Monday, 14 June 2010

Jab Night Comfort Food 1: Crème Brûlée

Every Monday night I get a fairly sharp reminder that my life isn’t quite free of everything to do with MS: it arrives in the form of an intramuscular injection of Avonex. Whatever else is happening in my life, I might be on holiday, stressed at work or just kicking back at home, it focusses me like nothing else can. Like anything we face, the injection brings up some really varied emotions for me. The first is the injection itself: even after two years, it still takes guts to do it, so much so, that I can’t wait until the end of the day to inject, as the doctors suggest. The fact that I know I’ve got to do it, is usually on my mind just after midday. So, I pop my Nurofen, then an hour or so later I do the injection early evening, (it now takes less than five minutes as opposed to the full forty minutes at the beginning). Then I get what I call the “window of opportunity”, which is an hour off before the side effects hit. This encompasses real relief at having injected successfully, pride in having achieved it, and gratitude that the NHS has prescribed me a really good DMD. So, all good then. When I was first dating my boyfriend, this was when I’d call him and either have a chat, or leave the perkiest voicemail ever. After an hour, the first signs of the side-effects will come on - usually some heaviness in the legs, and a general feeling of my body sliding downwards. Maybe a sneeze or two, sluggishness, and if I’m unlucky, nausea. This will last 24 hours, might involve some delirious sleep (in which I apparently kick, sorry boyf).

I'm aware of the increasing debate over the efficacy of interferons, and I struggled even with Avonex after diagnosis until I changed to Dr Jelinek's diet. For all the hassle it involves, I experience great health now, six days a week, and will always be grateful for my neurologist giving me the pick of DMDs, and I will continue to do jab night. Because I am also aware that what I go through for 24 hours, once a week, is just a drop in the ocean compared to how I once was.

So, quite a preamble. But something I like to do on jab night, to keep myself busy through the onset of side-effects is BAKE. Seeing as I'm heading towards a state of discomfort, it's usually comfort food, so this first recipe is something I thought I'd never be able to eat again, but thanks to Vegan Visitor is totally doable!

You'll need:

1 pack of Silken Tofu

1/2 Cup of Fruit Sugar (Agave Nectar works really well)

1/3 Cup of Soya Milk

2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Essence

2 Tablespoons of Ground Arrowroot Powder

1 Pinch of Salt

Sugar to brûlée the tops

1. Preheat the oven to 160C (325F) and boil a kettle of water

2. Drain the tofu.

3. Prepare 6 ramekins in a shallow large pan, and cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover it.

4. Combine the tofu, Agave Nectar, soya milk and vanilla and blend it in a food processor until smooth.

5. Add the ground arrowroot powder to the smooth mix for about four pulses so it's all nicely mixed in.

6. Distribute the mix equally into the ramekins

7. Pour boiling water from the kettle into the bottom of the shallow pan creating a "Bain Marie" so that it comes 2/3rds of the way up to the edges of the ramekins

8. Cover the ramekins with baking parchment and carefully transfer it to the oven (wobbly and hot, never a good combination)

9. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until set. The centre might still be jiggly, but it'll set more as it cools.

10. Remover the ramekins from the water pan, cool for a bit and then refrigerate for an hour.

11. To brûlée the sugar, you can either grill it, or wield the fun blowtorch. You'll be passing the tip of the flame over the sugar until it turns amber and caramelizes. Once it cools a bit it'll be deliciously crackly and you can tap to break the surface. Highly satisfying!



  1. Hi SJ.
    We seem to be on the same boat!
    I visited several top European Unis over 7 years before settling in the City.
    I had a CIS last October, followed by a second relapse in May.
    CDMS was confirmed by my neuro yet the NHS is dragging its feet with my Copaxone application.
    I adopted the Best Bet Diet last week exploring alternative theories as well.
    You opted for Avonex? Why so?
    Your blog is very interesting. Please keep up the good will.

  2. Hi Tony

    Thank you for your kind comments, we are, indeed, in very similar boats!

    Sorry to hear the NHS are being slow with the Copaxone - that must be v frustrating. I chose Avonex after first of all trying Betaferon, which didn't agree with me. I decided to stick with the interferons, also because it's a once weekly injection. Copaxone I think is every other day and I wanted to avoid that!

    I hope you receive your DMDs soon

    With all best wishes for your good health


  3. Hi SJ. I've just found your blog. Thanks for all the recipes :)

    I started on Rebif about a month ago. I don't think it's as full on to administer as Avonex, but I do have to do it three times a week. The psychology of it is way worse than the physical effects for me. I'm still getting my head around it.