Thursday, September 4, 2014

Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini ad infinitum

Slice them, dice them, grate them. Buy them, fry them, bake them. Carve lovely designs in the dark green skin, allowing the lighter flesh to peek through. Have a zucchini party! Make zucchini bread! So much zucchini, so little time!

DSCF5270

I love zucchini. I love that it is willing to be whatever you want it to be: sweet, savory, slimy, even invisible filler. Planting zucchini in your garden pretty much guarantees it will be coming out your ears, but I am willing to suffer that abundance. Willing to pursue, and share, yummy recipes. This year, we have had a huge amount of rain, and the result of that is a bumper crop of zucchini, yellow summer squash, and eggplant, so we are eating a lot of them! I have developed a couple of variations-on-other-themes dishes that I want to share with you before squash season is gone.

Recipes for this first item, dehydrated zucchini slices, is readily available on the web, but my variation is about the seasonings.

I am so bad about quantities. I always just pour whatever I am pouring in and decide when to stop, so I am showing you photos of the ingredients with guesses as to how much I used. I know, lame. But this way if they don’t seem quite right to you, you can adjust. The food won’t care if you make the change and neither will I. And I bet it will still be yummy.

DSCF5248 
In a large mixing bowl, I put about three tablespoons of olive oil and one of water.

DSCF5257
This is a single-serving dessert dish. Measurements are approximate. Starting at the top and going clockwise, the spices are cumin (1 teaspoon), garlic powder (I ended up doubling that, so 2 teaspoons), oregano (1 tablespoon), and chili powder (1 tablespoon).


Dehydrated Mexican-Spice Zucchini SlicesDSCF5230

Zucchini, cut in 1/4–3/8 inch slices
Olive oil (3 T)
Water (1 T)
Cumin (1 t)
Oregano (1 T)
Chili powder (1 T) 
Garlic powder (2 t)
(Adjust all spice quantities to taste)

The thickness of your slices is a matter of preference, but I really like them a bit thicker and dehydrated longer to compensate.

Put olive oil, water, and spices into a large mixing bowl. Using a spoon, mix the spices and liquids together. Add zucchini slices, tossing to coat. If some of the slices don’t seem spicy enough, you can sprinkle a little more on them. You can also wipe the bowl clean with zucchini slices that need more spice. You want plenty of spice, but if you get too much oil, the slices will be greasy after they are dehydrated. It may take a time or two before you get the feel for this, but even bad batches are still edible and yummy. Load the slices onto the trays, and when you run out of the oil mixture, make a new batch and continue coating slices until the dehydrator is full. If I end up with more zucchini than I have room on the trays, I just stir fry the extras for dinner.

Once the trays are loaded, dehydrate for about 8 hours, or until the slices are crisp (you may want to refer to the owners manual for your particular dehydrator to make sure this timing is right; this works with mine). I make as many batches as I can every year. It was the inability to find a gluten free-version of croutons that I liked that prompted me to start making these. They are great on salads, but they are also nice by themselves as a snack.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Next up is a blending of a couple of recipes that have been favorites in my home: ratatouille and pizza. This is so deliciously pizza-like, and because there is no crust involved it is a lot less filling than regular pizza, yet very satisfying. I am able to tolerate some mozzarella cheese right now, but when I am unable to handle dairy at all, I just leave the cheese off. If you can’t tolerate dairy, you could do the same or use a dairy free cheese; I just don’t like any of those, so I go without.

Ratatouille Pizza

DSCF5291

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini, sliced (and/or yellow summer squash)DSCF5288
2 eggplants, diced
Onions, chopped
Green pepper, chopped (to taste)
1 6-ounce can of small or medium ripe olives, sliced
Pepperoni slices (1 of the 2 sealed packages of the Hormel that is pictured to the right, or to taste)
Mozzarella cheese (or Italian blend), shredded, as much as you like 
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
Spices, to taste: Italian seasoning (1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons), basil (1 to 2 teaspoon), oregano (1 to 2 teaspoon),
                       garlic powder (1 to 2 teaspoons)

Preheat oven to 350° F

Layer veggies in a 9 x 13 glass dish. I layered mine as follows: squash slices, diced eggplant, onions, green pepper, olives, with the pepperoni slices on top.

DSCF5279 

 

 

 

 

DSCF5283

 

 

 

 

 


Note that the bottom layer is yellow summer squash. I have a ton of that, too. This was my second time making this recipe, and the first one had zucchini. A blend would be good as well. Also, this one doesn’t have onions, but only because I forgot them. The first one did, though, and they really are a great addition.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, then pull it out of the oven, sprinkle with cheese, and then bake for about 10 more minutes, or until the cheese is as melted and/or browned as you like. This one could have been in there a bit longer.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do at my house!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sleuthspice

Concerning the continuing safe-spices dilemma gluten free peeps have, here is a company that has no gluten in their facility. They do have dairy, but my friend, Sarah (the same Sarah of my “Sarah bakes again” label, who has both ordered the products and spoken with the company), told me they assured her that the lines are thoroughly cleaned between runs of dairy and non-dairy items. The company is San Francisco Herb Co., and you can find them at this link: http://www.sfherb.com/.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sleuthspicions

1 Joy Joy JoySee update at the bottom of this post.

Suspicions? I have some. Actually, I don’t know what to think. At Christmas we were at the home of friends, and I decided I wasn’t going to panic about potential cross-contamination problems. I have heard everything from one molecule is all it takes to set you off to the equivalent of one crumb of bread’s worth of gluten is an acceptable amount in a day for Celiacs. I have studied it all, but I don’t know what the deal is for me, so I decided to test the waters a little. I haven’t done that. I have only researched and obeyed what was suggested.

What I know for sure:
- I have pain beyond gluten intolerance. Times when I have in no way possible had gluten, yet I hurt.
- I do not digest foods well since my gallbladder was taken out, and when I don’t get the right digestive enzymes, I have pain.
- Sometimes I have pain that makes no sense at all. I have no idea where it is from, but it really pulls me down. It can last from a few hours to a few days, and then it goes away. No clue. No. clue. I can literally eat the same food on one day and have pain and then eat it the next day and have none.

Because of these things, I feel I have only one thing that I can definitely point to that will indicate for sure I have accidentally gotten gluten somewhere, and that is when I get canker sores in my mouth. Just before I stopped eating gluten six years ago, my mouth was full of them. It was horrible. I have had problems with them pretty much my whole life, but there would be one or two from time to time, usually worse during high stress situations. A bad bout would see me with three. I hated those things; the pain of them is still fresh and familiar to me; they would last for several miserable days. As my dreaded gluten year progressed, they became more frequent, reaching that horrendous level in December/January. Their near elimination from my life has been a big deal to me. They were such an ugly part of it for so many years, and although the gluten death year was really, really terrible, it was just one year of pain. (Does that make sense to anybody else?) Now, when I do somehow get hidden gluten, the ulcers are not as bad as they used to be. Not only that, but before The Great Gluten Escape, if I had any type of injury to the inside of my cheeks or lips, it meant an automatic canker sore but not now. I actually bit my cheek a few days ago and at the time thought, that is going to be a sore, and it never did manifest.

So. When we were at my friends’ home at Christmas, I got nothing. No pain. No sores. No nothing. What is up with that? They have flour in their home. We all cooked around each other (though they were not baking or cooking with flour). I didn’t ask them to cut my vegies on a gluten-free cutting board. I ate foods that they fixed. (It was a rather unsettling thing to do after six years. :) I also have gone into a new coffee shop tha tis owned by some friends and hung out with them twice. The shop is located in the same shop as a bakery, and they bake every morning, so there is absolutely flour in the air there. Anyway, I haven’t had a mouth sore since sometime in the fall. I don’t know if this means I am no longer gluten intolerant, or I am less sensitive, or what. I just started a new job (my first job outside of the home since we got married thirty years ago!), and I don’t think this would be a good time to do a gluten challenge. How can I even know? I guess I am just living a mystery for a while. I’m not going to eat gluten, but I am not going to panic about cross contamination either (well…I will try not to anyway).

Update: Chalk this up to famous last words. I don't know if it takes time for things to build up or what, but not long after I wrote this post, I started having a lot of canker sores—several at once, back to back. I went back to being meticulous about cross contamination. Not having them now. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ketchup

As time goes by, I sometimes forget which brands I have discovered are safe. This is probably a good thing; it makes me sleuth out fresh information. Today I needed to confirm which ketchup I use because we have more than one brand in the fridge (my husband is not gluten free), and I wasn’t sure which was the right one—I don’t use much ketchup. I searched on here and found that Heinz is the preferred brand, and I followed the link I had posted for it, only to discover the page doesn’t exist anymore. After a bit of digging, I found their latest gluten policy and thought I would post that link here. It is an encouraging one. I haven’t time to dig deeper, but I liked what I read.

Heinz on gluten labeling. The link is their dietary wellness page. Scroll down and click on Gluten-Free.

I still haven’t made my own ketchup to get away from the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. Honesty, I don’t know if I ever will, but I did can my own dill pickles this year for the first time. They turned out nice! I have some other recipes to share with you as well. I will try to get to those very soon.

Right now, I am going to look up a recipe and put dinner in the crockpot. I start a new job today!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ham for the Holidays

0903111123c

There are plenty of blogs and websites out there with lists of which traditional holiday foods are safely gluten free, but there is one item that may be found on the lists which is not. For the past several years, Costco has carried Kirkland brand spiral hams which were labeled gluten free. This year I said I would take ham to our church Thanksgiving Potfaith, but when I went to Costco to buy it, I found there were no Kirkland hams. There was a guy from the meat department stocking shelves, so I asked him about it. He told me that Farmland had always produced those hams, they were now being packaged with the Farmland label, and they are now boneless. I asked him if they are still gluten free (didn’t have my glasses on, figured he would know), and he said the representative he spoke to assured him they are. So I bought my ham.

Fast forward to Saturday evening when I was looking at the ham, determining my plan of attack for the next morning. I was looking it over and realized that it did not say gluten free anywhere on the label. I thought that was odd since it had on the Kirkland label, so I went to Farmland’s website and gave it the usual gluten-free shake down. My discovery both disappointed and pleased. In the FAQ’s, under Ingredients, I found the following answer to the question, “Do Farmland products contain gluten?”

Spice formulations from our suppliers and secondary suppliers can change from time to time and still be correct under USDA labeling requirements. Because of this, along with the possibility of cross-contamination from the secondary suppliers to our own main ingredients, we cannot absolutely guarantee that our products will be gluten-free.

This shocked me because I was planning on eating that ham at church the next day and now I would have to come up with another type of meat to eat in a hurry (I knew I should have said turkey instead of ham! I made some chicken. It turned out delicious, and I will be having turkey on Thursday).

This pleased me because it indicated that Farmland finally figured out the serious and difficult nature of avoiding cross-contamination and came clean with the public about it. I don’t know when this happened, but I have to think that they made the decision to stop the Kirkland label for this reason. I could pursue this to find out for sure, but I don’t believe I will.

 

 

Kirkland's spiral hams are made by Farmland. They now have the Farmland label, not Kirkland. They are NOT considered gluten free (though the guy in the meat dept. at Costco told me today he was told they are).
"Do Farmland products contain gluten?
Spice formulations from our suppliers and secondary suppliers can change from time to time and still be correct under USDA labeling requirements. Because of this, along with the possibility of cross-contamination from the secondary suppliers to our own main ingredients, we cannot absolutely guarantee that any of our products will be gluten-free."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes…FINALLY!!!

DSCF4038I have been trying to come up with a dairy free mashed potatoes recipe for a long time without success. I have friends who make theirs with chicken broth, but it didn’t satisfy what I was wanting. Also, I am just not crazy about the dairy-free margarines out there (trust me, I have tried to like that stuff). I recently decided to try Sour Supreme by Tofutti for Mexican recipes and though I do not like the taste of it alone, it adds the wanted creaminess and has no influence on the flavor of the dish. It is a great addition, and I even added a little to my potatoes!

After I figured out how to dress up my Kinnikinnick hot dog bun to simulate a Buddy’s breath moment, I was thinking I might use the same ingredients in mashed potatoes. It took me a while to get to it, but the results were quite satisfactory. Color me very, very happy.

I used them a couple of days ago on my version of a Chicken Pot Pie.

I used the Aunt Lorena method, so the amounts are iffy, but this sort of cooking isn’t rocket science, and it should come together just fine. Adjust ingredients to taste.

Chicken Pot Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Potato Freedom
Filling
2 chicken breasts, chopped*
1 medium onion, chopped
Olive oil
1 quart Pacific Organic Free Range Cooking Broth (room temperature or cold)*
1/4 cup Argo or Kingsford cornstarch
Vegies: corn, green beans, carrots, peas* ** (You could use any vegies you wanted—fresh, frozen, or canned. Just use lots!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut up your potatoes and get them cooking while you make the filling. See Mashed Potato Freedom below for details.

Precook chicken pieces using a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet with the burner on medium. A bit before they are done, throw in the onions and stir fry with the chicken pieces, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the vegetables (if they are fresh, you could put them in with the onions and stir fry them together). Put the cornstarch in a small bowl and adding a little bit of chicken broth at a time, stir until smooth. Once you have added enough of the liquid to make it pourable, put that mixture into the pan and mix it into the chicken and vegetables. Slowly add the rest of your chicken broth, stirring each new addition in until smooth. Simmer until you are ready to assemble the pie.

Mashed Potato Freedom
3 pounds of potatoes, peeled, cut into pieces, and boiled in water until fork tender
Olive oil
Tofutti Sour Supreme (If you don’t want soy, I have made these potatoes without it, and they were good. I may or may not use it next time.)
Paprika
Parsley
Garlic powder
Salt
Pepper

Drain and mash the potatoes. Add about a teaspoon of olive oil (Be brave! Don’t measure it!), a heaping tablespoon of Sour Supreme, and your spices to taste. I probably used about 1/3 teaspoon of the paprika, and maybe 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the parsley, about 1/3 teaspoon of the garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. When I season, I just shake it on till I think it looks like the right amount. You should do that too. Then using your potato masher, blend everything well.

Assemblage
Spoon that simmering chicken filling into a casserole dish. Choose a size that is big enough so there is about a half an inch head space above the filling. More is okay, but not less. Spoon your potatoes carefully on top to cover the filling, Shepherd’s Pie style. At this point, you could garnish the top with a little more paprika and parsley to make it pretty.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or so to heat through.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
*
You can use more than a quart of the chicken broth, more vegies, and more chicken, depending on the size of pie you need.

**I used all frozen vegetables because I was making a large amount to serve at my home and to give to friends who just had a baby. Only mine had Mashed Potato Freedom. Everyone else got spuds loaded with more dairy than you can measure with the human eye. This recipe is for an entire pie with Mashed Potato Freedom. I am drooling…

“Hey! You got peanut butter in my chocolate!”

DSCF4043

Hey! You Got Peanut Butter in My Chocolate Cake!
1 Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk
3/4 cup chunky Adam’s Peanut Butter (because…We don’t eat no stinking butter!)

Topping
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Raw almonds

In a large bowl, using a mixer, blend the eggs into the cake mix. Add the peanut butter and blend well. Mix in the liquids until smooth-ish. Put into your choice of pan (see Betty Crocker box for suggestions). Scatter as many chocolate chips and almonds across the top as you are in the mood for. Bake as per package instructions.

Even The Gluteneater enjoyed this recipe. It turned out very light and quite tasty. I served it with a very light drizzle of pure maple syrup and some of the same coconut milk that I put in the cake. The Glutendairyeater had real milk instead. His loss.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Seeing Pizza through Amber-Colored Glasses?


Gluten Free Betsy noted in a post earlier today that 1in133.org has organized a Ditch NFCA's Amber Designation campaign. I suggest that you go to her blog and read what she has to say. I am in complete agreement with her on this. I signed the petition myself today, and there was a place to give a reason for doing so. I wrote this:

I believe the Amber designation is confusing, and thus dangerous, and should not be used. It is going to give some people a false sense of security, assuming that because there is an NFCA seal given, it means it is safe—especially those who are new to being gluten free.

The petition can be found at change.org: https://www.change.org/petitions/ditch-nfca-s-amber-designation. This is just one more step in the process of full disclosure on products: something the gluten-free community—and anyone else who has food allergies/intolerance—is desperate for.

Update @ 8:00 pm: Great news! The NFCA listened! Go here to read for yourself: http://www.celiaccentral.org/nfca-statement-7937/.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Domino's Pizza...delivers? Delivers gluten, that is!

Updated May 12, 2012:
Totally changing this post. From what I understand, the only thing gluten free about these pizzas is the crust before it is handled by the Domino's workers. The pizzas are assembled in the same place that the rest of their pizzas are assembled. The National Foundation of Celiac Awareness has given them an Amber designation. What this means is Domino's Pizza has agreed to train their help up front to tell anyone buying the "gluten free pizza" that it is not gluten free. The training is up front, not in the back with the making of the pizzas. So the bottom line is if you don't mind eating gluten, go ahead and eat the new Domino's gluten free pizza.

Watch the video below if you want, but you really need to go listen to the podcast from Blog Talk Radio, linked below, where Jules Shepard from Jules Gluten Free interviewed Alice Baste, a spokesperson for the NFCA, concerning their reasons for the Amber designation.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gluten-free/2012/05/10/alice-bast-from-nfca-on-dominos-gf-pizza-gluten-free-voice


Friday, February 17, 2012

Arsenic in your brown rice!

Go to Yahoo, read the article, and weep.

Update: I have been thinking about this post and wanted to include a follow-up. The article speaks specifically of brown rice syrup, not brown rice having high arsenic content. I am sure it is because of the concentrated nature of the syrup. Here are a couple of pertinent paragraphs. The brown rice syrup is a big concern for those of us who try to use healthier processed gluten-free foods.


"According to the study, which was published Thursday in the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives," the researchers also found high arsenic levels in some organic foods sweetened with brown rice syrup, including cereal bars, energy bars, and gel energy "shots" that athletes slurp down after working out. 

"'The baby formula findings are concerning,' Jackson said. The risk of arsenic poisoning from eating a cereal bar or and energy shot once in a while are low, he pointed out, but for babies and for people who are on gluten-free diets, arsenic poisoning should be a concern."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kinnikinnick

Well, the bird is fresh out of the Twitter oven (posted one hour two hours ago from right now; it took me an hour to write this post). The announcement has been made. Kinnikinnick has finally put their breads in bags, slapped their logo on ‘em, and made them available for purchase! When I say “finally,” of course I am kidding. The four sample packs that I won last month are not even gone yet. The box said to freeze them, and I did; though, I was a little concerned about how they would hold up after the freeze. Well, concerns be hanged, I needn’t have had any. When I am ready to have a bit of bread, I just pull out what I want, thaw it in the nucrowave, add my heart’s desire, and plate it. That is when the magic starts.

Take the other night. I had made this delicious Avocado Chicken Salad (I used lemon because I didn’t have lime, dried cilantro because I didn’t have fresh, and Follow Your Heart’s Grapeseed Vegenaise [my Miracle Whip Man didn’t have a clue]). Next, I thawed a Kinnikinnick Hamburger Bun to enjoy it on, and the first thing I noticed was its texture. I mean, I had just thawed it in the microwave after it had been in the freezer a few weeks, yet it was soft and springy. It reminded me of the dinner rolls my mother-in-law used to make, and trust me, my mother-in-law was a professional baker.

Professional, in that she baked amazing, gluteny goodness every week of her life for sixty-five years (with time off for the likes of birthing each of her six children or being in the hospital for surgery, that sort of thing), and she was good at it. She would bake several of something out of the following list every single Saturday (and maybe throw in others through the week). She made breads, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls (some with powdered sugar icing—some with nuts and incredible, caramelized goo), doughnuts, cookies (peanut butter, soft ginger bread, oatmeal and raisin, chocolate chip), pies (she canned her own fruit for those), cakes, fruit bars (you can’t possibly have any idea how amazingly wonderful her fruit bars were), fruit cakes (I don’t have to tell you when she baked those do I?) and that’s just off the top of my head (well, with a little help from her son, my Miracle Whip Man). She even used to do that sort of thing when she worked in the lunch room of his school when he was growing up. MMWM said they would have chili and cinnamon rolls every Thursday during the school year. (Is it mean of me to inflict this gluten-deprived man sitting at his desk across the room from me with these memories? Actually, he says they are good memories, and he is enduring this for you. Appreciate him.)

So when I say that this bun reminded me of my mother-in-law’s dinner rolls, I am saying a mouthful. Soft, springy, light, and delicious was that Kinnikinnick dinner roll hamburger bun. I slathered on a bit more vege-mayo and then glopped on a goodly amount of the Avocado Chicken Salad and, well, Bob’s your uncle. I had a sandwich that would make my sweet mother-in-law happy, and that is no stretch.

I don’t eat hotdogs, but I took one of those hotdog buns and cut it open, laid the two pieces on my only gluten-free bar pan (Pampered Chef, the baby bar pan), spooned on a bit of olive oil on the soft white interior of both halves, sprinkled it generously with garlic powder, and then some paprika and dried parsley flakes, and put it under the broiler until it toasted. I had it with soup, and it was surprisingly good. Next time I’ll use fresh garlic in the oil, so it is garlicky-er.  This may seem like an odd combination, but back before gluten and milk and eggs were my enemies, I used to go to a little Italian Restaurant in Pocatello called Buddy’s (which MMWM and I are thinking has been in business close to fifty years!) and get me some serious Buddy’s breath (as soon as you walk into any place in that town, people can tell you have eaten at Buddy’s for at least three days after—no joke). This involved eating their famous salad and garlic bread with cheese.

Friends of mine were recently in that town and ate at that restaurant (at the urging of myself and another long-time fan of the place) and taunted me with a cellphone photo.  I cropped and divided and pasted here; I am sure they won’t mind). I literally thought I would faint when I saw it. That food is a part of my history. Even after who-knows-how-many years, I am confident that Buddy’s garlic still runs through my veins. The salad calls to me with its icy, siren’s song…

Buddy's BreathGarlic Bread with Cheese

…Where was I? Oh yes. My point is that even though my French bread hotdog bun with olive oil and sprinklings wasn’t dripping with melty, gooey cheese, and even though I can’t have blue cheese dressing anymore in my life, Kinnikinnick gave me a Buddy’s moment of my own. And I intend to have that again.

The multigrain bread and the white bread are both wonderful as well, and it is nice to have bigger pieces. Really. Soft sandwiches that taste like sandwiches! The next thing I would like for them to invent is a rye-less rye bread! (When you do that, Kinnikinnick…you have my address.)

So Delicious has a couple of new products…

…and I know I will be trying them. They are certified vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher, and certified gluten free; that is a hefty, impressive list of credentials. Thanks for thinking of us, So Delicious.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sleuth got to be kidding me!

1 1 Christmas time

Happy January, 2012! Does anyone else remember back in the last century wondering how the names of those Y2K years were even going to be pronounced, let alone lived in? I did, but it didn’t take long to settle into saying those 01-09’s. And now we are in the second decade! Clearly, I am finding this well into the new century thing to be hard to swallow, but then, I am a twentieth century baby (my sister, my dad, and me…in my kangaroo pajamas).

Speaking of hard to swallow…

Label frauds hurt our bods
(I can’t believe I just said that.)
I haven’t tried gluten free beer. I used to like beer years ago, but I have found too many gluten free products just don’t live up to the glutenish original, and I have a hard time thinking barley-free beer would be worth it; however, not everyone feels that way. I have heard of many who really enjoy having a gluten-free beer with their gluten-free pizza, for example, but beware, beware, and beware again. Is anyone else weary of label liars Health.com reports that NOT ALL GLUTEN FREE BEERS ARE GLUTEN FREE.

Living Without published an article that asks, Is There Gluten in Your Meds? I don’t think this is a matter of lying; however, it does point to the desperate need for accurate, detailed labels with laws to enforce their use.

Label friends
I contacted Wilton® Industries a while back to see if they have any gluten free products. This was their response…

    • Thank you for your interest in our products.  To insure that we are providing accurate information for our products, please have a list of item numbers for the product you are seeking gluten free information for.  You can reach us at 800-794-5866 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 am until 4:30 pm cst.  We will be happy to provide you with the information you are requesting.  Look to hear from you soon.

This is better than a faulty label, but in a perfect world, there would be honest labels. (In a perfect world we wouldn’t need them, we would be able to eat gluten. It isn’t perfect though. It is fallen, and we are sinners. That is why Jesus had to die.)

Contests
Kinnikinnick® has a promotion going right now called Toss Your Toaster. They are giving away sample packs of four new products. They are doing 20 weekly draws! You can enter on facebook or Twitter, and you can find more information at the link below. The fun part about this contest is that I already won! Someone else who did and has already received her sample pack posted a photo of what she got. It looks like two loaves of bread, and packages of hotdog and hamburger buns. The reviews coming in on Twitter (possibly facebook too, but I haven’t noticed them) are very positive. I am pretty excited to get mine! I won through my facebook entry rather than on Twitter. I know because when entering there you give your email address. If you win through Twitter they just Tweet that you won. I got an email. :) You can enter once a day on Twitter, not sure on facebook. Go. Enter. Hopefully you will win too! I don’t know for sure when this ends, but they are still going at this point, so don’t procrastinate!

Their website: http://consumer.kinnikinnick.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/consumer.home.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KinnikinnickFoods.GlutenFree
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/GF_Insider

Simply Gluten Free is throwing a contest too! This one is for $60 worth of pickled products (gluten-free, of course!), so you should go enter that one as well. You can enter right there and on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Their website: http://simplygluten-free.com/giveaways/2012/01/12/tillen-farms-giveaway/
The links for Facebook and Twitter are on that page. Clicking on them is kind of like getting fast food. The work is already done for you.

Coupons
I don’t know how long these will be available, so again, don’t let moss grow under your fingers, get clicking!

One dollar off of any one Udi’s® product: http://udisglutenfree.com/special-offers

One dollar off of any one 4.25 oz bag Blue Diamond® Nut Chips http://www.bluediamond.com/index.cfm?navid=8

Recipe FAIL, starring Condensed Milk

DSCF3453I know what you are thinking, and you are right (if you are old as me, you may have to go back and re-read that, this time with Magnum’s voice in your head). That is not a picture of condensed milk; it is clearly four types of Jell-O, mixed, set, and painstakingly chopped into tiny cubes.

“Mr. Schell, doesn’t that look delicious?”

It certainly did. And then came the recipe (if you are as old as me, you might go back and re-read that, this time with the voice of either of the Baldwin sisters from the Waltons in your head).

Last year I found this beautiful recipe for Glass Block Holiday Jell-O at Our Best Bites and thought I would want to make it sometime using the dairy-free, sweetened, condensed milk that I used in my fudge so successfully last year.

Well. Don’t try this recipe at home. It failed miserably! It didn’t set up; it was waaay too sweet, and it looked terrible. See what I mean? We threw it out. You know it was bad if I was willing to waste all of the ingredients that went into that dish. It was a pitiful thing indeed.

 

DSCF3527

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sleuth’s 20/20 Hindsight: Thanksgiving foods

Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His loving kindness is everlasting” (1 Chronicles 16:34).

First, I didn’t take a picture of our turkey. It looked just like your turkey. I used a fresh Honeysuckle White turnkey from Walmart. I bought two because the fresh turkeys were 98 cents a pound and the frozen were 1.49 a pound. I froze the second one for later. They don’t offer fresh turkeys all the time, and I am sure they had it cheaper to be able to sell the bazillion of them they had sitting in cold storage. My husband prepared it while I was working on other foods, and he noted as he was unwrapping it that it said “freeze or use by 11/22/11.” Way to go Walmart. I had been in the store on Monday and told the guy in the meat department that I thought I should wait until closer to Thursday to get it, and he told me that all the fresh turkeys they were getting were already at the store and that it wouldn’t be a problem anyway. No one got sick, so perhaps he knew what he was talking about, but the whole thing is a bit unsettling, even so.

All of these follow-up comments are on foods that I either gave recipes or links to the recipes in my post for 11/19/11.

DSCF3392

Next, I made my first gluten free stuffing in six years (five years gluten free plus the gut-wrenching, life-draining pain when I didn’t know what was wrong with me, along with my more recent No Dairy, No Egg, No Kidding problems). In the past few months, I have found that I seem to be able to tolerate eggs. I haven’t had one straight up yet, but I did make French toast for my husband and I a couple of months ago and had no trouble with it. Anyway, I used Udi’s Whole Grain bread to make my stuffing, and the only changes I made to the linked recipe in the 11/19 post were to the onions and the seasonings. I did not pre-cook the onions, and I really seasoned it well poultry seasoning and thyme. I didn’t have the fresh herbs. I also did not use the butter, as she recommended. I cooked the turkey neck in chicken broth (Pacific, as usual), and used that liquid, as well as some from the turkey itself, and it really turned out yummy. Everyone enjoyed it, and I am the only gluten dodger.

 


DSCF3388

Candied Yams. These were fantastic, not to mention entertaining for mom and I. Changes made: only one, I cut the yams up smaller than 1” cubes, probably 1/2” or less. I wanted to be sure they would be done in time. The entertaining part came with the marshmallows. My husband says it is because they were so fresh. I covered the yams with the marshmallows and stuck them back in the oven. I told mom, “We need to watch these carefully, we want them to toast, not melt.” Well, they were in for about 6 minutes (we had been keeping an eye on them) when I noted that their smell was sweetening the air, and I knew we were close. Right then, mom said, “The marshmallows are running over!” I’m like, what? It made no sense to me. The glass dish the were in had two or three inches of clearance above the mallows. Well, when I looked through the window on the oven door, it was suddenly clear. Those mallows had blown up like balloons! they were huge! It was fabulous and freaky at the same time. I thought, this is like some kind of well-kept gourmet secret. Then I grabbed a metal spatula and scooped the parts that were in danger of dropping to the oven floor back into the dish. Then I pulled it out of the oven, and like a cake startled by a bump, the mallows deflated to little more than creamy-white foam.  In spite of their sparseness, the yams were sensational. The one thing I did that wasn’t mentioned in the recipe was to baste them about half-way through since the maple syrup and oil didn’t cover them. The were moist and delicious. No butter needed.

DSCF3390

Cranberry jello. The chosen recipe came from Cooks.com.  Sorry for the blurry photo. This recipe was not what I was hoping for. It was waaaaaayyyy sweet and waaaaaayyyy tart. My face really didn’t know what to do when I tasted it. I am sure I was almost as entertaining as the mallows to watch. I won’t use this recipe again, but when the recipe said to cook the cranberries in water until they popped, that was fun. I thought the skins would split like tomatoes when they are dropped into boiling water to make the skins come off easily—but no—they popped. It was like a cross between popcorn and biting into a cherry tomato, only the juice that squirts out is hot.

 

 

 

 

DSCF3399

The salad. I made an Olive-Garden style salad, with the necessary tweaks for me. I used a combination of pre-packaged iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce, black olives, pepperoncini, sliced red onions, and grated parmesan on the side for the rest of the peeps. The dressing was one I have been waiting to try, and it was an adventure in itself. I found the recipe at The Spunky Coconut, and it is amazing and delicious. It starts out very liquidy and gets quite thick when it is refrigerated but ends up a really nice dressing when it is tossed into the salad. The challenge was finding the raw cashews.*

I didn’t bother with croutons, and no one seemed to miss them. If my daughter had been home, they would have been a necessity.


 

DSCF3385

Dessert. The texture of the pie dough was amazing. The finished product beautiful. The taste…awful. I am not sure what the deal is. The lady who came up with the recipe for the pie dough really knows her stuff, and she said her non-allergy-challenged guests loved it, but mine did not. Nor did I. It had a strong, terrible taste to it. My son said it tasted like there was too much baking soda in it. I am not giving up on the recipe though. I am thinking I will try brown rice flour and use the strawberry-flavored So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk instead of the plain in the hope that the flavor will improve. Really, really love the texture.

There were also loaded, mashed potatoes (butter and cream cheese, I did not eat any), gravy made with the turkey broth, cornstarch, and seasonings (big hit), and a relish tray (dill and sweet pickles, marinated artichoke hearts, green and black olives, carrots, and broccoli) with Ranch Dressing for those who wanted it (those fresh veggies and the dressing were not even touched, the salad satisfied everyone), and vanilla ice cream for those who could eat it. There were many traditional dishes that were not on the table, but there wasn’t a hungry person in the house, and we have leftovers O’ plenty. I didn’t make the pumpkin trifle recipe because my mom made gluten-laden pumpkin pie, and I didn’t want to do a second pumpkin dessert. I still have the ingredients though, and I am hoping to make it before the weekend is through. All in all, I have to say it was a wonderful meal. It was such a sweet thing to eat foods I haven’t eaten for so long, stuff myself (somewhat), and walk away from it without pain. All this and spending time with my family to boot. I am thankful indeed!

Whoa! A friend posted this link to a recipe for four-ingredient fondant on Pinterest. A world of creative possibilities just opened up! I always use Kraft Marshmallows because Kraft is a trusted company, and they will say if there is any chance of gluten in their products. I also found this recipe for a quick pour chocolate fondant that also looks great. Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, or another brand you trust should work fine. I do need to make sure about food colorings, but I know there are some out there that are safe.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
*
I have considered ordering certified gluten free raw cashews online, but though the price per pound is something I could handle occasionally ($10), when you add in another $10 for shipping, I figure it is really more than I am willing to pay to be able to make creamy salad dressing or soft cheese. I looked at the health food stores in town and couldn’t find any, so I finally went to Winco to the bulk section, bought raw cashew pieces and then washed them off a few at a time in my hands to make sure any particles of flour that they might have picked up from nearby bins being loaded were washed off. So far, I have no signs of cross-contamination, so I think this will work. I might even talk to them about buying them right from the bag before they are taking to the bulk area.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sleuth Thanks: Holiday Food Ideas

I made these little guys for Christmas gifts a few years ago.
Wait, where am I? Oh yes. I blog.

The holidays are upon us, and I am hoping for a mellow and relaxing Thanksgiving Day celebration. Our son will be home for a few days, and my mother and uncle will be with us, but that is all. I would be happy if our daughter could come as well, but she graduated from college last May and was recently hired as a copy editor for a newspaper, and she can only get away for a few days at Christmas. Those luxurious month-long school vacations are no more. I have been collecting recipes for a while now, and I am including a bunch of links, as well as my dinner plans for Thanksgiving.


Dinners (this cook reserves the right to make changes at the slightest whim)
Thanksgiving: I am planning to make turkey, potatoes (probably mashed, but I won't eat them), roasted candied yams (my plans below), maybe a turnip/beet/rutabaga vegetable medley, a green salad, a veggie tray, and cranberry jello (still deciding on recipe). I am considering making stuffing. I found this recipe from Nancy Newcomer which looks quite promising.

Christmas: I am fixing an Italian meal full of gluten: lasagna, salad, garlic bread with cheese (Buddy's style), probably a veggie tray. I have my own plans for a gluten/dairy free version of the lasagna for me (maybe even the garlic bread). Not sure about dessert yet, but I already have a few options (see below). My family loves my lasagna and since discovering that the noodles don't have to be precooked, I have been much more comfortable making it. In fact, it is the only gluten-laden food I cook for them.

Recipes and links
Roasted Candied Yams
I haven't made this before (except in my mind), but I have had enough experience with roasting veggies that I am fairly confident this will turn out well. Quantities will vary depending on how much is needed. Using the Aunt Lorena Method for measuring.
- Peel and cut up yams into about 1" cubes
- Toss in olive oil and maple syrup
- Bake in a 375 degree F oven about 20 minutes or until fork tender
- Remove from oven and cover with tiny Kraft marshmallows (safely gluten free)
- Return to oven and toast marshmallows (watch carefully, you don't want to melt them)

Dessert
I have been collecting ideas for food, and one thing in particular I am going to try (read: tweak), is this recipe for Pumpkin Praline Trifle (follow the link). My plan is to go all homemade, using almond milk instead of dairy to make the puddings. I don't have a pastry bag anymore, but my favorite trick is to cut a small hole in the corner of a ziplock bag and use it. Cheap, easy, and really easy cleanup (file 13 it).

I found a recipe for dairy/nut free toffee bits at the bottom of this recipe for Toffee Pecan Apple Streusel: Gluten-Free, Egg-Free and I may or may not use it in the praline part. I haven't used the Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine before, and I know it has a titch of dairy in it, so I need to think about this part. My digestive system is a bit of a mess right now, and I don't want to use oats. I can get away with them sometimes, but now is not sometimes. I am confident I can come up with a yummy praline using pecans, but I am still working that out.

A gluten-free version of the Two-Minute Microwave Brownie recipe

Here is a pumpkin pie recipe, but it uses Earth Balance, and sadly I cannot stand that stuff. But perhaps you can. I am interested mostly in the possibilities with the cashew cream recipe at the bottom.

Other delights
Frozen Banana Bites: look delicious and easy to make. No tweaks necessary.
Pumpkin Hummus: different dippers needed, but the hummus recipe is fine.
Stove Top Peanut Butter Breakfast Food Candy (my name for it): This one only needs different cereal.
Home made Gum Drops: You need to be sure to use gluten-free food coloring.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie: This one is going to be used before Thursday; I promise you.
Banana Ice Cream: with a twist
Marshmallow Snowflakes: Any shape will do.
Cookie Dough Dip: You won't believe the base of this.