Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Table ballet: an art worth celebrating

Today, I just want to celebrate that beautiful art called table ballet. So here's some table ballet to lighten the heart.

Don't believe it is an art?
Seems it takes a bit of practice.

Allergy free pillow biscuits recipe

Half of these are date and the other half are apricot, coconut and macadamia with a dollop of honey. Yum, yum, yum.

  • ⅔ cup half and half goat’s milk and plain goat’s cheese, beaten
  • 1 cup Nuttlex
  • 2½ cups Orgran all purpose flour, sifted 
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla essence or zest (choose according to filling flavour)

Mince/s made from your choice of:
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried peaches
  • Dried mango
  • Shredded coconut
  • Macadamias
  • Dates
  • Sultanas
  • Currants
  • Cranberries
  • Up to a ¼ cup honey or sugar (optional)
  • (You’ll only need about a cup’s worth of mince)

  • Cream the Nuttlex and half and half.
  • Sift over the flour then add the salt and flavouring.
  • With a wooden spoon blend until soft and but manageable dough has formed.
  • Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, create the fruit mince of your choice by blending the dried fruit in a food processor.
  • Cut the dough into 2 pieces and roll each piece into a fat cylinder.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • Roll each piece to a ½cm thick rectangle about 8cm wide. Shape if necessary.
  • Lay a line of mince 1cm thick down centre of each rectangle.
  • Fold the dough over the mince (like you do with sausage rolls) and press lightly to seal.
  • Once sealed cut away any jagged excess and press the seal into a smooth edge.

  • Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and lightly oil with an olive oil spray.
  • Cut the two biscuit rolls into pillow shaped biscuits and place them onto the tray.
  • Bake in a preheated 180°C oven for 25 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

  • If you haven’t got any dried fruits then a thick jam or marmalade might do the trick, although you will have to seal all sides of your biscuits properly to prevent leakage.
  • Processing dates is a violent business so be careful.
  • You can taste a little of the goat's cheese in the dough so combine the flavour with the filling or use a plain biscuit dough recipe instead.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bedsheets for comic and fiction geeks

Warning before buying: Best used when single or living with someone equally geeky and a fan of the same stories and characters.


Which is the better enemy? Cybermen or the Daleks?

Captain America to the rescue.

A nervous night with Darth.

Star Wars, classy mode.

 Golden Age bedsheet.
Green Lantern.

 Too hopeful.

Lightsaber fight.

 Marvel characters.
The best of the Spiderman sheets.

Vintage Star Trek.

Zombies.... (Love it!)

 Harry Potter

In case you were wondering, there are also a few gamer sheets out there. Also, there are a fair few raunchy anime sheets out there for those interested.

There's also this one which I love.

Allergy free English muffins recipe

  • 1 cup goat’s milk
  • 1 tbsp white sugar (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Nuttlex, melted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ baking soda
  • Up to 2 cups Orgran all purpose flour
  • ½ cup Orgran gluten free gluten
  • ½ tsp salt

I know, it is supposed to be marmalade but strawberry jam is also good. If you can have egg and bacon (a definite no-no here) then just cut the muffin dough wide enough for the egg ring you use to just fit within in.

  • Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles then remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved.
  • In a large bowl combine the goat’s milk, melted Nuttlex, baking powder, baking soda, gluten free gluten, salt and 1½ cups flour.
  • Beat until smooth.
  • Add some remaining flour if necessary to make soft dough.
  • Roll and press until smooth.
  • Roll out to about 1cm thick.
  • Rub a dribble of goat’s milk over the top until the dough is slightly sticky to touch.
  • Fold the dough in half and layer one rolled out piece on top of the other.
  • Lightly roll over the dough to stick the layers together without completely combining.
  • Cut rounds with a wide biscuit cutter.
  • For any remaining dough, rework into the original single layer then double and cut.
  • Cover a baking tin with waxed paper or aluminium foil.
  • Sprinkle over polenta and set the muffin rounds on the tray.
  • Lightly brush goat’s milk over one side of the muffins.
  • Rub the muffins in the polenta.
  • Flip the muffins over and repeat so both sides are coated in polenta.
  • Heat a greased griddle to a medium heat.
  • Cook the muffins on the griddle for about 8-10 minutes on each side.
  • Keep the baked muffins in a warm oven until all have been cooked.
  • Allow the muffins to cool and place in plastic bags for storage.
  • To eat, split and eat as is if still warm or heat using a microwave (toasting may dry the muffins out too much).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Allergy free Chinese lemon chicken recipe

  • 1kg skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1 cup corn flour
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • Approximately 1 cup olive oil
  • \White sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4cm piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 tbsps lemon juice (approximately 1 lemon)
  • 2 tsps lemon zest
  • ¼ cup chicken stock made from a Massel Chicken Salt Reduced Ultracube
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp corn flour dissolved in ¼ cup water

  • Combine the soy sauce replacer and sesame oil.
  • Coat the chicken with the marinade and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl combine the corn flour and white pepper.
  • Drain the marinade from the chicken.
  • Toss the chicken in the corn flour mixture.
  • Shake off the excess corn flour and place on a plate.
  • Heat the olive oil in your wok.
  • Heat the wok until the oil is just smoking, then add the first batch of chicken slices and fry until cooked through. This should take about 4 to 5 minutes and one turn.
  • Remove the cooked chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  • Transfer 1 tablespoon of the oil into a medium-sized pot and heat over medium-high.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, chicken stock, and sugar.
  • Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Simmer the mixture until it is reduced by half.
  • Add the corn flour mixture, stirring, to thicken the sauce.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat, and fold the fried chicken into the sauce.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and/or white sesame seeds.

Rough illustration #12

It is rather hard to paint black lines in ink while the cat is nudging the paintbrush and insisting on a hug. I'm lucky there weren't any large blotches as a result.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Allergy free orange and passionfruit tart recipe

I don't have a flan tin or the like so I used a small pie dish. I didn't get that lovely curling edge because of this but never mind. It tastes just as nice. For a smoother top add more gelatine and no No Egg but really, this is no never mind too unless you're presenting it for an award.

  • 1 sheet allergy free shortcrust pastry
  • 6 ripe passion fruits
  • 350ml orange juice (approximately 3 oranges fresh squeezed)
  • 40g Lindt 70% dark chocolate
  • 250g caster sugar or sugar replacer
  • 200ml half and half goat’s milk and plain goat’s cheese, beaten until smooth
  • 2 tsp gelatine or pectin
  • 6 tsp Orgran No Egg

  • Prepare the shortcrust pastry then refrigerate while working on the filling.
  • Halve the passion fruits, scoop out the pulp into a saucepan and add the orange juice.
  • Bring to the boil over a low to medium heat.
  • Boil until the juice is reduced by half.
  • Pass the juice through a sieve into a bowl, rubbing the mix with the back of a spoon to get all the juice out of the passion fruit seeds. (There should be about 250ml of mix).
  • Set the juice aside to cool.
  • Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible on a floured surface.
  • Carefully lay the pastry in a 21-22cm flan tin with a removable base.
  • Press the pastry all round and leave about 1cm overhanging.
  • Prick the base with a fork.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  • Stand the flan tin on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until the base is golden and crisp.
  • Trim the overhanging pastry and set aside to cool.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 150°C.
  • Meanwhile, break up the chocolate and melt in a small heatproof bowl over simmering water.
  • Allow the chocolate to cool mildly without solidifying.
  • Spread the chocolate evenly all around the pasty base and up the sides.
  • Allow the chocolate to cool and set.
  • In a small bowl whisk together roughly a cup of fruit juice with the No Egg until smooth.
  • Then whisk together the remaining reduced fruit juice, gelatine, sugar, half and half and the No Egg mixture together in a bowl until smooth.
  • Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.
  • Stand the flan tin on a baking tray in the oven shelf.
  • Pull the pie shelf out as far as it will safely do so.
  • Pour in the filling and bake for 30-40 minute until the top forms a light crust and the filling is beginning to set.
  • Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool.
  • It will continue to set as it cools.
  • Chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Allergy free pizza dough recipe using baking powder

  • 2 cups Orgran all purpose flour
  • cup Orgran gluten free gluten
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • cup goat’s milk
  • 90mls olive oil
Topping suggestions
  • Pizza paste flavoured with garlic, basil or oregano.
  • Crumbled fetta
  • Mushrooms
  • Sliced tomato
  • Shredded chicken
  • Rocket leaves
  • Sliced olives
  • Thin onion rings
  • Capsicum
  • Asparagus
  • Herbs

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well until the dough begins to form a ball and pull away from sides of bowl.
  • Press and roll the dough by hand (don’t pull or fold) while still in the bowl until the dough is smooth
  • Form the dough into a ball.
  • Press the dough into an oiled pizza pan using your fingertips, leaving a thick edge to hold the fillings in.
  • The dough may crack a little around the edges due to a lack of real gluten but just press it together as best you can to form a pizza shape.
  • Add your favourite toppings and bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
  • Best eaten in the civilised manner: with a knife and fork. Seems a pity but gluten allows that extreme flexibility and goat's milk cheese won't melt your toppings to the base. If you cook the base to be crispy holding the pizza should be fine although be prepared for pieces to break off.

On mentally ill fictional characters

There is something very interesting in writing, reading and watching mentally ill fictional characters. It stems from a need to understand, a confusion over what each of us believes is similar and different in perspectives and actions and a desire to see the particular illness done justice rather than being a point of ridicule. It is also interesting to see the sorts of characters, built of experiences and knowledge not always accessible to the audience, that are formed by a person having a mental illness. This is especially so when it is a main character who has a mental illness.

Mentally ill characters can become great loves of ours for their ability to break through communication barriers; their different views on life, especially when they are simpler yet more to the point than what we're thinking as audience members; and their abilities to cope with a world that just doesn't make as much sense to them as it seemingly should. Now that last point is interesting in and of itself as almost no one has made any sense of the world and life without some degree of delusion involved. Which means mentally ill characters can become the darlings of our hearts for the fact that we can sympathise with their viewpoint.

Yet at the same time mentally ill characters can terrify an audience, induce great discomfort and uncertainty about both their actions and our reactions as well as make us question just how stable we all are: a worrying question. Usually, to bring about such reactions the mentally ill character is written with an emphasis on chaotic, delusional and violent characteristics. In this way horror stories, thrillers and slashers are created. Self-fulfilling doomsday prophesies, anarchism and serial killing are common features to stories where the mentally ill character is used as a focal point of fear. These stories are both disingenuous and utterly truthful, depending on how faithfully the writer or producer has replicated an illness. No matter how much those sympathetic to people with mental illness (myself included) would like to say that violence and chaos don't result from such illnesses we have to actually face the truth. Terrible things can and do happen as a result of one or more people having an illness that goes unrecognised, untreated or mismanaged. Yet to colour all those who have a mental illness as dangerous, violent and chaotic is very much a disingenuous act and the results ridiculous.

These two main sides of our relationship; fascination and fear, with those who have a mental illness (even if we are mentally ill ourselves) are the ones most often shown in fiction. Confusion, disbelief, tenuous connections, fear, distress, uncertainty, sympathy and pity are often the result, whether liked or not but everyone involved. In this way, mentally ill characters are actually quite evocative and powerful, meaning they are a good choice for those capable of writing them with enough realism.

Sometimes though, a mentally ill character is written or created where there was little to no intention of doing so in the beginning. Such characters often fall on the scale of mania to depression as many of those writing can understand a variance in energy levels and the depressed view of the world that comes along with incessant failure or perceived failure. There are also some who fall into the sociopathic or psychopathic moulds simply for the writer's understanding of feeling numb, desensitised or immune to certain events. The
problem with these representations though, is that many of them are incomplete as they weren't written with an eye to a complete diagnosis but rather a quirky character. These characters can lead audience members to misunderstand a mental illness or fail to make the connection that there is one there (leading people to believe such behaviour is normal when some treatment might otherwise be desirable). Alternatively, if there is some recognition and understanding these characters can portray a form of gentle acceptance that is much needed and wanted by many members of the audience.

With all this said, the best mentally ill characters are not the best for the responses they garner from the audience so much as their faithfulness to the ordeals and viewpoints of real world mentally ill people, suffering or no. Our responses are usually a result of this faithfulness as we are afforded a glimpse into the lives of those with different viewpoints and experiences of life, a glimpse that allows us to understand. For developing our understanding these characters stay with us for a long time as epiphany markers. That's if we haven't had such an epiphany already. If we have, then such characters serve to remind or support us in our views, making it doubly important that writers be faithful in the first place.

Now, to list some of the best mentally ill characters in fiction. Some of these you may not have recognised so far while some are likely dear to you. Still, all have allowed you to peer into the worlds of those who have mental illness from afar, a boon to those surrounded by those with mental illnesses and also to those who've never encountered anyone with a mental illness and are confused or frightened by it all. These characters are some of the best for showing us such worlds without deriding them or trying to make too much sense of them, no matter whether they're delightful, stressful or horrifying worlds.


Don Quixote

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (depending on the interpretation)

Narrator aka Tyler from Fight Club (very much a modern interpretation of the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality division)
Christopher John Francis Boone from Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time

Norman Bates from Psycho

John Nash from A Beautiful Mind

Raymond from Rain Man

Forrest from Forrest Gump

Monk from Monk

Luther from Luther (one you may not recognise as such but actually rather a good representation of manic depression).

Alice from Luther (disturbingly psychotic and clever. Also, obsessive. She's almost too many things but she is a brilliant character to watch).

Karin from Through A Glass Darkly

Evelyn Draper from Play Misty For Me

Arnie and Gilbert from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Both have mental illnesses.

Susanna and Lisa from Girl, Interrupted

Donnie from Donnie Darko

John Cleaver from I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Hannibal Lecter from The Silence Of The Lambs

Annie Wilkes from Misery

Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Of note:
There are various interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, which have him as a sociopath, compulsive drug abuser and/or manic-depressive. At times you're not sure if he has an illness at all and at other times you can't see him without one.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Allergy free Rocky Road recipe

And the point of making marshmallows is to immediately make Rocky Road.
What amazes me about rocky road is that it looks like an ugly duckling until you've tried it and loved it. Then there's no replacement. It might still be an ugly duckling but all you think is "mmmmm.... Rocky Road."


  • Line a slice pan with plastic wrap or aluminium foil.
  • Place the chocolate with the Nuttlex in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water) then stir until melted.
  • Stir marshmallows into the chocolate along with the remaining ingredients.
  • Spread the mixture into a pan, chill in fridge for 1-2 hours or until hard.
  • Slice in the pan.
  • Shake off any loose bits and eat them straight away.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

  • For those who love Darrell Lea Rocky Road then their ingredients are: chocolate, peanuts, pink and white marshmallows and coconut.