Summer reading

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I always look forward to summer reading, the relaxed pace, the lounging about with a good book.  I always look forward to that, but that never happens.  Since I am a mother of three with one on the way, my summers are not that relaxing, and I don’t lounge around with my favorite book.  I read when the moment comes that I can.  I read at the park in between pushing kids on the swing, at the library while they are looking for books, at the occasional outing for myself and before bed, for about 5 mins before I fall asleep.

As much as I think I want to be the kind of person that reads one book at a time, I have come to accept that I am not.  I always have at least two books going at any given time, and usually more.  This summer I am reading books from four different genres.  This summer my genres are; parenting, adoption, cooking and fun reads.

Parenting books:

This summer I am revisiting a series of books that I read when Ewan was younger.  They are great books and I go to them when ever I feel that I need tip on how to handle behaviors or just want to feel normal about what my child is or is not doing.  The author is Louise Bates Ames and here are a few pics of what the books look like.

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These books start at the age of 1 year and go up the book “Your ten-fourteen year old”.  All of the books are layed out very similarly if not the same which is helpful for navigation.  They are older books but I find the information relevent and useful.

 

Adoption books:

I have a lot of books in this genres.  I always find them useful and insightful but I also find them overwhelming too.  They are packed with information and often times tough subject matter, which can be hard to slog through.  This summer I am tackling two books; “The Connected Child” by Karyn Purvis and “Brothers and Sisters in Adoption” by Arleta James.

 

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Cookbooks:

This is a fun genres and I love cooking so for me it is really fun.  Cookbooks are great reading because there is no story to follow and there is no pressure to understand or finish the book.  You can pick it up for 5 minutes or 45 minutes and it doesn’t affect your experience much.  Cookbooks are a great escape, a great motivation and a challenge to experience something new.  They can also provide freedom, especially in the case of a specialized diet or food allergies.

 

The cookbooks I am reading this summer have a lot to do with my gluten free/dairy free lifestyle but also the Vegan/Vegetarian lifestyle of which I have recently entered.  I will say that I am choosing to eat vegetarian because my body does not seem to handle meat protein very well and I feel 100 times better when I eliminate it from my diet.  Vegan cookbooks offer great recipes for even those who are not totally vegan but perhaps vegetarian and dairy free, like me.  Here’s what I am reading:  Mark Bittman’s “The Food Matters Cook Book” and “Kitchen Express”.  Terry Walter’s “Clean Food”, “Learn to Bake Allergen-Free” by Colette Martin  and Kim Barnouin’s “Skinny Bitch, Ultimate Everyday Cookbook”.

 

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Fun Reads:

 

I have only one fun read lined up for the summer, I am hoping that will change but so far my fun read is getting little attention.  Here is it, Patrick Taylor’s “An Irish Country Doctor”.

 

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There you have it, my summer reads, at least that is the plan!

What’s on your summer reading schedule????

 

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Gluten-free/dairy-free pizza crust

For as long as I have been gluten-free I have seriously missed pizza.  I mean I really miss eating pizza and when I serve it to my family I am really jealous.  They are eating something wonderful and I am eating something much less wonderful.  Sad for me.  😦

I have tried many recipes for GF/DF pizza crust but have not been happy with most.  They are to puffy and sometimes kind of cakey, if that is even a word. Last week I made yet another recipe and I think this might be the one!!!  It is really simple which I love and it makes a crust that is so good that I made it again last night as bread and for the first time in years dipped bread in olive oil!!!

My "new crust" pizza!

Here is the recipe, it will also be in the What’s Cookin’ section of the blog.

What you need:

  • 1-1/2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • Rosemary, basil, oregano to taste

What you do:

  • Combine yeast, sugar and water in large bowl and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  • Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Add the egg to the wet ingredients.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients together.
  • Mix with a blender for a minute, when the flour starts to move up the beaters you should add some more flour, just a little at a time.
  • Knead the dough like you would with regular bread and add flour until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch but is holding together well.
  • Press out dough onto a slightly oiled pizza pan.
  • Add your toppings and cook for 15-20 minutes at 425.
  • If you want to use it as bread cook it at 400 until is starts to brown on the top a little.

Enjoy your dipping bread/pizza!!

My favorite kitchen gear

Last night I was standing in my kitchen cooking dinner and asking myself the question- What are my favorite kitchen items, what do I love to use the most in my kitchen?  Here is what I came up with:

Cast Iron Skillet

My set of three cast iron skillet’s are not fancy and they were not expensive but they are awesome!  My largest skillet is 10″ and it sits on my stove top, all the time.  I don’t even bother putting it away anymore because I use it so much.  When I first started using cast iron all my foods stuck to the skillet and it was quite frustrating but I seasoned it again and decided that it needed more use to become really well seasoned and now it is better than non-stick.  My food cooks more evenly and does not stick and cast iron does not cause cancer at least not yet.

Mortar and Pestle

My mortar and pestle is probably the thing in my kitchen that provide me the most enjoyment when I am using it.  I love the experience of using a mortar and pestle, working the food by hand, in a way that has been done for a really long time.  I have two mortar and pestles one that is  small and one that I can easily make a batch of guacamole in.  The smaller one is good for herbs and spices, the larger one is good for, well, larger things:)

Vintage Le Creuset cookware

My Le Creuset cookware is vintage and was purchased on Ebay by my dear husband one year for Mothers Day.  Mine is lemon yellow and came with a large dutch oven, two sauce pans, and two skillet’s.  I love my Le Creuset, and it loves me!

  • It does not stick to my food.
  • It is easy to clean off even after having been hot and boiling with food for a long time.
  • It cooks my food evenly and faster than less sturdy cookware.
  • It does not have that nasty non-stick stuff on it, so I can use any utensil I want in it:).

New Le Creuset cookware is expensive but used is not so bad and even if it is more than you would normally spend it is really worth the money, you will be handing it down to your kids kids:)

Serrated peeler

I don’t know why I love this I just do.  I guess it is because things that used to be hard to peel are not hard to peel anymore.  I can peel fruit with relative ease and even peeling potatoes is easier.  It is a small pleasure to own this gadget.

Wustof Knives

This was the knife that rocked my world!  I was given this knife as a gift from my cousin and his wife for Christmas one year.  I had never own really good knives so I had not known what I was missing out on, the this knife changed everything.  I know have 4 Wustof knives- yes I am collecting them slowly as they are really expensive.  Cooking with good knives is an amazing thing- It makes cooking easier and way more fun.  If you are cooking a lot it is worth the money to get good knives even if it is only one a year;)

Electric Hot Water Kettle

For years I had a conventional hot water kettle and I liked it and it served its purpose but because the water took a while to boil I did not use it very often.  I use my electric hot water kettle everyday and least a few times, we heat water for oatmeal in the morning, tea and coffee.  Anytime we need boiling water this is what we use, it is very handy and time-saving.

Wooden spatula

I use wooden spoons and spatulas every time I cook, and they are something that I feel I can never have too many of. Brian thinks I am nutty when I get excited about a wooden spoon or spatula but thats ok, I am ok with being a little nutty about somethings:)

Rice Maker

The rice maker is a recent addition to my kitchen and I am glad to have it!  Since I cannot eat gluten, rice is a popular dish in my house and having the rice maker makes it easy as 1-2-3.  My rice maker can make 20 cups of rice and it will make all different kinds of rice as well with different settings for brown and white.  It will also steam veggies, I have not done that yet but if I ever wanted to apparently it will do it for me.  I really loathed making rice on the stove because it would never cook fast enough and it always boiled over.  The rice maker makes my life easier if only in this one small way, with 5 people to cook for I will take what ease I can get.

A gluten and dairy free Thanksgiving

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This is going to be my second gluten-free Thanksgiving but I am anticipating that it will be better than my first.  Last year I think that I had just started to go off of gluten and I was not at the point in which I felt brave enough to cook all that much.

This year I am hosting my sister and her family as well as my in-laws for Thanksgiving which means that there will be 11 people who can eat anything and 1 person that cannot.  Gluten and dairy free cook + eat anything guests =  a unique Thanksgiving dinner.  I want my guests to have an enjoyable meal but I would also like to be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor and the labor of others.

I have already decided that there are a few things that I will not change at least for my sister’s sake; the traditional family pumpkin pie and the corn casserole. Both will be  glutenous and dairylicious and will not touch my plate.  Sad for me:(

My goal is to find a good recipe for stuffing as I really miss stuffing and my Thanksgiving dinner would not be the same without it.  I would also like to find a pumpkin pie recipe, but I am working on that one in my head right now.  If I cannot come up with something then I will resort of a new recipe.  Here are some of the websites that I have come upon in my search for gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes, and below are a few of the recipes I intend to try.

Spiced Pumpkin Mousse: (Clean Eating Magazine Nov/Dec 09)

What you need:

  • 2- 15 oz cans of 100% pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1- 1lb pkg of silken tofu, well-drained
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek style yogurt or I am planning to use dairy free whipped topping.
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, cut into thin shards (about 1/4 cup)

What to do:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine pumpkin and tofu.  Process until combine, about 30 seconds.  Add maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Process until combined, about 30 more seconds.
  2. Transfer mousse to a resealable container, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  3. Drain any water that has accumulated from the mousse.  Give it a quick stir and scoop a 1/2 of a cup of mousse into each of 10 small glasses or ramekins.  Top each serving with the yogurt or non-dairy whipped topping and 1 tsp of chocolate.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Gluten Free Turkey Stuffing ( Gluten Free Girl )

Shauna also has a great book called Gluten Free Girl.  If you are living a gluten-free life and have not visited this blog you really should, it is awesome!!

What you need:

  • 8 cups gluten-free bread (rice bread works best; 1 loaf of Ener G Rice Bread will yield 9 cups of cubed bread.)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium white or yellow onions
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts
  • 3/4 pound bacon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) non-dairy margarine or butter (if restrictions permit)
  • 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2-cup chicken broth, or 1 cube bouillon dissolved in 1/2-cup water (omit salt, if using bouillon)

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Slice bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, or until dry and crispy. (If you have the time, you can achieve a similar effect by leaving the laden baking sheet to dry out overnight.) Set aside.
  3. Peel and mince garlic. Dice onion and celery. Drain water chestnuts and chop into small cubes. Slice bacon into 1-inch lengths.
  4. Melt margarine or butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, being careful not to allow it to boil. Add garlic, onion, celery, water chestnuts, and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add poultry seasoning and pepper. Stir to mix.
  6. Add bread cubes, stirring until well coated. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, to add crispness. Remove from heat, add broth or water and bouillon mixture, and toss until combined.
  7. Stuff the mixture into the body and neck of the turkey, or place in an oiled baking pan. If cooking outside the bird, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.
  8. Makes approximately 12 cups, enough to stuff a 12-15 pound turkey comfortably and leave over a small container’s worth of dressing to bake separately.”

This is not part of this recipe but If you can find sausage links that are gluten-free that can be added in place of the bacon.  I often make a sausage apple stuffing using breakfast links that are gluten-free and tart apples.  I don’t have a recipe for this but perhaps you can just wing it:)


Mashed potatoes (we always have these at our Thanksgiving table but instead of butter and milk I use chicken broth or unflavored rice milk, and Earth Balance vegan spread)

What you need:

  • Potatoes, as many as you would normally use for the number of people you are serving.
  • Chicken broth or rice milk unflavored.
  • Non dairy margarine or spread.

What to do:

Make your mashed potatoes the way you always used too just use the chicken broth or rice milk instead of the dairylicious stuff of your past.

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Sweet potato casserole (found here)

What you need:

  • 6 large cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup earth balance vegan spread
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves for topping
  • 1/2 tsp salt

What you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl.
  3. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the pecans.
  4. Spread the casserole into a 9 X 9 casserole dish. Sprinkle the pecans on top.
  5. Bake the casserole for 40-45 minutes or until set.

*This can be made a day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator covered with saran wrap. Add 5-7 minutes to the cook time when ready to bake.*

This dish serves 8-10 people.

A few more sites that will help you fill in the other parts of your meal:

Gluten Free Mommy

Living Without

Gluten Free Goddess

Have a blast in your kitchen cooking food that you can feel good about!!

A funny conversation

This conversation is actually a pretty common conversation for me.  Each conversation is a little different but they all go the same way.

Well meaning person: Would you like some cake?

Me: No thank you. I cannot eat gluten/wheat.

WMP: Oh.  Would you like a sandwich?

Me: No thank you. I cannot eat bread.

WMP: Oh.  Would you like a donut?

Me: No thank you. I cannot eat flour.

WMP: Would you like some ice cream?

Me: No thank you.  I cannot eat dairy either.

WMP: What can you eat?

Me: It appears I cannot eat much:)

The thing about these conversations is that the well meaning person ends up being more frustrated then I am because they don’t know what to feed me.  Being gluten and dairy free is not only hard for the person that cannot eat the food it is also hard for the people that want to feed us:).

Gluten free foods

I have not written about gluten free living in awhile because I have been in a gluten free slump lately.  I have been sticking to only what I know works with very little experimentation.  Lots of rice cakes and almond butter for me, sad, I know.  Maybe it is the spring air or maybe I am just tired of the same old thing, what ever the reason is it has lead me to finding some new foods and ways to use them.

 

Here is a line of pasta that my darling sister actually found for me.  This pasta is corn based and vegetable based it is tasty and a nice change from rice pasta.

 

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These pastas can be purchased on Amazon and you can buy them by the case for about $33 a case and qualities for super saver shipping.  That works out to $2.75 a bag, that is much cheaper then buying them in the store.

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I have not tried the corn spagetti yet but have tried these other two.  I liked them both a lot, I think more then rice pasta, the consistency is better with the corn.

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Mrs. Leepers also sells rice pasta, they have a pretty good assortment.

 

These next products I found during Passover at my local Jewel.  I have not found them since Passover ended so I am not sure if they sell them year round.  These cookies tasted good and are small so they lasted awhile, at least for me they did.  They have several different kinds and they are all gluten free.  

 

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I could not find images of the other cookies but I bought the chocolate chip, almond, and I think lemon cookies.  I also could not find a website for this company but did find a link to another website that is selling the chocolate chip cookies by the case.

 

This next product is corn based again and I think really tasty.

 

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I use these like bread, they are really think and you can make then into a “sandwich” easier then the regular sized rice cakes.  They also have more flavor then rice in my opinion.

 

Those are three of the products that I have come across lately, that at the very least have changed up my diet a little.  

 

A new way to use rice cereal:

 

The other evening I wanted to make meatballs for my kids to go with the corn pasta we were having for dinner.  Meatballs and meatloaf and things of that nature have not been made in my home since I stopped eating gluten, why you might ask- breadcrumbs.  I have had a mental block on what to use instead of breadcrumbs, and I have not wanted to use the rice bread to make breadcrumbs.  So as I was trying to figure out how to get around using breadcrumbs in my meatballs it hit me that I should try grinding up rice cereal to use as a breadcrumb sustitute. I used this cereal that I had called Nutty Rice and I think it worked pretty well.  I was actually quite please with the way they turned out.  I also used rice milk instead of cow milk.  So there you have it, maybe you have already fixed your breadcrumb problem but in case you haven’t try rice cereal, a crispy kind.

Local eats and sweets for wheat free people

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This Sunday after chruch Brian and I stopped by Rose’s to see what kinds of things they offered.  At first I was a little stunned because It has been a long time since I have looked at so many yummy desserts and been able to pick almot anything I wanted.  If you did not already know this, I cannot eat dairy as well as gluten so although I could not eat everything in the bakery I had some great choices.  

 

I bought the;

Dairy free, soy free, gluten free cheese cake.  Fabulous!!!

The coconut macaroon.  Delicious!

Carrot cupcake- I will eat that soon

Chocolate brownie.  Yummy!

 

I was giddy with my purchases and had to really hold back inteh car, I was trying not to be a piggy.  I will definitely visit them again and my hope is that next time I will be able to eat lunch in the cafe that they have.

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