Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

Merry Christmas, one and all!

It's still Christmas, after all! I always count on the fact that there ARE Twelve Days of Christmas... After all the work, planning, preparation, I'm for one thing NEVER ready completely, nor secondly, ready for it to be over so quickly!

These are some wonderful Gingerbread cookies I made, using Buckwheat, Almond Meal & Tapioca flours... For Sweetening, I used Splenda mixed with one Tablespoon Molasses per cup, and Truvia. They are frosted using traditional powdered sugar glaze-- such a teensy bit, why not? They are wonderful in and of themselves, whether lower carb or not! They are also wonderful compared to my first attempt.

In my relatively new quest for lower carb, significantly reduced sugar, baking, which BEGINS by first and foremost being Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Egg Free, Oat Free, Garbanzo Free and more, I have been wishing to try some new flours. Quinoa, I thought. Hmm. I like the whole grain itself. So many love it. Highly nutritious. I MUST try it!

I did. Well, I can without reservation say to you: don't. I have 2 very accommodating children. Who will try ANYTHING I bake. Will strive to make it work if at all possible. I'm not dissing Quinoa. But this just DID NOT work. AT ALL. . . "hMMM....!!! Ugh!" "Uh, sort of can taste the ginger-- but it tastes like asparagus." "Well, after baking them longer/darker they sort of taste more like green beans, instead of just asparagus." "They're good..... oh-uh-- huhgggg-ghhhhh!?? What IS that?" Were some of the comments. And I only used 20%. So a "no go". To say the least.

Below, is a picture of another success: Some almond meal based cookies whose dough was versatile enough that I planned to make several types of Christmas cookies with it! Sadly, we lost our beloved bag of dough.... When I inadvertently threw it out in a huff, thinking it was the DESPISED Quinoa aberration. (Shoulda used my big Fat Sharpie on the Bags!)

That's ok; we can remake it. We can make it better than it was.... (insert 6 Million Dollar Man theme music here.)

These recipes aren't really tested, but I wanted to share with you. Our Joys & Successes. As well as our Cautionary Tales.

I really hope you ALL have a blessed, cozy, festive & JOYOUS holiday season!


Friday, November 26, 2010



A most wonderful thanksgiving was hosted by my sister, who with her family, IS NOW GLUTEN FREE!

So the rolls and desserts I brought-- had the potential to be appreciated ALL THE MORE BY more of our family than before...

Gluten Free, Vegan, Low Carb dinner rolls, with Almond & Amaranth.

And so wonderfully, so many MANY wonderful things were available for us to eat! That I didn't need to make myself! It was almost like the old days, when, even though my kids had food allergies, my sister and I could both each eat anything we wanted-- we could share that adventuresome FOODIE SPIRIT. Without reservation.
Pear & Plum Tart with Almond Cream (Adapted from John's Pear & Almond Cream Tart/Martha Stewart Recipes.)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cranberries & Pecans.With Cider Vinegar & Pomegranate Molasses.
(Inspired by several recipes, especially: Kentucky Living ... )

And my beautiful, gracious, loving giving sister IS A CLASSICALLY TRAINED CHEF. Need I say more? The Turkey was SUCULENT, the potatoes both round in flavor and light as air. The GF Cornbread stuffing-aromatic. MMMMMMMMmmmm!
It's a testament to a good time for me that I for the most part forget to take pictures. And such was the case here. The people who joined our family were such easy and enjoyable company, they feel like family now. We feel truly blessed to have shared the time with them. And the ones who couldn't be with us this year were a poignant pang in our hearts, which in reminding us just how much we love and appreciate them, were still an addition and clarification to our silent thanks.
Posted are some pictures of the the things I brought as our contribution to the meal. Oddly, I'm not stuffed, but hungrier than usual today!
Rustic Apple Tart

Both tarts were made using the same Coconut Shortbread recipe which I use as a Pate Brisee... one which I've been meaning to post about. Mmmmm.

Whipped Cauliflower, poached in Chicken Stock, Whole Garlic, & Celery Root

I was awake past 3am... after cleaning up our kitchen in preparation for today, where we will join my husband's side of the family for a second Thanksgiving Celebration. So, of course, I didn't hear my alarm. And overslept. And they stuff their turkey the traditional (gluten stuffing) way. So when I realized I had slept 2HOURS LATER than I'd meant to, I had to HURRY HURRY HURRY, or as close to it as I could muster, to get that turkey breast which I intended to make for us (we basically bring our own meal to this Thanksgiving) into the oven so we could leave on time.

IT'S STILL IN THERE! I started it at 500 on convection for 40 minutes, adding root veggies & celery as they were ready (Celery, Celery Root, Turnip, Rutabaga, Golden Beet, Butternut Squash & Yellow Onion. This makes a demi-gloss-like reduction which is HEAVEN...) I've since tented it and turned it down to 400. Hope it's ready in time!
I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday, and that today, if you celebrate THIS day, all your shopping wishes come true! ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back in... the Kitchen...Again...!

(to the tune of Gene Autry... Back in the Saddle Again.)

Back in... the Kitchen... Again...

Back in the saddle baby! ;)

I have hopes for some new flours I have on order....

I am making progress towards my goal of a great tasting, well risen, low carb, GF, Vegan, Soy free loaf...

Had great success in making- LOW CARB CRACKERS...


SO not so dire, these days. My next new goal; homemade marshmallows. (Halloween's Coming! I need treats for these awesome kids!) I'll be using gelatin, so, not vegan, with Splenda (the easiest to work with), but if that works out well, may dabble in agar agar, Xylitol, Erythritol...


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Starting Over....? Lyme's, Low Carb, and More.

I've been rather unable to post these past months; dealing with illness, compounding illness. For myself, and then my teen son. This update was written months ago, in a rare strong moment. They are coming more frequently now, so hope and creativity are sparking again, and may hopefully ignite! Soon!

Official diagnosis-- I had been battling a chronic yet debilitating sinus infection, which did not present in the usual way. (From Jan 4- until early March! I now wonder was this really the case? Given the later diagnosis?)

Then, we both were brought down by Strep-- unusual for us!

Official diagnosis-- he has been out of school since mid-March with Mono, and at that time a complication of the spleen.

I took us the 1-2 hours drive to our very skilled & specialized Acupuncture NAET practitioner, to help dear boy boost his immune system and fight this severe Mono that had him down. I would, I decided at last minute, get a treatment, too, as I knew that there was a point after/beyond which I could not accelerate or excel, and would need to improve my health in order to meet my goals and dreams...

After our practitioner on his own detected the past strep with no info from us, confirmed that, yes, there is Mono that he's been fighting, showed us it's not the thing that's bringing him so low.

UNOFFICIAL (ie, not from our GP) diagnosis? For BOTH of us?


And I had recently had a positive test result, which when "resubmitted" showed negative. What's that mean? I asked my doctor. Don't worry about it was the answer.

Long story short, we have been on an extremely low carb, no nightshades diet for WEEKS NOW. (Hoping that it needn't be forever...) But as I want us to BEAT this thing, OBLITERATE IT, we are both as compliant as we can manage. For now. For this moment & this fight. Which makes it extra hard for us on several counts.

1. We are already Gluten Free!

2. My kids have numerous food allergies, as well, which means I cannot bake with any of the "helps" that many others can, such as soy, milk, eggs, etc.

3. Knocking out Tomatoes, Potatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Paprika/Chili, makes this already LIMITED DIET SUPER LIMITED and difficult. Inspiration is an exercise in mental wrestling.

4. And to top it all off, the most emotionally crushing (especially with few carbs to help me make Serotonin!) is the loss. I dream of having a GF Vegan Allergy Sensitive Establishment. I study. I develop recipes. And lately I HAD BEEN SUCCEEDING! The Pita bread recipe I'd just developed is SO DELICIOUS AND INSPIRING I'D BEEN MAKING IT 5 TIMES A WEEK! ON REQUEST! TO GREAT CHEERS! SOUVLAKI ANYONE? PERSONAL PIZZA NIGHT ANYONE? HEY HONEY, HOW 'BOUT SOME PITA TO DIP IN YOUR FAV HUMMUS?

This outshone even my Dutch Oven Bread for FEEL GOOD ACCOMPLISHMENT & INSPIRATION!

And now. I feel I'm starting all over again. With almond meal. And maybe Coconut Flour. (Did I mention Husband HATES Coconut?)

And these two options, while we may be able to tolerate, are not FANTASTIC. Not yet anyway. And where would they leave me in an ALLERGY FRIENDLY COMMERCIAL VENTURE? Carb conscious, yes, but where do they fit in in terms of my Best Practices? ______

WELL... that's the update. Written a few MONTHS AGO... Anyone out there reading- well this posting is a good sign; that there will be an UPDATED update. Hopefully very soon!

Health and Happiness to all...


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"My Bread"... Inspired by Gluten Free Girl and Jim Lahey

Well, it's very exciting....

Well, it IS very exciting!!! The Holy Grail... The Holy Vessel... of my Gluten Free Bread Quest Thusfar.

I decided to implement the no knead baking technique (ha ha so funny, SO PERFECT, as gf bread is already typically NO KNEAD! I love it.) from the book, My Bread by Jim Lahey. A while back, I'd read a post about dutch oven bread from Gluten Free Girl and always meant to try it. I even had my Chantal enamel ready for the purpose, but was worried about the plastic handle/top as well as the high heat effect on the beautiful enamel. So I delayed. (Upon research I did find some people removed this and replaced with a nut and bolt or somesuch and BETTER YET some employed a stainless steel cabinet knob from the home improvement/hardware store. Sounds like a great idea!)

However, I am always loving it when in my life I'm shown something I'm not using to full advantage- often something staring me in the face on a daily basis- and am graced with the epiphany (or one might say "duh!" moment) of just why that thing is there and what I should be doing (or should have been doing)with or about said thing. I mean, not to live life with shoulds. But, HELLO?! I do LOVE the joy in those hello moments, even given the time in the dark that makes them possible...

This pot is one of those epiphanies for me. I bought it one Halloween to make Transylvanian Goulash in. It's a traditional Potjie Pot ("poy-kee"), from South Africa, the original Dutch Oven, as it were, the molds derived from the originals in the 1600's, I believe. I mean doesn't it look just like a witch's cauldron? I LOVE the shape. It holds heat amazingly well. In fact I've been known to get it going, turn off the stove and leave the house to let it keep cooking in complete safety with no power but it's own heat. And I make the BEST fried chicken in it. When I make fried chicken that isn't oven fried, that is.

(Read more about the here, and how the Dutch brought them to Africa in the 1600's: )

So here's this pot. Moving around the kitchen, hasn't been used in some time, very heavy, not really FEATURED the way my red Chantal is on display. Just shuffled here and there...

Duh moment! Would it could it possibly be? The perfect vessel for my Dutch oven bread? (Well , now I think I know the answer, but then? It was still a question mark hanging in the air...)

Well look at the pictures and let me know what you think.

Needless to say, I have fallen in love with this pot all over again...

And this Bread? Well, I'm in love with it as well. NO QUESTION!

I used my own flour blend, and took some tips from BOTH GFG and some from Mr. Lahey. For example. I did my own thing with leavening, vinegar proportions, but took definite cues from them as to liquid to flour proportions, certainly. And since I don't bake with eggs, I deviated there, too. I used Jim's Temp and Shauna's baking time. I was nervous about there being no oil in the recipes! But am greatly pleased. And even with the deviations, would likely never have made this precise loaf without the inspiration and guidance mentioned above, so THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

I'm going to go make more right now!

sigh.... mmmm bread! Tasty! Crusty! Moist! Flavor Crumb & Spring! And good looking, too! ;)

(And this bread will so fully supply and equip my Tartine Expeditions... has begun to already! More on that in subsequent posts...)

Monday, January 25, 2010

World's Best Leftovers... Post Party Bliss

I love leftovers. I mean, if it was good the first night, chances are it will be even better the second night. Right? Part of that I'm sure has something to do with anticipation. Another part, to do with the fact that I CAN HAVE SOMETHING GREAT WITHOUT COOKING OR WAITING.

And often, there is an assortment or choices as to how to serve 'em up. (My Brother-in-Law from Wisconsin used to call this the Smorgie Effect, as in Smorgasbord.)

Restaurant leftovers are great, with the caveat that one must count carefully the time the items have been outside the safe food temp zone....

Which is why homemade leftovers rule, with the emphasis on PARTY LEFTOVERS. You know in each instance how long each item was left at room temp, etc. and can judge more accurately it's safety. And since it didn't need to travel, you have more room to work there, too. And then, for me there are all the specialty items I don't usually buy on a daily basis, AND my tendency to MAKE WHAT I REALLY WANT TO EAT for a dinner party. My guests are my guinea pigs of sorts. I don't cook most of the things I serve at a dinner for the crew around here! What would be the point? They would not "get it" or sometimes even try it. And yet, the magic of a party seems to make my family more adventuresome. And in the instances where they won't try something I slaved over, I have the joy of many others trying and often (I hope) enjoying it. And the striving to be green, not to waste, well. I try to do my part! At least I can tell myself that when I'm looking for lunch and, well, no-one else is going to make use of these delicious things if I don't-- don't find the enjoyment of the variety and in spinning them into other incarnations. Come on, finish up that Brie! Somebody's gotta do it! ;)

DAY ONE: Order Up: Making the Baguettes Measure UP for Four... For (leftover sirloin) Steak Sands, and one request for a Hot Ham and Cheese with Muenster. Steak and Arugula, Steak and Red Onion, Steak with Arugula, Red Onion and Horseradish- Yum!
DAY TWO: Panzanella Salad with Salmon and Poblano, short grain Brown Rice, Shredded Parm and a splash more Fig infused Vinegar.

DAY THREE: Perfect Brie, Fontina Cheese, Walnuts, Dalmatian Fig Preserves with Glutino Crackers - Plain (like Water Crackers), and Wholegrain (with Poppyseed & Whole Fennel!).

(Bouquet of Flatleaf Parsley and Basil!)

DAY FOUR: The Flowers are still going strong and GORGEOUS.

DAY FIVE: The last two roasted mushrooms...

A Magical Evening with Friends

This past weekend, we were finally able to hold a dinner here that had been indefinitely rescheduled from November! One child with pneumonia in November, the other with h1n1 in December, and the general holiday madness, including but not limited to always having 2 Christmases over a four day span left it nearly impossible to do before January.

The couples invited had never before now met each other, something I still find hard to fathom. But the spark of inspiration that had us select these pairs to get together did not disappoint.

From the cooking, the conversations, the eating, and the guitars and singing afterward, there was never the tiniest lull-- one of those rare sparkling nights that will forever stand out.

Something that made it so very special for me, was all the involvement help and encouragement in the kitchen. I am NEVER completely ready when guests arrive. This evening, I had the baguettes baked, the the crostatas assembled (thanks to my teen- it warmed my heart to have him cooking with me!) when the first guests arrived.

As a frustrated foodie, in a house with multiple food allergies, and picky eaters, I can't TELL YOU THE JOY I experienced and still do when I recall, for example, grabbing some tea spoons to encourage those helping me in the kitchen to taste the different vinegars I'd selected to determine one to go with the Poblano, onion, fennel and orange zested Salmon. OOOOh! How the right one became apparent! Great joy, bonding and tastebud revival abounded!

And of course, it never hurts to have a professional chef as a guest! I guiltily accepted more help that I should have, while he made very quick and expert work of some of the remaining tasks! I always learn when I watch him; for example I would never have though to grab the shears out of the knife block to core the peppers, which were to be slit up the sides rather than topped since they were long red ones. And the chiffonade of the fennel bulb drew a crowd, who audibly exhaled the breath they were holding when he at last lowered his eyes back to the chopping board!

The Menu:

Apple, Walnut and Brie Crostata

Bliss Potato, Apple, and Golden Beet Crostata, on spiced pear butter, with fresh rosemary & coarse sea salt.

Baguette Crostini, cheeses, Fig Jam, olives, gardinieria, etc.

Red Peppers stuffed with Penne, capers, olives and Fontina Cheese (with cheeseless ones for some)

Salmon rubbed with orange zest, ground fennel, thin rings of Poblano pepper and Onion, drizzled with Fig infused vinaigrette.

Top Sirloin Steak rubbed with fresh garlic black and red peppercorns, grey salt.

Panzanella Salad of arugula with garlic rubbed bread, sliced fennel and fronds, basil leaves,red onion, garnished with roasted mushroom assortment. (to please both those who do and don't like mushrooms!)

Various Chocolate desserts, including Gluten free Chocolate Cake.


Several Guitars, and many voices, time forgotten, joyful laughter.

Everything gluten free, of course, except some of the desserts others brought.