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Gluten free, it's not a bad thing

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Falafel in a box

I have not yet ventured into homemade falafels, instead I have found a ready made mix that does the trick.  The easy to follow instructions that call for the addition of water and a simple oven or deep-fry option (I shallow fry with rice bran oil) really have made me lazy to try this all from scratch.

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I made beef koftas , grilled some halloumi, tomato and egg plant and served this with natural yogurt and babaganoush for a recent get together with friends. Easy!

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95 bottles of cider…..

Right, lets just keep these cider reviews going then.  I’ve only got 94 to go…maybe I set myself too big of a task.  No,no, I think I’m up to it.  This fancy one here is Willie Smith’s organic apple cider.

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I really enjoyed this one, it was fresh, crisp and had a very clean flavour.

97 bottles of cider…

No.  Just No.  I really don’t like this cider at all.  Tastes exactly like beer, not for me really, I don’t recommend it at all.  Unless you are after that whole beer taste, then this one might be for you.

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More gluten-free vegemite

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Initially I wasn’t so impressed with MightyMite – a gluten-free yeast extract found in my local supermarket.  I had just finished a jar of Vege Spread and thought the MightyMite tasted a bit salty and overpowering.  However, I’ve since stuck with MightyMite and it is now my new favourite. It is more like the original Vegemite in texture and colour and it has that salty, slightly bitter taste that us Vegemite lovers enjoy.  The great news is that it is about a dollar cheaper than the Vege Spread and it comes in a larger jar too, so it is much better value for money.

What is the most exciting for gluten-free Vegemite lovers is that there is now a larger choice for us out there.  Many companies are acknowledging the need for a gluten-free variety as well as taking advantage of the backlash that surrounded the original Aussie favourite being sold to an overseas company and are now producing locally made varieties.  Go forth and experiment – even if you don’t need a gluten-free option, there are some excellent yeast spreads on the market.

Gluten-free homemade tortillas

Ready made tortillas packaged in plastic found on the supermarket shelves don’t actually taste like food. They have so many additives and preservatives that they’d last the Armageddon, plus they are generally a corn flour and wheat flour blend.  Our friends from Arizona invited us over for a Mexican feast one evening and proceeded to introduce us Australians to home-made tortillas.  They are not only super tasty and authentic but naturally gluten-free. The trick is to find the masa corn flour to make them.  I went searching and luckily found this 2kg bag in a continental food store in the city.

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It cost me $7.95 for the bag, but considering one cup of the flour makes six small tortillas, it is actually cheaper than buying the ready made ones.  You mix the flour with about the same amount of water and add in a pinch of salt, roll into small balls and press with a specially made tortilla press.  We’ve since broken our tortilla press and now use two chopping boards to press them out.  Then dry fry the tortillas in a fry-pan and flip like pancakes.  It’s best to stack them as you remove the tortillas from the fry pan to keep them warm and soft.

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Yummy!!

99 bottles of cider….

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99 bottles of cider doesn’t quite have the same ring to it really.  Cider is gluten-free, beer is not.  This hasn’t been a big deal for me as I never really liked beer.  It always made me feel full, bloated and I couldn’t get used to the bitter after taste (hmm….perhaps my body new it didn’t like gluten earlier than I think it did).  Anyhow, I know that other people undertaking a gluten-free diet have a hard time coming to terms with life without beer.  So in the interests of helping others, I’ve decided to embark on a cider tasting quest.

To be honest I’ve never liked cider much either.  I found it bitter, heavy and gave up on bothering. However, there are now a lot of companies churning out interesting boutique ciders and expanding their range from the cloudy old apple cider that Grandmas drank on Christmas Day and special occasions.  This passion fruit cider I found at the bottle shop from Rekorderlig is a good place to start my cider quest I think.  It is fresh and light and quite sweet but not sickly.  It is made in Sweden, if the name wasn’t a bit enough clue for you and it is 4.0% alcohol. If you are new to ciders I’d recommend starting with this one.  Actually I’m finishing the bottle off as I write this on the back deck.  Happy day!

Gluten-Free Vegemite

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Growing up on Vegemite is all part of being Australian.  I was one of those kids who had Vegemite on toast, crumpets, sandwiches and made ‘worms’ through the holes of crackers.  Fast forward a few decades to find out that Vegemite contains gluten and is yet another food I can no longer eat was actually a little devastating.  I went through the seven stages of grieving , it had been part of my life, my identity and comfort for so long.  I was stuck on the anger stage of the grieving process for a long time.  How can I possibly remove Vegemite from my life, why was I forced to even contemplate this, what do I do to deserve this? Then I got over it, I was loyal to Vegemite for so long, but they now failed to be loyal to me…so I was going to take my business elsewhere!

Enter Freedom Foods Vege Spread.  A company moving with the times and recognising the market out there for Vegemite lovers and gluten-haters. It is gluten-free (made from corn and tapioca) and yeast free and also boasts being nut-free, Vegan and GMO free. It is a little more expensive than Vegemite (but most gluten-free food is! – sigh), but it is easy to find and a great substitute.  It looks a little different, it’s slightly more translucent and has a softer-smoother texture,  not bad – just different and hard to get used to after several decades of Vegemite consumption.  It tastes a little different to Vegemite, but dare I say a little better, it’s slightly sweeter and less salty and doesn’t seem to be as overpowering or as strong as Vegemite can be.

I’m a convert – goodbye Vegemite, hello Vege Spread.

My kingdom for a (gluten-free) crumpet!

I love crumpets!  I think I ate them for breakfast every morning for a whole decade growing up as a kid.  A little bit of butter and a smearing of Vegemite is a perfect breakfast in my opinion. I know Vegemite on crumpets is quite controversial… but give it a try before you knock it.  Anyhow, going gluten- free sadly stole crumpets from my life many long years ago (Vegemite too – but a tale for another post) so I was resigned to say goodbye to them forever.  When I saw that Macro has released a gluten-free crumpet mix I swear I almost shed a tear right there in the aisle of the supermarket.

I was skeptical, crumpets are tricky right? Then throw in the gluten-free factor, it really seems like a disaster waiting to happen.  But no… look at my lovely heart-shaped crumpets!

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They were quite easy to make.  Add water and yeast – provided in the packet – and cook in a fry pan using egg rings (I only had heart shaped ones!!).  They egg rings need to be well oiled and I found that the last few crumpets in the batch were not as bubbly as the earlier ones.  However, I think this was because I stirred the mixture too much between each batch.

They tasted great fresh from the frying pan.  The packet made about 20 heart shaped crumpets and I found I ate 3 at a time.  They cost close to $7 for a packet so this is fairly reasonably priced considering how many you can make. I froze them in batches and popped them in the toaster in the morning – they were good several days later too, which is not always the case with freezing GF food.

I definitely recommend them and I am very happy that crumpets have entered my life again.

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