Category Archives: Celiac Disease
I truly still love writing. I’ve just been insanely busy. My load right now is somewhat lighter, which allows me the luxury of reflecting, here in my neglected blog. (Note: I have no idea why the sizes of fonts change throughout this post. Rather than taking the time to figure it out, I’m leaving it. Sorry-not-sorry.) Edited to add a few more things about Fiala, and to note that you may click on each picture to enlarge it, if you care to.
- My oldest son, Ethan, did receive the scholarship he was hoping for, to attend Arizona State University. I am part of a couple different groups where homeschooling parents support each other, especially where prep-for-college is concerned. I’m struck again and again how, as a homeschooling mom of a senior, it seems like the college admissions process is WAY more about how prepared and organized **I** have been as my child’s mother/teacher, and much less about how well-educated my son is. I’m happy to report that, even though I have discovered, in retrospect, that there are a hundred things I could have done better or differently, what Ethan and I did, together, was exactly right for what he needed. I’m feeling the mercy of God on that one, because truly, I’m not kidding about those “hundred things”. Ethan turns 18 this month. He isn’t altogether eager to transition to adulthood; it’s challenging for all of us, to be frank. I have told him, “We’ve never parented an adult before, please bear with us.” We’re all learning. It’s funny, because I have often urged him to DO HIS OWN RESEARCH AND MAKE HIS OWN DECISIONS, because, even though I’m complimented by the fact that he still likes the things I choose for him — it makes me feel like I really know him — it’s healthier for him to be at least a little more independent than where he’s comfortable. So, in light of this, I turned over to him the plans for his birthday party. And, whaddya know? He has planned it for a day when I’m going to be out of town. Not purposefully; that’s just the date that works best with his friends, who are hosting. However, it’s kind of good news/bad news, “You took charge? GREAT! But you left me out of it completely?? Sad face.” LOL!
Grant is my son who will be 16 later this summer. I don’t think I’ve blogged about this, but what I’m going to write about here, about Grant, is kind of a big deal to me. Grant is the opposite of Ethan; he has known for YEARS where he’d like his future to be, what he’d like to do, where he’d like to go to university… He really can’t wait to get on with his adult life. A big part of that includes his plans to attend the United States Air Force Academy. To be completely honest, up until nine months ago or so, I kind of blew that off. It’s hard to get into the USAFA. Really hard. It’s even harder for homeschoolers. And, they don’t just look at academics; they look at the whole person. I had decided, in my own mind, that the chances of Grant getting into the AFA were incredibly slim. However, early last fall, I started to feel convicted. I remember having dreams while in high school, and feeling like no one wanted to help me achieve them. I remember what it felt like to be blown off. So, I started checking things out, what I could do to help Grant gain ground on his goals. I decided that I didn’t want to be an impediment to his hopes; I wanted to assist him in every way possible. So, I signed him up for the Future Falcons at the USAFA website — which is kind of a Big Deal, as it is super-official; you need the child’s Social Security number, even! I downloaded the 21-page “Instructions to Precandidates” pdf and we mapped out his sophomore to senior years of high school accordingly. And, I looked into getting Grant involved in an Air Force-related program. I first thought of Junior ROTC… But, then, I heard about Civil Air Patrol Cadets from some other homeschooling moms. Long story short, Grant has only been in CAP Cadets for a little over six months, but he is excelling. He’s actually at a week-long semi-boot-camp experience called “Encampment” at Fort Huachuca as I type this. Grant still has a long way to go, and many smaller goals to achieve before we can even apply to the Academy. But, all of us feel pretty good about his chances, which is 180° from where we were, about a year ago. In this coming school year, Grant’s junior year, he will be taking two classes at KEYS — a two-day homeschool co-op — and the rest at home. Grant will be taking Honors Chemistry and College Lit and Composition. Frankly, these are two teaching-intensive classes, and I was looking to outsource the most mom-dependent classes for Grant. Additionally, we’re looking at having Grant take all of his classes for his senior year at a local community college, and we wanted to ease his transition. Other than American History, Grant won’t need much from me in the coming school year; his other subjects — French, Economics, Algebra II, and a couple of others, won’t need a lot of input from me. I’m totally OK with that.
My son Wesley will be in 9th grade in the fall, which hardly seems possible. He’s the youngest of our three sons, and it is a challenge for me to not think of him as “little”. He has had a massive growth spurt this past year, and his voice has dramatically deepened. Whether I’m ready or not, Wesley is no longer little. He is an excellent big brother to our toddler, Jeanie. He’s in the teen youth group at church. It just feels odd to me, still. Through much thought and research and prayer, we have decided to try Wesley at an “brick and mortar” school for this coming fall. None of our kids have ever gone to a “real” school before. But… I have long felt that I just don’t quite speak Wesley’s educational language. He hasn’t suffered under my instruction, and testing shows he is on course or ahead for his grade level. However, I don’t feel like I’m best-suited to maximize his potential, since his potential is in areas where I’m not strong. There is a charter school (publicly funded, privately run) less than a mile from us; I have checked them out before, and I like their literature-based, liberal arts approach. It’s a small school: this coming year, they’ll very likely have less than 150 students, only 9th – 11th graders. Most kids bring their own lunches (which seems trivial, but with Wesley’s celiac disease, dairy allergy, and peanut allergy, I didn’t want him to feel like he’s the odd man out, bringing his own lunch every day). And then, a good friend of ours took a job as the English teacher there. This man is everything you’d hope for in a teacher: brilliant, kind, patient, thoughtful, a good leader…. I do believe he’d be an excellent teacher for Wesley for English, which has long been Wes’ poorest subject. The daughter of that teacher, as well as another friend of Wesley’s, will also be attending the school. My husband Martin and I have discussed, toured the school together, talked on the phone with the principal, e-mailed back and forth with staff, read every click on the school’s website, and PRAYED. However, neither of us have felt any strong inclination or direction from God. We both feel like He’s saying, “All right. It’s up to you. You can give it a shot.” I’d feel a thousand times better if I had heard something more specific than that. But… It’ll do, for now. This next week, I’ll be enrolling Wes.
This past year was our busiest ever, for school. With Ethan as a senior, Grant as a sophomore, and Wes in 8th grade, there were far too many days when Audrey (who just finished 3rd grade) and Fiala (who just finished 1st) would just do seat work — phonics, math, journal, and a couple of other subjects where they can work largely independently, with little help from me. In other words: the bare minimum. I have no doubt that the girls’ educational skills are up to par, or perhaps beyond their typical peers. However, I want a richer, more robust school experience for them. With Ethan at college, Grant working mostly-independently, and Wesley enrolled in a charter school, I’m VERY MUCH looking forward to a hands-on school year for the two “big” girls: art projects, science experiments, field trips, actually READING THE READ-ALOUDS in our curriculum! It should be a wonderful year. As stated in the caption of the pic at left, Audrey — who turned nine years old a couple of months ago — is artsy, funky, fun, and LOUD. All the boys did Rosetta Stone French this year, and Audrey joined in, as well. I am tickled to hear her lovely little French accent. It’s charming. Fiala, who is six years old, is loving, thoughtful, intense, unique, and can be petulant and impulsive. She loves swimming, loves playing dress up and changing her clothes in general — her clean, folded laundry stack is ALWAYS taller than anyone else’s. She loves waking up earlier than any of the other children and coming into my bed to “snug” with me. It doesn’t usually happen like that, but it’s a good day for Fi when it does. All in all, she is a delight of a child, my little green-eyes-freckle-nose, as I often call her. If Fiala was in a public school, she would have been in Kindergarten this last year, as she has a late-fall birthday. That seems crazy to me, as she was well-ready for first grade work.
Jean will be two years old next week, which also seems crazy. I tell her that if it wasn’t for her screeching in restaurants and playing with her poop, she’d be a perfect child. Seriously: up until now, my sixth child, I have had NO children interested in their poop. Jean, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to understand what “gross” means. So, when she takes a nap, I have to put this ONE outfit on her, every time — it’s a BabyGap long-legged, button-up, one-piece, short-sleeved cotton romper. It’s the only thing that doesn’t allow access to her diaper area. Actually, “Pull-Up area”, as she is nearly completely potty-trained. We went from cloth diapers to early potty training in December, and I rejoiced, but it has taken her A Very Long Time to be serious about it. She just isn’t serious. She is a joyous little bundle of… everything. She’s still chubby and overall large for her age. She has a passion for Bubble Guppies, swimming, and dancing. She is bossy. Charmingly bossy. “Hum!” she will demand, which is Jeanie-speak for, “Come!” She will pull on your hand and do everything she can to make you comply. Or, “Hi! Hi!” she will insist, patting the seat next to her. For unknown reasons, “Hi! Hi!” means, “You sit HERE, NOW!” Or, “Tiss!!” meaing, “Kiss!” Then, “O’er side!!” Meaning, “I want a kiss on the other cheek, as well!” We all adore Jean.
- This past spring just about did me in. I always felt like families who couldn’t eat dinner together were doing something wrong. Well, guess what? We became that family in 2015. Sunday nights, Martin often has events at church to attend. Monday nights, I take Grant to CAP Cadets and usually sit in a nearby coffee shop, grading papers for the 2.5 hrs of CAP. Tuesday nights, Martin led worship at a weekly small group. I was leading worship just on Wednesday nights, until a group got too big and needed to multiply, but didn’t have a worship leader. I agreed — just for the spring — to lead worship in that group, as well. So, from the end of February to the beginning of June, I was gone both Wednesday and Thursday nights. Additionally, I started hosting a CSA/farm share again for a local organic farmer, every Wednesday. I had kind of taken an six-month hiatus, but started up again in April. And, Ethan works three nights a week at Sprouts. Martin has a fairly long commute, and often isn’t home until 6:00 or so… It became like passing the baton, and the 30 minutes we’d have together before one of us needed to head back out the door was usually not at the dinner table. When you have a family of eight, dinner is loud and usually fun, but it really isn’t the place for Martin and I to connect. I’d have dinner made, but we usually didn’t sit down together. Homeschooling, church, CAP Cadets, three weekly small groups, the CSA, Martin’s commute, Ethan’s work… Lordy, I was stretched. But, small groups take a break for the summer and school is DONE, so my load is infinitely lighter. I feel much freer!!
- My other big things for the spring are: my garden — which is a scaled-down version of my original vision. I have one 8′ x 12′ bed in, and it’s growing wonderfully. I’m working daily (or nearly so) to put in a walk around the bed, and hope to have a second bed ready for mid-August planting. It is so hot here (yesterday hit 115°!!!!) that there is little that will grow in the heat of mid-summer. The bed that is growing, I planted in late April. I can’t really sow anything else until there is hope for cooler temperatures. I have sunflowers, two kinds of melon, Armenian cucumbers, okra, two kinds of heat-tolerant green beans, summer squash, and a winter squash growing, plus a variety of flowers. I also have way too many volunteer tomato plants, whose seed came from my compost, I suppose. I have transplanted as many as possible, replanting and giving away about 20 tomato plants. There are still far too many tomato plants growing in the garden — growing too closely with the other plants. It’s not really the right time to grow tomatoes here — ideally, I would have had them in by January or February. But, I can’t bear to yank them. We’ll see what happens. My garden gives me joy, exercise, and a sense of fulfillment. It keeps me sane. To me, gardening really is a kind of therapy.Of course, all of this is barely scratching the surface. There is much more happening in our home… An upcoming camping trip, me traveling to the Portland area for a girlfriends’ weekend, sewing projects, lots of canning, Bible studies, small and large challenges and triumphs, a continuing home remodel, birthdays — including my own, baseball, me going low-carb again to lose weight, books to read, and more. But, I will call it a day and go swimming with my kids.Blessings to you and yours.
I’ll admit it: I crave junk food from time to time. Lately, what has been haunting my wishful ponderings has been the sickly sweet orange chicken dish, found at “fast casual” Chinese restaurants, like Panda Express. I last had Panda’s orange chicken more than ten years ago, and I still remember… If there was a gluten-free version sold somewhere, I’d probably gobble it up. So, perhaps it’s best for my sugar-intake that I haven’t found it anywhere.
A couple of days ago, a bloggy friend sent me a recipe for Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking. Perhaps you’ve seen it; it’s been making the rounds like wildfire, thanks to some fabulous pictures and Pinterest. I looked at it and thought, “That is a LOT of honey.” I buy semi-local honey, from The Honeyman in Prescott Valley, Arizona. It’s raw, thick, and amazingly delicious. It’s also expensive. My thought was, “A cup of honey is worth roughly $2.75.” I’m sorry, but that’s too much invested, honey-wise, into one recipe.
I also thought, “Two pounds of chicken? That’s not going to feed my family.” Along those lines, my friend Tina mentioned that she had doubled the chicken and the recipe had still turned out well.
Another thought: “KETCHUP??? In an already sweet recipe?? Hmmm… I’m not going to do that. Tomato paste and apple cider vinegar would be better.”
Then, “Only a half cup of onion? Crockpotted onions are amazing. Needs more onion.”
And then, I looked in my freezer and saw a half container of orange juice concentrate that I keep specifically for cooking. The gears in my brain, especially the ones marked Fiddling with Recipes, started whirring.
And the resulting recipe was so different than the original that, while I freely admit I used it as a launch pad, I thought I could probably safely call it a new recipe.
The resulting recipe was also AMAZING and TASTY. When I sampled the first completed spoonful, I about melted. So perfect. So, so perfect. Granted, it’s not as sweet as Panda’s orange chicken; I think you’d need to throw in two or three cups of sugar to accomplish that. However, it’s orangey-enough and sweet-enough to satisfy the cravings. I was a bit afraid that it would be too spicy for my little girls, ages 4 and 6. They made comment about the spiciness, but each of them simply picked up a cup of water and braved their way through, as the flavor was compelling enough to keep eating. Everyone — all seven of us — really loved this recipe. It received thumbs up and requests for me to make it again in the future.
One more recipe note: You may notice that ½ teaspoon of citric acid is called for. “Wha…?” may be your response and you may be tempted to omit it. PLEASE DON’T. Let’s call it the Secret Ingredient. Citric acid enables you to taste the tang of the oranges. It’s a must. If you have a Sprouts in your area, you can find it in the bulk spice section for less than a dollar per ounce. It can also be found in the canning section of any well-stocked grocery store. Or, if you have a cheese-making store nearby, they will certainly stock it, as well.
OK. One more recipe note: The only mixed reviews were about the cooked orange peel in the recipe. Some loved it, some picked them out.
Spicy Orange Chicken (Crockpot, Gluten-Free, Casein/Dairy-Free)
Prep time: About 10 minutes.
Cook time: Four hours
8-10 fresh or thawed boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4-6 chicken breasts (3-3½ pounds)
sea salt and cracked pepper
one medium onion, chopped
½ cup honey
½ cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste — 1 tsp will make it noticeably spicy but not HOT)
1 small orange, divided use
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 lb.)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
5 tsp corn starch
1/3 cup water
½ tsp citric acid
2 tsp sesame seeds
3 green onions (scallions) chopped
2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 cups water
Cut chicken pieces in half, lightly season with salt and pepper, and place in the bottom of a Crockpot. Turn Crockpot on high.
Chop onion and place on top of the chicken.
In a glass bowl, gently heat honey in a microwave until thin. (Alternately, you can place the container of honey in a pan of hot water until warmed through.) Into the warmed honey, whisk the orange juice concentrate, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Pour atop the chicken and onions. Cover and cook on high for two hours.
Slice the orange in half, and slice each half very thinly. Set aside half of the slices for garnish. After the chicken has cooked for two hours, add the remaining slices to the simmering chicken, stirring to mix. Turn Crockpot to LOW. Cook for one hour.
After the chicken has cooked for an hour (for a total of three hours), the chicken should be very tender. Break up the pieces, still in the Crockpot, with a wooden spoon. In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup water, the corn starch, and citric acid, combining well. Stir into the simmering chicken, mixing well. Then, stir in the chopped carrots and red bell pepper.
As brown rice needs to cook for about 45 minutes, start it now: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the brown rice and four cups of water. Bring to boil, then cover and turn heat to low, simmering the brown rice for 45 minutes.
Continue to cook the chicken and veggies on low for an additional hour (a total of four hours), stirring occasionally, breaking up more chunks of chicken as you stir until you have a shredded consistency, as in the picture above.
Ladle shredded chicken, veggies, and sauce into a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining orange slices, sesame seeds, and chopped green onion. Serve over hot, cooked brown rice.
In some ways, the clichéd accusation is true: my homeschooled children are sheltered. Two events happened in the last 24 hours, though, that made me chuckle while thinking, “Being sheltered isn’t such a bad thing.”
- Yesterday, I took the five children to the Prescott area, about an hour and a half north of here. Among other things, we picked up my nephew and went to Costco. So, I had six children, ages 3 – 16, in the store with me, and everyone was fabulous. I was so pleased with how smoothly everything was going, and wanted to bless them. So, I decided that everyone could have a frozen yogurt or a berry smoothie. Oh, I laughed as my children inadvertently reminded me how infrequently we do this sort of thing — both because of cost, the sugar, and because who knows what’s in “yogurt” at Costco?? I usually avoid that sort of stuff like the plague. But, this was a special occasion. “Chocolate, vanilla, or swirl?” I asked each child. “What’s swirl?” replied two of them — my six-year-old, Audrey, and my 15-year-old, Ethan. Swirl. They didn’t know what swirl was. Adding to Audrey’s confusion was the whole topic of “yogurt.” She is familiar with plain, whole milk yogurt, which she very often has for/with her breakfast. “Yogurt can be ice cream??” she marveled. Once we got it sorted out what swirl and frozen yogurt was, we could proceed. Ethan and Audrey both decided to try this novelty of an idea: swirl. I had chocolate and gave Fiala (my three-year-old, who has almost kicked a systemic, REALLY BAD candida albicans yeast infection) six little bites. Everyone else chowed down, and by the end, two of my children were saying it was too sweet and they had a stomach ache. Ha! It was a learning experience for all of us, and a really good ~$8.50 spent.
- Yesterday, we also received a package from Riega Foods for us to review*. Now, this isn’t the official review, but I had to share: I wanted to finish cleaning bathrooms before getting lunch ready, and the clock was ticking, especially since I sat down after being 80% done and chatted with my sister for a half-hour on the phone, which I absolutely do not regret. 😀 My oldest, Ethan, was especially interested in the cheese sauce mixes, and asked if he could make some macaroni and cheese for lunch. I thought this might be a good idea, especially since my dairy-free child is gone at a friend’s house for the day. Well, we didn’t quite have enough of the right sort of gluten-free noodles to make a whole meal of it, but I decided that he could work on that to be a “lunch snack” while I finished cleaning the bathrooms. Now, you need to understand something: Ethan is my sous chef. He is a great hand at food prep: washing, chopping, slicing, stirring, flipping, mixing, pretty much anything I need him to do at the cutting board and the stove top. Very often, I’m the brains behind making a meal, and he’s the brawn, doing a good portion of the actual work. So, it’s not like he’s inexperienced in the kitchen. However… he continued to come to me to ask me a question or two or three about the process of making what is the (almost) natural equivalent of Kraft Mac & Cheese — powdered mix combined with ¼ cup milk and a couple of tablespoons of butter. I was partly annoyed that he was having difficulty with such a simple kitchen task when it dawned on me, “He has very little experience following the directions on a package!!!” We make virtually everything from scratch, and I can’t remember the last time a “cheese sauce mix” was in our home!! He’s more accustomed to, “Slice these ¼-inch thick and sauté them in butter.” I finally had to stop what I was doing, and go over in great detail how to make boxed pasta. I also completely abandoned my annoyance, and was amused and rather pleased that, in his fifteen years of life on this planet, he has virtually no experience with “cheese sauce”.
*Stay tuned for a whole review and a giveaway!!!!
Thus ends the most French-filled blog post I think I’ve ever written.
I’m not a real stickler with labels. PEOPLE-labels, that is. Ingredient labels I do read, without fail. But, having a label helps, sometimes, when hunting for diet-compliant resources. Thanks to this article from medical doctor and true nutrition expert, Dr. Cate, I now can call myself a “Herder-Gatherer Paleo” adherent. That’s plants, meats, and a bit of dairy. Most of those who eat Paleo don’t eat any dairy. I also eat some legumes, which most Paleo folk don’t. I don’t really care about that, though. I don’t care about strict adherence, either. For instance, many people who eat Paleo wouldn’t eat rice vinegar because it’s made from rice (a grain) or white vinegar because it’s made from a grain (corn). I think any diet can be taken to such extremes that it becomes silly and prohibitive. I’m not going there. For me, what matters is, “Is it healthy?” more than, “Does such-and-such website say I should eat it?”*
The net result, though, is that I need to alter pretty much any recipe I find to suit my needs, tastes, and what I will/won’t eat. And what’s on hand in my fridge and pantry. And what can be made for reasonable cost, given that we have seven people in our home. And that said seven people can/will eat what I make, at least a majority of them.
This recipe is wholly inspired by my friend Kim of GF Real Food. I went over to her house a few weeks ago and was impressed by how quickly she whipped up a caesar salad from scratch. She also clued me into the 2.5 lb bags of washed romaine lettuce from Costco that are $3.99 per bag. AND, I made the recipe in a mini food processor that she passed onto me, when she got a shiny new one. 🙂 Thank you, Kim! I probably could have asked her for her recipe… instead, I went hunting online. And, while I found several good recipes, no ONE suited my needs, which included using Pecorino Romano (made of 100% sheep’s milk) in lieu of parmesan. I love me some good, sharp parmesan, but my 10yo son, Wesley, can’t have any cow dairy (unless it’s raw, which is another story). Also, caesar dressing is traditionally made with balsamic vinegar, which I simply didn’t have in my pantry. And so on. By the time I was done, I had so completely altered the original recipe that I think I can call it a new one.
A few notes:
- The Yuck Factor: Yes, it has raw egg yolk. The acid in the recipe essentially “cooks” the yolk, sort of like ceviche.
- The Carb Count: Unless the vinegar you use has sweetener of some sort, there are virtually no carbs in this dressing.
- The Revelation: I am rather embarrassed that I never realized that real caesar dressing is pretty much just a fancy aioli, or homemade mayonnaise.
- The Roasted Garlic: The recipe calls for roasted garlic cloves. To roast: Break apart a head of garlic, but do not peel. Loosely gather a piece of aluminum foil around the cloves, and place in a 325°F oven for about 45 minutes. Or, like me, roast it for 30 minutes, turn the oven off, and let the garlic sit in there for another hour or so. To open, just squeeze the top of the clove. The cloves should be butter-soft and light tan in color.
- The Lettuce: Traditionally, caesar dressing is served over romaine lettuce. If you use four cups of romaine (which is essentially two large servings), that will give you about 2g net carbs and 4g fiber.
- The “Croutons”: Traditionally, caesar salads have croutons. To make it gluten-free, and simply so, I served it with farinata, a grain-free flatbread that I still adore, even though I’ve been making it nearly every day of my life for the last 2½ years or so. One-eighth of the recipe will give you 10g net carbs and 4g fiber.
- The Protein: I also pan-seared some sea-salted chicken breast, chopped it, and added it warm to the salad. The dressing, the chicken, the farinata… Ah! It all combined for a gloriously delicious meal that ALL OF US loved, from adults to wee children. Well, “adult”, rather. My hubby couldn’t have it, as it’s not Daniel Fast*-compliant. He had plain lettuce and farinata. And some garden tomatoes and cucumbers. And pan-seared extra-firm tofu.
- The Cost: (02.02.12 — edited to update costs. I went to TJ’s last night, and either the price had gone down on anchovies, or I remembered incorrectly. Corrections made.) Given the amount of olive oil, anchovies, and Pecorino Romano cheese in this recipe, it’s fairly pricey for a homemade concoction. I buy olive oil at Trader Joe’s, $5.99 for a 1 liter bottle of Spanish olive oil (my fave). They have even less expensive olive oil at T.J.’s, too. I also get anchovies there,
$1.99$1.49 for a 2 oz tin in olive oil. And, I purchase Pecorino Romano there, too! It’s $6.79 per pound, and one cup shredded is about 1/8 pound, so that’s $0.85. So, this recipe costs about $4.35$3.85 for the nearly-two-cups it produces. Compared to store-bought, especially natural store-bought, that’s a fair price. Most salad dressings are in 8 or 12 oz bottles, and this makes almost 16 oz. Still, it’s not cheap. It’s special occasion. 🙂 Added all together: half a package of afore-mentioned lettuce ($2), 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale ($3), farinata (cost is negligible, but let’s call it $0.50), plus the dressing at $4.35$3.85 = Dinner for 6 for $9.85$9.35. That’s more than I would typically spend on one night’s dinner, but again, definitely worth it, on occasion.
Pecorino Romano Caesar Dressing
makes nearly 2 cups
Time: About five minutes
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (also from Trader Joe’s! No preservatives, all natural.)
- 2 oz tin of anchovies in olive oil
- 8 cloves roasted garlic
- ¼ cup rice vinegar (or other vinegar of your choice)
- 1 Tbsp preservative-free lemon juice
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 2.5 oz)
- 2 Tbsp water, if necessary
- Freshly cracked pepper, to taste.
- Into a food processor or blender, measure egg yolks, Dijon mustard, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Pecorino Romano cheese, reserving 2 Tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Pulse to mix thoroughly.
- If resulting dressing is thicker than you’d prefer, add optional water, a couple of teaspoons at a time, until you reach the consistency you desire.
- Sprinkle remaining Pecorino Romano on top of dressed salad. Top, also, with cracked pepper to taste.
*I’ve been having a disagreement with my husband about this. He’s on a Daniel Fast, which he typically does for 2-4 weeks at a time, twice a year. In general terms, a Daniel Fast is a whole foods, vegan diet, based upon the example of a few upper-crust Hebrew men, including Daniel, who were taken into captivity by the Babylonians, and challenged their captors to test their health after an all-veggie diet. In the past, my hubby has allowed himself a few natural sweeteners, like honey, and not been too particular about one tiny ingredient or another. However, this go-round, he has been following the protocol of a few websites devoted to the Daniel Fast, and they say that one shouldn’t have any vinegar, either, since it’s fermented, as was the wine that Daniel forewent. I think that’s too nit-picky. However, my husband feels more comfortable following the rules to the letter, even if — as my point is — who are those folks to make the rules??? But, to each his own. I do understand how one can really long for guidelines, boundaries, and it become important not to cross them. I kind of used to be like that. 🙂
I came up with this recipe for a friend whose husband has been put on a really restrictive diet. At first, I was disappointed, because my intention was to make a dough for rollable cinnamon rolls, but the dough was too wet so I had to glop it all in the baking dish. My husband, however, vetoed my plans to rework the recipe. “It’s perfect,” he proclaimed, stabbing his fork into the air as an exclamation.
Usually I make a recipe a number of times to work out the kinks… but after excellent results on the second time making it, I decided to go ahead and post the recipe. I’m thinking I’m going to make this for Christmas morning. I read up on Monkeybread, and I think the recipe would work in that style, too — in a Bundt pan, maybe even starting with frozen dough. I’ll have to work on that, though.
This recipe uses no refined sugar: honey and/or agave syrup are the only sweeteners. I used egg whites, as my friend’s hubby can’t have yolks; I think it would work without eggs entirely — if you try it without eggs, up the water content and leave a comment to let me know how it worked. I used sweetened, dried cranberries, but any dried fruit would work (and would be necessary to make it truly sugar-free). I used almonds, but pecans would work fine, too.
Last caveat: The flours. I use my favorite trio of gluten-free flours in this recipe, but you may find others that work just as well or better. Post a comment if you alter the flours and let me know the result!
- Garbanzo flour is made by Bob’s Red Mill, or you can find it in any Asian market as besan, chana dal, chickpea flour, or gram flour. Expect to pay about $5-6 for a 4-pound bag of garbanzo flour at the Asian market. My favorite brand is Brar, which is a product of Canada (and which used to be labeled as gluten-free and is no longer… though there isn’t any cross-contamination warning on it).
- Mung bean starch is very common in Korean cooking; most Asian markets are organized by nationality/region, so you’d find it on the Korean aisle. Or Chinese. I’ve purchased it from both. It’s also known, cryptically, as green bean powder or green bean starch, since mung beans are small and green. Mung bean starch is a bit pricey, at around $2.50 – 3.50 per pound in the store, and about double that online.
- You can find gluten-free oat flour in many well-stocked grocery stores, or mill your own in a blender, sifting it through a wire sieve afterward.
Cranberry-Almond Stickybread (click for printable PDF)
About an hour and ten minutes from start to finish
Makes 15 servings
- Grease a large baking dish (I use a 9″ x 13″ Pyrex, though size is flexible. I also use Spectrum Organic non-hydrogenated Shortening to grease my pans.)
- Turn on your oven to 350°F for only 2 minutes. Turn off. This provides a warm location for dough to rise.
1¾ cup warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp honey
- Gently combine water, yeast, and honey, and let sit (proof) for ten minutes
1½ cups garbanzo flour
1½ cups oat flour
1½ cups mung bean starch
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp xanthan gum
- Whisk together these dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
4 egg whites
- When the yeast mixture is done proofing, whisk in 4 egg whites, stirring briskly to combine.
- Add the yeast and egg mixture to the flour mixture, whisking quickly and thoroughly to combine. Set aside to rest about five minutes.
½ – ¾ cup honey OR agave syrup OR a combination of the two
2 tsp cinnamon
- Warm the honey to liquefy using a microwave for 10-15 seconds, or setting the container in a pan of very warm water.
- Stir briskly to combine the cinnamon with honey.
½ cup almond meal
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds (or other chopped nut)
½ cup sweetened, dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
- Stir the dough, then with two spoons, drop spoonfuls of dough into the baking dish, using half to two-thirds of the dough.
- Drizzle about half of the honey-cinnamon mixture over the lumps of dough, then top with about 1/3 cup of the almond meal and all of the slivered almonds and dried cranberries.
- Drop the remaining dough in small lumps over the first layer. Drizzle with remaining honey mixture and sprinkle with remaining almond meal.
- Place into slightly warm oven or other warm place and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Remove baking dish, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and preheat oven to 375°F for about ten minutes, for a total rising time of 30 minutes. Dough will have doubled in size (or just a little less-than-doubled).
- Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until top no longer feels spongy when touched lightly, and top is a nice, golden brown, and honey is sizzling along the sides of the dish.
- Cut into 15 servings. Serve warm, with a side of dairy-free ice cream, or topped with whipped cream if you can have dairy. (Tastes good cold, too, on the off-chance that there are leftovers.)
A friend just asked me for a recipe for stuffing. I don’t have one written down, but here’s what I do, and it is SO tasty. I always get compliments on this stuffing, even from those who don’t have to be gluten-free:
- Cook up some quinoa. Use 2 c. quinoa and about… three cups water, I believe. I always use less water than the package suggests. Set aside.
- Sautee lots of veggies: onions, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and sometimes other veggies, too, using a lot of olive oil (about 1/4 cup) and a fair bit of salt (1-2 tsp). This is just a suggestion, but I would use a whole, chopped onion; 6-8 cloves minced garlic; 5-8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms; and 1-2 cups chopped celery. Light-colored root veggies like rutabaga or carrots work well, too, as do cubed firm winter squash, like butternut. Steam those veggies — 2 cups or so — on the stove or in the micro until half-cooked, and stir into the sauteed veggies.
- When the veggies are almost done, add minced fresh herbs (often, around Thanksgiving, you can find combo packages that have several herbs inside) like sage and thyme…. Use at least 3 Tbsp minced herbs. Remove from heat.
- Then, combine quinoa with the veggies & herbs, and stuff that inside the turkey. You’ll probably have to lace up the turkey, because the quinoa stuffing falls out more easily than “normal” stuffing.
- For vegan stuffing, or for any stuffing that won’t fit into your turkey, bake in a well-greased bowl, covered, in a slow oven (325°). Bake at least 90 minutes.
- Keeps well for a long time in a warm oven, until you’re ready to serve!
In nearly nine years of almost daily gluten-free baking — both my recipes and countless others’ — this is the closest to bread perfection I’ve ever achieved.
- This recipe consistently produces a slicing bread that is fabulous right out of the oven. Go ahead and slather butter (or your spread of choice) onto a fresh, steaming slice; the bread does not gum up when trying to slice it when it’s still hot. (For honest disclosure, if you want VERY THIN slices, like ¼” thick, it is best to wait until the bread cools.)
- No more collapsed loaves!! The bread rises great and only falls/shrinks a VERY SMALL bit during baking.
- No more brick-like loaves: The top is actually ROUNDED!
- This recipe produces a nicely-browned, crusty, chewy crust.
- The taste is excellent — no overwhelming, odd taste. It’s subtle enough to use for both sweet and savory. Yet, it’s complex enough to not taste bland or dull.
- The texture is both sturdy and elastic: It stands up to spreading, but does not readily fall apart whilst eating the sandwich.
- The interior of the bread is moist (but never gummy), and not crumbly.
- The bread is also great for toasting (though unlike many other g.f. loaves, does not require toasting).
- It is 2/3 wholegrain, high in fiber, but is light in color.
- This recipe also produces a bread that is higher in protein than most gluten-free breads, more equivalent to wheat-based bread. The only starch used in this bread is mung bean starch (see the simple flour mixture recipe here), which is remarkably low-glycemic, due to its very high amylose content (32% amylose in mung bean starch, compared to 0.5% in corn starch).
Does this sound too good to be true?? Fair reader, it is not. I have churned out dozens of these loaves in the last couple of weeks, and have yet to be disappointed (unless I veered from the recipe in order to tinker with it, unsuccessfully).
I have not tried to freeze it; we eat it too fast. I’ve only eaten it when the bread is up to two days old, so I really don’t know how long it lasts, long-term. If you make the bread and have any comments about preserving it, do let me know.
Another note: This bread works best in a smaller loaf size.
Super-Simple GFCF Wholegrain Sandwich Bread
(click here for a simplified comment-free PDF of the recipe; the following recipe is notated with suggestions)
Requires about 90 minutes’ time from start to finish.
- 3¼ cups Simple Sandwich Bread Flour Mix
- 1 tsp sea salt — not any less
- 1¾ cup water, heated to 95° – 110° F
- 1½ Tbsp granulated sugar (that is, 1 Tbsp + 1½ tsp)
- scant Tbsp active dry yeast (that is, about 2¾ tsp)
- 1½ Tbsp olive oil (that is, 1 Tbsp + 1½ tsp)
- Spray olive oil, or about an additional ½ tsp
- In a glass or glazed pottery container, add sugar and yeast to the warm water. Stir gently to moisten the yeast. Set aside to proof for ten minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, the mixture should have a fairly thick layer of small bubbles on top.
- Put the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Turn the oven on to preheat to 350°F for ONLY TWO MINUTES. Turn off oven.
- Line a small loaf pan (4½” x 8½”) with nonstick foil.
- With a whisk, combine flour mix with salt.
- To the proofed yeast mixture, gently mix in 1½ Tbsp olive oil. Add to flour and salt mixture.
- With a whisk, very quickly mix liquid mixture with flour mixture. Whisk briskly until well-combined and mixture thickens. You may still see some very small clumps.
- Set the bowl aside to rest for five minutes. After five minutes, whisk again until smooth. (Without the resting period and additional whisking, you will likely end up with small clumps of garbanzo flour in your finished loaf.)
- With a silicone spatula, turn batter into the lined loaf pan. Tap the pan on countertop to help it settle. Spray top of loaf with olive oil (alternately, lightly drizzle the loaf with oil). Using a clean silicone spatula, pat and form the loaf until the batter is evenly distributed and slightly rounded.
- Set the pan in the (pre-warmed) oven, uncovered, and close the door.
- Let rise for 20 minutes, remove loaf. Set aside, uncovered. (If your home is really cold, place the rising loaf in a protected area, like inside the microwave.) Turn oven up to 400°F and preheat for ten minutes. Place loaf into heated oven, on a rack in the bottom third of the oven, bake at 400°F for 30 minutes until nicely browned. (For an extra-brown, crusty crust, bake an additional 5 minutes.)
- After baking, immediately remove the loaf from the baking pan — place it on a cooling rack or a wooden cutting board.
- Store lightly covered on the countertop for up to two days. Beyond 48 hours, refrigeration or freezing is recommended.
- Using the prescribed Flour Mixture, which includes mung bean starch, is an absolute MUST for the bread’s success. I have tried nearly countless variations of potato, tapioca, and/or corn starch, in addition to numerous other flours — two kinds of millet, sorghum, three kinds of rice flours, potato flour — and NOTHING works like the combination of mung bean starch, oat flour, and garbanzo flour to allow the loaf to rise, and to produce the finished texture of both the crust and the interior of the loaf.
- Due to variances in humidity in both the air and in your flours, you may find that you need to increase or decrease the water used in the recipe. If the loaf does not rise well, increase water by 1 Tbsp. If it rises so much that it spills out of the pan and doesn’t hold a rounded shape well and/or if it caves in or flattens out a little either during or after baking, decrease water by 1 Tbsp.
- I have tried this recipe using raw milk (both cow and goat) in lieu of water, and it just works best with water. If you want to try milk, decrease the liquid by at least 1 Tbsp. The milk will make the loaf brown even more; keep a closer eye on the time. It also lends to a more yellowish color in the interior of the loaf, the color of potato bread.)
- If you want to use a large loaf pan, the bread simply won’t keep its loft as well while baking. However, it still is a serviceable, tasty loaf. Use 4¼ cups flour mix, 1½ tsp sea salt, 2¼ cups water, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 T yeast. Let rise and bake for an additional five minutes each. All other instructions are identical.
If you try this loaf and have questions or comments — positive or negative — PLEASE comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I truly love feedback.
Look closely at the “all purpose” one. 🙂 I actually make the same AP flour, but now add one part garbanzo flour… and I only use half of the xanthan gum as described in the original post.
I’m finally 100% happy with my bread. Yes, it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, rice-free, potato-free, vegan, made with this homemade flour blend. Now, I just need to post the recipe. But that takes a while. Saturday, maybe?? Monday?? Stay tuned. My friend Kim (of Gluten Free Real Food) sampled the bread yesterday, and she said it was really good. 🙂
Yesterday, I turned all this basil (about ¼ of what I could have harvested from my garden) into little ice cubes, made by chopping washed leaves with a bit of olive oil in a food processor (a delightful, free hand-me-down from the afore-mentioned Kim), putting 1 Tbsp of the mixture into ice cube trays, and topping it with filtered water. It made 40 “ice” cubes, which I will happily add to soups, stews, sauces, etc., in the dead of winter, and think happy thoughts about my garden. I’m going to make some more this afternoon.
I worked this morning in my garden, staking my tomatoes, weeding, and making a general assessment of overall garden health… I was going to plant more carrots, but Fiala, my almost-three-year-old “planted” the seeds in the family room carpet yesterday. I have determined that all — or at least most — of my garden problems were simply from the intense heat. The days are still hot — usually hitting 105° daily — but the nights are relatively cooler — in the 70s or at least the low 80s. Now,
- my Mexican Grey Squash are growing very nicely. I still haven’t harvested any mature fruit, but there are about six squash growing healthy and strong… At least 2-3 of them should be ready to eat in another week or so.
- My pole green beans have recovered from serious heat stress and are growing fresh green leaves and blossoms.
- There are a total six green tomatoes on my eleven plants — don’t laugh! Up until now, I have harvested ONE tomato, and it was really small. So, I’m really delighted about my tomato plants — growing more robustly in the last few weeks than they have all summer.
- I also have 7-8 volunteer tomato plants sprouting up… I’m not sure if I’m going to have room for all those tomatoes! We’ll see.
- My green chile plant is blooming nicely.
- My Hopi Pumpkin plant is absolutely taking over the world — it’s about 10′ x 10′, and now it is finally producing some green pumpkins which are NOT dying, but actually growing bigger. I hope I get to reap some before I grow terribly annoyed by the prolific/invasive grower and root it out.
- I have carrots that are growing nicely.
- Red chard growing nicely, too, though it seems like the bugs REALLY like it, so I’m going to have to spray it with some organic pesticide… (I bought Raid Earth Options chrysanthemum-pyrethrin-based pesticide because I had a buy-on-get-one-free coupon. For the record, it discourages bugs for about three days, and you can’t let any overspray hit bees, or it’ll kill them. And, a garden needs its bees!!)
I’ve put up ten quarts of pickles in the last week or so, using cucumbers from the CSA/farm share to which I belong. Four in the first batch, six in the second batch, which I canned this morning. The first batch was WAY TOO SALTY, because of some vague wording in the recipe I was following coupled with me not being sharp enough to figure out the error. The best part of the too-salty pickles is the cloves of fresh garlic I threw in. YUM. I’m going to have to pickle me some garlic!! In the new batch, in each jar, I used ½ tsp dill weed, ¼ tsp each brown mustard seed, coriander seed, and black peppercorns. No garlic this time — not enough to spare! I look forward to eating my not-too-salty farm pickles.
This last bit isn’t really farm-y or even food-y. BUT, I’m pleased with myself, because it is a cheap way to make my home more pleasant. 🙂 My sister, who teases me unmercifully on topics ranging from my horse teeth to my hairy toes to my crunchiness and everything in between (I love her dearly and she keeps me humble), bewailed my sadly scentless laundry. I explained that we couldn’t do scented detergents or fabric softener because of Fiala’s skin issues. When she mourned for me, it really got me thinking about ways I could make my laundry smell pleasant and fresh without hurting Fiala. A few weeks ago, I was at Trader Joe’s and noticed their filter-paper enclosed lavender dryer sachets. Voila! Perfect. The $3.99 price tag made me grumble, but four packets which each last 6-10 loads… I figured the package would last me a month. Well, my local natural foods market (Sprouts, which is taking over the West — you may see one near you soon! It’s a good thing.) is running a 25% off their bulk products this week. They have a lovely wall of half-gallon jars full of spices and herbs, and I thought, “I wonder if they have dried lavender flowers? I could make my own dryer sachets!” Turns out, they DO carry lavender! Even on sale, it was $13-something per pound, so I tentatively filled up my little plastic ziploc baggie with what I figured was more than enough to make four sachets to do a little price comparison. The total cost??? FIFTY TWO CENTS. That’s it. And when buying lavender as an herb, it was taxed at the grocery rate (1.8%) instead of the general merchandise rate (≈9.8%, depending on the municipality). And, I already have a little cotton drawstring bag that I’m planning on using. So, I’ll have my gently lavender-scented laundry now, at 1/8 the cost. Ha! I feel pretty good about that one. Because I get excited about weird stuff like that.
And now, this post is so long, I guess I could have used the time it took creating it to have done the bread recipe.
I know, you’ve always wanted to try them. You have a deep-seated curiosity about them.
Well, let me pique your interest.
Have you ever made gluten-free bread that looked like a brownish brick? If you’ve done any g.f. baking and you answer, “No” to that, I’ll know you’re lying. 😀
I accidentally discovered the secret to lofty, round-topped, well-rising gluten-free bread, and it arose (ha!) from me trying to make a bread for my nearly three-year-old daughter, Fiala, who is still highly allergic to just about everything on the planet. The only grain she can tolerate is oats. I’ve known for a couple of years that she can handle most legumes, and I’ve long been making farinata and other quick breads from garbanzo bean flour.
Recently, though, on one of my frequent forays into a local large Asian market, I noticed a package of mung bean starch. I’d seen mung beans elsewhere in the store. You can buy them in their tiny, green-skinned natural state:
Or shelled and split:
Have you ever bought bean sprouts? They were probably from a mung bean. Have you ever eaten cellophane noodles (also known as bean threads or saifun)? Those are made from mung bean starch.
Mung beans are used a LOT in Asian cooking. The Wikipedia article is quite interesting, noting the many cultures who use mung beans, and the wide variety of foods made from mung bean — whole, husked and split, flour, starch — from savory to sweet.
So, anyway. I picked some up, and with fairly low expectations, crafted a Fiala-safe bread using little more than oat flour, garbanzo bean flour, and mung bean starch.
It rose very well, browned amazingly, sliced PERFECTLY — even right out of the oven, and tasted great.
I haven’t quite abandoned the idea of making bread from my other all-purpose flour mix, but for now, I’m very satisfied with the tasty bread made with this simple mix. And the bonus is that EVERYONE in my family — all seven of us — can eat this bread.
Since this is already so long, I’ll have to post the actual bread recipe sometime in the near future. In preparation for the recipe, though, whydontchya make the flour mix?
Mung bean starch (also known as green bean starch) can be a bit hard to find online… I buy it for about $2.10 at a local Asian market for a 1 lb package. Here it is on a site called Grocery Thai for $5.95 for a 500 gram (17.64 oz) package, almost triple the price of my local store. If you find a better supplier at a better price, PLEASE leave the URL in a comment.
So, the only bummer about this mix is that, as one of the ingredients is a bit obscure, if you don’t live somewhere close to an Asian grocery, it may prove to be cost-prohibitive. 😦
Without further ado, here is the flour mix recipe:
Simple Sandwich Bread Flour Mix
makes approximately 12 cups
4 cups mung bean starch
4 cups garbanzo flour
4 cups oat flour
2 Tbsp xanthan gum
Whisk to combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in the pantry (no need to refrigerate).
One more note about ingredients: I can find ALL of my flours at the Asian market: Garbanzo flour is also known as besan or chana dal and is widely used in Indian cooking. Oat flour can be found in the African foods section, called oat fufu (don’t laugh!). Both area also produced by Bob’s Red Mill, which probably has better standards regarding cross-contamination for gluten concerns, and are produced in the States. Inexplicably, the mung bean starch (made in China) is found in the Middle East aisle in my local store, but you may find it in the Korean section. If your local Asian grocery has English-language-challenged employees, you may want to print out what you’re looking for in several different languages, so you can ask for help. 🙂 Bob’s Red Mill also makes xanthan gum, though I buy mine in bulk at a natural foods grocery for about half the price of Bob’s.
OK. A second “one more note”: This flour would be considered corn-free, if it wasn’t for xanthan gum, which is usually made from a specific bacteria that is cultured on corn sugar. So, if you’re corn-allergic, depending on your sensitivity, you may be able to use this flour mix and the bread. I haven’t tried the mix with guar gum (made from a legume/seed). If you do, let me know!