2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 360 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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By Heck they’re good!

I saw a post on Twitter from Nigella Lawson showing a sandwich she had made with square sausage made by Heck. I got a little over excited by this as I haven’t had square sausage in years and was stunned to find a wheat free version. Square sausage is also known by the name Lorne Sausage and you can read about it here if you have never heard of it before. 

Sadly, my local Tesco doesn’t stock the square version but, as all of Heck’s sausages are gluten free, I picked up a pack of their 97% pork sausages and practically ran home to eat them. I am a little suspicious of some wheat free sausages as they seem to be an afterthought and I have had some that have had a really nasty after-taste. Not so with Heck I am pleased to say. They are just as a sausage should be, juicy without pouring with fat and hugely tasty with no nasty after-taste. 

I had them in sandwiches (of course!) on Genius seeded bread with ketchup and they were fantastic! They are comparable price-wise to other gluten free sausages but are specifically made to be that way rather than the way some manufacturers feel the need to provide a gluten free option. Unfortunately, my local Tesco is quite small so I only get the one option so I shall be shopping around the Tescos in Medway so that I can discover (and eat) the whole range. Keep it up Heck, you’ve won over my stomach!

Tasty chutney

Last weekend, I went to the local farmers market in Corporation Street car park, Rochester, Kent (UK for those of my international readers).

I follow several of the stall holders on Twitter but the lady who gets my mention today is too busy for social media, sadly. Most of the chutneys I used to buy in the days when I could eat wheat are no longer available to me so when I saw Joanne’s Preserves stall, I wandered over to see if there was any that I could eat. After a little bit of a chat, I bought a jar of tomato chutney with the promise that should I react to it, I would call and let Joanne know.

Later that day, I cooked some sausages and had them with the chutney. The sausages were tasty enough but the chutney was amazing. So much so that I had more the following day in a ham sandwich and with some cheese. I don’t think there is much left of the small jar that I bought but I know I can get more so I don’t mind.

As I didn’t have a reaction to the chutney, I thought it would be nice of me to call Joanne and let her know so I did just that. I interrupted her jamming and pickling but she was still happy to chat. She was really pleased to hear that I was OK with it and told me that she would change ingredients in most of her products if people don’t like something specific, like onions or mustard, as an example.

Joanne is really friendly and, amazingly has only been in business for 2 years, making everything in her own kitchen. I have included a link to her website but in Joanne’s own words, it is just so she has an online presence but her contact number is on there and she is happy for people to call and discuss her products and place orders as well as visiting her at farmer’s markets.

If you are in Kent, she is also at the Upchurch farmers market which is held in the village hall on the 4th Sunday of every month. My next purchase is quite likely to be either marrow and aubergine pickle or hot marrow pickle, can’t wait to try either of those!

Ilumi

I have frequently seen other gluten free bloggers mention the great food that Ilumi offer but have only just decided to order from them. I took advantage of a special offer that got me some freebies and a discount which is always nice. It arrived today and my stomach started rumbling as I looked at it all. I took advantage of the starter for ten offer, I ordered chicken massaman curry, tom kha gai (Thai chicken) soup, white basmati rice and venison casserole with pancetta and sloe gin and got tomato and red pepper soup, lentil dahl and a bottle of Celia gluten free lager for free and it all cost just £10!

My plans for a homemade lentil curry disappeared and instead I had the massaman curry with rice and lentil dahl (I was hungry). IT was amazing! I often buy another brand of microwave rice which often clumps together and is too much for one person especially as my appetite is slowly shrinking. The Ilumi rice was a revelation, it wasn’t clumpy and once it came out of the microwave, it was perfectly cooked and just the right amount. The curry wasn’t hot spice-wise and had a slightly sour taste which you would expect from any Thai curry. The lentil dahl was out of this world and although I’ll be cooking my own lentil dahl tomorrow, it will go in the freezer as it can’t compete with Ilumi’s! I will confess to not liking lager and so drinking that will have to wait until tomorrow when it is nice and cold from being in the fridge and I have some lemonade to go with it. 

I am also really looking forward to the other pouches, particularly the venison, but really couldn’t wait that long to review what I received. The reason for this is not just that I found the food really tasty and completely unlike a pre-cooked “ready meal” but also because of the service I received.

I ordered this pack on Thursday and got an email confirming despatch on Friday. With the weekend being a long one, I rang them just before am today to confirm whether or not I would receive my pack today. The man I spoke to said he could arrange it to be delivered today as it was so early in the day. No disrespect to him but I suspected that was not possible but thanked him anyway and went about my day which was so unexciting I won’t bore you with it. Imagine my surprise when my pack was delivered just after 5.30 this evening. I practically danced into the kitchen with it, I couldn’t believed he’d managed to arrange it and my belly is certainly pleased that he did. 

So, go to their website, lick the screen as you read all about their delicious meals and place an order, I know I will be again. I usually don’t bother buying specifically wheat and gluten free meals like this as I am on an extremely tight budget but Ilumi have got a new customer due to their impeccable service and reasonable pricing. My orders will be small in price but huge on taste, that is something I value when finding a decent gluten free supplier. 

I would have taken a photo of tonight’s meal but I inhaled it too quickly for that! 

 

Genius seeded bread

I started buying Genius bread many years ago and always enjoyed it, despite the price. As my financial situation changed, I started buying cheaper wheat free bread out of necessity. While Tesco have improved their loaves a lot, I do still occasionally pick up the odd loaf of Genius bread, more recently their seeded loaf.
The bread is light, not too much but enough to not have doughy bits after it’s toasted. The seeds are well spread out and the flavour is great. It is also moist enough to use without toasting it first which is great for me as a lover of egg and bacon sandwiches.

I recently bought a Newburn Bakehouse seeded loaf and it didn’t live up to the Genius one at all, the slices fell apart and it was dry despite the dippy egg I had sandwiched in it.

So, if you fancy a change from normal white or brown bread, I heartily recommend the Genius seeded loaf, it may be expensive at £3 a loaf (in Tesco) but it is a price well worth paying, in my opinion at least.

Dietary Specials frozen rolls

Yesterday, I was one of those annoying people who stroll into Tesco 15 minutes before closing. I had a short list of things to get, one of which was bread. I strolled to the aisle and to my surprise, there was no wheat free bread left. I picked up a packet of DS Ciabatta rolls and wandered away. I then walked into the frozen aisle to look at the wheat free pizzas when I spotted a pack of frozen DS white rolls. They were £2.50 for 6 rolls whereas as the ciabatta was £2 for 4 so I put the frozen ones in my basket and took the ciabatta rolls back.

Never having had the frozen rolls, I took 2 put of the packet to defrost last night, putting them in a food bag and leaving them on the side. When I got up, they were defrosted and not soggy which I wasn’t expecting. The packet says that they can be eaten straight after defrosting or put in the oven for 8 minutes. So that I could test them properly, I ate one straight way and put the other in the oven to eat later.

I haven’t had a great experience with rolls previously but the first one was brilliant, soft and chewy just like a regular roll (from what I remember!) The roll wasn’t dry like so many other wheat free products can be and there was no discernible after-taste through the Tesco cheese and onion filling.

A few hours later, I ate the roll I had baked, the bottom was beautifully soft with a crisp, crusty top. Mine was perhaps a little overdone but that is due to owning a mini oven where I have to guess certain temperatures. I put the same filling in so that I could test them both under the same conditions and again it didn’t disappoint. So much so that I am going to make them a regular purchase and make sure that I always have at least 1 pack in my freezer at any time. I currently have another 2 sitting in a food bag on the side ready for tomorrow’s packed lunch.

Although £2.50 seems a lot for 6 rolls, it does work out at 42p per roll which is only 2p more than a regular white crusty roll when bought loose from Tesco (yes, I checked!) and I think that makes a huge changes, a comparable gluten free option that you don’t have to take a mortgage out to buy, good job Dietary Specials!

Pancakes!

I love pancakes, either American or English I am not fussy when it comes to these lovely things. I found a great recipe recently which I adapted slightly to make it wheat free.  They are also egg free which is what I was looking for as I was out of eggs. I also didn’t use baking powder as I never have any but I can confirm that these pancakes are great when Doves Farm self raising flour is used. I made a batch as a snack and polished off the lot (piggy) and am looking forward to eating them again and again.

If you ever find a recipe that you like but it isn’t already wheat free, it really is easy to change it and this year, I am planning on doing this a lot more, after 7 years of being wheat free I am suddenly feeling brave about doing it. If you try these, let me know what you think of them.