This New Year

So I'm perfectly aware it's mid January. But in the interests of capturing my life in chronological order within the pages of this here digital scrapbook I'm going to need you to pretend time travel back a few weeks. Then once we've got that out of the way I can share Baxter's birthday with you, m'kay?

So here we go.....

Hogmany = eating

somehow, somewhere along the line hogmanay was declared 'stripe day'. so we all wore stripes and made this sign a lot. international sign for 'stripes' innit?

brodie stayed up to watch ET.  a little reminder that one of the littles is not so little anymore.

and then it was time for more food. rack of venison with a port and blueberry sauce. red onion tarte tatin. star anise carrots. quite often i'm critical of food i make but i'm happy to say i stuffed my face with all of that and loved it. gluten free lemon tart came out not too shabby either. enjoyed some delicious rhubarb and ginger gin. i suspect it's a good thing i don't eat this way every day.......

happy new year!

still with the make up



there were magic tricks in our crackers. watching him master them was the real magic

All the Food

I really thought I'd blogged about the biopsy I had in March this year to try and get to the bottom of my wheat intolerance/possible coeliac but I can't find it in the archives so maybe I didn't?

I had the biopsy, it was somewhat horrific. Don't mean to be overly dramatic but it was horrid. I have small nasal cavities. The reason I know this? Because the consultant repeadtedly tried to enter the camera through them before she gave up and I had to swallow the damn thing the hard way. Sigh.

Then I had the mother of all nose bleeds and had to laugh when offered a wheaty biscuit with my after procedure cup of tea. The results came back 'inconclusive'. Which was not really a problem I was just relieved that I didn't have to eat any more wheat.

I thought I would feel tippity top the next day but actually it was weeks before I felt ok. As though my body needed to repair the damage I'd done by eating wheat for weeks. And the rash on my hands and head took weeks to heal. I was a fun guy to be around during those weeks.

I went a bit mental trying to be 'clean' and bascially ate only fruit and veg for weeks. I became completely paranoid that I was ingesting wheat from a hidden source because I felt so rotten. I even suspected my tea bags were making me ill. Some tea bags are sealed with wheat 'glue' but my beloved Twinings Everyday are made with a meltable plastic layer which seals the tea in. Which when you think about it is fairly icky too........

Sure enough after a few weeks I felt better though and started eating some grains and rice pasta and buckwheat cereals.

And since then I've been trying to navigate the gluten free world and keep myself healthy. I have an appointment with a gastroenterologist at the end of the month but I've come to accept that ultimately I am responsible for keeping my body safe from the things which make me ill.


If this all sounds a bit melodramatic to you, that would be fair comment. But that's ok, I've become that boring person who brings my own food and politely declines food at gatherings. I question people in shops and in restaurants in what I hope is a respectful way and I've no qualms about walking away if I don't trust the answer I get. Don't feel bad for me. I'd rather eat the apple in my bag than risk being ill for days. It's taken me a while to get here, but I'm here now.

I've made lots of mistakes. Often grains, even those which are naturally gluten free like quinoa are processed in the same machinery as wheat which makes them potentially harmful which I didn't realise. Processed foods are tricky (by processed I mean anything which comes in a packet, so bread, biscuits, cereals) as unless they are certified gluten free they can be risky. And even things labelled as gluten free can be dubious - read the small print, some even say 'not safe for coeliacs' which I find unebelievable.

I cannot tolerate oats which is sad because they can be useful in recipes and who doesn't love porridge?

But I'm coming around to a new way of thinking. All of this change has happened at a time in my life when my food horizon was shifting. In reading books like this and this, I have a renewed desire to feed my family real food. Food high in nutrients. The best food I can afford and the best food I can find.

I've always enjoyed food and cooking. I felt the way we ate was 'good enough'. I was glad the kids were/are good eaters. But there was so much more I needed and still need to change.

And the food on our plates on a daily basis has changed. I crave fruit and vegetables now in a way I never have before. I've turned my husband into a label reader. If I look at an ingredient list and it's full of unpronouncables or sugar is the first on the list I put it back. If I or the kids eat that then we're missing out on an opportunity to eat something healthful.

The amount of meat we eat is ever decreasing. We're trying to make sure the meat we buy is from a source we trust and can trace, but that's expensive so we find ourselves with veg based meals more and more.

I think the Caroline of 2008 would think this was all very bizarre. I followed Weight Watchers for six months of that year and I cringe when i think about what I was eating to be 'healthy' and lose weight. All the processed, packaged foods and diet yoghurts laced with sweeteners. And I should have known better, I studied nutrition at university but I just couldn't see the wood for the trees. I didn't read the labels only the packaging which said 'low fat' or 'healthy' or some other misleading tripe. And I lost weight but I was far from healthy. I only ate fruit and vegetables because they were 'low points' and by eating them I could save up points for a binge.

Ah yes, binging on 'bad' foods is a cycle for lots of us I'm sure. But being honest, since cutting out the processed foods packed with sugar which were my treats  I can honestly say they don't hold the same power over me that they once did. I can't comfort myself with those foods anymore so I've had to find other ways to feel better.

I suppose what I'm getting at here is that this weird reaction to wheat and gluten which seemingly came from nowhere and completely floored me has been a catalyst for good. I have more to say about this I'm sure.

This whole life changing saga has changed what I will eat for the rest of my life. It has been the kick in the pants I had no idea I needed.

Anyone else found themselves caught up in this so called 'clean eating' movement?

Quick, keep up!

I'd just like to document here on ye olde blog that for once I am way ahead of the times. I first made marshmallows in like 2011 or something.

And whilst I can't quite claim to have invented marshmallows apparently they are now the height of fashion, the new cronut as it were. AND I WAS THERE FIRST.

Since poor Morag can't have wheat or dairy in her diet marshmallows are one of the only things I can make for her, safe in the knowledge that I'm not going to make her ill. 

I made her a batch of pale blue marshmallows for Mothering Sunday and wrapped them in a brown bag, pegged with a tiny doily because it looks cute and I still have a lot of doilies to use up. Doily anyone?

I'd like to say marshmallows are really difficult to make but that would be untrue. You do need a sugar thermometer and some patience but the possibilities for flavour combinations are endless.

Next up I'm going to try this recipe from The Marshmallowists

It does require one to open a bottle of champagne and only use 2 tablespoons in the recipe itself, but that's the kind of decadence I live for.

It appears Brodie is a fan too.

Creative Challenge

A Wonka Birthday

About a month ago Brodie announced that his birthday would be a Charlie and the Chocolate factory party. Fair enough.

Give me a theme and I'll run with it.

During the last week we've been busy making some decorations, purple 'W's to decorate the gates and door with, giant lollipops made from paper plates wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbons,  giant sweeties - balloons wrapped in cellophane. I think he enjoyed the build up as much as the day itself.

We played pass the parcel at the birthday boy's request and the young guest who was helping to play the music ensured Brodie won which was just lovely. Greig and I had already spoken at length about the politics of who should win but in the end it was taken out of our hands and Brodie was disproportionately happy to win a set of glow in the dark ceiling stars. We played some other party games and food and cake. As you do.

I'm planning posts on the cake and party bags later this week but suffice to say planning and making things to celebrate feels good. I felt very proud that Brodie wanted everyone to enjoy themselves and eat and play with him on his special day. He was so excited to dress up smartly and have his hair 'spiked'. Of course he was delighted that people kindly brought him gifts and he opened them all and said thanks and since the party finished has looked through them all and run his fingers over the pages on new books and delighted in new games. I think he was gracious and well mannered, as much as anyone can expect a nearly five year old hopped up on sugar to be.

I feel like I say this every time but our friends and family who celebrate so generously with us make my heart swell, they mean so much to me and they are the village who are raising this wonderful boy. Thank you.

The worst bit for the boy was waiting for the party to start. We started the fun at 11am which was perhaps unconventional but meant everyone was on top form for the main part and gave us plenty of time to wind down and play when it was all over. Good times.

Fizzy lifting drink, or lemonade to you and me.

Thank you for all those who contacted me yesterday about the MADS post, thank you, thank you.