And Then There Were Plants

 photo WP_20170418_009_e_zpsjsnor2ft.jpgThese cathartic haiku
Observing verdant growth
Let stress float away

 photo WP_20170418_006_e_zpsjnicrewe.jpgElegant tulip
All dressed in midnight hues
Who do you mourn for?

 photo WP_20170418_008_e_zpsxoyjwhxt.jpgCor blimey, look here
Stone the crows, black inside and out
Lovely! God bless my soul!

 photo WP_20170418_001_e_zpszpqdvbpe.jpgAll is balanced
Never too serious, reader
Life is too short, smile

 photo WP_20170418_002_e_zpszbl5ny9u.jpgThese rescued flowers
Have found new life in my garden
Nothing better than free

 photo WP_20170418_003_e_zps1ynja9hg.jpgI hope for flowers
China Asters covered
Or, perhaps, just weeds

 photo WP_20170418_010_e_zpseokqqqqn.jpgLupins and lilies
Onions and more garter weed
Not for long, damn weed

 photo WP_20170418_011_e_zpsbu67y7x5.jpgOne pink anemone
I forgot to photograph
Take my word for it, please

 photo WP_20170418_012_e_zpskln1lntn.jpgHyacinth fade away
You’ve joined the crocus in rest
Tulip, stay a while

 photo WP_20170418_013_e_zpssjtoswwl.jpgGladioli gladly grew
Nerine just starting to show
Anemone wasn’t dead

 photo WP_20170418_014_e_zpsgowv59p8.jpgSummer and Spring part
A place for Autumn in there too
Winter as well

 photo WP_20170418_015_e_zpsrgcvvnvy.jpgPromised garden
Begins slowly to take its shape
Flowers for my best friend

 photo WP_20170418_017_e_zps5trqz8ou.jpgThe table king is late
The harlequin are running wild
Nine fools and one king

 photo WP_20170418_016_e_zpsyzuta4mr.jpgNothing as it seems
A Strawberry no berry at all
Science is confusing

 photo WP_20170418_019_e_zps7wnxwhmy.jpgArtichoke growing
Exotic immature thistle
How do they taste

 photo WP_20170418_020_e_zps3eyjmci7.jpgA tumbler beetroot
It actually worked, well then
Jack smug for a while

 photo WP_20170418_022_e_zpsxziwwsqe.jpgCabbage, Brussels sprouts
Getting ready for planting out
Brassica aplenty

 photo WP_20170418_021_e_zpsr8rcbgbn.jpgImprove the soil each year
Rotate the crops, smother those weeds
Enjoy every step

Quinoa and Amaranth Flour Bread

 photo WP_20170318_007_zpsjbu2jsb3.jpgFresh out of the oven.

Hmm? You again? Dear reader, you are a jewel of the ocean, the acme of blog readers, etc etc, but you can’t expect me to stay with you forever and ever, can you? Okay, fine one more recipe and that’s it. I mean that. I had wanted to test out quinoa flour and amaranth flour, but there was no quinoa flour that wasn’t absurdly expensive, so I gave up, no, sorry, made my own, again. It’s tedious, but at least you avoid the nasty taste so many store bought flours possess. I’m going to cut this short, it worked, but it’s nearly identical to the all Quinoa Flour Bread. That’s not a disparagement, that bread is really great. I’d praise it more if it weren’t my own recipe, but modesty prevails and I quietly mumble its praises. The one thing I love about this is that one minute out of the oven it was cut without any crumbs. I do think the texture is slightly firmer, but that might be the lessened water. Go to the quinoa flour bread page and you’ll get all the information you’ll ever need. This is just here because it worked. It’s never a bad thing to know additional flours work and because it was too different to list as a variation. I used two small tins, I think they’re four and a half inches each, because you get a better crust to, ummm, not crust? ratio, but you could use a normal sized loaf tin and it should be fine. I just prefer to list what I used so you’ll hopefully avoid any failures due to me. Your failures are yours to accept. I’m perfect! Heh. Okay, until later.

 photo WP_20170318_006_zpszlo5spcs.jpgLook! It’s tulip time. More tulip time…

 photo WP_20170318_005_zpsmfygdwv5.jpgPotato time too. I’ll have to cover them with more compost and feed soon.

Ingredients

170g Toasted Quinoa Flour
30g Raw Amaranth Flour
25g Ground Flaxseed
150ml Water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Large Eggs (70g to 75g in Shell)
1/3 Tbsp Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt

Makes two small loaves.
Can be frozen.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 175c (No Fan).

2. Grease (With Butter or Olive Oil) and line a 6×3 inch loaf pan.

3. In a large bowl mix together the Egg, Olive Oil and Salt. Add the Quinoa Flour, Amaranth Flour, Flaxseed and Baking Soda and stir until combined, then add the Water and stir together until smooth. Rest for 5 minutes until batter has thickened. It will be lumpy.

4. Pour batter into prepared tins and bake for 40-50 minutes, turning halfway if needed, until brown, the tops firm when pressed, and a skewer comes out clean.

5. Remove from he tin and let cool completely on a wire-rack.

Two Years A Blogger

Oh, no! I did it again, dearest  reader, I’ve thought of how to start this, imagined something silly and now I can’t keep my thoughts coherent. So, it’s been two years already. Golly! Gee whiz! Holy Sh…Woah! Family-friendly blog! Cover everyone’s eyes, dear reader! I’m typing this in fragments, so if anything seems disjointed that’s probably why. So, two years, two long years and I haven’t learned a thing. No, I’m joking. Come back, don’t leave me! Funnily, you’ve stuck by me, once gentle now dear readers, and for that I’m grateful. Really, no mater how much I joke or josh you know that I’m humbled by the support and help I’ve received these past two years. I can only hope that I’ve repaid it in part at least with the work I’ve put into the site. What work?! How dare you! Why I…if I had a door that’d slam you can be sure I’d slam it with righteous indignation. Instead I’ll share a little of what I’ve learned. Because here at Pep’s Free From Kitchen, free-from because someone already had the address, it’s not just about sharing it’s about educating. Or trying to at the very least. It’s also about me, often-times Jack, sometimes your humble narrator, your forever friend, the maundering man behind the keyboard. Always and ever: Just me. So what do I know? Or rather: What have I learned?

(I’ll share a few of my less viewed recipes throughout this post just to break up the monotony with a few photos.)

Proofread your posts. Oh, so many typos over two years. And that’s just the ones I’ve noticed. What be serious? No! Why? Well.

 photo WP_20170202_001_e_zpsw7ggjnjf.jpgMy Sweet Potato Fries were a hit, but did you know I have couple of seasoning blends too?

The need to balance what you give and what you take away. I think in the time I’ve been sharing and creating recipes, typing up thoughts and tutorials, that I’ve given back enough that I can now have fun with all of this. It’s easy to be swept away with the idea that if you’re in a position to help so you better give it your all, without thinking of your own well-being and mental health. That’s wrong, do what good you can and just enjoy it. In saying that.

 photo IMGP3633_e_zpsqdeoofeg.jpgChicken cooked in squash purée, oil free too.

You set the rules and your own responsibilities. Getting heavy, huh? I’ll keep it brief. I can only speak for food blogs, even then only about my own experiences whatever their worth, but the one thing I decided fairly early on is that I would stick to set rules. How the posts would be set up, how family-friendly and suitable for all audiences they’d be, how much of myself I left bleed into them, yes that’s a consideration I’ll elaborate on in time too, many things that have helped shape the blog and make it what it has become. I also understood I had a responsibility, perhaps one I chose to accept or create, that was: To be truthful in all things. To not only show the good side, but the other sides: The failures, the struggles, the limits I face, the ways I cope etc. I don’t post experiences without knowing what they’re actually worth, I’ve never positioned myself as a source of absolute truth and so easy is it to state opinions as fact. I’ve always had the best interests of my dear readers in mind, even if they never realised it. I stand by that decision. It doesn’t make me that different, or special, but I have seen others who didn’t care, who valued themselves too highly, so it’s still something I take some small degree of pride in.

 photo 10001392_779684982043370_1675514676_n_zpseqldg1zp.jpgMarinaded Chicken With Peanut Satay Reduction. An old recipe, but an interesting one. It came from a meatball in sauce recipe that I changed completely. Don’t forget the rice, always fluffy with my recipe.

Old man complains about online visibility. Am I here to lecture you on online safety? No, go be stupid all you want. But I do want to speak to people who, like me, well, the me way back when, are starting or continuing their weight-loss journeys. To those who decide to blog about it, be it a diary or just stories and recipes. What I’ll say might sound harsh, ignorant or who can know?, but it’s true. You will have all eyes on you and that can be an amazing feeling and an oppressive pressure. I’ve seen so many blogs abandoned, stories of weight-loss started and abandoned. It’s intoxicating to think about the support you’ll receive, but the shine tarnishes over time. You’ll need to carry on being strong and stubborn, keeping to the limits and rules that will create your new self and life, but the world will move on. Your fifteen minutes of fame won’t sustain you. Society loves a weight-loss story, the sustaining of it is unimportant it seems. Health is all I’ve ever cared about. Weight was a part of that, yes, but not the whole. Online support can be a wonderful thing, I didn’t use it as I knew the potential dangers, but too often people don’t realise what it’ll feel like if they fail with all those eyes trained on them. Just be careful, be smart and be safe. This is my seventh year, I’ve keep the ten stone (140 pounds) off for nearly five years and I’ve never faltered. If you chose to listen to me that’s my pedigree. On the other hand I echo the former paragraph. I mention this in passing, but as a warning. I could use it as a tool to boost myself at the expensive of others. Don’t believe me? Check it:

O.M.G! I lost 140 Pounds on this Diet! Follow me to find out how!
Should you go gluten free to lose weight like me?!
I cut out these foods and lost ten stone!

See? It’s so easy to be irresponsible. What you do is up to you. I’m blending the two paragraphs a bit, but hey, I’m old. I remember when the internet was slow and two megabytes was a twenty minute download. Cut me some slack.

 photo Yogurt and Rooibos Curry_zpsr92lnswz.jpgYoghurt and Rooibos Curry. A original recipe. Sadly I can’t tolerate that much dairy in a meal now. Don’t forget humble Jasmine Rice.

A Voice for the Voiceless. Okay, negativity aside. One thing about blogging is that it really shows how much variety there is out in the world. If you’re shy or introverted there’s no reason you can’t set your thoughts down. You set how they sound, how much you show, all you need do is to stay within your comfort zone and just enjoy the experience. You’ll be surprised at how blogging about your interests, or passions, can help expand them. Being able to talk about what you love, rather than being pressured to listen or conform to other’s stories or  standards can really make a huge difference. I’ve often said that these posts can be cathartic and it’s remained true. Finding others who love what you do can make the world of difference to you. You never know until you share and see what others are sharing.

 photo IMGP3578_e_zps3km7tyl9.jpgI can’t believe how unloved this Gingerbread blend is. It’s incredible when combined with treacle.

No Standard Blogger. There is certainly a template in all walks of life. Bloggers are no exception, but as with all things you don’t have to try to fit a mould. I’d say it takes a lot of posts to find you style, your voice if you’d rather, and there’s nothing to say it won’t keep changing. This started out as just a recipe blog, perhaps a trifle stuffy at first, but in time I’ve found the tone and format that best suits. The garden crept into my life and in time Jack appeared and a new facet of my life was worth blogging about. Take your time. Read other blogs and most importantly be yourself. People will come to read what you say, why put someone else’s words in you mouth? You don’t need an enormously extensive elaborate vocabulary, or an alliterative appreciation of assorted appellations, that can get tiresome and that’s my shtick!

 photo IMGP2913_e_zpsue7brclr.jpgIf I can be vain about one recipe, let it be my Flouress Nut Cake.

Use your tags and categories. I’m glad I kept my tags and categories simple. Tags for ingredients, mostly at least and categories for meal types, again: mostly. It keeps things well organised, helps spread your site around and means you and others can find what you and they need. The longer a blog carries on the larger and more complex it becomes, a good clean and careful start can be extremely helpful. Take your time starting and if needs be clean up as necessary.

 photo WP_20160922_002_e_zpskmsyv0er.jpgSweet Mango Curry has become a part of my meal plan. Richness from the hemp and sweetness from the honey.

Success: That ever-changing chimera. For me it’s not about numbers, I’ve been caught a few times, but pride will always end up painfully reminded of its limits. It’s been the case that the occasions I most cherish are the simple comments, the heartfelt appreciation, the gratitude the sharing of experiences and of recipes, failures and successes both. These are things you can’t quantify or predict. Just be respectful, be kind, show your support to others when you can, link to your sources and hope that others are doing the same. Success for me has been many different things over time. Rarely a number, more often an unexpected kind word or fun conversation. This is a free blog, it might be different for someone trying to make a living from this, but I don’t think it’d be that different.

 photo gravy_zpsxmk6erso.jpgCashew Butter Gravy An accident made me this most delicious gravy.

Consumable Content. You need to adhere to strict multifaceted bi-symmetrical synergism to really screw with your readers. Heh. I haven’t spoken very specifically on the food side of blogging, have I? It differs from person to person and blog to blog. What I like to do is break things down. Talk about texture, taste, tricks and tips. But also, if applicable, the behaviours and properties of free-from ingredients as best I understand them. I will say I’m interested in the nutritional side of food, but not in copying and pasting articles or making outlandish claims. Talk from your own experience with food, it’ll be vastly more interesting than stating the fibre content of linseeds you pulled off some Google search. You don’t have to pretend expertise to talk food’s worth. Just tell your story with food in your own words. It’s you call, I’m just saying think about it.

 photo WP_20170117_007_e_zpswmlami4e.jpgTahini has played a huge part in my diet. So many no heat sauces to try!

So, I’ve shared a bit of my journey with you. Perhaps you’re new and wondering when this post will end, or perhaps you’re an old hand and have tuned out already or are grimly enduring it. Whatever, I can promise you one thing: I will continue this blog, continue putting in all the work and effort I can, stay flippantly irreverent and studiously serious in equal measure, until it stops being fun and I don’t see that happening any time soon so have no fear, you’re stuck with me and I with you all. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. A large garden perhaps, but not the world. I say this with a happy heart: I’ll see you later, Dear Reader.

Don’t forget I’m on Twitter (Talking nonsense a lot of the time) and Facebook (Mostly collecting posts from here)

Giant Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookie Tutorial

Of course, I’ll just have to assume that you’ve already followed my Tutorial on how to acquire a giant thumb. This will be more verbal than pictorial, no, not pectoral, stop flexing! Partly because it’s just simple and partly because I wasn’t sure it’d be worthwhile taking a photo of boiling fruit. So, first things first: Every celiac has a flourless peanut butter cookie recipe, be they of limited ingredients, the best ever or, you know, yadda yadda. What makes mine different? Not much, they’re not as sugary as other recipes. I remember when I first tried a recipe like this, I ended up with a very upset stomach due to all the sugar. A lot of these recipes are almost 1:1 between peanut and sugar. Mine is mostly peanut butter, which results in a lovely crumb. They’re light, sturdy and I have never tired of them. I’ll post the recipe below, the filling will be rougher since it’ll be up t you to decide what you’ll be using. This is so simple, really basic, but if you didn’t know how they bake, that they can be made as a single cookie and how they rise, you might not realise you could do this, but have no fear, dear reader, I’m sanguine and foolhardy enough to try and lucky enough to have succeeded.

For the Cookie Dough:

Ingredients

175g Natural Peanut Butter
1 Large Egg (About 70-75g in Shell)
60g Sugar
Dash Vanilla Extract
1/4 Tsp Baking Soda

Method

1. Preheat oven to 175c (Fan).

2. Put everything into a bowl and mix, with an electric mixer or fork, until a thick clingy dough has been formed.

3. Form into 1 Tbsp sized balls and (Just check below for the how to) flatten onto Greaseproof Paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Then remove from oven and rest on tray for a further 10 minutes. Then let transfer and let cool completely on a wire-rack.

So, that’s pretty simple right? I think so, no real way to make a mistake. You don’t have to make this plain at all, that’s just how I made it today. I find the egg version is best for a single large cookie, but feel free to check out all the egg variations in the original recipe. Firstly I’ll talk about the dough. It is indeed a dough, you can work it by hand after a certain point if you’d like. First it’s a wet mess and seems like it’ll never come together, but gradually it starts to thicken up and become firm. It can be sticky at times, oily at others, it just depends on your egg size and the nut butter used. Use natural, all skins and nut and nothing else, or you’ll end up with an oily mess. Now we’ll talk about what you’ll need to get the right indented shape after baking. You could be making the filling while preparing this I’ll leave that for you to decide, I’ll just split it up for the ease of typing it out.

 photo WP_20170131_001_e_zpsh8cfymhb.jpgStep…I’m joking, you don’t even need numbered steps for this.

You’ve made the dough. Split it into two parts, flatten out the first into a circle, rough as you like, onto a greaseproof paper lined tray. About a quarter inch thick, it’ll rise, but don’t worry to much. If all else flip this over and call it a giant cookie. The reason for all this fiddliness is that it ensures the cookie bakes evenly and you have a slight indentation for the filing. Just flatten the lot and you’ll get a large dome, perfect for spilling your filling everywhere. So you’ve got a flattened circle. Next take about a quarter of the dough, roll it into a snake, surely you’ve played with modelling clay, and then curve it around the outer edge of the circle. What you’re looking for is almost a pie crust shape. Don’t be afraid to press the two parts together until it’s all smooth. Repeat until you have a raised edge. Then take a fork and just poke the middle repeatedly, then push the sides up to ensure it’s as high as possible. Next: Bake per instructions. It’ll rise in he middle, but you’ll end up with a slight dent and a better baked centre than if you just flattened the whole thing. It bakes about the same, takes a while longer, but not a lot Just press it gently to see if it’s firm. It’s almost a shell over a softer textured centre. There’s a lovely crumb inside the smooth exterior. I’s light enough, not wet or mushy, I really enjoy the texture. It tastes as you’d imagine something made almost entirely of peanut butter to taste.

 photo WP_20170131_002_e_zps4hqlk00f.jpgAdd the filling. “What filling?!” Whoops.

So, you have a giant cookie just waiting to be filled. What shall we use. That’s up to you, you could be healthier and use a chia seed jam, or perhaps be a cheat and use store bought jam. I used about 200g of mixed blueberries and strawberries, added a splash of maple syrup, this is a treat and I refuse to compromise on the sugar element, which I boiled down, under cover until the fruit was soft then boiled uncovered so the sauce could thicken. It’s either a compote, a dessert sauce or just sweet fruity mush, whatever you like to call it. Etymology need not concern us at this stage. Just pour it on top of the cookie, here the slight dent helps keep it from rolling off. It’s not a very deep recess, but it’s a large cookie so it takes a fair bit of sauce to overfill.

 photo WP_20170131_003_e_zps2tsrvgvx.jpgThe fun part.

Now here’s where the recipe shines. You can pick it up and it’s perfectly stiff, grab it, toss it, okay don’t, but you can move it around like you would a small cookie. No racking, breaking or tears before bedtime. It’s ultimately a bit of fun. I like to think it’d make for a great birthday cake alternative for kids with numerous allergies and intolerances. Or just an adult in need of a sweet pick me up. Whether you decide to make it plain or experiment with different flavours is up to you, I just wanted to show you how easy it is to make this eye-catching cookie. I never scoff at quick and simple recipes, they’re the ones you can return to time and time again with ease. Nothing to say you couldn’t go wild and really make this pop. If you do decide to try it out do let me know. Any questions just pop them below.

 photo WP_20170131_007_e_zps8k3fanxy.jpgEither cut it or just grab it and take a bite!

Coconut Nut Butter Custard Sauce

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

 

My new year’s resolution? 1080.

Now that’s a prompt recipe. We went from the idea to the end product in just two posts. So here we are. Now, in possibly too much detail, we figure out why, what and, no, that’s it. So I’ve gone from Gravy to a double boiler custard sauce. A diary free sauce no less. Let’s start with the first ingredient. This will be less humorous and more educational, or attempt to be. The coconut cream. Why? Twofold, I can’t tolerate milk and nut butter, cheese and nut butter is no problem, but milk seems to sour in my stomach, not always, but consistently enough to be bothersome. Secondly, as we’re not using diary, coconut cream is fatty and rich. A nut milk, or soy, but no soy for moi, would work, but whether it’d have the right richness is questionable. If I had no trouble I’d have opted for double cream, coconut cream will do here. Nut butter’s up next. Natural works best, better control of the oil and texture in recipes, if you use smooth and it already has sugar added it can make a mess when baked. Same problem here, oily custard would be icky. If I had cashew this would be milder and closer to a true custard sauce, as it stands it works fine an you can use any nut butter. Next: Egg. Okay, eggs add richness to a sauce. Well, egg yolks, but waste not want not. If you want it richer, use two egg yolks. I’ve used them since the early days, you just need to watch for them getting scrambled. Hence the cooling after melting. This is based on my curd so an egg was a must. The gravy is rich, but it wouldn’t have the consistency I wanted in a custard so this needs an egg. Sugar: Yes. And…What? You need the sweetness, plain peanut mush, skins on remember, and coconut don’t make an appetising sauce. Vanilla extract because, well, it’s a custard, of a different colour, but a custard none the less.

Chill for pudding. I preferred it hot, but just about.

What’s next? Method? Sure. Did you note my specially constructed double boiler? Yeah, glass bowl meets pot and you can make curds, ganache and custard without risking scrambled eggs and disgustingly burnt remnants at the bottom. Do whatever suits yourself. I’m rough and ready, in no regards fancy. You know me, dearest reader, striving for the best result I can accomplish with what I have. So boil, pop it in and stir, I used a plastic coated whisk, I’m not sure if it matters, but just in case it does I’ll add that. It does seem to take a while to really start, but when it does it thickens without much effort. Now, I don my chefs whites and pretend I know what I’m talking about. Bear with me, and apologies to trained chefs. You could think of this as a rough pastry cream, but in my experience, limited to a wheat roux based pastry cream, I didn’t find this fit the bill. It’d be closer to a cornflour based pastry cream, but even that pales in comparison to a roux based custard. Don’t cry, we don’t need wheat. It’d be closer to a crème anglaise, at least while warm. You see if you let it cool it’d resemble an American Pudding rather than a pourable custard. While warm the consistency is much smoother and would be delicious with cashew butter if you’re diary intolerant. Chilled it makes a enjoyable treat that tastes strongly of coconut and peanut. Now if you wanted to use this in a dessert I’d say as a warm sauce would be better. It’s just barely warm when you take it off the heat so don’t mistake me when I speak of it being warm. Over a fresh apple tart, fruit or just eaten cheekily with a spoon this is a pretty nice sauce. If you wanted it on a cake I’d think of it similarly to a thinner curd, a surround of buttercream could hold this in the centre, but once cut, it would slowly dribble. It’d be better poured over a slice of cake.

So, I think this can be said to be what I expected. I made it up in my head and the end result matched what I thought. So, where do we go with it now? Hard to say. I’d say it could make a cheese sauce. You could perhaps use it in a lasagne. You might have to thicken it more, but with cheese and combined with meat or vegetables it might not be as thin anyway. I’ve frozen and baked my Cashew Butter Gravy in Cottage Pies and it holds up well so there may be something in that. That’ll be up to an intrepid reader to decide to undertake. So ultimately it’s a simple sauce that cover more than my own allergies. I’ve often said it never hurts to branch out and if in doing so you help someone else then it’s a win-win situation. Alright, that’s that. Until we meet again.

Ingredients

160ml Coconut Cream
1 Large Egg
2 Tbsp (30g) Natural Peanut Butter or any Natural Nut Butter
25g Sugar
Dash Vanilla Extract

Method

1. Put Peanut Butter and Coconut Cream in a glass bowl and heat for one minute in the microwave or until melted. Let cool.

2. Add the Egg, Sugar and Vanilla Extract and Whisk everything together. Bring a pot of water to a boil and place glass bowl over the pot making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Reduce the heat slightly.

3. Stir constantly until mixture becomes thick, but still pourable. Takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Either serve hot or pour into a bowl, let chill and serve as a pudding.

Bury My Bucket In The Backyard

 photo WP_20161009_002_e_zps9ht2okso.jpgHaiku post again?
This is a recipe blog, right?
“All is illusion”

Wood stain for borders
Just needs some decorate bark
Wild garden tamed

Are these haiku bad?
Yes, but Japan forgives me
This I know Why? Because

 photo WP_20161009_001_e_zpsfdfht0fp.jpgPlanters of dark oak
Filled with soil awaiting
Their purpose next year

Old beds cleaned out
Sheet pinned down to kill weeds
Expansions, new plans

A comma cheating?
Don’t tell on Jack, dear reader
Scold not your old pal

 photo WP_20161009_006_e_zps8mqhcfrb.jpgWeeds thick along the wall
Dug out, line with weed matting
Sink buckets, wood edge

No bottom bucket
Maybe garlic Perhaps salad
Anything but those weeds

Cinnamon Basil
Strawberries frozen when fresh
Made into chia jam

 photo WP_20161009_003_e_zpsimk1ggaj.jpgChillies ripening
Weather unpredictable
Take what I can get

Growing for family
Sharing fresh produce with friends
The garden has many gifts

Where has it gone to?
Deleted photo of jam
Imagine red mush

 photo WP_20161009_005_e_zpsagbccvxb.jpgHow much is left now?
I need six more to finish?
Oh come on! Too hard

I think of pumpkins
Growing vertically again
But in the ground this time

I read, I garden
Occasionally I post posts
Thrilling, aren’t I?

 photo WP_20161009_004_e_zpsyierz1hu.jpgPeach, Rambling, Pink, Odd
Still Growing inexplicably
Live Strive Thrive Grow strong!

Title? Lyric from song
Sung by Ariel, Icon for Hire
The song? Rock and Roll Thugs

Last one? These are done?
Bit of fun, eh, dear reader
Until we meet again

A Diet of Hope

Just a quick post. Nothing serious this time. Today marks four years with the weight off. Ten stone, or 140 pounds, and not once in all those years have I relapsed, faltered or messed up. I’ve given up more than I can remember, gone through more than I’ll ever tell and I still have ways to go. But today I want to write to a very special person, someone who took a chance and changed their lives, this isn’t a letter to the fat-days, this is to the progenitor of the, what should we call these days? The Jack days? The Harvest Days? Days filled with hope? Maybe that’s what I should call my diet plan: A Diet of Hope. There’s the title of the post at least. So let me have this moment of silliness, readers of mine, it’ll be back to normal around here soon.

Dear Me, Six Long Years Ago.

We’ve never been one for letter writing, have we? Short and sweet eludes us altogether too often. There are just some things I want you to know. This is the internet so let’s do it in bullet-point:

Firstly, thanks for taking the chance and looking into coeliac disease. That wasn’t your only problem, but it got you started. I don’t envy you the withdrawals and the clawing, desperate hunger, but you get through it somehow. Trust me, you can live without a lot of the food you thought you needed.

You’ll be called an inspiration. Yeah, us, I mean, what?! I can’t tell you the amount of kindness I received, even from strangers. I’m still the same person inside you were, but I’m working on being more confident. You never knew what you could accomplish if you just gave yourself that chance. Not to say it’s been easy, but it’s been worth it.

You have a blog. Yeah, Mr. Anti-social. I’m still congenitally shy, but I’m taking it all on my own terms. No more having others dictate the pace and ending up getting hurt. You’d be surprised how many people I’m reaching with my recipes. All those French recipes you learned paid off, they taught you well. People are really kind and supportive.

Your feet shrunk. Yeah, freaky I know.

Dude, I’m going to lose my readership, but it has to be said: Pooping is really great.

You have a kitchen garden now, more vegetables and fruit that you ever needed. Not only that you have plans for the future. You’re into DIY now, that big store of ideas that rattled around your lumpy head is getting used. You’re not half as green as you thought you were cabbage looking. I haven’t done myself a mischief with the drill either. It’s going to be beautiful, there’s a peace there, in the evening when everything is still, the world carries on but the garden is frozen for a few wonderful brief moments in the dusk.

I’ve gotten into Japanese indie Bands. Thank Go! Go! Hypergrind for that. We never could like something mainstream, could we?

You lost more weight than you ever imagined. Remember when you got your first tattoo you thought it’d stop soon after that? Nah, you went further than that by a lot. You also got a second tattoo. A literary one just like you always wanted.

There’s probably more, but there’ll be other times, more anniversaries. Just know that I’m grateful, you asked yourself one question, whether it was better to sink or swim, to live a living death and to fade away or to take your chance and burn out if needs be, but you’re still here, maybe more than ever. It’s not easy, our life never has been. But I’m still here. Thank you for that.

Zero Icing Sugar Dilemma

 photo WP_20160708_012_e_zpslqd6g3iq.jpgFor the bread check this post.

As always just follow the blue hyper-links to get the recipes. You thought I was just making bread, didn’t you? Hah! Or rather: Nah. I was also making cake and curd. I accidentally bought grapefruit. Hmmmm? How does one go about accidentally acquiring grapefruit? Well, I hefted some rather large oranges and after marvelling at their size tossed them unceremoniously into the shopping trolley. Then discovered my blunder when I unpacked the shopping. No harm, no foul. I just took my Curd recipe and with one tweak I made grapefruit curd. The trick, why you’ll have to subscribe to my special recipe plan, joking, I boiled down the grapefruit juice, I started with 300ml and ended up with 100ml. I only used 80ml per the recipe. I also used a lot of zest, too much maybe, but it worked. I take it off in long strands rather than flecks. It turned out lovely and thick, there is a slightly strong taste from the grapefruit, but that balances with the sugar. Oh! I also used plain sugar, not caster and it was fine. All the changes or additional options will be added to the recipes on their respective pages. If anything here is unclear just ask me about it. I’ll make it even more unclear, no charge at all.

 photo WP_20160708_013_e_zpsx7tpozrw.jpgCurd. Fancy curd because I use a double boiler. Nah-nah-nah-nah-na.

I also made my basic Flourless Nut Cake. Which no-one has ever made and that makes me sad, sure it’s a bit involved, but it really is good. I swear! Ah, well, maybe some day. I blanched, peeled and ground my own almonds. So I know now that that works. Handy, huh? To blanch just cover the almonds in boiling water, cover those with a tea-towel and let sit for a few minutes, then peel by squeezing, dry and chill in the freezer before grinding. Less risk of mess that way. So, I made he cake and then realised I have no icing sugar for buttercream, but you know what? It’s lovely as is. I’m a bit ashamed that I so often masked the flavour of the cake in so much sugary goodness. I did try it with curd because I have no great sensibility when it comes to my sense of taste. I had it with coffee for crying out loud, don’t come here for flavour combinations and expect to come away satisfied. If anyone is ever willing to try this cake, well I’d be gladdened, that’ll buy you a wealth of nothing dear reader, but you’ll make this poor sap really happy.

 photo WP_20160708_016_e_zpsoa11bnhl.jpgIt’s spongy and light. An original recipe too.

So, there we are. i got you recipes like promised. I have garlic drying in my shed, failed tomatoes in the compost. Chillies flowering, purple for some reason. And books to read, I’m also looking for a long book to tackle, I’ve gone through quite a few, but I never tire of recommendations, hit me up and if I’ve read it we can feel superior to all the other who haven’t. Joking, we’re not elitist here. Unless you make my cake and then we’ll lord it over every other reader. Okay, I’ll see you again. Spare a thought for Jack, he has squash the size of two fists and is scared they won’t make it. Don’t take my squash, don’t take dear Cyril!

 photo WP_20160708_018_e_zps3q69l517.jpgGrapefruit, coffee and peanut butter that classic combination. *Urk*

A Desultory Conversation with Jack

 photo WP_20160507_004_zpsjcpo3b0c.jpgRooibos Tea and Peanut and Coffee Cookies.

I’m going to change things up this post, I’m going to ramble. What? Me? Ramble? Why that’s heresy! Go wash your mouth out with soap, giggle-ridden reader. Okay, I do ramble quite a lot in these posts, this is just going to be extra aimless in regards a point. I just feel like putting down a few of my thoughts and recent experiences and sadly that makes it sound vastly more exciting than it’s going to be. Writing is cathartic, right? No, not the thing in your throat! I sometimes think you’ve being facetious with me, dear reader. So, I used to get these intense cravings for sweets, candy or anything sugar laden. I tackled them and have thankfully overcome that problem, but last night my brain was sending out massive waves of: Gimmie sugar! Thankfully I still had my baking day, so I wandered down at eleven at night and made some Peanut Butter Cookies with a coffee buttercream. Washed down with a lovely cup of rooibos, it’s been five years or so and I still have several cups a day, no black tea with copious amounts of sugar and milk and certainly no packets of biscuits. No, not any more, the me that did that is dead and gone. This was, as I say, marked and allowed and it was delicious. Speaking of coffee I had gone off the rails drinking way too much after re-introducing it back into my diet, I’m a coffee fiend I’m afraid, but it was causing sinus trouble and I’ve started cutting back, doing rather well thus far. I did notice one thing though: My knees were really stiff, I assumed it was all the gardening, but as it turned out it was the histamine the coffee’s caffeine was helping  release. My knees are fine again as are my sinuses. If it’s for my health I can be very strong willed. I still have it, but not as excessively and only twice a week. Funny how I only answer to myself, yet I’m extremely rigid in regard to my health.

 photo WP_20160504_003_e_zpsdltdzilq.jpgThe Jack part is coming. Soon…unless I fall asleep.

I’ve started experimenting with home-made rice flour. Ground raw in a coffee grinder. So far it seems okay. I should’ve sifted it, but it seems to be mostly the same as the store bought stuff. I only use it for lazy pancakes and most times they end up dry or flat even with store bought flour. Rice flour isn’t a big priority in my culinary life, but it is handy. I tried Jasmine Rice and Wholegrain Basmati and both worked about the same. I haven’t done much with it, but if I find anything interesting in my trials I’ll share it with you. One thing in slight relation to the kitchen part of this monologue: I’ve been hunting for new songs as I use headphones, wireless of course, when cooking as I find it takes the monotony of cooking every day away. Since it’s me I don’t go for anything easy, oh no, I find obscure indie bands from Japan that Google has trouble find much about, never mind where I could pick up CDs. I like what I like, no greater reason than that, I just always seem to end up liking something that turns out to be obscure. A lot of the titles for these posts are song titles too. I even bought a whole CD for one song, silly and a waste of money, but I just wanted to be frivolous. And it’s Your Last Diary, so it’s always worth it. Hopefully I’ll have the new Band-Maid CD this month or next and I’ll be all set for kitchen tunes. It’s taken me a long to to just enjoy what I enjoy and not to let others questioning glances or ill thought out remarks spoil it for me. It’s funny how that can rankle in the breast. Live and let live I say, the world has enough misery without us making any more.

 photo WP_20160508_003_e_zpsyvy4immg.jpgPea Trellis…or climbing frame….whatever suits.

 photo WP_20160508_002_e_zpshvlrqjd8.jpgA beautiful sight. Squash in a row.

I’ve been busy in the garden, there’s been a fair bit of soft rain and today was a scorcher, great for the plants. I have a carrot started, which is exciting. I was given bunches of cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Literal bunches, I had to pull them apart and find the ones with the best roots. Great to have them as most of my own are small and haven’t been hardened off yet, though my cabbages are look great. I also got around to making my pea frame, forty holes, forty screws, 20 lengths of wire, one that unspooled and went everywhere and has since resided in a bag in the shed, combined with that old window frame to make what I think is a pretty neat climbing frame. You just wind the wire around a screw, screw it in and the cut the excess wire at the end and then tighten it on the other end. I had to wrap it the right way as it had to turn with the screw to tighten. It’s all a learning experience. I’ve bought everlasting sweet-pea seeds, no fragrance, but they don’t perish at the year’s end, so I’ll have to get them down and hope for the best. I also set up an enclosure from old plastic  bottles, bamboo canes, clothes pegs and netting. It works really well and should keep butterflies and birds away. Simple, but you work with what you have in this garden. It’s all coming together, I hope to have some progress on my glasshouse in the coming weeks. More work, but like the beds it’ll be a permanent feature and will offer great benefits. That’s pretty much all I have to say. I will have recipes soon. I’m just repeating a lot of what I use regularly so there’s nothing for the blog. I do wonder how many times I’ve made the same meals. It’d be interesting to see the tally. Okay, that’s it for me, thanks for dropping by.

 photo WP_20160508_004_e_zpskowjqmsd.jpgMy three separate parsley pots combined into one. Now we let it grow for a while.

 photo WP_20160508_001_e_zpse8emza8i.jpgThe enclosure. Nice to see a bit of green.

Buckwheat Flake Nutty Banana Bread

 photo WP_20160502_001_e_zpsrnsgoicm.jpgHalved from: Peanut Butter Banana Bread Pedal Bites

I should say that all links to other sites are there to credit the original recipe, but I’m in no way affiliated with the site and can’t guarantee anything about them. I link back because it’s the right thing to do and respectful, but do be safe when checking out any sites, whether they be blogs or shop-fronts. I’m just throwing that out there, I should say it more often. I should also apologise for the rushed quality of these two posts, I’ve been under the weather lately, still chugging along, you can’t keep Jack, down! It’s just I want to type these up before I forget them entirely. In saying that they may be just fine then just disregard what I said.

 photo WP_20160502_002_e_zpseog4kgwl.jpgI could’ve used the full amount, but this was enough for me.

I’ve been on the look out for more uses for buckwheat flakes and when I saw a porridge bread style recipe I had to try it. I won’t keep you in suspense, it’s was okay. A tad bland, but it came together just as well as my previous porridge bread and perhaps with a few more ingredients it could be something special. It just wasn’t for me, I found it too bland and slightly chewy. I have my Nutty Banana Buckwheat Bread to keep me going, but if you are interested in this style of bread but like me  can’t eat oats then you might find this useful. That’s what I think is important in trying new recipes: Even if I don’t like them there may be someone who really would so I try them and am happy to be able to share them. I did try another recipe a carob and hazel spread that went awry. My carob is really dry it seems, even with tweaks I couldn’t salvage it, but I saved half the Hazelnut Butter so I’m happy. It’s so good! That’s it for now. Until later.

 photo WP_20160502_003_e_zpsegv3ftbn.jpgI’ll be in the garden…probably asleep.

Ingredients

130g Buckwheat Flakes
210g Mashed Banana, About 2 Large Bananas
40ml Olive Oil
150g Natural Peanut Butter

Makes one small loaf.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180c (No Fan).

2. Grease and line a 6×3 inch loaf pan.

3. Mash the Banana until smooth and then beat in the Peanut Butter and Olive Oil until completely combined. Mix in the Flakes until a thick sticky batter has formed.

4. Scoop batter into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, turning halfway if needed, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

5. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a wire-rack before slicing.