30 November 2011

GF Pancakes

Pancakes for dinner

Tonight I tackled Gluten Free pancakes. 

From scratch.  

And they didn't suck!! 

Everyone loved them.  My picky eater ate 5 of them for dinner.  FIVE. 

And he is 4 years old.

So here is what I did.  First I went to my new favorite web site Gluten Free Girl. And looked up GF pancakes.  HERE is her recipe.  Then I did what I "do" and changed it.... just a bit.

The first thing you need to do to make anything GF from scratch is mix up your own whole grain GF flour.  Back to GFG's web site.  Here is where she talks about mixing up your own GF flour.  I did what she said.  It was super easy btw.

My first batch of GF whole grain flour:
I talk more about doing this HERE.

100g each of these GF flours: Almond, oat, brown rice, sweet rice, sorghum, millet,  & quinoa.

100g each of these GF starches: potato, tapioca, & arrowroot.

*side note - next time I think I'll sub the quinoa for something else.  Quinoa has the strongest taste and smell of the whole bunch.  I might do something more benign.

Then I mixed up a batch of pancake batter.  By the way one of the things I love about this GFG recipe is that it is "gum free" meaning there is no added xanthan or guar gums.  The jury is still out for me on the "gums" but never the less THIS recipe has none. 

Oh and yes I know this has dairy.  I'm taking baby steps here.  I'll get rid of the dairy soon... don't worry.

Here is my slightly modified recipe:

GF Pancakes:

mix up the dry:

8 oz GF flour (the one we just mixed up)
1 oz ground flaxseed (golden)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

mix up the wet:

6 oz buttermilk
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 T melted & cooled butter

Mix wet & dry together.  Let sit for 15m room temp.  Cook on griddle. 

Add fruit or don't.  Whatever. 


Look at that!  Looks normal doesn't it? 

You wouldn't spot it as Gluten Free food from across the room? Would you?  And they tasted GREAT.  GREAT!

These are at least as good, if not better than my old multi grain (which was half whole wheat) scratch pancakes I used to make. 

Meet our new GF pancake!

29 November 2011

Change is good.... right?

This is Oscar. 

My first born.  My sweet little man.

And our current catalyst for change. 

Oscar has always been "relatively" healthy.  Sort of.  No known true allergies and no behavior problems that might make us suspect something like a food intolerance.

Sure he has some eczema (very minor). 

And some seasonal allergies. 

Oh and when he gets a cold in the winter he ends up coughing until he throws up at night for a week.  It was this pattern that drove us to be more of an ACTIVE advocate for Oscar's health.

We switched to a new pediatrician that we love.  This pediatrician tested him for allergies, asthma and food sensitivities. 

So the jist of it is... Oscar is very allergic to a specific type of grass & a few trees... but no food allergies.  So that is a big relief. 

However, he is HIGHLY sensitive to wheat, rye, spelt and gluten.  And moderately sensitive to dairy and eggs. 

Apparently 7 years of living in a "wheat house" has made his "gut very irritated" to the point that almost all foods show up as slightly sensitive.  It has been explained to me that after 2-6 months of a GF/CF (gluten free / casein free) diet it is likely that the only things he'll need to avoid if possible is wheat, gluten, rye and spelt.  Ya... that's all.

So we are changing. 

14 November 2011


I try to do good.  I buy organic milk, fruits and veggies.  We recycle.  We use low VOC paint. 

Nothing too out there.... mostly mainstream type stuff.

We've talked about composting for years.... but that is where it stopped.  Just talk. 

Thank goodness we live in Portland Oregon, one of the most sustainable cities in the country.  A front runner in most sustainable technologies, building codes, etc.

Those who live in the city limits have been forced to slow the speed in which we toss every tiny thing into the garbage.  We've always had weekly garbage pick up along with recycle bin pick up and by-weekly yard debris pick up. 

As of October 31st we were given a choice of moving to either every other week garbage pick up or 1 time a month garbage pick up.  Once again.... that is going from weekly pick up to bi weekly or monthy.  Big change.

We were issued a compost bin and told to divert all food scrapes to it rather than the garbage.  Then empty the compost bin into the yard debris bin which moved to weekly pick up.  So this is it.  Not exactly pretty.  Doesn't go with my "decor".

I decided if we were going to "do this" lets... "DO this".  So I went on line and found this:

And I bought bio degradable bags to line it with.  Because the alterative is just too gross for me.  My husband thought it looked like a tiny garbage can sitting on our counter.  I guess he's right... but it is better than the plastic one for sure.

Overall I'm super happy with this change.  I wish we had made it earlier.  I am glad we are doing it now.  I was worried we wouldn't be able to cram 2 weeks of trash into 1 garbage can but we did it!  I'm proud of us.  We have 3 kids, one still in diapers and during those first 2 weeks we had a birthday party w/ presents.  Not too bad.

The best part is that it has changed the way we think.  Before I throw anything away I first think... can this be recycled?  Can it be composted?  Can it be broken down so SOME of it can be recycled or composted?  

09 November 2011

Lemon Curd

We LOVE lemon curd around here.  LOVE it.  We make it all the time and give it away for hostest gifts, housewarming gifts, Christmas gifts, etc. 

It is actually easier to make than you think.  And you only need 4 things.  Lemons, butter, sugar and eggs.  Over the years I've tried dozens of recipies and have developed this one.

You will need:
3 lemons
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs

A juicer, zester and a food processer.  And a pot.

Start by dumping 2 cups sugar into the food processer.  Then zest the lemons on top of the sugar.

After you zest the lemons, juice them and set aside.  You may get anywhere from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup.  Doesn't really matter by the way.  Use it all.... whatever you get from 3 lemons.

At this point I line up my stuff.  Here it is in the order I'll use it.  Lemon - sugar.  Butter.  Eggs.  Lemon juice.

Then process the sugar and zest until the zest is WELL processed.  This may take several minutes.  You want to get the zest as fine in texture as the sugar if possible.  This allows you to avoid the straining step so many curd recipies include.

Drop in the butter.  I use salted.  You can use unsalted.  If you do, toss in a big pinch of salt.

Cream the lemon-sugar and butter. 

Add eggs, 1 at a time.

Then the juice.

It should look something like this.

Dump the mixture into a heavy pot.  Put over low to medium heat.  Stir.

Stir some more.  This will take about 10 minutes.

Now you want to stir as it heats up.  Don't stop stirring.  After about 10 minutes it will noticably thicken.  It happens suddenly so don't walk away.  This happens at about 165-175 degrees.  Feel free to check the temp if you are nervous about missing the "sweet moment".  Notice the mixture below looks thick... like warm pudding.  At this point take it off the heat.  You are done!

Pour into containers.  Store in Refrigerator.  Eat.  Share with friends.  Enjoy!

Mine doesn't ever last long.... yours won't either!  I'll post my scone recipe some other time....


06 November 2011


I know it is strange to be reading a blog about zucchini in November.  I threw a Halloween party and my friend showed up with this HUGE zucchini.  I am pretty sure she brought it as a joke.  Little did she know......

I grated up the entire thing and packaged it into freezer bags then tried a few zucchini recipies.  It's been zucchini week here as a result.

So the first thing I tried was Martha Stewart's Zucchini cupcake recipe.  I more or less followed the recipe.

Except I omitted the nuts and the frosting... making them borderline "muffins" rather than cupcakes.
There were great!  The boys ate them up as fast as I would let them..

Then I tried zucchini fritters.  I started with a recipe I've wanted to try from Smitten Kitchen.  I follwed the recipe exactly and then went and fried them up in reserved bacon fat.  Yum.  I had them for lunch 3 days in a row. 

And lastly I made a chocolate zucchini cake.  Believe it or not I had never made one before.  My mom made them but I've never had SO much zucchini that I was looking to add it to chocolate cake. 

This one turned out really good. 

Again, I omitted the nuts and had to cook it 10 minutes longer than called for.  I took it to a "mixer" for my sons school and it got smiles and nods from the other parents as they ate it.  That's good I guess right?

So there you have it.  My zucchini week in the middle of November.  And now thanks to my friend my freezer is stocked so I can have "zucchini week" anytime I want!

03 November 2011

Beef & Barley Stew

Beef & Barley Stew

Doesn't that sound good?  It is.  Really good. 

Every winter I find a different go-to beef stew.  Then I find I make it once a month or so until spring.  This year I've settled on beef & barley. 

This isn't hard to make but it takes a bit of time.  Here are the basic ingredients (this serves 6):

2 pounds beef (chopped London broil or stew meat)
1 large onion - chopped
2 large carrots - chopped
2 T tomato paste
6 cloves garlic - minced
1 C dry red wine
2 C water, 4 C chicken stock
1 C pearl barley
Fresh chopped parsley, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

The first step, in my opinion, is the most important.  You MUST brown the beef.  This step will be messy.  Make sure you put on an apron.

If you bought a London Broil, chop it to about 1" squares.  Costco sells a huge package of stew meat (like 5 lbs or something).  That is what I used here.  The nice thing about Costco's meat is it is already chopped and you can freeze half for next months beef barley stew! Now season the beef heavily.  And then season it some more.  Lots of course salt and pepper!

Get a dutch oven or big heavy bottom stockpot.  Heat over medium high heat.  Throw in some olive oil.  Add HALF the beef.  Don't crowd it.  Now wait.  Seriously wait.  If you try to move a piece and it sticks.... you need to WAIT some more.  After you do this a few times you'll be able to tell by smell when they are ready. 

Now turn the beef & brown on all sides.  This is what you are wanting to see.  Remember you don't need it cooked through... only REALLY browned on all sides.

Remove the meat to a bowl or plate & repeat with the other pound.  Set it all aside.

At this point you should have a little fat rendered in the bottom of the stockpot.  If you don't, throw in some more olive oil.  This is what the bottom of my pot looked like after browning 2 pounds of beef.

Now, reduce the heat to medium and dump in those chopped carrots and onion.  Season w/ salt & pepper.  Cook until golden - 10 minutes or so.

Add garlic & tomato paste.

Cook while stirring until caramelized - 2 minutes.

Add wine.  Reduce by half. 

Return the beef to the pot along w/ all the juices.

Then add the water & stock.  Bring to a full boil.

Then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and wait.  For an hour.  Stir it occasionally.

Add barley.

Cover and cook for another 30 minutes stirring occasionally.  Then uncover and simmer for yet another 30 minutes.... or until it is dinner time.

Throw in the parsley, taste for seasoning.


Here is a closer look. Can't you almost smell it?  So good.  Enjoy!