Saturday, June 30, 2012

Allergy free and yeast free pita bread recipe

  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups Orgran all purpose flour
  • ½ cup Orgran gluten free gluten
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ cup warm water

  • Combine the flour, gluten free gluten, baking soda, sugar and baking powder and salt in large bowl.
  • Slowly add the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.
  • In the bowl or on a floured surface, roll and press (do not stretch or fold) the dough.
  • Stop when the dough is no longer sticky but smooth.
  • Carefully roll out in a 5cm thick rope and pinch or cut into 10-12 small pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball.
  • Place balls on a floured surface and let them sit covered for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 260°C and make sure the rack to be used is at the very bottom of oven.
  • Allow your oiled baking sheet to preheat too.
  • Roll out each ball of dough into circles 5mm thick.
  • Bake each circle for roughly 4 minutes until the bread puffs up mildly (may take longer for the first batch if the oven isn't quite hot enough).
  • Turn over and bake for 2 minutes more.
  • Remove each pita with a large spatula and add additional pitas for baking.
  • Gently push down the puff with the spatula.
  • Work in batches and replenish the oil between each (without setting yourself on fire).
  • Place pitas in storage bags as soon as they are cool.
  • You can cut into these to make pockets, especially if you make them a little larger than I have (so 8 instead of 12), but be aware that if they didn't puff they'll be more crumbly than normal pita bread due to the lack of real gluten. Cut into them slowly though and they should be fine for pockets.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Allergy free flavoured potato chips recipe (aka crisps)

These are hot and spicy chicken salt flavoured.
You may need a little practice but usually you pick this up quickly after seeing a chip become crispy in the pan.

  • Water
  • Cooking oil
  • Potatoes
  • Salt and/or seasoning
Seasoning options
  • Salt
  • Sea salt flakes
  • A very light sprinkle of vinegar
  • Cajun
  • Lime powder
  • Garlic salt
  • Celery salt
  • Pepper
  • Chilli powder
  • Lemon salt
  • Onion salt
  • Onion powder mixed with goat's milk powder and chives
  • Chicken salt
  • Chicken seasoning
  • Chicken flavour/stock powder or gravy powder
  • Curry Powder
  • Mustard powder
  • Paprika

  • Fill a large bowl with water.
  • Peel the desired number of potatoes. Single portions are roughly 1-2 potatoes.
  • Shave the peeled potatoes using the peeler (be careful of shaving your fingers and knuckles!).
  • Immediately drop the shavings into the bowl of water to remove starch.
  • Refrigerate the shaved potato for an hour.
  • Use 1-2cm of olive oil in a small frypan (other allergy safe oils can be used to give a different flavour but be careful of any vegetable mixes as they may contain soy).
  • Heat on medium to high until it bubbles and spits when a drip of water is flicked onto it.
  • Throw in some of the chips, enough to make a single layer in the pan or manage, and cook until they start to turn golden and crispy, turning if possible or stirring if not.
  • Take them out.
  • Gently toss in a covered bowl with your choice of seasoning while the oil is still hot.
  • Drain on paper towels.
  • Work through your peeled potato in batches, changing the seasoning when it gets to oily.
  • Allow the chips to cool and then eat or store in an airtight container or bag. These will not last long though so eat soon.
  • The oil can be strained of crumbs and reused either as cooking oil of for one more batch of chips. Store the oil in a sealed container in the fridge.

  • If the seasoning won't stick as much as those going through special factory tech (developed in Ireland apparently) there's still enough for flavour and you can always do it the old fashioned way: Put it in a bag with the chips and shake.
  • For seasoning flavours, you can find many base ingredients in the herbs and spices section of any supermarket, some already premixed as you'd like them. You can even check out the flavouring used for factory made chips and try to replicate as close as possible your old favourites.
  • Oils used in manufacturing that could be used by you are corn oil or cottonseed oil if you can get either. Otherwise they tend to use vegetable blends and there's little guarantee of them not containing soy oil.
  • Flake salt is used in manufacturing rather than crystal salt but most seasoning flavours use crystal.
  • Manufacturers can sometimes treat the potatoes with chemicals to improve the chip's colour. These chemicals can be: phosphoric acid, citric acid, hydrochloric acid, or calcium chloride to reduce the sugar level. So don't worry that yours don't look like theirs as most of these you either won't stock normally or don't really want to handle.
  • Use white potatoes sized between that of a golf ball and a softball. Best choices are ones that your peeler can take a whole layer from in one go without taking your knuckles off. If you have a slicer that can slice as thin and protect your hands then use it.
  • Manufacturing level of salt used is roughly 1.75 lb (0.79 kg) of salt to each 100 lb (45.4 kg) of chips but do yours to taste and possibly with a mind to your heart.
  • For added crispiness you can got to immense trouble to dry the chips before cooking. Also, make sure the oil is properly drained off afterwards.

Allergy free leek and potato soup recipe (chunky or smooth)

  • 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into small squares
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large leeks, halved and sliced
  • 500ml vegetable stock, can be made from a Massel vegetable salt reduced ultracube.
  • 3 tbsp Nuttlex
  • 80ml goat’s milk (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large saucepan or a pot, heat the Nuttlex over a medium heat until it bubbles.
  • Add all of the vegetables as well as a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Stir together and then cover up and cook for around 10 minutes.
  • Pour over the stock and combine.
  • Cover up again and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the potato is cooked through.
  • Stir in the goat’s milk.
  • For chunky leek and potato soup serve at this point.
  • For creamy leek and potato soup use a hand held blender and blend the soup until it reaches a smooth consistency. Serve once smooth.

The klutz in slapstick

There is a certain brand of comedy that can make me giggle in glee, wince in pity and cry inside with sympathy, or should that be empathy, and that is slapstick comedy. It is often underrated as a simple enough thing to create and second to anything requiring more mental wit.

I tend to disagree with this though and I think most of my fellow writers would think similarly too once they've done this simple test. 

This is my "Is slapstick an easy write?" test:
Challenge 1: Sit down and write a conversation between 3 people filled with witty reparte and biting sarcasm.
Challenge 2: Sit down and write a short but hilarious scene of 3 people in a slapstick situation. (Hint: banana peel slapstick moments are no longer so hilarious and may only produce a snicker.)

Now, I bet most of you find wit far easier as it is mostly in the mind and writers spend a whole lot of time mostly in their mind, sometimes even coming up with witty but unspoken retorts to sarcastic remarks on the value of their chosen profession (unlike and artist who often just cries or decides to hate the person saying such rude things).

Slapstick comedy is actually quite hard to write well and even harder to act well. There has to be a sense that the character doesn't have a clue what's about to hit them, is honestly just fumbling about and may really be a true idiot/misfit. There has to be an understanding in the audience/readership that there's some danger s/he's about to be in and a building of suspense before the incident occurs. And for truly clever slapstick moments there is something witty in the incident itself, whether it is a comment of the system we're living under, the way we relate to one another or something else.

The reason why there are people capable of being snooty over slapstick is purely because they've never tried writing or performing it themselves. When performed even the banana scene, so famous it is almost impossible to pull off properly anymore without deep sarcasm being involved, requires a person to do something that is quite unnatural to almost any human. And that is to willingly put themselves in a position where they're not only in danger but they will likely get hurt. To top it off they have to act like they don't know it.

It is somewhat like asking someone to purposely swing a hammer at their own thumb and not wince before the strike, only afterwards. Those of you used to lying straight faced might have some luck but the best act would be to smile contentedly over doing some project or another or even carry on a conversation with a fellow, complete with looking the other way, before and during the swing. Only when the thumb is hit could you let loose a yelp or wince.

Writing it without the use of any visual medium (not comic, no stage act and no movie) means relying on the imagination of the audience and that can stretch the humour rather thin unless it is a truly witty or unexpected moment. Slapstick in writing is often fragmented, appearing in short instances rather than throughout whole scenes. This does actually work rather well in producing slapstick comedy books even though it is almost the polar opposite approach of any visual slapstick comedy. In writing the comedy needs to be spaced and mingled with the 'everyday' and capable as this is a way of highlighting just how outlandish the moment is.

But in both visual and written only formats the essence of slapstick comedy relies completely on the klutz in the middle of the storm of events. Idiot or misfit there is something inherently klutzy about the character that makes us like, pity and empathise with them. In real life a klutz will bring more smiles and laughs than frowns and sighs (these mostly coming from their long suffering companions) and it is the same in fiction. In fact, to make slapstick have the greatest impact possible the klutz is best a likeable person no matter their reason for klutziness. The more likeable the greater the response to the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of the character. Without this likability there's just a ho-hum reaction of "Why doesn't s/he learn?" or "Are you really that much of an idiot?".

To produce this likability is easy enough. Just make the character an everyman or everywoman, a symbol of an age or the average Joe. Either that or if their a rich or powerful person then highlight their vulnerabilities and ineptitudes. If they are a poor or powerless man then highlight their capabilities and adeptness at survival. Pull on the opposites of position and ability and sympathy is drawn out. But don't forget that slapstick is nothing without the klutz.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Allergy free sweet chilli chicken stir fry recipe

  •  cup soy sauce replacer
  • ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbs caster sugar
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 500g chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 bunches broccolini, cut into thirds, or 1 small broccoli, cut into small trees
  • 100g snow peas (optional)
  • 1 bunch baby buk choy (optional)
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced

  • Combine the soy sauce replacer, chilli sauce, sugar and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the sliced chicken and stir well to coat.
  • Marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least 15 minutes although I prefer 2-3 hours.
  • Heat 1 ½ tbs olive oil in a wok or large frypan over a high heat.
  • When smoking, drain the chicken (reserving the marinade) and then stir-fry the chicken in batches for 3-4 minutes until golden.
  • Remove and set aside.
  • Carefully wipe the wok clean with paper towel.
  • Add the reserved marinade to the wok and bring to the boil over a high heat.
  • Allow the marinade to bubble for 1 minute then pour the marinade in a heat proof bowl and set aside.
  • Wipe wok clean with paper towel.
  • Heat the remaining oil in wok over a high heat.
  • Stir-fry the garlic, ginger and select vegetables for 1 minute.
  • Return the chicken and marinade to the wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

Allergy free soy sauce replacer (for cooking) recipe

 Garlic Vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • Vinegar (Suggestion - make more than is needed for this recipe)

  • Slightly heat the vinegar; pour over peeled and sliced garlic.  Do not boil.
  • Jar and let stand overnight.
  • Strain and discard the garlic and combine with remaining ingredients.

Soy Sauce Replacer
  • ¾ cup of garlic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 3 teaspoons onion powder

  • In a small saucepan combine all the ingredients and stir over a low heat until the molasses has disolved. Do not boil.
  • Pour the mixture into a glass jar.
  • Refrigerate and use as needed.
  • It lasts about a month in the fridge.
  • Warm and shake well before using.

On my experiences with the serial killer fad in fiction

I decided to write on something that actually caused me to change track almost entirely in my approach to writing. A change I'm actually glad happened as now I write in a manner far more reflective of the many viewpoints of life and in a way that actually comes naturally to me. 

I'd been dabbling in writing stories for the greater part of my life but none for publication and many not finished properly. The stories I wrote ranged widely in genre as I was finding my way and place as well as enough confidence to be able to even try tackling a proper story, properly completed and edited. Finally though, after madly writing a thesis within the expected timeframe I gained the confidence to believe I could indeed write a large piece, edit it and hand it in. I even got a really good mark, one that would allow me to go back and study more but I chose not to for being thoroughly worn out with the whole studying gig. That was enough for me.

So confidence gained I went into the book world, took an editing and publishing course and also started work surrounded by books. I took on various different jobs and while I was at it continued to do a great deal of research on the state of the industry, the current genres trends and so forth and so on. There was much wishing and dreaming going on but even then I'd started scribbling up an idea for a book. 

What I wrote my thesis on was science fiction, or futuristic literature as it was known at the time. As science fiction was one of the genres I not only loved but knew the trends, plot devices and general story lines of I felt comfortable enough to approach writing through science fiction. It was a partial success/failure (depending on if your a positive or negative person re viewpoints) but less for the genre choice and more for the lack of plotting and skeleton construction. I learnt my lesson even as the energy of the book died off and I had to put it aside as another failed experiment to possibly go back to someday. And I might just once I get greater skills in writing new societies because the ideas weren't bad and are still marketable.

Next came a job unrelated to the book world but one that provided me with a great deal of insight into the world of marketing. Unfortunately it also took up vast swaths of my time, divided me from what I loved most and was a place in which I found I, with my odd personality, had no place. I wasn't one for actively marketing in person even though I could present myself well. Why? Too bloody honest and too prone to calling bullshit bullshit. Also, I couldn't swallow any of their babble as truth and I think they knew it simply looking at me. After a while I cracked (for other more personal reasons as well - some deeply upsetting). Big time.

I did what everyone advices you never to do. I quit my job and as I'd saved up a large whack of cash I decided to go follow a dream of mine rather than waste my life drudging through everyone else's. Oh, do not do this at all if you can't afford it because there aren't any guarantees of money. And the only way I could afford it was by having one of my other big life dreams shattered mostly to dust. A very painful thing. I totally agree with the advice of not quitting your job in expectation of being published. While I did quit I certainly didn't expect to be published for anyone piece of writing I worked on. Simply because so far I'd failed to complete and hand in any piece of fiction writing. There has been one great thing to come of it though and that is that I've become incredibly sunk into the world of stories. And I'll take that chance before I go back and get a job flipping burgers or some such (hopefully not quite this type of job but I don't expect great things because I took a break).

But there was a dream to follow while others were disappearing so I did. I sat myself down and constructed a skeleton properly, thinking about pacing and subjects and character motivations. I set it all out and then began writing a story that was flashing through my mind. Looking back, the market is too narrow for a beginner author. If I was published I'm sure it would sell well enough but as I'm not and no one knows me then there was too much risk. Still, it did blend together two rather popular topics: serial killers and the supernatural.

I actually wrote this book in full and almost completed the next while waiting for responses before realising I should move on. Also, life changed again and rattled me up enough that serial killers wasn't a subject I could approach with ease anymore. The entire experience also brought home just how overdone serial killers are in fiction.

Serial killing is interesting and in fact mind-boggling for many people. We're both spooked and intrigued, glued to the the subject purely out of morbid fascination. But have you noticed that most crime shows now list serial killers as though they're a dime a dozen? As though you could find one around your street corner? Actually, by population count serial killers don't pop up so much as we present them. Well, ritualistic serial killers. There are mass murderers and there are those in the crime life who have indeed killed more than three people but that's twisted business for you. Ritualistic serial killers, the ones that are being presented to us more and more frequently are of the rarer sorts of killers. Yet they are getting a greater than fair share of fiction time.

It is a fad that has actually escalated to fairly sickening proportions. Many stories portray the worst thing possible being a gruesome death at the hands of a serial killer or the most twisted human in existence being a serial killer. But actually, surviving such an attack would be worse and being one to care for the survivor or even have their loved one fall victim is worse. The perspective is off.

Also, having so many fiction works inclusive of killers blasted at us as highly popular has left many of us a little unresponsive and worn out with regards to murder. We have been rather desensitised to death and oftentimes when it occurs to someone you don't know and love it leaves you with little to no real reaction. Of course, many of us put on the appropriate faces but after seeing slaughter of one sought for hours on end how do you expect anyone to react properly to slaughter named real when it is again just a picture or a bunch of scribbled words? The distance created by having to constantly remove oneself in order to not feel such shock is scary thing, especially for anyone who has a feeling of dissociation in other aspects of their lives. The combined toll of being desensitised to many topics and events means that people don't function properly and some know it.

Death has become cheaper and cheaper in fiction and is no longer always there as the central focus. It's often there just as a sideline, a quick shock or an establishment of history as though it were nothing much. It is easy to bump people off in gruesome manners and call it reality. You can get away with this if you start quoting stats for the most violent occurrences in human history and you can get away with it by saying it was back in the day when life was rougher. But still, the majority of us now don't face death nearly as frequently in real life as we do in fiction, unless we're in the medical or war industries (and even then, with modern warfare being so different for many of those behind desks or using technology instead of a gun who would otherwise have been in the thick of battle).

I have actually grown rather weary of my characters dying off so rapidly, especially after taking care of two very much loved people as they faced their own deaths. Death isn't something easy to tolerate when you've lost people close to you. That desensitisation is completely ripped away. For me it was enough that I couldn't stand watching the end of Walking Dead, had to wait a good year before continuing on with Dexter and haven't approached Game Of Thrones at all because I can't stand the thought of so many people dying so quickly.

Now, I'm a hard core morbid fiction fan and have been since I bought my first book which included not only horror stories and mythology but short pieces of real murderers, whether mass murderers or serial murderers. It also had sections on plagues and the like. The road of desensitisation to death started when I was seven. And I've been able to watch real autopsies and surgeries without flinching for many, many a year. Doing these myself would be a different matter though, but I feel that with training whatever residual squeamishness (and there isn't much anymore) I have with regards to the mess the human body can get into would disappear. So says a doctor's daughter...

Yet I still haven't managed to watch Game Of Thrones. And to be honest it is really tilting towards I don't ever want to be bothered. Why? Because everyone I'd be interested in would die and I've just plain had enough of that, thank you very much. For now at least.

This doesn't mean I'm no-longer morbid. Far, far from it. Nor does it mean I'm suddenly into pure romance, eternal happiness or anything so far from reality. No, what it does mean is that I've started to write in a manner that reveals the gruesome and terrible along with the funny and idiotic. There is more of a balance and a free-for-all with every topic. The world I've written allows for it but what's best is that it also allows me to approach fiction with a level head and a balanced view. No bad aftertaste and no need to be angry at something to write.

This isn't the approach for many writers though. But I think it is actually desired in the marketplace right now. Purely because the images of death given to us just keep increasing. There's so much death that some of the finer approaches to story telling have disappeared from our daily consumption. The light sarcasm, smart comedy, witty reflection and the subtle revelation have been overshadowed but they are still desired. There is something in a work that raises itself above the more brutal aspects of life while still recognising them. Just take a chance on P G Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster series and you'll see.

While there is a fad for including more wild and brutal death scenes or a greater death count I don't think it will last forever. Purely because it isn't possible to keep escalating such a topic. We've already wiped out the world dozens upon dozens of times, terrorised cities and countries, knocked off all the main political players and even eaten our victims in wine sauce. We've made them into furniture and leather body suits, strung them up with piano with and sliced and diced them with all manner of razors, knives, saws, hatchets and even wood chippers. We've even ripped them apart from the inside out with alien monsters, sometimes intensionally planted for just such a reason. While the human imagination can come up with a shockingly large number of ways to kill a person there just isn't as much room to accept or like absorbing these methods. The fragile inner child in us all that wants to explore everything and have fun only lasts so long under the onslaught of such terrible images.

This weariness caused me to change track with my writing and I believe develop a style more appropriate for my character, morbid side included. It made me avoid some stories I would have otherwise loved as well as view the world in a slightly different way, as does any realisation or change in perspective/opinion. Also, it made me truly recognise and appreciate a story without death as the central focus. There is an art involved in recognising realities without displaying them in gory detail.

Anyway, enjoy the stories your involved in or writing. I still love a good murder mystery as much as the next person, serial killers included. But the dosage has definitely dropped. Also, the only piece of advice I'll give you is that if there is someone you're caring for whom you love who's likely to meet their end then don't watch zombie movies.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Allergy free 'buttermilk' fried chicken recipe (oven baked or fried)

  • 700g-1kg chicken pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne or favourite chilli powder
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground dried herbs
  • 2 cups goat’s milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cups Orgran all purpose flour
  • ½ cup Cornflake crumbs
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper or favourite chilli powder
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • Add the marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the chicken and toss to coat well.
  • Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the chicken is submerged.
  • Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. 
  • Mix together the seasoning ingredients in a wide dish.
  • Drain the chicken pieces and toss them one by one into the flour.
  • Using your hands or tongs, toss to coat the chicken pieces completely with the flour mixture.
  • Shake each piece off and reserve on a plate. 
Oven Baked
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Place the chicken pieces in a lightly greased baking dish and bake until juices run clear.
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • In a large frypan pour ½ - 3/4 cup olive oil and heat over a medium to high heat (whichever doesn't cause to much oil spatter).
  • Once the oil is hot drop the chicken pieces into the oil.
  • Turn every minute until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Briefly allow to sit and drain on a plate covered with paper towels while arranging the sides.

Allergy free wine gums: experiment #1

A much more delicate thing to make than homemade gummies, apparently.

Wine Gums come in various shapes:
Kidney, crown, diamond, circle and rectangle.
The Wine Gum flavour names are:
Port, sherry, champagne, burgundy and claret.  Also, Brandy, Gin, Cider, Hock, Rum, and Cognac.
The Wine Gum flavours are:
Red flavours are traditionally red berry, strawberry or raspberry.
Black is traditionally blackcurrant flavoured.
Orange is traditionally orange flavoured.
Yellow is traditionally lemon flavoured.
Green is traditionally lime flavoured.
White is largely unknown though white grape, grapefruit and pineapple are good options.
Traditional Wine Gum ingredients:
Wheat glucose syrup, sugar, acid treated starch (wheat and tapioca), gelatine, water, food acids (296, 330), flavours, vegetable fat, colours (102, 110, 122, 122)

Allergy free wine gum recipe:

  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1x 85g packet flavoured jelly: Port Wine, Lime, Pineapple, Raspberry, Strawberry, Blackberry and/or Lemon
  • 2 tsp plain gelatine
  • 1 tbsp glucose (from corn)
  • 2 tsp potato flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Orgran all purpose flour
Must have equipment
  • Moulds of desired shapes
  • Small jugs

  • Pour the water into a small saucepan.
  • Sprinkle over the unflavoured gelatine, potato flour and flavoured jelly mix, stirring to combine evenly.
  • Add the glucose syrup and lightly stir to combine
  • Leave it on the counter for 10 minutes, untouched.
  • Over a medium heat, cook the gelatine mixture for 3-5 minutes until the sugar dissolves, stirring all the while.
  • Pour the mixture into a jug with a small spout.
  • Carefully pour the mixture into the desired moulds within a minute or so (mixture starts to turn gluggy as it begins to set).
  • Leave the gelatine mixture for 5 minutes to cool and set somewhat.
  • Then freeze the gelatine mixture for 25-30 minutes.
  • While waiting combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl or glass.
  • Sprinkle the flour mixture over the bottom of the wine gums before removing them from the mould. Wipe the flour mixture in with your hand.
  • Pull the wine gums from the moulds.
  • Allow to stand and dry for an hour.
    • This is a one flavour at a time process so start with your favourites.
    • Only problems for most people are gelatin and food additives/colouring. If you can't have gelatin you can try substituting for a vegetarian setter and flavouring oils.
    • Carefully clean with hot water and dry any containers, saucepans or moulds to be reused for another flavour so that the flavours don't mix.
    • The larger the amount in a mould the longer the freezing time.
    • Try to avoid shapes that have lots of difficult edges and shallow bits.
    • Store all as you do normal jelly.
    • Still not chewy enough.
    • Setting time lengthened due to glucose and starch.
    • Stickier than gummies.
    Possible Solutions
    • Less glucose and more starch.
    • More plain gelatine.
    • Easier shapes.
    • Dusting moulds with sugar/flour mix before pouring in the gelatine mixture.
    • Slightly less water.

    (Yes, it not only deserves an exclamation mark, it deserves two. Completely unheard of for me in anything published.)
    And now you know why lollies are so bad for you. I've just made 1 big bowl of jelly with some added sugar that I could down within a few minutes.

    Allergy free gummies recipe

    Lime, blackberry and strawberry gummies as well as one green frog.

    • 1/3 cup cold water
    • 1x 85g packet flavoured jelly of your choosing
    • 2 tsp plain gelatine
    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • 1 tsp Orgran all purpose flour
    Must have equipment
    • Moulds of desired shapes
    • Small jugs

    • Pour the water into a small saucepan.
    • Sprinkle over the unflavoured gelatine and flavoured jelly mix, lightly stirring to combine evenly.
    • Leave it on the counter for 10 minutes, untouched.
    • Over a medium heat, cook the gelatine mixture for 3-5 minutes until the sugar dissolves, stirring all the while.
    • Pour the mixture into a jug with a small spout.
    • Carefully pour the mixture into the desired moulds within a minute or so (mixture starts to turn gluggy as it begins to set).
    • Leave the gelatine mixture for 5 minutes to cool and set somewhat.
    • Then freeze the gelatine mixture for 10-15 minutes.
    • While waiting combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl or glass.
    • Sprinkle the flour mixture over the bottom of the gummies before removing them from the mould. Wipe the flour mixture in with your hand.
    • Flip upside down and pat against a plate to remove excess flour.
    • Pull the gummies from the moulds.
    • Allow to stand and dry for an hour.
    • As this is a one flavour at a time process, alternating whenever a batch is in the freezer, start with your favourite flavours first.
    • Only problems for most people are gelatin and food additives/colouring. If you can't have gelatin you can try substituting for a vegetarian setter and flavouring oils.
    • Carefully clean with hot water and dry any containers, saucepans or moulds to be reused for another flavour so that the flavours don't mix.
    • If making gummie bears then any flavour you like will do but the mould has to be bear shaped.
    • If just making gummies then any flavour and any shape will do.
    • If making wine gums then flavour and shape are important but the correct choice of flavours is what makes wine gums wine gums.
    • The larger the amount in a mould the longer the freezing time.
    • Store all as you do normal jelly.

    (Yes, it not only deserves an exclamation mark, it deserves two. Completely unheard of for me in anything published.)
    And now you know why lollies are so bad for you. I've just made 3 big bowls of jelly that I could down within half an hour.

    Rosy's top 7 picks for finding the meaning to your life

    1. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking 
    For a dose of relativity as well as an understanding of the fundamental universe that we happen to be bobbing about in. It also provides a subtle observation that we as observers are rather unique and at the very least should take some pleasure in being able to do so. Shutting your eyes to what the universe is just because you don't think you'll like what you see is a mistake as there are many wonders out there and many a confusing puzzle to be puzzled out. The universe provides us with endless entertainment and frustration and it is unlikely we'll reach any of the big answers soon despite our progress in observing accurately.

    2. Gray's Anatomy by Henry Gray
    For a look into ourselves and an understanding of how the body treats us all as we live. Largely, the body doesn't care what you have in mind for it and just does what it does. This can lead you to feeling like your body has betrayed you at times or possibly like you only really exist in your mind but still, accept it for what it is and don't try to make it into something it isn't. Far too many attempts to do so that aren't as medical treatments don't end well.

    3. The Hitchhiker's series by Douglas Adams
    For the realisation that even if you find the true meaning of life you aren't likely to bloody well understand it anyway so don't waste too much time searching for ultimate truths and meanings. Create your own because it is likely to be just as valid while being more understandable.

    4. Oliver Sack's many books on the brain (but my favourite is The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat)
    For an understanding that not everyone views the world the same way you do for very unphilosophical reasons. Sometimes it isn't a clash of theories but more a clash of perceptions.

    5. The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz
    For a greater understanding of neuroplasticity than provided by Oliver Sack's works. It is possible to tinker with your own mind and change your way of life completely. We aren't static creatures and even as oldies we can learn new tricks. Anyone who doesn't like something about their habits or their perspective on life or even the way they deal with life can tinker away with their own mind. While you can't rewrite your entire mind, memories, life and personality it is possible to change enough to make your life better (or worse) according to your wishes.

    6. Anything on Chaos Theory, Fractals and Quantum Mechanics (Don't stop at one book because it is surprising where chaos can take you.)
    For an understanding that life is largely going to be out of your control whether you like it or not so don't waste too much energy trying to control everything. Down to the fundamentals structure of the universe chaos and entropy will have their way. I say read anything as I largely picked up chaos theory by reading anything and everything as well as sneaking into university Physics lectures I hadn't and never will pay for. Also, for an understanding that out of chaos order can spring and that the forces that govern nature are rather gentle in their strict approach. Life is freeform art within the limits of possibility and probability.

    7. Anything describing the Postmodern History Theory but start with Willie Thompson's Postmodernism and History (Theory and History)
    For an understanding that our differing viewpoints on events, our backgrounds, our environment and situation and our intentions all impact on our perceptions of truth and our writing of truth. There is no absolute truth but what we insist upon and even then there will be someone else about insisting on another absolute truth and neither has to be wrong (or both are wrong). In fact, the blacks and whites of right and wrong, truth and lie, fact and fiction all become a wishy-washy indefinable grey under the weight of multitudes of different viewpoints. So don't take your own opinions or those of others too seriously unless they threaten your existence or preferred way of life. Even then, you preferred way of life might only be so because you haven't experienced something else being offered so you don't always have to say "No, I'll stick with what I've got".

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Allergy free tropical peach, banana and passionfruit pie recipe

    I had some leftovers to construct food from so here is a rather tropical pie that smells gorgeous. Oh, the pastry made that lovely crispy scritching sound that normal puff pastry makes when I cut it. So happy!

    • 1 batch allergy free shortcrust pastry (see posted recipe), returned to room temp.
    • 1 batch allergy free puff pastry (see posted recipe), chilled
    • 3-4 cups, sliced peeled peaches
    • 3-4 sliced bananas
    • 4 tbsp passionfruit juice or the flesh of 2 large passionfruits
    • ½ cup Orgran all purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    • Preheat the oven to 220°C.
    • Grease a pie dish.
    • Line the bottom and sides of a pie dish with the shortcrust pastry.
    • Place the sliced peaches and banana in a large bowl and sprinkle with passionfruit juice. Mix gently.
    • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt.
    • Pour the flour mixture over the peaches and mix gently.
    • Pour the filling into the pie base.
    • Cover with the puff pastry and press together with a fork and cut away any extra pastry.
    • Cut a cross in the top crust to vent steam.
    • Brush the pastry top with goat's milk.
    • Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven then reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes.
    • Cook until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the vents.
    • If the edges brown too fast then cover them with strips of aluminium foil about halfway through baking.
    • Cool slightly before serving but eat warm.

    Fashionable monsters and fashions in writing

    Like anything else popular the world of writing has its fashions and fads, largely provoked by reader enthusiasms and the overlay of movie characters and stories with those solely found in books. One of the strangest fashions about though has got to be one that's all too obvious at the moment, now that we're all sick and tired of romantic vampires. And that is that monsters can be, have been and will be fashionable.

    The strange thing about monsters being fashionable is not that we choose to find all monsters fashionable at once but rather that we choose one monster to be fashionable at a time and generally caste the others by the wayside as uncool in the process. Pity the frankenstein's monsters. I've only read one series of late where they've had a mention. Luckily this series is a fantastic read and breathes new life into these creatures that are barely living in the first place (Simon R Green's Nightside series if you're interested).

    So not long before vampires hit the big time, and I don't mean good old scary vampires but rather those horrible overly-romantic incarnations that don't have one ring of truth about them, were the werewolves. Now werewolves are often paired with vampires in a bid to keep both popular when both are fairly worn out re characterisation. Still, I do appreciate the return of the vicious werewolf to most of our current stories although I argue that they're heads and tails more capable of dominating the vampires if only someone would dare to write such a story (feel free to disagree but they do move about in the day, keep their reason and strength most of the time and aren't controlled by bloodlust all the time).

    (Sorry, had to include this picture even though just looking at his expression makes me cringe...)

    Even in children's stories, toys and movies there are fads and fashions. Fairies have had a fairly constant popularity amongst the young but the unicorns go in and out of favour with children. Gnomes, pixies and dwarves have fairly dropped off the radar except in the Grimm's fairytale remakes and the occasional Disney movie but there is a place for the scary but golden-hearted monster now. From Gruffalo to Monster's Inc the scary monster has been made over much like vampires have been (minus the romance), making them cute and cuddly if not on the outside then the inside.

    Before the latest loves of vampires and werewolves (don't forget they had a few bouts of popularity and then stigmatism before) and scary golden-hearted monsters were giant beasts made so by radiation, furry but highly destructive gremlins and alien monsters (could be intelligent if they were lucky) who visited us or we encountered in our space adventures. While they all retain a certain place in our hearts because they were so loved they are in fact largely unfashionable now unless a master story-teller is at work. Newbies eat your heart out. Nerds and geeks both would complain that none of these were now uncool and they'd be right as far as I'm concerned but then I am one of the nerds and geeks. My vote is biased.

    If you wrote on these unfashionable but still cool monsters now either of two things would happen. You'd either usher them back into massive popularity or you'd never see you work properly recognised, whether it goes to print or not. The trick to writing a popular piece is something most writers are unsure of and in fact are surprised by when it happens to their work some ten years after the initial publication. Why that is, is because fashion is a completely illogical thing.

    Fashion is based on any combination of mass peer pressure, a sudden and unpredictable liking of the masses for something possibly considered horrendous at any other time that needs to be justified (enter peer pressure again), a sudden and unpredictable return of the masses to classic loves usually brought on by overdoing the previous fashion or by the reaching of middle age by the largest group of consumers (that old mid-life crisis thing comes into play), individuality being mass produced by a or many companies which are followed en masse by those desiring something 'new' or 'fresh', the popular opinion of a large group of people voting individually (the fashion most hope for as it is the most pure re fan appreciation), the announcement of something as fashionable by the elite of the industry which is then backed up by subordinates or anyone who wants to be in the know. It is quite hard to predict what is going to change when in any particular industry unless you happen to be in a position to change fashion. As a writer, there isn't much of a chance unless you're already doing rather well and get recognised by those in a parallel story-based industry.

    That leaves writers with a simple choice. Follow fashion and risk being labelled a follower or a user of stereotypes. Or break fashion and strike out on your own, whether through subverting stereotypes and current fashion or by ignoring it altogether, to risk being unrecognised or quickly forgotten.

    Personally, I'd say just write what you're comfortable with so that the world in your mind is portrayed in brilliant colour to someone else even though it is transferred through black scribbles. That way, fashionable or no, popular monster included or no, the story will be appreciated. You might find yourself stuck in the middle road of success for longer (or not if you're lucky) but you will have your work appreciated for its intensity.