Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pecan Tassies, Gluten Free & Vegan

Pecan Tassies are one of my favorite holiday treats and one I have not had in 6 years, since going gluten and casein free.  Some people cheat for foods they love, but I never do.  The results are just not worth it.  For me, no food is worth a migraine, or bloating, or IBS, or itchy skin, or drop-dead exhaustion.    I've kept my old recipe, however, in hopes that one day, someone would come up with a casein-free cream cheese.  Finally, Daiya has done that!  Happy Day!  In truth, I don't care for the cream cheese by itself or on crackers or bagels.  It has a hint of sweetness that I don't care for, but this is probably because I still remember what dairy cream cheese tastes like.  The girls really like Daiya's cream cheeses on crackers and bagels.  However, I love baking with the plain cream cheese.  And honestly, it makes my Pecan Tassies divine.  I love them now more than ever in all their gluten free, casein free, egg free glory.  Because they are egg free, they don't have that crispy sugary skin on the top, but I really don't mind at all.  It's just super great to finally enjoy Pecan Tassies that are safe for everyone in my family.  I'll tell you they did not last long at all.  I need to make more!

Pecan Tassies, Gluten Free & Vegan

1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
3 tbsp. Daiya Plain Cream Cheese
1 cup GF flour blend

Beat the margarine and cream cheese until smooth.  Add the flour and beat until well combined.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
1/2 cup ground pecans

Whilte the dough is chilling, stir together the brown sugar through the salt and mix until well combined.  Add the ground nuts and stir.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a mini muffin tin with margarine, set aside.

Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator.  Form the dough into 1 inch balls and press into the muffin cups evenly over the bottom and up the sides.  Spoon about a teaspoon of the filling into each muffin cup (filling should not reach more than 3/4 of the way up).  Bake until set, about 25 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove the cookies from the pan onto a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gluten Free, Vegan Linzer Torte & Linzer Strips

Every year during the holidays I make Linzer Torte. A Linzer Torte is a big cookie filled with fruit preserves and topped with a lattice crust. It's served in slices like a cake. It's beautiful and always impresses - it is the dessert that gets the most compliments year after year.  A Linzer Torte,  while not overly complicated, is definitely worth the time and effort it takes to make. This year my linzer torte is gluten and vegan and it's even better than it used to be when I made it with regular flour and butter and eggs. I promise I'm not exaggerating, it really is fabulous.  I make Linzer Strips with leftover torte dough and they are equally fabulous!

1 3/4 cups GF flour blend (this one works best)
1 cup almonds, walnuts or pecans, finely ground
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup Earth Balance margarine
2 tbsp. apple butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup apricot preserves*
1/2 cup raspberry preserves*
2 tbsp. coconut milk
powdered sugar for sifting, if desired

Combine the apricot and raspberry preserves, set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Sift together the flour through the cinnamon, set aside. 

Beat together the margarine, apple butter and vanilla until well blended. Transfer to a food processor. Add the flour mixture and process until dough comes together in a large clump (or, beat shortening and flour mixtures together by hand until combined). Divide the dough in half, wrap halves with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Take half the dough out of the refrigerator. With floured hands, take small clumps and place them in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and an inch up the sides of the pan. Slice away the jagged ends with a knife and remove the excess to make an even trim one inch high all around. You may not use all of the dough - I like a thin crust, so I always have leftover dough - save leftover dough for Linzer Strips (see bottom of post). Spread the preserves into the crust.

Take the remaining half of the dough and place it on a floured piece of wax paper. Roll the dough with a floured rolling pin into a circle larger than the springform pan, lifting half the dough at a time to put more flour underneath the dough as needed. With a floured butter knife, cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips, discarding jagged ends. Take a long knife or cake spreader and carefully run it under a strip of dough to loosen it. Then run it underneath the strip of dough, lifting the strip to place it on top of the preserves.

Trim the excess from the ends to fit the pan. Repeat, placing four strips (or more if you can) evenly across the preserves. Turn the pan a quarter turn and place an equal number strips of dough on top of the previous strips of dough, creating a diamond pattern. Run a floured knife between the pan and the dough sides to loosen, then with your fingers carefully press the trim down upon the edges of the lattice crust to make the edge. The dough is forgiving enough to take a finger and smooth away any cracks or breaks.

Dip a finger into the coconut milk, then gently brush the dough strips and edges of the tart with the coconut milk, smoothing away any imperfections.  Chill about 20 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Bake the torte in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the preserves are bubbly.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for an hour. Run a butter knife around the torte to loosen and remove the sides from the springform pan.  Then, undo the latch and carefully remove the sides.  Serve at room temperature or cover and chill up to 24 hours, bringing torte to room temperature before serving. Sift powdered sugar over top of the torte before serving, if desired.  Makes 12 small servings or 8 big servings, depending on how you slice it.

*Sometimes I cheat and use one 10oz bottle of St. Dalfour fruit preserves.

To make Linzer Strips:

Take leftover torte dough and roll into one or two logs (depending on how much dough you have) about 2 inches thick.  Place the logs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Make an indentation down the center of the logs with your thumb, molding edges slightly.  Fill indentation with fruit preserves (do not mound the preserves, keep the preserves level with the sides of the logs). 

Bake at 375 degrees until the logs are golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.  Slice the logs diagonally into individual cookies.  Finish cooling, then drizzle with icing and enjoy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gingerbread with Caramel Cinnamon Sauce (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Cold weather just screams for homemade gingerbread.  I love this cake's homey simplicity.  I love gingerbread  better than any other cake except for maybe apple.  It's perfectly fine plain, but adding the Caramel Cinnamon Sauce gives it a touch of elegance I think it deserves.

3/4 cup dark molasses
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease one 9x13 inch baking dish with shortening or a bit of margarine, set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour through the salt.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl add the molasses together with boiling water, stirring gently, until combined. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine.  Add the grapeseed oil and applesauce and mix well.  Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until well incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the baking dish and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.  Cut into squares and serve with a drizzle of Caramel Cinnamon Sauce and a dollop of whipped coconut cream  or if you're lazy like me, a squirt of Rice Whip.

Caramel Cinnamon Sauce
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut cream
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.  Bring to a simmer and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened a bit.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly before drizzling over gingerbread.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sourdough Biscuits (Gluten Free & Vegan)

It's Thanksgiving week and we are having winter weather!  Brrr!  It's time to turn on the oven and bake!  These humble biscuits are good any time and my whole house loves them.  They're so good I'm going to make them for Thanksgiving dinner too and skip the stuffing and cornbread.  We won't skip pie, though.  Last year it was pecan pie and pumpkin pie.  This year it will be apple crumb pie.  Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.  Stay warm.

Sourdough Biscuits
These are cowboy sourdough biscuitsI can't seem to find the original recipe and in all likelihood I took elements from a few to cobble this together.  These are good anytime biscuits that go with everything, though I am partial to serving them with Tex Mex Pinto Beans.

3/4 cup all-purpose GF flour blend (I like High Protein)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup fed sourdough starter
1 tbsp. olive oil

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.  Pour in the sourdough starter and mix well.  Cut into the dough with the side of your spoon and mix, making sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated.  The dough should not be sticky, but should be able to stick together without crumbling apart. If your dough is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at t time until the desired consistency is reached.

Form dough into balls of equal size.  Dip the balls into the olive oil, turn oiled side up, then place into one 8" cake pan or cast iron skillet.  Let rise 30 minutes. 


Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the biscuits for 20 minutes.  Let cool in pan until warm, then serve immediately.  Makes between 6 - 8 biscuits.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Are they little cakes?  Are they big cookies?  Who cares?*  These little treats aim to please and trust me, they do.  The original recipe comes from Penzey's, who recommend marshmallow creme in the filling to make it fluffy.  I can't find a gluten free, dairy free, soy free equilavent so I left that particular ingredient out.  I was just overwhelmingly pleased to be finally able to use a cream cheese alternative in my baking!  These pumpkin whoopie pies are perfect for this time of year.  They are so good I may even make them again for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pieMaybe.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup palm shortening

1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups all purpose GF flour blend

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchement paper, set aside.

In a large bowl stir together the brown sugar through the cloves until well blended.  Add the shortening to the bowl and beat until creamy.  Add the applesauce and pumpkin puree and beat until combined.  Stir in the flour blend until incorporated.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet.  With a back of a spoon or your finger, smooth the tops.  Bake 15 - 20 minutes or until the cookies are firm and the bottoms are lightly browned.  Cool the cookies 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the filling.  Beat together 1/4 cup Daiya plain cream cheese and 2 tbsp. Earth Balance Soy Free Margarine.  Add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.  Whip until thoroughly combined.  Spread 1 - 2 tbsp. filling onto the flat bottom of one cookie and top with another cookie.  Serve immediately (as if you could wait!).  Store whoopie pies in the refrigerator.

*You can make these without the filling and they will be really yummy pumpkin cookies on their own.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Ganache

We celebrated DH's birthday the other week.  It was the big 4-0 and I felt that we should be irreverent about it (totally sticking our tongues out at this particular milestone).  One of his presents was a book titled Fart Proudly (featuring satirical writings by Benjamin Franklin).  After that, I had to make up for it by making him a yummy birthday cake. I looked at a Penzey's recipe and said "hey that looks good", and since DH didn't have a yen for anything in particular, I got to play.  The cake turned out really good.  So good, in fact, that DH ate half of it himself in one sitting and I was caught sneaking frosting on the sly.  I will make this cake whenever possible and share it with as many people as possible, it's so good.  Please see the original recipe for what looks like a decent cream cheese frosting recipe (you can use Daiya's cream cheese!).  I was short on time, so I frosted a warmish cake with a cream cheese ganache, which I will not change in the future because it was fabulous.

Great Chocolate Cake
3 cups GF flour blend (I used 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Rice and 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Sorghum)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch)
2 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup brandy
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease one 9x13 inch baking dish with palm shortening, set aside.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, applesauce and sugar.  Add the coconut milk and stir.  Add the hot water, brandy and vanilla and whisk gently to combine.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk well to combine, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack to cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Ganache
1 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Daiya Plain Cream Cheese
1/4 cup coconut milk

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir until the chocolate begins to melt - keep stirring constantly until almost all the chips are melted (add more coconut milk a tablespoon at a time if the mixture seems too thick).  Then remove from the heat and stir until completely melted.  Chocolate has a low melting point, and it will continue to melt away from the heat - be patient and don't be tempted to turn the heat up or the chocolate will burn.

When the frosting is smooth, pour it over the cake and smooth it evenly all over the top.  Let cool before slicing.

(This cake will make your mouth smile.  I promise.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Apple Honey "Lemonade"

Okay, this is really Vinegar Lemonade, but I'm calling it Apple Honey Lemonade to make it sound more appealing to the girls.  Anna can't stand anything vinegary, but she will drink vinegar lemonade with a fancy name.  It's surprisingly good and it's good for you.  Raw apple cider vinegar and raw local honey both have many health benefits (read more here). I found a good recipe for vinegar lemonade here (along with several other good recipes we tried during summer camp - did you know that drinking cider vinegar is how the pioneers got their vitamin C?  So interesting!).  I fill a pitcher with it so it's always around when I want some.  I am just now starting to drink it daily to aid digestion, boost immunity and help tamp down heartburn (which is working very well so far).  I like a nice tart drink so I added quite a bit of vinegar to this lemonade, but you can cut the vinegar down to 1/3 will be a little sweeter that way, which is how the girls like it. 

Apple Honey "Lemonade"

8 cups warm water
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar

Pour the warm water into a pitcher.  Add the honey and stir to dissolve.  Stir in the cider vinegar.  Enjoy lukewarm or cold.  Store in the refrigerator.

*If you want to try just one cup first to see if you like it, stir 1 tbsp. raw honey into 1 cup warm water to dissolve.  Add 1 tbsp. vinegar, stir and enjoy.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gluten Free, Vegan Apple Cinnamon Donuts

It's a Saturday morning and the weather has turned chilly!  The girls are asking for hot cocoa and I'm definitely in the mood to bake.  A friend brought a gift in the form of a Babycakes Donut Maker and surprisingly, I love it.  It's super fast to make donuts now.  The recipe below is based on the Babycakes one found here, though I've changed a couple of things.  These donuts are tasty and fun and always bring a smile.  And with that, I'm off to make hot cocoa and donuts.

Gluten Free, Vegan Apple Cinnamon Donuts
1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp. applesauce
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. guar gum or 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Preheat donut maker until the green light comes on.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the oil and the sugar and stir until combined.  Add the mashed banana or applesauce and stir.  Add the apple juice and the vanilla and stir to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour through the baking soda.  Add to the wet mixture and stir until combined.  Grease the donut maker with a little oil (I do this with a basting brush dipped in oil).  Take a sturdy plastic bag (like those for piping icing, or a quart-sized Ziplock freezer bag), fill it with the donut batter, then clip off the end or a corner and pipe the donut batter into the donut maker.  Close the donut maker and bake for 4 - 5 minutes or until the donuts are risen and golden brown.  Remove carefully to a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.  Cool completely before serving.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sourdough Sandwich Bread


Here it is, as promised - Sourdough Bread.  I love this stuff.  It's so easy to make, it requires no eggs (and hence, no egg substitute - the first truly GF Vegan bread I've tried), and the whole family loves it.  Before going gluten free, I did not like sourdough bread even a little bit.  I didn't know what all the fuss was about.  Regular bread was okay, but nothing to jump up and down about.  Now I can't walk down the bread aisle in the grocery store without gagging at the smell and I can't get enough of this GF sourdough bread.  Go figure.
Our bread machine bit the dust last month and I've dragged my feet about making bread in the oven.  While it can be done, there are more steps to the process and I've been just tired and frazzled enough to not want to be bothered (terrible, I know).  But making this sourdough bread is a breeze.  I can throw everything in the stand mixer and it comes together in just a few minutes. Then it rises on the counter for an hour and I throw it in the oven, all while keeping busy with other things.  It doesn't take much thought, which I love because  my mind is in a constant state of being seriously preoccupied.  Lately I just need things to be mindless and easy.  This bread is mindless and easy, and tasty to boot.  It smells heavenly while baking (slightly tangy) and it has a subtle bite that becomes addicting.

Happily, one loaf of sourdough bread lasts us a whole week.  It's hearty, so I slice it thin, and it keeps well in the refrigerator.  It's fabulous with margarine either warm or cold.  I look forward to making it every weekend, and that is saying a lot.  I did my own thing after looking for guidance here and here and my bread turns out fabulous.  I can't be bothered with boules right now - what we need is a standard loaf for school lunches, but if you are feeling adventurous try the boule method described here.

And now without further ado - Sourdough Sandwich Bread, worth it every time.

1 cup sorghum flour*
1 cup brown rice flour*
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast

2 cups fed sourdough starter
1/4 cup oil - olive, grapeseed or coconut
1 cup warm water, plus more if needed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Generously grease one 9x5 inch loaf pan with shortening, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the sorghum flour through the yeast.  Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the sourdough starter and the oil.  Mix until combined, it will be dry.  Add trhe water 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture resembles a thick cake batter.  You may need to add more warm water to get it to the correct consistency.  Beat 5 minutes.

Scrape the batter into the greased loaf pan and smooth out the top, mounding a little in the center.  Set aside in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to one hour.  It will dome just a little above the top of the pan.  Carefully place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 45 - 60 minutes, or until golden brown.  It is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.  

Remove from oven, let rest for a couple of minutes and then turn out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely.  You must let it cool!  Resist the temptation to cut a slice no matter how good it smells, or you will end up with gummy slices of bread (so not worth it!).  

After it is cool, do what you could scarf down the whole loaf and I would not blame you one bit, it is that good.

*I've used equal amounts of sorghum, rice and millet flours with success.  I've also used 3 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Blend (replace sorghum flour through potato starch) - while less tangy, it makes a very pretty loaf.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sourdough Pancakes, Gluten Free & Vegan

(Strawberry Sourdough Pancakes - could the morning get any yummier?) 

Looking for directions on how to feed sourdough starter?  Scroll to the bottom of this page.

At last - sourdough pancakes.  I've waited all summer to post this recipe!  I keep making these pancakes and they don't get old.  You can add all sorts of things to them - different berries, chopped walnuts, sliced apple, banana or peach, even chocolate chips.  I usually feed my sourdough starter once a week, but it's worth it to give your starter an extra feeding or two during the week just so you have enough to make these pancakes and some sourdough sandwich bread on a weekly basis (recipe for sourdough bread to come soon!).  I mostly based this recipe on Alaskan Sourdough Pancakes tweaking it it a bit - they came out perfectly.  I like how they have no added flour, just sourdough starter, and that they use no egg! 

Sourdough Pancakes 

2 cups fed* sourdough starter
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup fresh berries, your choice

In a large bowl, combine the sourdough starter through the bakind soda, stirring well.  Set aside.

Heat a cast iron griddle over medium-low.  When it is hot, fold the berries into the pancake batter.  Drizzle a little oil (your choice, but coconut oil is nice) onto the griddle and pour the pancake batter by 1/3 cupfuls, spreading slightly.  Cook until little bubbles appear and the tops are dry.  Check the bottoms, they should be golden brown. 


 Flip and cook a couple of minutes more, until the other sides are golden.  Remove to a plate and keep warm while you cook the rest of the pancakes.  Or serve immediately as they are done (which is what I like to do).  Serve with margarine, maple syrup and fresh fruit. 

*Fed sourdough starter:  Ideally you should feed your sourdough 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup water the night before making these pancakes but I always forget.  Instead I will feed the starter that morning and let it sit on the counter to get nice and frothy.  This might take an hour.  Then it's good to use, pour off as much starter as you need and put the rest in the fridge.

(Oh so delish!)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

For years I've considered experimenting with sourdough.  Recipes for the starter and baking with it looked a little precise and complicated, and I'm usually not that type of baker.  I didn't really set out to tackle sourdough because I was looking for a challenge.  But I ended up teaching the cooking portion of a summer camp with a pioneer/settler/gold rush theme and wanted to be authentic as possible.  Sourdough was, especially for the gold rush/cowboy sort, a prized possession.  So the students and I experimented with making two types of gluten free sourdough (one with mostly a brown rice base and the other with mostly a sorghum base).  I used yeast because I wanted assurance that this would work (we'd be cooking with it for three weeks) but if I had my druthers I'd have tried wild yeast (using red cabbage leaves like this).

Well in no time at all I had two happy sourdough starters bubbling away in the classroom.  It was very interesting to note that the brown rice starter started fermenting faster, and started smelling more sour, than the sorghum starter.  Also, baking with the brown rice starter produced lighter end results (both in taste and in texture).  After baking our hearts out in class, I gave away most of the sorghum starter and kept some of the brown rice starter to bring home.  With some trepidation I threw my starter into the freezer because we'd be gone for a month and I couldn't feed it.  To my delight, the starter thawed and started bubbling away after a feeding.  I'm not one for wasting so I'm going to keep my starter, although maybe someday I'll try making a new batch with wild yeast.

(Sourdough starter after first rise, day two)

I didn't feel like being overrun with starter I couldn't use and I didn't want to throw away the excess, so I threw out all the admonitions that you should feed your starter obsessively very often with a cup of flour and water at a time.   I scaled way back and fed my starter with 1/4 cup of flour (brown rice and sometimes millet) and 1/4 cup water every day until it had been established, and it was perfectly happy.  I let it sit on the counter for a week before putting it in the refrigerator and then I started feeding it once per week using 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.  When I thawed it, I also fed it 1 tbsp. of sugar to make sure it came back.  All of this has worked very well.  I'm pretty sure you can do whatever you like and as long as it's getting steadily fed, it will keep going and going and going. 

(Sourdough starter after 4 days)

So far I've made sourdough biscuits, pancakes and cornbread.  Today I'm going to try sourdough bread.  Wish me luck!  I'll post recipes for those soon, but for now, here is the very simple sourdough starter recipe I used with great success.

Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour

Measure the warm water into a large glass or ceramic bowl (not metal, and not a small bowl as the starter will rise).  Whisk in the yeast.  Let it proof for 5 minutes or until it starts to get foamy.  Whisk together the brown rice flour and tapioca.  Stir the flour mixture into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon (do not use metal).  Let this sit uncovered on your counter for 12 hours, then stir in equal amounts of brown rice flour and water (I used 1/4 cup each).  Keep doing this every 12 hours for  two or three days.  You will see that the mixture will start to bubble.  Then once every 24 hours feed it equal amounts of brown rice flour and water (again I used 1/4 cup) for another two or three days.  It should start smelling sour.

When your starter smells sour and has been established (bubbling, rising and falling in cycles after a feeding), store it uncovered (or it will explode) in your refrigerator.  At this point you can feed it every few days to once per week, equal amounts of brown rice flour and water (1 cup or 1/2 cup each, depending on how often you'll use it).  Sometimes I'll throw in some millet or tapioca flour instead of brown rice flour.  I avoid using the heavier flours for my starter (sorghum, teff, amaranth).

Feed your starter before you use it in a recipe (1 cup each brown rice flour and water).  It should keep indefinitely as long as you feed it and care for it!

(Happy sourdough starter, frozen, thawed and fed)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blueberry Buckle (Gluten Free & Vegan)

While I was visiting my mom last month, she asked me to convert her favorite blueberry buckle recipe.  We had just picked fresh blueberries in perfect overcast weather and it had started to rain - perfect baking weather and a respite from the oppressive heat and humidity.  Mom and I agree that this buckle turned out even better than we remember it.  She and the girls and I sat down together at the kitchen table and enjoyed blueberry buckle with lemonade while the rain slowed to a fine drizzle.  Although we were busy going to beaches and museums during our visit, the memories I like best are the ones of us sitting around the kitchen table - drinking tea and talking together, creating art with the girls, enjoying each other's company.  A week is not enough time.  There will never be enough time with Mom.


Blueberry Buckle 

1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup coconut cream

2 cups GF flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

2 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried - divided
2 tbsp. sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease one 8x8 inch baking dish, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil and brown sugar.  Sitr in the applesauce and mix well.  Add the coconut cream and beat to combine.  The mixture should look a little like thick caramel.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the salt.  Add the the wet mixture and stir well to combine.  Fold in 1 cup of the blueberries.  Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish.  Scatter the remaining 1 cup blueberries over top of the batter.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over top of the blueberries.  Bake 45 - 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fresh Berry Pie (Gluten Free, Vegan)


Today, DH got a strawberry pie for Father's Day.  He said it was really yummy around a mouthful of seconds.  The girls agreed enthusiastically.  You can use whatever berries float your boat.  If your berries are fresh and sweet, use 1/2 cup sugar.  If they are not super sweet, increase the sugar to 3/4 or 1 cup, depending on how sweet you like it. Serve with ice cream (So Delicious Vanilla Bean or make your own!) or Soyatoo Rice Whip whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Fresh Berry Pie
6 cups fresh berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries or a combination)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp. arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
pastry for double crust pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare pastry for double crust pie.  Roll out 1/2 of the dough and line pie plate.  Trim edges, set aside.  Roll out the remaining 1/2 of the dough, set aside.  (See this post on how to work with your pie crust.)

Wash and drain the berries, pat dry.  In a large bowl, toss the berries with the lemon juice.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar through the cloves.  Pour the sugar mixture into the bowl full of berries and toss to coat.  Place the berry mixture in the pastry lined pie plate, mounding berries in the center.  


Carefully lay the rolled-out top crust onto the top of the berries.  Crimp the edges and make slits in the top so that steam can escape. 


Place the pie in the oven.  Put tin foil or a cookie sheet on the rack beneath the pie to catch berry juice (if you don't, you'll have a burned mess on the bottom of your oven).  Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake another 30 minutes or until the curst is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Our New Garden Resident

DH and I were out the other night, plucking ripe tomatoes off our happy tomato plants when we spied this large spider right in the middle of the plants, right in the center of our raised bed.  We got over the creep factor (DH called it "grim looking") and left it alone.  I decided to check it out more closely last night and noticed this neat zipper pattern down the center of its web.  So I ran inside to search for what exactly it was (search terms "garden spider zipper web").  Turns out it's a beneficial garden spider called Argiope aurantia or the black and yellow garden spider.  I ran out to DH to tell him to leave it alone, and then I took pictures of it.  Well, of her - it's a female.  She stayed right in the center of her web without moving even while I disturbed the plants (and thus her web) while trying to get the best angle for a picture.  Her stillness makes me feel better about reaching around her to get to our tomatoes, I won't be afraid of her jumping on me.  So we have happy plants, happy bees and now a happy spider in our happy garden.  Can you tell I'm pleased with our garden this year?  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Garden Growth and Chard Stalk Hummus

It has been a rainy month and not too hot - our garden looks very happy.  We have several herbs, some beets, cauliflower, Swiss Chard, mustard greens, kale, amaranth, musk melons, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini.

Our jalapeno plants are producing lots of little peppers! The bees just love these little flowers and I love to see happy bees.

 I recently turned these beauties into  Fresh Pickled Jalapenos - so fresh, so yummy!

 Squash flowers are so pretty (and tasty too).

 One lonely little zucchini...we are waiting for more.  We've previously had bad luck with squash, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

 Happy kale.  I love all the greens, and kale is one of my favorites.

 Our musk melon vines are now growing up a trellis...they get taller every day!  DH intends to support the melons with panty hose.  Hmmm.  I'll have to take a picture of that.

 We have been enjoying a lot of mint tea lately!

These look like collards and that's what I thought they were, so I harvested a few of the big leaves and made them Louisiana style which is my very favorite collard greens recipe.  Afterward DH (highly consternated), told me these are cauliflower plants, not collards!  Well, they sure taste like collards.  And nothing bad happened to me or the plants...we now have a little head of cauliflower growing in the biggest plant!

 The cold snap we had this spring killed off all but one of our pear tomato plants.  That one survived and is pretty humungous with lots of little tomatoes all over it.  We harvested our first small handful of pretty yellow tomatoes today!  Hooray!

  I love these rogue amaranth plants and their dark red color.  They are really pretty as ornamentals, but we like to eat their leaves.

  Cherokee Purples!  I can't wait for these to ripen!  We planted several of these, but like our pear tomato plants, just one of the Cherokee Purple tomato plants survived the cold snap too.

I recently harvested a large bunch of Swiss Chard and was reluctant to throw the tender stems into the compost.  I stumbled upon a recipe for Chard Stalk Hummus and decided to try it - it is delicious!  I am exploring other recipes on Taste of Beirut, they look so good - I especially cannot wait to try Swiss Chard Cake.  Grow, chard, grow!

Chard Stalk Hummus

Don't toss those chard stalks!  Turn them into a tasty, legume-free hummus!

Chard stalks from one large bunch
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. tahini
1 tbsp. lemon juice or more to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt to taste

Chop the chard stalks into 1/2 inch pieces.  Steam them until tender, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a food processor and add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt.  Process until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve warm or cold.  I served ours with crisp cucumber rounds - so delicious!