Monday, 24 September 2007

Clafoutis (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

There’s something very wrong with allowing someone to take away your child with the sole intention of cutting her open. It does rather go against the maternal grain. Yet this was my predicament a couple of weeks ago. It was only to be a minor operation, but when ‘minor operation’ involves ‘general anaesthetic’, to my mind, we’re getting into the realms of confusing oxymorons.

I’m sure powerfully-built, hearty types that went to boarding school and had super fun playing lacrosse and hockey would take it all in their stride. But I was only ever a day girl at a convent, and so was pitifully weak and teary. I did as I was told though. I scrubbed my lovely girl with Betadine solution the night before, and then hoicked her out of bed the next day to do it all over again. Slightly OCD I thought, but I was only following orders. We left in the chilly September dawn, and taxied our way to the hospital.

Once installed in our room, I presented the patient with some consolation prizes; lego to build and a terrible Barbie DVD. Barbie and Tchaikovsky is a very wrong combination, but I knew it would make her day and I was duly rewarded with a sharp intake of breath, twinkly eyes and a great big grin.

Before we’d had time to think, the man with the trolley arrived. They won’t allow you near the operating theatre in France so I escorted her to the lift and then snivelled my way back to the ward. As I read a book – each line 5 times – I tried not to remember those statistics where children die under anaesthetic. Tried not to picture their serious yet compassionate faces as they told me the worst. I was just planning what I’d wear to the funeral when the man with the trolley came back.

The nervous excitement she’d worn on her face just an hour before, had been replaced with a flushed look of pain. She was a tiny, vulnerable newborn all over again. I wrapped her up, stroked her hair and cuddled her until she slept. The rest of the day was a blur of her crying in pain, dozing off, demanding to go home, listlessly watching me build her lego, and dissing the hospital because they didn’t even have a DVD player to play the awful Barbie.

They finally let us home and we ensconced her with great ceremony in a duvet nest on the sofa. She was to rest for the next 5 days. Her siblings presented cards and beadwork that they’d made in her honour, and the mood improved immeasurably. With the help of Calpol and Codeine she got through the night, and the following day I carried her back to her nest with unimpeded view of the television and colouring books to hand.

It was here that I made my error. As it hurt her to call for me, I presented her with my fantastic megaphone, and benignly said she was allowed to use it. I even suggested that she use the siren function to save her voice altogether. Now we are not talking some brightly coloured ELC megaphone; we’re talking an armed forces grade, ‘come out with your hands where I can see them’ model, with shoulder strap for use in mobile applications. It is one of the best things I’ve ever asked for on a Christmas list.

Suffice to say, my daughter was overjoyed. For the next five days I’d be beavering away in the kitchen and then almost collapse with fright as, MUMMY! COME HERE! reverberated about the house. Or I’d be on the phone;
Oh thanks for calling, no she’s doing fine…’woooooo woooooo, weeeeeeeee, wwwwaaaaawwwww neeeeeee nawwwwww’ and the siren would effectively end my conversation.

As the pain receded, so her delight with the new toy increased. Cut to full bathtime / bedtime horror with my other three children, and from her pit in front of the telly I’d hear,

So all in all, a rather taxing week, but there were some perks. Dear friend Chantal waded unto the breach and did lots of school runs, which left me plenty of time to tend to my decibel-enhanced invalid and also, to pootle in the kitchen.
I came up with this Clafoutis on day 3 of the recuperation period.
Postoperative Clafoutis (serves 4 adults)
This worked well with wheat and gluten free flour and both were a hit. It's always such a boon when the children ask for seconds. It is lighter than a clafoutis made with eggs and wheat flour, more cake-like. I've yet to make it with real eggs and gluten free flour, there's room for improvement. We ate it with soya cream, but it would also be good with vanilla ice cream.
For a gluten free version:
dairy free spread for greasing
175ml rice milk
2 heaped tsp of 'no egg' powder
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds
5 tbsps rice milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil
5 tbsps sugar
5 tbsps rice flour
0.75g bicarbonate of soda
40 fresh / jar cherries (mine came from a jar in their own juice, do check they are gluten free)
granulated sugar to sprinkle gaily and with abandon
If using wheat flour:
Replace the xanthan gum, rice flour and bicarbonate of soda with 7 tbsps wholemeal wheat flour. The rest of the ingredients remain the same.
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, Gas 4. Grease 4 square dishes (11cm x 11cm) for individual desserts, or a dish that is ovenproof and holds about 2-3 litres
  • Put the 2 tsps of no egg powder, the linseeds, the oil, and the 5 tbsps of rice milk into a bowl and mix well. Add the vanilla essence
  • Put the 175ml of rice milk into a large mixing bowl and add the no egg / linseed mix. Whisk with an electric whisk until it foams up, or whisk until your arm cramps with a manual whisk
  • Add the sugar, a tbsp at a time, and whisk in between each addition
  • Mix the xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, rice and buckwheat flours (or wheat flour if using) together. (Add to the bowl tbsp by tbsp, whisking well with each addition
  • Divide the mixture between the four dishes and plop about 10 cherries into each one, or scatter them around a big dish. The batter will rise up and engulf them until just their glistening maroon pates are showing. (did you like that burst of eloquence?)
  • Place the bowls into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes...but do check obsessively, I would hate them to burn
  • Remove from the oven and scatter the sugar over the top. I prefer them served after 10 minutes or so, even if they do sink back down a little, but you must do as you see fit
  • Serve to a sofa-bound invalid
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Potty Mummy said...

Fabulous - you sound so much more understanding than my mum used to be; when I was home sick from school (as a convent day girl obviously I too am a wimp), her favoured comment was 'You know what your problem is? Too much chocolate and not enough exercise.' Tough love - but she was right, dammit.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I felt panic, then laughed, great heaving belly laughter, then hungry! All just from reading your post. Hope she's okay and that you've confiscated the speaker phone and hidden it!

Frog in the Field said...

Pig, you are so very funny in the face of adversity!
I have seen my daughter have far too many general anaethestics, it's awful, I feel for you.
Well done coping with it, lets hope it's the only time you'll all have to go through it.
I like the megaphone idea, might get one for the mother in law!

Akelamalu said...

That megaphone was a MISTAKE! Hide it now quick.

Glad she's recovered. x

Miss Thistle said...

Why am I not surprised that you own a megaphone?! Hope she is feeling better, and your ears have recovered. I can empathize with the theatre trip, I sat anxiously while my boy had his tonsils removed. We then watched the Stars Wars Trilogy on a loop for the next two weeks. I have now finally convinced him that Darth Vader is not his father! Love Miss Tx

Akelamalu said...

PS You have an award. :)

muddyboots said...

l can remember taking harry in for his nmr & thinking......... l too was a day girl at a convent. not weepy though.

debio said...

So pleased you thought of, and actualy own, the megaphone. Nothing like a little distraction for recuperating.

Congratulations to you for your mummy skills and big hugs to little one. (Hope you're not too exhausted!)

lady macleod said...

I'm still smiling. I am pleased, very pleased, that all went well. ARe you kidding? I considered having to let someone other than myself give Q a vacination shot hard time!

I can just see and hear the scenes with the megaphone! I think I shall be chuckling about that on and off all day. Well done Mum.

Suffolkmum said...

I hope she's feeling better and that the megaphone is ditched! My stomach was in knots reading this, I'm very lucky in that I haven't had to go through that with the kids. I'd be weeping all over the doctors and probably escorted from the hospital. I looove Clafoutis.

farming-frenchstyle said...

Great stuff. Can imagine child with megaphone. Laura was in hospital for a week in May, and they told her to ring if she wanted anything. MISTAKE. She thought she was in a hotel after the initial "why does it have to be me" bit. I think they were mighty pleased to be rid of her!
Hope your little one is much better now.

beta mum said...

Poor little lamb - she sounds like she made the most of it though.
I've always thought a megaphone would be a great idea in parks, on beaches and at tea-time, but never got around to buying one.
Perhaps it's as well I didn't, judging from your experience with the role reversal.

Mya said...

Gosh poor you - what a worry. So glad she's recovering well.

Once she's back en plein forme you can have the megaphone and issue orders for wine and chocolate and instructions on oven-cleaning, floor mopping can always try...

Mya x

Lunar said...

I must get one of those, I might be able to hear what's going on in my family! Legacy of one too many music gigs I guess.
My 14yr old bear went in recently for a dental op. Her Dad had to take her as we have a young son too and I don't drive, plus I'm dental phobic. Was a wreck all day and somehow managed to stay upright when she finally came home, still rather bloody and swollen. Made a huge fuss of her all week, poor child deserved it. As if the teen years aren't confidence bashing enough. Bought her a huge bouqet of deep red and purple flowers, lots of ribbons and celephane:) Hopefully that's what she'll remember. The BNice Ice cream went down well too!
Hope your daughter is fully recovered now...and you too;)

rilly super said...

crikey, glad to hear it all went ok PITK, pretty nerve wracking by the sounds of it. I think if I have to have an operation I'll think of your recipes to calm me down though

Mrs Steinway said...

Hope all is well now - is this Piglet no. 2 we are talking about?? Give her our love. I remember the fun we had with that megaphone. Other kids megaphone-less birthday parties are never as good as the ones you used to host. I also remember jolly japes of "come out with your hands up" reverberating down our street. Good fun!

Marianne said...

What is it about us convent day school girls that we never quite recover from? When my children were small and we lived on a farm, I acquired a hand bell, like the one's used in schools. It was invaluable for calling my family in for meals. Things have moved on now and the handbell went in a car boot sale during my last move.

I hope your daughter is recovered, and that you are, too.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Potty Mummy, your mum sounds a little like my Mum when it came to staying home. She was right about the chocolate wasn't she?!

Amanda@ LF, glad you enjoyed the post. The megaphone honeymoon period is definitely over! It's back in its hiding place

FITF, thank you my dear. I am very sorry for your daughter's anaesthetics...PLURAL. I don't fancy that at all. I'm thinking that Mother in law + megaphone = violation of laws of physics / decency / sense

Akelamalu, how right you are, megaphone has been confiscated!

Miss T, the megaphone is a must have for any woman with more than two children! Poor your boy and the tonsils, i remember someone at school telling me they'd vomited blood after having theirs out...that image has scarred me. I'm so relieved that Darth Vader is not the father, all that asthmatic breathing would be such a turn off. The mask is a bit kinky tho, some fun could be had with that...

Akelamalu, thank-you! i'm on my way!

Muddyboots, oh the mmR stress is horrible. A fellow convent girl eh? but not weepy? I may have been scared of you at school...

Debio - I know no-one else who owns a megaphone, but it's so very useful. I was fairly exhausted...carrying a 6 year old around the house for a week is knackering!

Lady M, oh i'm glad that I'm not the only soft one then. I kept imagining brisk types telling me to pull myself together.

Suffolk Mum, she is fully recovered and spent the weekend just gone climbing trees. The whole hospital thing was rather traumatic...but it's fading now!

Farming Frenchstyle, poor Laura in for a week. It's true, the french nursing staff were very good at telling me to ring rather than walk down the corridor and stand awkwardly at their door. Such a contrast with the UK!

Beta Mum, the megaphone is so brilliant. I can very calmly state my commands and it penetrates through blaring telly, squabbling siblings and too loud cd player. If for some reason it doesn't, the siren is my back up option. I really can't understand why every Mother doesn't have one! The school always wants to borrow it on sports day too!

MYA, what a great idea. 'Gin and tonic please, Bombay sapphire and twist of lemon. Oh and some crisps...and could you just finish off all the washing?'.

Lunar, oh poor you and poor her! Even worse that you couldn't be right there. You're very sweet with the flowers, I bet she'll remember them.

Rilly, hello, it's all done with now. What a good idea, i could force them to recite a pig in the kitchen mantra, all the recipes listed alphabetically. That would take their mind off pain AND send them to sleep. A win win solution, thank-you.

Mrs S, yes all ok now, and yes it is number 2. I'm such a crap friend when it comes to keeping you up to speed. I could take the megaphone to Normandy and on a clear day with a prevailing wind, you might just hear me call to you with my megaphone??!

Marianne, it's weird the convent thing isn't it? I'm half tempted to send my girls to one so that they have some deep seated convent memories! I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I too own a school bell. It's very handy for meal summoning, but doesn't quite cut the mustard when what i really want to say is, 'if you don't *ing shut up I'm leaving'. And on that yummy mummy note I shall take my leave ;-)

Stay at home dad said...

Wow, I wish you were my mummy, if you see what I mean. All that and my favourite desert ever. Hilarious and touching at the same time. Marvellous.

Glad all is well.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Awwww SAHD, you're sweet thank-you!

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