Monday, January 30, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

brotherly love

I just love this sequence of photos. It beautifully captures how much our boys love each other. It's beautifully reciprocal. I pray that it's always like this.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

veggie patch inspiration

We've been the recipient of some lovely veggie patch produce recently. Very kind. I'm loving it. So now searching The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander for some good ideas. Seriously the best asset for the Australian cook. We went back to an old favourite for the zucchini. And everyone loved it (though we had to leave the tomato off for the two little ones). I only have access to a less recent copy at the moment so it didn't have the zucchini slice recipe that I normally use, but you can also find it here, I just added the slices of tomato. So yum. BTW so filling - perfect for staving off any sugar cravings.

We've also been enjoying some beetroot. Although these were a bit fibrous, I think we let them go too far. The interesting thing is that you can use the young leaves as salad leaves. But I was tempted to leave them as table decoration. They are so pretty and tint the water a lovely pink. 

For our beetroot salad I used roasted beetroot, mixed salad leaves, blanched asparagus, roasted pine nuts, perino tomatoes, goats cheese and my new favourite dressing. I also served it with roast beef.

But can I go on about my new favourite dressing? Yes I can. I was recently was given a beautiful bottle of roasted walnut oil from the Loire Valley. So I searched for some dressing recipes since walnuts go fabulously with beets so I loosely adapted this one found here. Seeing as I'm loathe to add another speciality vinegar to my vinegar collection, my recipe is as follows:

Walnut Oil Dressing
1/4 cup walnut oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp seeded mustard

Whisk together. Yum.

Finally, we're trying this one tonight so I'll have to report back. But this sounds fantastic. A gratin recipe using the stalks of your silver beet. It also has cream and blue cheese so it's bound to be delish. This is another Cook's Companion recipe. And it makes good use of the bits I don't use so much anyway. I made a silver beet and ricotta pie with the leaves. Here's something to try with the stalks. Brilliant.

Actually one more thing. This evening we're trying mint ice cream with a bunch of fresh mint leaves from the back yard. The mixture is cooling as we speak and should be ready for churning tonight. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

cute blueberry socks

The first family birthday of the year arrived. We enjoyed a beautiful meal as mentioned below. And I managed to get the socks knitted in the nick of time.
These are a cute pair of lacy cabled socks. I've ravelled these socks here.

heel view

Once again the pattern goes down the heel flap which I really think is nice. The other cool thing about this pattern is that you do the cabling without having to use a cable needle (and you can do an odd number of stitches cable). It also gives it a lacy look, as the cabling method is a bit holey. Cute.

Now to get started on the next pair. Not long til the next birthday.

Monday, January 23, 2012

an adventure in fructose

After having been off the sweet stuff for 7 weeks or so I was intrigued to see what would happen when we went out for a degustation menu for my sister-in-law's birthday. It's the first meal we haven't been in control of for all that time. Anyway, I was interested to see how far we've come.

We ate at Matteo's. The food was beautiful. It included a lot of asian fusion dishes. Our favourites were the kingfisher sashimi and the tea smoked duck. Fortunately no one item was too substantial but there was a fair few fructose laden ingredients in the savoury courses (watermelon, hoisin sauce, plum relish etc). 

The big kicker was the dessert of course. Apart from a minimal amount of ice cream and cake that I've made we haven't really indulged in much dessert the last 2 months. And certainly no fructose laden desserts. So I was a little nervous about the dessert course. Here's what was on the menu:

Sorry mood lighting made photography difficult, but et voila, the dessert:

Well it was delicious and more so because we don't eat this food all the time. It really was a treat. I loved the ice cream (it reminded me a little of Maggie Beer's burnt fig jam, honeycomb and caramel ice cream) and the berry tartlet was beautiful too. The most interesting thing was that I just could not eat the chocolate ganache. IT WAS TOO SWEET. I guess white chocolate was always going to be a shock after eating 100% cocoa chocolate. But I don't think I've ever turned dessert away for being too sweet.

The other issue I was concerned about was that I'd be starving the next day or have huge sweet cravings. But everything was completely normal. Now I don't think this means that I could do this more often. But it was nice to know that on a really one off special occasion I could cope. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

the G, how melbourne are we?

So Giggi and I had our first visit to the MCG (melbourne cricket ground) or "The G" if you're a true local. We watched a Big Bash 20 20 game and our team won. Go the Melbourne Stars! Warnie was a little underwhelming but it was great to see McKay bowl and Hussey bat. Giggi the 4yo loved it. I wasn't sure how he'd go, the match started at his usual bedtime. But the fireworks that were set off for each visiting team wicket and home team 6 kept him interested.

the fireworks

He also had a mammoth bag of Twisties and some new apps on my phone. He also had an uncle and prospective uncle to keep him entertained.

howzat! with uncle and prospective uncle :-)
Now to see how 'the stars' go in their semi. BTW he loved the mascot: starman on his segway but seriously how long did it take them to come up with that? Lame. I can, however, recommend the Ponsford stand. No sun in our eyes. Fireworks immediately in front of us. Good times.

Monday, January 16, 2012

washing day joy

My mother-in-law has a seriously wonderful garden. One thing I think is so clever and delicious is that a rosemary hedge runs alongside the washing line. So if it's a breezy day your towels and sheets might have a beautiful aroma if you're lucky :-) It's the small things...

Friday, January 13, 2012

adventures in low fructose cooking: muffins

Well we're 6 weeks in to our fructose-free adventure. I was hoping that by now we'd have a bit more control over our appetites. Mine seems to be still fructose effected.

We have been eating a bit of 85% chocolate mainly because on holidays we weren't able to source anything stronger. BTW the Green & Black's 85% with Madagascan vanilla is far superior to the Lindt equivalent.

I also want to try eating more slowly and waiting (15-20mins) to give myself a chance to feel full.

I'm also taking the advice from The Sweet Poison Quit Plan of sticking to sweetener alternatives rather than glucose while we wait for our addiction and appetites to come under control.

Anyway I've gotten hold of Natvia which is I suppose the best of a bad bunch. It is derived from a natural source, part of the Stevia plant, is much sweeter than sugar but has many less calories. However, it hasn't been used for a very long time so the jury's out as to whether it has any harmful effects. A good thing however is that I don't think it has as nasty an after taste as some of the other sweeteners.

So here's our first go at baking with Natvia. We made banana muffins, a variation on the blueberry muffin recipe found on the natvia website. Find the recipe here. And while they're not fructose-free because of the banana, 2 bananas are spread over 22 muffins...

Our's were about half the size of the recipe so only needed 15mins. And they were quite crumbly so I may have over cooked them.

None of us could stop at one. They were a success all round. Even little badger thoroughly enjoyed his.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

moments of quiet idyll

To be honest life is pretty prosaic at the moment but I am thankful to God for the small, peaceful moments of beauty in everyday life.

Like lying back on the plush carpet watching the clouds chasing across the skylight. Giggi quietly "reading". Badger happy to be climbing over me or baby-dancing to the music emanating from Rene's study as he works on an animation.

Monday, January 9, 2012

frustration with food misinformation

Fairfax media has been running a number of diet related articles with the new year and resolutions and all that. This one however really got to me. All about why diets don't work and what the solution is. So Nick Galvin looks at some of the stats and the evidence: that people spend a lot on weight-loss and most people can't keep the weight they do lose off.

This sentence is just chilling. "In fact, one of the authors of a study published in the American Psychologist journal in 2007 went so far as to call dieting 'a consistent predictor of future weight gain'."

The physiological factors that prevent weight-loss were interesting: that the level of hormones in dieters changes rapidly making them MORE hungry than ever and that their metabolism slowed. So your body is doing everything it can to go back to the way things were. No wonder it feels like an uphill battle.

What was SO frustrating was that the journalist then went on to look at a case study of a guy who lost 40 kilos in a year by doing A LOT of exercise and by basically eating low fat proteins and steamed vegetables. But he assures us that he's not on a diet.... but that's another issue. Then the journalist lists a couple of recommendations from the Mayo clinic about kilojoules in and kilojoules out etc. But the journalist does not show how either the case study or the Mayo recommendations answer the problems raised at the outset.

This is what I love about The Sweet Poison Quit Plan and other fructose-free approaches to life is that they deal with the issues raised by the article. Because you increase your fat intake to begin with you are LESS hungry and your metabolism doesn't slow. I know this whole thing is a radical shift in mindset but how can the journalist not see that he's not being consistent!?!?!?!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

one month on - still fructose free

Well we survived the holiday period largely fructose-free. I think the Easter egg craziness might be the only time of year that is harder but we haven't felt deprived at all.

I meant to say earlier but I followed through and got rid of all our pantry and fridge items which didn't fall inside the 4g of sugar/100g of food guideline. It helped that we were moving and I didn't want to pack things I wasn't planning on using any longer anyway. We have moved in with my mother-in-law but fortunately she doesn't like a lot of sweet food anyway so it shouldn't be too hard.

We have started eating a bit more fruit. You can eat 1-2 pieces of fruit a day on the plan, so we're not going overboard. And we're trying to stick to the recommended fruit such as berries, kiwi, pears and citrus.

The other good thing is that with a good supply of dextrose we have started making sweet treats which pass the low fructose test. In particular we've tried a few recipes from the Sweet Poison Quit Plan. So far I've whipped up some ice cream, a butter cake and some vanilla egg custard. Yummo. I can also recommend the frozen mango yogurt from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, just substitute glucose syrup for the honey - although you'd probably go through your day's allowance of fruit in one go.

We have also enjoyed a fair few croissants - our new bakery treat of choice. Now just to make sure that it remains a sometimes food.

Giggi's 'artistic' fuzzy shot of a friend and I at Max Brenner's. Fortunately my husband was on the ball and ordered our coffees and croissants without the molten chocolate slathered all over them.

I'm surprised that 3 cafes we've visited in the last 10 days have supplied a small sweet treat gratis with the coffee. But I've been even more surprised by how well Giggi has coped with me turning them down. I think it's great that we've started this journey while we still have quite a bit of control over what he eats. Hopefully it will make it easier when he has more freedom in this area. Perhaps he won't have the taste for it and certainly he'll understand more of why we're doing what we're doing.

Which is:
    1) have healthy weights
    2) go back to normal appetites not subverted by fructose
    3) the prevention or mitigation of diseases such as diabetes, hyperglycemia, high cholesterol etc.

Happy New Year to you all. Here's to a happy and healthy 2012. Let me know if you're planning on joining us on this fructose-free but fulfilling ride.

Monday, January 2, 2012

adventures in fructose-free treats: chocolate

As promised we decided to do a bit of a taste test to see which chocolate we enjoy most. So far I had tracked down the 99% Lindt and the 100% Dominican from Koko Black. My sister-in-law had found a 99% at the Kirribilli chocolate shop. And we thought that last of all we'd compare it to the 85% Lindt which is something more in the realm of normalcy. It probably wasn't according to normal protocols but we were cleansing our palates with coffee.

I wish I'd read about chocolate tasting notes before we began because we were struggling for adjectives, seriously in need of direction and suggestion. I think I'm still suffering a loss of adjectives since being pregnant twice, or maybe it's the lack of sleep???

Here's what we think:
It was unanimous that the 99% Lindt was our least favourite. It was strange because the flavour took a long time to hit your palate and when it did it was quite dull and bitter. It wasn't very creamy at all, just marginally better than eating cocoa powder and is weirdly crystalline in parts. However, did go brilliantly grated over chocolate ice cream, see here. My friend Caro thought it was 'gaggable'.

We then moved on to the 100% Dominican from Koko Black. This was significantly better. It had a stronger flavour and was creamier than the Lindt. You could still describe it as pungent but it has a much more interesting taste than the Lindt. It was my favourite.

Then we moved on to the handmade 99% cocoa chocolate from Coco Chocolate in Kirribilli. It was creamier again. But I think it had some kind of distinctive 'green' flavour. I wasn't able to put my finger on it. Apparently it makes a heady accompaniment to whiskey... And is suitable for vegans but not for the faint hearted. This was the favourite of both my husband and my sister-in-law.

I'm not convinced about the 85% it still has 14% sugar which is half a sugar cube per square of chocolate which seems rather a lot. It did seem very sweet and the squares are too big.
I meant to take a photo at the end because it was funny how much chocolate we had left over. Not the norm where chocolate is usually involved but perfect for our purposes.