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.

Ingredients
  • 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)

Method
  • 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.




Note
  • 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.

Daleks.

Which is the better enemy? Cybermen or the Daleks?
Batman!

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.
 Bart.
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


Ingredients
  • 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.


Method
  • 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


Ingredients
  • 1kg skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1 cup corn flour
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • Approximately 1 cup olive oil
  • \White sesame seeds
Marinade
Sauce
  • 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

Method
  • 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.

Themes, literature, reality and I

So much hype. Now can Literature live up to it?



There is a commonly held believe that literature is the fiction closest to reality simply because it has little in the way of trimmings and lots of meaningful statements about life that can be read as truthful or enlightening. To me though, literature is just as wildly unrealistic as any other form of fiction for these very reasons.


The problem I face when picking up a work of literature is that I'm supposed to delve into the work as though it will give me some form of epiphany or through sympathy allow me access into a life and worldview other than my own to a greater extent than any other book. The culture of literature says so and has for a long time. Literature is supposed to be high art and so there for the enlightened to appreciate. The division in how literature is viewed compared to other works is like that of wine versus beer.


Non-literature is seen as lesser, either for a lack of challenge or a lack of obvious explorations of themes and issues related to everyday life. Meanwhile, literature is lauded as tasteful, difficult to write and worthy of study as reading it will make you more intelligent than reading any other works. All because of the themes and issues and the lack of trimmings like magic or spaceships or monsters.


Truly though, life has no themes. Nor a defined path. I see no absolute fate, just a list of most probable outcomes that could be avoided with effort. Life isn't looking back and retelling for the sake of a moral but looking forward and wondering and worrying about what is going to happen next and what you'll be doing in the mix of things. Only in our most active moments are there stories that can be written up that will prove exciting but most of us don't live such active lives on an everyday basis. So our lives generally only work well as stories by condensing and looking back to pull out the mistakes, excitements and meanings.

These are all what we make of ourselves and how we view the world, not themes inherent to life.


Also, to me memory is a very faulty thing. I say this being someone who is rather good at remembering things and has memories stretching back further then most others I've spoken to about the olden days. The matter of factness and the definitive nature of most literary pieces rings false and because such things are often relied up then entire work reads as far to fabricated and fictional: the exact opposite of what was intended. There are, of course, some works out there that bend time to match memory associations or the like and the endings are usually incomplete or they offer only a few definite answers. These works of literature are the ones I have a better relationship with but unfortunately they tend to pull heavily on depression and angst, making them stressful reads.


Life isn't without meaning, I should stress that. But the meaning is all from our own creation and nothing much more. Just as fate is us looking back and saying "Well, if that hadn't happened I wouldn't be here" as though "that" was something that was always bound to have happened, the meaning in our lives just isn't there until we decide to assign it. We can look forward and assign our meaning as that which we desire the most out of life and if we don't get it then we're meaningless. We can look back and say "Well, after all this I must be hear because of..." and approve of ourselves (or not) for the lives we've lived. It is all a bit too fabricated and when it is written in literature as though it is truth, with no trimmings to allow for leniency in interpretation, the entire text can quite easily be brought into question.


Themes and issues in literature are for learning but they are like the scribblings on a postcard, the gibberish you get in a greeting card and the self improvement babble you get from those seeking peace and serenity within themselves (a problematic point for me too as I see a calm life as one without drive but still one with inner acceptance of the world - I guess this is just another thought to chew on). They rarely reflect life as life really is. Reality is something far greater and yet far less than what we make it out to be. For this reason, sitting down and reading literature as though it were enlightening with regards to life is rather a chore. I'm forced to analyse one section of life separate from any other and such and activity is mentally stressful most of the time. Purely for the fact that I spend much of the time reading such works thinking "Ah, but that doesn't take into account..." or "Don't portray that as good, you'll only hurt people" or some such. It is like arguing with the television though, as no one is listening but myself. It is highly unpleasant once you realise you're only yabbering to yourself.


Reality is so much bigger than a single theme. Or even two.



So for me reality is rarely portrayed well in literature purely for the fact that most literature authors goes too far in their attempts to write hard core, eye-opening works on a particular issue to the point of ignoring all else. To me the best works on reality are those that portray the chaos, the variability in interpretation, the unexpected events as well as the impact of planning ones life whether it is for good or bad. There may well be magic involved or spaceships blown off course but it is the characters within the story and their reactions that reveal us and life the best. To top it off, there is much artistry and richness to be found in written worlds that include systems not found in reality. 


There are some works of literature that reveal us and life rather well but most of the time, at least for those who intended to write Literature with a capital L rather than a piece on a topic of interest to them (the results are dramatically different for the intent), I find literature doesn't live up to life very well. I say this with some of my all time favourite works being literary but I will point out that these were written for the sake of writing on a thought that the author was obsessed with. None were written while the author had an eye to having the work published as a literary masterpiece.




PS: Have you ever sat in on a philosophy course at university? Literature gives me the same feeling as a bunch of intellectuals and wanna-be intellectuals heatedly debating the mind/body split without once referring to medical science. I end up wanting to thunk my head against the wall in frustration purely because of the inherent close-mindedness in the debate, which they all believe to be open-minded as it expanded their viewpoint on life. Don't worry though, I'm just as guilty of being idiotic at times. Just not with this sort of topic.

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.

Ingredients
  • 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

Method
  • 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.

Book stacking at home

The book wall can also be your art.

The small Christmas tree for those who miss out of a real tree.

The large Christmas tree for those who miss out of a real tree.


The temporary puzzle.

A pleasing pattern that can be made small for any room.

The missing mummy stack.

The floating stack.

Stacks on.

The celebration.

The reserved seat plus waterless vase for style.

The table stack.

The bench or bar stack.

For everyday stacking, here are some of the best objects to place on top of your stacks.

The shirt apparently. I saw this as a hat at first so hats too.

The waterless vase.

Fruit (for some reason).

Your knitting.

Yourself.

The lamp.

 A skull (human or otherwise).

The cat (for obvious reasons)


A globe (I've never known where else to put them).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Allergy free pizza dough recipe using baking powder


Ingredients
  • 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


Method
  • 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.
Note
  • 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.