Blog

 

November 2022

The months have passed and here we are close to the end of the year with Christmas 2022 just over a month away.  We've been busy with family and friends as well as keeping up with our exercise regime, looking after our garden and enjoying lots of time in the kitchen. For the first time, recent cooking has included gluten free for a young member of family.  With a favourite being banana loaf, I made adjustments to my original recipe and the result is really, really good.  

Use the original recipe below replacing the flour with gluten free self-raising flour and omit the 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. 

Another recipe I'll share with you is for a beautiful, moist Pear Cake.  This is delicious served warm with custard and /or whipped cream and/or  icecream.  It freezes brilliantly too. I keep it in the fridge for eating now which is fine for a few days.  

Pear Cake

3 fresh eating pears, peeled and finely sliced

1 cup castor sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

Pinch salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

125 gms butter, melted

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla essence

icing sugar to decorate, custard, whipped cream, icecream

 

Preheat oven to 180C (I use fan bake, so can be a little lower)

Combine prepared pears and castor sugar.  In separate bowl, sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Combine melted butter, pure vanilla essence and lightly beaten egg with pear and sugar mixture.  Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.

Oil a medium size loose bottom cake tin, lined with baking paper.  Pour in cake mixture.  Cook 40 - 50 minutes, testing with a skewer to see when it is cooked through.  I pop a piece of tin foil on the top about 15 minutes before it's cooked, to stop the surface browning too much.

Remove from tin.  Sprinkle with icing sugar.  

March 2021

In New Zealand we've moved through various Covid levels in the last few months.  Over 120 days at Level 1, gave way to Levels 2 and 3, resting at level 2 in Auckland today 09 March.  Supermarket shopping, is from the Countdown close to us, available at the higher levels with online ordering.

Restrictions have at times ruled out gatherings we would enjoyed with family and friends, including group Tai Chi, Mah Jong and for my husband the Gym.  However, we've gardened, walked, helped with grandchildren where allowed and I've enjoyed happy times in the kitchen. 

I've baked one of the best banana loaves ever and have just popped another in the oven.  Fabulous still warm, in thick buttered slices, or later lightly toasted with butter.  It also freezes beautifully. 

Superb Banana Bread Loaf

2 large ripe bananas,  well mashed

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup rice bran oil

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pure vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 160C or 325F (fanbake)

Mix bananas, eggs, vanilla essence milk and rice ban oil together in large bowl.

Mix in all other ingredients carefully until just combined. In a lined, sprayed loaf tin, pour in cake mixture.  Bake 3/4 hour to an hour, till skewer inserted in cake comes out clean.  If cake starts to brown too much, pop a piece of tin foil over the top.

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Late October 2020

Although Covid has put a hold on overseas travel, this month we were able to enjoy a visit to Waiheke Island, less than an hour’s travel on the car ferry from downtown Auckland. The trip, originally planned as a family holiday in April, was re-booked for October, but sadly because of Covid, our younger daughter and son-in-law in Victoria, Australia, could still not be with us (next time). 

March 2021

In New Zealand we've moved through various Covid levels in the last few months.  Over 120 days at Level 1, gave way to Levels 2 and 3, resting at level 2 in Auckland today 09 March.  Supermarket shopping, is from the Countdown close to us, available at the higher levels with online ordering.

Restrictions have at times ruled out gatherings we would enjoyed with family and friends, including group Tai Chi, Mah Jong and for my husband the Gym.  However, we've gardened, walked, helped with grandchildren where allowed and I've enjoyed happy times in the kitchen. 

I've baked one of the best banana loaves ever and have just popped another in the oven.  Fabulous still warm, in thick buttered slices, or later lightly toasted with butter.  It also freezes beautifully. 

Superb Banana Bread Loaf

2 large ripe bananas,  well mashed

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup rice bran oil

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pure vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 160C or 325F (fanbake)

Mix bananas, eggs, vanilla essence milk and rice ban oil together in large bowl.

Mix in all other ingredients carefully until just combined. In a lined, sprayed loaf tin, pour in cake mixture.  Bake 3/4 hour to an hour, till skewer inserted in cake comes out clean.  If cake starts to brown too much, pop a piece of tin foil over the top.

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Late October 2020

Although Covid has put a hold on overseas travel, this month we were able to enjoy a visit to Waiheke Island, less than an hour’s travel on the car ferry from downtown Auckland. The trip, originally planned as a family holiday in April, was re-booked for October, but sadly because of Covid, our younger daughter and son-in-law in Victoria, Australia, could still not be with us (next time).    

 

So it was our older daughter, her husband and our two little grandsons.  Great company, gorgeous weather and a beautiful place to stay were topped off with the kindness and skill of our lunch time outings as the menu was adapted to suit salicylate intolerance. 

 

With 5 nights in all, we created breakfast and dinner, in our holiday kitchen from our wide range of supplies (many suitable and carefully chosen for me), heading out late morning to enjoy fabulous  mid-day food each day.  Each location had its own pluses, from great views to a super children’s playground and vineyard experience.  The family had lots of food choices from the menus, while special dishes were made just for me. 

 

At Wild on Waiheke, a Caesar salad was created with chicken pan fried in canola oil on the side, no dressing, plain croutons, organic bacon and shavings of parmesan cheese.

 

Charley Farley, Terakihi fish, pan fried just for me in Canola Oil and served it with thin lightly salted chips, no pepper or lemon. 

 

At Restaurant 372, gorgeous fish again. This time John Dory with sliced carrots, both pan fried in butter, till golden with a touch of rock salt.

 

Our last lunch was at the other end of the Island at Man O’War.  I enjoyed a plain, crispy pizza with a thin layer of tasty cheese and touch of garlic.  Delicious. 

 

A really good decaf espresso coffee to finish in every place.  Heaven. 

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Late June 2020

 

Cleure have this very helpful list of ingredients to avoid, in their article "3 Safe Principles to Live By". 

www.cleure.com/ingredients-to-Avoid-s/263.htm

1,4-dioxane – a carcinogenic contaminant found in cosmetics and personal care products. Could be contained in ingredients such as ethoxylated surfactants, a commonly used foaming agent.
Alcohol – Frequently found if mouthwash and facial toners, alcohol is not helpful for the health of your mouth or skin. It can dry out your skin which can lead to wrinkles, or your mouth which can lead to gum disease and cavities.
Diazolidinyl Urea – Found in many products, this is a strong irritant and may cause contact dermatitis.
BHA – Found in exfoliants and perfumes, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) has been linked to cancer, skin depigmentation, liver damage, and hormonal imbalances.
Diazolidinyl Urea – Found in many products, this is a strong irritant and may cause contact dermatitis.
Dibutyl phthalate – a known toxin found in most nail polish.
Echinacea – This popular herb has been associated with an increased incidence of rash in children. Side effects can include stomach discomfort, nausea, rash, headaches, and muscle aches. The risk may outweigh the potential benefits of preventing a cold.
Fragrance – Fragrance can mean it contains many separate ingredients, many of which can be toxic and cause allergies, headaches, hyperactivity and other outbreaks and irritation, as reported by the FDA. Fragrance is one of the most common allergens found in cosmetics, skin care, hair care, and of course perfume products. While sweet smelling face lotions and shampoos are tempting, the redness and irritation that may result aren’t worth it in the end./span>
Lanolin – Lanolin is usually obtained from sheep wool. It is highly contaminated with pesticides and insecticides.
Mineral Oil – This petroleum by-product clogs the pores, promoting acne and skin damage.
Oxybenzone – A common chemical found in sunscreen, oxybenzone has been shown to act like estrogen in the body, alter sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women. It’s also a common allergen. It doesn’t just affect our bodies though, it is toxic to coral reefs which are crucial for underwater ecosystems.
Parabens – Used as a preservative in many products in the form of methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl. Two studies reported finding this chemical in breast cancer tissue.
Polyethylene Glycol – Petroleum based ingredients can dry the tissues. It thickens products.
Propylene Glycol – Another petroleum derived ingredient. Commonly used to preserve herbal extracts (organic and non-organic), but not listed on labels.
Retinyl palmitate/Retinyl acetate– Used for its alleged anti-aging properties in moisturizers, lip balms, and serums, retinols can actually have the opposite effect because they increase sun sensitivity which will further sun damage, increasing the risk for premature wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer.
Saccharin – This and similar artificial sweeteners have found themselves on and off the FDA toxic list. You’re better off avoiding them.
Salicylic Acid – This ‘natural’ ingredient is an anti-inflammatory found in Aspirin, many anti-aging skin care and acne treatment products. It dries the tissues and can cause allergies with long-term use. This is found naturally in all botanicals in varying amounts. Using products with herbs and extracts frequently could result in allergies due to salicylate content.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – A foaming agent and industrial detergent found in most if not all shampoos, toothpaste, bath gels and other personal care products. It can cause outbreak of canker sores, dry the tissues and result in contact dermatitis.
Stearalkonium chloride – found in conditioners, is an irritating chemical.
Tea Tree Oil – According to MedLine Plus, this herb which is also known as melaleuca, has many reports of allergy taken by mouth or used on the skin. Skin reactions range from mild contact dermatitis to severe blistering rashes.
Triclosan – This antimicrobial agent is found in body soaps, deodorants, dish soap, shampoos, toothpaste and mouthwash. The Center for Disease Control reports overuse of antimicrobials may lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

 

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Early June 2020

 

Over the last few months, Covid-19 restrictions have affected our lives, changing how we do things and where we go.  Not unexpectedly this comes with an extra challenge for the salicylate intolerant.    

 

Hand-sanitisers, a requirement everywhere, most likely contain salicylates.  It’s been a challenge to find one I can use without having significant salicylate intolerant sinus issues, like sneezing, a runny nose and light cough, not ideal in a super-sensitive Covid symptom world.  Here in Auckland, I’ve been using germ-X, which lists fragrance as an ingredient, but have kept reasonably symptomless , by using it only when absolutely essential, while hand washing whenever possible instead, (for the required 20 seconds - quite a long time) with a salicylate free soap.

U.S.A. based  Cleure, cleure.com (stock salicylate free body and beauty products), sell a 1oz/30ml hand sanitiser in a small spray bottle, described as 70% isopropyl alcohol + water, free of salicylates/fragrance/parabens. 

 

As it’s winter in New Zealand, unfortunately, winter pollen also causes sinus type issues.  I can sneeze 10 to 20 times in one go and have a runny nose, scratchy throat and dull headache for a few hours.   This can start while I’m out walking or just around the house at some time of the day. 

 

On the bright side, I’ve been doing lots of great cooking, including making really good soufflés.  I pulled out my darling little soufflé recipe book, bought in England in a small village near Anne Hathaway’s cottage quite a few decades ago. It’s a treasure and I’ve adapted recipes to suit us. 

Easy and amazingly if there is any left, heating well the next day, this is my favourite.  

Cheese Soufflé

55gms/2ozs butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups milk

5 eggs

pinch salt

1 cup tasty cheese, grated

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated or finely sliced

Heat oven to 400F/200C

Melt butter and whisk in flour for a couple of minutes, till combined  and bubbling.  Add milk gradually, continuing to whisk till quite thick and creamy.  Remove from heat, add egg yolks one by one, stirring mixture well after each addition to combine.  Add salt and cheese, continuing to stir till smooth.  Whisk egg whites till stiff and carefully fold into cheese mixture in 3 lots.  Transfer to prepared 8 cup soufflé  dish.  Bake 30 minutes. You can check with a cake skewer if soufflé  is cooked before removing from oven. 

I often use a non-traditional wide, round ovenproof crockery dish instead of a traditional white soufflé dish.

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Mid January, 2020

Hurray for rice bran oil, always on my shopping list it makes coping with salicylate intolerance a little easier. It’s as good for stir-frying as it is for deeper frying, plus great for baking and salad dressings. 

 

Described as one of the most versatile ingredients in a cook’s pantry, rice bran oil has a mild clean flavour and an extremely high smoke point. This means you can cook at high temperatures to bring out the flavour without the risk of burning the oil.

 

Rice bran oil is reported as having a balanced amount of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats, so is considered heart-friendly.  It improves your cholesterol by lowering cholesterol levels, thereby helping to prevent heart disease and attacks.

 

I buy Alfa One Rice Bran Oil. The manufacturers say it’s made from quality rice crops in Thailand, contains ‘good’ fats along with natural antioxidants Vitamin E and Oryzanol.  It’s my go-to for any cooking requiring oil.  Along with liquid oil I also buy the spray for grilling and baking tin and tray spraying.   

                                                          

                                   

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January, 2020

With the happy, busy,  family time celebrating Christmas having passed,  more recent holiday days have meant  a little extra time in the kitchen, having some cooking fun.   

I’ve been making fabulous, tasty and moist chicken balls, easy to do a big batch, so there’s  enough to keep to eat next day or freeze to have later.  Best of all, these are cooked in the oven.  

Chicken Balls

Here’s my list of ingredients and the recipe.

400 to 500gms top quality chicken mince

½ cup finely crumbled feta cheese

1 to 2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 rounded teaspoon miso paste

1 tablespo0on finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon rock salt

1 flat clove finely chopped garlic

1 medium stick very finely cubed celery

Generous splash soy sauce & maple syrup

Canola or rice bran oil to spray

Baking paper

 

Heat oven to 180°C fan bake

 Put all ingredients together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Shape mixture into walnut sized balls.  It’s a great help to wet your hands and continue keeping them wet as you go.  Place balls onto a large flat tray lined with baking paper, then spray over with canola or rice bran oil. 

Bake around 40 minutes till golden. 

 

Beetroot

I've also been cooking beautiful bright and tasty beetroot, a moderate salicylate, eaten hot or cold, these have great taste and colour. 

An easy and successful way to cook beetroot is to top and tail them, then quarter large ones, half the mediums and leave small ones whole.  Wrap each piece just as they are in foil and bake in the oven around ¾ of an hour till when poked with a small sharp knife, they feel cooked and tender.  Peel when cool and cut into smaller pieces if you like.

Superb with any safe salad dressing as they are, or tossed lightly with fresh greens or other cooked root vegetables. 

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May, 2019

From pantry to fridge and freezer, there are several ingredients with negligible to moderate salicylate levels that are my must haves.    

I’ll share them with you, as having these on hand makes cooking easier and much more fun. 

Here we go –

In the pantry –

rice bran and canola oil, rolled oats, rock salt, soy sauce, malt vinegar, brown/white/icing and castor sugar, maple syrup, golden syrup, semolina, white/brown rice flour, baking powder, citric acid, baking soda, gelatin, saffron,  cornflour, cashews (marvellous replacing most nuts in recipes), porridge, bran flakes, (could have special K plain, Allbran, puffed wheat and rice bubbles), poppy seeds, dark chocolate, cocoa, pure vanilla essence and vanilla beans, decaf coffee beans (we grind and make our own espressos), pasta, safe bread/ crackers and top quality plain chips cooked in sunflower/rice bran oil, bagel and pita crisps, quinoa, brown and white rice, homemade goodies like breadcrumbs and biscuits (usually my Anzacs without coconut), tinned tuna, bananas, kumera (sweet potato), old season potatoes, garlic,  whisky/gin/vodka to sparkle up savoury sauces with

 

In the fridge –

pears, finely grated parmesan cheese, cheeses – tasty/cheddar/camembert/brie/Havarti/Feta,  miso, nitrite free bacon, eggs, garlic, leek, celery, mung bean sprouts,  iceberg lettuce, red/green cabbage, spring onions, butter, carrots,  safe ham,  salmon, fresh white fish, safe hummus, my pear savoury sauce, cashew butter, milk, cream, sour cream, plain yoghurt, my own salad dressing,

In season – beans, Bok choy, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, squash/pumpkin, beetroot, zucchini (need peeling), parsnips, Lemonade apples (need peeling), cucumber (needs peeling), chives, snow peas

 

In the freezer –

homemade chicken stock, turkey, chicken, (we don’t eat much meat but little of this too – lamb, veal, pork), prawns, frozen peas, my fried rice, pastry slices both savoury flaky and short-sweet and savoury, vanilla/caramel/chocolate/maple icecream (made without coconut cream), crumpets, pita bread, sliced sourdough bread, my savoury fried rice

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April, 2019

The weather is cooling as we say goodbye to summer in New Zealand.  It's been a fabulous one this year, perfect for combining all sorts of fresh ingredients to create fabulous healthy dishes.  Many evenings we've enjoyed all sorts of salad combinations.  With iceberg lettuce or shredded red or green cabbage as a base,  we fill small dishes with a variety of ingredients to add.  It can be chopped celery, cooked eggs, cashews, mung beans, blanched green beans or sugar snaps, crushed crispy bacon, small cubes of fried bread, grated carrot, cucumber peeled and finely sliced, feta crumbled or grated tasty cheddar, cooked quinoa,  brown rice cooked in stock for flavour, chopped white of spring onions, or may-be steamed fresh beetroot or asparagus.

 

Always yummy too are slices of tender cooked chicken, turkey or lamb, or chopped grilled salmon or prawns. A great way to use these if you have some left over. 

 

Then for a quick and easy dressing, in a jar, I combine a 1/3 of a cup of malt vinegar, 1/3 of a cup of rice bran oil, a crushed small clove of garlic, touch of rock salt, splash of soy sauce, and pinch of citric acid, along with dessert spoon of maple syrup.  All it now needs is to pop the lid on and give the mixture a good shake.  

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