Violets and Amaranth

Eating weeds and gaining grains: an adventure in eating


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Wild edibles from the blogosphere

This summer I have my hands full, which makes gardening and recipe creation difficult. Lately I’ve been fascinated with edible flowers. Check out this post on edible roses including the links at the end. I think rose ice cream is in my future.

http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com/ukrainian-preserved-rose-petals-rozha-z-tsukrom.html

On a related note I made dairy-free beet ice cream last week and shared it at my City Fresh stop. It was a hit.
I will try to edit this post soon to include the recipe. I’m blogging from a 4 inch screen at the moment

I hope your garden and/or kitchen are bringing you joy this summer.


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Thanksgiving Redux

It was a great Thanksgiving in our corner of the world.  We’ve been gluten-free for a little over 2 years and this is the first Thanksgiving that there was no cross contamination, no after dinner reactions.  Just a lovely visit with family and good food. A sample of our menu:

Pulled pork (who needs turkey?)- tastes great as is, with BBQ sauce, or with enchilada sauce

Baked sweet potato or mashed potato

Cranberries and jello

Soft Bread- I tried the Brown Bread from the Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Book by Elizabeth Gordon.  We made it with hard cider rather than beer, since we have a hops allergy here.  Wow is all I can say.  It was a great, soft bread.  Even if it tasted like apples from the cider.

Cooked Carrots

Pumpkin Pie.  We made a pie crust, only instead of butter, I used 6 tablespoons palm shortening and 2 tablespoons coconut oil.  Then we used this pumpkin custard using flax for the eggs and agave for the sugar.  Yum!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chex Mix- how hard could it be?  It was really easy:

  • 4 ½ cups Rice Chex
  • 4 ½ cups Corn Chex
  • 1 cup gluten-free snack chips , Snikidinks work well or find a dairy-free snack chip
  • 1 cup gluten-free lentil crackers, pepper flavor is good, broken into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup peanuts, optional
  • 6 tablespoons butter or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
Preheat oven to 250.
2.Combine Chex, chips, crackers and peanuts in a 13×9 pan and set aside.
3.If using butter, melt and add the Worcestershire sauce and spices to the butter or oil. Stir until well combined.
4.Pour the seasoning mixture over the Chex mixture and toss until everything is coated.
5.Bake for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

There you have it.  Christmas baking here I come!

What was your Thanksgiving success story?  If you have a great recipe share it in the comments section.


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Dairy-Free part 2: Better than ever

Roses on a Fall Day

Hi.

I’ve been way off the blogosphere lately. You might have noticed. We’ve been busy. Since my last post in early July we went through the growing season and I learned what to do with Ground Cherries (pie anyone?). We had a great City Fresh Season through our Community Supported Agriculture program. I successfully made compost for my yard – I grew dirt! And of course, I had a baby. She came one beautiful afternoon after a morning of working in the garden. She came fast enough to be born at home.  She wanted to be in the garden too I think. So, that’s what’s been going on here and why I’ve been fairly quiet. Honestly, that’s why I probably won’t have tons of posts coming up either.

But, I’m still working on a few new projects that will be worth sharing.  For starters, like many babies, she doesn’t tolerate cow milk in my milk.  I am dairy-free again, just like I was with my son when he was a baby.  I’ve noticed that the grocery landscape has changed a lot in the last few years.  There are many more dairy-free and gluten-free options.  Plus, almond milk is now in every store, and even combined with coconut milk 🙂  The store down the street has been running a deal on almonds.  I’ve been buying them by the pound and have successfully made almond butter, almond milk, and this week I plan on trying my hand at almond yogurt.  I think those will be their own post too.

Unlike the last time I was off of dairy, eating seems like a less work.  It helps that we have better tools this time, like the Allergy-Free Deserts cookbook.  We made the apple muffins this evening and they were delightful.  Now that I’ve cracked the code on a good flour blend, and have discovered the beauty of coconut oil, which I also didn’t have before, I feel like there’s nothing we can’t make.  We eat well.  I have no photos at this time; we’ve been eating all the evidence.  I hope to start blogging more, and flush out some of these stories and more.

Thanks for your patience, and I hope that all is well in your kitchen!

I even got my roses trellised.  Yay!


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Christmas Baking Part 1: Gingerbread Cookies (gluten, egg, and dariy-free!)

Last year, I worked all December to make cookies that worked.  While I lost that cookie recipe, the lessons I learned stuck with me.  I came up with a fabulous cookie right out the gate.  These are not cut-out cookies.  I’ll work on that for next year.  For this year, I will be happy to have a round, fluffy, ginger bite of goodness.  Next year, I’ll figure out how to make them hold their cut out shape – even if it means baking them in a cookie cutter mold.  Enjoy the recipe; I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.  Pictures to follow – soon I hope.  We keep eating the cookies and forgetting to pause long enough to pose them for the camera!

Honey Gingerbread Cookies (makes about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen, depending on how big you make the cookie)

¼ cup coconut oil, (could also use the same amount of butter or shortening instead of coconut oil)
1 cup molasses
¼ cup honey
¼ cup cold water
½ cup millet flour
½ cup sorghum flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Mix the oil and sugar. Add the cold water and mix until blended. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

2. Chill the dough. Spoon in small rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or greased with butter. The cookies will expand so place them with space between each cookie. Bake at 350℉ for 10 to 12 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

A plate of Ginger Cookies

Close-up!

Merry Christmas!

April

Edited on 1/26/12 to add photos


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Happy Gluten-Free Birthday- Part 2

I said ages ago I was going to share this, and recently a friend of a friend asked how to make gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free cake, so now seems like a good time to finish writing about the cake recipes that are working for us.

Over the course of all of our spring birthdays, my sister developed a great cake. It was a chocolate cake gluten-free mix (I think she used King Arthur, but Bob’s has a chocolate mix too) and then she used 18 oz of canned pumpkin. Mix them together, add a little water if the batter is too thick, and bake following the directions on the cake mix box. You may need a little more or less time. This works fabulously with brownie mixes as well and I used a brownie mix in the photos below.  I have had this using both brownie and cake mixes. The actual recipe is 15 oz of canned pumpkin to an 18.25 oz of cake mix. She just eye balls it though, and wow- it is moist and stays moist for a couple of days unlike most gluten-free, egg-free baked goods.

Gluten-free brownies in a pan

For frosting, in my family we have a long history of putting cherry pie filling on our cakes.  Comstock is even gluten-free!  But if you want a frosting, I have 2 favorites.

The first comes from my sister-in-law, and I don’t know where she found it:

Chocolate Frosting: (double for 2 layer cake)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients. Pour it on the cake, spread it around and then chill the cake. The frosting will get hard once it is refrigerated, so do all of your spreading before you refrigerate it.

My second favorite frosting is a basic butter-cream frosting, if you can have dairy!

Beat together:

  • 6 TBSP of butter
  • 4 TBSP of milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/8 of a tsp of salt.
  • Add powdered sugar to taste.  I usually add about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, but the recipe can take a lot more if you like it sweet.

From there you can also beat in melted soy-free chocolate.  Dark chocolate is almost always soy-free, and Enjoy Life has a great semi-sweet chocolate chip, I get it at my local grocery. Or add other flavors like pineapple. You may need to reduce the milk to keep the consistency of the frosting if you add in other flavors.

From there it is yours to enjoy!  As I still take a bit of a break this summer, I’m working on trying a gluten-free, egg-free sourdough bread, and I’ve been heavily experimenting with flour blends to get a protein mix that will hold air and moisture.  I hope to have great results to post in a few more weeks!  Oh, and I think I’ve perfected pizza crust.  Just a few more tests, and I think I’ll have it.  Yay!

What are your cooking triumphs this summer?


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Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free, a cookie (and ice cream) for a friend

Clearly, when faced with a dietary restriction, I go straight for the sweet treat and figure out how to make it. This is probably not the healthiest approach, but it is what I do.

My friend, The Diva, is currently fighting breast cancer (and doing a great job I might add).  She’s on a Mediterranean diet, which is a low-fat diet focused on fresh foods.  She is also avoiding foods with estrogen links, like soy.  I got to see her last week, and wanted to make a treat.  The first thing I thought of was ice cream to help with the various sore throats she’s been experiencing.  I had been dairy-free for 18 months so I wanted to immediately direct her to my favorite dairy-free frozen treats, which include some great fruit sorbet recipes from How to Eat Supper, which are easy to make even without an ice cream maker.  Another easy to make sorbet come from Food Network and Giada At Home.  It is a Pomegranate and Mint Sorbet, and is so good- especially with the chocolate chips, and you can make the simple syrup with agave instead of sugar to lower the glycemic index.  Both those icy treats are great because they are low-fat, and you can control the sugar content, so it is easy to make a yummy treat with lower sugar.  Finally, in my dairy-free days I loved better balanced coconut based ice creams, that are both low in sugars because they use stevia as a sweetener.  Other than the fat from the coconut, these seemed like a great fit for my friend.  Check out The Ice Dream Cookbook and there is a Better Balance Ice Cream cookbook out there that I’m having trouble finding on-line.  When I find it I’ll update this post.  Finally, for those of you who can have soy, Tofu Cookery has a great selection of tofu-based ice creams.  When I was dairy-free, these were some of my favorites.

When I realized that the ice creams might be problematic from both the sugar or fat content, and honestly, it wouldn’t travel very well, I started thinking about cookies.  Which led me to Quinoa, Cherry, Applesauce Cookies. I took the oatmeal cookie recipes I have in various spots around my house and developed this.  It comes out a bit more like a scone than a cookie because of the lower sugar content, and I baked it at a lower temperature to make it chewy.  But, it fit the bill!

Quinoa, Cherry, Applesauce Cookies.

I beat together:

  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup combination of dairy-free palm shortening and coconut oil.  If you don’t need to be dairy free, I’d do butter here.  Let’s face it, gluten-free cooking needs at least a little fat.
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of honey.  Those 2 tablespoons could be molasses too.  I did not reduce the liquid in this recipe even though I substituted the honey for sugar.  The recipe came out too dry when I cut back on the liquids.  Also, in my first test batch I scaled back on the honey, and it just wasn’t enough sweet to overcome the bitter taste of quinoa.
  • 1 TBSP flax steeped in 3 TBSP water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

In a separate bowl, I mixed together:

  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of xanthum gum
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes (If you find the bitterness of quinoa bothers you, cut this back to 1 cup and use 3 cups of bean flour blend)
  • 2 1/2 cups bean four flour blend
  • 1 cup dried cherries (any dried fruit would work here)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

I mixed the two sets of ingredients together and then I let it sit and hydrate for at least a 1/2 hour.  I sometimes will let a cookie dough sit overnight even.

The dough comes together well and holds together really well before you bake it.

After spooning the dough out onto cookie sheets, I put the sheets in a 325 oven, and 20 minutes later I had nice, chewy cookies.  Perfect for little hands and good friends.

Quinoa Cherry Cookies (and milk, in a sippy cup)

What I like about this experiment is that it does reduce the fat.  The original recipes called for about 1 cup of fat; either butter, oil, or a combination of the two.  And as you learn when cooking gluten-free, to make up for the lack of gluten, most recipes have you use a ton of butter or eggs.  We found that the Geographer’s weight first declined a bit when we switched to gluten-free and then started going up as our foods suddenly contained a lot more fat.  Perhaps tricks like the applesauce will help in the future!

Finally, why did I make a gluten-free cookie for my friend who isn’t gluten-free?  First, I don’t keep wheat flour in the house anymore.  Second, according to Dr Peter Green in Celiac Disease:  A Hidden Epidemic, gluten-free diets might help cancer patients.  They certainly don’t hurt.

Speedy healing Diva!

1/26/12: Updated for a spelling fix!