Friday, 23 May 2014

Pumpkin Soup

I love winter.  Aside from the nasty bugs that float about of course.  I love the rain. I love snuggling up inside a warm house with a cup of coffee & a mag.  
I love donning the flannies & watching a flick.  I love pulling the covers right up to your chin.  I love filling the house with delicious smells from the kitchen.

Winter is soup season.
Perhaps the grandmother of all is PUMPKIN soup.
I had a hankering for a big bowl of orange so I set out to deliver the goods to my peeps.  You may feel the need to share the love in your house..  ENJOY!

1.5 kg Pumpkin cut into chunks - I like to use JAP (try and cut roughly the same size so that they roast evenly)
1 large onion chopped fine
1 litre of GF chicken stock - I use Massel
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cumin
4 garlic cloves - I like the convenience of Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Stir-In Paste
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 190°C 
Place pumpkin pieces on an oven tray, drizzle with half the olive oil and bake for 30 minutes ensuring pumpkin is cooked through but doesn't burn.
Heat remaining oil in a large heavy based saucepan and gently fry the onion until translucent.
Add the Nutmeg, Cumin and Garlic.
Add pumpkin and stock and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat and  simmer until stock has reduced.
Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Using a stick blender, carefully blitz until desired consistency is achieved.  Make sure your stick blender is completely submerged in hot soup so as to avoid splashes.  

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of chopped chives and perhaps some GF garlic bread.  I found a great product recently in the supermarket from Jase's Kitchen which is yum and a perfect accompaniment here.

So there you have it.  The perfect comfort food.
It's another wintery day here in Perth today.  Guess what's for lunch?  Gotta love leftovers!

Friday, 9 May 2014

International Blog Swap Day 2014

Good Morning

Today I would like to introduce you to Mary.  Mary is my partner for International Blog Swap Day 2014 and she is from Oxfordshire in England.  Mary loves to get out and about discovering new places and wonderful things with her husband & gorgeous son.  She has had some wonderful adventures and met some lovely people.  Without giving too much away, I'll hand you over to her and she can fill you in.. 

I'm Mary, an older Mum of a 4 year old Monkey son and I blog over at  Over 40 and a Mum to One about our adventures.  We love nature and getting out and about, visiting family in Spain and reviewing anything from books to bug hotels for the garden.  I started my blog last February and am loving every minute of it. We've been given some great opportunities and have met some wonderful people. Monkey's highlight was probably meeting Postman Pat earlier this year, but I think mine was getting to meet a great group of blogging friends for the first time last year.

We love exploring new places and seeing my son's reaction to different things. Living in Oxfordshire we are well placed in England, to explore a number of counties within a few hours drive. 

I thought I'd share our recent trip to Snowshill Manor we made in April.  We've recently rejoined the National Trust, which gives us access to some wonderful old properties and gardens across the country.  Snowshill Manor is a lovely old Manor House set in the Gloucestershire countryside.  The house itself is crammed full of the previous owner's eclectic collections.  You can't use flash photography and most of the rooms were quite dark, so I didn't get to take many photographs inside.  The grounds though were a different thing all together.  Lots to keep a snappy photographer happy!

What I love about the National Trust these days is that they involve the children so much more than when I was a kid.  I remember being dragged around countless properties as a child with my brother.  Bored, bored, bored.  But nowadays everything is so much more interactive.  Snowshill Manor had a Paws and Poo trail for the children with a fact sheet.  You can imagine how much a 4 year old Monkey enjoyed looking for poo (not real I hasten to add)!!  But it kept him entertained.  There was lots to discuss; we talked about which animal had which paw mark and the difference in sizes of paws and poo relative to the size of the animal.  Where did the animals live? What did they eat?  It was actually very educational.

We marveled at the Dovecote and it's many residents.  Although we all agree that we wouldn't fancy the job of cleaning the inside out!  The gardens were brimming with flowers and Monkey and his Dad really enjoyed looking at the great wooden Soldiers Windmill.

We spent a lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon at Snowshill Manor, if you ever plan a visit to the UK, it's well worth checking out the National Trust website as there are some stunning places to visit.

You will also find Mary here:

Tweeting at   @minnowmep
Google+       Over 40 and a Mum to One
Facebook     over40andamumtoone
Instagram     over40andamumtoone


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Upside? of being Coeliac

So often I write about how easy it is to transform ingredients into delicious gluten free yummies and that it is not a difficult process. And indeed it's not.  It requires some adjustment and some imagination and for me, it involves a lot of love.  Love for my daughter who is Coeliac. Love for my daughter that was terribly sick as a young child because of Coeliac Disease.

But I'm not going to sit here and lie and tell you that being Coeliac is a breeze.  It's not.  I am an upbeat person 95% of the time.  I am. But today.. today I am going to shed some light on the downside of being Coeliac and be brutally honest.  Lets get down to brass tacks.  Coeliac Disease blows.

It has taken away spontaneity of going out.
It has taken away vast menu options.
It is often ostracizing.
Planning and research and continual questioning has become the norm.
The fact that gluten free has become trendy irritates me at times when people assume you're eating gluten free as a lifestyle choice rather than a medical necessity.  Just how Coeliac are you??  Kind of like being a little bit pregnant I suspect.

We often take our own food to friends and family because it's easier and to be honest I feel safer.  If they insist on making gluten free, I worry about the understanding of gluten free ingredients and cross contamination.  I have the added stress about the risk of offending by querying ingredients and food preparation.  I worry about banging on about it.  I do it anyway.  

I put together a birthday party box including cake & a take-home lolly bag for all birthday parties Abbey attends.  We don't go on overseas holidays.  Actually holidays anywhere are a rarity.
The stress of seeking out GF options for Abbey in a different country, disguised in a different cuisine gives me heart palpitations.  We'll wait till she's older and a little more enthusiastic to try different countries fare.  Imagine if she was glutened overseas.  That is my worst nightmare.  I prefer the safety of our own surrounds for the time being. 

But this impacts on not just Abb & I but our whole family.  The other 3 in our house are not Coeliac yet they are feeling the impact of these restrictions.. and this weighs heavily on me.

I have even had comments in the past from my own family who know I am Coeliac (asymptomatic) which are completely frustrating.  Comments like "oh but you can have just a little with no problems Tara - you're not like Abbey"  Aarrgghh.  "Sure.. I like to live on the edge - I guess if I can't SEE the damage being done to my insides.. it's not really happening right.."

Whilst both of us have biopsy-proven Coeliac Disease, Abbey reacts much differently to I.
Within a short time of  ingesting gluten, Abbey is extremely unwell.

The last time this happened, it was an innocent transaction of a cupcake between friends.
The cupcake was gluten free, it was just that it was innocently placed in a friend's lunchbox containing crumbs.. then handed back.  A lunchbox that contained crumbs of the gluten variety. Enough said.  There was no evil agenda or malice.
This was a regular school day that suddenly turned into a very bad and a very frightening situation. 

No-one knew the extent of what was about to happen including myself.
Those around Abbey soon realised that she had become suddenly unwell.
She was sitting in the corner of the classroom with her head in a bucket and looking pretty dreadful when I arrived.  She had already vomited so much that she had depleted her body of all energy.
I guess most would have assumed that once I left the schoolyard, I had just taken her home and comforted her until her body rid itself of the offender but sadly that was not the case.  She collapsed a couple of times before I even reached the car.  Panicking, I quickly had to make a decision - to drive to hospital or go home & call an ambulance? (home being only 10 minutes away).  I chose to go home.  My husband was away for work,  Abbey's younger brother was with us and her older brother was on his way home from school totally oblivious to what was going on.  She was becoming non-responsive and I was getting a little frantic.

I could not fault the response time for the ambulance - thank God for the Ambo's.  An assessment was done and the decision to take her to hospital was made.  The officers told me they had never really seen a reaction to gluten quite like Abbey's before.

I could breathe a little easier in the ambulance.  Although there's no quick fix, no EpiPen for a gluten episode, I was with the right people and if she got to the point of severe dehydration, they would know what to do with drips etc so until then, we just had to ride it out.  By the time we reached the children's hospital she was over the worst of it but the ambulance ride saw her being sick a few more times en route.  She managed to strip her oesophageal lining which was a little disconcerting but the ambulance officer explained it was from the severity of vomiting episodes and would settle.

The emergency department was operating at full capacity at that time of the evening, especially for a Friday so, by the time a doctor got around to us and Abbey had slept a while, she had all but recovered.  And that's the way it goes you know.  When the doctor finally got to her and she was looking pretty OK again you can't help but think that they are thinking "um..why are you here.."

And then we were sent on our way like nothing had even happened.  That's the way it goes with Coeliac Disease.  Within 24 hours she was back to her rosy cheeked, chatty self again.  What a ride.

So whilst it's not ideal, Abbey & I have the support of our immediate family and countless others who find themselves on the same Coeliac scenic cruise.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - there are far worse things it's true but it's cathartic to vent.

It pays to have a healthy sense of humour and an endless supply of laundry to keep me otherwise occupied.  I'd rather have an overseas holiday of course.. but 'til then I'll keep cooking up a storm  Smiley

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