Sunday, November 18, 2012

Welcome to my new Gluten Free life!

Wow.  Well, things change and people must change to adapt. There is a high probability that my dizziness and disequilibrium issues are caused by vitamin deficiencies which in turn are caused by malabsorption in the intestines due to the intolerance of wheat and gluten.  That sounds really medical doesn't it?  What I don't want you to think is that gluten causes dizziness.  It may have, but in an indirect way.  Removing gluten from my diet only fixes part of the problem.  We still have to deal with the vitamin deficiencies.
So I've been gluten free now for 13 days!  Has it been hard?  No, not really.  Remember, I have been dairy free for several years, so I already read labels, and I already make most of my food from scratch.  I have spent some time thinking through our daily meals and choosing things that we normally eat that don't have gluten at all.  We've had some great kabobs with roasted veggies, stews, Mexican dishes, stir fry with rice.  There seems to be an endless supply of meals that don't involve gluten, and we haven't even delved into the "gluten free" replacements all that much.  (I have tried some breakfast cereal, but don't really like them).  
The hardest part of gluten free in my world is the lack of cake.  
I did buy a gluten free cake mix.  I think it was $12, and it makes one 9 inch round cake.  I'm not sure I'd get more than 9 cupcakes out of that. I haven't tried it yet, it is in my "emergency" supply kit, for those dark desperate days.  What I did find though, is an amazing gluten free dairy free dessert that I had been introduced to many years ago when we lived in Texas.  There was a family there from Australia, and this was a "typical" Australian dessert.  My recipe just happens to involve chocolate!

Chocolate Pavlova (yes, like the drooling dogs....  aptly named)

6 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp corn starch
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp vinegar

Preheat oven to 275F
Line a cookie sheet or baking pan with parchment paper

In stand mixer, whip egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar a few tablespoons at a time, until addition is complete, meringue is glossy and peaks are STIFF.
Gently fold in sifted corn starch and cocoa powder, and vinegar, being careful to not deflate the meringue.
Pile onto parchment paper, approx 9 inches in diameter. It will spread when baking to about a 11 or 12 inch cake.

Bake in center of oven for approx 1 hour 10 minutes.  Pavlova should appear crispy and dry on edges, but remain soft and fluffy on the inside.  Turn off oven, and open the oven door slightly.  Cool in oven 30-60 minutes, then remove from parchment (carefully!) and place on serving plate.  Cool completely.

Serve with coconut whipped cream and berries on top.

To make coconut whipped cream, refrigerate can of coconut milk (high fat).  Separate cream from water.  Whip the cream gently with a whisk.  

If pavlova is prepared with cream and berries on top, it needs to be eaten immediately.  If kept separate, cover and refrigerate maximum overnight.  This is not a dessert you should make ahead of time.  It should be served on the day it is made.

Pavlova is now baked.  The oven door is open to let it cool gently.  
served with coconut whipped cream and raspberries

more pictures to come....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Frankencake- Where Pinterest goes Wrong

Don't you just love Pinterest?  All those great looking pictures for all those great tasting recipes?  Maybe Pinterest is just about looking at pictures.  I know that's what some people do, they spend hours upon hours just looking.  And drooling. I'm sure they drool. How can they not?
When Pinterest first became popular among my friends, I vowed to do more with it than just waste time.  After all, I was wasting so much time doing other useless things, I would need to be more effective in my time management skills to have more time to waste.  So I decided to actually MAKE the things I pinned on Pinterest.  It has been so lovely.  I've taken up quilting, and have baked and cooked some lovely meals.  It seemed like a dream come true.  Pinterest was making me better.
But then, everybody started pinning.  There were so many pins to choose from, its hard not to pin the same thing twice!  And now...  it appears that not all the recipes are as good as they look!  I've even seen some pins with little flags that say "Pinstrosity"!  A new word made up for these awful, miserable recipe failures. In fact, there's a whole website dedicated to these failures (see here) Well, I've had a few that were not as delicious as I would have expected, but I have to tell you about my friend Cracker, and her fantastic FRANKENCAKE!

Cracker's son (We'll call him Crumb) had a birthday.  He requested a cake based on a beautiful picture he found on Pinterest.  Cracker read through the recipe and thought to herself: is that a typo?  could there really be 1 1/2 cups of oil in a cake?  and 5 eggs?  and jello???  After a phone conversation, and consulting the not so good reviews of this recipe, Cracker doubled the recipe, except for the oil and egg.  Within a few hours, this is what I saw on Facebook:  

Today's life lesson: If a recipe looks like a disaster, walks like a disaster, and quacks like a disaster, then it IS a disaster. Worst thing I've ever baked!

I'm not sure what a disaster quacks like, but I needed to know more...  so another phone conversation to find out that the cake flopped out of the pans into the bottom of the oven during cooking, was flat in the middle, wouldn't come out of the pan, and tasted very oily, I asked her if she wanted a different recipe... maybe for something different.  But it was late, so she decided to save the cake, frost it, and present it like it were a masterpiece at the birthday dinner.  

Here's her pictures:

Figuring Gas-X might be the perfect after cake treat?

Happy Birthday Crumb! Hope you enjoy your 10 pound Frankencake (and the gas-x)

What a beautiful picture.  The cake is so perfect, green, and crooked.  
Are you curious as to which recipe this is?  This my friends, is Tricia Yearwood's Key Lime Cake.  You can find the recipe here.  Poor Heidi, if she does really bake, did you make this cake?  I also found the recipe on Food Network's site, and the comments there were quite poor too.  
You should know that Crumb politely claimed that the cake was "really good", and that other family members ate it up (some requesting seconds).  Sadly, I live too far away from Cracker and her family to have the opportunity to taste the Frankencake.  I can't tell you how sad I am.  Almost sad enough to buy the ingredients to make it flop in my oven...  but not quite.

Remember when I first started blogging, I said I'd love to be on Pinterest?  Well, not so much anymore.  I can tell you one thing. I will not be making any cakes that call for 1 1/2 cups of oil or jello.  Unless I've gone mad.  That could happen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tastes like Chicken! (crispy baked fish)

Fish isn't something we have at our house.  I love it, but it seems nobody else does.  Last week something changed.  Muffin went to a friend's house for dinner and she ate fish!  She came home and said:  Fish is good! It tastes like chicken!  She wasn't impressed when I told her that she used to eat fish sticks as a child, because I said it was chicken....  
While grocery shopping today, I wasn't going to let this pass. I picked up a big pack of wild haddock from Costco, while Sweetie says:  Muffin ate fish once, so you're making it for her again? YES.  That's the plan.  And I'm going to make it taste like chicken.

Crispy baked fish

3 haddock fillets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
cornflake crumbs
dried herbs (consider taragon, parsley, thyme)

Preheat the oven to 425F

Whisk mayo and lemon juice together, add pepper.  (I love fresh cracked pepper, so I used lots)
Cut the fillets into portion size pieces.  season lightly with salt.
Mix cornflake crumbs and herbs on a plate
Dip fish into mayo mixture, then into crumbs to coat.  Place on foil lined baking sheet, or on baking stone.  Bake at 425 15-20 minutes depending on how thick the fillets are.  They should easily flake with a fork.  


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pancakes for breakfast!

I really like pancakes.  But pancakes aren't easy anymore.  I remember the days when I could grab a bowl, a scoop of pancake mix, water and then the frypan and I was eating in no time.  And pancakes were foolproof.  That's what mixes are all about, right?  Well, after many days of complaining after breakfast, Cookie pointed out to me that the bag had something else written on it:  BUTTERMILK pancakes.  And in one of her classic "face that says it all" looks, she said; "so do ya think there's dairy in this mom???"  ACK!  why had I never read the bag before??  Its not like the bag from Costco was a small bag....
So today, I was craving pancakes for breakfast.  Actually, I've been craving maple syrup, of which we now have a large supply again.  Pancakes were my chosen vessel upon which to eat maple syrup, only because we have no bread for French Toast.  Looking at my breakfast board on Pinterest, I found this recipe, and thought I'd try it out.  I didn't print it off though, because the printer is out of paper, and loading paper would require a trip to the paper storage shelf in the basement, clearing clutter on the desk to get to the printer, loading the paper and then ensuring that I'm only printing the recipe, not the entire blog.  Too much effort.  Especially when my kitchen is just outside my office and I can come back and look at the screen, right?
Well, surprisingly, after a few mistakes in reading the recipe, my pancakes were deliciously fluffy and light!  Muffin thought so too.  

So here's my version:

In a mixing bowl add:
2 cups flour
3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt

In a large measuring cup add:
1 1/2 cups milk ( I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage)
3 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla

Whisk this all together, then add to the flour mixture.  Mix with a spoon until smooth.

Heat oil in stainless steel skillet until piping hot.  Gently drop pancake batter into pan making 3 inch pancakes. Reduce flame to medium under the skillet so the pancakes don't burn or brown too fast.  When the edges are golden and the top of your pancake is full of bubbles, gently flip them over. [The batter in the bowl will become fluffy and full of air.  Don't stir it to get rid of this air.  Leave it, and gently put it into the pan so that this leavening is somewhat conserved.  It will help make your pancakes super light and fluffy!] 

Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!

OOPS!!  I didn't take any pictures!!  I'll have to make some more this week and edit the blog!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What a busy few weeks!

Wow.  I can't believe summer is almost done!  It seems that since Cookie came home from Hawaii that time has been flying.  I have made many layer cakes and a few meals here and there, but I've been too busy eating them to take any pictures or blog about them!  Hopefully, that will change in a few weeks.  Last week, Cookie's boyfriend came for a visit, and this week has been appointments and cleaning, in preparation for a party on Saturday.  And next week, well, I'll be off to Iceland and England on an epic adventure known as my little sister's wedding.  Can't wait.  Maybe there will be pictures...  I think I need a more portable camera.

I promise to be back soon.  I'll be getting my quilt back out, and cooking and baking too! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!

Big birthday preparations and fun today.  Celebrating 19 years of having Cookie in our family!  What a treat!
In honour of this occasion, Muffin and I worked hard to create the perfect birthday cake!
We used this cake recipe, but changed out the milk for So Delicious Coconut Milk beverage, and the butter for Earth Balance.  Oh, and we made it lemon flavoured!! 
We made 2 round cakes first.  Then we made 24 cupcakes using the recipe posted here.  These are vanilla flavoured, just in case we get tired of eating lemon cake.
Cookie sent tagged us in Pinterest, so we could see this cake idea...  but she wanted a SHARK!!  Cookie loves sharks...
It was hard, but in the end, Muffin was the hero!  This is what we got:
Its a great white...  lemon shark!!

He has TEETH!!

With the extra round cake, Muffin made this!  So beautiful!

Of course, we sang Happy Birthday to Cookie in our best voices after dinner, and we cut the cake.  We cut the rosette cake, keeping the shark intact a little longer.  Pretty sure I'll be having shark for breakfast tomorrow...  


Oh, and please, support shark conservation efforts on behalf of Cookie, marine biology student/shark lover.

Monday, July 16, 2012

And the winner is......

Canadacole is the winner of the name the quilt contest!!  But let me tell you how this all played out...

As I posted a link on Facebook, that's where the names started coming... first name was Fields of Love, given by a dear friend who explained how the quilt reminded her of the perfect fields when flying over England.  I was drawn into her vision and thought so too. It reminded me of my trip to England a few years ago when I toured London and the surrounding areas with my sister on a weekend!  I began to think that the quilt reminded me of the perfectly manicured gardens at Hampton Court.  I was hoping someone might name it "my english garden", but that never came.
The next names were amazing too, as each one had a story that went with it.  They were all very touching, but it wasn't until canadacole posted Summer Oasis that I knew I had my quilt name.  (For a brief moment there, I thought Harry might be appropriate given the fact that I have puppy and guest puppy at the house and in my bed most mornings...) As a tribute to the fabric name, Oasis is very appropriate, but even more so with this hot hot weather we're having!  I'm not complaining, because this is the first hot summer in five years of living on the coast!  It's a shame to be so close to the beach and not have hot weather! During this heat wave, I've been in my cool basement- my oasis- working on this lovely quilt!  What a treat!  It will certainly bring hot summer memories once I have it completed.

Now, Canadacole lives a bit too far for me to just bake something and bring it over, so I offered the set of handmade cards.  Wanna see them?  They are quite pretty.... I hope she thinks so too!

Fancy little storage box to hold them all!!

Today is the day Cookie comes home from Hawaii for her summer break!  Can't wait to see her! I'm baking a triple layer cake for her!
I want to eat it now!!  Only 2 more hours before she arrives!