Thursday, May 31, 2012

Allergy free zucchini bread recipe


Ingredients
  • 2 cups Orgran All Purpose flour
  • 1 cup Orgran Self Raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp Ogran No Egg whisked with 90mls water until thick
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 zucchinis grated

Method
  • Grease and flour a  medium to large bread tin.
  • Preheat oven to 170°C.
  • Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  • Whisk the Orgran No Egg mixture, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl.
  • Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  • Stir in zucchini until well combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared bread tin.
  • Allow to rise in the bread tin for 15 minutes (may only rise slightly as it is a heavy bread).
  • Bake for 60 minutes or until tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.
  • Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Note
  • Greatly reduced in sugar from the standard recipes out there so if this isn't sweet enough for you I guess you can just add more sugar. Personally, after a point sugary and super sugary are about the same except in the jittering you feel afterwards. 

Allergy free rich carrot cake recipe




Ingredients
  • Spray olive oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup Orgran Self Raising flour
  • ½ cup Orgran All Purpose flour
  • ¾ cups shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp bi carb soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup golden syrup
  • 3 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 90mls water until thick
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
Icing
  • 1 cup plain goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

Method
  • Preheat oven to 170°C.
  • Grease a 20cm round cake pan lightly with spray olive oil. Then line the tin with non-stick baking paper.
  • Peel and grate the carrots then set the carrot aside.
  • Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger into a large bowl.
  • Add the shredded coconut and combine.
  • Combine the brown sugar, olive oil, golden syrup and vanilla essence in a separate bowl.
  • Use a balloon whisk to mix until combined.
  • Pour the oil mixture into the dry ingredients.
  • Use a wooden spoon to stir gently until just combined.
  • Add the Orgran No Egg mixture last and fold through.
  • Stir in the grated carrot. You may need to use your hands.
  • Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes away clean.
  • Set aside for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Icing
  • Place the goat’s cheese, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl.
  • Beat until well combined.
  • Spread the icing over the cake.

Note

Making a cosy reading nook for yourself

There are spots about any house that can be made into reading nooks. Hiring an architect of moving house is not required. In fact you might be able to make one without buying a single new item for your house.

What you want to make, ideally, is a snuggly spot with good natural lighting during your main reading house and a power point available for when you wish to use electric lighting. So for a reading nook it is best to choose a spot either by a window or within an enclosed veranda or sunroom.

You could place a cushion or mattress over a large box, chest or low set of drawers capable of taking your weight and more. Once this box, chest or set of drawers is placed close to a window you have a mock up sun bed. While the above has been designed it wouldn't take too much to create something similar if you have the appropriate furniture pieces about.

If you don't then have a box, chest or set of drawers available then placing your favourite reading chair near the window and setting a small table next to it is also a fantastic option. Colours don't have to match, especially if you wish to place your books close by. Unless you are completely obsessed with ordering your books by colour and size and type then having mismatching colours together works tremendously well. All because your books are also mismatched.

Next, find a place to store your books, whether in tall shelves close by, in a small shelf nearby, a converted magazine rack or just a small stack on your reading table. If you only have a small space available then choosing a nice selection of the latest titles you want to read and rotating them often will help make you want to read in your nook. It just adds a little more invitation to the sunlight and cosiness.

For an incredibly decadent reading nook you could set up a small bed or any of the variety of sleeping chairs available. They work like hammocks but won't destroy any support beams in your house, if you happen to even be able to access two support beams in the desired spots.

Finally, you will know your nook is successful if you have to battle your pet to actually use it at all. Enjoy the squabbles. Note: these squabbles over ownership will only increase if heating is used during the winter months, whether by fireplace of heater.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rough illustration #1

First illustration. Still tinkering a bit. Probably touch up the eye... few more things. Needs something on the tail feathers and wing tips. But anyway, here's todays effort.



After pondering while snoozing I decided on some changes. Here they are. Spot the differences? Some are only small changes but they impact is big. 

I think I'll leave it for now and tinker on the next one. I'll come back to it later with fresh eyes. Can't see anything obviously wrong at the moment...


The use and creation of sound in fiction


In films it is obvious how sound fits in, the soundtracks nowadays usually detailed and blasted on high. Silent movies are now beyond a rarity to almost non-existent. In movie soundtracks, not only do you get the spoken word but you also get music and incidental sounds. If you listen to the complete soundtrack by itself, not just the song listing, it sounds very much like a detailed radio show or talking book. A very high quality one. So much so that I often wonder why they aren't edited with a narrator's voice or just released as is for those interested in listening to them rather than watching. Many of us travel long distances in cars and these would work well in keeping us all awake and interested.


Same goes for cartoons, anime and TV shows but the soundtracks of these would be less appealing as versions of talking books, given the emphasis on short interludes, cut tales and the length of the overarching story lines.




But other than films, sound in its original form (in wavelength form rather than memory references) is used primarily in talking books and the occasional children's book. Like the use of pictures, sound has been dropped almost entirely from adult works of written fiction. Now it exists almost solely within the limited section of talking books and is used to replace the reading process altogether. It is a pity, as far as I'm concerned, but not so much as the loss of pictures from adult works.

But even in the two fields of talking books and children's books the sound used is loud, often varied and inclusive of music. Only the most staid of talking books consist of a single narrator reading a piece, putting on various voices as s/he goes. The best of talking books are akin to radio plays: inclusive of several readers, containing incidental sounds and an opening and closing music track at least. Likewise, children's books contain a variety of incidental sounds referencing sounds likely to be heard in reality as well as quick explanations in a chirpy voice. Both appeal directly to us through the use of sound in its original format and are in some ways richer for it, especially when they are produced with care and an attention to detail.


But what can be done when there is no sound to be used? Well, we write it out. Comics provide a good example of this, containing many a "zap", "splat" and "poc" amongst other things. Onomatopoeia is one of the main ways that action and a clash of characters is expressed in comics, standing alongside dialogue as second to illustrations alone. In comics we have to imagine the sounds but with onomatopoeia and blatant illustrations it doesn't take much to insert a "crash" or "kapow" into our thoughts as we read them. The sounds may be distorted from what they might otherwise sound like in reality but that is memory and the reading of onomatopoeia for you. Reading onomatopoeia is like reading Italics, there's an emphasis and a reference but you're often just reading (internally or no) the word in a different way. But with onomatopoeia it becomes quite easy to fabricate your own soundtrack of sorts while reading comics, even if it is restricted to the imagination rather than to the expressly auditory.


A step further again into silence is the average fiction book. Non fiction contains even less again but those aren't written so much for providing entertainment as for providing information. In fiction we attempt to insert a soundtrack through the written dialogue, some limited use of onomatopoeia though this is mostly out of fashion except in long descriptions or in a snappy action scene. Strangely, through the decline in use of onomatopoeia the imagined sounds are closer to real ones remembered as there is less mental interference as happens like the above with colour.

In written fiction, sound that isn't dialogue has dropped in usage to the point where it is barely above smell as a sense to be described. Most authors tend to focus on sight first and combine it with dialogue as the main reference to sound. What is odd about this is that most of the sounds you create or hear every day don't actually include speech - unless you're a voice actor or a radio host etc. The average person may speak a fair amount in a day but even then the sounds around them and created by them are far greater in quantity and in often volume. Just listen and you will see.

Even a person occasionally muttering in a quiet room is greatly overwhelmed by sounds not made through dialogue. Right now, there is the hum of a computer, the whine of a screen, the tapping of keyboard keys, the ticking of a clock, chatter of birds, the hum of the fridge, a cat meowing at the door, cars rumbling past, a plane overhead, my breathing and my clothes rustling as I move, wind in the trees and if I turn on a movie again to provide a little more noise to cover up the "silence" there will be a movie soundtrack blasting away on top of it. And that's just now. I'll soon be banging about in the kitchen making bread and out feeding the birds and disturbing their peace. Meanwhile, not a word is spoken and won't be until the cats come in and hassle me or the bread burns.

Yet most of this would not be written down in a book because it is general background noise of a single scene likely of little importance to the plot. Most writers want to and do write a complete scene through referencing multiple senses, focusing mainly on sight, then hearing and smell, then taste and touch. Limited attention is given to any particular moment and the divide between the senses lesser still so that the representation of sound is intermittent and usually apparent in action scenes (carriages don't always rattle but swords always zing and snick and swish). 

Plenty of dialogue is used to shunt any book along and create colourful characterisation and interactions. They say include lots of dialogue because it increases the pace and helps build character and plot while being easy to read. But I have read books that focus heavily on dialogue and found the characters very much like cardboard cutouts because of it and the action shallow and fleeting. In other words, too much sound only as written dialogue can be incredibly boring to read.


Yet if sound is used in other ways, such as to describe the click and crunch of a clockwork robot grinding to a halt you suddenly have a whole lot more going on in the imagination than when a girl named Emily says "Oh my dear, I forgot to ask. Would you like a cup of tea?". A And funnily enough, both are perfectly acceptable and reference some scenery and action. But what makes sound really come to life isn't the dialogue, which can only be imagined with different voices. As with sight (through the referencing of colour and texture and depth and shadows over "there was a tree") adding more details to sound and winding it through the descriptions is what helps build a world that can be said to be full and brilliant in the imagination.

While sound isn't the first sense pulled on outside of dialogue (which still is mostly second to the description of sight) its actually quite important to creating a fictional world even when the method of conveying that sound is solely through the written word. Sound isn't always obvious. It doesn't always leap out and grab your attention but even when subtly interwoven into a work of written fiction it really does make the world sing, as it were.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Allergy free simple chicken noodle soup recipe



Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 double chicken breast, slice thinly
  • 1 brown onion, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced fine
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes (one without soy or wheat. Vegetarian versions are fine. I used Salt Reduced Massel Vegetarian Chicken Style cubes.)
  • 1 large corn cob, corn sliced off
  • 1 carrot, sliced fine
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed small, or 2 medium sized potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper (salt is in the stock cube)
  • 3-4 handfuls Orgran short spaghetti noodles

Method
  • In a large pot, add the oil and heat on medium-high.
  • On a high heat, cook the onion and celery until the onions clear. 
  • Add the chicken slices and cook until the chicken is white. Leave the chicken partially uncooked at this stage.
  • Add the water.
  • Once the water is simmering, crumble in the chicken stock cube and stir to dissolve it.
  • Add the corn, potato and carrot and pepper.
  • Once all the vegetables are nearly cooked add in the spaghetti noodles and cook for 8-9 more minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and serve immediately otherwise the noodles will overcook.

Reading and watching subtitled movies


Ever heard anyone say subtitled movies are boring or hard to follow? I have many times and I often wonder why such a reaction to a subtitled movie occurs when the subtitled movie is exactly to the tastes of the person who said just that. But of further consideration I can see why.

The mostly likely reason why someone says subtitled movies are boring or hard to follow is because they're focusing almost entirely on the words flashing on the screen and hardly picking up any of the action, colour or sound that's otherwise involved. In other words, they're forced to read a book on screen and not even at their own pace. They're forced to read onscreen at the pace set by the movie and that can often be faster than liked, leading to the action of reading being done under pressure. And as you know, many things done under pressure are chores more then entertainment. Such a chore as reading a movie script as fast as possible is made even harder when the text is intermittently cut due to the layering of white on white or yellow on anything yellow toned.

I can completely understand why a subtitled movie can be boring or hard to follow if the above is the case. Saying it is boring or hard to follow for any other reason, I'm not so understanding.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you're turning away from subtitled movies due to a difficulty in reading the subtitles then a little practice is probably in order. There are far, far too many fantastic movies made in other languages to give up on foreign language movies altogether. And believe me, most remakes loose a lot in translation - of quality, of language, of acting skills and of originality amongst other things. I cannot tell you how many times I've been disappointed by remakes. There are very, very few gems in the mix.

So here's what I'd suggest. Start by learning to scan the subtitles with a quick glance while taking in the pictures and sounds. Not every clue as to what is going on is set only in the text so flick your eyes off it and then back again - repeat. Picking up that there is an argument going on is more often indicated by facial expressions and tone of voice than the words actually said. And sometimes you only need to know the topic of the argument to get the gist of the change in plot development.

If you practice scanning and flicking your eyes about you'll be able to gradually increase your ability to take in the whole movie. It might be like gaining a general impression at the beginning but it really only will take a few movies for you get acquainted enough with the process of flicking your eyes about and dividing your focus to pick up more text and more action. Essentially what you're doing is learning a new way to read and watch a story so don't give up at one subtitled movie. That's just a waste. You never gave up at just one book or just one movie so why do so for this?

If you manage not to give up and pick up the skill you'll be able to watch foreign language movies in their original glory.

These will get you interested:

Amelie
I want strawberries now.

Island Of Lost Children
Recognise him?

The Delicatessen
One of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen in a movie.

Taxi
Chock full of car chases.

Let The Right One In
About as spooky as they come.

Nosferatu
Beauty meets beastliness. You'll understand this only by watching Nosferatu move.

Immortal
Odd but intriguing sci-fi/fantasy mix.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Awesome action scenes and a strange plot.

Hero
Brilliant colours, great action and a fun plot.

Kwaidan
Strange and eerie.

Nightwatch and Daywatch

Complex, brilliant scenes, fast paced and beautiful. More than a little different.

Oldboy 
Brutal.

Zatoichi
Brilliant swords play, beautiful sounds, highly comedic and brutal in parts.

Plenty more where these came from!
Some are from books but all of the book to movie adaptations listed are a case of at least see these as well as read the books.

Allergy free apple and fig bread recipe

This is pretty heavy bread and should be eaten like banana bread. Tastes like apple pie.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups Orgran self raising flour
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Orgran gluten free gluten
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 120mls water until thick
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ cup goat’s milk
  • Handful of dried figs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
  • Extra cinnamon and spray oil for dusting and browning


Method
  • In a large bowl combine the Orgran flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, Orgran gluten free gluten, brown sugar and salt then set it aside.
  • In another large mixing bowl combine the oil, sugar, Orgran No Egg mixture, vanilla essence, goat’s milk, fig and apple.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture into the apple mixture, stirring each portion in before adding the next.
  • Gently press the dough together when combining with a spoon becomes difficult. Do not knead.
  • When combined, pat the mixture into a greased small to medium sized bread tin.
  • Dust the top with cinnamon and spray with spray oil.
  • Allow the bread to rise in the tin for 15 minutes.
  • Bake at 180°C for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes away clean, making sure to turn the bread after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking.
  • Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack before removing from the tin.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tips on reading while walking


There are many I know who can do this and many who can't. Some site the reason why they can't being that they feel sick reading while walking but most don't. Most just find combining the two activities too much, too divisive of their attention and awkward.

While I was walking to a from the station today I thought I should really write down some of the tricks I use so that it isn't too much, too divisive or awkward. I've never met anyone who took the time to explain it to me and I learnt but apparently it isn't a trick everyone can pick up. Well, not just like that. Practice may be required but the benefit is extra reading time. Most avid readers only want more of that so here goes.


  • Walk at a medium pace and don't change the rate no matter what.
  • Hold the book at a 30-45 degree angle so that you can see the road, path or grass at least 10-20 metres ahead of you.
  • Hold the book steady, don't let it flop about with each step you take.
  • Hold the book however close or far you need it as long as you can see around it fairly well. For those who are myopic or extremely short sighted this probably isn't the activity for you.
  • Do not ever, ever, ever read while crossing a road - you will go splat eventually.
  • It is best not to do this while walking a pet as the risk of tripping is heightened.
  • Also, for best results read hard copy only. Electronic screens are much harder to read while walking that any book, magazine or newspaper. The problems only start with blurrier text and reflective screens...
  • Keep your eyes focused on the page but don't block your peripheral vision of the ground, pedestrians and traffic about you.
  • Keep at least some focus on the sounds about you - listening particularly for the sound of large engines roaring as this indicates a bus or truck heading your way. A collision with the like won't just leave you with broken legs and a fractured skull. You will likely die there and then. See above point of don't cross a road while reading.
  • If someone is walking up to you sidle over to the side of the path so they can pass you by. Don't change your pace because you might trip over yourself or some rock, stick etc.
  • While keeping an unfocused but somewhat attentive eye on the ground make sure you take note of any dips or bumps and tread over them carefully.
  • Also, if you smell anything pungent, best to lower the book and check for dog poop on the ground.
  • If you're walking down a road - actually on the road that is - then lower the book and glance about any time you hear a car coming so you can make sure you're out of its path. Lower the book entirely when passing a parked car as another car is approaching.
  • Read at a stead pace and don't fret over having to take your attention away as you will have to. The key is holding the story in your mind as you go. You do the same every time you go to sleep mid book so why not here?
  • If you are walking in a crowd or by a person then just mind where their feet are, spot if they have big bags and glide about them. You don't have to look up, just give them space and treat them as you would dips in the road. Navigate carefully.
  • If walking into a heavy crowd you'll likely have to stop reading but if you can't move at all anymore you can read on while you wait for you chance to walk again.
  • Practice a little. Doing this once and giving up isn't the way to go. Start walking about suburbia or the back roads where the traffic is slow and infrequent and the ground is usually flat. Work up in difficulty from there. It doesn't take long to get the hang of it if you just give it more than one go.
  • Pay no more attention to the glide of the background than you need to. If no cars are approaching, no people are following, you can't see bumps or dips for ages and there aren't any people tagging along behind you then you can likely go ahead and read at your leisure for a fair while.
There are some benefits to doing this. You get more reading time. Your ability to use your peripheral vision increases. Your ability to focus is heightened. Your ability to maintain a story in your mind is strengthened. Your walking is stabilised and posture generally straightened - there's only a slight bending of the neck. And you can give your ears a rest from the ipod which is only going to send you deaf if you turn it up too high. Also, the real world and the imaginary can blur to greater effect while you're reading and walking at once.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Allergy free sweet and sour chicken recipe


Start by making the garlic vinegar the night before, then making the soy sauce replacer, then making the sweet and sour chicken.

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

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

Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • ¼ cup soy sauce replacer
  • 440g can pineapple pieces in natural juice, drained, reserving juice
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g chicken tenderloins, tendons removed
  • ½ green capsicum, cut into thin strips
  • ½ red capsicum, cut into thin strips
  • 3cm piece ginger, peeled, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Method

Garlic Vinegar
  • 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
  • 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.


Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Combine cornflour and soy sauce replacer in a jug.
  • Stir until mixture is smooth.
  • Add reserved pineapple juice, vinegar and sugar.
  • Stir until sugar has dissolved.
  • Heat the oil in a wok.
  • Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes each side or until light golden.
  • Add capsicum, ginger and garlic to pan.
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes or until tender.
  • Add soy sauce replacer mixture to pan and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Add pineapple pieces.
  • Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through.
Note
  • If you need to pad out the sauce with some vegetables then carrots, snow peas and baby corn work well.