Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Substitutes - Unprocessed Family Update

You can follow our unprocessed adventure here:
Part 1 - Food for Thought
Part 2 - Update

I'm still trying to keep the family food menu on the clean and narrow. I also decided to add a few more complications as well. After giving up breastfeeding I found my weight slowly creeping upwards, so decided I needed to make some alterations to my diet. This is mainly for me, but because I cook for everyone, it affects the whole family.

I decided on low carb so I wouldn't have to change the family meals too much. I'm not making more than one dinner. The no-gluten part was actually pretty easy, surprising considering how much I love bread and pastries. Once I got started I really didn't want them. I am eating some carbs: sweet potatoes, beans, nuts, some carby veg and the occasional bit of fruit and avoiding bread, pasta, rice and most processed sugars. 

I've discovered wine is ok to drink, but cider isn't, so am not having even the occasional drink at home as I don't see the point of opening a bottle for one glass.  

Never thought I'd say this, but I found I got really sick of eggs, cheese and bacon breakfast very quickly, even when I mixed up by making cream cheese pancakes. I liked the taste of these pancakes, but I haven't been able to get them to stay pancake shape, they always end up scrambled. 

I missed my granola and proper pancakes. I tried almond flour pancakes, but they were too gritty. But I did find a good gluten free granola recipe. So I have that with milk or yogurt most mornings. Pudding even likes it. 

I am beginning to get some courgettes from the plot so wanted to make zucchini bread. A friend gave me some gluten free flour to try. But I was disappointed, it was dry and sandy textured. I guess I need to up the oil alot, but am reluctant to try again with that recipe. I want zucchini bread like I used to make and sometimes substitutes just don't cut it. 

Today I tried avocado chocolate pudding because I know avocado is a good source of oil, but I'm not really keen on the flavour except in guacamole. As the recipe stands I didn't like it, there was an awful after-taste of avocado, but I added a half banana in it and it's ok. I can eat it, but it's not chocolate pudding. I probably wouldn't make it again. The kids all turned their noses up at it and I didn't even mention it had avocado in it. 

It's a big problem working against my 40+ years of experiencing certain tastes. I love food and am not always keen on replacements when I don't really need to make them. If I had to avoid all gluten like my friend or starch like another friend of mine with gout I would work harder at finding recipes that work or accept that things will never taste the same, but my new eating plan is through choice not necessity, so I'm going to continue to turn my nose up at things that don't meet my expectations. 

I'm not losing weight, but I am not gaining either. I've lost a bit of gluten bloat and definitely feel the difference if I eat gluten. So I'll continue  my slow meander towards a new way of cooking and eating.

My next goal is yet another tortilla recipe - a gluten free version. Taco Tuesday would be more fun if I could have a soft taco occasionally, salads are beginning to wear a bit thin. Unfortunately arrowroot powder is not available in Finland and I only have a small supply. So I guess I'll need to start another hunt for a substitute. 

Update 1/8/15
The tortillas were a sort of success. They are more like crepes, so would work really well for a breakfast type pancake. I used them to make an enchilada lasagne because they weren't quite thin or big enough to wrap enchiladas with, but it was tasty and meant I could eat the same as the family. I will try adding a bit of water or milk to make them thin out a bit for tortillas next time, if there is a next time.

Ok, I'm not food photographer. 

The recipe used all of my arrowroot powder so am going to try them with tapioca flour and some other flours before I do a bulk order of arrowroot from the UK. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Clan Stateside

A few weeks ago the Clan went to the United States, back to the area where I basically grew up and where most of my family still lives. The last time we visited was 7 years ago when Foo was just a wee speck.

It's a long trip, 9 hours but luckily a new direct route has opened from Helsinki to Chicago which made things somewhat easier. The older kids, experienced flyers, were champions, stuck on headphones and watched way too much telly. Pudding was a bit restless, but eventually fell asleep in her favourite place, on Daddy. On the way back they all slept most of the flight. Luckily, I was next to a screaming baby who wasn't my own, so barely slept. 

We were only over for 2 weeks, but that was just about right. We were almost constantly on the go with family reunions and get-togethers, the 4th of July and just family activities to keep the kids busy. We went on a boat ride on the Mississippi, to a great Family Museum, to the Zoo, a family member's farm, a water park, fishing among other things. By the end, we were all just tired out. 

We rented a lovely house on a river. There was a rope swing and a small dock to fish from. We spent a lot of time just sitting at the tree watching the pelicans and ducks on the river. The only problem was the mosquitos and biting gnats. There had been a lot of rain before we came and the river had flooded onto the lawn and then the temperatures stayed pretty cool while we were there, so it was prime mosquito season. Any time we tried to sit out in the evening, we were devoured, especially the Chief who seems to be especially tasty.

So here's a wee taste of our trip.

The 4th of July - we went to a street carnival and watched the fireworks in the evening. Kids were more into the glowsticks than watching the lights. 

Bump was determined to have a go at the climbing wall, but chickened out in the end. 

Dancing in the rain.

Watching the storm roll out and the water skiers.

Pelicans. The kids got obsessed bird and animal watching and we were in a great position to see some interesting sights. 

Fishing from the dock at the cabin. 

Foo loved 'reading' his books and explaining them to everyone.

On the river.

At the family museum, full of role playing areas that the kids just loved. 

Spending lots of time with family. Mormor and Bump.

On the way out we stopped at the Field Museum in Chicago. The kids loved the dinosaur section, best we've ever been to. 

Fishing. Mouse loved it, but he caught 9 fish in two days. No one else in the family caught a thing. 

And sometimes it showed. 

Pudding got to spend the morning with my aunt's elderly dog while we were fishing. Thankfully she was very tolerant. Pudding was in heaven.  

Foo preferred his books to fishing. 

The zoo train. 

Flashback to the last time we were in the States.
Now and then.

Pudding and Mouse look so similar.


Running through the mosquito ridden prairie grasses.

Foo on the flumes.

Reunion fun.

We had a great trip and everything went as well as it could. So loads of fun was had by all. Thanks to all our family who came to see us, let us come see them, joined us on our days out and organised fun things for us to do. We love you and miss you all. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Beware the Customer

I don't often use this blog to slate places, but when I feel that others should know about bad service or facilities I will do just that.

Two years ago I took the kids strawberry picking with some friends. There was a large group of us, but we all split off and did our picking, then met up at the end for a picnic away from the fields. The kids ate handfuls, but the mums picked quite a bit to make up for it. It was a lovely day, one the kids remembered. One of the staff even came by and took a pictures saying it was lovely to seeing us having so much fun.

Last year we missed the season being in Italy, but my friends went again and had another good day.

The kids were looking forward to going out again today, but it was a totally different experience. We were 3 mums and 7 kids. We were waiting for another mum who had gotten lost because they had closed the former site. A man, either a manager or owner, came up and began to complain about the kids, saying it wasn't appropriate for us to bring so many small kids, asking if they were all ours. He didn't want them disturbing the other pickers. The site now has a 2kg minimum pick requirement and he said that the children would also be expected to pick that much. It's a business, he kept saying.

We explained that the kids were here to pick strawberries and we would keep them away from the other pickers and under control. He was really quite insistent that they shouldn't be there, though there were other children there. We were the only ones standing in a group and foreign though. He was really quite rude and even said to one of the other staff in Finnish 'päiväkoti tule/ a nursery comes'.

In the end one mum left, unwilling to give the company money after such horrible service. Another mum took my boys picking as they were in tears at the thought of not going, as was her son. They picked 2kg on their own.

I stood there for an hour and watched family after family of various sizes and ages come up and not get such rude treatment. They were reminded about the 2kg minimum, but it didn't seem to be upheld strictly for the littler kids if the parents picked a decent amount.

It will be the last time we visit Rossitarhat/ Kartonen Marja and would encourage anyone looking to go pick strawberries with their family to find another farm. Our day was completely ruined.  

It's a business, but such poor customer service has lost them our business in the future and hopefully that of our friends and anyone else who reads this or asks for advice about strawberry picking near the capital.]

We now go to Marjatila Juhmo in Vantaa. The service was much better and a couple of pickers even complimented my kids. Definitely give them a go next season.  
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