And, you know, give me all your money.
More on this madness later.
And, you know, give me all your money.
More on this madness later.
Barely at all, frankly. Our back garden is mostly terracotta tiles with a border of bed, a disused pond and flowers in garish shades of pink and orange as beloved by the previous owner. It’s dominated by an overgrown bay tree that desperately needs to be cut back by half. Although without any input from us, the apple tree had beautiful blossom this year and the pear tree looks good too, so fingers crossed for another good crop this year.
The histamine plan is… flexible, let’s say. I do think it’s helping but god, it’s hard. And I get bored of it really easily and just want to eat chocolate. Not terribly helpful. But I am coughing less.
Yet again this year I am banging on about wanting to grow vegetables in the garden. Foolhardy? Undoubtedly. There are days I don’t manage to brush my hair due to demands of the small child so weeding and watering a mini-allotment is going to be interesting. But as even things like bagged salad do seem to set me off coughing, there’s never been a better time to try growing some veg here.
I aim to start small, with four 35cm square planters and two hanging baskets. I’d like strawberries and tomatoes in the baskets and cut-and-come-again lettuce and perhaps courgettes in the planters, plus herbs I think. Any suggestions on what varieties to try? I’m kind of tempted to offer one planter up to Meantime Brewery for their True Brew of London which I think is a genius idea of theirs.
They’ve planted hops in royal parks and gardens all over London, including grand institutions like the Natural History Museum and Battersea Power Station, and lots of pubs are participating too. I think the closest growing stations to us are the View Tube at the Olympic Park and Waitrose in Stratford. The hops will be harvested in September and then dried. After that they are mixed with malt, yeast and water and left to mature, to be ready for drinking at the end of the year. Given that hops are perennials, I presume they could make this year after year?
I’ve just realised that May is marching onwards so hopefully we’ll actually get to a garden centre somewhere to get some plants before it’s too late to sow them. Any advice for a first-time, time-poor veggie grower?
I’d never given histamine much thought, apart from popping anti- pills from about February onwards for the past six years or so. I never suffered from hayfever as a child and it was savage when it hit me, with severe sinus pain and the feeling that I needed to rip my eyes from their sockets to get any relief.
Probably about the same time, I started suffering from a dry cough. Others probably suffered more, to be honest – when it cleared up my mother revealed that she’d always known when I was about to cough during our phone conversations, and she’d pull the receiver away from her ear before the bellow came.
The cough stopped without fanfare just before our wedding and I didn’t even realise until my mum mentioned its absence. “You must not be eating dairy,” she guessed, knowing that we were on a mad panic last-minute diet. In fact I was mainlining yoghurt and cheese, along with meat on a well-known and frequently derided high-protein diet which I reluctantly thought actually suited me rather well even if I still hankered after bread and potatoes and all things magnificently carbulous.
Not long after the wedding I got pregnant and ate my way through morning sickness, mashed potato was particularly helpful. The pounds piled on too, and they weren’t just baby. When our son was a couple of weeks old, at the beginning of August the cough came back. So I was sleep deprived, hacking, and fat. Winner! By Christmas it was so bad that one night nursing the baby at 3:00am I coughed so hard I felt something pop under a rib – and it still hurts now.
The short version of what happened is GP appointments, the chest clinic at the local hospital, some interesting tests and an asthma diagnosis. That came from me performing exceptionally badly in a histamine challenge test (which sounds like a remake of an 80s television show) but I’m still not sure that they are right.
Yes, I react badly to histamine – my lung function dropped 40% at the beginning of the test, when they only wanted a 20% reaction over the course of the entire test. This, to my consultant, is consistent with asthma and there can’t be any possibility of it being food related – he was very dismissive when I asked him if there could be any link between diet and the cough. Even though long-term symptoms disappeared during a restricted diet and returned with a vengeance when I was eating everything.
So I decided to do a little research. I explained the story to a friend who’s a naturopath if she could think of anything that I might be allergic to, or any other reason for the coughing. She asked me if anyone had discussed histamine-rich foods with me. Um, no.
When you look into it there are a lot of slightly conflicting lists of what you can eat if you’re sensitive to histamine. The theory is that your histamine levels are like a bucket – once it’s full you’ll get symptoms (cough, bloating, sneezing etc) but you can empty the bucket a little by managing what you eat, taking Vitamin C which is a natural antihistamine, and drinking lots of water. I took this lightly as I’ve always been a bit of a an intolerance denier (if you swell up like a pumpkin with anaphylaxis fair enough, but some people are just fussy eaters) but decided to try an exclusion diet in line with the histamine-sensitivity principles. Here’s the things I’m supposed to avoid (from Allergy UK).
Certain foods (even food that is low in histamine) can stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells in your body (a type of immune cell). These foods include:
Yeah, I particularly like “spices” thrown in there at the end. It cuts out so many condiments and any source of umami seems to be completely verboten.
However, the cough is gone.
Except when I eat things from that list.
I’ve already sussed that peppers and potatoes hate me, wheat isn’t great and chocolate and white wine are no-nos. So if I’ve declined an invitation to dine, or try various food products, this is probably why. I’m also taking anti-histamine now just to try to help. And I’ll be looking for new recipe ideas and trying to post food ideas here too.
It should almost go without saying, but all resource suggestions gratefully accepted!
With only a few days to go until Stir Wars: A Night at the Death Star Canteen, there are two rather brilliant announcements.
Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone at ASDA for joining the Rebel Alliance, aka our list of brilliant sponsors and donors. They jumped into the breach at this late stage to help us with our store-cupboard ingredients after we were let down, and we’re delighted that this means the maximum amount of cash from tickets sales can go directly to the Make A Wish Foundation.
Of course you all know that the event is entirely sold out… or is it? Yes, the rumours of this late-stage plot point are indeed true. We have four tickets available, and they will be auctioned as two pairs via Twitter and this blog tomorrow, Tuesday 1st May.
How will it work?
Good luck to all, and Danny, Mimi and Arianna (along with our Front of House legends, Oisin and Phil from The Ship) look forward to welcoming you on Saturday. I can’t be there on the night, unfortunately – but I’ve been promised lots and lots of photos!
If you’re free on the 31st of March, the next #foodbloggerslunch will be taking place at….
Ben’s Canteen. It’s at 140 St John’s Hill, SW11 1SL, apparently a short stroll from Clapham Junction, Northcote Road and Wandsworth Town.
Arrive: 12:30 – 1:00pm
Seated for 1:00pm sharp
Cost: £25 per head (bargain!) Please bring the correct money in cash on the day, to make my life easier.
Over half of the places have already gone to people on my mailing list*, and if you’re in, you’ll get an email by Monday letting you know.
Dave has put together an absolutely cracking menu, which is below.
:: Menu ::
Since last November when I found out I was pregnant, food blogging has been a bit of a challenge. I’ve got some classic pregnancy symptoms – in short, everything tastes “funny” and I go from craving things for about twenty-four hours to never wanting to see them again. Red meat and fish are off the menu, instead it’s as much fibre as possible. Thrilling. I’m occasionally making up for it with ice-cream, because I might as well bow to a few stereotypes.
While I may not be cooking as much, I am reading. Conran Octopus sent me a copy of Christine Manfield’s Tasting India which is utterly sumptuous. The recipes are nestled amongst National Geographic-worthy photographs from Anson Smart. These combined with the travellers’ tips at the back create a more fervent desire than ever to visit India. My odd tastes make me want to drink vats of her Ginger Lime Soda and for when I’m back to eating normally again, I’ve bookmarked about a dozen recipes. It’s a beautiful gift book, cook book and travel guide rolled into one.
Lucky me got to go to lovely Leluu’s Vietnamese Cookery Class just after Christmas. Although it wasn’t on the menu that day, one of my main staples now is her Hot and Sour soup. It’s perfectly balanced like all her recipes and it makes prawns palatable for me at the moment – so thankful for it!
Some of you may have twigged that there’s something afoot this May. I’m very happy to say that I’ll be cooking with the lovely Meemalee and Food Urchin for the shindig hereby known as Stir Wars taking place at Tsuru on the 5th of May. Given that I’ll probably be lumbering about by then, I’ve asked the lovely Arianna Halshaw from Bittersweet Bakers to help me. We’ve been having hysterically good fun coming up with recipe ideas and I’m looking forward to making them, even though I won’t be there on the night to serve them – sob! You can buy tickets here and I recommend doing so early…
Anyone got any leftovers still lurking around the fridge? Or are you all cleared out and about to start that New Year detox? If the answer to the second question (and indeed probably the first) is yes, then look away now. Go on, shoo. This will only upset you. Unless you’re only doing a two week healthfest…
Because guess what’s coming up? A food bloggers’ trip to The Ship.
Date: Saturday 14th January
It’s a lunchtime start, arrive from 12:00 with food coming out at 12:30 and there will be more complete menu details nearer the time but we’re looking at something along the lines of four starters, three pies, the Ship’s new burger, loads of sides, loads of desserts, and there’s always a drink or two to be had! We’ve always had the best possible welcome from the Ship and this will be an ideal opportunity to catch up with food blogger mates at the start of the year.
Cost: £20 per person, payable in cash on the day (please bring exact money).
Red Onion Soup, Cheese Crôute
Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait, Rum Soaked Baby Figs, Toasted Brioche
Scallops with Fennel Pure, Crisped Fennel, Garlic Chives
Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Spiced Tomato and Yoghurt Dressing
Black Sticks Blue and Mushroom Torte with Truffle Rosti Creamed Spinach
Seared Guinea Fowl with Truffled Mash, Sprouting Broccoli and Wild Mushroom Jus
Chargrilled Beef Burger with Cheese, Pickled Cucumber and Fries
Parsnip, Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Gratin, Jerusalem Artichoke, Chestnut Mushroom and Spinach Fricassée
Seared Plaice, Parma Ham, Poached Leeks, Samphire and Champagne Sauce
Braised Pork and Cider Pastry Pie with Mustard Glazed Carrots
Passion Fruit Panacotta with Coffee Short Bread
Treacle Tart with Stem Ginger Ice Cream
Selection of Cheese
Plus I believe their famous Scotch Egg will also be making an appearance…
If you’d like to come: we’re at about half capacity already. If you’ve already responded to the early invitation that went out in December, then you’re on the list.
Otherwise, click on “Your Name’s Down” at the top of this page and in the “I’m particularly interested in…” field, put “Lunch at the Ship on the 14th”, by the 7th January and you’ll get a confirmation email.
Bring on the burgers…