Gluten free Christmas baking

gluten free

I find it really hard to buy presents for men. And, I admit, that includes men that I love dearly, like my husband and my dad. This year, I’ve decided to do a frugal and largely homemade Christmas, and as my dad eats a gluten free diet due to coeliac disease, I’m going to do some Christmas baking for him!

I hear that it’s much easier to make gluten free bread in a bread maker, but as an experiment, I’m going to try without. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Gluten free bread

I spent a long time looking online for different recipes here. A lot of gluten free bread recipes seem to use coconut flour, but my dad really hates coconut, so those ones were out. I’m also not very good at anything involving kneading (especially at the moment, when my tiny tyrant might call me away at any moment!), so I tried to go for something that was just pour and go.

I also preferred the idea of using a proper gluten free recipe, rather than just one that substituted bread flour with gluten free bread flour. So I’ve cobbled together a few different recipes and come up with this. We’ll see!

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of flaxseed
  • Half cup of ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder (gluten free, obviously)

Preheat oven to 200C.

Beat eggs together in one bowl. Mix the flaxseed, almonds and baking powder together in a second bowl. Add the beaten eggs in, and mix them all together thoroughly. It should have a slightly wet consistency, but not be too loose. (If you struggle to stir it together, add in a tablespoon or so of water, but I didn’t find that I needed this.)

Pour the mixture into a loaf tin, and pop it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or so.

So… what was the verdict?

Um. Well. It looked quite good, although it didn’t really rise much. The texture was quite dense (maybe I should use some more baking powder next time), but the crumb did look like bread. It just tasted rather, well, rubbery.

My husband’s reaction? “It… has a slight taste of fish to it. Not in a bad way, though. It’ll be great covered in Marmite!”

Yeah. I may not gift this to my dad. I may have had more success using a breadmaker!

A bonus gluten free recipe: brownie cheesecake

Not knowing how the first one would turn out, I also decided to make something that I know works well. You can do this in gluten and gluten free versions – just substitute the gluten free flour for regular if you have a real hatred of free from products!

This is one of my favourite recipes ever. I’ve been making it for years – in fact, to check measurements and timings, I ended up looking at an old Facebook note from 2009! It’s easy and delicious, and tastes basically the same whether you use gluten free flour or regular.

The brownie 

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar (dark)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups plain gluten free flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 175C.

Mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt. Stir until well blended.

The cheesecake

  • 220g cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Chocolate chips

Whisk the cream cheese until it’s soft. Add sugar and vanilla essence. Whisk them together until smooth.

Spread brownie mixture into pan, smoothly. Dollop cheesecake on top, then swirl them together. Add chocolate chips.

Bake for around 35 minutes, until edges are puffy and centre is set. Try not to eat it all in one go!

*This is a sponsored post.

Meeting the new baby #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit

Hello, friends. It’s been a while – life has been hectic in our house! We’ve had a new baby, for one thing. And I was sick before that. But it’s time for me to come back and enlighten you with Barbara Rabbit’s pearls of wisdom!  You can read some of my older posts here.

So we have a new baby. I say we, she obviously belongs to my human parents. But she sort of belongs to all of us because she lives here, and so do we. So we all get to hear her crying and play with her.

our new baby

She was born two weeks ago. We knew there was going to be a baby as our parents had been preparing us for a long time. They even bought us some little plastic human babies to show us what she might look like! (She looked nothing like them. It would be like showing someone a tiny Netherland dwarf to prepare them for meeting a Flemish giant.)

We could tell she was about to be born when our parents came to see us in the night. Our daddy gave us loads of extra hay and back up water bottles (I counted six! I tested them all, because I love water bottles!) and let us all out into our room together. Usually at night we had to go into our own houses, but he said that we might like the company.

Our mum wasn’t so talkative. She was mostly sitting like a rabbit, on all fours, making strange sounds. Now I know a bit about having litters, but this looked rather odd and it was a bit scary to me. Gingee was brave and went and nuzzled up at her belly, though.

And then they went away. They were gone for a really, really long time. Our daddy came back after a bit to give us some more food and water and play with us, but Mummy still wasn’t back. He took a video of us to send to Mummy, though.

They both came back eventually, though. And when they did, they had the small human with them!

She’s bigger than a baby rabbit, and even has more hair than one. The top of her head is really furry and I like to nuzzle at it. She’s smaller than all of us full grown rabbits, though. Here she is with Ned:

Ned the rabbit with the new baby

We like seeing her. Generally our parents bring her to visit two or three times a day. She sits with us while we eat, usually, and then we nuzzle at her sometimes.

She doesn’t play very much yet, which is a bit disappointing. I hoped she’d be able to do a bit more, but sometimes Daddy can make her stroke me which is nice. Although she touched my foot yesterday and I did not like that. I flicked my feet at her but she didn’t seem to understand what it meant. That’s alright, she’s only small and there’s still time for her to learn!

I like that she’s often wearing lovely soft clothes – softer than either of our parents’ clothes. It’s really nice to nuzzle up against. I particularly like chinning her feet.

She’s not as loud as I thought she might be! And when she is loud, our parents quickly take her into a different room or give her some milk, so it doesn’t bother us too much.

Our mum wouldn’t sit on the floor with us for a few days. That was sad, as I like playing with her on the floor. But she’s getting better at it again now! I have heard that birth is particularly hard for humans, so I suppose this is an after-effect of that, a bit like when I had my dental surgery and my mouth hurt for a few days.

Gingee is being particularly vigilant, and patrolling downstairs a lot. I asked him about it, and he explained that it’s because we have a new member of our group now, so he needs to keep an eye out. He still thinks he’s in charge!

Ned just wants her to become a bit more interactive! He likes more active play, and she doesn’t do that yet.

All in all, we feel quite good about this new arrival.

Are there any other rabbits out there with human babies? What do you think of yours?

Barbara’s GI stasis experience

Barbara deals with GI stasis

No #barbarablogs today, guys. My poor girl has been dealing with a bout of GI stasis and dental problems. She’s not been well enough to write anything herself. But, while she’s recovering, she’s asked me to tell you about what happened to her this week.

The background

I’ve written about Barbara’s background as a rescue rabbit before. She didn’t receive any vet care until she was a few years old.

She moved in with us in December. In January we took her to the vets and found she needed some dental spurs filing down. Spurs are caused by teeth not wearing down evenly, and are little spikes on the teeth that hurt her cheeks or tongue. (Here’s a great page with lots of detail on rabbit dental issues.)

Obviously, if her mouth hurts, she won’t want to eat hard food. When Barbara first moved in with us, she’d put hard things like fenugreek cookies in her water bowl to soften them for a bit before eating them. She’s ever so clever!

But since she had her spurs filed down in January, she’d been absolutely fine.

(Additional background: I’m 39 weeks pregnant. You know, just the time you want some extra stress!)

This weekend

On Saturday, she was absolutely fine. She and the boys were running around, wreaking their usual havoc. Eating plenty and going to the loo just fine!

On Sunday, she was a little quieter, but still eating fine in the morning. Then evening rolled around. Suddenly she didn’t want to come and have any pellets. She was eating tiny bits but definitely wasn’t her usual self.

We worried that it was because she’d been eating newspaper. (She does that sometimes.) We tried liquid food. Offered veg. In a rather desperate moment, offered a chocolate biscuit. (She ate that.)

She ate a little bit of hay and a couple of pellets. We called the emergency number for the specialist Ned has seen in the past, described her symptoms, agreed it sounded like the beginning of GI stasis, and they advised continuing to try for a little bit, keeping her warm and comfortable and bringing her in in a few hours.

Monday

I was up at 5am to check on her. I’d really hoped she’d be fine by then, but no luck.

My husband and I talked it over. Ned’s specialist is 50 miles away and I’m the only one in the house who drives. I could go into labour at any moment. If that happened, Barbara would be stranded 50 miles away, whereas if we went to our local vet, my husband could walk there and get her. By the time I’d got to the specialist, it would be the same time as our local vet opened anyway.

Local vet it is, then. I know they can deal with GI stasis.

She and I sat and cuddled and napped on the bed for a while after her dad had gone to work, and I kept on trying with food. She drank happily but really didn’t want to eat.

Barbara Rabbit dealing with GI stasis

So, at 8am, I rolled up at our local vets, no appointment, ready to sit and wait with her for hours if necessary. No need – we were in by 8.30. Have I mentioned how much I love our vets?

Bonus: because Barbara has been going there since December, they had all of the medical history we know for her. They know she’s had tooth problems, they know she’s slow to wake up from anaesthesia, they know she hates liquid food.

The vet had a little look at her teeth (Barbara resisted) and said that they were probably causing the issue. But first we clearly needed to get the gut issues under control! So they took her in for the day. We decided we’d ideally have her home overnight so she could sleep in her own room, then go back the next day for the teeth.

By 2pm, she’d had fluids and some liquid food, as well as some fruit and veg that the lovely team had gone out to buy for her. She’d not gone to the loo yet but that’s more of a waiting game. There were gut sounds and we were cautiously optimistic – take that, GI stasis!

I went to pick her up in the evening, and she’d still not been to the loo. But the moment she got home and sat on the carpet, it all came out! She clearly just missed home.

We had a lovely evening, cuddling, eating a few pellets and watching YouTube videos. She still had her catheter in her ear, so we couldn’t leave her and the boys free-ranging overnight, unfortunately. So we put them all in their individual houses – she was not happy.

Tuesday

39 weeks pregnant. Woke feeling a bit crampy and like there was a bowling ball making its way downwards. Stay put, baby, until your big furry sister is better!

My husband had to put Barbara in her carrier before he left for work, because there’s no way I could have managed it. I let her roam about on our bed, but I needed to have her out of her cage, at least.

She was so lively, definitely much better than yesterday! GI stasis all gone. Enjoyed some pellets and some water, and we had a little nap together again before heading off to the vets at 8am.

I signed the usual consent forms and handed her over to them, after explaining how she’d been overnight. Went home, waddling like crazy. Crossed my legs to keep the baby in!

At about 2 o’clock, I rang to check on her, and she was all done with the dental surgery! As usual with Barbara, she was taking a long time to come round, though, so they asked if I could wait until more like 6 before coming to get her. Of course, as long as I get to take her home eventually!

The vet explained that her back left teeth had been rubbing at her and basically causing a mouth ulcer. Everything was filed down nicely though, and we were sent home with some metacam/loxicom, as well as a little “trick or treat” bag of veg that they’d bought for her.

And so we were home about 6.30, just in time for the trick or treaters. Daddy took trick or treat duty while we all sat in the living room. Barbara enjoyed some nice pear and a few pellets, and plenty of water.

And then back home to her brothers!

What a few days. Try and be kind to me for the rest of this pregnancy, please, Barbara?

Rabbit games – our favourites #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit

Hello everyone, it’s me, Barbara Rabbit, here again! As you may know, I write a weekly post here – you can find the older ones here, under #barbarablogs.

Like all bunnies, my brothers and I enjoy a few simple rabbit games. You’ve probably realised from reading my blogs that rabbits are incredibly intelligent. We need a lot of mental stimulation.

My brothers are both younger than me, and, I mean nothing rude by this, but Ned might not be quite as smart as I am. Gingee is pretty clever, but Ned doesn’t always pick things up so quickly. So we all have different needs when it comes to games. Our parents are pretty good at playing to our strengths and finding games that work for all of us. We’re quite lucky. (Don’t tell them that. I don’t want them to get complacent.)

Here are some of our favourites!

Fingers through Bars and Fingers round Ned

These are two of Ned’s favourite games.

Fingers through Bars needs him to be inside a cage, and a human will wriggle fingers at him. He’ll hop around on his hind legs all excited and cute. I don’t quite see the appeal myself.

Fingers round Ned is a game only daddy and Ned can play. Apparently our mum just isn’t very good at it. What you need to do is circle your fingers around his head and he’ll bob his head around like mad. Because he can’t hear very well, I think he really enjoys games where he has to look at things.

Climbing on Humans

Ned and Gingee love doing this, and I’m getting better at it too. It was quite difficult for me at first, because I couldn’t work out quite how to get up onto a human. It turns out you need to push with your back legs, rather than pulling up with your front legs! Once you remember that, it’s easy!

If you’re very brave and have a fun human, he might even move along the floor a bit while you’re sitting on him. Gingee really likes this.

Surprise Rabbit

Such a simple game, but so much fun. Sneak up on a human. You can climb on them or not, but you just need to appear really suddenly – you can either do it by walking quietly and slowly or by running at full pelt. It’s so much fun to watch them be startled!

Box

Box is a really fun game, and there are so many variations. We have loads of cardboard boxes right now, which I hear is because my parents are having a human baby and keep on ordering things for it online. But the best part is that most of the empty boxes end up in my room!

The rules of playing Box can be as simple as just climbing into the box, sitting there for a bit, and then getting out again. Sometimes you can hide in there, or wriggle yourself right to the back, depending on the size of the box.

But the best way to play Box is to get food involved as well – as is the way with all the best rabbit games! Sometimes my parents will put chopped up apple or little carrot sticks in a box and cover them with paper or cardboard, and we get to forage for them. It’s so much fun!

Plastic Baby

This is a new rabbit game. Our parents have bought us some little plastic babies to prepare us for our new human baby. We get to groom them while our parents tell us how good we are.

I really like licking the plastic bits of them, and they have yummy clothes to gently nibble. There are three, one for each of us.

Explorers Under the Bed

It’s really self-explanatory! If the humans will let you, go under their bed and explore!

I don’t usually find anything under there, but I really like being in the small space. Sometimes it is a bit of a struggle when they want me to come out, though. They’ve sent Ned or Gingee in to get me before now.

 

Stairs

Now, this isn’t a game that I’ll play. I don’t like the stairs, and if I have to go up or down them, someone has to carry me.

But Gingee really likes playing stairs. He says that the stairs lead to lots of other fun rooms and that there’s nothing quite as fun as dashing down them and then zigzagging back up. Ned does this really clever thing where he can jump up about five steps in one go, as well. He landed on our mum’s big belly last night and she made a really funny squeaking noise, and it was brilliant. What a great twist on Surprise Rabbit!

Finger Nibbling

This is one of my favourite games. It seems only fair – my daddy cuts my claws, so I should help to keep his nice and short too, right? He’s very brave and doesn’t squirm too much, although I think I have got his skin a few times. But sometimes that happens when he does our claws as well!

The best time to play this game is either after he’s cut up an apple for me, so his hands taste like apple, or after he’s eaten some yummy human food. I like it when he’s had Marmite because it makes his hands taste all salty. There was also a time when he’d had salted caramel and that was amazing. You never quite know what the situation is going to be, so I’d recommend testing this out on a regular basis.

Fellow furry friends, what are your favourite rabbit games? Humans, what do you like to play with your rabbits?

Until next time!

Barbara Rabbit xxx

9 months pregnant: a ticking bomb!

9 months pregnant

So, as you may have heard, I’m 9 months pregnant. Really, really pregnant. The kind of pregnant where people stop me in Tesco and tell me I look like I’m about to pop. (Or, conversely, “You don’t look very far along at all! You must have your dates mixed up!” There’s no pleasing some people.)

It’s a really weird feeling.

9 months pregnant – the good

I’m enjoying pregnancy a lot at this point. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a difficult time at various points during the pregnancy. And I don’t think you’re meant to enjoy being 9 months pregnant. But it finally feels like I’m getting good at this!

I like the shape of my body. I may never do pregnancy again, and I’m enjoying not sucking my stomach in. It’s expected that I have a huge belly at this point and that’s very liberating. Okay, I don’t have many clothes that fit any more, but the ones that do are very comfortable!

Now that I’m on maternity leave, I feel pretty well rested and that makes a huge difference. It also means that I have a lot less stress in my life.

I love feeling the baby move. It’s like we have this connection that no one else does, and all that will change after the birth. Baby will belong to other people as well, then. I love that right now, I’m the one that knows the most about her. I’m the one that knows exactly what she likes and doesn’t like.

We sit and listen to a lot of Disney music on Spotify right now. She loves the Moana and Frozen soundtracks and wiggles around like mad.

If my husband sits down next to me, she scoots herself over to be near him, which I absolutely love.

Every night, I have a bath and just watch my belly move. I never really liked baths before, but in the last month or so, my feelings have really changed. I’d have three a day if it wouldn’t push our water bills through the roof! Fancy baths, too – I’m getting the candles and the lavender oil and the bath salts out.

9 months pregnant – the bad

I feel like a ticking time bomb. That’s a very odd feeling.

Every time I make plans with someone (pretty much just my mum or the midwife, I admit), I’m prefacing it with “If I’m not having a baby then.” It’s so weird to know that baby could just show up at any point!

I’m overanalysing every tiny twinge I feel. And oh, are there twinges! Like clockwork, every night, after tea. Suddenly I’m ridiculously uncomfortable, thinking, yep, this will happen tonight. Then I get in the bath and it stops. This morning I was up at about 4.30am thinking, something is happening. By 5am, all calm again. Right now, I’m feeling incredibly comfortable, so who knows. Calm before the storm, maybe?

Every time I wave my husband off to work or when he pops out to the pub or wherever, I’m very aware that I could be summoning him back midway through the day so we can go to the hospital.

I’m a planner, so this limbo feeling is rather odd!

9 months pregnant – the ugly

I know I said I’m really liking my body, but my belly button is kind of gross! It’s obviously turned inside out by now, but it’s got a weird little brown stump in there. I’m not going to share a picture because, well, ew. But yeah. Pretty ugly.

How did you find being 9 months pregnant? Am I the only crazy one who’s enjoying it?