Archive for the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

The (mostly) organic, completely #glutenfree banana nut bread

May 15, 2013

For Christmas, a friend gave me a 5 pound bag of Jules Gluten Free Flour. She swore by it. I’ve had enough total failures in trying to find the “correct” gluten free flour for baking simple things like banana bread that I’ve all but given up. I’ve had that once in a blue moon craving for banana bread and thought, why not. I mean, worse case? I toss it after making it. This is a modified recipe from Simply Recipes.

4 medium slightly overripe bananas

1/3 (5T) melted Cabot unsalted organic butter

3/4 c of raw sugar (it’s a bit ‘less’ refined than the normal white sugar). Making it again, I’d debate about dropping it to between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup

1 medium egg beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 c walnuts

The original recipe says your don’t have to use a mixer. For me? Meh. I’ll use a mixer the next time just for the simplicity of not have 3 kitchen tools, a bowl and a measuring cup to clean up.

Mash the bananas, stir in the butter. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla. Blend. Sprinkle in baking soda. Mix in flour.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour. Mine turned out moist and a bit browner than normal because of the use of the raw sugar.

This recipe is a keeper for the foodie files.

 

 

#Chopped. It’s what for dinner (adventures in cooking).

May 9, 2013

A few weeks ago, I spent a day helping a friend traitor to the cause pack her kitchen for her move to Austin.  Since I’m one winged, the most I could do was clean out her fridge.  We started talking about all those parts of/left over items that you use a few times and they get shoved to the back.  We both can, shop farmers markets and generally try to minimize our carbon foot print (her husband makes a wicked beer by the way).  Fast forward to a get well soon gift from a college friend who knows of my love of canning and quirky gifts.  The result ? 2 jars of beer jelly (you read that right, beer jelly) from a Brooklyn company called Anarchy In a Jar.  I have to admit, I was a bit perplexed.  I like beer, I like jam/jelly.  But along  the lines of I like chicken and I like peanut butter cups, I’m not seeing how they work together.

The only thing saving me at the moment is the Food Network.  I’m sick of daytime television as I am recovering from this Bankart repair.  On a whim In a moment of insanity, I decided to do my very own Chopped challenge.  Mostly to alleviate the fear of opening the jar of beer jelly.  For the record, beer jelly has a heavy beer taste with a sweet undercurrent along the lines of apple juice (which makes sense since they are the top 2 ingredients). I didn’t know any of this before deciding to use what was in my fridge to make dinner using the beer jelly as the gotcha.

Beer jelly, walnuts, spinach, horseradish sauce, pork chops, soy sauce

Beer jelly, walnuts, spinach, horseradish sauce, pork chops, soy sauce

So there are my mandatory items: all selected before the opening of the jelly (or reading the label).  Knowing that jelly can be a bit sweet, I went with something salty to try to balance it.  I prefer a bit of a kick so went with the horseradish sauce.  The meat is from the absolutely fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch  (really, if you are in their delivery area and don’t buy from them?).  The walnuts and spinach are from Wegman’s.  The horseradish was rescued from my friend. I used the gluten-free soy in my fridge but needed the smaller one for the pic.

I created a marinade of the jelly, 2 tablespoons of horseradish and a tad too much soy (I had to cut it with 2 tablespoons of local honey).  It probably should have been a jar of jelly and 2 tablespoons each of the horseradish and soy.  I had to use the honey to kill a bit of the salt.

I seared the pork on both sides on a very hot grill pan  turning 4 times (these were completely thawed boneless chops).  In what would cause the Chopped judges to take off points for creativity, I opted for a variation of a spinach salad.

Local honey, madeira vinegar, hard boiled egg, pancetta, Dijon mustard

Local honey, madeira vinegar, hard boiled egg, pancetta, Dijon mustard

With the meat resting, I chopped the egg and added it to the spinach and walnuts.  I cooked the pancetta (points off, it was a bit saltier than I expected).  Then deglazed the pan with the vinegar (around 2T and 1T of Dijon mustard).

Frying pancetta

Frying pancetta

Deglazing with mustard and vinegar

Deglazing with mustard and vinegar

I tossed the warm pancetta into the salad to get a bit of a wilt, tossed in the dressing platted  I’m sure I would have been axed (I forgot a starch; you know how those judges are).  But a ton of fun when trying to figure out how to use beer jelly.  And yup.  I contacted Anarchy in a Jar to see where I could get a few more bottles.  I’m really not in the mood to start making beer jelly.  But it is a great base for fun cooking.

May 012

Really glad I was kicked off before the dessert round.  :)

Soup that’s good for the SOLE

January 1, 2012

As usual, I goofed on the deadline for the publishing dates for the Dark Days Challenge (maybe I should use the calendar that I was given for Christmas?).  I was reading the re-caps of the others participating and came upon a fantastic article the at explains (for me anyway) one of the reasons the entire SOLE “trend” is very important.  Barbara at the Crowing Hen posted a wonderful article about the conditions in the meat industry in the US.  For me, it’s that PLUS the insane amount of energy we expend getting items from the farm to the grocery store.

As the writers over at EmptyWheel noted regarding a complex cotton subsidy program:

“In WTO language, Brazil was allowed to suspend its obligations to  U.S. companies under the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property  Rights (TRIPS) agreement. This constituted a major threat to the profits  of U.S. agribusiness giants Monsanto and Pioneer, since Brazil is the  second largest grower of biotech crops in the world. Fifty percent of  Brazil’s corn harvest is engineered to produce the pesticide Bt, and  Monsanto’s YieldGard VT Pro is a popular product among Brazilian corn  farmers. By targeting the profits of major U.S. corporations, the  Brazilian government put the U.S. in a tough spot: either let the  subsidies stand and allow Brazilian farmers to plant Monsanto and  Pioneer seeds without paying royalties, or substantially reform the  cotton program. In essence, Brazil was pitting the interests of Big  Agribusiness against those of Big Cotton, and the U.S. government was  caught in the middle.

The two governments, however, managed to come up with a creative  solution. In a 2009 WTO “framework agreement,” the U.S. created the  Commodity Conservation Corporation (CCC), and Brazil created the  Brazilian Cotton Institute (BCI). Rather than eliminating or  substantially reforming cotton subsidies, the CCC pays the BCI $147  million dollars a year in “technical assistance,” which happens to be  the same amount the WTO authorized for trade retaliation specifically  for cotton payments. In essence, then, the U.S. government pays a  subsidy to Brazilian cotton farmers every year to protect the U.S.  cotton program—and the profits of companies like Monsanto and Pioneer.”

How many sustainable jobs would $147 million dollars create for local economies?  Yes, I live on a dry bones budget: there are 2 things I simply cannot avoid buying from big time producers: cat food and cat litter.  I have a 14-year-old cat: I’m not switching his brands, he’s too old.  Part of my resolution for this years is to buy as much as I can from SOLE providers, then local merchants and local chains last.  Will it do anything to help revive the economy of my community: doubtful.  Is it a teaspoon in bucket? Yes.

Any way, for my blogged about SOLE meal of the week, I made a huge pot of Cuban inspired black bean soup.

2 lb black beans from Baer’s Best Beans (soaked overnight, drained, rinsed)

2 quarts canned whole tomatoes from Old Nourse Farm (summer CSA), with juices

3 medium onions chopped from Shared Harvest

3 medium jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, chopped (from Mass Local Food)

4 cloves garlic also from Shared harvest

2 quarts cold water (you may need to add more while cooking the beans).

For me, it was simple, dump everything into a big stock pot cook until beans are soft.  Blend with an immersion blender.  Add hot sauce/salt as needed.  I garnish with a local cheese.

 

Localized Gumbo

December 18, 2011

For various reasons, I missed my annual trip to New Orleans.  I love New Orleans (maybe not as much as Tim Tebow loves the church, but it’s probably pretty close).  Eating in New Orleans is like taking a cab ride in China. . . . it’s a culinary adventure being deathly allergic to shellfish and all.  Still, I’ve found ways to eat (and drink) across the Crescent City.  I laughed when a recipe for gumbo floated across the in-box this week.  Aside from the obvious miscues (roux and okra?), the processed food and urging people to buy pre-chopped goods to save time (hi, your making ROUX people. . . . you can chop celery.), I started re-formulating the recipe in my head to make a GF, shellfish free gumbo.

1 cup of olive oil or melted butter

2 1/2 cups of GF Flour (I used King Arthur’s)

1 lb of sausage

3 cloves garlic

1 quart of whole tomatoes/basil

1 tsp of thyme and basil (dried)

4 cups chopped onions

4 cups chopped celery

8  cups chicken stock

2 green onions, chopped.

meat of 1 chicken shredded

1 teaspoon gumbo file

Hot sauce to taste

Ok, making roux is a pain and lost art (check out Top Chef from a few weeks ago if you don’t believe me).  You have to heat the oil and gently stir in the flour.  Then cook without burning to your prefered shade of brown without burning.  Initially you have to stir it consistently and constantly but for the last hour (yes hour) you can stir every 5-10 minutes.  The trick is to get a deep brown color without burning; after about 40 minutes it should look like the color of peanut butter.  I bake the sausage in the oven at 400 until done while making the roux.

Remove from heat allow to cool a bit.  Here is the fun part: whisk in the chicken broth quickly to minimize clumping.  I’ve found it’s easier to minimize lumps by putting the stock on the stove top and allow to warm via the heat from the oven.  Dump in the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for several hours.  I skipped the celery because I didn’t have any.

Easy after you get past the roux: it’s easy to see why this dish is one that was used to stretch food budgets.  Wikki has an interesting article on the history of and variations on gumbo.  Suffice to say, it’s a regionalized chilli cookoff. I wound up with enough for lunches this week and froze enough for almost a second week of lunches.

Meat: 8 O’clock ranch

Produce: Nourse Farms (peppers and tomatoes preserved from the summer)

Piccadilly Farms (onion, garlic)

Shaw’s Farm (butter)

King Arthur’s Flour (GF flour)

Best laid plans. . . .

December 12, 2011

There are a million reasons I could never be a parent.  Most of them involve my utter lack of ability to plan and execute to a “normal” level.  Take today for example.  ALL day I sat around thinking “potato soup”.  I completely obsessed about it: and came home to find out that I didn’t have any potatoes. Massive #fail!  Sigh.  Fortunately, I had some onion soup left over from when my mom visited: 100% local (except the cognac).  I mean, my mom whipped this up one afternoon when I was at work. WHO whips up onion soup? (aside from the obvious?).

Onion Soup

Oh winter soups . . . .

I was so glad to have this to come home to have as my Plan B!  I spent the weekend in Atlantic City: had a good time but realized how bland commercialized food can be.  Honestly, I found myself wondering how much junk I put into my body when traveling: I honestly would have flunked tell this salad from its companion apart.  The food wasn’t bad … it just wasn’t good.  I’ve become used to the freshness of food.  Somebody remind me of this come January when I’m looking for an avocado.

So, for the soup:

Broth based on veggies from Shared Harvest CSA and beef from 8 O’Clock Ranch.

Onions from Red Fire Farm

Cheese from Grasse River B Ranch (via 8 O’Clock Ranch).

Not local: Cognac.

 

The First Week is Always the Easiest: Dark Days Challenge

December 4, 2011
Dark Days: Week One

Local: It's what's for dinner

 

We’ve been having an insanely mild start to winter in New England.  I’m not going to complain.  We had Snoctober/the Halloween No’easter/Occpy Snow but other than that it has been insanely mild.  Put it this way, I still haven’t done the where are my gloves dance at 4:30 am yet.  I’m going to guess this is going to be hard for the farmers: we haven’t had a hard sustaining freeze and the warm temps probably cause havoc on the winter crops (she says like she knows what she is talking about).  Anyway, anytime after 12/28 (when I get back home from the holidays) winter can start.

I spent some time with the fantastic writer of Vegparadise who is also participating in this challenge and we both have a lot “in stock”: canned jams/butters, root veggies, frozen/canned items from the bountiful summer.  And, it turns the same stumbling blocks: dairy.  Finding a local dairy, in 150 miles that is oh, convenient to metro Boston was confounding.    Enter the fantastic Shaws Farm and the Somerville Winter Farmer’s Market (which, I wish had its own website … but it does have a FB page).  Score.  Local creamers, butter and *bliss* ice cream that you can order to pick up at the farmer’s market.

Anyway, part of the first week is the listing of any exceptions to the 150 mile radius (aside from seasonings which area ‘given’).  My two exceptions: gluten-free flour (which I get from King Arthur Flour which is in the radius but not all items are sourced within 150 miles) and my meat which is from the fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch (which is just outside of the 150 miles but I am member of their CSA).  Yes, I could purchase a more “local” source of meat: however, I have been extremely happy with my current CSA and was unwilling to change for the challenge.

So, for dinner this week (above):

Pan fried cube steak from 8 O’clock Ranch and roasted root veggies (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and potatoes).

My CSA ends on 12/17. Ack. That’s when it will get interesting for me!

Eating Local in Winter

November 19, 2011

For November . . . .

I stumbled upon the Shared Harvest CSA earlier this fall and found it to be a perfect addition to the summer canning madness (and it was madness, but I have to admit that even I find a bit of self-satisfaction with that pop of a jar I’ve canned. . . . ).  Yes, I found another slightly bat shit insane challenge to partake in (it keeps me creative in the kitchen and when you’re cooking for one …) during the winter.

Is buying 100% local the most economical: no.  Is it something I can realistically do.  No.  I’m not 100% committed to giving up citrus and avocados and those don’t grow IN New England.  Plus throw in the allergy to shellfish (only our most common protein) and a gluten-free diet, it’s not feasible.  I’m not going to rant (at least today) about the benefits of local economies, see the Occupy Wall Street stuff for that (although I could probably make a more coherent argument for the benefits of local foods, industry than some of that mess) debate.

There is a challenge floating about on the web, Dark Days of Winter Challenge, that is about one meal a week that is S.O.L.E (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical).  Will it be a challenge, yes, maybe? There are a few farmer’s markets in the winter (Wayland, Somerville, Winchester), plus the Mass Local Food Co-op.  The challenge will be finding the flavors, getting over my unrealistic fear of kale.  I’m going to try for 2 days a week for a few reasons.  First, I’m cooking for one so I don’t have to worry about kids and flavors.  Second, I did a ton of canning/freezing this summer.  Third, there is something inventive about cooking.  I cook on the fly.  While that will be possible, it will be a bit harder. And fourth, while we don’t have a long growing season here … we do have dairy.  Yup, I’ve already stalked out my local ice cream source.  Isn’t that all I really need to survive? It will be an adventure and I promise to try to post pics and recipes.

Up for tonight? Roasted potatoes, onions, carrots from the Shared Harvest CSA and round steak from my favorite place in the world, 8’Oclock Ranch  (seriously, if you are in their CSA delivery area? What are you waiting for? SIGN UP!).

And given the 3 bushels of apples?? Expect a few more canning adventure tales. . . .

The first temptation

July 31, 2011

As many foodies know, Wylie Dufresne is a notorious, self-proclaimed “egg slut”.  Me? I’m a mashed potatoes slut. I order them on menus, silently critique them in my head and think ooooh.  The adventure of ‘no grocery store for a month’ based on my need for mashed potatoes began with a vexing temptation.  First, I forgot to put sour cream on my list of foods. Luckily, a friend pointed out that yoghurt could be brought over. Perfect.  I had yoghurt.  Failure: it was French Vanilla.  Habit, right? French Vanilla yoghurt combined with potatoes? Yuck.

A friend pointed out that it wasn’t 8/1 yet so I could still go to the grocery store. Tempting. Ok, I gave into that idea. I showered, got into my car and thought “what is the point of this?” Finding ways around? Yes. But not *this* way.  The way around is substitutions, using what is local and a host of other things.  I left my car, cut up my potatoes and figured if McGuyver could make a bomb out of a potato, I could mash them without tossing in sour cream (trust me on this, it’s amazing).  Butter. Hmm. Worked. A bit of horseradish, a dash of BBQ  sauce better.  Parama cheese. Perfect.

Now, I realize that my copy-cat plan wasn’t the best thought out: I still don’t have sour cream . . . I’m missing non-French Vanilla yoghurt and uh, chocolate.  Day one is in the books. I’m about to cook some pork chops and pack my lunch for tomorrow.  (Egg Salad minus celery, crackers and maybe I have a Luna Bar somewhere. . . ).  What I’ve learned: it’s wicked easy in this part of the world to say “oh, I need” and go and buy it from a grocery store.  It as my initial temptation: I worked around it.  Will I keep it up? Who knows.  But going into the week, I have a container of mashed potatoes and already cooked green beans from my CSA at Nourse Farm, hardboiled eggs about to become egg salad and 2 grilled pork chops from 8 O’clock ranch.  Yup.  I can probably make it until Wednesday . .  .who knows?

I also realized I boiled all my eggs. I so didn’t think this adventure all the way to the end.

Ah, survived the first temptation!

The perfect food!

Taking a month of …. for now. The No Grocery Challenge

July 30, 2011

So, a friend of mine posted this blog a few weeks ago on Facebook (seriously, how did I live before smart phones and social networking!).  I chased a few links and found what might be one of the original blogs.  (Eh, who knows …).  The rules are pretty basic: don’t go to the grocery store except for what cannot be sourced otherwise.  There are few challenges floating about in the locavore world.  I was immediately interested and agreed to this mad cap challenge. Hey, it’s just me, right? I mean, aside from the sous chef and the prince.  And then I decided to step it up a bit.  I am keeping the basic challenge: buying everything at farmer’s markets, stands with a short exception list (below) and then only $30.  And no, I didn’t stock up on Coke Zero or ice cream!

A lot of the people involved have kids.  I can hear some people in my life now “of course it would be easy for you, you’re single.” (uh, yeah, i also have an hour commute and work roughly 50 hours a week but that is a different blog).  Yup, I live the life of a singleton.  That also means, that if I worked 12 hours that day, there is nobody I can call to say “hey, can you toss on some pasta for me” (well, that and being gluten-free also).  I’m also working for a company that is facing an audit probably in August.  ACK!  So, I know August will be insane.  So why not kick it up a step?

For August, I will not only avoid the grocery store (except the list below), I’m also skipping caffination stations.  Not giving UP caffeine (that would be a danger to others) but avoiding the fast food life style of the mornings and sometimes evenings that have fueled me during early morning commutes or late nights because I’m too lazy to cook something.  I realized how horrific my eating habits (despite some canning adventures) had become when I realized that one day I consumed (seriously) a package of pop tarts from a vending machine, some carrots and a tomato (probably a few thousand miles on those), ice cream with strawberry jam (ok, I made the jam) and 2 dill pickles. Why? It’s what I had either in the house to eat without cooking or had for the vending machine. Seriously.

When the challenge was posted, I realized hmmm. It would probably be good FOR me to do this: I despise chain stores, I try to be a locavore (but let’s face it … some mornings hash browns and coffee from Dunkin Donuts do hit the spot), I believe in local businesses well and the entire menu I listed earlier.  The thing is, to some extent this will already be easier for me than many: I buy my meat from the fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch (which probably means I’m not a locavore FOR meat but since they are a small ranch in upstate NY … I’ll stick with them), I get most of my fruits and veggies from Old Nourse Farm’s CSA.  My issue is more that while I’ll can/freeze food, I forget to USE that food in my I-must-eat-now mode (that and I don’t own a microwave).  So with a bit of planning, I’m going to go free from caffination stations, grocery stores, chains . . . what I do need to buy I will buy from family owned groceries.  This will be interesting.  I’m sure I won’t save money (one of the original bloggers is in Hungary. $2 wine? Ha.) The obvious benefit is breaking myself of this pop-tart diet I seem to be on!

So, with that … my August grocery list is limited to: vinegar, yoghurt (don’t tell me I can make it … epic fail), half&half, cat food (they do like to eat), salt, sugar and olive oil.  The greater adventure … figuring out what I’m going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner now that I’m avoiding chains and the cafe at the office. If you see me, and you love me? Please hand me Diet Coke.  I’m sure I’ll need it by mid-August.

Have you ever READ the fine print?

July 24, 2011

Now I know some of my lawyer-ly friends will say “yes”, but really, how many people READ all of the fine print?  I have done the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) route for over a year.  I love it.  I switched CSA’s this year for a few reasons: my new one gives “credits” and you select how much of which type of item you would like for the week (pretty cool … no bok choi! or tat soi!).  Anyway, I’m close to meandering off the path.  Last year I froze some berries, some squash and meandered through the ‘off season’ (and uh, in New England, that’s a long time!).

A friend posted on her blog the tales about urban canning. Yup, she’s a “cult” leader of the nice sort. She sucked me in . . . the results?

  1. 5 pints of plum chutney
  2. 1.5 pints of spicy plum sauce
  3. 3 cups of pesto (frozen)
  4. 3 pints of blueberry jam
  5. 1.5 pints of blueberry-chocolate sauce
  6. 7 pints of bread and butter pickles
  7. 1.5 litres of blueberry wine
  8. 6 pints of frozen blueberries

In a weekend.  I know I’ll be happy this winter when it’s impossible to get anything in New England without a massive carbon footprint.  I know I’m eating better because everything used was either organic and locally grown or organic.  I had a blast picking the blueberries, despite the near record heat and humidity.  Everything was canned, frozen or being strained (in the case of the wine) within 10 hours of being picked.

How did this insanity get started? Aside from my friend the cult leader? I read the back of the label of my pickles. The #2 ingredient behind cucumbers? HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, some strange word I can’t pronounce and don’t remember, and yellow dye.  Yup. I’m out of the grocery race.  I’m going back to picking my foods in the garden, using my CSA share and canning and freezing along the way.  It is completely that easy.

Jam in the making