Monday, March 23, 2015

Tonnato Spread - naturally low FODMAP

I'm always looking for sandwich style fillings which are protein rich and fit my low FODMAP diet.  They also have to be tasty or I'd really rather not.

I saw this one demonstrated at a local food show recently by a previous Masterchef contestant, Courtney Roulston.  OK, she demonstrated it as a traditional Italian sauce usually served with poached veal (Vitello Tonnato), but take out the oil and presto-change-o, a spread.

I serve this in sandwiches or spread on cruskit type biscuits for lunch with slices of fresh tomato and cracked black pepper.  If I am keeping the carbs low, I dollop into iceberg lettuce leaves with grated carrot, seeded and chopped tomato, some chopped parsley and more black pepper.

It could also go into vol-au-vent cases for a retro party nibble.

TONNATO SPREAD


185g tin tuna in olive oil (I use Sirena brand.  I also use the chilli flavoured one because the chilli works well for us but it's not traditional)
4 boiled eggs
2 anchovy fillets
2 teaspoons baby capers (rinsed*)
1 lemon, zest and juice (or to taste.  About 2 tbsns juice and 2 tspns zest to start)  OR  1 tbspn lemon juice and 1 preserved lemon rind (rinsed*)
1 tbspn chopped chives or garlic chives

Bung the lot in a blender, including the oil from the tinned tuna.  Blend to a smoothish paste.  I prefer it just shy of utterly smooth.

Taste and adjust seasonings.  I tend to add more lemon juice but remember the flavours develop over time.

This will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

*It is important to rinse the capers and the preserved lemon rind as the salt can be overpowering





Saturday, March 21, 2015

Turkey Sausage Rolls - low FODMAP version

I've been pretty ill for a few years.  Diagnosis was a 15 months ago and it's taken all that time to find an effective treatment that didn't try to kill me.

I have Crohn's Disease, which is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Neither is curable and one does not cause the other. Strictly speaking they are not all that related.

The treatment for Crohn's is heavy duty chemotherapy drugs, rest, removing stress from my life and being as healthy as possible in all other ways.  

The treatment for IBS is identifying food triggers and removing them from the diet while have a balanced diet, getting enough rest, exercise etc..

So far the best way of controlling the IBS has been following a low FODmap diet.  Now that the Crohn's is stable, my dietician (whom I adore, and that's a statement I never thought I'd make!) has me challenging the different types of FODMAP.  I'm failing most challenges.  It's REALLY complicated.

There is a shitload (that's a Crohn's pun - we find it hilarious) of stuff I can't eat, or can't eat a lot of, or can't have in combination.  Then we combine that with the restrictions placed on my diet by the immuno-suppressant drugs (pregnancy restrictions) and TOF'S Non-Coeliac Gluten Intolerance and my inability to process beef or cow's milk products, we end up making most of our own food.  I leave for work most days with more food than Hannibal did for his Alps crossing.  

So I'll be putting some of the recipes that TOF and I develop on the blog.  I use Pinterest for keeping track of recipes etc, but it doesn't really accommodate the modifications I make.

SAUSAGE ROLLS

Adapted from Taste.com.au's Turkey Sausage Rolls

Serves 4 if you add a salad or veggies, but let's face it - they will only last the two of us one footy match.



Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice crumbs or other gf breadcrumbs
  • 4-6 spring onion tops (the green bits) very finely sliced
  • 500g turkey mince (or chicken or pork works well, too.  A mix is nice)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 small zucchini, grated
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ajvar or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chilli or 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli*
  • splash of garlic oil*
  • 1 box Simply Wize Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds*
Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220C or 200C in a fan-forced oven.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper or spray with vegetable oil spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix rice crumbs, spring onion, mince, thyme, carrot, zucchini, tomato paste and seasonings to combine.  I find it most effective to use my hands.
  4. Taking one sheet of pastry at a time, roll out on a floured surface.  Don't try and roll too thinly or it will stick like you know what to a blanket and be about as useable.
  5. Make a sausage of a fifth of the mince mixture the length of your pastry and about 1/3 the width.
  6. Place along one edge of the pastry sheet.  Brush opposite edge with egg.  Roll pastry to enclose filling. cut the roll into two or three even pieces at this stage depending on preferred serving size
  7. Repeat for all remaining sheets of pastry.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through.  I find GF pastry requires a little longer to cook than standard pastry.
The sausage rolls are great straight away, or we like them warmed, wrapped in foil and transported to the Bruce Stadium to eat at half-time when the Brumbies or the Raiders are playing at home.

Sometimes I have mince mixture left over.  I take teaspoons full, roll into balls and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through.  They are great lunch box treats in a corn tortilla with salad or served with steamed veg and rice.

*optional depending on tolerance and preference


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Strays - an opinion

The StraysThe Strays by Emily Bitto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Publisher's blurb:
On her first day at a new school, Lily meets Eva, one of the daughters of the infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are attempting to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work with them at their family home. As Lily’s friendship with Eva grows, she becomes infatuated with this makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it.

Looking back on those years later in life, Lily realises that this utopian circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

This is more a response than a review.  I'm very tired this week and have not the patience or energy for a better structured or thought out review.


Emily Bitto's first novel is a well written  exploration of intense female childhood and adolescent friendship. A bit long through the middle; some editorial pruning would have helped.

This passage, for example, while it spoke to me and I was delighted to find it, was not really necessary for Lily's mother's character development.

For the information of knitters reading this - the following passge is the only reference to knitting.

p. 117

My mother began to knit again, a pale yellow jumper she was making for me.  We had picked out the pattern together; it was to have a pearl button at the neck and slightly puffed sleeves.  Over the following days my mother knitted almost without stopping: while she ate; while she talked to the nurses; while she sate by my father's bed.  She fell asleep knitting in the chair beside him, woke up, continued to knit.  She was like one of the fates, sullenly, determinedly knitting out the griefs of the world. Somehow my mother's anxiety, and my own, became entangled in the wool of that jumper, caught up in the purl of its weave so that it would always be tainted for me, as if it had absorbed the medicinal stink of the hospital, the image of my father, ashen, with his eyes closed, the thick sheets drawn up under his arms, the knobbly cotton blanket tight across his chest and over the bulky casts encasing both his legs, his toes protruding from the bedclothes so that their colour could be monitored - my mother and I had to fight the urge constantly to pull the blank over them to keep them warm.  I would never wear that cumper.


In the end I didn't really care about any of them. Particularly the cruelly manipulative Trenthams but not even very much about Lily.

Was going for 3 stars - really it's 3.5.



My 7th book for the Australian Women Writers' Challenge 2015.

Source: Libraries ACT

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Heat and Light - a review

Heat and LightHeat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beyond knowing that it is shortlisted for the 2105 Stella Prize, I knew nothing of this work.

I deliberately didn't read the blurb or go looking for reviews.  I want to have as few preconceived notions about what I am about to read as possible.  I want to allow for the possibility of being surprised.

I was captivated on page one.

Structurally, this work of fiction is interesting.  It is not a novel.  It is divided into three sections, the first and the last being sets of short stories, the middle being a novella.

"Heat" is the first section and explores a single family from many points of view.  It is heat fanned by wind. Part fable, part imagined documentary; I enjoyed this section immensely.  The slow and unflinching unfolding of layers of family history was hugely satisfying.

The second section, "Water", is near future speculative fiction exploring issues of colonialism.  It is infused with a sense of historical de ja vu, and hasan urgent pace.

The third section, "Light", is the least optimistic of the three sections. There is truth here. The stories are not without emotion, but difficult themes of belonging and the desire to escape are explored without overt judgement.

Smoothly written and eminently readable, all of the stories show a steady, honest gaze.  Indigenous and queer voices should be heard more often. I look forward to reading more of van Neerven's work.

This is the sixth book read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers' Challenge 2015. I have completed the challenge I set myself, but there are oh so many more to read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Source: LibrariesACT

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Adventures in KIP - an intermittent series

Bal drove me from my office to the ANU yesterday.  In that 15 minute trip he enthused over my sock and told me about the garments his mother knitted for him as a child in India and that he still has many of them.  They are in India at his mother's house but he will not let her part with them.

He remembers, in particular, a cap she knitted him when he was about three.  It was knitted in beige wool, with a little peak at the front.  He wore it all the time and it made him feel special.  He has a photograph of himself wearing it standing in the middle of a wheat field.  He was young, before he started school.  One of his uncles took the photo.

He kindly allowed me to take this photo with the sock I had with me.  Before he handed me back the sock, he gave it a squeeze, to feel the fabric and smiled at the texture memory.



Knitting in public is a bit like being obviously pregnant.  Members of the public who would normally be steadfastly looking anywhere but at you suddenly become transfixed and can't help but comment on your state.  It is an excuse the break the bubble of isolation in which we often encase ourselves in public.  Even when I am wearing the universal symbol of leave me alone, headphones, some people can't help themselves.

Some knitters find this intrusive and offensive.  Sometimes it is.  Occasionally the commenter is trying to belittle me or my craft and are usually dealt with by The Look, eyebrow slightly raised.  The message is "Really?  You think you are being funny?"  Usually works.  Occasionally I have to bring out The Other Look - really steely return gaze with just the hint of a sneer. Years of public library work teaches a thing or two about silent communication.

Most interactions, however, are very positive.  They range from comments on the difficulty of knitting (not difficult but does require an awful lot of practice), amazement that women still knit (I steer away from gender based replies lest we fall into a discussion about the "proper" roles of women and respond with general comments about fashions in hobbies and the value of the handmade), how lucky my husband is to have someone to knit him socks (well he does the cooking and the driving, seems a reasonable time swap) to my favourite response - stories of the knitters in the commenters life.

Most taxi drivers in Canberra have a mother, aunt or grandmother who knitted for them and they sometimes share precious memories with me.   I consider this sharing a privilege and a lovely way of connecting with other humans.  With their knitting memories I get glimpses into different cultures and ways of life, I connect with our immigration history and I get to peek into family histories I would not otherwise see.

So I thought, as an intermittent series, I would share some of these stories with you.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Madame Bovary's Haberdashery - a review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Funny, subversive, the point in the universe where Emma Bovary and Jane Marple intersect.

I was worried, at first, the author Meehan knew a little bit too much about how I spent my 20s - overweight knitter with a penchant for op shops in a co-dependent, not particularly healthy relationship with a promiscuous, artistic best friend.  Fortunately the similarities end there.

Everyone in this charming, engaging and darkly sly humourous novel is delusional, narcissistic, criminally manipulative, misogynistic, fraudulent or many of these in combination..

Odette, the beautiful free spirited potter who, "lurching unreflectingly from one style to the next, one man to the next, saw herself as living in wild freedom, just like any male artist" shares a house and a lover, Zac, with her friend Cicely.  Odette and Cicely have been best friends since primary school.  Their relationship is fractured by the manipulative, jealous and intellectually fraudulent Zac.

"Cicely has opinions, but she keeps them to herself".  Cicely has published a mildly successful erotic novel and keeps herself in tea and wool by creating knitted pieces to sell in Miss Ball's Haberdashery.  Cicely is overweight and suffers from hallucinations brought on by her failing vision and later by her dependence on pain medication.  It is through her hallucinations that Miss Marple assists Cicely solve the mystery of Odette's disappearance.

All of the male characters are unpleasant, misogynistic manipulators; while the women are competitive and manipulative.

I worry that Odette is returned to Cicely and is "redeemed" through murder and childbirth to, presumably, be held captive in Odette's dream haberdashery.  But perhaps that is the joke at the heart of the book.

While I enjoyed the novel (not least for the primary role of the fibre arts and the confirmation that crochet is evil, or at least created under hallucinogenics) I might have understood it better if I was more familiar with Flaubert's Madame Bovary.  I suspect I shall read it before long, even if it is written by the antithesis of an Australian woman.  I am better acquainted with Miss Marple and loved how Maurilia Meehan imagines her for Cicely.

I am also glad that Cicely achieves her dream of owning her own shop, the haberdashery of the title, and a room of her own.  But are we all such manipulators and are all our dreams realised at the expense of others?


SOURCE: Libraries ACT

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Who We Were by Lucy Neave - a review

Who We WereWho We Were by Lucy Neave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


On finishing this book - my initial notes read:
Sparse and elegant prose but for a novel about passion and betrayal, strangely devoid of emotional connection.  I gave it 3 stars (out of 5)

Nearly a week later and I am back on Goodreads changing my score from 3 stars to 4.  I continue to think about this novel and divine why I couldn't connect.  I talk to friends and colleagues about it and wonder out loud to them why that was - should it have been a series of novellas to explore the effects of the political environments in which they find themselves and the significant issues such as scientific ethics, the effects of the Depression, WWII and the war in Asia in particular.

It's a very, very accomplished first novel.

I keep comparing Bill to Dorrigo from Flanagan's Narrow Road to the Deep North.  Similar experiences, similarly flawed but Bill just isn't sympathetic.

Also, the suspense which might have built in the Cold War period just didn't get there.

Perhaps I wasn't meant to connect.  Annabel and Bill save their passion for each other and their work, and in Bill's case, a political cause.  Annabel is a perpetual outsider, even in her marriage, and theirs is a very exclusive club so maybe I was meant to feel excluded.

I would recommend this book, but if you enjoy the emotional connection to character, you might not find it.  You will, however, have much food for thought.

This novel is shortlisted in the ACT Book of the Year Award.  For the first time this year you can vote in the People's Choice Awards, but get your skates on, voting closes soon.

For information on previous awards, a committed and passionate librarian has created this resource.

SOURCE: Libraries ACT

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