Monday, November 23, 2009


Rain Makes Applesauce was one of my favorite books when I was little. I remember that one and Drummer Hoff.

But the truth is, I make applesauce when it is raining.

Two years ago, during my first year in Boone, two friends and I spent a Saturday making applesauce. We went to the little farmer's market and bought a bushel of apples. The farmers brought these just for applesauce making, because they were the more bruised and ugly looking apples. The entire bushel was $5, so we couldn't pass it up.

We put in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and got to work peeling and chopping apples. We boiled them. The first batched we boiled in water, a little lemon juice, and cinnamon. The second batch we boiled in cranberry juice -- which produced pink applesauce.

Becky had a food mill, so once they were soft, we just tossed them in there and ground away.

I put my portion in gallon freezer bags, and was dumb enough to let the bag slide through the slats on the freezer rack while it was freezing. Yes, it caused a mess later when I wanted to eat the applesauce.

I had an applesauce party for one last week. 6 lbs of apples for $3 at the farmer's market. I turned on Hulu, and peeled, cored, and chopped up my apples. Then I boiled them in water and a tablespoon of lemon juice. I don't have a food mill, so I pureed the soft apples in my blender.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Veggie Stew

My dad claims, in his blustery way, that cooking is easy, "You just slosh it through the pan and put it on the table. Cleaning up is the hard part."

To me, soups are the epitome of "sloshing it through the pan." You can put basically anything in soup, and when it is done, you will have a lovely, steaming hot bowl of goodness.

And so I make soups. I have told you before about soup, because it was what I was eating during the summer. Which really didn't seem weird at the time. But I realize that soup is even better when it is chilly out.

I pulled this recipe from (I think), but because soups are best when you just throw in whatever you like, I modified it. This is a good basis though, just to get started.

Vegetable Stew
1 eggplant, cubed
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch each of basil, parsley, rosemary

Saute eggplant in extra virgin olive oil. Add the minced garlic. Stir in all other ingredients (except last 3 spices), simmer for 45 min. Remove from heat and add basil, parsley, and rosemary.

This time, I added black beans, left out the green bell pepper, used a can of diced tomatoes, and a little chicken broth, and used my spicy hot chiles (just a little) in place of the red pepper flakes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tefflecakes at the Farmers' Market

No recipe today, just a fun note. Now I'm just imagining my students rolling their eyes at me. I mean that I want to tell you about something that was fun for me.

Last Saturday was such a gorgeous day that I decided to go to the farmers' market. It's November, so I was just planning on buying some apples. I was very surprised (and happy) when I saw the long tables filled with all sorts of goodies. I came home with 2 varieties of squash, 4 enormous eggplants, and 2 huge bags full of spinach and lettuce.

The bonus was that, as I was perusing the stalls, I found a baker. Her stall is called "Be-Free." I stopped to read her sign, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free. She started chatting with me and telling me all about her products. It is always cool to meet a fellow gf-er, but even cooler to see what she was doing with it.

She has made her own flour blend that she called "miracle flour," and she used the same blend for all the different things she made.

After talking to her for 20 minutes, I felt obligated to buy something. So I chose a bag of her "miracle flour" and went on my way. The flour is mostly teff, which is a variety that I have read and heard about, but never actually used.

I made pancakes - called tefflecakes on the label (and managed to do it almost according to the directions) - and they are very delicious. There was not too much lift, which is good because I don't like super thick pancakes, but they were light. Teff is a dark flour, so as you can see, they are very dark. And all those little holes mean air bubbles, which mean these are light and fluffy.

I think I will put teff on my list.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Melanzana Parmigiana

Every year at about this time, I get the urge to make lasagna. I don't know if it's the turn to colder weather, or the approaching holidays, or just my time in Italy, but fall is lasagna time. Because I lived in Italy, I make really good lasagna. The problem is my really good lasagna takes actual time, at least 2 hours, so I only make it when I am going to share it with people.

Which doesn't cure my hankering for lasagna.

But last week I went to the farmers market and bought some really beautiful eggplant. I used one in soup, but was pondering what to do with the other three. And then it hit me: melanzana parmigiana, or eggplant parmesan. If you are not familiar with this, it is lasagna with sliced eggplant in place of the noodles. Perfect for us gluten-free folks. (But if you go and order eggplant parmesan at an Italian restaurant the eggplant will be breaded. Be careful!)

For this simple, quick, weeknight meal, I also omitted the white sauce that I would normally make for lasagna. Because my eggplants were a different variety (I think they are japanese), I cut them round and baked them in my muffin tin. The other option is to cut the eggplant lengthwise, so the slices approximate lasagna noodles.

Melanzana Parmigiana
1 big eggplant, sliced
tomato sauce (This time I blended it so it was smooth)
cheese (I used an "Italian" cheese blend)

To prep the eggplant, peel the skin and slice it. Place all the slices in a colander and cover with a generous amount of salt, about 2 tbs. Allow the eggplant to sit and "sweat". (Ooh, like those mafia movies). I put the eggplant to sweat while I made the tomato sauce, so for at least 15 minutes. Then rinse the eggplant off thoroughly.

In the muffin tin, put 1/2 tsp of sauce at the bottom of each muffin well. Layer one slice of eggplant, then 1 tsp of sauce and a dash of cheese. Continue until the wells are full. Top the last slice with sauce and cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 min. Your knife should easily pierce the eggplant, and the sauce should have evaporated some, and the cheese should be golden-brown.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Round two of Pumpkin Muffin testing went much better. I have to give a shout out to Karina of Karina's Kitchen who has a wonderful post on substitutions. Her suggestions on sugar substitutions that gave me the ideas for these adjustments.

As I mentioned, I wanted some Thanksgiving-y (-ish?) treats, so my plan on Wednesday was to bake muffins and pumpkin pie. Yes, both gluten and sugar-free. Oh, and I didn't want to use agave nectar or honey. I guess I just need an adventure in my life.

I reasoned that since muffins can be dense, they would be sweetened very easily with raisins. The pumpkin pie, on the other hand, needed something lighter, so I used a banana. Both were delicious right out of the oven.

UPDATE: I shared them with a friend today, we both thought the pumpkin muffins were delish after we heated them up again (typical of gluten-free food). They really were quite good. And... we both agreed that the pumpkin pie needs another round of experimenting. The crustless-ness was a success, but ... the pie just wasn't that great. It was better warm and then we drizzled agave nectar over the top, and that made it pretty good. But still needs some more experimenting. Looks good though, right?

For the pumpkin pie, my recipe came from Shirley at Gluten-Free Easily. It is a Crustless Pumpkin Pie. What an ingenious invention, and super simple, all you have to do is add 1/4 cup flour to the pumpkin filling. I managed to follow Shirley's recipe exactly, except I replaced the sugar with 1 mashed small ripe banana. Now that I have looked back at Karina's sugar substitutions post, I could have pureed the banana to get rid of even the smallest clumps. A word of caution, you do want to use the ripest banana possible. Just peel your black bananas and toss them in the freezer and you'll always have some on hand.

I'll cover costs before giving you my own recipe. Canned pumpkin was on sale for 79 cents, I used two cans for these two dishes. Evaporated milk was $1.19, Allspice was $1.19, and Nutmeg was $1.19. Everything else I had sitting around. Total $5.51.

Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from a community cookbook

1 2/3 cup GF flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup raisins, blended fine

Mix dry ingredients.
Put the raisins and a splash of water in the blender. The water will help keep the raisins from being so sticky, and make them easier to scrape out. Blend them as finely as possible. Add all contents of blender into the wet mixture bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin, butter, and milk.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until moist and incorporated.
If the batter is too dry, add more almond milk.

Baked at 350 in greased muffin tins for 20 minutes.
Makes approximately 15 muffins.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rice and Peas Risotto

I decided to change the name of my blog. When I first went gluten-free (more than 3 years ago), my mom joked that I was gluten-free plus. Back then, and still now, my "sensitive little system" couldn't handle mayonnaise or chocolate. There's no gluten-related reason for that, I just couldn't do it. And I still can't. In addition to these things I can't eat, I am trying not to eat sugar. Life is just better without it, so that's the second plus.

Today I have a recipe for you. I thought that I got this straight out of a cookbook. Silly me for thinking that I actually followed a recipe. Apparently what I did was look at the ingredient list and then make up my own technique.
I made this on a regular basis in grad school, because the ingredients are things I always had around.

Again here, I just had the ingredients on hand, so I don't have prices (in my mind pantry meals are free). But I can tell you that arborio (risotto) rice is more expensive than brown rice, I think around $3 for a pound. Pay for it. Other types of rice do not act the same way. Also, I am paying about $2.29 for a box of chicken stock, so that I get one that is gluten-free, sugar-free, and yeast-free. (Yes, maybe I will start making my own).

Rice and Peas Risotto

Inspired by "Risi e Bisi" in The Little Italian Cookbook

1 cup arborio (risotto) rice

2 cups chicken stock
3 tbs butter
1/2 onion, chopped

2 cups frozen peas

handful parsley, chopped (large handful if using fresh parsley, 1 tbs if dried)

parmesan cheese

In a pot, melt 2 tbs of butter. Toss in the chopped onion, and saute until translucent.
Add the rice, stirring until the rice is coated by the butter and begins to turn more opaque. This should take 1-2 minutes.
During this time, heat the stock (I use a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave). It doesn't have to be boiling, just hot.

Add 1/3 of the stock to the pot. This should be enough to cover the rice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add another 1/3, repeating the same process.
While the rice is cooking, add the frozen peas to the final 1/3 of stock, and microwave until warm. Add the stock and peas to the rice, and simmer while stirring occasionally.
When stock is almost absorbed, melt in the parsley and last tablespoon of butter. The consistency should be creamy, and the rice should be cooked. Eat a grain of rice to make sure. If it is still hard, add more stock.

You may choose to salt and pepper, I find it doesn't really need salt and pepper, but to your taste. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.