Monday, February 21, 2011

Go rice!

My list of health questions finally reached the bottom of the page so I booked a long appointment and went off to visit my doctor. Over the years we have developed a relationship whereby she tells me what she thinks is wrong then asks me what I am going to do about it. She is not always happy with what I decide but over the years a truce has developed and she no longer asks me which witch doctor have you been to? I like to think that we learn from each other.
Her suggestion this week was for me to adopt a gluten free diet for the next two months in an attempt at diagnosing stomach problems. I have been catering for people with special diets over the years, so I feel quite familiar with the sort of food I need to eat. There is now a huge range of GF products available. Now I need to eat gluten free at every meal, I am scrutinising them more closely. All of these products are expensive, usually in smaller sized packets than other foods and many are loaded with salt, sugar and flavourings in an attempt to make them ‘normal.’ This is junk food. The recipe books are not much better...most simply substitute the use of gluten free flour mixes in ordinary recipes which again is expensive and doesn’t help educate gluten intolerant people in how to feed themselves and their families without having to cook two different meals, although it is convenient.
There is an easier way, without having to balance the properties of various grains. By looking towards Asia’s rice based food culture we can source whole menus of gluten free food. You will still need to be aware that many Asian takeaways in Australia will use some wheat products and that Asian cook books written by westerners may contain gluten products, but they are easy to spot.
I am an addicted maker of sourdough rye bread. I made my first gluten free corn loaf from Val Allen’s book, ‘Very Wellness’ this week. She also has lots of great gluten free cake recipes.
I am currently researching gluten free sourdough...I’ll let you know how it goes!
Rather than focussing on missing foods, I am looking forward to the many things I can eat. This week I have eaten Indian, Thai and an Aussie barbeque and tonight friends are cooking Vietnamese.

Can’t wait!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ten out of ten toys

Don’t you just love little kitchen gadgets? They lurk in the most unlikely places - their shiny steel and lurid colours beckoning to me to take them home. I have at least four gadgets for grating ginger and three that will cut fancy shapes, batons and even spirals. I have an antique cheese slicer and butter curler and handmade vegetable slicers that need oiling to keep them from rusting. Some I use all the time, some languish in the back of drawers in between garage sales.

Some of my favourites are from Asia. I have graters made from recycled cans and a zester made from laminated strips of bamboo and a beautiful hand carved wooden mould for making steamed sweets. The most bizarre came from California - a fold up vase made from plastic – perfect to take backpacking!

Returning from a trip to SFMOMA, friends bought me a few goodies. My favourite would have to be the clip from the No mess range from Trudeau Corp, a Canadian company. Made of silicone and steel, it is a spoon holder that lets the spoon drip back into the pot instead of onto a plate or your counter top. If you have ever had a jam spoon glue itself to your work surface, or had tomato/curry/plum stains on your white Formica you will appreciate how handy this gadget is.(if you are crazy enough to have a white counter top in the first place you deserve all you get!)                                                                                                             

Making piccalilli in an attempt to use copious quantities of zuc’s and cuc’s and turmeric was its first test. It held the wooden spoon easily. A few days later, it was doing service on a batch of hand cream. One of the biggest hazards with making emulsions is keeping my thermometers from falling in. I usually hook a piece of copper wire over the side of the pot but it tends to slide sideways and I have to fish it out of the hot oil or water. No Mess held onto the wire, no worries and even held my thin spatula, staying there through the whole process! It has the added advantage that you don’t forget where you left the spoon! Ten out of ten!

PS Check out the links...I even found the fold up vase there!