Friday 9 December 2011


Hello, I've waited here for you,

For a long time we've been wanting to take our boy to see a band. A real rocking band.

Music was his obsession when he was small. He lived and breathed it. When he was two he could listen to a piece of music and tell the difference between a trumpet, saxophone and trombone or between a cymbal, triangle and tambourine. He watched Rage almost religiously and played his drums day and night. We took him to see friends play when he was much smaller, but as he got older it became more difficult. He couldn't sit still at all, he actually hated being confined to a room with groups of people and couldn't bear the noise. He would end up having what I would describe as a panic attack. He would freak out and beg to leave or cry or have a tantrum. He so desperately wanted the music, but couldn't stand being there. The occasions when we went to a gig and he stayed with grandparents, we wouldn't tell him where we were going as he would be devastated to not be able to go. We just couldn't pay whatever it cost us and have to leave before it even started.

Skip forward a few years.

He is six now, nearly seven. He can no longer do the trick of picking instruments in music and his drums are dusty, his head is now full of so many other things from school or books or games or sports. But he still has some musical passions. One of them is the Foo Fighters.

He discovered them all on his own watching Rage around about the time he turned four. He was in awe. He loved the song Everlong and would watch and listen to it over and over again. His most prized possession for quite a while was a little scrap of paper that he got his Dad to write all the band members names on and what instruments they played. He carried that bit of paper with him everywhere for months. At preschool he would 'play' Foo Fighters, which entailed him getting the other kids to act out the Everlong film clip with him. We took him to see Back and Forth, the band documentary and he has most of the albums.

It has taken us a really long time to discover his food intolerances and all the ways things affect him and we finally have him at a point where we thought he could deal with a gig. Thanks to his limited diet and a lot of fricking hard work, he is far less likely to panic and look for an out in crowds and his noise tolerance is way better.

We bought tickets for the three of us to see the Foo Fighters. The gig was last night at the Sydney Football Stadium with 47,000 people. Just a bit of a crowd.

47000 people

We bought ear plugs for him to help with the noise, we prepped him for a while on what to expect and let him know that although he hates it, people will cheer and scream and clap and sing along. He said he would do none of those things. He doesn't clap for anything. He is painfully self conscious and a quite shy.

So last night we saw four bands completely rock out a stadium and our boy loved it. He REALLY loved it. When he saw his favourite band ever he stood on his seat and sang and cheered and clapped and reveled in the whole experience. He got tired, but didn't whinge, just sat down for a few minutes and then started again.

Rock and Roll!

I am so grateful for discovering what was causing his problems and that because of that we got to have an amazing night out with our boy doing the things we love. Instead of being freaked by the crowd, he was liberated by it. He could dance and sing and hoot without fear that someone was watching him or that he stood out. No one was, they were all watching the band and everyone was getting into it.

Yes, his 'diet' is hard work and sometimes we throw our hands up in the air and despair and wonder why we do it all. Last night was the reason I do it all. That smile makes everything worth it.

One very happy boy ready to come home.

Friday 2 December 2011

It's Another Party!

We recently came home from a holiday and got caught up in a lot of stuff that was happening, then suddenly realised that it was less than two weeks until our daughter's third birthday. Talk about a massive rush job party! Her party was on a much smaller scale than her older brother's was, partly because she is only three and partly because she doesn't have anywhere near as many friends as he did at that age.

Being three, she loves Charlie and Lola, so after a bit of messing around we settled on that as our theme, which is actually quite easy as it is all a mish-mash of colours and patterns. If we had planned it in advance we could have found a whole bunch of merchandise online for parties, but most of it would had to have come from overseas and there just wasn't enough time. So after a bit of searching online I came up with a colour theme and bought some of the items.

The food was a little different this time around. My daughter is not really failsafe, but almost becomes so by default since most of the food in our house is failsafe. Nor is she gluten or dairy free, but I wasn't going to make different food for everyone, and if we go to a party elsewhere my son has to eat different to every one else, so I figure that at home he should be able to have the same as everyone else. We also had a friend with an egg allergy, so I needed to make sure the majority of the food was egg free.

On the menu was fairy bread - too easy - I asked my friend to bring it as she wanted to help out. Bakers delight bread with nuttelex and some natural sprinkles. She also made some sandwiches. I pulled a couple of slices of gluten free bread out of the freezer for my son so he had some fairy bread and jam sandwiches.

There were also some doughnuts made with "egg replacer" instead of egg. I had plans of icing them, but ran out of time so just tossed them in caster sugar.

I made biscuits on sticks (these contained egg) and using the same dough I made some jam fancies. They were made by rolling the dough out thinner, using a scalloped round cutter to cut rounds, and then using a smaller round cutter to cut holes in half of them. Bake them and then spread jam on the ones without holes, and then top with the holey ones.

A large selection of biscuits, because biscuits are Lola's favourite and best.

I opened a packet of Orgran shortbread hearts and dusted them with a bit of icing sugar.

Using the same dough as my melting moments I made checker board cookies and honey comb biscuits. The honey comb ones just have smashed up failsafe honey comb mixed through the dough. I rolled it into a log and put into the freezer until firm, then sliced and baked it. For the checker board cookies I divided the dough in half and mixed a tablespoon of carob into a portion of the dough. Roll both portions to approximately 5mm thick and roughly rectangular (or press/roll it into a slice tin to get the shape). Cut it into thirds lengthways and stack on top of each other in alternating colours. Put back into the freezer until firm again. Slice lengthways about 5mm thick and stack again in alternating colours. Freeze again, then slice crossways and bake (this sounds a bit more fiddly than it really is).

To nibble on, we also had failsafe chips, some homemade lollipops, white musk sticks and marshmallows. 

The hot food was meatballs and chicken fingers. I used egg replacer and psyllium to make sure my meatballs stuck together and added less vegetables that I usually would. I used a cornflour slurry (with a bit of egg replacer mixed in for "insurance" - I had no time for stuff ups) to stick the crumbs to the chicken and added crushed garlic to it for flavour.

The cake was also a last minute decision and kids always love cupcakes and there is far less chance of them failing than with a big cake. I searched around for a recipe that I liked and that would adapt quite easily. I found one that I liked the idea of, but it needed a little bit of adapting. The cakes worked well without egg or dairy, but I had recently been experimenting with flour blending and the resulting flavour was not the best. I'm not sure quinoa flour is right for a mildly flavoured cake, it just overpowered it. So just stick to the flour that is suggested in the original or use a pre-blended pack like Orgran. The other thing that I found is that the sprinkles didn't really make much difference in the cake. I'm sure the bigger artificial ones would work better, but they are completely out of the question from a failsafe perspective.

Confetti Cupcakes
(I doubled this so that there would be plenty)

  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten) or equivilent egg replacer
  • 1/3 cup rice milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100mls canola oil (or other FS oil)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (if your blend doesn't contain it - add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp natural sprinkles (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp nuttelex
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar 
  • 1 Tbsp rice milk (optional)
  • cochineal (to desired colour)
  • Dollar Sweets Butterflies (Be aware the label says "contains ingredients derived from wheat", although I can't figure out what it could be)
  1. Preheat oven to 180℃ 
  2. In a large bowl mix all dry cake ingredients
  3. Make a well and add all the wet ingredients
  4. Mix until just combined (if you want to use a mixer, just make sure you don't over beat it)
  5. Spoon into patty pans and bake for 12-14 mins or until cooked and a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cool on racks before icing
  7. Beat nuttelex and vanilla in a small bowl until soft and gradually add sifted icing sugar.
  8. Add rice milk if a softer consistency is required or more icing sugar for firmer icing (not too firm if you want to pipe it)
  9. Add cochineal drop by drop until you get the shade of pink you want
  10. Pipe or spread onto cold cupcakes and top with butterflies.
"Pink icing always tastes the best."

A very happy birthday girl

 The cake was served with pink milk, another Lola favourite.  Vanilla flavoured milk with enough cochineal to make it pink (rice milk for my boy, dairy for the others). The kids don't even notice that the pink milk isn't strawberry flavoured, it is sweet and pink and that is all that matters.

Organised fun was kept to a minimum since the birthday girl was only three and didn't really care. There was a game of pass the parcel and we set up a colouring-in table with Charlie and Lola printables and butcher's paper covering the table.

Party boxes consisted of a small amount of failsafe lollies and a large amount of pencils, crayons, mini gel pens, mini highlighters, little erasers, colouring in sheets and curly straws all purchased at a cheap shop.

Even though it was a rainy day and everyone was stuck inside (and my poor time management skills meant that I was still cooking when people walked int the door) we all had a great day.

A Special Night

Christmas is just around the corner and who can really believe that it has come around so quickly. I barely feel like I've gotten the hang of this year and now it's almost over.

Last night we put up our Christmas tree and I always like to make a nice meal to have to make the event just a bit more special. We enjoyed a family favourite Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and for dessert I made creme caramel again adapted from a french book I have. The amazing thing about this is that, besides being incredibly easy, it doesn't taste like rice milk. I have actually made this for visitors who had no idea that it didn't contain dairy until I told them!

Creme Caramel

  • 125g caster sugar

  • 625ml rice milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla pod split open(or 1/2 tsp vanilla essense)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 egg yolks
  1. Place sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until it dissolves and starts to turn into caramel. Swirl the pan so that it cooks evenly. Remove from heat and carefully add 2 tablespoons of water to stop it cooking. 
  2. divide between six 125ml ramekins or pour into a large ring tin and leave to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180℃
  4. Put milk and vanilla pod into saucepan and bring almost to the boil.
  5. Mix together eggs and sugar in a large bowl.
  6. Strain the milk over the egg mixture and stir thoroughly.
  7. Pour into ramekins or tin and place into a roasting pan.
  8. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  9. Bake for 35-40 mins or until the top looks set and it feels firm (kind of like a set jelly)
  10. Remove from roasting tin and leave to cool for approx 15 mins
  11. Run a knife around the inside of the mould and invert onto a serving plate.

So I think the bubbles mean that I've done something bad, like whisked it too much. But I put it down to the lack of cream.

Mmmm... Custardy goodness.