Recipe book reviews and general ramblings

Dinner, sideways as usual. Does anyone have any idea why this is happening? They are landscape in my documents but portrait when uploaded to blogger! Instructions on how to fix this would be just as good as an explanation!


So, aside from the obvious sweetcorn, I had a homemade Jerusalem artichoke quiche. I made the pastry first – 60g gluten free flour to 30g dairy free margarine with a little salt and water. Gluten free pastry is a bitch to roll out – it crumbles at the slightest provocation. I gave up quickly, shoved the lot into the bottom of the pie dish and spread it out with my fingers! For the filling I sauteed onions and artichokes for five minutes or so, whisked two eggs, a little bit of oat milk and some salt, pepper and thyme (I grow my own herbs, I always think they taste nicer fresh!) and poured the lot over the pastry, before cooking it for 25 minutes. It was really good, I have decided that I like artichokes! I ate half of it so I’ll have the other half for lunch tomorrow.

I got the recipe from The Little Big Vegetarian Book. It’s hard to find a recipe book which caters for all of my various allergies, so I have a mix – some vegetarian, some vegan, some gluten free. It’s rare to find one which covers all of them but I do have one – Vegetarian Cooking Without, by Barbara Cousins. She is an interesting lady. I don’t agree with some of her beliefs and some of her recipes have been accused of being a bit flavourless, but that was probably a review from a refined-sugar-addicted alcoholic carnivore 😛 personally I’m just grateful for the existence of ANY recipe book which I can open and make something exactly as it’s written down, without having to stress about whether this will work with gluten free flour and if I should use rice milk or oat milk, and etc.

An impromtu review of my other recipe books!

*Vegetarian, edited by Nicola Graimes. This is my favourite, it’s huge and covers all the basics – descriptions and photos of different vegetarians, grains, meat alternatives etc, cooking techniques, basic recipes for things like omelettes right up to really complicated stuff. I found it for £3 in a sale at Borders, but I would have happily paid the full price because it’s become my veggie bible! It’s so obscure that I can’t find a photo of it on amazon though, doh. I’m not certain, but I think it’s the paperback version of this one (<–click), but mine has a completely different cover. It’s as big as any textbook and about 400 pages long! I have links for all the rest of my books though (click on the titles) *Flour Free Baking, by Dinah Alison. This one advocates using ground almonds to make just about anything you can think of along the lines of bread, cakes and biscuits. I’ve tried ground almonds as a flour replacement before and not been too impressed, it just tastes…wrong. I can’t really describe it. It would probably be good for things which are supposed to taste like almonds though! It works pretty well if combined with general purpose gluten free flour too, and almonds are terribly good for you so I should probably use it more often 😛

*How To Cook For Food Allergies, by Lucinda Bruce Gardyne. This book covers all the basic recipes which generally require milk, wheat, eggs and soya and gives really useful and precise instructions on exactly how to substitute for them. It includes meat dishes, so there are a few sections which aren’t any good for me at all, but the section on baking more than makes up for that! I have made some of the dessert recipes for special occasions – there is an amazing chocolate roulade recipe which I tried out for Christmas dinner two years ago, and it worked perfectly.

*Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson. This is a brilliant vegan recipe book, the main courses in particular are so creative. I am dying to try about thirty of them, I have more pages bookmarked with sticky notes than I have left bare! It has lots of useful tips on vegan nutrition and special ingredients too.

*Meatless burgers, by Louise Hagler. I haven’t tried any of the recipes from this yet, but they look quite simple and fun. They are all just variations on a theme but they don’t look too repetitive, and there are different sections for grain-based burgers, bean burgers, burgers using soya products, and accompaniments like sauces, fries and vegan milkshakes.

*Vice Cream, by Jeff Rogers. This book made me speechless with delight when it arrived 😛 seriously! The vegan ice creams all use cashew nuts as a base, so not only are they dairy free but they also don’t rely on soya milk, which is great because it doesn’t agree with me. There are loads of different ideas for flavours and I’m desperately to try some out, once I can afford a food processor!

*Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, by Isa Chandler Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. This is quite a famous little book amongst vegans, everyone seems to love it! The recipes are quite heavily reliant on soya milk and the cupcakes are all wheat based, but I was curious so bought it anyway intending on experimenting with substituting ingredients. The frosting/icing recipes are rather inspired too.

*The Little Big Vegetarian Book, by Helen Farrell. This is the one I got my artichoke pie recipe from. It is a great book for finding inspiration, and I don’t have to do a lot of substitution in the recipes because at least a quarter of them are vegan as well as vegetarian. I like the structure of the sections – beans, rice, eggs, pizza and pies, pasta, side dishes, desserts, baking, etc.

Haha. Is it weird for an anorexic to devote an hour to reviewing recipe books?! I am a little obsessed. It’s sad, but when I was restricting heavily I would spend hours going through those books, attaching little sticky notes to all the ones that I wanted to try one day. Can anyone say food porn?! I spent just as much time watching Come Dine With Me, Ready Steady Cook and Masterchef. What an exciting life I lead.

I have had some exciting news since starting this post – the therapist I called earlier phoned me back! She sounded nice on the phone, and I’ve arranged to meet her next Tuesday morning. I am quite proud of myself for phoning her, I have a bit of a phone phobia. I’m ok if it’s someone I know, but calling official or professional people, especially people I’ve never spoken to before, is just terrifying. If I can get myself to pick up the phone in the first place I usually hang up the second it starts ringing. I’m better than I used to be – I just force myself to do it these days, but it’s still really stressful. When I was 13 things were far worse, I couldn’t bring myself to go into shops for a year because I was convinced that the person behind the till would laugh at me or think I was ugly. I don’t consciously think that people are judging me from the other end of the phone these days, but it’s still a hangover from that same problem. It’s funny, sometimes I can be really assertive and stand up for myself without feeling scared or bad about it at all, but in other situations I’m a complete wuss. I still haven’t worked out what separates situations I can cope with easily from those I can barely bring myself to tolerate, it seems quite arbitary most of the time.

I have been thinking more about the whole OCD vs ED thing. A lot of people with eating disorders say that although they don’t have OCD, they often develop obsessive compulsive behaviour when they are restricting. I sometimes wonder if I’m the other way round – I don’t have typical anorexia, but my OCD makes it look like I do. There’s no question that I lost all this weight deliberately (or as deliberate as you can be when your behaviour is dictated by a mental illness), but the reasons behind my behaviour are far more OCD related than anorexic. I don’t think I’m fat these days whether I’m 120lbs or 80lbs (although I have noticed that I’ve become desensitised to being at a low weight), I know I’m ill, I was never in denial, I sought help of my own accord, I am having far less trouble with the idea of gaining 30lbs than I ‘should’ be as an anorexic, I just…I don’t know, I feel like my issues are different to a lot of my friends with eating disorders. I do relate to them because when I was a teenager, although I was a normal weight my thoughts were far more anorexic than they are now. But I don’t hate my body or myself now, I lose weight because I feel driven to see particular numbers, not for the way that weight will make my body look.

Losing weight makes me feel safe and numb and masks my depression and anxiety. It calms my OCD down because it reduces the choice I have over what to eat. It is partially a PTSD thing too – ironically I think that my anorexia is more about wanting to make myself unattractive than feeling unattractive in the first place and losing weight in an attempt to change that, because I feel unsafe with curves. I find women at normal weights much more attractive than models. I don’t envy skeletal women their bones. I’d choose to draw healthy female bodies (hah, that makes me sound a bit pervy – I swear I’m not, I just like drawing people!) over sick ones any day. I don’t aspire to emaciation, it just…happened as a by product of my behaviours. Maybe I’m overcomplicating this. There are no typical anorexics, no one fits the textbook definition exactly, why bother trying to analyse the exact differences? But I always felt out of place at groups in the day programme at the EDU, I didn’t relate to people talking about fear foods or feeling fat or taking fifty nine minutes to finish their meals. My diagnosis is actually atypical anorexia nervosa, because of the emetophobia complicating things.

I am also diagnosed with OCD, PTSD and depression, with a question mark because of my hypomanic reaction to antidepressants (possibly bipolar disorder rather than unipolar depression, but possibly a purely chemically induced anomaly). I am not diagnosed with a personality disorder, despite self harming when I was a teeanger. I would have fit the criteria for BPD at 18, but I worked very, very hard to eliminate those behaviours. I can form healthy relationships now and I don’t act impulsively anymore, unless you count occasional shopping sprees driven by sheer boredom (and I could stop that if I ran out of money, I only do it because it’s not damaging at the moment, so why not?!). I don’t self harm anymore, and I haven’t done for eighteen months. This is a Huge Fucking Deal. I used to self harm very badly and I’ll have to live with the scars for the rest of my life. For years I couldn’t imagine it not being a daily part of my life, and I couldn’t imagine wanting to stop either. But for some reason the appeal lessened after I passed my 18th birthday, I found myself wanting to do it less and less, and even two years ago the only time it was an issue was when I was crazy because of the meds. It’s a foreign concept to me now. Occasionally I pass the razor blades in a chemist and feel a bit of a pull, but if I follow that thought I can’t actually see myself taking the blade to my skin anymore, it’s just a habitual response. It scares me a bit that as I stopped self harming, my eating disorder became more severe. It makes me wonder if I just replaced one behaviour with another, instead of truly recovering from the self harm. I will just have to wait and see, I suppose. Stopping self harming is one of the things that I am most proud of. I don’t think I would give that up without a bloody good fight.

Oook this has gotten a bit long! Just before I go, one more go-me-moment – I ordered a yoga DVD earlier. I have been wanting to try yoga for the relaxation value for ages, but I kept getting tempted away by the more high power, calorie burning workouts. This time I made myself focus and choose one which was nice and basic and gentle. I am planning on doing it for 20 minutes a day before breakfast, to see if it will help with my anxiety.

I haven’t got anything planned for tomorrow either, so I’ll be around 🙂

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8 responses to “Recipe book reviews and general ramblings

  1. says the russian

    I love the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Just saying. : )

  2. dancelikenooneiswatching

    i have a phone phobia too! xxxx

  3. It’s actually VERY normal for people on restricted diets to become obsessed with cookbooks and food-related stuff like that. Check out the Keys study on semi-starvation.

  4. That quiche looks magnificent! I hope it was enjoyable :)Generally, anorexics are obsessed with food, even though we fear eating most of it. Strange, huh? It's all part of the disordered package. I hope you're doing well ❤ Love, Lex

  5. I love your collection of books!

  6. I used to spend hours on tastespotting/foodgawker bookmarking recipes that looked delicious but that I’d never actually let myself eat. It’s such a strange thing, but I’ve been able to pull myself away from it recently. I still love browsing the cookbook section at Borders – I’ve been eyeing Veganomicon for a long time now.I’m so happy that you were able to get in touch with a therapist and she seems nice! It’s such a huge step to take on your own accord :)Much love,Elle

  7. Cacti Don't Cry

    Hmmm… if you take the photos portrait maybe they’ll upload landscape 😉

  8. hi girliei think most of us actually have alot of recipes and cookbooks..when we are suffering from an ed, we focus on food ALOT! so it completely normal to own a library full of cookbooks haha. im glad the therapist seems nice :)much lovexxxx

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