Archive for April, 2011

>Aila was my Mother-in-Law.
She was a bloody-minded, determined, stroppy old bag.
She was also an entertainer, a raconteur – with a huge fund of naughty stories. She preferred the company of men to that of women.
She called herself a good, plain cook and she made the best roast dinners ever.
She smoked like a chimney, drank whiskey and knew more rude words than I do – and she would use them at the most inappropriate times.
She was funny and often very kind. We got on very well because very early on in our relationship I decided I would never fight with an old lady. Also, because I always did exactly as I was told.
I miss her still.

Aila’s Shortcake

125g butter – softened
125g sugar – I used sugar which had vanilla beans buried in it.
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
225g flour – I am using a blend of flours recommended by Karina at http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2008/12/baking-cooking-substitutions-for-gluten.html
I used a combination of sorghum flour, buckwheat flour and tapioca starch. Karina uses xanthan gum in her blend. I don’t have any (and I think they sound a bit yucky – a technical term which means… ick)
so I didn’t put any in my flours mix.

Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the egg – beat
Tip in the flour and baking powder and beat again – this is a very soft dough which can easily be made with a hand-held electric beater – which is good, because I don’t have a stand mixer.
Tear off four even-sized pieces of baking paper – big enough to line a pie dish.
Carefully measure three-quarters of the mixture onto one piece of baking paper….. na, just kidding! There is no ‘carefully’ in this recipe – just roughly 3/4.
Put another piece of the baking paper on top of the dough, then press the dough till it fits the base and sides of your pie dish. Put the paper covered dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden up a little.
Do the same process again, pressing the dough out to cover the top of your pie, and refrigerate that too.
Don’t be too precious about getting the measurements right.
This dough is very forgiving – gaps smoodge together beautifully.
Take the dough from the fridge.
Put the base circle into your pie dish and quickly remove the top layer of baking paper.
Fill the pie with whatever you want – I used a mixture of peaches and sliced apple.

Take one piece of paper off your top piece of dough and plop it dough-side down on top of the filling.
Peel the last piece of paper off… I’m thinking as I write this, that I really don’t need to be so pedantic about instructions because, frankly if you can’t figure this out for yourself, you really need to be reading someone else’s blog…
Skrunkle the edges over to fit the top, and don’t worry about any holes that you rip in the pastry.

Sprinkle with sugar – I used sugar that I have stored in this lovely little container that we bought at a market in Vietnam. It’s made of cinnamon bark and scents the sugar (the same way the vanilla beans

Bake the pie at about180c or until it is golden.

Serve to a happy husband for his birthday.
This is good hot, warm or at room temperature.
Aila would often make it with jam in the middle.

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>The Pomegranate Molasses marinade for salmon IS fabulous with pork slices.

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>I was watching a movie recently. (Am I the last person on earth to see The Time Traveller’s Wife?)

Eric Bana – Oh My!

I heard a strange noise….snoring


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>”To have her meals – her daily walk, and her fill of novels, and to be left alone, was all that she asked of the gods.”  Anthony Trollope: The Eustace Diamonds
I would add – “cats” to that list, but otherwise this passage from The Eustace Diamonds pretty much sums me up.

I made roast lamb. Roast dinners need gravy. I needed a gravy that could be made ahead. This one is simple. I was happy.

Olive Oil Enriched Gravy

400ml stock – I used home-made vegetable stock
100ml dry white wine
25g sugar (2 1/2 tbsp)
Fresh herbs – I was making gravy for lamb, so I used rosemary – a BIG sprig
30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

Put the stock into a small pot. Bring to the boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half.
Into a second pot, put the wine, sugar and rosemary. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and reduce by half.
Pour the two together, add olive oil and bring to the boil.
Thicken if you want to – I did, I used a cornflour slurry
Season with salt and pepper and serve hot

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>It’s soup weather.

>Grey, wet and WINDY! – our first cold day.
I love Thai flavours and I love pumpkin soup – this soup is the perfect mix of both.

Thai Style Pumpkin Soup

2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp curry powder
4 spring onions – chopped
1 red chilli – de-seeded and chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts
400ml coconut milk
200ml water or stock
750g pumpkin – peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper – to taste
coriander, basil or mint for garnish – roughly chopped (I put the coriander stalks into the soup)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute garlic, turmeric, paprika, curry powder, spring onions, chilli and pinenuts for 2 – 3 minutes.
Add coconut milk and water/stock to the saucepan.
Bring to the boil, add pumpkin and simmer, stirring gently from time to time until the pumpkin is tender.
Taste for seasoning, thin with water or stock if necessary.
Serve garnished with chopped herbs

Thick, Hot, Spicy

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>What to do?

>We went for dinner at a friend’s home on Saturday.
They are fantastic cooks – the Masterchefs of our group.
They know I have celiac disease and what it means.
They told me to scrape the crumbs off the top, so that I could eat the fish.
I did.
The acid burn started within 10 minutes and the tummy grumbles within half an hour.
I took 3 losec when we got home, but still had a bad night.
Sunday spent close to the loo, and I was tired and VERY grumpy and depressed.
What would you do – in the same position?
I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of these lovely people who had gone to so much trouble for all of us.
But, I don’t want to be unwell either.

We have a party coming up on Friday – to celebrate the royal wedding.
We have a brunch today to decide Friday’s menu – it will be a kind of pot-luck meal… Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Gravy… Trifle… probably nothing I can eat…
Would it be rude of me to bring a dish I can share… PLUS a picnic box for myself?
I don’t want to call attention to myself – there will be heaps of people there – it’s not a sit-down meal…

What do you think?
What should I do?

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>I’ve been craving sour and bitter flavours lately. Lots of lemon, rocket (arugula) salads, vinaigrette dressings etc. I don’t know why, but I’m happy to go with the flow. This pomegranate molasses marinade is brilliant with salmon. It is sweet/sour/salty and cuts through the richness of the salmon beautifully. Pomegranate molasses is dark garnet in colour, thick and luscious with a sharp tangy sweetness. I get mine at the Indian Grocery around the corner from us. I’m going to ask the young couple who own it (Nasmeen and Im Patel) if I can take photos in there – the place is magic, I’d love to share it.

Pomegranate Marinade for Salmon

4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce

Stir it all up, put your skinned and boned salmon fillets in and turn over to coat in the marinade.
Cook the salmon in a very hot oven for 8 – 10 minutes.

I imagine this marinade would work really well with lamb, pork or chicken too…. mmmm

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>I am so lucky

>and this is why…


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>If I was a critter

>I’d be a hedgehog.
Prickly on the outside… soft in the middle…

My Nana gave me this when I was 18. I suspect she’d be disappointed that I haven’t changed…

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>What I do all day…


Feed the wild birds

The trees in our street are losing their leaves… the leaves blow down our driveway…

I swept them up and put them on the veggie garden…

I cleaned the windows… if you look carefully you can see the birds eating their seed….

I watched the birdies while I made fish pie…

Oh, yeah, I also did two loads of laundry, made a big pot of chicken stock, did the supermarket shopping, dead-headed the hydrangeas, checked up on an elderly neighbour, did 2 hours of typing for Rick and listened politely as an Insurance Broker told me – if anything happened to Rick, I  might have to get a job.
She put me down on a form as “A Professional Executive”… even though…of course… titter… you are not.” I asked did they not have a title ‘housewife’ – her reply? “Well, yes they do, but it doesn’t sound as good, does it?”

Sounds just fine to me….

I made her change the form.

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