Refined Sugar-Free and Wheat Free Banana Cake

Most households have “their banana cake recipe”, which is always “the best banana cake recipe”. Well this is our households!

Originally this recipe was full of sugar and wheat however I’ve experiemented with it a number of times to make it what it is today. And it’s still equally as delicious!

We find that this recipe works best if you use frozen bananas so the mixture has time to caramelise and the sloppier the bananas the better.

The cake also tastes fantastic when frozen and defrosted for some reason. It’s super fudgy.

Refined Sugar-Free and Wheat Free Banana Cake

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Ingredients

125g butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 overripe bananas, frozen is best
1 egg
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup barley flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C fan forced and grease and line a loaf tin (or standard cake tin) with baking paper
  2. Melt the butter, honey, maple syrup, vanilla and the frozen bananas in a large saucepan. As the bananas defrost, mash them into the mixture. When fully mashed, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours and baking powder.
  4. Quickly whisk the egg into the banana mixture to avoid it scrambling and then stir in the flour mixture. Add the milk and stir until just combined.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes

Grain Free AND Dairy Free? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

If you are a regular follower you know that we are aiming for a grain free diet because for some reason it cleared up all of my acne (click here to catch up on that post).

When I fell pregnant I succumbed to the usual symptom of being pregnant – morning sickness. I had every intention of remaining grain free plus I had high hopes of being sugar and caffeine free (who was I kidding). I managed it for the first three months however when the morning sickness DIDN’T GO AWAY at that point, my resolve started slipping. Whoever named it morning sickness obviously had never really experienced it. All day sickness more like it! It was relentless and when it was still going strong through the second trimester I gave in. It was a cold day so I heated up a vegetable pastie and ate it. It sat like a lump of concrete in my gut – and I’d never felt so good!!! After that I slowly introduced grain again. Not everything though. Just because it was grain didn’t automatically mean it helped. White bread and crackers didn’t do a thing. However dense Hot Cross Buns were amazing. You might say I could have baked dense grain free foods. And you’re right. I tried. However for some reason they aren’t as plain and have a taste that set me off. I made these delicious coconut flour dinner rolls before I had morning sickness however I made them again during and even now I feel sick thinking about them. Even the smell makes me want to vomit. I also gave into sugar because I was having grain again. Funnily enough I didn’t have all that much caffeine though. That came later on when he was born 😜

Anyway I felt super guilty because I wanted to be so healthy for our unborn child and I’d completely fallen off the bandwagon. However I came across another blogger who was going through the same thing and I’d link the article however she has since deleted her blog. Basically she pointed out that while you have morning sickness – your one goal is survival. So very true. And unfortunately I had it for eight of the nine months that I was pregnant. The most difficult thing was that I couldn’t even drink a lot of water. Some of the super hot days, if I drank too much water in one go – I would just spew it straight back up. I had to have constant little sips. It drove me nuts. I used to daydream of being under a waterfall and just gulping the water down. Anyway funnily enough THE DAY he was born I was able to gulp down water again. Weird.

Anyway I’m totally off track. So I went back on grain. However my skin remained PERFECT. I had concluded that my acne was hormonal and for some reason grain was altering my hormones and causing my skin to break out so it made sense that while pregnant, where my hormones are all over the place, that it would make a difference.

Anyway soon after giving birth, I could feel my skin reacting again when I ate grain. I don’t know how to describe it except that it gets really itchy and irritated and I just want to rub my face all day and I can feel the oil oozing out of my pores. However trying to eat grain free after a new baby and breastfeeding for the first time? It was hard enough finding time to make food and enough of it, let alone grain free! Anyway I tried to eat as well as I could and my skin didn’t go back to the way it was pre grain however it wasn’t clear anymore and my skin was quite bumpy and rough.

When Ethan was around three months old, he was diagnosed with Cows Milk Protein Intolerance (CMPI). And for the sceptics out there, he had blood on his stools.
Anyway there are two options when this happens: 1) You continue breastfeeding however you must strictly adhere to a dairy free diet 2) You put the infant on a hydrolyzed/hypoallergenic formula.

It took so much hard work to breastfeed that I wasn’t about to give that up in a hurry once we’d actually succeeded so dairy free for me it was. I threw grain free out the window for the time being until I’d gotten in the groove of dairy free and had time to figure out appropriate meals and snacks that could be both.

And then the conundrum. My skin cleared and I was acne free again. Even though I was eating grain at almost every meal.

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I mean, I’ve read that dairy can give you acne, but seriously?! Just like grain, it was that simple a solution all along? And after all that time of touting grain free when dairy is a culprit too? And I was eating copious amounts of dairy when I was grain free and having clear skin…I WAS SO CONFUSED!!!

I guess like I concluded before, the acne is caused by my hormones and for some reason my body can handle grain or dairy but not both together.

Anyway the question now is…when he weans, which option will
I choose?

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Introducing The Kitchen Hand…

It’s been nine weeks since our last blog post and almost seven weeks since the birth of our little boy!

In case you missed the memo see The Chef, The Waitress…And The Kitchen Hand.

Anyway here are the all important details:

Ethan Harold Gillies
Born Sunday 16/08/2015 at 3:30PM
Weight 3.29kg
Length 50cm
Head Circumference 33cm

He was a week overdue and there were a few minor complications with his birth however through lots of prayer and perseverance we managed to avoid an emergency c-section.

We won’t be posting any photos as we aren’t comfortable with photos of him floating around the Internet. This includes Facebook much to the shock and horror of many! So you will just have to take my word for it that he’s most gorgeous baby in the whole, wide world 🙂

The Chef, The Waitress…And The Kitchen Hand…

Well, that makes it official! We will soon be joined by our very own kitchen hand. Due August 7.

If you still have no idea what I’m talking about…WE’RE HAVING A BABY!!!

Yep, that’s right. We’re thirty weeks today and although it’s now common knowledge in the “real” world, we have not made it official in the “virtual” world. Not even on Facebook. Although someone joked that it’s not official until you’ve announced it on Facebook. What’s the world coming to?

Anyway I’m not sure what else to say? We’re obviously very happy, excited, nervous etc. And we haven’t found out the sex as we’re happy to keep it a surprise. And the pregnancy is going well however there have been some minor concerns so your prayers would be appreciated!

I’ll leave you with this picture, which I think about sums it up.

Pregnant(And that’s just my navel ring, my bellybutton hasn’t popped!)

Bacon

I didn’t even have to come up with a title for this post because what I’m sharing about needs no more introduction than itself.

Bacon.

Although this is no ordinary bacon. It is home raised, home made bacon. It makes all the difference. Once you’ve tried it, you will never go back.

As Kermit was older than the average slaughter age (most pigs are culled on average at 6 months, Kermit was around 18 months) he obviously had a bigger middle, which is what you make your bacon out of (middle = belly and loin). This meant that we could make a lot more bacon so we decided to try a few of the types of bacon mentioned in the book (The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book – see previous post) to see which ones we liked best for future reference.

1. Dry-Cured Bacon – the whole pork middle is marinated in a mixture of salt and brown sugar for several days.

2. Wet-Cured Bacon – the whole pork middle is marinated in a brine solution for several days.

3. American Bacon – technically you only use the belly and not the loin however we were more interested in the flavour, which is a generic wet-cure with added honey or maple syrup (or both! We used a half/half mixture of both), so instead of having proper “Streaky American Bacon”, we used the whole pork middle and just noted the flavour. Also Kel did a dry-cure rather than a wet-cure (we only had one tub and that was being used for the plain wet-cure).

4. Stout and Molasses Cured Bacon – Kel actually adapted this from one of the cured ham recipes from the book. The curing ingredients were salt, stout, molasses, bay leaves, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and allspice. Instead of wet curing it as you would do for a ham, Kel dry-cured it however it was more of a liquidy dry-cure due to the stout.

Kel also added bay leaves and black peppercorns to all of the cures.

It is suggested that you use the chemicals sodium nitrate and sodium erythorbate when curing bacon however we don’t believe they are necessary, especially on a home scale basis. The book is very open minded about it too, which we liked. Plus we portion and freeze our bacon rather than just vaccuum seal. Also you cook bacon, unlike other cured meats that you eat as is e.g. salami.

With each type of bacon, we only smoked half so we could do a proper taste test of unsmoked and smoked.

The verdict?

1. Dry-Cured Bacon – it was good, just like a classic homemade bacon. It cooked well and both smoked and unsmoked were equally delicious.

2. Wet-Cured Bacon – this turned out more like ham, it was a bit sloppy and not like bacon at all, both in texture and flavour. When cooked, it dropped a lot of liquid and didn’t caramelise very well (which is essential to bacon!!!) As the bacon was hot smoked, it didn’t really work either due to the amount of liquid that it was producing. We probably won’t cure bacon this way again.

3. American Bacon – very delicious however due to the added sweetness not as versatile as the dry-cured bacon e.g. too sweet for a Carbonara. Definitely best eaten as is and not as an ingredient e.g. Canadian pancakes! It cooked well, dropped the least amount of liquid however caramelised the fastest so with this one you have to make sure you watch it carefully while you’re cooking. Both smoked and unsmoked were again, equally delicious. Just choose what you feel like!

4. Stout and Molasses Cured Bacon – delicious, this cure paired really well with Kermit’s meat. As he is older, the cure brought the gaminess out and added a heavy earthy flavour too. Cooked well, pretty much like the dry cured bacon. The smoked was even better than the unsmoked as it increased the afore mentioned flavours.

There you have it. Now our freezer is stocked full of bacon of various types.

Unsmoked Bacon LoinUnsmoked Bacon – Loin

Unsmoked Bacon Belly and LoinUnsmoked Bacon – Belly and Loin

Smoked Bacon LoinSmoked Bacon – Loin

Smoked Bacon BellySmoked Bacon – Belly

The Cut Up

Last Thursday the mobile butcher came back to cut up Kermit and Chuck. Little pig isn’t going to be cut up as we’re going to roast her on a spit.

Previously we have only hung our meat for a week as that’s what the butcher’s normal is however we decided we wanted to hang the meat for two weeks instead and we are much happier with the results. The meat hung only for a week tended to always be extremely bloody. The meat hung for two weeks was a lot less and we’ve also found that when cooked, the meat holds its juices rather than just leaking out into the pan as it tended to do before. The only difference is we have to pay for an extra week when hiring the mobile cool room from the butcher – we think it’s definitely worth it.

Chuck was cut up mainly into steaks with a bit of mince. Kel specified our steaks to be super thick as you can see in the photo below. Those steaks are going to be good!

T-Bone Steaks

With Kermit, we had the pork bellies left intact so we could make our own bacon, only prime cut steaks and the rest was minced. Half of the mince was fatty and half was not so much – the fatty mince is what you make sausages out of.

As Kel’s parents owned half of Chuck, we obviously only got half of him however they didn’t want to halve his offal 😉 With both Chuck’s offal and Kermit’s offal, Kel boiled it all and portioned it up for Solomon’s dinners. The way he did it also created a huge amount of gravy so not only does Solomon get cooked offal for dinner, he also gets offal gravy on it too!!!

Solomon's DinnerSolomon’s Decadent Dinner

Kel has been super busy roasting bones, fat and sinew to boil and create both stock and clarified fat. Clarified fat, also known as Lard, when made properly can last forever and is really good to not only cook with but also to season cast iron. We use mainly cast iron cookware so now we have enough lard to probably last us, maybe a few weeks?

Jars of LardThe jars go back five rows

A few Christmas’ or birthdays ago I bought this book for Kel:

The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book

With the pork bellies and fatty mince to use it was time to crack it open to make our own bacon and sausages. Obviously we’ve done both before however the book contains recipes for certain types of bacon and sausages and we having been wanting to try them. We decided to try as many of the recipes as possible however I’ll leave that for another post just to keep your taste buds in suspense 😉

We Now Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Program…

And we are back!

Well we had a great adventure traveling to China, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, England, Scotland, France, Spain and Japan. We took around 40GB of photos (well Kel did!) that we now have to sort through however we hope to do it soon so we can share with you our amazing journey. There is so much to tell!

We also haven’t forgotten that we still have to update you on our farming activities so you’ll probably see a mixed bunch of posts until we’ve caught up!

I’ve also started catching up on my blog reading – I’m looking forward to reading about what you’ve all been up to.