The Reluctant Baker meets The Intolerant Gourmet 1

Just in case you hadn’t heard(haha) – it is snowing! I picked the children up from school early as I didn’t fancy a treacherous drive home later down some very icy, snowy country lanes. So here we are waiting for the snow to stop and trying to find things to do. As usual, my thoughts turned to food. I actually planned to get a delicious cassoulet ‘on’. But Sophia wanted to make biscuits. So we did that first.

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know I am a very reluctant baker. I love cooking ‘dinners’ but I am a bit rubbish at baking cakes. I don’t like eating them that much and can be a bit slapdash and messy. But when you have one child with allergies and another looking for jobs on a snowy day, you have little choice but to put away your fears and get out the aprons.

Since Zac’s problems began I have been muddling through experimenting with my own recipes for various meals etc, but not being a confident baker I felt the need for some tried and tested recipes from an expert. So I ordered myself a copy of the Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick. I had first seen it in Waitrose for £20 and chose not to buy it, but when I saw it for sale on for £12.99 I decided it was a bargain not to be missed.

It really is gourmet stuff and the recipes and photography are really beautiful. It also has lots of useful information about the replacement ingredients and lots of useful tips. Some of the recipes do have a lot of ingredients, and that often puts me off. I am a simple cook. Definitely not gourmet or greatly skilled. Mine is more simple home cooking, lots of flavour, minimal steps and little skill. But I needed a biscuit recipe and this book has one. It looks so simple so I decided to give it a go. I have tried it and blogged on it before, but this time I struggled with it even more than the first.



Cookies and cakes update – new and improved recipes Reply

So the summer holidays are over and I have some time to myself again. Well, I have less small people in the house looking to be entertained, but even when they are not here, everything I do is for them. Last week, was the first full week back at school and after spending the first half of the week, just tidying and getting things straight again, I decided to give myself one day to revisit some recipes.

For some reason, I went into a bit of a cooking frenzy and ended up making chocolate chip cookies, a banana cake, a cottage pie and some bolognese sauce. I guess I was just in the mood. I was also aware of the fact I had very few ‘after school’ treats for the children – so rather than go to the supermarket, I decided to be virtuous and thrifty and make them myself. Zac is no lover of the shop bought free from cakes and biscuits, so I owed it to him, myself and this blog, to get out the baking gear and get stuck in.

I am happy to report that it was all very successful. The cookies were the most popular with the children, the banana loaf was most appreciated by the grown ups (my husband, mother in law, sister and myself). The dinners were good too. Although not devoured with the usual gusto. Cottage Pie is my husbands favourite meal and one I don’t cook so much anymore – because of Zac. So I thought he would be thrilled. But he had been for a few beers after work, so was feeling a bit ‘full’.


Love Lactose Free Life – you bet we do 2

Finding good quality dairy free chocolate is not easy. The supermarkets can be a let-down and (the ones I visit) never seem to have much in. Waitrose seems to be the only place I can buy Moo Free drops and these are a great favourite of ours. A lovely treat and great for use in baking.

Recently I found out about Love Lactose Free Life – a website, selling dairy free goodies.

This week I placed my first order and was very pleased with the results. I was able to find the full range of Moo Free chocolates, not just the drops but the new little chocolate bars too. I was also able to find two brands that I had heard of but never seen instore – Plamil and Mulu So purely in the name of research (ahem!) I decided to order a few bits.

Booja Booja chocolates are also available, but they look a bit like a ‘grown up’ special occasion treat and so I decided just to stick to the ones I knew I could make use of and be sure that Zac would enjoy too.

I also noticed that I could buy cookbooks – The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick and a two of Grace Cheethams books. I had seen the Pippa Kendrick book in my local Waitrose a while ago and nearly bought it. It looked beautiful but at £20 I thought it was a bit of a hefty price tag. Love Lactose Free Life sells it for just £12.99 – so I ordered one of those too.


Chocolate crunch refrigerator cakes – a step up from the ‘krispie’ cake 2

I am no baker, but I do love chocolate and ‘working with it’. My intolerant child likes chocolatey things and loves a treat. Since starting this blog, I have been working my way through lots of recipe books trying to see if I can adapt recipes to make them suitable for Zac – and make them palatable to anyone else. Not an easy task when you have ‘gluten free and dairy free’ as your challenge. I can handle the main courses and a basic rock cake, but shy away from complicated baking. So whenever I see a ‘cake’ that is not even baked, I am always more keen to give it a go. More…

Delicious and easy chocolate crispy refrigerator cakes – egg free, gluten free, dairy free 3

I am not sure why I have not made these before. I have made standard ‘rice krispie’ cakes so many times over the years but for some reason, I never thought about making a ‘Zac friendly’ version until this afternoon. More…

Fun snacks – handy for days out Reply

zac enjoying packed lunch

When you have a child with food intolerances and allergies, it is always essential to pack a large bag of food, snacks and treats for long journeys and days out. You know that you cannot ever rely on being able to just pick something up whilst out and about.

As we are on holiday, staying with my parents in Christchurch – we have tried to get out lots and have some adventures – despite the rain. Every time we plan a little trip, I probably spend half an hour planning and packing a little lunch box full of sandwiches and snacks, which are intended to last the day. Often he is tucking into them before we have pulled off the drive, so I have now also learned it is useful to have a secret reserve stash in a different bag.

Obviously, I try and make sure it is a healthy variety of dairy free, gluten free sandwiches, lots of fruit, an Alpro soya yoghurt, some raisins and perhaps some home made cakes – but sometimes the boy just wants some treats. And let’s face it, he has a pretty healthy diet anyway, as his allergies and intolerances prevent him from eating junk and processed foods.

Since becoming 100% dairy free and gluten free, we have tried many, many different ‘free from’ cakes and biscuits and I am rather proud to say Zac seems to prefer my home made efforts. However, there are a few shop bought brands that he also loves – I have listed them below.

Sainsbury’s seems to stock the widest variety but not all of them are in every day, so you may have to try Goodness Direct or go straight to the manufacturers, if any of these take your fancy. None of them are cheap but they bring a smile to Zac’s face whenever I produce them from ‘my secret’ treats bag and that makes it all worth while to me.

Orgran Gluten Free Kids Mini Outback Animals chocolate cookies –

These come in mini packs of eight and are great for lunch box treats.

Snack a Jacks – Zac loves the caramel flavour for when he wants ‘something a bit sweetie’ and the loves the salt and vinegar for when he wants ‘something a bit crunchy’.

However, be sure to read the ingredients. The large caramel ones appear to be safe, but the individual packs with mini ones, have milk listed in the ingredients. So always check and check again!

Corn chips – supermarket own brand ones tend to the best as they are just made from corn. Other brands have wheat and milk listed in the ingredients and should be avoided. These are always easy to find, among ‘normal’ crisps and are not expensive. Just remember to stick to the golden rule always check the label every time you buy, as the ingredients could change and often do, at any time.

Dietary Specials breadsticks

Dietary Specials make a large variety of gluten free and wheat free food, but not all foods are dairy free so always read the ingredients list, just in case some milk has crept in.

Fabulous Free From Factory Chocolate Raisins

These are delicious – but just remember not to have too many, as too many raisins can make an already sensitive tummy, somewhat lively shall we say!

Moo Free chocolate drops

We have tried many of the supermarket own brand ‘free from’ chocolate buttons and they are all good, but these are by far the most yummy in Zac’s opinion. They melt well in cooking and make a great ice cream or cake decorating ‘treat’. Cute packaging too.

Lovemore Jammy Wheels

Very few biscuits on the free from shelves are dairy free, as well as gluten free. These are Zac’s favourites. He calls them ‘biscuit pies’. I have only ever seen them in Waitrose and at the moment they only appear to be available online. But worth a try as they are very jammy – but also very crumbly, so be warned! Not a good biscuit to take out in the car or to someone’s house, or you could be reaching the for the hand vac within minutes!

I could go on and on, but this is our list of favourites. As you will see from these links, these manufacturers make a wide variety of other suitable snacks that we have not mentioned – but that is just because we have not tried them yet and not because we don’t like them. I am sure, in time, we will have worked our way through them all!