Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

The Taste
Nigella Lawson

Since going gluten free we've been expanding recipes and researching to find one's that don't need tweaking. My all time favourite is Nigella Lawson'Torta Caprese. This is a flour-less almond cake named after the Capri Islands. Ralph made this for me once and I was hooked, and it wasn't just me, I ended up trying to force it down throats of family members "I don't eat gluten free" they said as they waved their hands, "Just try it!" as it's not for celiacs, it just so happens to be made without anything that contains gluten. They too, ended up hooked. I had a go at making it myself and ended up fluffing up the recipe, and not in a good way. I think I'll leave it to the professional next time...

If you want to know how to make this visit

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Street Style

Edinburgh Street Style
It's that time again, and not even the rain can ward off the street style.
Looking forward to some more looks.
Keep an eye out!


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Walk To Remember

A Walk To Remember
Haddington, Scotland

So we're moving! We're not, actually but it crossed our minds while visiting Haddington not far from Edinburgh in Scotland. Rich with an almost Mediterranean culture. Part of me felt transported back to living in Saint Augustine, Florida with it's cobblestone streets, all Haddington needed was a fort and some horse drawn carriages. Hidden nooks and cranny's to explore and a dozen gardens welcomed picnickers. My favourite was the medicinal gardens of St Mary's Pleasance near Haddington House the oldest private residence in town. I could have constructed a little cottage and lived in there.

The walls of the garden were built by Napoleonic prisoners of war and the garden itself was designed by the late Architect Schomberg Scott by the specification of the late Sir George Taylor a Botonist and former director at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. They both designed the gardens to have a "Mount" and "Sunken Garden" to hold true to the 17th century architecture of the surrounding buildings.
Fruit tree's scattered among the grounds giving shade to fellow bookworms and picnickers. I can't describe the aroma's that hit the nose as we wondered through the paths, lavender, jasmine and countless herbs and fruits wafted through the air. It was a something out of a dream, I fully expected Mr & Mrs Darcy to come strolling through the garden in front of us. I'll surely be back for another visit!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Happy Feet

Happy Feet
Sewing Machine Feet 

From an early age I have been introduced to sewing machines, almost everyone older than 20 had one when I was a kid, it's scary that I never really got the hang of it. Half the time I managed to screw up threading my know it's bad when your father ends up stealing it from you instead?
I have a slight fear of sewing machines, but I'm also in awe of them and anyone who can use one. I've made the odd garment in my lifetime and ended up hand sewing it instead of using the machine, I hear you shouting "WHY!? Are you mad?" Yes, I know machine sewing is supposed to be quicker than hand sewing but not when you're in the room with me, I've made a 30 year sewing specialist have to take a breather because she couldn't believe how long it took me to make something on a sewing machine compared to hand sewing it. In my defence, hand sewing is a lost art *Cough Cough*

 I love visiting my grandmother's or mother-in-law's, they always have a new sewing gadget, box, or machine. I'm itching to use them but I know I'll probably break it. I have sewing awkwardness, give me a camera, I can create work with that, give me a sewing machine and I'll tangle the string in parts of the machine you never knew existed! That doesn't mean I still don't want to know about every inch of it and become jealous of all the pretty things you've made. So you can imagine when I walked into my mother-in-law's house the other day and there lay on the dining room table a huge box of all the new sewing machine feet she'd bought. Does it make me sad that I pee'd a little with excitement?

Now that you've seen them, would you like to know how to use some of them?
Check out this lesson on Craftsy by Steffani Lincecum "Sewing Machine Feet from A-Z"

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Gluten Free Rhubarb Streusel Loaf

Rhubarb Streusel Loaf
Gluten Free

Loaf Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup soft butter (keep extra butter around for greasing)
1/3 cup lemon juice 
2 free range eggs
2 cups gluten free flour 
1tsp. Gluten Free baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 salt
1 & 1/2 cups of sliced Rhubarb

Streusel Ingredients:
2 Tblsp. Sugar
2 Tblsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Gluten Free Flour
1 Tblsp. Melted Butter
1 & 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 200 Celsius (392 Fahrenheit). Line an 8x4inch loaf tin with butter. In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat sugar & butter until creamy. Mix in the lemon juice and eggs, they will appear curdled, don't worry, its supposed to. Sift gluten free flour into the bowl with baking powder, soda & salt. Gently stir in the Rhubarb. Put aside 1 & 1/2 cups of the batter in a separate container then spread the remaining batter into the loaf tin. Combine all the streusel ingredients together by stirring (don't worry if it looks crumbly or not either is fine.) Carefully spread half the streusel over the batter in pan, top the streusel with the remaining batter that you put aside then cover the batter with the remaining streusel. Place in the oven and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer poked into the loaf comes out clean.

The Sanctuary

Comrie Croft 

"Maggie!" I hear from the distance, a little black scruffy shadow runs passed my legs. Colin comes bounding round from the bike trail, a man not unlike his dog, scruffy but a loyal best friend you just want to take home and cuddle. He's been living at Comrie Croft for two years now with his lurcher Maggie. A beautifully gentle thing who spends most of her time working at the Croft with Colin or trying to get visiting children to slip her some scraps from the camp site or tea garden.

"Ahh there you are" he walks up with a sigh, Maggie is licking my sons face with glee, making him giggle. Colin places himself down on the seat next to me as if he's known us for years, when in fact it's the first time either of us have stopped for a chat in the many years of walking passed each other and waving. I've nipped up with my mother this time who often comes to Comrie croft to get away from all the malarkey of modern life to relax and write. Where did you think I get the writing bug from?
My mother is more of a socialite than I and takes it upon herself to get to know everyone and remember them dearly, a trait that HAS passed on to me but faded over time. I, like her, love peoples stories but when it comes to talking I'm very good at putting my foot in my mouth, it's not like writing, I can't use spell check, refer to the dictionary or read back over my sentences to make sure they flow and/or don't sounds utterly ridiculous like they do when spewing out of my mouth. My mother would agree and say "another trait you've inherited from me" but it's never stopped her, and I'm proud of her for it.

Colin and her embark on a nice friendly chat as I sit and creepily observe, contributing one word sentences now and then when I feel necessary. The conversation comes about to life at the croft and how it's one of the best decisions he's made living here. Suddenly I'm not so quiet any more, I hear myself passionately alliterating how we keep chickens, grow our own vegetables and spoken to Andrew who also works at the croft about helping out in the poly-tunnel and agriculture life. Colin jokes that I'll soon be pulling up an RV next to his if I'm not careful. It got me thinking, could I live like this for the rest of my life? Limited internet, fresh food, low rent, outdoors? Most of me says yes, even if it's not the rest of my life, at least some or most of it would be nice. Both my boys rummaging about the woods, endless supply of fresh eggs, yes, yes I could get used to this! But before you think I'm going to disappear from the grid, something stopped me? I'm not entirely sure what? Maybe another trait inherited from my mother? The travel bug. Living a "good life" requires commitment, something I can do in the back-garden of my suburban house but going full sanctuary would require every day attendance, something I couldn't do if I was travelling, I like my homestead but not having the option to venture out into the unknown now and then scares me, I like change, but I also like stability, so could I spend the rest of my life in one place knowing I may never go anywhere else? Maybe not? But would it really be forever? Besides, I've always loved a challenge and by golly (yes I went all English there) it would be!

Colin lives and works on the croft, nothing else is needed for leaving it, unless for work errands, there's even an option to be completely solitary in the woods, away from human contact, you don't even need to leave to get things from the shop, nor talk to anyone, you write a note in the post box and someone delivers your items later that day, never meeting. It's a brilliant concept! I know a lot of  writers would love a place like this to go for a year or so to get away and bury themselves in the diction of their minds. We're all stale in the modern way of living, and having an option like this to escape and be safe while doing so is amazing! Comrie Croft is privy to a lot of conservation and self-sufficient living ideas and are continuing daily to grow on those ideas. To find out more about Comrie Croft visit their website.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Baked Egg Cups With Gluten Free Breakfast Crackers

Pesto & Soft Cheese Egg Cups 
Gluten Free Breakfast Crackers

For Goodness Bake!

I'm a sucker for fresh free range eggs, not the store bought ones! Did you know even the store bought free range eggs can be 6 weeks old! Not fresh at all and to be considered free range the chickens only need to get out for a couple of hours a day in a space of  1 hen per 4 metres. Instead we keep our own hens in our garden that get fed fresh herbs, corn, meal worms, the occasional snail and leftovers from the kitchen (no chicken leftovers of course). In return they provide us with capsuled gold aka an egg a day from each. Once you've had a fresh, "free range" egg you'll have trouble going back to the store bought, all of a sudden there is a strong taste difference and now the store bought eggs taste, well, blah.
Here's one of my favourite dishes to make with our fresh eggs...

Cheddar Cheese Breakfast Crackers Ingredients:
100g Gluten Free Flour (I used Doves Farm)
25g of soft butter (around 1 tablespoon)
2 tbsp. Grated Strong Cheddar Cheese
3tbsp. Water
1 egg yolk
Grated parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 1/2 tblsp. polenta* (You can use flour if you don't have polenta)

Preheat the oven to 200 celsius.
Sift flour into a medium sized bowl with butter, add the cheese & water then start mixing together with your hands until it forms a dough (the dough should NOT be watery, should slightly resemble pasta dough) At this stage you can add chopped leak, poppy seeds or rosemary if you wish but carry on to the next step if you just want the plain cracker.

Next roll your dough out flat about 1/2 a cm in thickness. Now using a circular cutter around 2x2 inches in size, cut out as many breakfast crackers as you desire. Remember to roll up remaining dough and re-cut. Now find a baking /pizza pan and line with raw polenta, this will help the crackers bake evenly and not stick. Use flour if you don't have any polenta. Place all the crackers on the tray and coat the tops of the crackers with egg yolk and parmesan cheese. Place in the oven until golden (not burnt) about 10-15 minutes. depending on oven.

Pesto, Soft Cheese & Tomato Egg Cup
Serves 2 (in two tea cups)

2 Free Range Eggs (1 egg for each cup)
2 sliced cherry tomatoes
2 tblsp. of Quark soft cheese
2 heaped tsp. of basil pesto
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 celsius
Place 1 sliced cherry tomato in each oven friendly tea cup, on top crack an egg (the sliced tomatoes will move about, you want this to happen) Place one heaped tablespoon of Quark carefully on top, then lastly a teaspoon of pesto. Place cups on top of tray and into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes (or longer/quicker depending on how runny you want your egg yolk, we prefer runny as it will mix with the cheese, tomato and pesto, yummmm) Carefully take out of oven and sprinkle salt and pepper.
Pair with Cheddar Breakfast Crackers and you're ready to serve!