30 August 2014

Failsafe Sago & Potato Fritters

This is my adaptation of the Indian saboodana wada recipe from Mr Todiwala's Bombay cookbook. These are sago and potato fritters, with peanuts, cumin seeds, coriander leaves, lime, and chilli. Naturally those ingredients are out on a failsafe diet, so I created this adaptation.

The fritters have a great texture, sort of glutinous and chewy, with a crispy shell. Very moreish!

Failsafe Sago & Potato Fritters (saboodana wada)

Fritters on a platter with sauce
Fritters with pear ketchup


200g sago pearls (can be large or small)
2 large potatoes
3 Tbspn raw cashews
1 tspn poppy seeds
¼ tspn citric acid (or to taste)
salt, to taste
1 Tbspn spring onion tops or parsley, chopped finely
rice flour
failsafe oil (eg canola) for deep frying


1) Rinse the sago, put in a bowl, and add enough water to cover the sago. Leave for at least several hours (if using small sago) or overnight. I used small sago, and left it overnight, and that worked well.

Sago after soaking overnight
If there's any water left over after soaking the sago, drain it well in a sieve. Let sit in the sieve for 15-20 minutes to get rid of any excess moisture.

2) Peel, boil, and mash the potatoes.

3) Slightly dry-roast the cashews in a small pan, stirring constantly. Then chop them finely (but not too finely). You can use a small food mill or processor for this step, but don't let the cashews become a paste.

Potato and sago mixture
Mashed potato mixed with the sago
4) Mix all ingredients except the rice flour in a bowl. If the mixture is too wet, add a little rice flour.

I actually did this in two stages. I mixed the sago, potato, cashews and salt together first. Then I set aside some of this mixture for myself, and added some poppy seeds, citric acid, and spring onions. I made the remainder of the mixture as per the original recipe (adding 1 tspn cumin seeds, 2 diced green chillies and 1 tspn lime juice), for the rest of my family who aren't eating failsafe.

5) Dust your hands with rice flour, and shape the mixture into small patties, a bit smaller than the palm of your hand. Keep dusting your hands with the rice flour as you go. Place the patties on baking paper on plates, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Uncooked fritters
Fritters ready for the fridge

6) Heat the oil in a deep saucepan to 180ºC (either use a thermometer, or test a cube of dry bread in the oil - when it browns in 30 seconds, that's 180ºC). Put a colander over a plate, to drain the patties in (they may stick to kitchen paper).

7) Fry a couple of patties at a time, until golden brown. Turn to get even cooking. Drain in the colander.

Fried fritters

They are really good served warm, with pear ketchup, or any other favourite failsafe relish or dip.

29 August 2014

Failsafe Sautéed Chokos

I'm trying the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's "failsafe" elimination diet again (it seems to help me with brain fog and some other CFS symptoms, and I'm desperate enough), sigh. It is a seriously un-fun thing to do, especially for a tea drinker who loves cooking with a lot of herbs, spices, and chilli.

The list of allowed vegies during the elimination diet phase is very limited, and includes some of the few vegies that I'm not keen on (chokos and Brussels sprouts). More sighs.

Last night I read up in Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion about chokos:

"Every culture treats the choko differently but no one claims it has a very distinctive flavour. ... The choko's indeterminate character (or blandness, if one is being unkind) explains why it is often combined with spicy flavours." 

Oh, I'm being unkind. Bland, and slimy. Take that, chokos.

I opted for the plainest recipe she offers, seeing as spicy flavours are out. This was Choko sautéed western-style. I made a few ingredient changes, and it turned out quite well, I must say. A good crisp texture, with a lovely buttery and lemony taste. Even Hubby, who doesn't like chokos either, said it was the best choko he'd ever had (from a lifetime of disappointments).

Failsafe Sautéed Chokos

Failsafe Sautéed Chokos

Serves 2 as a side dish
115 cal per serve

  • 1 medium choko
  • 30 g butter
  • citric acid
  • salt

  1. Peel and slice the choko. 
  2. Heat in fry pan with the butter, and sauté until the choko is lightly brown, and just tender. This will probably take about 4-5 minutes. You don't want it to go completely soft. 
  3. Lightly sprinkle over citric acid (to taste) for a lemony hit, and salt to taste. Serve hot.
  4. Optional: sprinkle with a little parsley at the end.

15 July 2014

Weighted Bed Socks

I live with constant foot pain, kind of plantar fasciitis on steroids (congenital abnormality in my feet, possibly related to my hip dysplasia). All very boring. Nights are the worst, and foot pain and sort of 'antsy' cramping frequently disrupts my sleep. I accidentally discovered a few weeks ago that putting a heavy weight on my feet dampens down the pain a great deal, and allows much better sleep. So these might help you too, if you have foot cramping, aches, neuropathic pain, or plantar fasciitis.

If you're not sure if weighted socks will help you, do a test using a large ziplock bag of sand or a large unopened packet of rice. Drape it over your foot, and see if it feels nice. Put a pack of rice in a pillow case, and put it on your feet at night. Does it help?

At first I made a small weighted foot blanket. This was OK, but did tend to slip off. You could make a bed-width narrow weighted blanket though, that would probably work moderately well. There is a good tutorial here.

I decided to experiment with making weighted bed socks, and this is the result:

Socks with pellets in the soles

They make such a difference to me, that I thought I should share this idea with you, in case it helps you too!


  • 2 pairs of socks with a fine weave (ie regular cotton socks — handknit socks might allow the small pellets to push through the fabric)
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Darning 'mushroom'
  • Pins / safety pins
  • Needle and thread
  • Weighted fill — slingshot pellets, ball bearings, duck shot (not lead)
  • Scales & a pouring device (funnel, small jug etc)
Slingshot pellets

The best weights I found were small steel balls. You could use ball bearings, but they're pretty expensive. I settled on slingshot steel pellets, which cost me $45 AUD for 1 kg of shot.

DO NOT USE LEAD. No level of lead exposure is safe, and wrapping it in plastic or fabric won't be enough protection. Gold's a safe option, though!


1. Put one sock on your foot, then the second sock over the top of it, lining up the toes and heels.

2. Using chalk, draw around the edge of your foot, for where you want the weights to go to. If you have a lot of arch pain, for instance, you might like it higher on that side. Also draw lines across the sole to divide the area into 4 roughly even strips. You may like to add a vertical line down halfway, too. I just did this division for the top half of my socks. Basically, the filling is going to shift around, and the pocket divisions help hold it in place.

3. Using either pins or safety pins, carefully pin the socks together in a few places (heel, toe, each side). Don't pin your foot!

4. Take off the socks. Put the darning mushroom inside the doubled socks, and sew around the outer border of the chalked line. Start at one side of the heel end, sew down a side, around the toe, and up the other side, removing pins as you go. Leave the back of the heel area open. I used herringbone stitch, which is a great stretch stitch.

Close up of Herringbone stitch
Herringbone stitch close up

5. Weigh your filler material. I had 1 kg of pellets, and two socks to make, each with 4 sections (2x4=8) so I used 1,000g/8 = 125 g for each section. Weigh out the amount (whatever you calculate yours to be), into a small measuring cup or bowl. If you only have heel pain, then just make pockets for the heel region — adapt as necessary!

6. Carefully unfold / open up the gap between the inner and outer socks to reveal the heel opening into the pocket you've just sewn. Carefully pour in your first lot of filler. A funnel can help, or something with a spout.

7. Fold back the socks as they were, shake down the filler to the toe of the sock, and put in the darning mushroom again. Using herringbone stitch (or another stretch stitch), hand sew across the first horizontal line, sealing in the toe section of weighted filler.

8. Repeat this procedure until all the other sections have been filled, then sew the heel opening closed.

Stitching lines

9. Distribute the filling as you like across the sole of the foot, and sew the vertical divider line, if you so desire.

10. Make the second sock! Rejoice!

Obviously these are not designed to be walked in! You may look like some weird alien footed beast — totally worth it! Plus it's an emergency cosh if you ever need to whack someone over the head while in bed ... Hang on, just a minute (fumble to remove sock), OK, now hold still while I hit you over the head! It would not totally work.

Completed sock being worn

Filling materials

Less heavy but cheaper options are sand or a fine gravel. You would need to enclose sand in a plasticised fabric (PVC, oilcloth, heavy plastic bag etc), to ensure it doesn't leak out. Plastic pellets are used often for weighted blankets, as they're washable. They aren't as heavy as the metal balls, though.

Warning: Do not trim back the top sock layer! I tried this on my first pair, to reduce fabric bulk, and it meant the sock no longer had the strength to hold the heavy weighted sole on my foot. I had to remove the pellets, and throw out the socks. You need both layers of the doubled sock to hold the thing in place.