Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life should be lived and loved!

I have had such a blessed life with a supportive and wonderful family, equally great friends and a husband who is incredibly patient, kind and supportive. What I haven't been blessed with is a simple internal system!
I have spent so many years gazing internally that I am, on some occasions, quite literally, over my body! I become so frustrated with the fact that I work so hard at doing everything right...exercising, eating well, not eating the things that make me ill, taking supplements etc that I cannot believe I am still unwell as often as I am. I do occasionally go into denial and brag about how well I have been; immediately my body retaliates with a bout of pain and my husband reminds me that it wasn't actually that long ago since I was sick ( he has to put up with me complaining and my irrational mood swings!).

What have I learnt that my body reacts to?
Milk (not cheese for some reason)
Coffee (decaf okay)
HUNGER! I get the worst symptoms when I go too long (ie 3 hours) without food!

What are my symptoms?
It varies from challenge to challenge but generally either one or a combination of many of the following:
Stomach cramps (sometimes so bad that I just have to grab a hottie and head for bed)
General discomfort
Grumpiness and Misery

Generally I am fun to be around!
I think the longest I have gone so far wihtout some kind of an episode of the above symptoms is about 3 weeks (YAY!).

So, what do I do?
I avoid; wheat, red meat, milk (can eat cheese), watermelon, garlic, onion (these are just new discoveries) and sugar
I have acupuncture, generally weekly when I am in town long enough
I take a high nutrition food supplement (Nuferm)
I drink lots of water
I eat 3-5 times a day
I exercise 3-5 times a week

What are my plans?
I plan to have the gene test for coeliac, to rule it out (or not and then get tested properly, which involves going back on wheat products for 6 weeks...which I want to avoid if I can)
I will get tested for fructose malabsorbition
I will keep doing what I am doing and hope that somewhere along the line we can realign whatever is wrong!

The thing is that there could be plenty of things worse, so I am not complaining, I just make adjustments in my life to suit and move on!

Life is too short and should be lived and loved!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The journey thus far

I guess that by this stage you understand my passion for veggie gardening and cooking; and I think I briefly explain in other parts of this blog the fact that I am a long suffering foodie with issues...but I haven't shared a lot of the journey regarding those I thought I would.

I believe that I have suffered with whatever it is, as yet still undiagnosed, for a long time. I have recollections of severe stomach pain on various occasions;

  • age 16 at the Taranaki V Springboks game when I lived in NZ on youth exchange with Rotary - couldn't enjoy the game, I had to lie in the foetal position and breathe
  • age 14 + on camping trips to the Warrumbungles in central NSW - mostly climbing the damn hills!
  • various ages at home, on horseback, at pony camp....vague memories but poignant when you reflect
I had always noticed, as a teenager, that when I consumed a large amount of milk that I would get a headache not long after, so stopped doing that (although sometimes the nice cold, chocolatey milo milk in the afternoon after a 1hr bus ride home would be too hard to resist and I would suffer!) but I really started noticing and paying attention to other pain and the terrible reflux I was experiencing, about a year after I moved to Lightning Ridge, 11 years ago now, and thought I would start eliminating things myself. 

First to go was the coffee; which I drank alot of, a habit that formed as a result of a 6 month stint as a waitress/barista in an Italian place in Alice Springs - noticeably I ususally drank a milk based coffee (der!)...didn't help.

Over the next few years I gradually excluded dairy (entirely for more than 12 months), wheat (haven't had any - by choice - for at least 7 years), and lastly sugar. 

The irony of this self elimination process is that I still wasn't getting better - AND, the kicker, I was going to doctors pleading for them to help....all I ever got was a new drug to take (by the way, some of them actually made me worse!). I had to ask, just last year, for a gastroscopy to test for coeliac disease, but I had not done enough of my own research and after I went through an anesthetic (which is NOT good for the body or soul) my next GP told me that they wouldn't have found anything because I had eliminated wheat from my diet so many years ago - WHY didn't the doctor know to ask that questions - particularly as we had had a discussion about why I wanted the test?

I forgot to mention that I had prick tests done at the RPA clinic in Sydney (a 10 hour drive for us), simply because I still wasn't feeling well and was in fact getting worse, but they showed I thought I could eat wheat and dairy again...BIG Mistake! I do remember how excited I was though to pull up at the White Rose Cafe in Dunedoo and inhale a fresh corn beef and pickle sandwich (an old fave!) on white bread!!!!! Not so good 2 days later!

I could have done the full elimination diet, but the idea of consuming pears for a whole few weeks and not much else did my head in - so I kept paying attention to my body and cutting out things that made me sick!

To be continued!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My day

Yesterday was slightly crazy and just made me realise how complex my life is right now, with so many fingers in pies!

A bit like the seasons, my life is cyclical - it starts with the dormant recouping stage (winter) and leads up to the madness of spring and summer and then a gradual down turn of Autumn (although in my case, I usually skip this season all together and go for a cold SNAP as I crack under all the pressure and throw my hands in the air and take my bat and ball home!).

I have had periods of down time, where I haven't worked at anything in particular, but always, always, during that period I am concocting my next big thing - which then of course I have to bite off and chew!

I'm Not Fussy is one of those projects - a 'chicken and the egg' project and sooo much to do in soooo little time.

I am impatient by nature, my Mum always recounts the story of my first day of school when I threw my bag down in disgust proclaiming that it was a waste of time because they didn't teach me to read and write! I really haven't changed much - although the projects and the risks just get bigger!

So, back to my day....

I am part of this incredible program, the Australian Rural Leadership Program, aimed to create better leaders out of those of us who have a passion for rural and regional Australia (which I really do!) the program does require some work. So after I had blogged and done a bit of work on facebook etc for I'm Not Fussy I set about doing some work for ARLP including my report, project work and stuff for the course council.
Then an email came through about a scholarship to complete the Company Directors course, which I have wanted to do for ever, but couldn't, I completed my application, hot off the press, because I knew I wouldn't get back to it (and because I was in work avoidance mode too I have to admit!)

Then I set about writing some content for the website

All the while the glass man was fixing the broken window in my office from a break in 12 months ago, and fixing screens to the windows - as protection...all a little too late as the office was again broken into on Sunday - always a day late! Luckily they only got away with a couple of old phones, which will be no good to them anyway as I have blocked them...HAHA!
But they did make a mess and it has really left me baffled that they ransacked my office, the kitchen and shed of the restaurant in the complex but didn't take anything else, why go to all that trouble and not at least take the computers, or screens or the grog? I am not complaining but just pondering the effort required for a couple of useless mobile phones.
So, now I am all caged in, which I don't like, but do feel much better about leaving the office at night (had considered camping out here!).

Next was lunch, which was a delicious fresh cooked chicken breast tossed through some garden greens, snow peas and radish all sloshed in a zingy vinaigrette..Highlight of the day!

I then spent the afternoon volunteering at the Australian Opal Centre - a FANTASTIC place that I love working at because the fossils are incredible (100 million year old fossils, some of which are opalised too!) and it is a super amazing project. I also got to catch up with a friend who I rarely get to see, because of my crazy life!

Then I organised to go and sell some opal, so spent a while doing that...was successful which is always a good feeling!

I then dragged my self to the gym, which is always an effort, but well rewarded afterwards, apart from feeling noble, I always feel a couple of inches taller and a million times less stressed!

I reveled in the next hour as I got to play in the garden, pulling out old plants and replenishing the soil with new mulch and seedlings raised from our own organic seed - what a sensational feeling! Apart from the mozzies which gave me a real hiding, it was pure bliss and such a wonderful feeling after such a crazy day!

Dinner was the next plan, and I decided to go Thai and whipped up a Green Papaya Salad (green papaya very luckily found at the Fullers store at Bellingen on our way home from Coffs Harbour on Sunday) with sticky rice and fried chicken....will show picks and recipes another day, but YUM OH YUM! Transported me back to the busy street of Chiang Mai during Songkran!

So, all in all it was a productive, albeit hectic and slightly chaotic day...and I certainly did sleep well.

No sign of Autumn or a cold snap just yet!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tarts and all that yummy stuff!

I picked a beautiful bowl full of mulberries off the tree this morning and was slightly disappointed that there are fewer red ones than there have been; we may only get a couple more weeks of the delicious deeply sweet treats!

There is simply nothing better than swanning around in your dressing gown, in the garden first thing in the morning, it is such a refreshing start to the day and one that I really miss when I am away.

I thought I would share my mulberry frangipane tart today; I made it last week, but it was sooo delicious!

I started with shortcrust pastry, made from Stephanie's Cooks companion- 3:4 ratio of butter to flour(spelt in my case), roughly rubbed through, worked a little and let to rest in the fridge for 1/2 hour. I believe the trick with short pastry is not to overwork it, if you want that nice crisp crumbly and buttery texture.
I cooked the mulberries down with a little honey (ayurvedic honey in our case) and Madeira until they were softening slightly and the sauce had turned a bloody purple.
The cooked mulberries went in the case (which had been blind baked)..already looking delicious!
Mulberry tarts prior to the frangipane epiphany!
I kept looking at the tarts though and thought that they were just not complete...I didn't have any more pastry left so I could not make the pies...what could I do?

Frangipane - of course! I have never made it before but I know it tastes good and would probably go really well with these beauties!
So 830pm and I have the kitchen wizz out blitzing up almonds and eggs!

Thank goodness for Stephanie again; I just LOVE her book! I used a packet of almond meal, 25g of fructose (sugar replacement -you use a 1/3 less and it doesn't upset my stomach!), some butter and an egg.

The frangipane was liberally spread on top of the mulberry mix and baked until golden.
The golden brown tarts!
They were a super sweet treat that we just devoured and oohed and aahed over!
Who could ask for more - a warming treat from the oven made with love and produce from the garden!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pizza Dough - recipe by request

Makes 2 pizza bases (enough to feed one hungry person or one not so hungry and have left overs  for after!)

Combine 1 cup of warm water and 7g of yeast in a large mixing bowl then stir to combine and dissolve yeast. Set aside until foamy(about 5-10min). Put 2 cups of plain flour (I use organic spelt flour) in a bowl with 1.5tsp of salt, make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and water mix. Stir with a wooden spoon, make sure you pull flour from the sides until the dough comes together. If the dough is too stick, add another 1/2 cup of flour. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead in an additional 1/2 - 1 cup of flour until the dough is smooth. Once it is smooth and elastic to feel, shape into a ball and place in a bowl (which you have oiled). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm area to double in size (could take up to 2 hours...depending on how warm your area is!). Punch down the dough, divide into two equal portions and use!

Split the dough into two even balls and roll out the dough on a floured surface (if you are using a stone pizza base you will need to heat it up in the oven)

Spread your choice of base (tomato paste, pesto etc) and top with your choice of flavours and cheese!

Place the pizza on your chosen cooking implement (pizza maker, stone base etc) and cook - in a HOT oven will take between 5-10 minutes.

The base will rise and bubble, don't be alarmed - these are the BEST bits!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I love Paella; not only because of the way the actually word sounds (when said correctly!) but the memories it conjures of a holiday in Europe, a fleeting visit to Spain (one night!) and an evening in the town square; a sangria induced bliss coupled with paella, creme catalan and some ruccous football fans! But that is for another day!

I was given a Paella pan for Christmas last year, so, along with my two chefs in the kitchen (the kids!) we prepared a banquet for the family! Despite the heat, it was Lightning Ridge in January, we managed to prepare a super special paella, complete with yellow belly and yabbies (as well as sea fish, chicken and prawns!), broad beans and all the other delights including chorizo!

The paella had all the requirements I have read are important - moist and supple rice, a crunchy and delicious crust on the base and just the right combination of freshness (from the peas) and flavours! It smelled amazing whilst cooking and, I have to say, even tasted fantastic the next day!

We coupled the Spanish triumph with a non alcoholic version of Sangria, which I made using the aerated non alcoholic wine you can buy from the supermarket and orange juice - it was a HIT!

There is a lot of anxiety around about making paella, and I have to say it is warranted! With so many wonderful ingredients the fear of failure could be costly...but I say, just trust the recipe and DON'T be tempted to stir!!!!
A HOT day in Lightning Ridge, the flavours and the scents of this divine dish and I was transported back to my summer memory of beautiful Spain in July x

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I picked what I thought was one carrot last night and ended up with a pair - a very friendly pair!
A Friendly pair of carrots!
We were thrilled with the length of the beauties - normally our carrots end up short and squat and a bit gnarly because we over water and the soil is too solid - but we have the mix right on this one!
When I chopped the stalks off I got that great smell of brightness and true carroty scent; you just don't get that when you buy them from the shops!
They tasted delightful and added a real sweetness to my simple stirfry of XO garden veg and tofu (with a good slug of Shaoxing wine!) This pair of lovers met a happy end!

XO tofu and garden veg stirfry featuring the LOVER carrots!

Monday, October 18, 2010


This post is coming more from a place of what I am desiring currently...Pizza!
This gorgeous beauty was created one Sunday afternoon towards the end of fire weather (although we have had the fire back up and cranking in the last week...who knew Lightning Ridge in October could be cool!!! Loving it!)...anyway. I made the dough, a simple, spelt flour and no oil number, and it rose to perfection by the warmth of the fire. By lunchtime it was at its optimum and in the meantime I had had whipped up a gorgeous rocket and mixed nut pesto with greens from the garden and a pungent olive oil (I am not a pesto purist and usually use whatever nuts I have available - in this case it was a mixture of almonds, green pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds). It provided the base of the pizza, topped with anchovies and home made bocconcini (YUM) and cooked in our Pizza Maker (which I just LOVE! and don't use often enough!) they took about 5 minutes. We topped them with a delicious salad from the garden, including spicy little radishes which added to the spark of the pizza!

Yum Made with LOVE Pizza!
This pizza provided an incredible treat which my mouth is watering for as I write! 

BUT the real joy was as much in the preparation and the company and the feelings evoked by the situation of warmth and sharing as it was in the eating!

That is the thing I love about food - if done properly, it creates atmosphere and while the memory of the dish may fade, the emotions attached to the moment won't!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Frittata Friday

It is a windy, wet miserable day here today and is more akin to curling up with a good book and a hot choccie than working! So I thought, for lunch, we needed something wholesome and delicious that would remind us that the rain brings bounty and our garden loves it and rewards us with goodies to nourish our bodies and souls.
So, a zucchini and three thyme frittata was in order!
I made it using two reasonably sized (if not misshapen) zucchinis, a small onion, three kinds of thyme (normal, variegated and lemon thyme) and a big handful of flat leaf and curly parsley, all fresh picked from the garden and taken straight into the kitchen (are you jealous yet?)!
I sautéed said ingredients in a bit of olive oil with some smoky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper until they were nearly soft (I think it is still nice to have some give in the veg in a frittata).
I then topped them with four whisked hens' eggs - gathered yesterday - and some crumbled home made fetta - shall have to have another cheese fest soon, the stocks are diminishing!
The whole thing was then let to set and crisp up until just about firm on top of the stove before I finished it off under the grill.
I topped with a home made vinegarette (1generous tsp of french mustard, 3-4 tsp of white or red wine vinegar and about 6-8 tsp of olive oil all added to a small jar and shaken thoroughly) for a little extra zing and punch to cut through the rich egginess! Can I say YUM too many times?
Odd angle...
Frittata Friday - delicious inspiration on a not so delicious day!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010


We planted a mulberry tree last year, it was my husbands' treat to himself whilst I was working away from home! He has, like many people, childhood memories of gorging himself on their sweet, purple deliciousness and being scolded for the light dusting of purple stain left behind on skin and clothes!

We expected to wait a few years for a crop, but thanks to careful attention, love, a really, really great season,  and the huge tajmahal of a bird proof net it has over it, the darling tree is about three times its original size and abundant with mulberries!

The best thing is that the fruit is ripening at intervals, so there is just enough to sate your desire for a few days and then the next crop is ready!

The heaving tree - before any major cropping
Mulberries are sweet and delicious when ripe, the only tartness really comes when you pick it a little early - and there is a method in picking! The berries that are truly ripe will literally fall off in your hand, with the most gentle press of your finger - if you have to force the berry to yield, it won't be ripe enough!

The bright green stalks contrast against the brilliant
purple of the ripe fruit!

If any of the fruit makes it inside...I love them simply thrown in the non stick pan after cooking buckwheat pancakes (organic buckwheat and water...simple!) and swirl them around a bit with a splash of proper maple syrup - not the fake stuff which is loaded with sugar!. This makes a sensational start to the morning (made even more divine after a wander in the garden harvesting breakfast!) or a cheeky after dinner treat!

Organic bliss - buckwheat pancakes served with homegrown
mulberries and maple syrup!
Mulberries also make brilliant tarts (making one tonight with the left over harvest from this morning!), crumbles (we made one recently that had mulberries and green apples YUM) or go well with yoghurt on muesli for breakfast.
Of course there is no better way to eat them than from right off the tree - and there is no sneaking either, the purple stain on your fingers and lips is a dead give away!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Incredible Booglies (Yabbies)

We were so privileged this week to devour a delicious pile of tasty Narran (river) yabbies! On another recent fishing trip my wonderful husband was able to gather some of these giant blue river dwelling delights so that, upon my return from a hectic I'm Not Fussy schedule, we could enjoy the bounty!
Bright blue Narran River Yabbies, caught near Angledoool NSW
I am always so excited by the prospect of what to do with Yabbies and have, over the years, developed a number of wonderful dishes - one of which is my signature...but you will have to wait for that one!
Rather large Blue Yabby!
I have so many happy memories of childhood whiled away waiting for the tug, on the end of a piece of bailing twine with a piece of meat wrapped strategically around an ample sized rock, which meant there was a yabby! Then ever so slowly pulling the beast to the surface, so as not to shake it from its grip on the bait and finally, when it's head feelers broke the surface of the creek, a final and mighty scoop with whatever catching device we had (Dad once made us a yabby scoop out of an old saucepan which he had drilled a heap of holes in - had pretty poor resistance in the water rendering it almost impossible (and never successful!) to use!). There was much joy if the yabby was caught and much laughter and taunting when the beast was picked up carefully and used as a weapon for scaring unsuspecting watchers on resulting in high pitched girly screaming! Of course, the real treat was in the eating! In our house it was always yabby boiled in large pot of water until they turn lobster red! Then, in a very messy occasion, they were devoured, accompanied by bread and Dad's famous homemade seafood sauce (mayonnaise, tomato sauce and a bit of worscherire!).

Verjuice Yabbies
These days our cooked yabbies get additional sophistication!
This week I quickly stirfried them with the freshest parsley from the garden, salt, white pepper and a good slug of Maggie Beer's verjuice! Served neat, they were sweet, meaty and completely divine! Please sir, can I have some more :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

So many troubles

I have met so many people - or people who know people - these past few days at both the Gluten Free Food Show in Melbourne and currently at the Good Food and Wine Show in Adelaide who are living with chronic conditions that are a mystery and a challenge both to mainstream medicine and the alternative therapies. It just reinforces to me the need for more communication, more education, more research and more conversation because people's quality of life is adversely affected and it shouldn't be.
It raises, for me, the question about what is wellness?
To me, it is a whole of life approach. I have spent many years trying to discover what was 'wrong with me' why I was rendered housebound and fuzzy with stomach pain and a general feeling of internal ugliness...the lesson for me, which I am constantly relearning and having to remind myself, is that wellness is holistic. You cannot simply cut out certain foods to make you better. It has to be more. Since exploring this philosophy, we have rid our house of chemicals, we live, as much as we can out of the veggie patch or what our surroundings provide, we enjoy time with friends and family, I take time for me and my body with alternative therapies and I try to stress less (this one is tricky sometimes, particularly when embarking on a new venture!). I now feel better than I ever have when I was just focusing on what food I could and couldn't eat!
I want to share this message - while concurrently putting my money where my mouth is and raising funds for health and wellness research and education, so more people can revel in their life rather than just going through the motions and tolerating ill health or unwellness.
Join me on this journey and SHARE YOUR STORY TOO!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fish Friday

I have recently spoken about our delicious Yellow Belly feast but had no images....well the men went fishing again and came back with a haul! The river was rising and the fish were biting...they said they caught heaps of really small ones that they threw back (about 30) and came home with these six beauties!
Yellow Belly from the Barwon River at Walgett
We had a great feast of them - after my father in law painstakingly filleted them all (they enjoyed their fillets too!). I don't particularly like fish soup, but next time I will be saving the heads and skeletons for my friend who LOVES it - I will feel much better about that because I always felt so wasteful throwing them away.
My husband just carefully crumbed the fillets with Gluten Free Rice Crumbs (which the whole family LOVES!) and served with snow peas from the garden, roasted kipfler potatoes and carrots...simple, elegant and DELICIOUS!
This really is great living - not only do you get the enjoyment from catching the fish, but the joy and knowledge that you are eating FRESH food that has been harvested sustainably with thought and care.
Gluten Free Yellow Belly!