Showing posts from 2016

The Oven is Fixed!

I mentioned this briefly on Twitter, my landlord's handyman came in yesterday and fixed the oven, but before I reveal what happened, let me remind you what prompted me to call in the professional on this.
When I used the oven, I realised there was a strong smell, like fish, coming from it. I cleaned it thoroughly with oven spray, let's just say it needed that, but the smell remained.
Pattering around on the Internet I came across a thread on netmums wherein one user, Jodie, suggested the smell is a sign of failing electrics and to get them checked. This actually made sense because while the hob is gas my oven is electric. I called my landlord and switched it off at the mains, using matches for my hob so no one forgot to turn it back off.
So yesterday, while I was already at work, the handyman arrived. Xander went to work before he could look at it, but what it boiled down to was the plug had shorted. So he cut the burnt off bits, installed a new plug and reassembled the device…

Life Rambles- Modern Teens and Workforce

I'm not too proud to deny it, I work in retail full time, been in my current job nearing two years now, but between my mother being an A level Maths teacher and work, I'm hearing the word 'lazy' an awful lot when talking about those in the 16-18 band.

Sometimes, I think there are things that we're not teaching people at school:
Getting past the interview is not the end. With some of our short-lived colleagues, it's their first job, and I have gotten the feeling that they believed it's plain sailing once they pass that interview and get the offer.
I cannot remember a time in school where I was told about probationary periods. This is a time when your boss is monitoring your performance to see if you really can do the job. It can be three months initially, but employers are allowed to extend it up to six if they think they need more time to see what you're capable of. If someone does not uphold the standards expected persistently, they are let go with no …

Soda farls

So I'm not expecting to get a hold of an electrician for at least another week (the one my landlord trusts is out of town, and the one I work with is on holiday, go figure...) he suspects a shorted element, but we'll have to see what the damage is when he gets back.

But as we experiment on the hob (and pursuing solutions to problems from said attempts) I began culling things that went uneaten (this was mostly long-life stuff stowed away for emergency situations that never presented themselves) I came across four jars of sandwich pickle. This with ham is Xander's filling of choice for sandwiches, which he was put off of because he didn't like the texture of gluten free bread and spelt bread from The Bread Shop was always at risk of cross-contamination.

So on Wednesday I come home from the supermarket laden with fresh goodies for a top-up, since there's only so much room in our fridge and a lot is taken by cold drinks and a week's worth of lunches after Sunday pr…

Occasionally self-retesting

A couple of times a year, Xander eats something with wheat on purpose.

What is this madness? Well, first of all, let me explain what separates allergies from other intolerances.

An allergy is when the immune system develops antibodies against something relatively harmless. When we are exposed to a pathogen (a disease causing microbe) our body's biggest defence is antibodies, which are generated by a specific kind of white blood cell. Antibodies are designed to target specific antigens, which are markers for these pathogens. That said, in order to develop these antibodies, our bodies need to be exposed to these pathogens or allergens. This is why we have vaccinations, and why fatal allergic reactions are rarely the first exposure. Allergies is when the allergen is believed by a person's body to be a pathogen and the immune system reacts to it. The things we suffer as a result are in fact our body trying to purge us of the allergen.

This is not to be mixed up with autoimmune dis…

Bumps in the road- baking is off for a while

As I mentioned on Twitter this morning, my oven is officially a hazard until further notice, so it's switched off at the mains apart from when we're using the hob (the sparks use the same switch) until my landlord's handyman can see to it (worst case scenario, I'll be getting an electrician to look at it and having my landlord pay the bill).

So why share it like this when I tweeted about it already? Well, it was such a subtle sign that I felt that I should share it, because this is something that could potentially prevent a fire and even save lives.

With that said, let me elaborate on the incident.

The thing that I noticed was that whenever I used the oven, I was getting a really fishy smell. It wouldn't have been the end of the world, were it not for the fact that I rarely cook fish. Xander's first thought was perhaps something to do with the oven itself was releasing this strange smell, so I took the oven cleaner to it. I got a lot more gunk out doing so than…

Narutally gluten free food

Thanks in part to it being a fad diet as much as a captive market, gluten free food can be as much as four times more than its counterparts according to Coeliac UK (learned via the BBC documentary Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets). Make no mistake, supermarkets are happy to find the cravings of those on these diets and make compliant alternatives in the interest of lining their pockets.

So when Gluten Free Works put up a list of naturally gluten free foods, I pointed out that they should have a version for the UK. Their answer was simple, if I did it, they'd share it.

Challenge accepted.

As with their own article, raw fruit and vegetables, fresh dairy and meat are all naturally gluten free, meaning you can easily create a diverse range of flavours.

For carbs, rice and potatoes are abundant, cheap and naturally gluten free.

Wine and spirit based vinegars

Malt vinegar is made from barley, making it unsuitable for coeliacs, but there are plenty of things to give your food a flavourful…

The endless list of coconut products

This is practically worthy of a piece in and of itself owing to the fact that the names blur almost as much as the number of different milk products used in food. So here are the many faces of coconut product that are immediately to hand.

Coconut Milk Drink

This is an alternative to milk made with coconut as a base, it's more watery than canned coconut milk and usually served in litre-sized cartons. It can settle and it is advised to be shaken before use and can come in a long-life and fresh version. Either way, it can be found next to other milk alternatives (see my reference sheet for more info).

In the UK, some brands such as Alpro mix coconut with rice for their milk drinks, but if you want just coconut, there's a brand called Koko that also boasts added vitamins D and B12.

Coconut Milk

A product popular in Asian cuisine, this is made by boiling the coconut flesh in the water (see below

Coconut Cream

A less watery, more creamy version of tinned coconut milk, found in tins and…

Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma

Just when you think Spike Chunsoft can't get more twistedDeveloper: Spike ChunsoftPlatforms: PSVita, PS4, PC
I admit, I'm not usually a fan of the kind of genres that involve a group of people turning on each other. That's probably why you're not likely to see me play things like Until Dawn.
However, I like puzzles, and that is a major part of Zero Time Dilemma and its predecessor, Virtue's Last Reward.
If you haven't played Zero Escape before, here's a gist of the first two games, 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (referred to from here on as 999) and Virtue's Last Reward. Naturally, this video spoils the plot of these two games.

For fans of the first two games, four characters make a return, Akane and Junpei from 999, and Sigma and Phi from Virtue's Last Reward. All I'll say about the game's plot is that it serves to tie together the two games so far, after all, there's a large gap to fill in.
We have the Vita version here, and graphically,…

French Toast

This is my go-to treat after a long week of graft. It's simple, tasty and goes with just about anything pancakes does.

The description here is going to be rather vague, but that's because I've had success with just about all manners of bread (I've done white, seeded, spelt and white gluten free) and milk or milk substitutes (rice, oat and coconut).

Yield: 1 portion

2-3 slices of bread (ideally slightly stale)1 eggMilk (enough to make sure the bread is soaked)Pinch of salt Mix the egg, milk and salt in a wide, shallow bowl. Heat a splash of oil in a pan Briefly soak both sides of the bread in the egg mixture. Put in the pan. Cook until the sides are golden brown. Serve immediately
This goes with just about anything that pancakes does.

Wheat allergy versus gluten allergy

This has happened twice in three days, so I just feel the need to get this off my chest.

Being allergic to wheat and allergic to gluten are not the same thing.

On twitter I came across a tweet of someone fed up with explaining that coeliac disease, wherein gluten prompts inflammation of the gut. I commented that my experience was that gluten seems to be the buzzword for the matter while those who are allergic to wheat and only wheat are left in the background by comparison.

One example that really spells this out is when I put a question to Lucozade, Xander was a fan of the orange flavour product, but he suffered an allergic reaction. Thankfully for him this is a temporary discomfort and not something more serious, but after putting up my Twitter account I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask.

As you can see, I state wheat allergic, not gluten.

Awareness of coeliac disease and the fact that not eating gluten has become a fad has prompted gluten to be something of a buzzword in health c…

Egg Fried Rice

This is a dead easy recipe and a good way to use leftover or add flavour to microwaveable rice. Mix in any combination of seafood, vegetables, meat, and sauce for a filling meal.

Yield: 1 portion

1 portion cooked rice1 egg1 tsp sesame oilsalt and pepper, to taste Mix together the egg, sesame oil, salt and pepper
Add oil (not sesame) to a pan or wok, set to a medium heat and add the rice, stir until hot throughout Turn up the temperature to high and add the egg, stirring until it is cooked and fluffy (think scrambled eggs) Put into a bowl and serve while hot
Do not use freshly boiled rice, it will come out soggy. I like to make the rice the day before and put it in the fridge. This can make a terrific stir fry, but I recommend adding the sauce during dishing to minimise the rice soaking up the sauce and coming out soggy.

Media censorship: Tokyo Mirage Sessions

There's a lot I like about Tokyo Mirage Sessions, the combat, the fact it performs well, the characters, the style and content. But there is one thing that doesn't make much sense.

Anyone who has played a Persona game can tell that there's a pretty messed up vein in Japanese culture. This has been a vein that Atlus hadn't shied away from in the past, wanting something which isn't that good in the end is a major theme of the Persona series, with suicide being a major theme of Persona 3 to name one immediate example. The idol industry was touched on in Persona 4 via Rise, who struggled with her idol Persona and who she sought to be.

But one thing that made little sense to me was the changes for the American and European versions of the third dungeon. Yes, despite Maiko saying she was going to market Tsubasa as an innocent type of idol, perhaps a gravure photo shoot might feel a bit much. However, was it necessary to go as far as to change it completely?

I don't t…

Raspberry coulis

I briefly mentioned in a tips that you can add sauces to my coconut milk ice cream for added flavour. I researched ripples in ice cream after an event late last year.

In early December, Xander and I went to Belfast and stayed for a few days in the house of one of my aunts, who lives close to the city centre. There were a lot of reasons to go there, and it was a very personal time, but part of it was we went to the theatre together. My aunt, a tiny, but fierce woman, insisted on buying us something while we were there, so Xander picked out some wine gums while I chose a small raspberry ripple ice cream. While I was eating it, not wanting it to melt, Xander told me that he liked and somewhat missed this tangy, creamy treat. Despite being together just over five years I hadn't actually known that, especially since he wasn't known for liking fruit all that much.

So as some fire for food kicks back, I go to the supermarket and pick out a punnet of raspberries, picking brighter one…

The standard dietary disclaimer and more.

Experimenting with food and exploring the Internet for recipes, I realised something that has come up in my searches, for some people, Xander included, cutting things from their diet are after a clinical diagnosis. Others do so because it seems to be the 'in' thing that claims to improve their diet. As someone who wishes to be as responsible to my reading base as I can be, it's brought attention to some disclaimers and advice I feel I really need to share, since, particularly in teenage girls, diets is a thorny issue.

As I say on Twitter, my opinions are my own, and I do not expect everyone to agree with them. However, I believe in the importance of an opposing view's existence, if everyone agreed with something, then there would be no innovation.

That said, I'm not a doctor nor a nutritionist, and even if I was, I couldn't, and wouldn't, give advice remotely. If you are having trouble that is concerning you, you need to see someone face to face so they can…

Home made burgers

As promised earlier, here's my bland as baked beans recipe for home made burgers. Add your own sauces, herbs, spices, put them in whatever bread you like, go crazy.


Makes about four good sized burgers

500g mince of your choice1 Small slice of bread1 small egg (failing that, one yolk)Salt and pepper, to taste Note: Skip the lean stuff for this, or you will end up with a dry burger.
By hand, grater or a food processor (whichever is available and easiest to you) shred the bread into crumbs. Put the minced meat into a bowl, mix in the crumbs, salt and pepper until evenly spread. Add the egg/yolk, mix until the egg is completely combined into the other ingredients. Shape with your hands or, if you're really fussy about perfectly round burgers, invest in a burger press.
Personally, I like to baste the burgers I make sear them in a pan and finish them in a hot oven, but since this is a diverse recipe, feel free to experiment, just remember that poultry burgers must …

Blank canvas recipes: New idea, new page

While pattering about my day job, I was thinking about an online discussion I had last month. Celebrity Gordon Ramsay (Not 'Ramsey' people, that's a different man entirely) was asked in an 'Ask Me Anything' about five things he thought everyone should be able to cook.

I was rather happy that I can pretty much do all five (pretty much because I don't do a lot of braising, though I do use a slow cooker for some of Xander's lunches) and do so without wheat or milk. But the discussion became interesting when someone said they'd make burgers more often if they could flavour the chicken or pork patties to resemble beef.

"Why do that? Why not make twists inspired by the meat you're using?" I asked. "Why not a sweet and sour pork burger with red pepper and pineapple for salad or a pesto chicken burger with rocket, mozzarella and sundried tomato in a ciabatta?"

Skip a month to today, and thinking about it I realised that I don't remem…

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

The original recipe for this comes from The Hungry Mouse but it did initially pose a few problems for me, for one, I don't have a blender, and if I tried to use cold coconut milk I ended up with little bits of unmixed coconut fat in my ice cream. For another, it was a smidge too sweet for our tastes, and it turned out just two teaspoons of vanilla was nowhere near enough for Xander. I also don't always have the time to take it out of the freezer to churn again, so I was treated to a Lakeland ice cream maker.

The result of this will, naturally, taste like coconut, but it is still a delicious, creamy treat. I chose to put up the vanilla recipe simply because it can be used as a base for so many other delicious flavours.

Ingredients Two cans of coconut milk1 1/2 cups sugarTwo tablespoons of vanilla bean paste Pour the coconut milk into a bowl, scraping out the white fat if it's separated. Add the sugar and vanilla and whizz with a hand beater until the ingredients have combin…

Warning to wheat free Brits

I know I promised some delicious desserts (they're pending photos and I have a clashing work schedule with my boyfriend, who promised to teach me to use his flash gun >< ) but I remembered and wanted to draw attention to this first.

I live in the UK (which makes the fact that most of my traffic is from the US rather surprising) so that's why I review and talk recipes with ingredients from the UK.

Those who have taken the time to read my 'Likely Comments and Questions' page may be aware that I highlight that there is a difference between a gluten intolerance and a wheat intolerance (allergies are a special form of intolerance). The ingredients of glucose syrup and monosodium glutamate are ones we cannot rule out especially.

Fortunately for us, or perhaps unfortunately, Waitrose has offered the courtesy of telling us where they source their glucose syrup in their latest range of sweets. Good news is that those with a wheat allergy won't buy them by mistake, bad…

Bring! App

This might be off my usual trail, but it is something I do feel that is worth sharing.

It's safe to say that as a couple living, but not working, together, we sometimes find ourselves near the supermarket, so Xander wanted us to have a synched shopping list rather than, say, having a notepad pinned onto the fridge to write things on before the weekly shop.

At first we used Trello, but we found a huge issue, it didn't let us change the list if it doesn't have signal, which is a problem when your local supermarket at best has emergency only and at worst no service at all.

Bring! solves this problem for us. It will cache your changes and relay them later, and if not, you can refresh it by swiping downwards like many other Android applications. You can create lists under various names (we currently use Home, which you can see in the screenshots overall, but other lists, such as Office and Holiday, are also available (during the Euros there was even a list for when you were watc…

New and Improved- Chocolate chunk cookies

While my previous recipe has earned its fans amongst Xander's colleagues, often getting snapped up  when he comes to work around his birthday with a batch, they weren't quite that supermarket chewiness that those who can eat gluten came to love.

After some tweaks here and there, I made a recipe that, according to Xander at least, replicated that texture that he had been craving. So bake and enjoy!

Makes about 20 cookies

100g soft brown sugar125g caster sugar125g Sunflower spread (if you don't need to worry about milk, feel free to add butter instead)1 egg, beaten1 tsp vanilla extract1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp Xanthan gum200g plain gluten free flour blend (I use Dove's Farm)1/2 tsp baking powder200 g chocolate, in chips or chunks Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius and line some baking trays with parchment paper.
Mix the sugars together to smooth out the clumps in the brown sugar before adding it to the sunflower spread, beat until the mixture is fluffy. Add the vanill…

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Platform: Wii UJapanese Title: Illusory Revelations #FENotes: The # is referred to as 'Sharp'

What happens when you combine the mechanics of Persona with characters from Fire Emblem and the structure of the Japanese idol industry? Apparently this.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions is developed by ATLUS, the developers of the Shin Megami Tensei series, though the story resembles the lighter storylines of the series' spin-off, Persona. Even then, some of the mechanics are more approachable (such as being able to save whenever you want).

The basic premise of the story behind the game is that you're playing as Itsuki Aoi, a high school senior who has two best friends, Touma Akagi, who plays extras in live hero shows, and Tsubasa Oribe, the only person to not have vanished from a mysterious incident five years prior while watching her sister perform in what appears to be an opera (the sound is muted over the cutscene).

The game starts with Itsuki going to meet Touma at the local TV sta…

Sausage Casserole

This is an adaptation of the Hairy Bikers recipe on the BBC website, good for comfort food, or a lazy way to make Xander a new kind of lunch.

12 good quality sausages1 1/2 cups chopped frozen onion1 tsp chopped garlic (equal to 1 clove garlic)1 packet of diced pancetta (or about six slices of smoked bacon) 1/2- 1 tsp smoked paprika1 can chopped tomatoes1 can baked beans1 tsp mixed herbs1 tbsp Worcester sauce1 tbsp brown sugar Dash of thymeSplash of balsamic vinegarSalt and pepper, to taste Put the tomato, beans, Worcester sauce, sugar and herbs in the slow cooker dish.
Brown the sausages for about ten minutes on a medium heat, add to the dish.
On the same pan, cook the pancetta or bacon, add to the mix.
Soften the onion, add the garlic, when the onions start to brown, add the paprika, cook for a few seconds more before adding to the dish.
Add salt and pepper to taste
Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, put the lid on and leave for 3-4 hours (high) or 8-10 hours (low) or until the sausage…