto despite the claims that there were not! I figured that the most likely source was the stock as most stock, unless specified (I buy Massel), has gluten in it. Surprisingly I did venture back to eat there some months later, rather reluctantly and I did voice my concerns to the chef. What annoyed me was her attitude, she may not have even been working there when I had the reaction, but she was so defensive claiming that it was the Parmesan cheese that had gluten in it! (never heard of that before). But to mean the most appropriate response is to apologise and reassure the customer.
Restaurant of the Week
I've had a few thoughts as to what would be the first restaurant to feature here and I'm going with something that I only ate yesterday. The Argyle Inn in Camden. I had lunch with a girlfriend yesterday, a  $10 steak with chips and a salad and the deals on weekends too. Admittedly there wasn't that much I could eat on the menu but I decided on the steak. All the sauces that go with it have gluten in it, so the waitress and chef were very accommodating and made me some mushrooms, and put them on top of the steak. The meal was massive but most importantly no reaction! I would have every faith that whatever else you ordered on the menu would be prepared with care and ensured that no little bits of gluten were in your meal!

Recipe of the Day

Butterscotch Pudding

70g butter softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/3 cup flour (combination of rice flour and gluten free cornflour, or other gf flour in the pantry)
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 tablespoon milk

Butterscotch Sauce
1 cup cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
20g butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Cut butter into small cubes and place butter and sugar into bowl/mixmaster etc, mix until pale and creamy. Add egg and mix well. Sift flours into a separate bowl, making sure the flours are mixed well and add flour mixture and milk to to butter mixture and mix until just combined.
Put mixture into a baking dish (I use a small lasagna/baking dish) and bake for 20-25minute (until the skewer comes out clean).
While the pudding is cooking, combine all ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan on medium to low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has slightly thickened.
Cut the pudding into appropriate serving sizes, place in a bowl and drizzle the sauce over the top. Serve with ice cream or cream

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Let the games begin

It was officially, I had coeliac disease and most importantly an answer to my problems! (well some anyway). See apart from the puffer fish syndrome (previous post refers to massively swollen stomach as puffer fish), a side affect of being a coeliac is being anemic. And that I certainly was, there were times at work were I would be laying down in storerooms after sculling a power aide to get some energy and knowing that I was too tired to even get in the car and drive home. I remember visiting my god daughter in the hospital and the pictures of me holding her look like I was the one that gave birth a few hours before, pale faced, massive bags and then I nearly passed out at the front of the hospital.

So I guess you might understand when I say that I was kind of excited to know that there was a reason why my body was behaving how it was, and that I finally had a solution!

Most people will say that when they find out they are a coeliac or gluten intolerant that they are completely overwhelmed by the amount of food that gluten is in! I thought okay, bread, pasta, pizza and flour was definitely out and that was about it. But boy was I wrong! I remember thinking that I was sorted for breakfast as I had already converted to rice bubbles after I had the wonderful experience of the visit from channel 9 and 7 camera crews! After coming home from the specialist I thought I better check the ingredients of the beloved rice bubbles just in case,  and I was shocked to read 'gluten containing cereals' (barley)! WTF!!!!!! Once I got over the shock of that I realised I could eat porridge, nice and healthy, right! Ba Bomb! wrong again Although this one I didn't discover until an appointment with the dietitian 4 weeks later!

And then there's the bread!!!!!!!! Words can't really do gluten free bread justice! Aside the fact that it will send you broke (the itty bitty small loaves from the supermarkets will set you back about $5.50!!!), it's holy (not in the religious sense), small and goey like in texture! The most tolerable way to eat gluten free bread is toasted, but be advised that the dial on the toaster needs to up fairly high, then the crust burn (I've frequently set the smoke detector off) but the bread often isn't cooked properly! I think cooked gluten free toast tastes a bit like a crumpet (ahh crumpets remember those!!!), but I'm sure that if they came up with a vaccine (it is something scientist are trialing) and I could eat a crumpet again I would think that I was nuts by making this comparison. 

This talk of bread reminds me of the motivation I had to start this blog, to share not only my experiences but places where you can get gluten free food. I have yet to find a bakery in the Camden/Narellan area that make gluten free bread. However my parents have found some great places in Wollondilly that sell some great gf bread. I can't find the exact name of the bakery, but the bakery at Tahmoor in the Woolworths Shopping Complex, sells gf bread, it's made to order though, so place your orders in and the bread is baked on Wednesday's. The other place is the Common Ground Bakery at Razorback (the former Wool Away Wool Shed), this is seriously the best gf bread I have tasted! Mum picked me up 2 loaves of apple, rum and raisin on Sunday and I only have 2 slices left!!!! (small loaves remember, so not that much of a pig).

I hope that this helps some people and I promise next post I will start to share some recipes.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

From the beginning

As I pondered over what to write...., where to start? The logical answer came to mind, from the begining! So here it goes......

For as long as I remember I've always had ummmmm issues (the most polite word I could think of) with my stomach. I remember as a little girl having a massive swollen belly, but the amazing thing was it wasn't always there, it was like a magic trick, it would come and go at different times! And the ummmm wind, was never a problem, dad always used to tell me 'it's better to let it out and stink a little, than hold it in and be a cripple', I like to think that that was my mantra! I know there are people reading this who are thinking, 'I can't believe she wrote that', but those people reading who suffer a gluten intolerance of any kind will understand, or even have a private chuckle. And the not so fun stuff like to horrible stomach cramps. I remember many time when I was little doubled over in pain, with my parents and doctors thinking it could be a case of rumbling appendix.

As I recollect, my symptoms increased as I got older, the more damage was probably being done. The funny thing was everytime I ate pasta, or bread I would get stomach pain and my stomach would blow up like a puffer fish. I remember about 16-17 when I got my licence and started going out with friends, we would go to a restaurant (Pizza Hut is a classy restaurant when your 17, remember all you can eat pizza!!!!), and 30 minutes later I would start to get massive cramps in my stomach and the puffer fish would begin.These attacks were often so bad that I was admitted to hospital and subjected to some horrible very intrusive tests!! This extreme pain isn't just because I was an undiagnosed coeliac, at 17 I was diagnosed with endometrosis (and have since had 6 operations for this). This lovely combination of coeliac and endometrosis isn't a very nice mix and is particularly painful.  But on the lighter side, for many years I refused to admit that my issues had anything to do with food. I remember my parents pointing out on many occassions that the puffer fish only occured after eating pizza, pasta, bread etc. I think it was because I loved this food that I was in denial.

As the years passed by I began to minimise my intact of gluten rich foods like bread, but my ignorance of how many foods contained gluten, and my denial meant I kept on eating gluten. The bloating (puffer fish) incidents became more intense and more frequent (particularly when the endo was playing up)! I remember looking at t-shirts and tops that were fitted, thinking there is no way in hell I would risk wearing that (I had no knowledge of when the puffer fish would emerge) and end up looking 5 months pregnant. I even brought what I called pull up pants (not the nappies for kids) but pants with no zipper or button to accomodate the puffer fish and would wear these as often as possible. So nice flowing pregnant like tops and dresses were my best friend with my pull up pants!(I had 2 pairs). And on those occasions were I wore jeans and the puffer fish emerged, there would be unbuttoning and unzipping happening in the restaurant, movie etc and I would be thanking god for the lovely flowing top I had on.

I was eventually referred to a gastro specialist after being anemic and receving iron injections, we needed to find out what the problem was. I remember talking to the doctor and telling him about the puffer fish whenever I had food such as bread, he was very arrogant and said 'oh so you've been reading magazines and looking on the net and you think you're a coeliac!', I looked at him and said 'what's a coeliac?', the arrogant grin was soon wiped off his face. A few weeks later sitting back in his surgery getting the results of the tests from the channel 9 and channel 7 camera crews (colonoscopy and endoscopy), the doctor says 'you've got coeliac disease, you thought you had that didn't you!'.

Finally I got an answer to my problems, the puffer fish was about to become extinct!!!!!!!!!!

And the mishaps and mayhem of the gluten free diet began........