Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Congrats and News!

Congrats to Ashley for winning the $30 gift code to CSN!

In other news, Cook Food Every Day - the cookbook I edited - has just been written up on HTML GIANT!

I hope everyone is enjoying the snow and holidays. What is the best thing you ate of 2010?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Modern Decor Give Away

The amazing generosity that started from Bloggess's generosity online, from a few gift cards changed my mood about the holiday season this year. I am not in a position to do what she has done, but I think we - as gf cooks, eaters and friends of gf peeps - can and do help each other with support and recipes every day. 

I normally do not do giveaways. But CSN has offered NGR folks a $30 gift card that I am down with. 

Leave a comment that says what is the best and worst part of gluten free cooking/eating. One winner will randomly be selected to win a $30 gift certificate to CSN stores.* The gift code can be used in the modern d├ęcor section, or one of the 200 other sections of the online store - including cookware!

All comments must be posted by December 23rd at 10a.m. 

Plantains

I grew up thinking that plantains were the Spanish word for bananas. I only saw them in the I-don't-know-what-that-is section of Market Basket, with several different types of things that weren't potatoes but grew in the ground, the identifiable coconuts and aptly named ugly fruit. They looked like completely under-ripened bananas or totally rotten bananas. I steered clear, knowing that neither would satisfy my mother's demand for bananas that did not have any brown spots, but still had a hint of green on the ribs.

I am grateful that that section of the store no longer frightens me; that manioc, yucca, cassava and plantains are items I get excited to cook with. (I still have yet go near the ugly fruit.)

Plantains have become a staple. They are the cheapest starch and they are generous enough to turn into dessert if you forget about them in the fruit basket. I love them fried as tostones, and two nights ago, I had some boiled in an El Salvadorian soup, at La Casita, that made me wish I had heard of plantains in soup sooner.

Sweet plantains are an amazing treat. I have only had them baked or fried... the frozen Goya version is actually really great. Tonight I had a lone plantain that I found buried under the fruit bowl-turned-menu/mail bin and decided to cook it up. I modified this recipe for Bananas St-Jacques and was pleasantly surprised by the creamy, warm and soft result.

1 plantain sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp brown sugar
pinch salt
pinch mace
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 can of coconut milk

Everything goes into a pot and is boiled for 10 minutes, then simmered for 20. I threw a splash of vanilla extract in right before serving.

The finished product looked nothing like the photo on the website. It might have been because I turned down the heat when I noticed the plantains sticking to the bottom of the pot. It did't look "good" but it tasted wonderful. I will make these again and again.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

OK STING, I HAVE HAD IT

Do you ever become filled with rage and shake your fist in public at non-visible speakers when Sting's Fields of Barley plays?
This is the third time I have heard this song in public this week.

Dear Sting,
Stop taunting me or at the very least make the song good enough that I don't notice your mocking lyrics.

Dear grocery stores and coffee shops,
Stop playing this song if you wish my continued patronage.

Dear iPod people,
Stop mocking that I won't get hip to your technology.

POLL - NGR videos or better photos?

So I have been toying with the idea of trying to improve my photography skills or learn about this new fangled thing called YouTube and post videos - recipes, commentary, etc.

Leave a comment with your thoughts or preference!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Glutino Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Gluten free chocolate covered pretzels... you are going to get me through finals.

Pumpkin Bread... but not really, maybe PUMPKIN BROWNIES

I was trying to find a solid gf pumpkin bread recipe. I found a lot of inspiration:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
But I had 3/4 stick of butter to use up
This Classic Pumpkin Bread seemed like way too much sugar
A lot called for apple sauce, which I don't have on hand.
This recipe looked great, but I had no idea if it would work outside of a bread machine. 

In this process I realized that I have been moving way from using cookbooks and basic google-searches and have been finding myself trying to find recipes on the blogs I frequent. I also feel like I "should" cook/read blogs that aren't out there to make money, have a book deal, but are people cooking sans gluten and talking about it. I am not sure if it matters, its not like my choosing one recipe over another does much more than opening up the possibility for cross-blogging, but I have noticed that many gluten-free bloggers are doing the same. Not that there is anything wrong with using cooking.com's latest gf recipe, I am just noticing that people tend not to. (Though there are many of you out there who are cooking, blogging and oozing over Shauna's new book, and that's cool too.) Don't get me wrong, there is more than a tinge of jealousy in my sassy for the woman who gets to write and test recipes for a living, I just notice that I get more excited about reading and cooking from people who are doing the juggling. Who get EXCITED about a new product they find, or restaurant that was totally helpful, or still feeling like a superheroine when perhaps you feed someone pie on Thanksgiving and they say "oh if you didn't tell me, I wouldn't have been able to tell its gluten-free."

So after all that, I ended up using a food.com recipe combined with a glutenfreehelp's pumpkin bread recipe.  I know, I KNOW. But I needed a simple place to start, and it had the least amount of ingredients - and most importantly, ones I had in the house.

1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 can of pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp ground psyllium husk fiber (or flax seeds if I had them)

I creamed the butter and sugar, then added the wet ingredients and then the dry ingredients and baked it at 350F till the center was set. It was a beautiful, tall loaf. 10 minutes later it collapsed. It ended up more of a pumpkin brownie than bread. It was very moist, dense and rich. Not what I expected, but it it was really tasty. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Coffee & Chocolate Tasting

If you are in the D.C. area this Thursday and looking for a fun event, I am going to be doing a tasting!

Coffee and Chocolate Tasting at Qualia Coffee
December 9th @ 7pm
$8
http://www.freshofftheroast.com/qualia.html

Call or stop in the store to sign up!
Qualia Coffee
3917 Georgia Ave., NW
Washington DC 20011
Just two blocks North of the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro stop on the Green Line
202-248-6423

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide 5th Edition

About a month or two ago I received a free copy of the new Triumph Dining The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide, 5th Edition. I have been sitting on doing a review for that long. Mainly I haven't used it enough to give a fair review (I don't have the funds to be going out a ton) and the places I want to go out to eat are smaller places that are not in the guide. That said, I have used it more than I expected, mainly because I am in a new city and its been helpful to find new places and be reminded of old standbys that are close by.


The book is structured into three sections:
-general information about gluten-free dining out 
-state-by-state listing of restaurants that offer gluten-free menus or are able to provide gluten free meals
-alphabetical list of chain restaurants that have gluten-free menus or gluten-free options

General Information
This section was surprisingly awesome. It provided really good, honest information about going out to eat and how to successfully and appropriately convey what one can or cannot eat. The author discussed his first-hand problems and issues in the opening - a nice personal touch. The book clearly is meant to work with Triumph Dining Cards, which is a logical pairing for the company, but its not overly pushy.

State-by-State Listings
I have actually used this more than I first thought I would. Being new to the D.C. area it has been a great way to become a bit more familiar with some options. On more than one occassion I have thought about just storing it in the car rather than on my bookshelf because I think it would be a lot more useful there.

Alphabetical List of Chain Restaurants
This is helpful for getting a lay of the corporate food land in terms of gluten free options. Probably not my first choice, but again really helpful when traveling.

Other helpful bits
The symbols and short hand notations about price and gluten free accommodating restaurants vs. ones with gluten free menus is really helpful. As is the information about remembering that businesses and restaurant practices can and do change and its important to always ask and check ahead by calling and then re-asking servers about dietary concerns.

Overall, I probably would not have purchased this book for myself. When I go out to eat I am mostly looking for cheap, local eats. Chain restaurants tend to be more expensive and not what I am interested it. That said, This book will be with me for road trips. I will pack it with my car maps for certain. It probably falls under the good-gift-category for someone newly diagnosed, a person that just moved to a new part of the U.S. or someone who travels a lot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Locavore Challenge - Day 7

Breakfast -  apple and coffee

Lunch - meatballs, kale, sweet potatoes and caramelized onions
(I should have been reading, but I NEEDED to cook. You know that feeling of needing to get an idea out of your body - some people need to write, paint, draw, sing... I sometimes get it for cooking. I had this idea for baked meatballs with kale. I dreamt about it. I needed to making it. So I stopped fighting it and did. It turned out better than I thought it would have.)

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, chopped
~1/4 lb. kale, washed, destemmed and finely chopped
1 tsp zatar spice
1 tbsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp ground garlic
1 tbsp allepo chili flakes
salt - be generous
pepper
1 egg, beaten

1. Saute the onion in the oil till it begins to soften.
2. Add in the chopped kale.
3. Cook till the kale starts to wilt. Pull of the heat.
4. Combine all other ingredients and mix well.
5. Add in the onions and the kale.
6. Form in to meatballs and place on a baking dish/jelly roll pan (something with sides).
7. Bake at 400F till meat is cooked through - flip once during cooking so you get delicious brown crusts on at least two sides.

While the meatballs are baking...

Sweet potato and kale (its not pasta, but it goes well with meatballs)
1lb kale, cleaned and chopped
1/2 onion sliced
1 sweet potato diced
1tbsp oil
salt

1. In a skillet, saute the onion in the oil till it begins to caramelize.
2. Add in the sweet potato and cook over high heat, charring the edges.
3. When the sweet potato becomes soft, add in the kale and stir over high heat till the kale wilts.
4. Season with salt.

Serve meatballs atop kale and sweet potatoes.
Enjoy the fact that hodge-podge last minute, lets-use-up-food cooking turned out something decent.
Go speed read before class.



Afternoon Snack - coffee and half an apple

Dinner - left over chili and first batch of cornbread (I froze it)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Locavore Challenge - Day 6

Breakfast - coffee, chili and cornbread (cats attacked the cornbread, removed it from the chili and ate it when I went in the other room)

Snack - apple

Dinner - social gathering cheating
I broke.
I have been trying to get together with two friends for almost two months and this was the weekend it could happen. We met up for dinner and I ate non local food. It was too much ___ effort to find something that was local and gluten free. I had a horribly mediocre burger, sans bun and side salad.

Snack at home - leftover homemade apple sauce
See I am not "that" bad.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Locavore Challenge - Day 5 potluck

I braved the Whole Foods on a Saturday just to make chili. I must have lost a bit of my mind, but I really wanted to make chili. So 1 hour, 3 ingredients and about $11 later, I headed home to chop and cook my butt off.



Local hodgepodge chili
1 lb of ground beef
1 lb of chuck steak, cut into cubes
oil
1 large onion, chopped
ground cumin
ground allspice
ground cinnamon
salt
pepper
granulated garlic
4 cascabell chilies
chili flakes
2 bay leaves
ground cayanne pepper
ground ginger
smoked paprika
dried Mexican oregano
1/2 lb mushroom, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock (probably too much, but I needed to use it - I made it last Sunday)
2 pints of homemade pureed tomatoes

1. Brown the chuck. Remove from pan then brown the ground beef. Remove that from the pan.
2. Toast the spices (add more oil if you don't have enough from the beef renderings)
3. Throw in the onions and allow them to sizzle on HIGH.
4. Throw in the mushrooms. Let them cook a bit too.
5. Add the beef back into the pot.
6. Throw in the garlic, stock and tomato puree.
7. Stir, let simmer and the cover and PRESSURE COOK for 2 hours.
Cool, taste, re-season - mostly for salt and add hot sauce if you feel daring. YOU FEEL DARING

This might be the best chili I have ever made. I am not joking. Better than my 2nd place chili at the Abbey Lounge's Chili Cook-Off of 2008.
Normally I throw in a beer, or cocoa, but I don't think it needs it.
I through in the mushrooms as a stretcher - instead of beans - and they seam to work out nicely.



Applesauce
I don't think this could be easier, well if you owned a food mill it would be faster.
Quarter and remove the seeds of apples (as many as you like) leave the peels on, it will give a pink hue to your sauce
1-2 tbsp water

1. Put the apples and the water into a sauce pan.
2. Cover and cook over high heat until the apples become soft.
3. Mash with the back of a spoon or fork.
4. Remove the apple peels.
Enjoy!





Applesauce Cornbread
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup apple sauce (see recipe)
1/4 cup oil
1 - 1 1/2 cup water

1/4-1/2 tsp salt
3 medium eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 350F
1. Combine the corn meal, apple sauce, oil, water, salt and egg yolks in one bowl. Stir to combine - you are looking for a thick cornbread batter. If you scoop it up it should fall in plops off your spoon - not wet enough to form ribbons. The applesauce is going to make it chunkier than normal - fret not.
2. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to a soft peak. (If you have farm fresh eggs this is going to take a lot of muscle.)
3. In three additions, add the egg whites into the cornmeal batter, by folding them in.
4. Pour into a greased baking dish. (I used and 8x8 but that was really tight. I would use a bigger one next time so it has some room to rise on the sides more)
5. Put in the oven, lower the temp to 325F. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. This took about an hour for me, but the oven couldn't keep a temp and I had to futze a bunch. 

Disclaimer - if I was able to use a leavener I would have. Whipping egg whites brought me back to my day's working in kitchens and realizing how much arm strength I have loss. I laughed at the thought of pulling out a mixer to whip 3 medium egg whites, but oh I thought about it, twice.

The cornbread was a little sweet-tart. On its own it was ok, but it was fantastic with the chili. It really helped to balance out the heat. It was appreciated at the pot luck and no one missed the non-local nor the gluten.

Locavore Challenge - Day 5 breakfast

Spicy potatoes, coffee.

More coffee and pondering how to make cornbread lighter sans leavener.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Locavore Challenge - Day 4 second dinner

Because I am a hobbit, I ate more.
I had some Cherry Glen goat cheese - I have had their silver and ash before, so I tried out there Monocacy Gold. I feel it is a solid cheese, but not really up my alley.
More collards, rice and caramelized onions.

I sort of want dessert, but I am all appled out.

Locavore Challenge - Day 4 dinner

Congee with the last of the apple chutney. So sad to see you go you delicious beast you.

Locavore Day 4

My grand plan of photographing and posting about everything I am eating has gone by the wayside. There are several reasons for it, but lets just hold on to the fact that "constraints" have messed with my goals.

Tuesday night I made some cornbread: 2 cups local cornmeal, 2 farm eggs, water, oil (freebie) and salt (freebie). I started it in a hot cast iron skillet, finished it in the oven. It turned out pretty well.
I am a northerner, so I did miss the sugar.



Since then I have been eating pretty much left overs: cauliflower and potato curry, collards, some of the chicken, some of the chicken stock, apple chutney. That has been my world. I have augmented it with some local cheese I found at the whole foods, and some congee I made with some of the rice. I had soup on Tuesday night - broth, collards, rice and chicken. Breakfast has mainly been the cornbread and chutney - which I finished this morning.

A few coffee shops have local milk, so that has added a new zest to my routine. (I normally avoid milk, but without almond or coconut milk I realized I don't like cheap coffee black.)


Realizations - I eat a lot more sugar than I was aware of.
Cravings - hummus, almonds, popcorn, toast, tea, sugar in coffee, BUTTER, potato chips (though I did have a few made with local potatoes, and it was great)

Overall, I find myself angry.
-I am frustrated that the refrigerator in the graduate lounge is disgusting and not useable for my lunch.
-I found myself eying a croissant with loathing and desire. Its something I haven't done in a long time. Its bringing back the feelings of first going gluten free. Seeing so many things that I cannot eat.

-I also realized that I overbought on certain things. I am used to shopping for two, and I feel that I could have better spent some money, but the week is not over.

For the record - I am eating aloo gobi and chicken and some coffee

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Locavore Challenge - Day 1 Breakfast

Breakfast - black coffee; sweet potato, potato, salt, garlic powder and a scrambled egg

I don't normally eat many eggs because they make me feel sick, but these eggs were small and I thought I would give them a try.

I forgot about sugar and tea.
I also found the crock pot overflowed and most of the chicken fat was all over the counter. I was really looking forward to using that chicken fat. Grrrr.
Partner in crime assisted in pulling out the chicken, throwing the meat back in to let it simmer for the remainder of the day.

I packed up lunch and snacks and I feel pretty good about having enough noms for school. 
***
I arrived on campus, and the fridge in the grad lounge is foul, foul squared.
This is the place I hope to house my dinner. I am thinking it will last 4 hour sans refrigeration, but I am none too happy. I usually bring frozen food to school, so it thaws in my backpack and I don't worry about refrigeration. I might freeze the rest of my packed meals to avoid the nastiness that is inside that white box.
I ended up eating during class, which is not my favorite thing, but the food was good.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Locavore Challenge - Prep 2

I made the following things for the future of me:








modified aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato curry)
collards with onions
apple, smoked cinnamon, sumac chutney (I wanted to have something sour)
sweet potato hash (for tomorrow breakfast)
chicken backs are simmering in the crock pot - this will hopefully result in some meat and some awesome stock
rice - its my 4th freebie

I did not measure anything.
I am weeping from the onions, but that's never stopped me before.

Locavore Challenge - Prep

Here is my non-local last supper, pre-challenge:


Homemade baked beans and a German weiner, whole grain mustard on the side.

I enjoy eating, I enjoy cooking, I am not enjoying this adventure.
It hasn't started yet. 
Yes, I know, but it has.

Sunday was the farmers market in Takoma Park.
$2.50 on 2.5lbs of chicken backs (they were out of stew hens and everything else was too pricey)
$13 on a half bushel of apples
$4.50 on a dozen eggs
$7.50 on potatoes and onions
$13.50 for collards, kale, sweet potatoes and one of the largest heads of cauliflower I have ever seen

Even before this weekend, I have been planning, scheming and thinking about ways to cut corners and costs. Buy in bulk; swap meals; think creatively about my 4 "freebies"... this has been a process.

So tonight I sit here realizing I have made a quick dinner and need to read, grade papers, watch a movie, fold laundry, shower, and make food for tomorrow. Yes, this is me bitching. This is me realizing I need to figure out what my last freebie is (coffee, spices, cooking oil are the 3) and get crackin.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Locavore Challenge

I have been keeping a lot of my "school life" pretty separate from this space. I am not sure if that has been super intentional, or the fact that 1000+ pages of reading a week has kept my time and mental space for writing about food to a minimum. This is my attempt to merge the two.

Next week, I am participating in a class project, a locavore challenge.

November 16 - 23
Eat only items grown/produced within 100 miles of College Park, MD
4 personal, food "exceptions" are allowed
I believe mine are going to be:
1. coffee (seriously do you think this was even a thing that could be negotiated?)
2. spices (oh yes, this is a giant, all encompassing thing and it is approved)
3. ?
4. ?

I am going to photo-document everything I eat and blog it, right here on NGR. I will do my best to post every recipe, craving and I promise to be honest about if I cheat. Right now I am realizing that I rely a lot of almonds as a quick, simple snack food that is pretty energy-dense. I can foresee this as being a problem (or maybe almonds are going to be my freebee #3)

I am also sort of wondering about starches. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are all over the farmers markets, but I sort of wondering if I am going to be missing rice, gf bread, beans, rice noodles, or something else.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions, recommendations?!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Modern Times Coffeehouse @ Politics and Prose

I am currently noming the quinoa salad at Modern Times Coffeehouse located inside Politics and Prose. It is the best quinoa I have ever had. Carrots, cashews, sun-dried tomatoes and lightly dressed with balsamic and oil; it rules! Yes Rena and Sarah, better than Passover 2008 quinoa, that good.

Summer in a jar - Canning Tomtatoes

I made a giant mess, and it was awesome.




I haven't done jarring or canning in a while, it might actually be a few years since I attempted the Mr. Wizard science experiment of creating vacuums to preserve foods. I have done myer lemon curd, tomato sauce and maybe one other thing - mostly as holiday presents. Its amazing how people oooh and ahhh over a ball jar filled with simple food tied off with a ribbon.

So I have been eying the tomatoes at the farmers market for a while now. I have seen prices pretty much stay the same. I have also noticed that if you go towards the end of the market time, one can get a better deal. (Who honestly wants to pack up more than they need to to go home?)
So I have been plotting and scheming and two or three weeks ago I struck. I waited till 1:40 and went in. I asked what the price would be if I wanted to get "a lot of tomatoes." The gentleman said that normally there is a price break where a box is $40, but its the end of the day and he will give it to me for $20. (I did the math, if I paid the listed per pound price, the box of tomatoes would have set me back $60).

I came home the the idea of making stewed tomatoes, but they were really watery, so I changed the game plan and these ended up being pureed tomatoes, with the help of a strainer turned food mill.



I had a little left over, not enough to can... hopefully it will be pasta sauce later this week. I used a few of the extra tomatoes to make some sopes (recipe on the side of the bag of masa harina).  Sides were leftover carnitas from taco night, purple cabbage, greens and some white rice. It was a well earned feast after several hours in the kitchen.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Shagga Coffee - relearning how to go out to eat

Originally written in September
College town and coffee shops are usually rather synonymous, not so in College Park. There are a few of those round, green signed shops, but with a campus of 40,000+ I assumed that there would be at least one independent coffee place on or near campus. No dice.

The closest is Shagga Coffee & Restaurant on Route 1.

The coffee is good; probably the best I have had in Maryland thus far. The atmosphere is extremely laid back (read: no one kicked me out while I sat there for 4 hours reading) and the food, the food blew me away. I have never had Ethiopian food before (yes there are two places in Boston, and no, I was never adventurous enough to dare). But the prevalence of Ethiopian food - you can find injera bread at some gas stations - coupled with the lack of coffee shops and places to read for hours, won me over.

A lengthy discussion about bread - mainly the fact that there isn't a place in the D.C. area that makes a teff-only injera (teff is the grain that injera is typically made from, its a thin, crepe-like bread that is made from fermented teff flour). Acknowledging that all the bread was cut with wheat flour, the kind staff woman informed me that I could just order food and it would come not on the bread, but on a plate and she would bring utensil for me to be able to eat with. (Ethiopian food is usually eaten with the injera bread as the plate and utensil).

So here is where I feel like its important to note that a lot of my first-diagnosed-with-celiac-disease-panic came back. Moving to a new place, I didn't have any safe foods or safe places to eat. I got nervous a lot. There is not a lot of Thai food, nor Mexican restaurants. I felt like my go-to safety net of dining out options were gone. I got neverous at the idea of going out to eat. Would it be safe? Would I be able to explain what gluten is? Would I just give up and not eat and just get coffee or tea?

I say this because as I type it I know it sounds childish, but I truly got physically uncomfortable about many steps of the process. My hands sometime shook; my underarms sweat. I was almost in disbelief that it was happening. I AM ALMOST 30 YEARS OLD AND I AM AFRAID OF ORDERING LUNCH?!
It sounds nuts, but its very true. I felt like I was regressing back to the days where I would rather be hungry, deal with the pain that I knew, rather than risk the pain of being sick.

Transitioning to a new place is hard and it made me very aware of how careless or risky my dining habits had become. I became comfortable in Boston and didn't self-identify every time I went out to eat. I didn't want to; I still don't want to. I just want to be able to get food. I don't want to be "that person" who "makes a big deal" about ordering. Even though I know its not true, I KNOW that I am not being "finicky" it still feels that way. I miss being able to mindlessly order and eat food. And sometimes I get mad at old me for not taking advantage of it.

In other ways I recognize that I am a lot more aware of certain sensory experiences. I smell things much differently than ever before. If I cannot eat it, I usually smell it, and not a casual huff, no I am talking about a good, long inhalation and then I go back for a follow-up. I smell with a purpose, with the intention of knowing what something might taste like. Its weird, and I don't do it in front of everyone, but if we have gone out to a bar, there is a good chance I consider you a friend if I ask to smell your beer.

I miss beer.

Injera bread reminds me of beer, because its fermented and has a sourdough/beer smell to it. But I order the vegetarian tasting dish sans bread at Shagga Coffee and had a feast. It was far too much food, there were 11 different small dishes, and it took me over 1.5 hours to finish, but I did. There were 4 different lentil dishes, all with very different flavors and textures - there was a light tan, creamy lentil mash with crisp jalapenos throughout that was sour, spicy, addictive  and delicious. The meal reminded me a lot of the small dishes that come out before the main dishes at Korean restaurants - many little portions of spicy and cooling dishes. The collards were some of the most delicious greens I have ever eaten.

Its going to take a while to not get lost every time I leave the house, to explore beyond the 1/4 mile strip of dining options around College Park and take full advantage of D.C., but I am really exited to have found good coffee and new-to-me-food to try.

Best yet banana muffins

This recipe isn't that different from my past attempts at banana bread and muffins. This time, more banana equaled a near perfect recipe. I am not sure there is much I would change. They came out moist, with a slight crunch to the edges. They kept well, though didn't last long. In the past I have added dates, which were wonderful, but not necessary. This recipe is the closest to perfect gf baking I have come thus far.

BANANA MUFFINS
1 Stick Butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
7 tbsp white sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas
1/2 c. Sweet Rice Flour
1/4 c. Almond Meal
1/4 c. Corn Starch
1/4 c. Sorghum flour
1/4 c. Millet flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder

Preheat oven to 350F
  1. Cream together the butter and sugars. 
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined.
  3. Add in the bananas, mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, mix well.
  5. In 3 additions, add the dry ingredients into the wet. 
  6. Scoop into lined muffin tins. (It makes approximately 1 tray worth)
  7. Bake at 350F for ~30 minutes, but check on them at 20 or so. They are done when you can insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tumbleweed

I have been lax, I have been missing. I have not been posting.
I have a backlog of posts, canning, improved banana muffins and consuming Ethiopian food for the first time.
The posts are coming.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Mac N Cheese

When the temperature goes bellow 90 again, I will start cooking. I have become quite creative with lettuce wraps. I will take pretty much anything cold from the fridge and nestle it inside a piece of lettuce and call it a meal.  I gambled turning on the stove and I enjoyed half a box of Trader Joe's gluten free rice pasta mac n cheese. I enjoyed it while embracing an ice pack. This heat is not even for the birds... though I did see my first oriel. (I honestly thought it was a giant possessed bee, but it was in fact a relatively normal sized bird. IT IS THE HEAT I TELL YOU!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seafood, news and more news

I have been a bit absent here. A bunch of things have happened and are happening.
1. I hurt my foot and thus have not been cooking anything delicious or noteworthy.
2. I am packing, slowly and with a hobble.
3. I am moving.
4. I am pretty grateful that I made faux lara bars a few months ago. They will sustain the trip.

I just got off the crutches and felt it important to celebrate with something fried, so yesterday I took a trip out to Essex, MA to Woodman's. Touting a nearly completely gluten-free menu, I purposely skipped breakfast to ready myself. Ordering up the Down River Combo, I was pleasantly surprised at the kitchen staff offering to enter the meal as "gluten-free" in their system and keeping it separate from the other food. It arrive just a few minutes later, hot, crispy and delicious. It was way too much food, even for two people, but it was worth it. I did have a bit of a hankering for onion rings - dredged in a different, gluten-filled batter - so they were off limits. Honestly the scallops stole the show. They were fantastic and I sort of wishes I just got a plate of them.

I don't think the fact that I am leaving New England has really set it, but its there, immanent and looming.  I feel an overwhelming desire for salt water taffy, baked beans, indian pudding, corn chowder; all those warm comforting flavors. I know that Maryland is not that far away, and as I pack up my crockpot I am reassured that come fall, it will be easy to throw together a meal that tastes like home, I just also no that it won't be the same. I never really felt like a Yankee, but perhaps, well at least as far as my stomach is concerned, I am.

In other news:
New research has identified what part of the gluten protein cause an autoimmune reaction in persons with Celiac Disease.
Thanks to Adam for sharing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Donuts

Last week I tried Kinnikinnick's donuts for the second time. The first time was about a month ago, chocolate glaze via a friend. The first couple bites were ok, I wasn't jazzed and I don't blog about stuff I dislike, it seems like a waste of my time and yours. So I was ready to write them off, but as I was finishing the round, I noticed that the side of the box indicated they were best when warmed. I heated up the last bite and the whole flavor changed. It went from a stale, rice-y, Entenmann's knock-off to a thing that tasted good.

So I figured it was worth purchasing a box of my own and try them warm.

They were better than I thought they could be. I toted home the cinnamon sugar variety, warmed them for a few seconds in the microwave (after they defrosted in the fridge overnight) and they tasted like autumn. The cake-like texture, cinnamon and sugar, they were almost a cider donut. There is a part of me that is glad that they cost almost a dollar a donut, otherwise I would be in bigger trouble. THEY ARE SO GOOD!

RECALL - DeBoles Kids Only! Gluten Free Tubettini

DeBoles® Nutritional Foods, Inc. Voluntarily Recalls One Lot Code of DeBoles® Kids Only! Gluten Free Tubettini Corn Pasta Due to the Presence of an Undeclared Allergen, Lot Code 30JUN11D1
Company Contact:

Mike Miller,
303-581-1361

July 21, 2010 – DeBoles Nutritional Foods, Inc. announced that it is recalling one lot code of DeBoles® Kids Only! Gluten Free Tubettini Corn Pasta because it may contain undeclared whole wheat alphabet pasta. People who are allergic to wheat run the risk of an allergic reaction, which may be serious or life-threatening if they consume the recalled product.
The recalled lot was distributed to stores nationwide and through internet orders.
The product comes in a cardboard box, 8.5 ounce, with a clear plastic window. The expiration lot code is on the top of the box and the UPC Code 087336638305 appears on the bottom of the box. No other lot codes are affected. This recall only affects:
Deboles kids only! gluten free tubettini corn pasta
Lot code: 30JUN11D1

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mysterious Health Issues - NYT Blog

I have yet to meet a single person who was diagnosed with celiac disease that did not have at least one other health issue/complication. Yes, it's anecdotal, but its important to remember that if you aren't feeling well you are not crazy. It is easy to feel like a canary in a coalmine, and Jonathan Papernick's blogpost reminded me that with a compromised immune system, its not all in ones head.

Getting closer to getting it right - PANCAKES

There are very few pancakes I have met that I haven't immediately fallen for. I am talking about that annoying in public swooning with a mouth full of far too much food, eyes rolling back in ones head and the inevitable over-consumption and desire to loosen a belt. While my love is great, I feel strongly about pancakes. Buttermilk trumps all, and chocolate chips have no place. Fruit in pancakes really only works when its wild blueberries that are in the batter, not sprinkled onto a flapjack before flipping - inevitably some of them burn and make part of the delicious stack taste bitter. I want mine to be served to me immediately, I desire the first few moments were the outside is a little crisp, before the steam gets to them and makes them flaccid. A small amount of butter and real maple syrup is all that is really necessary, though I cannot resist eating one or two while the others cook; all under the guise of making sure they are good for others, of course.

I do my best not to use this space to bitch about why there aren't more/better/cheaper/easier gluten-free substitute foods out there, or to complain about bad products, which is why I haven't said much about pancakes. Up until now, my attempts have ended in horrible disasters. One tasted like cardboard, others had a rice crunchy and a few more firmed up and were more frisbee than breakfast. I started my quest free-styling, not measuring, just assuming I knew what I was doing. I did not. Then I attempted several recipes, from books and whatnot, but they always had a slightly off flavor. The last batch tasted good, but made me feel ill; I believe my tapioca days are numbered. So I opted to switch things up again, using more corn and potato starches to lighten and balance the rice and some millet for color and a little flavor. The results were good enough to serve to guests!

Slightly Vanilla Pancakes

1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup milk (I used almond milk, but go for what you like)
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine dry ingredients and stir together.
2. Add in the wet and whisk until well blended. The batter should be a little thick.
3. Pour onto a hot griddle.
4. Flip only when the bubbles start setting on the edge of the pancake.
5. ENJOY

Next up - buttermilk. Do you have any solid buttermilk pancake recipes?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Grog

Sometimes the urge to get the hell out of a city is grand. After a hot day at the beach, only snacking on cherries - the best fruit in the world - a substantial meal was in order. The Grog in Newburyport is a restaurant with history and a gluten free menu. Dating back to the 19th century, there is now a bar, lounge, live music, fireplace and free take-one/leave-one library that lines the dark-wood back wall.

The gluten free menu was surprisingly inclusive and listed onion rings, ONION RINGS! To be fair, they were not fantastic, they were really oil-logged, but they were crisp and real and I ate them all. We also shared the broiled haddock (slightly over cooked) but served with really delicious smashed potatoes and the farmers market sausage, which was a delicious surprise. The more than generous portion was grilled, and filled with peppers, tomatoes, cheese and spices, really well balanced. It came atop some decent potato salad (I really hate potato salad, so I am not going to knock it), and a slice of watermelon. The fish also came with some oily weird corn on the cob, which was pushed aside.
Portions were really giant, easy to share and the food was good. My only regret was not trying this place sooner!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gluten Free Flour Blends

I have had it with gluten-free flour blends. My rage takes two forms: printed in cookbooks and those that line grocery store shelves. Both come with the guise of "making gluten-free baking easy" by eliminating the need to own, scoop and measure 4+ ingredients to approximate all purpose wheat flour. In theory, this is a nice idea, but in practice its the gf equivalent of having a box of Jiffy Corn Mix on your shelf for all your baking needs, corn muffins and everything else included. Its bunk. First of all, its incredibly egotistical and presumptive to declare that you have created the be-all, end-all gluten free mix. While you may have concocted a hodgepodge of flours and gums that works for some things, by no means have you solved all of my gluten free cooking and baking needs. The ones in the store I can write off as annoying, expensive and a waste of time. The ones that litter the pages of gluten-free cookbooks... WHO DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU ARE?!

So you wrote a cookbook, and developed a flour blend, so what. You think you are so awesome that I will never again in my entire history of me eating want to maybe just maybe use another cookbook?! You think that I am going to make up a batch of your product and only cook out of your book for the rest of my eating life? Wrong-o buck-o. I have nothing wrong with the idea of this, but for those who say only use your book for inspiration and then end up doing math an scrap paper all over the kitchen trying to determine how much xanthan gum is really necessary to hold pancakes together because it seems like your flour blend indicates such a small amount its really not worth doing the minuscule math for (all in British volume scoops rather than sensibly BY WEIGHT) but knowing sans gum these pancakes will never be cakes, just crepes... why do you do this to me?

If you want to make up your own flour blend, put the proportions needed next to your "so-and-so's-better-than-everyone-else's-gluten-free-flour-mix". Otherwise I am putting you back on the shelf, right next to the boxed mixes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Udi's bagels

The bar has been raised. I just had an Udi's plain gluten free bagel and am wowed. I am posting to resist consuming the three remaining in the package. Light, a little chewy, toasts well and tastes damn close to the original. SO GOOD

Is it really gluten free?

A small study on grain contamination is making it look like just because something shouldn't have gluten in it doesn't mean that is always the case. The follow-up piece just posted offers some advice, but its grim. Its clear that cross-contaminants are not being properly listed and the phrase "gluten free" or "not made with any gluten containing products" really doesn't cut it. I am not saying that I am going to start growing and milling my own grains but it makes me want to move to Italy or Ireland where gluten-free replacement products are subsidized, rather than putting the financial and information gathering burden on the consumers.

Found by way of The Essential Gluten Free Blog

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloomington

I didn't realize how much I missed having access to a kitchen until I spent a week away from one. I was in Bloomington Indiana last week for a conference, which was amazing, but I found it hard to spend so much time at an amazing farmers market and not be able to come home and cook anything!
Sour cherries, strawberries, green tomatoes, shell peas, this was just one over over 40 stalls.

Chilies!

Even bonsai plants!

Cheese - mostly goat, some very very good.

Lots and lots and lots of plants for sale. These were wrapped in newspaper.

There were several groups singing, dancing and playing instruments.

I dined on one of the best tamales I have ever had. (no photo, sorry I was busing eating)

I fell in love with Soma cafe, a small coffee shop with amazing espresso and fantastic decor. They carried gluten free muffins - the orange poppy seed blew me away. As great as that was, the Thai food at Esan Thai really stole the show. Pressed bellow the glass on the table was a warning about ordering. It informed all diners if you order a dish, you will pay for it. There are no substitutions and many of the flavors are strong, and it warned against ordering new dishes or ordering hot items, and listed 6-8 menu items that we (the diners) should probably not order. I was grateful to be eating with a group of people who shared the same enthusiasm for ordering as many items off the "you shouldn't order these" list as possible. The Som Tum (cold, green papaya salad) was really good. The yellow curry was solid, tasty and not too hot. The Moo Num Tok was almost my favorite, it was thinly sliced pork, chilies, mint, cilantro, shallots, fish sauce and toasted rice. It was hot, sour salt and crunchy and perfect with the sticky rice. But then came the Pan Nang curry. The tofu arrived enrobed in a coconut milk curry filled with roasted cumin, but the smell of freshly sliced kefir lime leaves sprinkled across the top really set the dish apart. It was spicy, floral, slightly sweet and complicated. I wanted to have a second stomach just to eat more. We went back there two days latter and I ate the best Larb of my life. Who knew some of the best northern Thai cooking was in Indiana?

I came home and made a cobbler - the I have ever made. I didn't measure a damn thing and it turned out wonderfully.
It also made a mess, but I love the colors.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gluten free scones, revisited


I have attempted scones before, and they were good, but not quite right. I sat down with 5 cookbooks and mulled over my options. I decided to forgo the buttermilk and yogurt, and up the fat in general. The results, I think, were worth the hemming and hawing.

Raisin Scones
1/4 cup sugar (plus 1 tbsp for dusting)
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 cup corn starch (plus a few tbsp for rolling)
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp (1 stick) of cold butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup half and half (plus 1 tbsp for tops)
1/2-3/4 cup raisins soaked in warm water, then drained

1. Combine the dry ingredients and mix well.
2. Cut in the butter. Mix until the butter is about pea-sized.
3. Combine the eggs and half and half, mix and then add to the flour/butter mix. Gently combine but don't over work. You want to keep the butter pieces whole, but make sure there are no lumps of flour.
4. Gently fold in the raisins.
The mixture is going to look too wet, its not, trust me.
5. Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes.

6. Dust a counter or board with a few tablespoons of corn starch. Roll out and shape the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2" thick.
7. Cut the dough into strips and then into triangles.
8. Place them on a baking sheet, brush with remaining half and half and sprinkle with sugar. 
9. Bake at 475F for 7-15 minutes (depending on the size of your scones) or until the tops are golden brown.

These were better than my last attempt. Moister, better flavor, better color. Overall a crushing blow to the first recipe. IMPROVEMENT!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Homemade Lara Bars



Panforte was the medieval travel food of the crusaders. It was a dense, spicy fruitcake that was made to withstand travel and nutritionally very calorie-dense; though "calorie" wasn't a vocab word back then. It was a combination of dried fruit, dried nuts, sometimes a little flour, and spices, lots of spices. If you are lucky, you can sometimes find round disks of this delicious treat in specialty shops around Christmas time. Its sometimes translated into English as "fruit cake" but panforte is dense, chewy and delicious, more like a LaraBar than those holiday bricks filled with florescent cherries.

Most panforte comes from Sienna, in Tuscany, and contains some flour, I decided to modify a friend's homemade LaraBar recipe to see if I could concoct my own. I began with pitted dates, raw almonds, dried apricot past (I found it at the Halal butcher shop) and a meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

The apricot paste was much stiffer and sticker than I expected. Thicker than a fruit roll-up and stickier than honey, it was not easy to tear apart.

I did my best to pull it into chunks and combined it with the 20 oz. of dates and a few cups of almonds.
I added a small amount to the meat grinder, with the largest holes and the whole thing jammed.
I took everything apart and then ran the mixture through without the disk at the end:
After it was basically coarsely chopped, I put the plate back on, added some cinnamon and ground the mixture:
With my hands, I pushed the strands into a uniform paste:
Traditionally, the bars are cut, but this mixture was too sticky, so I lined muffin trays with plastic wrap:
Then I added a ball of the mixture to each plastic wrap square and loosely folded over the edges:
I then covered the muffin tin with another:
Then PRESSED DOWN, gently.
Take out the pucks of deliciousness, flip them over and push again, for an even disk:
Stack them up:
Save them for a rainy day, or a hike, or whatever. They will keep nearly indefinitely.

The flavors were subtle, and next time I will probably add more spices and more almonds to help the whole thing go faster. I am saving a bunch up for airplane snacks.