Monday, 12 March 2012

The Great Gluten Free Recipe Challenge!

The lovely Caleigh over at glutenfreekblog set us a challenge - to cook a gluten free recipe where the main ingredient is orange.  As well as being gluten free, the recipe could also not include any dairy products, almonds, hazelnuts or chestnuts.  So quite a challenge for an unadventurous cook like me.

I spent a few days thinking about what I could make with oranges, as they're not an ingredient I tend to use very often.  I do however love lemons (as does my husband) and use then often.  That got me thinking - one of my favourite gluten free recipes is Lemon Drizzle Cake, so I wondered whether I could adapt the recipe to make an Orange Drizzle Cake.

The recipe I use for Lemon Drizzle Cake is one I've adapted over the past few months, but was originally based on this one from Tana Ramsey  

The Orange Drizzle Cake came out surprisingly well, and was finished up within a day or two.  Although if pressed, I'd have to admit to preferring the lemon version, this makes a nice change.  I wasn't particularly adventurous this time round, I'll have to try to be more so in future challenges.

Thanks to Caleigh for organising the challenge, and I look forward to seeing what the other gluten free bloggers have come up with.

Orange Drizzle Cake
For cake:
200g cooking margarine (normally I use Stork, but as one of the rules was that it had to be dairy free, I used Pure Sunflower margarine)
200g Caster Sugar
3 eggs
Zest of 2 large oranges
200g Gluten free self-raising flour
For drizzle:
Juice of 2 large oranges
85g granulated/caster sugar


1. Heat oven to 180°C,160°C fan, Gas Mark 4.  Line and grease a loaf tin.

 2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the margarine and sugar until creamy.

 3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly.

4. Sift in flour, then add the lemon zest and mix well.
5. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tine, and level with the back of a wet spoon.

6. Bake for 45 mins, then test to see if cake is cooked by inserting a cocktail stick into the centre - if it comes out clean, the cake is done.  If not, leave it to bake for a few more minutes then try again.
7. Remove cake from oven once cooked, but leave in tin to cool.
8. As soon as cake is removed from oven, heat the sugar and orange juice for the drizzle over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved into the juice.
9. Prick the warm cake (still in tin) all over with a cocktail stick.

 10. Pour the drizzle evenly over the cake, and leave in tin until completely cooled.
According to the original recipe, the cake will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze for up to a month, but in my experience it won't be waiting around that long, and will be gobbled up in a day or so!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Birthday Parties

This week Ruth and Alex were invited to their first birthday parties since they were diagnosed with Coeliac Disease.  Obviously this makes things a whole lot more complicated.  Being vegetarian meant that it was a bit more difficult as it was, but this is a whole different league.

Fortunately I'm good friends with the mother of Alex's friend who's party he was invited to, so she knows a fair bit about Alex's needs as I've spent quite a lot of time speaking about it over the past year!  She and her son decided to make sure all the food at the sleepover was ok for Alex so he wouldn't feel left out, or have to ask if each thing was ok for him.  How good it is to have considerate friends.

We decided between us that the easiest thing would be for me to make some gluten free cupcakes and we sorted out the other snacks and drinks between us.  I was unsure how the cakes would go down - 10 and 11 year old boys aren't known for their tact or diplomacy!  

I made 12 plain sponge gluten-free cupcakes, marbled yellow and red food colouring through them to fit in with the Nerf gun theme, and decorated them with yellow icing, Dr Oetker Polka Dots and Haribo sweets.  Alex came home telling me the boys all loved the cakes, and the four of them wolfed down 3 each - that's about the highest praise you can get!

Ruth is now 13, and very independent.  I asked her whether she wanted me to phone the parents of her friend who's birthday it was, and she said no, that she had spoken to her friend herself.  She'd told her friend what she could and couldn't eat, and about cross-contamination, and her friend had made her a pizza using a DS pizza base.  I was very proud of her for dealing with it herself.  This is a skill which she will need more and more as she gets older, so it's good that she is comfortable doing this.

So all in all, these parties have been been a pretty successful.  I'll feel a lot less worried when they get invited to parties in the future.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


It's been a long hard battle to find out what was wrong with Alex, and get him well again.  He started to struggle at school around the same time his health started deteriorating, around 4 years ago.  Now his health has recovered, he has finally been able to start catching up at school.

His latest report was a joy to behold - he has made the same amount of progress in the past 6 months, that he would normally be expected to make in a year.  He is now slightly above average for reading and literacy, and catching up fast in Maths.  He has been taken off the SEN (Special Educational Needs) register, and is now only 'M' (Being monitored).  His confidence in himself and his abilities continues to grow, and his teacher is so happy to see him making the progress that she knew he was capable of. 

All this time, it was Coeliac Disease that was holding him back in every aspect of his life.  Now we know and he is settled into his gluten-free diet, everything is turning around for him.  A year ago he was so ill and unhappy, it was heartbreaking to see.  Now he is happy, full of energy and doing well at school.  We couldn't be happier.


On Valentine's Day Ruth was 13 - a teenager!  She has grown up so much the past few years, it is a joy to see her flourishing.  She's coped so well with her diagnosis with Coeliac Disease, and change in diet, we're so proud of her. 

We arranged her presents into 13 parcels to make the day even more special.  It was an interesting mix of presents this year - some very grown up ones (Skull Candy headphones, Death Note books and Blu-rays), but she still likes toys, so she also had My Little Ponies and a Monster High Doll - Cupid of course since she's a Valnetine's baby.

We had lunch in our favourite Itatlian restaurant, Puccinni's who do amazing Gluten-free pizza.  This was the first year that any of us could remember, that Alex wasn't ill on Ruth's birthday, which meant that all of us could relax and enjoy it so much more.

For her birthday cake, she chose gluten-free Red Velvet Cupcakes - 13 of them and heart shaped of course!  

Apparently it was the best birthday ever :)

My Little Sister's Wedding!

Austin (Best Man), Tom, Rosie and me (Maid of Honour).
It was soooo cold!
Ruth and Alex both looking gorgeous.
Me looking very happy :)
Alex and Great-Granddad
Rosie looking stunning in the sun
Tom, Rosie and me
On Saturday 11th February, my little sister Rosie and her finace Tom got married.  It was freezing but the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  Everything went perfectly, the bride was stunningly beautiful, the groom handsome.  A wonderful day :)