→ A couple of months ago I gave up chocolate. With that, I finally became completely dairy free. And I’m surprised at how well I am coping. It helps that the supermarket we go to has an impressive range of ingredients I thought I’d never be able to get hold of easily – vegetable shortening, dairy free margarine, soya yoghurts, xanthum gum, arrowroot powder and most types of alternative milks are all there. I mean, we’re hardly in a large city. Just a town in the countryside. So its really quite good. Of course, having a kitchen helps too. Yes, there are cravings. But they are feint, usually only when I’m in the supermarket and I am reminded of all the things I cannot have. On a day to day basis I am coping and even enjoying this. Chocolate is another matter – I miss it dearly but chocolate biscuits and rich hot chocolate do take the edge off. Really, its not too difficult when you don’t have to worry about contamination or “may contain traces of” I cook a lot for myself, because I have to, and I am putting a lot more thought into my food because of that. My bread baking is coming along nicely (I contacted my grand mother and she gave me a wonderful whole wheat recipe, which I make one week, then the next I make white bread which is the one I am struggling with but definitely getting better at) Soon I’ll be getting a food processor so I’ll start up making soups, pasta sauces and nut butters. I am, perhaps, having a little bit of fun with this. Not seeing any health benefits yet, but hopefully in a little while. I do think the real challenge is still to come though, and that is how to be dairy free whilst at university. I admit to being slightly worried about that. I need to start learning how to make meal plans to make sure I don’t waste money shopping, or time, and get good always dairy-free food in me despite having little time. I need to figure out some sort of way of not letting stress cause me to relapse into eating chocolate. But that comes later. For now, its going unexpectedly well.
→ I bought some cookbooks to guide me along this dairy free thing. The first one was Go Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming which is an excellent information book and also has some good recipes focused on substitutes to handle cravings and recipes to get nutrients that you would otherwise get from milk. It’s a great information book and I have enjoyed some of the recipes but unfortunately it is very US centric. Thankfully I stumbled upon the The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick. I don’t usually buy UK recipe books as I am not a fan of the UK measurement system- preferring things in cups and spoons- but in this case I needed a book that used UK ingredients which overrode that. The book is a light hardcover and inside it is laid out clearly with beautiful photos and typography. I find it strange how its sectioned in seasons instead of in more traditional breakfast, dinner type labels but the index and the contents means its not too difficult to find what you are looking for. The recipes themselves look very tasty and use very accessible ingredients, although I wish there were more veggie ones. Nonetheless, I am eager to try what I can. Already I tried the pancakes the other day and they were delicious- my sister and I made our own variation by adding back in the egg, using gluten flour and adding in cinnamon and mixed spice. Once cooked, we stacked them up and poured syrup over them then dug in. It was so much fun.
→ On the subject of cook books, I was in a charity shop the other day scanning the books available when a slim volume entitled “our traditional cooking” caught my eye. I nearly skimmed past it but I was too curious as to what cooking it was referring to and bent down to pick it up. Flicking through the pages I found myself facing a recipe for “melk tart” I had, in this random charity shop in the UK, managed to find a traditional South African cookbook. Its a fantastic little book filled with all kinds of recipes, a lot of which have little anecdotes about where they came from. (One section mentioned riding an ostrich and visiting the caves in oudtshoorn- which brought up memories of when as a little girl we did exactly that!) I rather enjoyed reading about how to prepare ostrich eggs and other such things. Not all of it is entirely out of place in the modern world though. I shall be making the banana bread using this book soon and am hoping it turns out well! I am also drawn to putu (I had some sort of mealie meal based porridge drizzled with syrup for breakfast on the game lodge in Zimbabwe and it was divine. I think it may have been putu.) and koeksisters (despite how difficult they look to make.) I must have read through this little book several times since I got it, always picking up new things from it. It’s an utterly fascinating book and I am so glad I picked it up.
I sincerely wish its prequel was not only available on amazon for around £90. O_o
→ My Aunt from South Africa has been with us a week now and there are good moments and bad moments. Thus far she’s mostly being spending time with my mother, her sister, or relaxing around the home, which is nice. We have gone out a few times- we went to some gardens, did some shopping followed by a visit to a local ice cream farm (I had fruit ice of course, but it tasted exactly like ice cream. so. good.) On Sunday we went to pick up my fathers friend from the airport, who is also visiting from South Africa for various reasons, and then we went to check out the RHS flower show, which was stupidly expensive but good fun. The weather has been brilliant for my Aunt, but on Sunday it turned temperamental and we ended up huddled under a marquee waiting for a massive storm to pass. Even that was fun.
But: for every easy going moment, where we just talk and relax and everything is fine, there are also arguments and tension. My Aunt has a temper to match my mother, and she is not afraid of expressing her opinions when maybe they aren’t wanted, because it comes across as passing judgement on our family which I don’t think it is her place too. This has caused some difficultly, especially with my sister. Its not unusual listening to arguments in this house, but it feels slightly sad that we see her so little, and when she is here we argue. I guess that’s family though? I do admit it is a little stifling at home for me now, but then this is probably more to do for the fact that I am not entirely enjoying being home since I came back from Malaysia. I am frustrated, struggling to fit myself into this place where I don’t feel I fit any more, struggling to follow the rules of the house when I have my own ways of doing things (mostly regarding chores and food and all those little things) I move out to my own place at the end of August and cannot wait. I think it may be unfair to blame it entirely on my family of course – I am introverted so can deal with people a certain amount, but I need my own space to retreat to at the end of the day. On saying that, university starts in just two months, and that is not something I want to happen any sooner. I am, like always, conflicted as to how quickly time is passing.