biscottes!

No running? …I managed to hurt my foot. Plantar fasciitis. It’s ok, I will try again when I am back from China in September (!!). I can’t risk not being able to walk as I have a lot of hiking ahead of me.

In preparation for my trip, I tried to think of FODMAP-friendly stuff I could take with me. I wisely cut off my internet time-wasting websites for 24 hours this morning before I left the house, which meant when I got home at 8pm this evening, I couldn’t default to my slumped-in-front-of-my-laptop default (I use a Mac program called Self-Control, where you can set a blacklist of websites and then tell it how long you’re not allowed to access them for. It’s a life saver when working on essays).

So this evening, in the 2.5 hours I’ve been home, I:
– Washed and hung out laundry
– Made myself quesadillas for dinner
– Worked through 3 huge piles of washing up (some of it from the weekend-before-last)
– Baked FODMAP-friendly banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for my trip (I am not even going to pretend that they will last me longer than the flight, but that’s already a huge deal)
– Made biscottes (which the internet informs me are generally known as “Zwieback”” by English-speakers?). I was trying to think how I could transport low-FODMAPS bread to Guizhou (which is hot and humid) without it immediately going mouldy. I came up with the idea of turning a loaf of my favourite Alpine Sour Rye bread into biscottes, which as long as they’re sealed in an airtight box, should be ok. Dry rusks may not sound terribly appealing but they’ll be most welcome if my stomach gets upset from too many FODMAPs.

 photo 431dd191-276d-4031-96a1-eec7f6c08d3d.jpg

In case anyone ever wondered about how to make biscottes — leave your bread out for about 24 hours so it can dry out as much as possible first, then put them in the oven at 150 C for an hour (I’m tempted to put “or two” as I saw online to put them in for 1.5 hours, or 100 C for 3 hours — but I put mine in for an hour and they were perfect, if somewhat brown for the lower rack).

Advertisements

struggle yoga

I went to 6am yoga on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and at some point in the middle of Wednesday night woke up and decided to turn off the alarm for Thursday morning yoga. I marginally regretted it throughout Thursday so that night I very carefully planned Friday 6am yoga, since I had an appointment at 8am. I prepared yoga kit, work clothes to change into, breakfast to grab, all my morning pills (I have to take a LOT of pills) in a little dish by the door with a glass of water so I could do it all in record time — I had it all rehearsed.

Then I forgot that my 5am alarm had been switched off, and woke up at 6:20 with some serious grumpyface.

My 8am appointment was with the psychologist. I was already full of rage at the world for depriving me of my morning yoga, and angry that I had to go to this stupid appointment. I angried my way there and waited, angrily. Of course it turned out to be a really fantastic session (about my anger) and I came out really glad I had attended.

Among other things, we discussed how Bikram helps me placate the rage inside of me, and how to cope when I can’t go for whatever reason (injury, time, location etc.). She suggested I run through each posture in my head, a sort of virtual yoga, and so on the tram to work, I pulled up a doodle app on my phone and drew each posture. It was such a soothing exercise that I almost missed my stop. I feel very reassured to have this option, given I won’t be able to practice when we’re traveling around Taiwan (although I am planning to visit the Taipei Bikram studio and do a class in Chinese).

 photo 54e895a5-b43f-4f7b-bee6-3cf17459cf70.jpg

Anyway, I was determined I would NOT miss Friday 6pm. I tried to get out of work 10 minutes early, but ultimately my tram connection betrayed me and the 75 just WOULD. NOT. COME. When it eventually turned up, the traffic was bad, and I was practically jumping up and down with frustration waiting to get off the tram at 5:47. I ran home, grabbed my yoga bag, ran to the studio, pulled my clothes off, and discovered I hadn’t packed my costume (of course, it was at the end of my bed). I dressed again, ran home and back, changed, and dashed to the room already soaked with sweat. I tried not to get ragey about the two girls whispering behind me (NO TALKING IN THE HOT ROOM!) and then a man walked in fully dressed including town shoes so he could put down his mat and towel (NO SHOES IN THE ENTIRE STUDIO GOD DAMN IT IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK etc. etc.) and promised myself I would not let anger distract me from my class.

My costume misadventure meant the teacher remembered my name. And boy did she use it. Over and over. “Rosie, suck your stomach in” “Rosie, spine straight!” “Rosie, higher on your toes” “Rosie, lock your knee, lock it, really lock it” “Rosie, shoulders down”… I know that sounds defeating but I *love* getting corrections from teachers. I love it when they tell me I’m doing it wrong. And I so pushed myself like crazy tonight, even though it was such a struggle. No anger there!

I was so exhausted at the end, and in the change room one of the other students commented on how intense the class had been. I agreed and said “Yeah… I’m Rosie, so…” and she laughed “Oh man, the whole class I was thinking this Rosie is really getting it tonight!”.

No rage. Also, I’ve stuck to the FODMAPS elimination diet for three consecutive days and feel so much better for it. There’s no way I can follow it while James is here or when travelling, but I am committed to doing it properly very soon.

things

I took advantage of a Monday off work to try and pull myself together.

I made baked eggs from this recipe, and it was easy and delicious. It has spices! I want to get better at using spices because without onions and garlic, food gets boring very fast.

Raw:
 photo IMG_8324.jpg

Slightly overcooked (which is how I prefer them really):
 photo IMG_8326.jpg

These unsexy badly-lit pictures of my wardrobe? The result of extensive organisation and purging of what is habitually referred to as the Floordrobe. I’m proud, thus they are going on the blog.

 photo IMG_8335.jpg

 photo IMG_8338.jpg

Polly is rather keen on the hairdye scene, and we picked up some coloured hair chalks on the weekend. She experimented with blue and purple as usual, and for fun, I picked up the red, pink, orange and yellow to make a little Flame Princess makeover. I thought it would have washed out after Bikram this morning, but it turns out, I still have teensy reddish highlights (if you can spot them). I quite like them, although I trust none of my clients noticed today at work.

 photo IMG_8344.jpg

Speaking of Bikram and work: my backpack at 5:30am… again, boring picture for everyone else, but it holds: breakfast, lunch, two towels, my Bikram costume, my work shoes and clothes, my toiletries, and my water bottle. I was quite impressed with my packing and organisational skills. Onto the blog it goes.

 photo IMG_8339.jpg

I came out of a particularly draining call conference to find a parcel from mummy on my desk, with a fancy magical butter dish and a tapestry kit from Erhman Tapestry. I’m itching to get started but I must finish the sashiko first!! I’ve only got about an hour’s work left to do so I must knuckle down.

 photo IMG_8340.jpg

Work today was a 9 in terms of loathing. I shut myself away and cried in the training room at 9:30am, although things slowly improved over the course of the day. It’s nearly always the first day back that is the worst, I suppose I should not have long weekends…

tofu summer salad and home-made lu wei

I am still struggling through the whole fructose-friendly thing — the difference to my energy levels is so huge that it remains worth it. Over the winter I did cheat a fair bit by eating wheat or sugar in the evenings once I was safely home and could deal with the sleepiness and GI side-effects.

But now it’s summer! and the evenings are long and light and I don’t want to lay at home clutching my stomach. Neither can I bear to eat my same two “safe” meals (which are chicken and potatoes, or tuna and white rice) any longer. Now I’m on break from uni, I have more time to think about cooking and to actually prepare dinners and work lunches. I also really miss Taiwanese luwei 滷味, of which I have documented my love previously.

Luwei is generally translated as “brine” and its primary component is the spice mix of star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, basil, and bay leaves, which are all A-OK on a fructose-free diet. I was worried how I would get the spice mix right, but my Taiwanese friend Arthur informed me that you can pick up 滷味包 from any Asian grocery, which I did eventually after befriending the shop-owners who had to find it for me.

 photo IMG_7949.jpg

I also picked up three kinds of tofu because, as you may remember, I am a tofu addict.
 photo IMG_7950.jpg
 photo IMG_7952.jpg
 photo IMG_7954.jpg

There are instructions on the back of the box to add 8 cups of water, 2 tbsp of sugar, 3/4 tbsp of MSG, 3/5 tbsp of salt, 5 tbsp of soy sauce, and a small amount of cooking wine. The instructions also specify onion, garlic and chilli can be added, but Buddhists can leave them out. I’d forgotten Chinese Buddhists can’t have any of that stuff either (or mango, according to some sources!) — very convenient for me though, as I don’t have to feel like a loser by leaving half the ingredients out. I used raw sugar rather than rock candy which is the traditionally-used sweetener. I also only used 4 teaspoons of soy sauce because really? Really do you need that much soy sauce? I don’t think so.

Put all of the above into a big pan, preferably one that can fit a sieve, or find a sieve-like utensil. In Taiwan everything gets lobbed into a basket which makes it much easier to do multiple people’s luwei at once, but the truth is, a sieve also makes things much easier even alone at home.
 photo IMG_7959.jpg

Once it has boiled for a while and is suitably fragrant (很香!) you can add your selection of ingredients. I decided on rice noodles, tofu puffs and bok choy (the tofu skin sticks have to be soaked for a few hours first, so I’ll be eating them for dinner I expect).
 photo IMG_7957.jpg
It was a bit tricky getting everything out of the pot, but I got there in the end. And….
 photo IMG_7960.jpg
THUMBS UP. GOOD STUFF. My new favourite dinner. Sorry about the dirty-looking bowl, I was just in a hurry to get it all in my mouth.

As I was feeling creative and I also had that pack of fresh shredded tofu skin, I made this salad and it’s kind of fusion… maybe Italian-Taiwanese? 100% delicious A++++ will be making this all summer. Ingredients and directions are below.
 photo IMG_7958.jpg
(Again, please forgive messy kitchen bench behind. That’s quinoa sprinkled everywhere behind it).

Take a fairly large shallow bowl (as in don’t use a Chinese rice bowl) and pour in a splash of soy sauce. Add in a splash of garlic-infused olive oil. Take a smidge of Massaman curry paste and add a splash of water before mixing everything together.

Grab a handful of chilled shredded tofu and untangle as it tends to clump, then lovingly coat it with the dressing. Finely chop cucumber, tomato and fresh mint and mix it all together. Voila!

Spicy Eggplant

I was inspired by Szechuan Spicy Eggplant for this — a dish I used to be very suspicious of, when I first lived in Beijing, because the Mandarin name is “鱼香茄子“ — fish-smelling eggplant. However there is no fish-smell in it and it’s delicious, particularly when it’s cooked so the eggplant is melting and fragrant. Another linguistic anecdote is that for a very long time I thought I would never be able to say “eggplant” when I grew up calling them aubergines in both English and French. Yet here I am, saying eggplant. Eggplant eggplant eggplant.

Anyway here is my (vegan, not very Asian) version that I made up to satiate that craving, and which was surprisingly so good I had to write it up straight away. Sorry for the not terribly glam photo, but it’s night and I only have an iphone, and you know, brown food.
 photo photo1-4.jpg

Ingredients
1 medium European eggplant chopped into 1cm cubes (it will seem like a lot when it’s raw but it cooks down quite a bit)
2 red chillies, finely chopped
garlic-infused oil
sunflower oil
300g beef-style Quorn mince

Sauce
2/3 cup chicken-style broth (I use Massel’s 7s stock cubes which are not only vegan but also onion- and garlic-free)
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sweet soy sauce
1 tsp worcester sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar

Directions:
Heat some sunflower oil in a wok and when it’s hot, throw in eggplant and chillies, then lace with garlic oil and toss till everything is nicely coated. Fry for about 5 minutes or until golden.

Push eggplant away from centre of the wok and add in Quorn, fry for a minute or so, then add in sauce and stir. Simmer until the eggplant is melting — about 5 minutes.

Fructose-friendly procrastination patties

After several years of struggles I’ve been diagnosed with fructose malabsorption and need to cut just about everything I normally would eat from my diet. This means I have to prepare all my meals and snacks as very few convenience foods are free of the dreaded fructose overload (think wheat, onions and garlic, apples and raisins…).

I am not a great cook, as several blog posts on here can testify. I guess it’s down to practice making perfect, and rather than practice, most nights I traditionally would satiate my hunger with hummus and crackers or wine and cheese, or order delivery food. However in order to get through my workdays and uni weeks, I have to pack a proper meal and some appropriate snacks, so suddenly I’m getting lots of practice in.

I have been scouring the internet for fructose-friendly meals and today I had a go at these as a form of procrastination as I am meant to be writing a treatment proposal for uni. I was amazed at how well they came out, and given there are a few tweaks to the original recipe, AND I “invented” a fructose-friendly dipping sauce, I decided to write them up for posterity and/or future reference. My main difference is I bulked these up with extra breadcrumbs as I am not so crazy about lots and lots of meat. They aren’t really a meal as such, but I will pack these as “second lunches” for the next couple of days, as I find I’m generally starving around 3pm and need a pick-me-up.

 photo photo1.jpg
Makes 12-15 patties (3 serves)

Patties
500g chicken mince (regular rather than lean, so that there is some vestige of flavour in there)
1.5 cups of fresh GF breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 small red chillies, chopped
4 spring onions — green part only, chopped
1 Tbsp fish sauce
handful of coriander, chopped
1 Tbsp Massaman curry paste (mine does have shallots and garlic in it, but in such minute quantities given the volume of the other ingredients that it should not affect anyone too much)
1.5 tsp of salt
generous grinding of pepper

to roll
1.5 cups of dry GF breadcrumbs (just pulverise some GF bread and then pop it under the grill to toast, rather than spend $6 on special GF breadcrumbs. The added advantage of this is when you realise you don’t have enough, you can easily make some more)
to fry
sunflower oil

Sauce (1 serve)
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
handful of fresh mint, minced
1 small red chilli, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
dash of fish sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp of brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients for the patties together. If you are me, you will have stupidly mis-read the quantities and already put portioned and put away most of your chicken mince in cute little baggies. Pull the pink goop out of the baggies and curse your misfortune.

Once everything is combined, form into patties and roll in the dry toasty breadcrumbs. I made mine in varying sizes between a chicken mcnugget and two chicken mcnuggets. I haven’t eaten them since I saw THAT video, and I hadn’t realised how much I missed them. These are very chicken-nuggety.

Place your crumbed patties in the fridge for half an hour to chill, so they will hold their shape nicely for the next step. Heat oven to 170 C.

Once your patty-nuggets have chilled, heat some sunflower oil in a frying pan and brown the patties in batches for a couple of minutes on each side, until they are nice and golden. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb some of the oil, then pop on a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes. They will come out nice and crispy and golden and — if you’re like me — not falling apart in the slightest. I’m really happy with the texture of these.

To make the sauce, blend all the ingredients very briefly, taste, and adjust seasonings to taste before whizzing again. It will make a sort of pink mousse which isn’t particularly fancy, but it will make a decent substitute for all the forbidden relish, sweet chilli sauce, BBQ sauce, ketchup, or that awesome soy mayonnaise I love but which is made with honey and therefore I can’t have.