Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Allergy free brandy, fruit and chocolate Christmas pudding recipe (baked like a cake)

This is a very large heavy pudding cake so if you don't think you'd be able to eat so much halve the ingredients below. Alternatively, use the previous pudding cake recipe for one the size of your average bundt cake.

  • 375g sultanas
  • 375g raisins, chopped
  • 300g currants
  • 50g prunes, chopped
  • 100g dried figs, chopped
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50g glace cherries, chopped
  • 250ml brandy
  • 250g Nuttlex or lactose free butter, chopped
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange marmalade
  • ½ cup cooked apple
  • 2 tsps No Egg, whisked with 60mls water until thick
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 2 cups Orgran plain flour
  • 1 cup Orgran self-raising flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, extra

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C fan forced.
  • Grease and line a large cake pan with Nuttlex or olive oil spray and grease proof paper.
  • Combine the sultanas, raisins, currants, prunes, figs, apricot and cherries in a large ceramic bowl.
  • Pour over the brandy.
  • Cover with cling wrap and set the fruit aside overnight, stirring occasionally. If you’re making the pudding in a rush then set it aside for an hour at least.
  • Use an electric mixer to beat the Nuttlex or lactose free butter, sugar and marmalade in large bowl until pale and creamy.
  • Add the No Egg mixture, beating well to combine.
  • Add the apple and beat until blended.
  • Add the fruit mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Add the melted chocolate, flours and cocoa and stir until combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into the bundt pan and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.
  • Decorate with glace cherries or nuts as desired.
  • Cook for 110-120 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean.
  • Remove the pudding from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Set the pudding on a plate.
  • While still hot, drizzle extra brandy over the top of the pudding.
  • Cover with aluminium foil and allow to cool completely.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Allergy free gingerbread biscuits recipe

  • 1¾ cups Orgran plain flour
  • ¼ cup Orgran gluten free gluten
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarb soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 1½ tsps ground ginger
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  • 2 tsps Orgran No Egg whisked with 80mls water until thick, or 1 large egg (if possible)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps molasses
  • 2 tbsps maple syrup
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1½ - 2 tbsps lactose free milk or water
  • 3 drops vanilla essence

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Line two baking trays with grease-proof paper or aluminium foil.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice.
  • In a separate bowl, blend the No Egg mixture or egg, sugar, molasses and maple syrup, beating until creamy.
  • Add the dry mixture about bit at a time, beating gently until just blended.
  • Using a rubber spatula, continue stirring until the dough comes together and separates cleanly from the inside of the mixing bowl.
  • Squeeze and press the dough until firm and smoothly textured and stop immediately once the dough is smooth. Do not knead as there is no real gluten.
  • Place the dough on a single sheet or cling wrap.
  • Roll out the dough until it is about a ½cm thick, keeping the rolling pin as clean as possible throughout to prevent the dough from sticking (a marble rolling pin is best).
  • Once rolled, use cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes.
  • Space the cookies at least 2cms or so apart on the baking trays.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them cool on the pan for 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl, mix the sugar with the milk or water, adding a bit at a time, until very smooth. Stop adding milk once the desired consistency is achieved (soft enough to pipe).
  • Decorate the cookies by piping using icing piping equipment or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off.
  • Allow the icing to dry on the cookies before serving.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot

If Only They Could Talk
James Herriot

Fresh out of Veterinary College, and shoulder-deep in an uncooperative cow, James Herriot's first job is not panning out exactly as expected ...To a Glaswegian like James, 1930s Yorkshire appears to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But even life in the sleepy village of Darrowby has its challenges. On the one hand there are his new colleagues, Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, two brothers who attract a constant stream of local girls to whom James is strangely invisible. On the other he must contend with herds of semi-feral cattle, gruff farmers with incomprehensible accents and an overweight Pekingese called Tricki Woo...

Pan Books Ltd


Rosy's scrawlings on If Only They Could Talk
This book is the first of the series of James Herriot books that was later converted into the TV show All Things Bright And Beautiful. Whether or not you've seen the show you'll be familiar with the tune at least. The books and show were so popular they've entered our culture much like Dr Doolittle, another veterinary tale. Like many recent great stories that haven't hit the cannon list yet the books seem to have dropped from the popular reading list all while becoming a bit of or shared consciousness. This is quite a shame as If Only They Could Talk is not only an interesting read for all the veterinary information but also for its odd structure. It is also full of quirky and comedic situations and shines a light on the life of a rural vet.
If Only They Could Talk is the story of a year in the life of a newly graduated rural vet at a time when cars have just taken over from horses as the main mode of transportation. James is employed rather quickly by a vet named Siegfried Farnon in a little village made up mostly of farms and a pub or two, as far as I can tell. His employer is extremely odd, rather charismatic and has the memory of a fish. He also has a brother who's as lazy as they come but he puts so much effort into being lazy that his aptitude for intellectual activities is proven. From here the cast of quirky characters, including an overly fat and joyous Pekingese, expands. These characters, whether farm owners, high society ladies or pub guests are the centre of a very long series of short stories that reveal the life of James Herriot the vet's assistant. Each little story is only a few pages long, woven together with the next to create a meandering tale without real aim that seems to mirror the country in which James practices.
The writing style is a little jagged at times and there's many a veterinary term and medical condition included that can make you squeamish. There's also one reference to a gay man in very out dated and offensive terms but this doesn't seem to come from any ingrained reaction in the writer. Otherwise, the story rolls along like the hills, gently taking you into places and situations you're never likely to be in nowadays, unless you're a farmer. Veterinary science and practice has come a long, long way, as has farming, mortuary and abattoir work. Reading of how it once was is extremely interesting as there aren't that many sources readily available for looking into this past lifestyle.

I'd recommend this book to: Animal lovers, vets and those interested in becoming a vet, historical and comedy novel enthusiasts. I'd also recommend this book to anyone except those a little too young to read about more realistic animal birth scenes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My blackboard making project: not fiction or food but definitely for fun

Today's project was an odd one. I took an old and very beaten up frame that had no straight pieces to it and two broken corners, glued, nailed and cleaned it until it was reasonably respectable. Then I cut up a piece of masonite, sanded it back and gave it two coats of blackboard paint. I had to fix the masonite into the frame rather permanently in order to make the frame's parts straight. Then I attached loops on all four sides so that it can be hung however it is needed (kids don't consider upsidedown and rightsideup in the beginning). This is my space saver blackboard. Draw on it and hang after.

Now for the clock... I have to wait for the mechanism before I can really work on it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Johannes Cabal The Detective by Jonathan L Howard

Johannes Cabal The Detective
Jonathan L Howard

For necromancer Johannes Cabal, dealing with devils, demons and raising the dead is pretty much par for the course. But when his attempt to steal a rare book turns sour, he is faced by a far more terrifying entity – politics.
While awaiting execution for his crime, Cabal is forced to resurrect an inconveniently deceased emperor. Seizing his chance, the cunning Cabal engineers his escape, fleeing the country on a state-of-the-art flying ship.
But the ship has more than a few unpleasant surprises, including an unwelcome face from the past and the small matter of some mysterious murders. Cabal may work with corpses but he has absolutely no intention of becoming one. Drawn into a deadly conspiracy, is he shuffling dangerously close to the end of his mortal coil?
Johannes Cabal is back – a little older, a little wiser, but just as sharply funny, cuttingly sarcastic, and unexpectedly violent as ever.



Rosy's scrawlings on Johannes Cabal The Detective
I previously recommended the first book in the Johannes Cabal series. If you read the first book the experience should be more than enough to get you reading the second. If, however, you didn't read the first because of the satanic elements and have a general dislike for the paranormal in fantasy then you might just want to skip it and read the second. I found that this was possible as there's only one repeat character aside from Johannes (obviously) and all you really need to know is that her soul and her father's were in jeopardy thanks to Johannes, for the most part. That makes for a little tension and discord and there's where the character relations start. One tiny detail that might help is that Johannes brother had been a vampire after his death. There's a couple of vampire references and that's why Johannes' not all that pleased to hear them. Otherwise, this story is as good as the first for introducing Johannes and creating a world that appears only in this book (I say this not having read the 3rd book yet).
While the previous book delved deeply into necromancy, Hell and a bet with Satan this book concerns itself mostly with politics, impending war, a locked room murder and much more (which to mention will begin to give away the goodies). Necromancy does take place but mostly as the cause of and solution to (in part) Johannes' problems. So, for a book that's part of a dark comedy fantasy series the story is rather more detective in genre than expected. This doesn't translate as a break from the strange world of Johannes Cabal in the first book as the states entangled in high-tension politics are fictional as is the murder setting, which is a passenger aeroship, a construction somewhat similar to an Avengers hovercraft that's flying over mountains rather than the sea (Of interest, the boarding crafts fly like insects.).
The writing of Johannes Cabal The Detective isn't as easy to read as that of the first book, Johannes Cabal The Necromancer, largely because of the number of unfamiliar names: of states, weapons, aeroship structures etc. I mention this only as I noticed the unfamiliar words made it harder to read aloud to my bub (we sit on the front porch, watch the road and trees and I read aloud). If you're reading silently though, you should have no problem at all. The language is bubbling with words you'll rarely run across, which winds into the dark and dry wit used to emphasise Johannes' cynical take on the world.

I'd recommend this book to: those interested in murder mystery and political fantasy stories, black comedies and steampunk. Also, anyone who read the first book should greatly enjoy the second.