Thursday, 26 August 2010

Halo baking

Ok, it's not really anything to do with angels, but I'm trying to be good and cook/bake without any gluten and dairy as we've been having problems (between us) with them.

As with anything you can't have..I am suddenly finding that I'm having cravings for things I shouldn't have. Things like a gooey pizza with lots of stringy cheese and meaty toppings (oh and wouldn't that cause me a world of pain), BREAD, pasta cabonara and more. Bah humbug.

So, I've been doing my research to try and find alternatives and substitutions we can use. I'm fed up of having no snacks, and, as one thing I've always wanted to try making is bread..this is my mission: to bake the perfect gluten and dairy free bread. I shall call this Project Loaf.

Today, I attempted Irish soda bread. I adapted from a "normal" recipe and came up with this:



I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but the crust is very hard and crunchy while the inner bit is quite damp looking. It's also quite solid. A friend advised me to reduce the temperature and bake it for five more minutes and as this supported my suspicions, I'm going to try this next time. Stay tuned for the next installment of Project Loaf!

Oh yes, and I've also been reading this blog () and am hoping to try making sourdough bread, pizzas and stuff. I'm going to make a starter today..if I remember. I quite fancy trying her pizza recipe, if I can get my mitts on a good non-dairy cheese substitute.

I miss the good old days of eating whatever I liked and thinking I had no problems with food. Mind you, I don't miss the side effects..so I'll soldier on.

Before I forget, I'm also typing all this accompanied by the warm scent of fresh rock cakes. Yep, dairy and gluten free. I haven't tried them yet as I'd like to not have a scorched tongue..but here's a sneaky peek.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Autumn Cleaning?

*Slinks in quietly* Eek, I have been rather lax with the blog lately. It's been a combination of either being horrifically busy with trying to finally sort out the house. We moved here two and a half years ago and are trying to achieve a state of "everything has a place and everything in its place" (or whatever it is). However, while I have planned out each stage and each major area in the house to sort, I've fallen behind thanks to various lurgs.

I'm not going to go into detail because that's just nasty. But suffice to say I've possessed less than the concentration and energy required to clear, clean and rid ourselves of clutter and mess. Before I/we succumbed, however, I have managed the kitchen, the laundry room and the bathroom. Not sound like much? Maybe not. However, there are lots of cupboards in the kitchen and the laundry room has more cupboards, some overhead shelves and the dreaded Understairs Cupboard of Doom. I have so far got rid of probably two whole bin bags of rubbish, one huge bin bag full of packing materials (on Freecycle), several bags of stuff to the charity shop, a bag full of soapmaking stuff on Freecycle, several more bags of stuff into the compost...oh and a bag of shoes and boots to sell/charity shop. So a lot of stuff out of the door just in those three rooms! Plus I've liberated a lot of stuff to use (I now know it's there, where it is etc).

There is lots more to do, but I'm pacing myself. We're still not well, it's the school hols so my daughter doesn't have pre-school...but I'm determined to get it done by..well I was hoping for the end of August. Fingers crossed.

If I didn't know better, I'd say I was nesting. But maybe it's just Autumn cleaning? Oh yes, it's not JUST de-cluttering I've been doing. I've been cleaning and scrubbing every surface too. It feels good.

Anyone else feeling the urge to purge (and clean)?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Pay it Forward

I got this from Bint (The life of Bint) who got it from someone else..I like the concept - the world needs a little more kindness.



"The idea is that random acts of kindness are given without expecting anything in return. Just passing on the kindness, hoping that your recipients will do the same and forming a never-ending chain of kindness.


I promise to make and send a gift to the first 3 friends who comment on this post requesting to join in and promising to Pay it Forward to 3 other people etc..... I don't know what my gifts will be but I promise to send them within the next 365 days. What you then have to do in return is to promise to Pay it Forward by making the same announcement and promise on YOUR blog."

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The bee's knees, the dog's er..waggy tail?

I recently combined an order with a friend from Japan Centre (here) online. As she had said that she only likes the Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, I thought I'd try some.

I did buy some other bits as well - and you've seen some of the results of that order - the sushi, the onigiri..but I think this is one of my favourites. Life changing and AMAZING!



I definately recommend a bottle of this stuff if you have a chance. Kewpie. Mmm. It's gorgeous on chips, as a salad dressing..er with sushi..

Monday, 14 June 2010

There's something fishy about this - good fishy

I love seafood. Well, fish, prawns and crab. I'm not keen on molluscs or squiddy things.

Anyway, steamed fish was always one of my favourites growing up. It's refreshing (coriander and ginger - always a winning combo), delicious and er..well, it can be healthy.

So, let's have it. I'll tempt you with a photo first.



I'm going to give the ingredients to serve 2. It's generally used as a central dish Chinese style. You can use any white fish (cod, bream and sea bass are the most popular) I use about 150g per person and tend to go for cod loin fillets. They're good if you don't want to deal with heads and tails and de-boning.

Ingredients:
300g white fish (obviously)
1 tab soya sauce
coriander
2 tabs water
1" piece of ginger - finely shredded
about 1/4 of a stock cube
a dash of sesame oil

Place the fish in a heatproof dish (I often use one of those pyrex things). Place the shredded ginger and half of the coriander on top. Place the dish in a large shallow pan (with a lid) and add some water to the pan (but OUTSIDE the fish dish). You'll then need to put the lid on and turn the heat on. The aim of this is to steam the fish. Some of the steam will condense and settle in the fish dish but that's ok. You may need to experiment a bit, but this amount of fish should take about 15 mins to steam. When the fish starts to flake, it's ready. Don't overcook it or it'll be dry and a bit rubbery.

In a small separate pan, add the oil, stock cube, water and soya sauce. You'll need to heat this up on high. It only needs about 3-4 minutes to get super hot. Time it so it's ready just when the fish is done.

Pour the sauce over the fish, sprinkle the remaining coriander over it and serve immediately. Serve with rice and perhaps some braised pak choi or stir fried veggies.

Enjoy!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Back to food - hurray!



I've recently become rather obsessed with Japanese food. Especially bentos. I'm not sure why. My daughter was given a gorgeous little lunchbox and matching cutlery set (with spoon, fork and dinky chopsticks, which she insists are knitting needles) by a friend and, as she'll be having to take a lunch in to pre-school one day a week from September, I suppose I'm planning ahead. I know, who is this person who has taken over my body..planning ahead indeed!

Annnyway, so I decided that my hubby also needs a decent packed lunch and prompted investigated lunchboxes (minds out of the gutter if you please). A friend of mine sent me a link to Bento & Co, a company based in Japan (but of course) and the rest is history.

I got a funky, compact, microwavable lunchbox for DH and some lovely things to use for my daughter's lunches (and they might find themselves in his too - kawaii cartoon cuddly bear ketchup pot in his lunch? Muhahaah!). She loves the little sauce pots (tiny, lidded plastic pots big enough for about one teaspoon of ketchup - not nearly enough for her).

Here's a picture of the pots. They come in packs of four, each featuring a different cute animal.



I love these!



They're rice moulds for making onigiri (rice balls). There's a star, a heart and a bear. Very cute.

And here are the results (there were more but er..they were used for "testing").



I'm going to try making Japanese omelettes and stuff next. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that I've been making sushi! I make gaijin (foreigner) sushi, of course. I use smoked salmon and cucumber, which isn't that far out, but I also experimented with frankfurters (those Hertz ones - yum) and cucumber.

Gosh, that's a rather picture heavy post. So, no recipes - I'll have to put some up another time. I've just seen a lovely photo of steamed fish (Chinese-style) saved to my "blogging" photos folder so I'll have to do a write up of that one too.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Stash Flashage

As I've been obsessed with make up lately, I've been organising my very very modest stash. I always think it's fun seeing other people's stashes of various things, be in knitting wool, nappies (yes, I like cloth nappies), make up, fabric or whatever.

So here's my make up.


Left tray: Foundation, kits, blushers, powders and my new Shu Umeru eyelash curler. Oh yes, and a tin with my samples and spare bits.
Middle tray: Lip products.
Right tray: Eye products.

That's all of it except for one eyeliner crayon (but then it's a dupe).

The eyeshadows

1: Bourjois Smokey Eyes Trio in 05 rose vintage
2: Ruby & Millie Eyes
3: Bourjois Smokey Eyes Trio in 06 violet romantic
4: Avon True Colour quatro in sueded nude
5. L'Oreal ColorAppeal Platinum
6. Sleek Divine Eyeshadow Palette in storm
7. Avon Anew lifting eyeshadow in sky
8. Revlon ColorStay eyeshadow quatro in 10 berry bloom
9. Revlon ColorStay eyeshadow quatro in 07 spring moss

The eyeliners

Left to right: Barbara Daly Make-up liquid satin in seal, the same in marine,Laura Mercier eye liner in black ebony, Barbara Daly Make-up eye define in black, BarryM Intense black eyeliner pen, Avon glimmerstick eye liner in blackest black, Avon Anew smoothing eye liner in grey, the same in brown/black.

I got bored and haven't gone through the lip products. Or nail polishes. But I don't have so many of those.