Showing posts from August, 2016

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…