Where in the World is Green Me? At the Fish Market?

Good question.

I have not been writing of late, because I do not have a complete or final answer to share; however, I thought I would shed light on a bit of what I have been up to for the last 30 days.

I have officially joined the ranks of the gluten free gals in this world. This means that my kitchen know-how has gone swiftly out with the compost. Or the trash. Depending on if you are a half cup full or empty type of person. Personally, I see the world through rose colored glasses, so I think my baking knowledge went out with compost.

I had a few weeks of inedible compost bound baking disasters. Ill rank those with the stinky stage of compost. You know the kind of compost that is ripe for maggot growth and your dad secretly tosses the muffins you sent without mentioning a word.

Next I decide to go with pre-made mixes. Bobs, Pamelas, and a few lesser known brands entered my mixing bowl and out came some decent grubs. I mean grub. The hummus is rich and my confidence is building and so I have thus entered the next stage. Combining my own flours and playing with recipes the way I like to do things.

So far this week my gluten free baking and cooking has been coming up roses. On Monday I made a delicious vegan and gluten free lasagna. Mr. Green Mes only complaint was what he claimed to be a prodigious amount of zucchini. I love zucchini, so I told him tough chicken poop (it is great for the compost after all).

On Wednesday I whipped up a divine meal of butternut squash sauce over baked pasta (Tinkyada) and gluten free meatballs. If Mr. Green Me was the fighting sorta guy, he would have fought me for the leftovers. Thankfully, he is a pacifist and so my own good conscience convinced me into sharing two of the remaining six meat balls. (I further shared the remaining four meatballs with Little Green Me).

Two successful gluten free main courses resulted in a bit of courage and so yesterday I dove into my first from scratch and from instinct (meaning I did not follow a pre-tested recipe) experiment with gluten free bread. I made sort of a rustic bread boule and I am quite pleased. Not enough to share the recipe, but enough to be encouraged!

And lastly, because last night my Dad teasingly asked if I would be bringing any cookies tonight, I decided to surprise him with some Cowboy Cookies made gluten free from the new cookbook Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie-Jar. The first batch is out of the oven and they are very GOOD!

My current challenge and the primary flaw with yesterdays bread baking experience is that I bought a case of OrgraN Gluten Substitute. The Gluten Substitute does do an excellent job of adding a better texture and structure to gluten free baked goods, but so far it has a fatal flaw. To be blunt, it gives my bake goods the slightest hint that they might have spent the day in a fish market. In other words, the flavor, as I swallow, hints of a fish market. Not baked or broiled or teriyaki fish, but DEAD fish.

So far Ive adjusted to eating this deliciously textured gluten free bread by muting the dead fish taste with real fish turning it into tuna salad sandwich. On most days, however, I just like to eat plain bread with a little earth balance, jam or nut butter and dead fish is just not a flavor that I find to complement jam or butter. In the Cowboy Cookie recipe I mostly masked the flavor by tripling the vanilla and adding a teaspoon of almond extract, but I can still taste the tiniest hint of dead fish (well see what my dad has to say).

Anyone ever baked with Orgran Gluten Substitute and have a solution to this dilemma?

Fluffy Gluten Free Free Pancakes

Last week my family and I (Mama and Daddy Green Me plus Little Boy Green) took a little stay-cation right here in Colorful Colorado. We drove south about an hour from the north Metro Denver area and stayed in the Park Meadows and Tech Center area. On Wednesday night we enjoyed a delicious Gluten Free dinner at PF Changs followed by an early night (we slept from 9 PM to 8 AM) in a very comfy over-sized King Room room at the Marriott Denver South for $52.80 (plus tax). The next morning we got up and headed to the Wildlife Experience followed by lunch and a gluten free shopping expedition at Deby’s Bakery & Cafe.

We bought a full selection of items at Deby’s from prepared baked goods to her pastry flour mix. One of the extra bonuses of the Deby’s bakery is that nearly all the goods sold there are also dairy free and many are either vegan and or avoid what they call the allergenic 8. The 8 allergens that many of their products avoid include: gluten, trans-Fat, dairy, caesin, corn, soy, peanut and tree nut.

I thought this was kind of neat although I was disappointed to find that 4 of the 10 products that we bought were mislabeled in some fashion. For example, my pecan pie claimed to be a cherry pie on top and an apple pie on the bottom, a dangerous mistake if someone was allergic to tree nuts! My cinnamon rolls were delicious, but the label said they contained 4 and yet we only found 3 inside and so on.

Nevertheless, everything we bought tasted delicious and upheld the Deby’s tagline: Gluten Free Food So Good You Will Want to Eat It! If you’ve ventured very far into the frozen gluten free goods case at any grocery store, you will know that most gluten free baked goods taste like goat feed. Or worse.

My most exciting purchase, since I generally prefer to make my own baked goods rather than buy them, was a 5lb bag of her pastry flour mix. The mix is somewhat similar to Bobs, but clearly has some variation as the taste was very pure and wheat flour like. And, most importantly to this post, it made wonderful pancakes!  If you do not have access to Deby’s flour you can likely substitute your own gluten free flour mix.

Dry Ingredients (sift together):

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix*
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp flax meal
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients (stir together well):

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups soy milk (or your favorite milk product)

1. Sift together the dry ingredients

2. Beat together wet ingredients

3. Combine wet with dry and stir vigorously for about 1 minute. Make sure that everything has combined well. Stir again for another minute. Batter should be very thick, but spreadable. Similar to cake batter. Set aside.

4. Prepare your griddle or pan, while letting batter sit for about 5 minutes. You will see the leavening starting to react and make the batter kind of puffy.

5. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter (plus a little) onto your seasoned hot griddle (or your frying pan). Spread it out a bit if needed. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until firm enough to flip. Cook another few minutes until golden. My batch made exactly 11 pancakes about 4 inches in diameter.

6. Serve warm with fried eggs or your favorite breakfast sides! Delicious, light, fluffy with just the right amount of crisp on the outside!

*Deby’s Gluten Free Pastry Flour ingredients are listed as: Rice flour, Potato starch, Tapioca flour, xantham gum. If your were to mix up your own you might try 3/4 cup Rice Flour, 1/4 cup each Potato Starch and Tapioca flour, plus 1/4 tsp xantham gum.

P.s. I will eventually post a picture, but I took it with our back up camera, before realizing that its memory card does not plug into my lap top.

Easy Rolled Arrowroot Meringues (Gluten Dairy Free)

Yesterday I had a friend visiting for tea who is allergic to corn. I wanted to make a snack that was guaranteed to be corn free with a hint of Christmas. At first I was dismayed to learn that all I happened to have left in my pantry was a package of arrowroot flour! I made a quick Google search for arrowroot flour recipes and came upon these tasty little cookies!

They were quick to make, easy to roll and are quite pleasing to eat! The big surprise is that they are very light and delicate with a crunch. Much more like a meringue than a traditional sugar cookie. The flavor was lightly sweet with a hint of almond and I will definitely make (and eat) them again.

I made some adjustments to the recipe to make them 100% corn and dairy free, as well as, gluten free.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups arrowroot flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 oz +/- plain soy milk

Per the instructions at the Perfect Pantry I first sifted the flour and sugar together. I then beat the egg and canola oil together with the almond extract. Next I added in 2 oz of the soy milk. While stirring I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, slowly adding additional soy milk until everything was just barely combined. I then commenced kneading the dough. At first I was skeptical that it would become pliable, but all of a sudden it was almost too pliable. I turned the dough on my silicon mat and sifted about a teaspoon of arrowroot flour on the dough, which I then kneading back in. I had to do this a few times until I had a soft, but workable dough that was easy to roll out and perfect for cut cookies! Next time I make them I will use coconut milk (or cream), but it is good to know that the recipe worked just perfectly with a substitute!

editors note: These cookies also make good cat treats. When we returned from an outing to the park several were broken and one was on the floor. I figured my toddler must have gotten at them when I was putting on my shoes, but later in the afternoon I caught my cat eating one! Needless to say the remaining cookies are now in the cookie jar!

Gluten and Dairy Free Brownie Bites

On Saturday night we attended the annual holiday party for my husbands office. For the past few years the party has been held at the lovely home of one of his co-workers and the finger food style dinner has been catered by Whole Foods. The food is generally very good, but not friendly to a gluten or dairy free palate.

Rather than feeling sorry for myself I decided to whip up a few Whole Foods inspired dishes to complement the standard party fair. First I baked a loaf of Gluten Free Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. I’ve made this twice and followed the recipe precisely, except that I do not add xantham gum or walnuts. It makes an excellent bread, especially when served warm.

And, second I made Brownie Bites. If you have not had the opportunity to try the Whole Foods Bakery Brownie bites you are missing out. They are dense, moist, chocolate, and irresistible in the fashion of a potato chip. You can never eat just one. Sadly however, they are made with flour and not gluten free, and so I had to create my own recipe to satisfy the craving. They were a hit to say the least!

Gluten & Dairy Free Brownie Bites

3 eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ tsp orange extract

3 oz dairy free dark Bittersweet or Unsweetened Bakers chocolate
8 oz dairy free chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks

1/3 cup rice flour
¼ cup arrowroot flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ tsp baking powder
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease a mini muffin pan (makes 24)
  3. Beat eggs and blend well with sugars, vanilla extract and orange extract
  4. In a double boiler or stove top pan on low, slowly melt the chocolate and the buttery sticks together. Stir until smooth and then slowly add to egg/sugar mixture.
  5. Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and xantham gum. Add to wet mixture and stir well.
  6. Spoon batter into mini-muffin tins (makes 24 bites) or spread in 99 non-stick pan and bake for 18 to 22 minutes.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but the brownie bites did not stick around long enough for a photo shoot!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Have you ever had a miracle in the kitchen? I can claim to have had more than a few miracles visit my kitchen over the years; however, this is the first time I’ve been visited by three consecutive miracles, including, a visit by the Virgin Mary.

It is late afternoon and the husband has gone out to run a few errands, while the kid takes a nap. Appropriately, it is also Sunday and I am putzing around the house getting things done, when I realize that Id like to have pizza for dinner. I pull up the recipe for the Friday Night Pizza as published in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  Opening the cupboard I am dismayed to discover that not only am I completely out of Canola oil, but that I also only have a few drops of Olive Oil left in the bottle. The recipe calls for Olive Oil and truly, any oil would likely do, but it looks as though I may be flat out of any kind of oil.  Ive already started to proof my yeast in the water, so I decide to try and claim the last of the Olive Oil from the bottle.

The first miracle is that I had exactly 3 Tablespoons of olive oil left in the bottle, the exact amount called for in the recipe. Does that EVER happen? The second miracle, is that my husband was diverted on his errand run and had not yet made it to the grocery store, so I was able to call and add both kinds of oil to his shopping list. (This was a rare event, he has ALWAYS left the store by the time I call to ask him to pick up something else).  Miracle #3 is that the Virgin Mary showed up in my yeast mixture as I added the Olive Oil. Coincidence? I think not

And now, we know why it is called Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

The truly amazing part of this story is that I just drizzled the oil from the tablespoon over the proofing yeast, shook it a few times, and ended up with what, really does look like some intentional fresca fresco of the Virgin Mary!

Vegan Red Curry Squash Pie

Tomorrow I am entering a non-vegan version of this pie in the City of Louisville (CO) Fall Festival Annual Pie

Contest. This was my first time baking a pie at our new-to-us home and in a disposable pie tin, so it is not as pretty as could be, but I do hope that it is at least delicious!

For at home consumption I made a vegan version of the recipe, which takes inspiration from my moms famous pumpkin pie and the Farmers Daughters Butternut Squash Pie. When I first made a pumpkin pie a few years ago I learned that the reason I dont like many pumpkin pies is that I am not fond of the combination of spices. My mom likes to keep it simple with cinnamon and all spice. She also uses less sugar than is called for in many pie recipes.

Prior to reading about the Butternut Squash Pie last fall, I had not considered making a pie with anything besides pumpkin. However, there are several varieties of sweet fleshed winter squash that can also make delicious pies. At our local farmers market the winter squash are just starting to make an appearance and the Red Curry Squash was recommended to me by Anna of Ollin Farms. Lest you are concerned, Red Curry is indicative of the color of the squash and has nothing to do with the flavor!

Vegan Red Curry Squash Pie
  • 1 cup pureed squash
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp allspice
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 Ener-G eggs prepared
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup sugar

Instructions:

Prepare pie dough for one pie (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in standard pie dough recipe). Preheat your oven to 425F.

Add pureed squash to bowl. Sprinkle with spices and salt. Mix together Energ-G eggs and add coconut milk and sugar to the mix. Add to pureed squash and stir until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Pour mixture into prepared pie plate and raw crust. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake and additional 35 to 45 minutes 60 minutes (or) until firm in the center or a tooth pick inserted comes out clean and dry.

Apparently, Ener-G Egg does not cook like egg in a pie! At an hour and 10 minutes out my pie still smells great, looks great, but is liquid in sidegoing to bake another 10 minutesmaybe it will set as it cools. I ultimately took it out and it started to set, but tastes very carmelized. Hubby says this is yummy and I am disappointed! At least this was not my contest pie! I might have to try this recipe again with arrowroot instead of Ener-G.

Let pie cool completely before serving.

Our Slow Food Dinner: good, clean and family food!

On Sunday afternoon we hosted half a dozen families (about 14 adults and that many kids) for a local slow food dinner. Everyone made his or her own dishes (including some home brewed hard (local) apple cider and Kombucha) and used as many local ingredients as possible. The spread covered everything from home baked Artesian breads and freshly made Queso to massaged kale salad (delicious!), cantaloupe salsa, beet salad, roasted corn and Colorado grown beans and tortillas.

The motivation for this dinner came from our small organic co-op organizer (otherwise know as Nature Deva) who has been lamenting the fact that our local Slow Food organization does not welcome children to their dinners. And what could emphasize the values of Slow Food more than taking the time to break bread and savor it with both friends and family? In our view teaching everyone, children included, about the pleasures and history of our vast food heritage is of utmost importance.  Indeed, we all had a wonderful meal and, the highlight of the evening was enjoying our children eat, play, sing, run and be silly. My husband (a self proclaimed foodie) said that it was the best party weve ever had and with out the kids it just would not have been the same.

As a group we are compiling recipes and pictures for the evening. I will post links to other blog posts about the event as they are published. In the meantime here are the recipes for the dishes that I prepared:

Simple Madagascar Style Beans (made from a Colorado cousin of a pinto bean):

To start:
-2 tbsp canola oil in bottom of crockpot
– 1 large or several small onions diced (I used fresh small red onions from the Farmers Market)
– several cloves of garlic chopped (also local from market)
– 2 to 5 bay leaves
– 2+ cups beans (2 cups dry, soaked over night in water)
– 1 tsp allspice
– water to cover beans plus an inch
Cook beans in crock pot until tender about 3 to 5 hours depending on your pot.

Add when beans are cooked:
– 1 to 2 tsps salt (depends on taste preference)
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 2 large or 4 to 6 small potatoes chopped
Cook an additional 2 to 4 hours until potatoes are tender and soup is starting to thicken

When I was in Madagascar I stayed at a reserve where the Malagasy cook made salty beans cooked until almost mushy with onions. This recipe is about as close as I can replicate you can make it with any type of bean and I think it tastes delicious over a bowl of rice. When our beans were too salty one night at the Reserve, the Malagasy researches that I was staying with said that it meant the cook was in love! So, if your beans come out too salty, it just might be good news! Simple, but satisfying!

Tortillas (I found my recipe here, but altered as seen below):

– 4 cups fine whole wheat flour (we are lucky to have a great source for locally milled flour!)
– 3 teaspoons of baking powder
– 2 teaspoons of salt
– 2 tbsp canola oil
– 2 tbsp melted Earth Balance Spread
– 1 tsp local honey
– 1.5 cups warm coconut milk

As the recipe at Home Sick Texan recommends, knead the sticky dough for two minutes on a floured board. I covered mine with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. I then pinched off small balls and rolled them out flat (about 6 inch tortillas) and cooked in a skillet.

Hoo! Hoo! and Meow! Crackers for the Munckin (and his Dad)

A few day ago I was finally inspired to make the cracker recipe published at the Green Phone Booth a few months ago. Baby Green Me has discovered bunny crackers and I am hesitant to not only feed him a snack on a regular basis that is lacking in nutritional value (no fiber, just carbs) and that is also quite pricey per ounce. On the flip side, who can pass up cute animal crackers?

The first time I made the recipe I followed EnviRambos recipe, except for substituting sesame seeds for rosemary. The second time I made the crackers I increased the nutritional yeast to 4 tablespoons for a cheesier flavor, increased my sesame seeds to two table spoons and I added an extra 2 tablespoons of water to make the dough work (with the extra yeast & seeds).

Both times I used my mini kitty and owl cookie cutters to make animal crackers that my son would love. Not only did the crackers work, but Baby Green Me loves themhe might eat them in exclusion of any other foods if I let him! And these crackers are filled with fiber, protein, and a little extra calcium and B vitamins thanks to the nutritional yeast and sesame seeds!

I wont recreate the recipe here as the original is a perfect starting point; however, I have included a few photos of my cracker making experience. Enjoy!

If you have a cracker fiend in your home or just need some healthy on the go snacks for your kiddos I highly recommend trying out these crackers. They were super easy to make (it took less than 10 minutes to mix up the dough), easy to handle, they cook in 15 minutes (or less) and then are ready to go!

Iron Cupcake_007: Solaris – The Cosmic Coffee Cupcake

Here here! Solaris is my first entry into the IronCupcake: Earth Challenge. This out of the world cupcake takes its name from the one and only solar roasted Solaris Blend Coffee made here in Colorado. From the flour to the chocolate the ingredients are fresh, organic, and in a few cases, locally made all factors which add to the delicious nature of the Solaris cupcake. As its name implies, the delicate yet moist chocolate coffee cake is made with a double shot of Solaris Espresso, in addition to real orange extract and a hint of cinnamon spice. The cupcake is then finished with a chocolate Ganache icing and both are spiked with coffee liquor. The cake is then topped with a handmade candied orange.

The Solaris Cupcake is best eaten before 10 AM,
but delicious at any time of the day!

Many beautiful cupcakes are guilty of being either overbearingly sweet or deathly bland. The rich ganache and the tender cake of the Solaris are instead tempered by the bittersweet flavor of the candied orange and complimented by the cinnamon spice and orange extract. The resulting flavor of the Solaris neither overwhelms nor bores, but rather each bite of this delectable cupcake gently awakens and satisfies your senses. The cupcake is truly cosmic and absolutely perfect alone or with a rich cup of fresh coffee.

This was my first time in several years making a Ganache, so I followed the recipe found on page 143 of the best cupcake book on the planet, exchanging the maple syrup for agave and adding orange extract, coffee liquor and cinnamon. Id already planned to use orange extract in my recipe, but discovered after reading this Valentine post that the Solaris would not be complete without the flavor and elegance of a candied orange on top! As the VeganYumYum recipe is for an entire fruit I used this recipe from Food & Wine to candy my organic valenica oranges.

From start to finish you can see the process in the below collage (click on image to view full size). You’ll note that the cake has a hint of red, similar to what you might see in a Devils food cake. Interestingly enough, just a few hours after completing the Solaris, I read in The Science of Good Food that the addition of baking soda, which increases the alkalinity of cocoa to a PH 7.5 and turns the cocoa pigments dark red. I used only baking soda in this recipe (no baking powder) and cocoa powder, which likely adds to the color of my cake!

 

Ready for a dirty little secret? In addition to being cosmic the Solaris Cupcake is both organic and vegan! For the past few months I’ve been playing with my vegan baking recipes and I am finding that the addition of a small amount of finely ground flax seed and agave to a recipe tends to increase the moisture content of the cake, while adding to its springiness. I like springy moist cake, which is often difficult to achieve with a vegan recipe! I also like that adding some flax boosts the nutritional content of the cake and in combination with the agave, the flax allows me to cut back on the oil or butter without compromising flavor or moisture. I originally made this discovery when also trying to bake gluten free, but the trick works just as well with my everyday wheat flour!

My husband who is one of the most discerning food critics I know had this to say The cupcake was very, very good.  Moist.  The frosting was like a Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange.