Hot dogs

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I LOVE camping. Roasting safe food on a campfire, especially.

Brownie Camp is one of my favourite parts of being a Brownie Leader (aka an Owl), and I love teaching the girls to balance not being burned with getting things cooked. We always roast hot dogs for lunch, so while last year I brought a foil packed lunch to cook on the coals… this year I decided to make my own hot dogs!

I have not yet succeeded in perfecting that hot dog taste… but they sure roasted! They even did a decent octopus-style split.

I modified recipes from a variety of sources, and basically cut it down to some basics.

1) Process the Filling. In this case I used beef, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with some combination of veggies if that’s your preference, though they might need pre-cooking to remove some extra water. I put it through the food processor until it started to clump together. It was SO fluffy! I should note I wish I added WAY more salt at that point. I couldn’t taste it at all in the final product.

2) Make the hotdog shape. Lots of recipes use casings (But I haven’t found safe ones yet). I found a video online though with someone just twirling it in plastic wrap… Not sure how safe that is generally, so I used food grade vacuum seal bags instead. I contemplated foil, too, but was concerned about a metallic taste. It took a long time though to wrap them so I skipped this step on a couple. It wasn’t horrible.

I also stuffed a couple with cheese. Those were amazing!!! But I also cooked and ate these within 72 hours. I’d probably have frozen them for longer food storage.

3) Poach them (or they said you can smoke them- I’m definitely going to try that next). I cooked them all the way through, just like regular hot dogs.

4) Roasting!!! While I waited for the fire to become coals, I roasted my hotdogs. I finished eating just before the ravenous Brownies descended upon me, which was perfect because then I didn’t have to worry about cross contamination.

All in all, a glorious success. My sweater still smells like camp, a friend of mine has promised to lend me their smoker anytime I want to try this again, and, most importantly, no allergic reactions all weekend!

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Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire puddings are soft, bowl-shaped buns ideal for holding gravy for a special meal, like your favourite type of roast. We just made them for Easter supper, and I am very excited to have found that my dairy-free version to accommodate other family members actually worked better than my first try with dairy! It’s also gluten free so I could make it in my sister’s celiac kitchen. And egg and nut free… come to think of it I think it has none of the priority allergens. I’d be happy to suggest substitutes if you need & want them!

The secret is a difference of temperature- cold batter into hot oil. Without further ado this makes 1 dozen.

2/3 c white rice flour

1/3 c tapioca starch

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

9 Tbsp Aquafaba (the water from cooked or canned beans)

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 cup coconut milk

Vegetable oil, or grease from your roast if applicable.

1) Preheat the oven to 425F

2) Put ~1Tbsp of oil/grease into each cup of a muffin tin (I use silicone. My sister prefers metal, but sometimes hers stick a bit). The bottom of the cup should be covered.

3) Put the muffin tin into the oven, and let the oil get VERY HOT while you prepare the batter.

4) Mix dry ingredients.

5) Add Aquafaba and Vinegar, mix well.

6) Add coconut milk and beat a few mins. It should be the consistency of thick cream.

7) Chill the batter in the fridge if it’s not already cold.

8) Working quickly when the oil gets hot, take the muffin tin out of the oven, and distribute the batter relatively evenly in each muffin cup. Put it back in the oven and close the door.

9) Keep an eye on your puddings without opening the oven if at all possible. Bake 425F for 15-20 minutes, or until they are a bit browned and have risen enough.

10) Serve with your favourite gravy & roast, and butter or margarine if you’d like. Enjoy.

Sushi Adventures

A number of years ago, my wonderful sister-in-law Yukiko taught me the art of making sushi. For a few years it even became a standard appetizer for family meals, until we realized that we ate too much sushi and there was very little room for the main course LOL.

But along came Allergies, and I was baffled. My Japanese is insufficient to be able to call a Nori company and find out if it’s safe, and besides which I hadn’t added any of the usual filling items back into my diet. I skipped it sadly for two years instead.

This year, my parents were visiting, so I wanted to eat what everyone else was eating. Sushi night appeared on the calendar… and it occurred to me that I could cook rainbow Swiss chard, bean paste, and some ricotta cheese as a filling. I can eat sushi rice & rice vinegar, so that part was easy-peasy! Then I rolled it in a silicone mat to prevent cross-contamination, and… IT WORKED!

It wasn’t the prettiest sushi roll I’ve ever made, but I was in a huge rush.

As I was eating… it occurred to me that I could probably make something nori-like out of puréed green vegetables. I’ve been looking for something to do with Cooked Swiss chard (my garden was plentiful this year), and I thought maybe I could cook it in salt water, then blend it, and dehydrate it.

Today I suddenly remembered that I can make mayonnaise with Aquafaba… and that Onigiri is a delicious and easy sandwich substitute. Perfect for my supper tonight (I’m working late and won’t have much time to re-heat & eat a meal)!

So I got to work. I threw in some peas because the bulk of my Swiss chard is currently in barrhaven, blended, spread a thin paste in my dehydrator, and an hour or so later:

It’s *almost* dry. Which is perfect. I might try flipping it over.

I settled on chicken salad as a filling for my Onigiri, and some rice. I debated making normal ones or the very pretty panda shaped ones… then thought maybe I’ll make both!

By the end, the fake nori was a bit too crumbly to actually wrap the Onigiri properly… but I did manage to make the little panda bear anyways. And I’ll eat the rest on the side, à la Elizabeth nori-monster style.

Any ideas on making my not-nori a bit better?

Cocoa(not) SNICKERDOODLES 

The other day I stopped by a small natural food pantry on my way home from work. A friend had insisted she’d found safe all-purpose flour for me there, but as it turns out it had traces of nuts. Which explained some hives.

I digress. I chose to force myself to look around and see what else they had… and they had Coconut Flour from Earth’s Choice!

So I decided to try it out in a recipe I adapted from what was my favourite cookbook as a child, the Treasury of Creative Cooking. It has gold pages, which obviously makes it better. If you want to make it gluten free, be sure to use GF oats, and check with your celiac to be sure that oats are not a problem for them (some celiacs are sensitive to oats, others not).

Cocoa(not) Snickerdoodles

Heat oven to 375F. Grease your cookie sheets or add Parchment, or silicone mats.

In a large bowl, beat:

1 cup butter, softened (bet this would work with coconut oil too!)

3/4 c brown sugar (I just used raw sugar)

3/4 c granulated sugar

Add in:

1 large banana

Mix well.

Slowly add:

2 c uncooked rolled oats 

3/4 c white rice flour (I had a bit less)

3/4 c coconut flour (I had a bit more)

1/4 c dry milk powder (next time if I’m baking for my lactose-free colleague I’ll try adding more coconut flour instead of more lactose…)

1 tsp baking soda

Mix it all well, you should get a large glob. This dough is perfectly safe to eat as is… and is an excellent addition to ice cream. I expect it’d be amazing coated in chocolate, if you can have that sort of thing (maybe someday!!!). 

Before you bake them, put 2 Tbsp of white sugar and 2 Tbsp raw sugar in a bowl. Roll the dough into 1-2″ balls, and coat in the sugar mix. Put them on your cookie sheet, and press flat. Mine didn’t spread, but the original recipe calls for 2″ space between. 

Bake 8-10 mins (375F), until firm in the centre. Put them on wire racks to cool. Then hide them from the children. And from yourself.

Enjoy! 

TOAST

Confession time… up until about a month or two ago I was still using a shared toaster. I know, I know. Russian Roulette. After a few too many toast-related hives I finally gave up at stopped. 

Guess who is really awful at toasting toast with an oven? Me. Guess who hasn’t made toast in a while ? Me.

Imagine my jealousy when I saw my mom had a toaster bag!!! Bought in my city, no less, but gifted from a friend so she had no idea where to find it. 

But after some sleuthing (and interrogating a Santa who found some for my sister…) I found the truth. In Ottawa, turns out toaster bags of two varieties are available at “Ma Cuisine”! YAY! 


I was a bit skeptical at the plastic… but… seems to have worked!!! Guess who is now a happy camper full of toast? Me.

Sick with Allergies

There are many occasions where I’ll be the first to say I’m sick of having allergies. But when, like this week, I am actually sick? Allergies make things a little more complicated.

Can I wallow in self-pity for a moment? 😭 No tea, no hot lemonade, no jello or store-bought comfort foods. 😭 No Neocitran, listerine, ear drops, Vicks, or even regular Tylenol. 😭 Not to mention half of the symptoms have me suddenly wondering if I screwed up and I’m secretly having a reaction.

On the bright side, here’s what I *have* been able to use… And on the plus side most of these are things everyone can use, even if you can’t use meds or are pregnant, etc. I try to keep these on hand/in my freezer at all times just in case. Fair warning: discussion of some gross sickness-related stuff ahead.

For that infernal runny nose, or ‘tiny chicken disease’ as some like to call it:

NeilMed Sinus Rinse:

What: This is kinda like a NetiPot. You know, the weird kettle thing you press against your nose and use to pour saline through? Well… The Sinus Rinse is a little easier to handle, can allow for a touch of pressure to get that wad of mucus free.

Disadvantages: I won’t lie, this can be gross. For a rare few people, it can also be painful… If it is, STOP. My sister found her first try excruciating, exactly like “diving too deep”. She had a massive infection at the time, and only tried out of complete desperation.

Advantages: I can’t explain why, but it is oddly satisfying to see great clumps of mucus disappearing down the drain. Not to mention it actually clears congestion quite effectively!!! Works well to combat environmental allergens too 😀

Cost: The device isn’t free, but once you own it the pre-mixed saline packets are very cheap.

Age: They sell similar products for use with children- the adult ones are too big and be prepared for a fight until kids are old enough to squirt the bottle themselves… It took three of us to do my nephew before that point (Day 3 of mr.sniffles all night keeping his sister awake… Both kids were SO cranky).

Drink lots of fluids:

  • Water: Obvious, but this one’s easy. If i want it cold and different, I’ll add frozen fruit. If I want something hot, the advantage to straight hot water is that adding cold water doesn’t really change the flavour!
  • Soup: I try and keep chicken broth, beef broth, and a variety of soups in my freezer. Let me know if you want recipes for such things, they’re very basic. Have to be for me to manage to make them while sick.
  • “Tea”: Don’t get me started on how much I miss tea, and herbs and spices of any kind. They are high on my “need to try this carefully” list. Meanwhile, I have found that a 1:1 ratio of boiling water to milk will make nice warm milk, and I add raw sugar for a bit of flavour.
  •  If you can have herbs… Sage is a powerful decongestant- just don’t use while breastfeeding, as it is effective at drying you up! Mint is related, but much less potent. I used to boil water and make tea with 3-4 leaves chopped up, and then I would steam with the cup of tea for 15 mins and then you can drink it afterwards.

Steam:

There are a couple ways to inhale steam, but be careful- steam burns are not fun and dumping a hot cup of water on yourself is even less so. Try hanging a tea towel over your head to make a tent so the steam is inhaled from a kettle, or mug of tea/hot water. Or close the shower curtain and sit in the closed bathroom while it goes full blast. I know, waste of water. But breathing is more important.

Scratchy, sore throat:

See “Drink lots of fluids” above. Try both hot and cold to see what helps. If cold is more helpful…

Ice cream: I posted two simple recipes earlier- check them out!

Jello: You can make your own from gelatin or agar, unless you’re me. I like to make tapioca pudding and rice pudding instead, though I prefer to eat them hot… They can be served cold as well.

Popsicles: So easy! I made some on half my usual brain yesterday- I just blended frozen blueberries, bananas, milk, yogurt, and a bit of leftover blueberry syrup/jam. So nice on my swollen tonsil.

Disadvantages: If you use too much yogurt, like just frozen yogurt with a few blueberries… It freezes on an angle and can actually be quite sharp. Cut my tongue once. Am more careful now if I see the slanting ice crystals in my Popsicles. Plus they take a bit time to make, though immersion blenders help.

Advantages: Total control of what is in the Popsicle…  And by using fruit you get a lot of added vitamin C- always a good idea when sick. Plus they taste great! (Test before freezing to be sure you don’t need to add anything).

Clogged ear: I can’t STAND the feeling of a lot of ear wax- my ears feel like they produce enough for several Shrek-like candles every year. As a kid, my doctor pulled out a spherical ball (in pieces) that looked to me to be over a cm… So now I will do almost anything to try and prevent that!

I used to use Smilasan Ear Ache drops, and was devastated to realize I can’t anymore… Imagine my surprise when my pharmacist recommended using olive oil and a little dropper! So much cheaper, and while it’s not quite as soothing… It clears out the wax.

Eye drops: Haven’t had any eye infections, but I do know there are some straight saline drops which would be safe. I have to be particularly careful as many eye drops have sulphites, apparently. #sulphitesareineverything

Cough, cough, cough….

See “Lots of Fluids” above.

Plus you can try steam, or breathing cold air can help calm swollen bronchioles. I used to use Vicks VapoRub, so I’m looking into whether I can make something similar with fewer ingredients. Obviously I’ll have to be able to tolerate something like eucalyptus or mint first.

Cautionary Tale: Once upon a time, I found out you can put eucalyptus into hot water and steam, and it helps congestion and coughs. I wanted a hot bath to ease my aches & pains… So I thought why not combine the two? I ran my bath, dumped in eucalyptus oil, and happily climbed in. The smell was so powerful it bugged my sister, and she looked up more information on eucalyptus. I had figured out it’s poisonous to ingest, but she was the one to realize it can be absorbed through the skin! I presume this is true for many herbs… Anyways I got out quickly after she let me know, drank a lot of water, but I was quite woozy/headache/nauseated/weak for several hours. Lesson learned! If you want to combine steaming herbs/etc with a bath, bring it in a mug & set it somewhere you can smell it but not knock it over.

Cough drops

I haven’t found an ideal replacement yet… But I expect frozen berries might be something to suck on? If you have a better solution, let me know!

One last thought:

I’m not a doctor, but if you’ve been sick for over a week you should probably get yourself checked out… Not only are you more likely to be your best self when you’re healthy, but by staying home/resting/ect. you really will be helping to keep others like me from getting it too. My immune system seems to believe it’s fun to collect all illnesses possible from everyone I meet but I disagree. Take care of yourselves, please!

-Janice

Two Ice Cream Recipes with only two ingredients each .

I find it ironic that my ice cream recipe came to me via Angola. But the most allergy friendly recipes are often the simplest, and simple recipes THRIVE in more remote areas.

Ice Cream 1:

Take two cups of cold whipping cream & whip. Works best if you can do this in cooler weather. 

Gently fold in one can of sweetened condensed milk. 

Add flavourings of choice, keeping in mind that it is already VERY sweet.

Pour into container, and freeze. Done.

  Ice Cream 2: or is it Sherbet

Cut bananas into slices and freeze. I recommend freezing it on a flat surface (like wax paper) before putting into a freezer bag to freeze. 

When you’re ready to eat, blend frozen slices. Add flavourings into blender (I like adding other frozen fruits too). It should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

Enjoy- I know I always do!