Autism Awareness Month: On “Passing”, and NT Gaslighting.

With Autism Awareness/ Acceptance month more than half over (WHEW!), I’d like to take the opportunity to spread a little more awareness.

Autistic people face an infuriating Catch-22 situation, and I’m not entirely sure that neurotypicals are even aware of it – even the well-meaning allies. So, consider this a PSA of sorts.

People who meet the neurotypical definition of “autistic enough” – maybe they’re nonverbal, don’t withhold their stimming, and/or need assistance of some sort – are seen as being less than human. .. And less than capable of speaking up for themselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people written off as “stupid”, just because they don’t communicate verbally. (Not talking is not the same as not thinking… it’s not even the same thing as “not communicating”)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen autistic self-advocacy written off because, essentially, autistic opinions aren’t “human” enough to matter.

Autistic people are under immense pressure from society to conform, and to present as neurotypical as possible. “Until every piece fits“, after all. Even beyond the ridiculously offensive idea of “curing” us, most “therapies”, etc are about bullying us (torture, in some cases – ABA, for instance) into submission, and appearing more NT. It’s not about helping us with things like over-stimulation, it’s more about goals of forcing autistic people to not flap their hands, etc. Parents and teachers telling autistic kids “Quiet hands!!”- when a child is stimming – is actually a thing.

(Don’t get me started on the whole issue of parents being upset about a lack of (verbal) “communication”, while actively working to silence actual, non-verbal communication by autistics. Words aren’t the only way to communicate, and for a society that is so hung up on body language… many neurotypical people sure go out of their way to ignore/squash Autistic body language!)

… but when you spend your life observing, mimicking, putting yourself through horrible discomfort, watching your every word and movement, etc… you know what your reward is for finally reaching that ability to “pass”?

It’s being told that you’re not autistic enough.

Autistic people who “pass” are frequently told that they’re not autistic enough, or just plain aren’t autistic. This usually happens when an autistic person speaks up for autistic rights, etc. I just read a tweet where the woman “came out” in a college class, was told she shouldn’t say “autistic”, she should say “person with autism”. When she said “I am autistic, and I disagree”, she was shut down with the “not autistic enough” nonsense.

This is not only completely illogical behaviour from neurotypicals, I’m pretty sure it’s related to gaslighting – if not actual gaslighting. The idea that we lack agency to talk for ourselves if “autistic enough”, and then lose agency to speak as autistic people if we DO try conforming is cruel and abusive.

I want to discuss something I don’t usually talk about. I don’t know if it’s a personal taboo or more of a community culture thing, but I don’t tend to talk about how much effort goes into “passing”. Like many other things in life, I suppose… the key to “passing” is to make it seem natural, and for people to not actually realize the effort that went into it. (I think I just made a makeup metaphor. Lord. All that work on “passing” is corrupting me!)

As a kid, I chewed shirt collars… all the time, all through elementary school. I’d chew them until my chin was red and irritated. It was just a source of comfort – stimming – during the constant stress I was put through at school and at home. I had no peace, and I had to be constantly on alert.

Through behavioural counseling at school and eventually moving in with my grandmother (and away from major stressors), that particular stim went away – but not without a lot of work. I had to be constantly conscious of it, until it was just habit to not do it anymore.

It wasn’t the only way I trained myself to pass. I spent YEARS watching faces, making note of patterns, and even studying facial expressions. I put myself in super uncomfortable social situations, to learn. I observed other kids interacting, and worked on mimicking. It was a lot of hard work, resulted in a lot of discomfort, and even more bullying.

These days, I can get along with neurotypicals, even if they’re not always the most logical creatures on the planet. I still have to watch everything I say (NT people are big on filtered speech, however inefficient that restriction may be), keep the rocking and flapping to a minimum, etc. When I’m out running errands, I have to endure incredible pain from high pitched electronic noises that you may not even hear… simply because wearing noise canceling headphones would be seen as “weird”. My eyes hurt from too-bright florescent light in stores, because wearing sunglasses inside is similarly seen as weird. I could be so much more comfortable, if I wasn’t so focused on passing.

You may see someone who passes as one of you, but what you don’t see is how much brainpower and energy is being wasted in trying to live up to a NT standard, or the physical pain I can be in. Because you don’t see that, it can be easy to write me off as “not autistic” or “not autistic enough”… and that is incredibly frustrating.

The thing is, living as an autistic in a neurotypical world feels a lot like an abusive relationship. We bend over backwards, and our efforts are rarely – if ever – reciprocated. Rather than being met halfway, we’re expected to do all of the changing. We have to understand NT facial expressions, but NT people aren’t expected to figure out autistic body language. We have to go through sensory hell, rather than expect stores to just tone down the brightness and noise. Let’s be real, NO ONE needs things that bright and noisy!

Because of this lack of reciprocity – and I can’t believe I’m admitting this – I often fantasize about just NOT trying to “pass” anymore. It’s a delicious fantasy – just being as comfortable as possible, no longer concerned about trying to live up to the NT “standard”.

I don’t really have the guts – or means (No longer passing would definitely affect my income!) – to drop my efforts entirely. The other day I felt a bit ballsy and wore my sunglasses inside – it felt completely subversive.

Maybe someday I’ll invest in noise cancelling headphones to wear while running groceries. It certainly would be nice to drown out all of the high pitched electronic nonsense that’s *everywhere*, but again… the beaten-in desire to “pass” prevents me from doing so, even though I’d be FAR more comfortable.

I guess the awareness I’d like to raise, through this post, is that you never can tell what someone else is going through, to present neurotypical. I wish people would think about this when trying to silence autistic voices.

PS Here are some of my previous posts on Autism.

Symbols Matter, Words Matter

Explaining Autism: Interoception, and Something Other Than Pain

Autism Awareness Day – A Few Thoughts from My Spot on the Spectrum

Autism Speaks Does Not Speak for Me

Interacting with Autistic Children: A Guide for Charity Appearances

Aspergers: You Can’t Cure “Awesome”

Vegetarian Donairs / Vegan Donair Meat

Last May, I started dabbling in the creation of vegetarian meat substitutes – you may remember the entry on Boneless, Meatless Ribs, or the Vegetarian Chorizo Burger with Grilled Poblano and Cilantro Pesto.

Well, I was working on Donairs for More Than Poutine this week, and I was feeling a bit guilty that my husband wouldn’t get to try them. He’s never had a Donair, so that wasn’t helping things – he’s ALL about trying new foods.

So, as my own loaf of tasty tasty donair meat was almost ready to go in the oven, I decided I’d play around with my seitan recipe, and come up with a vegan donair meat for him. It was done completely as a surprise for him, he had no idea what I was up to. Frankly, I didn’t want to disappoint him if it didn’t turn out.

Well, I guess I was overly cautious, because it turned out amazing. I was kind of shocked at how much it looked, smelled, and felt like the real thing. I was actually able to taste a bite (I’m gluttening for the next week or so), and… damn. I could absolutely be tricked by it in a sandwich, had I not made the thing. Completely bizarre!

Anyway, he LOVED his first Donair ever, and joked that it should be called a “DON’Tair”, along the lines of food names being changed a bit to denote their vegetarian status. We also used red pepper instead of tomato, as he hates tomatoes.

While the Donair “meat” here is vegan, the sandwich itself is vegetarian. As he doesn’t have to be dairy free, I just haven’t played with the alternatives enough to have the first clue on how to make vegan donair sauce.

Vegetarian Donair Recipe
Makes enough for 4-6 Donairs

1 1/2 cups hot water
3 “Beef” flavoured vegetarian bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
2 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp Onion powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Cayenne powder
2 Tbsp Almond butter

1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder

4-6 pitas
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes (or, in his case, red pepper), chopped

Preheat oven to 325, grease a glass loaf pan (4″ x 8″ or similar size)

Dissolve “beef” bouillon cubes into hot water, set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and seasonings.

In a separate bowl, whisk together almond butter and 1 cup of the “beef” bouillon mix – a little at a time – until relatively smooth.

Once wet ingredients are well whisked, pour into dry ingredients and stir to form a lumpy dough. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface, and knead for at LEAST two minutes. This is important – if you don’t knead it enough, it’ll turn out puffy, and more like a baked good than a “meat” substitute. It won’t really look any different as you go, you just have to trust in your timing.

If you have a stand mixer, you can beat it in there on medium speed for a couple minutes, instead of kneading.

Press dough evenly into prepared loaf pan, bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.

Excuse the crappy cell phone photo! I’m still shocked how proper it looks!

For sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, vinegar, and garlic powder.

Use a whisk to mix together the sauce ingredients until well combined and thick. Transfer to a covered container, chill until use.

To Assemble:

Brush pitas with a little water, heat in a hot frying pan until warmed through.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan. Slice vegan donair meat into 1/4″ thick slices (or however thick/thin you prefer!), add to pan and reheat until desired texture (If you like the crispy edges, cook a little longer than you would if you don’t!)

Pile reheated “meat” on warm pita, drizzle generously with sauce, top with onions and tomatoes. Wrap in wax paper, parchment paper, or foil to hold it together while eating, serve immediately.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

For MOST recipes that aren’t inherently gluten-free, high quality GF versions will be included.

Potluck DIY Sushi Party!

A few times over the past 8 years, we’ve hosted a – what we EVER so classily refer to as – “All You Can Stuff Sushi Potluck Party”. Twice, it’s been as my husband’s birthday party, and each time, I think to myself that I should blog this.

My husband’s birthday was this past week, which was a reminder that I was planning to blog his sushi party a YEAR ago. Whoops. At least I kept the information all this time … even if we once again forgot to take pictures as it was all happening. Again… whoops.

Anyway, apparently sushi rolling parties are actually becoming a THING now… though it was a new, unique idea back when we started. Boo, missed opportunity to be trend setters!

This party is a lot of fun to do, assuming you’re good with logistics. There’s a lot to juggle, but when it all comes together, it’s super rewarding.

First Off: Decide the Basics

We’ve now done this party a few different ways, and which way you plan to do it depends a lot on your friends, your finances, etc. Personally, I prefer one of the potluck methods … it just feels more social. Only you know your friends and what would work best for you, though!

1 – Guests Bring Items:

For this method, I do up a wish list of items, and divide it out among the people attending. I try to keep it even, that people are all bringing about the same value of items (Don’t stick one friend with bringing expensive fish, and ask for a single cucumber from another!). One thing to keep in mind when dividing out the list is who you are asking to bring what. Some people, I trust to know what a good avocado looks like, others… not so much! Another consideration is “Who lives near one of the few places to sell trustworthy sashimi grade fish?”.

2 – Guests Bring Items OR Contribute Money:

If you have a lot of friends that you may not trust so much to pick up certain items, this can be a good option. Some people get excited about showing up with a beautiful piece of salmon, for instance… while others would much rather just Paypal you a few bucks and have you do it.

3 – Guests Chip in Money:

The most recent time we hosted a sushi potluck party, we asked everyone which way they’d like to do this, and everyone decided that they’d like to just chip in. It was just before a busy con season, so it just ended up more efficient to have me do the shopping for it. Fair enough – everyone sent $10 per person via Paypal ahead of time.

4 – Not Potluck

You can, of course, always just straight up host the dinner, rather than do it as a potluck.

Next: Finalize a Guest List

Due to the nature of the party, it’s really important to have a solid guest count before you start shopping and prep work. In Minnesota, that can be pretty difficult with the popularity of the “Minnesota Decline” – putting a “Maybe” instead of a “no” when a guest knows they won’t be able to make it.

It’s important to give a deadline for RSVP, and request a solid Yes or No – Maybes should be counted as no. A lot of cost and planning goes into this, and you don’t want to be stuck doing extra work and/or extra purchasing if you don’t have to. Also, sushi leftovers do not exactly keep well!

Plan The Menu

No matter which way you’re doing the potluck, it’s best to wait until you have your guest list before actually planning your menu. The more people you have, the more selections you can add.

Additionally, consider your guests. Are some not sushi fans? You can add tempura vegetables, gyoza, chicken satay, etc as options. Are some vegetarians? Be sure to have extra veg options for filling the sushi. Anyone gluten-free? Be sure to have a bottle of GF soy sauce on hand.

As an example, our most recent Sushi Party menu was:

Appetizers:

Edamame
Gyoza
Chicken Satay

Sauces & Garnishes

Mango Sauce
Dynamite Sauce
Eel Sauce
Soy Sauce
Ponzu Sauce
Sesame Seeds
Black Sesame Seeds
Wasabi
Pickled Ginger

Beverage

Green Iced Tea with Lychee and Mandarin Orange

Dessert

Matcha Pavlova with Matcha Whipped Cream,
Honeydew, Lychee, and Mandarin Orange

Sushi Fixings

Nori
5 colours of Soy wrappers
Sushi Rice

Tuna
Salmon
Hamachi (Yellowtail)
Roasted Eel
Ebi (Shrimp)
“Crab” sticks

Spicy Salmon
Spicy “Crab”
Spicy Tuna

Tobiko
Masago

Cucumber
Avocado
Green Onions
Zucchini
Jalapeno
Sweet Potato
Mango

Recipe Links

Chicken Satay
Gyoza
Matcha Pavlova
Spicy Tuna Filling(Can be used with Salmon, etc)
Sushi Rice
Sushi Sauces – Dynamite, Eel, and Mango

Do Your Shopping List

Once you have your menu designed, go through and see what needs to be purchased as-is (the vegetables, which sauces, etc), and which you will be making at home.

Do up a list for the stand alone items, as well as the ingredients needed to make the other items. Also, make a list of non-food items you’ll need – party cups, paper plates, LOTS of chopsticks, little sauce cups for wasabi/soy sauce, napkins, etc.

Get a few sushi knives. They don’t have to be expensive – I bought a few of this one, on Amazon. Love it! (Cosplayers: It is GREAT for carving foam!)

You’re more than likely going to need to go to more than one place, so I like to divide the list out by the stores I’m going to. IN this case, it was one normal grocery store, one Asian specialty store, and a fish monger.

If you are having some or all of your guests bring items, let them know what they’re bringing about a week ahead of time.

Plan Your Time Line For Food Prep

Take a good look at your menu, and list out what needs to be done, and when. It’s best to do as much as you can ahead of time, but you also have to take into account that some items need certain timing. For instance, don’t buy your fish more than a day ahead of time, avocados will brown if you cut them up too early.

As an example, here is the time line for our most recent party (which started at lunch time):

Me Porter
2 Days Before Buy everything except fish
Make gyoza, freeze
The Day Before Make sushi sauces
Make gyoza sauce
Make satay dipping sauce
Marinate chicken satays
Buy fish
Bake the Pavlova
Tidy front and back yard
Hose down the outside tables
Morning of the Party Make sushi rice (How many batches?)
Cut green onions, jalapenos, cucumber, mango, zucchini
Slice fish, prepare “spicy” fillings, chill
Peel and slice sweet potato, cook, chill.
Strain off cans of Mandarin Oranges and Lychee, use strained syrup for making iced tea.
Put the table cloths out
Dishes
Wipe off countertops in kitchen
Set out: Wasabi, soy sauce, plates, chopsticks, cups, pickled ginger, nori
As People Are Arriving Cook gyozas
Steam edamame
Heat satay sauce
Prepare sushi wrappers
Cut avocado
Set out remaining sushi items
Grill Satays
During Party Make whipped cream
Cut up fruit, assemble pavlova
Enjoy yourself, birthday boy 🙂

Set Up

Set up will depend a lot on your home layout, and how many people are going to be making sushi with you.

For us, we set up two 8′ long banquet tables, with a couple chairs at each. Each place gets a sushi rolling station – sheets of parchment paper for rolling, nori, soy paper. In between each two seats gets a big bowl of sushi rice, with a measuring cup or scoop. Along the back of the table is where the ingredients get set up. Due to the number of ingredients used, it’s a cooperative effort – lots of passing involved! Each table also gets a couple little bowls of water, a cutting board, and a couple sushi knives.

How the ingredients are presented depends on the ingredient. Stable ingredients are out on plates. Raw fish is on plates, covered in plastic while not in use, resting on a big bowl of ice. Only a small amount of fish is out at any given time, and the plates are exchanged for fresh ones with new fish as they run out. Avocado is also served up a little at a time, to prevent browning.

In addition to the rolling tables, a counter in the kitchen is designated as the garnishing station. There, the sauces (dynamite sauce is in an ice bowl), wasabi, sesame seeds, etc are laid out, as well as plates, chop sticks, etc. Once done rolling and slicing their sushi, guests go to the kitchen to finish their sushi off. Plate in hand, they usually head out to the patio to mingle and eat, as the next round of guests sit down to roll their sushi.

Throughout the party, we refresh ingredient plates, etc, as guests roll more sushi as they’re ready. Eventually everyone gives up as the sushi coma sets in!

Sushi Rolling

I like to have pieces of parchment paper (you can use wax paper, if you prefer) on hand for rolling, rather than bamboo sheets. Logistically, it’s great for clean up, and I also find it easier for sushi beginners to work with.

A VERY early post (ie: excuse the poor photography!) on this blog – Spicy Tuna Maki – shows more or less how I roll sushi. We’ve since taken to having the rice go slightly over the far long edge of the nori, to form a bit of a lip to overlap the starting edge of the roll, if that makes sense.

How your guests roll their sushi will depend on their own experience/preference, the type of roll they’re making (rice in, or rice out), and the amount of ingredients they’re trying to cram in there. You will likely have some epic failures, so forks can come in handy!

It’s also a good idea to have at least one person on hand who knows what they’re doing, who can demonstrate and/or assist beginners.

Enjoy!

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Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

3 Sushi Sauce Recipes – Dynamite, Eel, and Mango

3 recipes posted in as many days! I’m on a roll!

In truth, the recipes I’m posting this week are all in lead-up to a big post I plan to make next week, which will be referring back to all of them. It’ll be a fun one! Anyway, *this* post is all about sushi sauce.

We love making sushi at home. While we do tend to stick to a certain few items (Tuna and/or salmon, usually with avocados, cucumber, and/or mango), sometimes we like to branch out and have a bit more fun with it – especially if we’re feeding more than just us.

These sauces are super quick and easy to make, and can make the spread a little more polished and impressive, when entertaining. While each has a roll or two that they’re traditionally served with, it can be fun to play around with, finding new roll combinations that taste amazing.

The Dynamite and Mango sauces are gluten free by default, to make gluten-free eel sauce, just be sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce.

Dynamite Sauce

This is a very versatile sauce. It’s a great drizzle for “spicy” rolls (and can be used to mix in with fish to make spicy filling), but is also great to give a kick to any roll

½ cup mayonnaise
2+ tbsp Sriracha hot sauce

Whisk together ingredients until well combined and uniform. Taste, add more Sriracha if you like. Chill until you’re ready to use it.

To serve, spoon sauce into a pastry bag or a sauce bottle (pictured). Cut the tip off the pastry bag (if applicable), squeeze sauce over prepared sushi, as desired.

*****

Mango Sauce

We love this one over tuna based rolls and vegetable based rolls in particular

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large ripe mango
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

In a small saucepan, whisk together vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.

Peel and seed the mango. Chop mango flesh into chunks, place into a blender with cooled vinegar-sugar mixture and vegetable oil. Blitz until very smooth, chill until you’re ready to use it.

To serve, spoon sauce into a pastry bag or a sauce bottle (pictured). Cut the tip off the pastry bag (if applicable), squeeze sauce over prepared sushi, as desired.

*****

Eel sauce

Traditionally used for eel rolls, this sauce is great on any roll that has a robust or complex flavour. For big fans of eel sauce, it works on almost anything – but can overpower the flavour on rolls with more mild fish

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)

Combine all three ingredients in a small saucepan, whisk well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer gently until sauce volume has reduced to about 3/4 cup. (If you boil it hard, you will end up with a caramel, not a sauce!)

Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer to fridge and chill until you’re ready to use it.

To serve, spoon sauce into a pastry bag or a sauce bottle (pictured). Cut the tip off the pastry bag (if applicable), squeeze sauce over prepared sushi, as desired.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Chicken Satay Recipe – Gluten Free

Chicken Satay is one of those dishes that is SO close to being gluten-free… but isn’t.

The soy sauce included in both marinade and dipping sauce renders restaurant satay inedible to most with gluten issues. It’s such a small thing, yet ends up meaning that most restaurant-made satay is off limits.

So, if you’ve got to make it at home, best start with an amazing recipe! This is one of the recipes from Beyond Flour 2.

“The chicken stays nice, tender, and juicy from this marinade, and the dipping sauce is perfect for it – It compliments the chicken so well, and is amazing on its own – I feel like I could just take a spoon and eat it by itself. I could live on this.” – my husband’s view on it.

The sauce can be made ahead, or just as you’re grilling the chicken. I like to serve the sauce hot, but it can also be served cool if you like – you’ll just want to thin it with a little extra chicken stock, as it thickens when cold.

Chicken Satay

Serves 2-4 people

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast

Marinade:

1 cup Coconut milk
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp Gluten-free soy sauce
1 Tbsp Lime juice
1 Tbsp Light brown sugar, packed
2 Garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tsp Curry powder
Salt and pepper

Sauce:

1 cup Coconut milk
1/2 cup Peanut butter
1/2 cup Chicken stock
1 Tbsp Lime juice
2 Tbsp Light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp Curry powder
2 tsp Gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp Fish sauce
1 tsp Pepper flakes
1 Garlic clove, pressed or minced

Cut chicken breasts into relatively uniform strips, about 1.5″ across. Place in a bowl for marinating (Ideally with a lid), set aside.

Whisk together all marinade ingredients except salt and pepper, taste. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Pour marinade over chicken strips, gently turning to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together all sauce ingredients. Bring just to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Soak wooden skewers in hot water for 30 minutes, before threading with chicken strips. Spray grill with nonstick spray, grill until cooked through- juices should run clear. Serve hot, with sauce

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gyoza / Potstickers Recipe

Gyoza… what is there to say about gyoza?

Done right, these are supremely addictive. Yes, they’re supposed to be an appetizer, usually served 3-5 pieces per person… but I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve made a meal of them. (No, I’m not admitting to how many constitute a “meal”, either!). They’re ingredient-intensive and a bit of work, but SO worth it!

I love gyoza with a ton of flavour, so I developed this recipe with that in mind. The filling can be made a day ahead, just keep it well chilled. Finished gyoza can be frozen before frying/steaming – just be sure to allow them to thaw completely before cooking.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free recipe for Gyoza, look no further than my first gluten-free cookbook, Beyond Flour.

(Fun fact: The photos you’re looking at in this blog entry are actually of the gluten-free ones!).

Homemade Gyoza
Makes about 40

1/2 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1-2 Tbsp grated ginger
5 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed chilies
1/2 tsp tsp sugar
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped/shredded
Gyoza/potsticker wrappers (about 40)
Sesame, olive, or vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine cabbage and salt, stirring to evenly distribute the salt. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes – this will draw the moisture out of the cabbage. Once time is up, squeeze as much water out of the cabbage as you can, discarding the water. Place the squeezed cabbage back into the mixing bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients – aside from the wrappers and oil – to the bowl, and mix thoroughly. I like to use my hands for this – does a much better job of distributing everything than any mixing spoon will!

Cover and chill until ready to use.

To Assemble and Cook:

Roll filling into tight 1″ balls, placing one in the middle of each wrapper.

Use a finger/pastry brush dipped in water to moisten the edges of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling, creating a half circle. As you do this, try to push out as much of the air from the inside as possible – excess air can cause them to burst.

If you have a dumpling press, use it to seal and crimp the edges, or pleat the edges like this:



If you don’t have a dumpling press, you can fold and crimp the edges freehand. (It’s fussy though!)

Heat up 2 Tbsp vegetable, olive, or sesame oil in a frying pan – I prefer to use nonstick for this – and arrange a single layer of gyoza in the pan – not touching each other, frill side facing up. Cook until bottom side is nicely browned.

Alternatively: If you like your gyoza extra crispy, arrange them on their sides in the pan. Cook until the first side is nicely browned, flip and brown the other side before proceeding.

Once the bottom is browned to your liking, pour 1/3 cup of warm water into the pan, and quickly cover with a lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes without removing the lid.

After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid and allow Gyoza to continue cooking until all of the water has cooked off. Repeat in batches, as necessary.

Serve hot, with Gyoza sauce

Gyoza Sauce

1/2 cup Gyoza sauce
1/4 cup Rice vinegar
1 tsp crushed chilies

Stir ingredients together, refrigerate til serving.

Extra crispy – fried on both sides

Traditional – Fried on bottom

Symbols Matter, Words Matter – Autism Acceptance Month 2017

Well, it’s just about April … so I guess it’s time for my yearly rant about it. I’ve actually got a few mini rants this time around, all basically connected.

The other day, a sponsored post came across my Facebook feed. As an intentionally vague description, it used stolen artwork to associate the puzzle piece “Autism symbol” with a popular piece of pop culture, for commercial gain – not even linked to ANY non-profit. It was gross and appropriative on many levels… and then I read the comments.

… Where to even start with this?

First of all, props to all of the Autistic people in the thread who tried to speak up against it, while being wholly drowned out by non-Autistic people. It can be hard to speak up for ourselves, in the face of being outnumbered by many. I will never understand why some NT people have such a need to shout down Autistic people speaking up on Autistic issues.

A few issues to discuss here, as a result:

1. If you are not Autistic, you do not get to police how Autistic people address themselves.

This is a HUGE issue when it comes to identity-first vs person-first language. Autistic people tend to prefer identity first language – “I am Autistic”, “They are Autistic”, etc – VS person-first language – “She has Autism”, “He is a person with Autism”, etc.

Identity-first language acknowledges that this is who we ARE. We’re not inflicted with some disease, that we don’t need a “cure”, etc. Person-first language distances the autism from the person, and is associated with the view that it’s a disease. You have a cold, you have cancer, you don’t “have” autism. Autism is our Operating System, it’s tied up in to our personalities, our senses, the way we think, the way we experience life. It’s not some *thing* you can just take away.

I get so tired of seeing neurotypical people “correcting” Autistics on their choice of language. “You’re not ‘autistic’, you’re a person with autism!” is never an acceptable thing to say to anyone, period. That goes double when THAT is the response to an Autistic person explaining why something that NT people are doing is problematic.

Hell, even if you are Autistic, you don’t get to police the language that Autistic people use for refer to themselves. Some – not many, but some – Autistic people prefer person-first language. Many don’t. Let people address themselves the way they see fit, and have some respect for their choices.

2. If you are not Autistic, you are not Autistic.

This is an issue both on a smaller, individual level, and on a societal level. So often, we will see NT people in Autistic spaces, speaking over Autistic people, because they are related to an Autistic person. Relation does not equal authority, and it most certainly does not grant some sort of divine permission to speak OVER Autistic people.

On a societal level, this is a problem when it comes to issues of representation. So often, parents of Autistic people are looked to as “consultants” in matters of Autism (note: matters of Autism, specifically. NOT matters of being a parent to an Autistic child).

Under no circumstances is a neurotypical parent of an Autistic child an expert on what it is to be Autistic, nor should they be the sole voice when it comes to things like consulting for the creation of an Autistic character in the media. With so many actual Autistic people out there who are more than willing to consult on such things, there is really no reason for an NT parent to be consulted at all. There are, after all, Autistic parents of Autistic children out there!

Right now, this is the issue we’re seeing with Sesame Street’s new Autistic character. While they apparently did consult with Autistic people, they also consulted with Autism Speaks and NT parents “for balance”. This is probably a big part of the reason that all of their marketing uses person-first language, much to the disgust of basically every Autistic person who has said anything about the whole thing.

When you are specifically talking about women’s lives, you do NOT need to consult men “for balance”. When you are talking about black lives, specifically, you do not – AND SHOULD NOT – need to consult white people about it, “for balance”.

When you reach outside the actual community for such input, you are taking agency away from those actually impacted by the portrayal being discussed. There are far too many Autistics that are willing and able to educate and/or fight for proper representation, to keep them silenced in favour of NT people.

Autism Speaks – an organization almost universally despised by those it purports to represent – tends not to have any Autistics actually involved with the organization… go figure.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network, on the other hand, is vocal about “Nothing about us, without us”.

3. Let’s talk about the puzzle piece. Again.

This is a subject I’ve ranted about before, but let me try to condense this down into a shorter form.

The puzzle piece was around before Autism Speaks, though it is HIGHLY associated with them. The idea that we are a puzzle to be solved is dehumanizing and offensive to a lot of us.

The accompanying “Until every piece fits” may sound pleasant enough to the average neurotypical person, but you have to remember – your experience is not ours. You may hear that and think “yes! Autistic people should fit in!”. We hear it, and our thoughts are usually elsewhere. A few examples:

– ABA “therapy” (Which has left many Autistics with PTSD), other compliance therapy (Which could/should be considered torture, in many cases) and many other ways that many Autistics are forced to “fit”.

– The knowledge that the organization most associated with that phrase/image is also one who is big on researching in-utero markers for Autism. Yes, they want to employ eugenics against us. Much like words matter, context matters. Knowing what history knows, that phrase would sound an awful lot less warm and fuzzy if you heard Hitler saying it, wouldn’t it?

– There’s the issue that the puzzle piece – usually done up in primary colours – is infantilizing. These days, people are more likely to be diagnosed in childhood, but it’s not a childhood thing. There’s a lot of erasure of adult Autistics in the community. When it comes to “awareness”, support, etc, many Autistics feel that we are forgotten once we age out of childhood. When it comes to any online discussion involving Autistics, adult Autistics are frequently discounted or ignored entirely. We don’t become Neurotypical once we hit age 18, you know! To have such a “childish” symbol associated with us is a reminder of that whole issue.

– The very fact that we shouldn’t NEED to fit. Society benefits from the Autistic mind in so many ways – where do you think we would be right now, technologically speaking, without Autistics? You would not even be on the internet right now – it would not exist – and able to read this rant, if not for the many, many people on the spectrum who made the internet happen. It’s not logical to benefit from our brain differences, while simultaneously carrying on about how we should be just like you. Diversity is important, on so many levels. Even beyond just representation… but I’ll spare you the tangent about evolutionary biology. For now 🙂

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. We are UNIX minds in a Windows world… and the analogy works on many levels.

ANYWAY.

While the puzzle piece and phrase may sound positive to well-intentioned NT people, they can have MUCH darker connotations to those of us on the spectrum.

All of this, and I still see NT people shouting down Autistic people who try to explain how problematic the symbol is. We shouldn’t have to look past the dark, creepy overtones to the symbol and phrase, just because they make neurotypical people feel good. That’s not how this works.

Awareness vs Acceptance

It’s 2017. We’ve been around for a very long time, and we’ve even been known for a long time. It’s time to move on from “awareness” in April.

I’ve noticed a very clear divide in the hashtags used by Autistic people, and by non-Autistic people in April. We tend to use #AutismAcceptance”, while those not on the spectrum tend to use #AutismAwareness. Words do matter, whether it’s this set of two options, or the earlier discussed identifying language.

This April, please reconsider your words. Please reconsider the use of the puzzle piece. Please consider NOT “Lighting it up Blue” – an Autism Speaks initiative – and consider one of the alternatives, being promoted by actual Autistic people to combat the “Light it up Blue”.

A few hashtags to follow on Twitter, or to use to search for further reading:

#ToneItDownTaupe
#REDInstead
#DontLIUB
#BoycottAutismSpeaks

Just now, I see there’s a new movement.. To use #AutismAppreciation. I like it!

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I think it’s about time for my yearly viewing of X-Men: The Last Stand.

Marie

PS Here are some of my previous posts on Autism.

Explaining Autism: Interoception, and Something Other Than Pain

Autism Awareness Day – A Few Thoughts from My Spot on the Spectrum

Autism Speaks Does Not Speak for Me

Interacting with Autistic Children: A Guide for Charity Appearances

Aspergers: You Can’t Cure “Awesome”

Earl Grey Pie – Happy Pi Day! (Gluten-Free)

It’s March 14 – 3/14 – and first thing this morning, my husband rolled over and wished me a Happy Pi Day. You know, his favourite “holiday”.

Well, first thing that came to mind was a long string of expletives – for the first time since we’ve met (and I’m including the year following the tornado that destroyed – among other things – our kitchen!), I’ve completely forgotten about Pi Day. IN my defense, I’ve been swamped with development for More Than Poutine. This month has been ALL about developing recipes for Canadian junk food; most recently, that’s meant snack cakes. There is sugar everywhere, I can’t picture having added a pie in on top of everything.

… but I didn’t even post anything about Pi Day, leading up to today, on any of my social media. Not even so much as a share of my big “Pi Day is Coming, Are you Ready?” master list of Pi Day stuff. Kinda feeling like the worst wife AND worst nerdy blogger ever – I really dropped the 4/3πr^3 on that one!

Thankfully, his workplace is taking care of his pi day needs that I so woefully neglected, but I still feel bad. So, as my mea culpa to the universe, I will share my Earl Grey Pie recipe now! This recipe is one of the many fabulous gluten-free recipes in Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking, so if you’re gluten-free, or know someone who is, you should definitely check it out 🙂

If you don’t need this to be gluten-free, feel free to substitute a store bought pie crust, or one from of your favourite recipes. My go-to is my Great-Uncle Tom’s Pie Crust Recipe.

This is an elegant pie that isn’t cloyingly sweet – the Earl Grey flavour comes through well, and is really well suited for use in a pie!

We served it for some friends, and one of them – Derek – was almost in tears as he declared that “Everything is perfect with the world” after the first bite. When another friend joined us later, He told her that when she tries the pie, “The gates of heaven will open, and you will see everything”.

So. That happened.

I hope you enjoy this pie as much as Derek did! (And everyone else, really… his reaction was just amazing though! )

Gluten-Free Earl Grey Pie
Makes 1 pie

Crust:

1/2 cup Light buckwheat flour
1/4 cup Sorghum flour
1/4 cup Sweet rice flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
1 Tbsp Granulated sugar
1 tsp Xanthan gum
4 oz Cream cheese
1/4 cup Cold butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Large egg
1/4 cup Cold water

Filling:

2 Large eggs
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
1/3 cup Corn starch
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk
1 cup Heavy cream
3 Earl Grey tea bags
2 Tbsp Butter
Whipped cream, for serving

Measure flours, corn starch, sugar, and xanthan gum into the bowl of your food processor, blitz to combine. Add cream cheese, butter, lemon zest and egg, blitz a few times until mixture resembles gravel.

Stream in cold water as you run the food processor, just long enough to start to bring it together as a dough – you may need to use a little more or less water. Do NOT over-process it!

Remove dough from processor, knead lightly to bring it together as a ball. Wrap in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C), lightly dust your work surface with extra corn starch. Roll your crust out to about 1/4″ thick. Line a pie pan with the crust, trim the edges of the crust to only slightly longer than the edge of the pie plate. Use your fingers to crimp/ruffle the edge of the pie.

Use a fork to prick some holes on the bottom of the crust. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes. Once chilled, bake pie crust for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the filling.

Whisk eggs together with sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Add cornstarch and salt, whisk until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring milk and cream just to the start of a boil. Remove from heat, add tea bags, steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing out excess liquid back into the pot. Bring cream up JUST to a boil once again.

Measure about 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, and stream slowly into egg mixture while whisking. Continue streaming liquid and whisking until it is completely incorporated, and mixture is smooth. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of hot cream.

Remove saucepan from heat, pour remaining egg mixture into cream mixture, whisking constantly. Once fully incorporated and smooth, return to heat. Turn heat to medium-low. Continue whisking mixture constantly, cooking until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat, stir in butter until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Spoon filling into prepared crust, cover with plastic wrap. Chill until set, about 3 hours. To serve, top with whipped cream.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Interacting with Autistic Children – A Guide for Charity Appearances

If you follow me on social media, you may know that I recently joined The Royal Sisterhood, a member of Costumers for a Cause.

CFAC is a local nonprofit which brings costumers together to volunteer their talents for local charities, to aid and enrich their fundraisers and other events. Dressed as princesses, superheroes, and more, we do appearances at events such as charity walks, Children’s hospital TV programming, and more.

Prior to joining The Royal Sisterhood, I was involved with another division of Costumers for a Cause, doing appearances as Superheroes/ villains, along with my husband. (I went as Beast, he would usually go as Magneto or Loki, all from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

At a TRS meeting yesterday, my friend Sara did a great presentation on gender inclusiveness while doing charity appearances. With an Autism Walk coming up, I asked if the group had ever discussed interacting with Autistic children. I have seen some pretty bizarre things with regards to Neurotypicals interacting with Autistics, after all.

After sharing a few thoughts on the matter, I was asked to write up a bit of a guide. I went home, brainstormed with my husband, and here we are! While this was written specifically for a group of Princesses, we thought that it was good advice for those doing charity appearances in general, so decided to post it here.

All dressed up as “The Fairy Godmother”,
prior to a charity appearance.

Interacting with an Autistic Child

1. Don’t force eye contact.

Eye contact can feel very threatening/intimidating to some, and far too intimate to others. If it’s obvious they don’t want to make eye contact, talk to their shoulder or their chin. Just because they’re not looking at you, doesn’t mean they’re not looking at you… if that makes sense. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to look you in the face.

2. Do not touch – even a fist bump or high five – without asking first.

Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to touch you, or shy away from you physically.

3. Talk to the autistic child first, not their parent.

For example, ask the child if they want a hug, not the adult if it’s OK. If it turns out that the child needs the adult to communicate for them, the adult will step in. Asking the adult first is a sore point in the community.

4. Be mindful of sensory issues.

Avoid or go very light on perfume, etc when attending an Autistic event. Be mindful of the fact that loud voices (loud to us, not to you!) can be very startling.

Of particular note for princess events: The high, very girly princess voice and accompanying laugh can be difficult/painful, especially in groups. If you are in a group of two or more princesses, try to keep laughter subdued.

5. Know your audience.

Autistics are very, VERY literal. There’s a fine line between staying in character, and offending the children. Many of us have no ability to suspend disbelief, and some of the things said to enhance “character” can come off as lying, or as mocking the Autistic child.

For example, if you say “I just came from Arendelle…”, an Autistic child is likely to process it something like: “Arendelle doesn’t exist. Is she making fun of me? Does she think I’m stupid? What am I supposed to say to that?”.

It can be very awkward and uncomfortable. If at all possible, avoid making definitive statements about the fictional world you’re portraying (I know, this is super counter-intuitive, for showing up in character). For this reason, various figures of speech can also be confusing and make things awkward.

6. Speak very clearly. Enunciate!

Many Autistics also have sensory processing disorders, which can be exacerbated by busy environments like the charity walk. When you hear EVERYTHING going on around you, it can be very hard to pick out a certain person talking, even if right in front of you.

Please don’t be offended if you’re asked to repeat something, or if you are misunderstood. Also know that many rely on reading lips, even if they don’t have a hearing problem. Try to face in their general direction when talking to them, even if eye contact is an issue.

7. Give plenty of time for a response.

Autistic children can take longer to reply than neurotypical children. If you’re sure they heard you, just have a bit of patience in waiting for a reply. They’re processing! Also, know that long pauses may feel really awkward to you, but aren’t necessarily to Autistics. Autistics can enjoy your quiet presence, and don’t necessarily need nonstop conversation. Social cues are not our strong point!

8. Ask about hobbies, BUT…

… be prepared to have your ear talked off. If you get an Autistic child talking about an area of special interest, they can go on and on. It can be hard for them to tell when the other party is not interested, or the conversation should move on. Be ready to be very, very patient!

On that point, know that when the conversation has ended, be clear that you are ending it. Don’t hint around that you have to move on, just be clear and honest that you need to meet others, etc. Again, social cues!

9. Do not take anything personally.

I’ve touched on this with a couple of other points, but it should be expanded on. For one thing, Autistics can be very frank with you. There’s not usually a lot of sugar coating, more just saying what’s on the mind. It can come off rude, but is usually not ever INTENDED to be rude. These can fall into observations or questions about physical appearance, etc. Try to roll with things, even if something hurts a bit.

10. Watch your wording.

Please avoid the use of “high functioning” or “low functioning” to describe an Autistic person. Don’t compare an Autistic to a non Autistic, or use phrases like “For an Autistic…” (“You’re so friendly/empathetic/well spoken for an Autistic”, for example). Though it likely won’t come up, it needs to be said: Don’t use “cure” language.

Additionally, know that – much like gender pronouns – How you refer to an Autistic is important. Many/most Autistic adults prefer identity-first language, ie: Autistic person, Autistic child, etc… while many non-Autistic people seem to think that person-first language is most appropriate: “Person with Autism”, “Person who has Autism”. Many of us see “with” or “who has” to be offensive, as it usually accompanies the idea of us being “inflicted” with something, that it’s something separate from us, and/or is a temporary/ “curable” thing. Autism is our Operating System, it’s who we are.

If an Autistic person tells you what their preference is – identity-first or person-first – please respect it. Also: Please don’t ever say “suffers from Autism”.

11. Tone matters.

You don’t necessarily need to mimic how the parent talks to the Autistic child. Some parents of Autistics are… less than ideal in how they treat their kids, and can talk to them like they’re babies and/or idiots. Aside from issues mentioned above (eye contact, enunciation, literal speech), you shouldn’t feel the need to talk any differently to an Autistic child, than you would a neurotypical child. As an example, nonverbal children are often looked at as stupid or lesser-than, and are frequently talked down to. The fact that they don’t speak *doesn’t* mean they don’t understand, or aren’t intelligent. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known are non-verbal.

12. Know that every Autistic is different.

Some of these tips won’t apply to everyone. For some, every single one will. You will likely meet Autistic children who “pass” for neurotypical.

*****

As a bit of an aside – this isn’t so much about dealing with Autistic children, as it is a bit of information about the Autism community, culture, etc…

April is coming up, and with it… “Autism Awareness Month”. Every Autistic adult I know dreads this month, as the promotion and observance of it tends to be hugely offensive to Autistic people. I’ve written about it Here, Here, and Here. I’d encourage anyone planning to do Autism charity appearances to read through those posts.

The TL;DR:

1. Autism Speaks is a horrible organization, on so many levels. Most Autistic adults and many parents of Autistics are horrified by their campaigns and treatment of Autistics. Please consider NOT supporting A$, and look to alternative organizations. I tend to recommend Autistic Self Advocacy Network, as it is “Nothing about us, without us”

2. As an extension of #1, the puzzle piece and “Light it up blue” are very much Autism Speaks symbols, and as such are pretty offensive to a many Autistics. For more information/perspective, I recommend Goggling such things as “Don’t light it up blue”, and “Autism Speaks doesn’t speak for me”.

3. The #ActuallyAutistic tag on social media – particularly Twitter – is a good read if you’d like to hear what Autistic people have to say.

A few members of The Royal Sisterhood

Reuben Buns – Recipe

About a week ago, I decided to treat my husband to a batch of my Buffalo Chicken Buns. Cooking with wheat flour is a rare occasion in this house… partially because breathing it in makes me miserable for a day or two, and partially because the cleanup (allergens!) is such a pain.

This weekend, I took advantage of having procrastinated on that cleanup, to finally make a recipe I’d thought up for him, and hadn’t gotten around to actually *making*. Going on the theme of a cinnamon bun inspired savoury roll, this one is based on one of Porter’s favourite sandwiches: The Reuben.

The dough is flavoured like a rye bread, while still being soft enough to be appropriate for this application. The filling consists of traditional Reuben fillings: Corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese, and the finished bun is drizzled with Thousand Island (our preference) or Russian (traditional) dressing.

As he’s not able to eat beef or pork anymore, I had to substitute fake pastrami from The Herbivorous Butcher, which worked well for his needs.

It’s a fun – and convenient – take on a sandwich. One batch of this made his work lunches for the week, all individually wrapped and ready to go. Unlike sandwiches made ahead, these do not get soggy, so long as you drain the sauerkraut well.

In other news, development and photography for More Than Poutine is coming along very well! We have just a little more than 3 weeks left in the campaign, and we’re working on our first stretch goal – adding more recipes. Be sure to check it out, back the campaign, and share it with your friends!

Reuben Rolls
Makes 6 giant buns

1 3/4 cups warm – not hot! – water
4 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Rye flour
2 Tbsp Caraway seeds
2 tsp salt

2 cups finely shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 lb corned beef
1-2 cups WELL DRAINED sauerkraut

Stir yeast and brown sugar into warm water, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, caraway seeds and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
(OR: mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes or so!)

Once dough is fully kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Once dough has doubled in size, roll out on a floured surface. Aim to make it a large rectangle, say 15 x 20″ or so.

Scatter half of the cheese across the rolled dough, avoiding the very edge of the rectangle. Evenly layer corned beef over cheese, again avoiding the very edge. Scatter drained sauerkraut over meat, top with remaining cheese.

Starting with one of the shorter edges, tightly roll the dough up. Generously grease or spray a 9x 13″ baking pan.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 6 even rounds. Carefully place each roll into the pan, spacing them evenly.

Cover pan with plastic wrap, allow to rise one more time – about an hour. While waiting for the buns to rise, heat oven to 375F.

Once final rise is over, pop the pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and perfect.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, if you’re patient. Serve hot, preferably with a drizzle of Thousand Island or Russian dressing! (Hey, the whole idea was themed around cinnamon buns, may as well continue that thought in serving them!)