Friday, 18 October 2013

Susie's Apricot and Orange Rock Cakes

My mum (the Susie in the title) makes the best recipes. As I have so many allergies she has been inventing recipes all my life. And now my son is allergic to soya (the one thing I can eat and live on) she has come up with even more.  Her rock cakes are amazing! So here's the recipe:

8oz plain flour
4oz Vitalite or similar
2tsps baking powder
3oz caster sugar
1/2tsp mixed spice
4oz snipped apricots
Juice of a large orange

1. Mix flour, baking powder and marg to make breadcrumbs.
2. Add sugar and combine.
3. Add orange juice and apricots and mix to a fairly thick but not smooth mixture.
4. Heap onto a paper lined baking sheet. Tip: if you have never made rock cakes before, they should be 'lumpy' and not smoothed out or you'll have cookies).
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200C.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A day without antihistamines!

I forget sometimes how my life is wihout my trusty antihistamines! I forgot yesterday and today to take mine.   By 10am, I had hives and felt like a cold was on the cards. By 11, the hives  had spread down my legs and tiredness was my friend! I describe having allergic reactions as Chinese Water Torture because it eats away at your psyche. It just plagues your life. Don't get me wrong, I am so aware that there is far worse in the world,  its just that sometimes it just constantly hums in the background like a fly buzzing. It can be maddening when you feel an itch, or feel hives starting, or your mouth tingles, or you sneeze a hundred times a day- which I did.  It drives me nuts!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dairy Free Chocolate

If you are over 30 and have allergies you will know that some years allergy friendly chocolate is everywhere and some years there is nothing. It's the same with most foods. You find a food you love and then suddenly it's gone! There are currently several on the market. Plamil are excellent and it is thanks to them  that I have been able to try mint chocolate, chilli chocolate, orange chocolate without the fear there maybe a trace of an allergen in the food. Their labelling states that no nuts are used in their factory. Their plain "milk" chocolate isn't great, but their flavours are fab! Similarly, if you are a diabetic, you will also find a range of sugar free which are made with Xylitol rather than artificial Sweetners.

Another great brand are Kinnerton. My family all agree that their regular chocolate is no green and blacks or Cadburys, but that their allergy chocolate whichis dairy, egg, nut and wheat free is brilliant and good in cooking!

The last company I rate are Celtic chocolates. They go to great lengths to Make sure their chocolate is cross-contamination free and most major supermarkets stock them either under the Celtic brand oras an own brand chocolate. I've taken a picture of an ASDA wrapper so you can see what I mean. Sainsburys do one with rice crispies in which I love. At easter these companies ensure we can have an Easter egg which is something I often went without as a kid. Fab!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Chocolate fork biscuits and Mary Berry!

To Mary Berry- I can honestly say that you have been a deeply influential person in my life. I am 31 years old so you didn't ever teach me to use a cooker, but as a child my mum and I watched your Aga video and learnt how to make drop scones, and every cookbook I used was a Mary Berry book. The Marks and Spencer's "Cooking for your Freezer" was one of them. And now I am an adult and have two little children (one with allergies like me), it is my constant companion. I love the retro photos (why did they purposefully make food so unappestising looking in the 70's? ), and the simplicity. Oe of my favourites are the chocolate fork biscuits. For people who aren't intolerant to gluten just use wheat or spelt flour.

Chocolate fork biscuits

225g/ 8oz marg
100g/4oz sugar (I sometimes use soft brown for fudge texture and take it down to 3oz)
1tsp vanilla extract (I use organic)
225g/8oz SF Flour (Doves Farm seems to work best if GF)
50g/2oz drinking chocolate/ cocoa

Cream marg and sugar, and add vanilla. Work in flour and chocolate. Roll into little balls and place on a baking tray with baking paper on (if you can't get baking parchment to stay on sheet, scrunch it in your hands, then flatten out), use a fork to flatten biscuits and bake for about 12 mins at 190 degrees. If freezing, open freeze, then pack into bags/ boxes.

The best allergy friendly brownies ever!

Probably not the best picture though! But my amazing mum converted a recipe so we could all eat it. I made this this morning. (Along with some chicken!)

The recipe is really easy and as follows:

4oz marg melted
1 1/2 oz cocoa}
4 1/2 oz s.r gluten free flour (or flour of choice).  Sieved
Pinch salt }.   
6oz muscovado sugar
1 tbsp syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
150 ml milk (rice, soya, cows or yoghurt )

Melt marg. sift dry ingredients into large bowl. Add liquids, mix well. Turn into baking paper lined brownie tin 8" square.

Bake 20-25 mins 180c

Serve with cream or ice cream! Sooooo good!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Booze with allergies

Many a day have I had a glass of wine and fallen asleep with everyone believing and still believing that I am a total lightweight. What I am is allergic to some of the additives in wine. It has taken many years and many horrid nights to realise this. Co-Op has also played a pivotal role. Why? Because they put ingredients lists on their booze! Yesterday, my mum, who often takes pity on me, bought me a lovely Co-Op Shiraz Rose after we searched the shelves. It was really good and very easy on the stomach.  And I had no hangover today or fell asleep immediately (I did of course, fall asleep far too early, but that's the woes of being a parent!). What you many not know is that milk, nuts, chemicals, additives and animal bones are often used in wine for a variety of reasons e.g. to remove the 'scum' off of the top.  Red wine, I have discovered is particularly lethal. For years, my mum and i have been restricted to Prosecco, which has been lovely because it always feels very decadent, but it can be a bit lonely as friends often want to share still whites, and it feels like an occasion drink. My mum and I have also discovered that we can drink something called Vina Maipo which we have shared in a (ahem*) box. Yes, it lacks class, but great if lots of people are sharing.

So, to conclude, if you have allergies, Co-Op is my recommendation, whether its box or bottle (their spirits also have ingredients on for anyone that's allergic to almonds and been caught out by Bombay Sapphire!)

Friday, 15 February 2013

Supermarket scandal- how to go from horse to allergy food

Nobody who has seen the news this week can fail to be anything but shocked by the horsemeat scandal, but this is an amazing opportunity for supermarkets to clean up their acts and sort out their production. This could be an excellent time to start thinking about how allergens enter the food chain. If you have allergies and are signed up to the Anaphylaxis networks emailalerts for anytime an allergen enters food chains unexpectedly will know how much worry this can give people, but also on a daily basis howfrustrating the supermarket shop is for people with allergies. A simple restructure could suddenly mean I could again eat certain crisps or cereals, or M&S samosas or some ready meals. Sometimes I wonder how close a nut may have ever come to the foods labelled "may contain nuts". An overhaul is needed. There has never been a better time.

Good stockists for allergies!!

Now as someone with a nut allergy, Tesco's allergy info is confusing and often leaves me wondering whether or not I should actually be eating something. Sainsbury's is better, and has a big allergy section- I stock up on Doves Farm flours, own brand chocolate especially the crispie bars (I'm an addict, mostly because of years of intermittent chocolate availability- really it sounds pithy, but I genuinely may need a 10 step program with assurances that no one will know my real name),  also their own brand pasta is good but avoid if on Weight Watchers as it is high points, and they sell this great powder which makes cheese sauce for lasagne etc. But if you have a nut allergy avoid any condiments which have a Tiger brand name as it has a nut warning on. Ridiculous to put in a "FreeFrom" section but thats just me. The baked goods always look good, but I can't comment on taste as I am allergic to egg and they all have it in. A couple of years ago Sainsburys made an excellent "Be Good To Yourself" christmas pudding which just happened to be free from everything bar wheat and was lovely and every year I hope they bring them back. My mum makes great puddings but we only get one, Sainsburys sold these mini ones and it was such a treat! Anyway, Asda is a bit cheaper and again, good if you don't have a nut allergy. They sell gluten free flour in a bigger bag, and lots of cool little bits, just no good for me.

My food champion used to be M&S! How I loved them and told all of my friends, and gushed as I walked around their food aisles, but the years moved on, and clearly so did their need to cut costs as suddenly last year I could no longer their crisps as they had warnings along the lines of "not suitable for NUT, SOYA, EGG and MILK allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods". Well thank you M&S! I dread the "New and improved recipe" labels as this always means they've added milk, or M&S's own blue "allergy update" stickers- these rarely go in my favour. But, and its a big BUT, M&S is still one of the few places I can eat a ready made chinese (God, I love their duck), or get a samosa for lunch (sandwiches are always out due to the mayo obsession, oh and my lettuce allergy), when I go to my elderly granddads house who cannot cook and has carers I can have an M&S Thai Green Curry and you have no idea (well if you're reading this blog, you probably do!!) how amazing that feels. Waitrose is ok but has a lot of nut warnings on silly stuff. CO-op is riddled with allergy warnings so I buyveg and brands but nothing else.

Hope this helps!