Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Baby. It is sultry and steamy here. And, Babycakes, I am not cooking. I am not even boiling water for my habitual ritual of afternoon tea. I am sitting in front of a petite blue desk-top fan. Eating ice cream. Homemade ice cream, to be exact. With nary a trace of dairy or gluten. And apparently, it is the best homemade ice cream I have ever made (so says my ever willing, taste-testing husband).
Here's my all-time favorite baking pan for gluten-free breads. It's a lovely glazed ceramic pan that creates steady, even heating for gluten-free batters. In other words, it's as foolproof as you can get. Find it here at Amazon: Good Cook 9-Inch Ceramic Loaf Pan.
Make sure your batter isn't cold when you put it into the oven. If you keep your flours in the fridge, for instance, this will cool down your batter quite a bit.
If you find your batter is cooler than room temperature, allow the batter to rest in the pan near the pre-heating stove and let it come to room temperature before you place the bread pan in the oven to bake (I also do this with cakes sometimes).
The first time I tried making gluten-free zucchini bread I did not press the moisture out of the shredded zucchini and my loaf was a tad gummy in the middle from too much moisture. So pat those zucchini strands dry, Campers.
If you find your tea breads and cakes turning out gummy, or falling after baking, you may want to take your oven's temperature- some ovens never quite reach the proper temperature. You can combat this by baking longer, or upping the temp a bit. If the oven temp is not the issue, then start adding a tablespoon or two less liquid to your batters (you may live in a humid climate and your flours may be absorbing moisture; too much moisture can make for a gummy product).
Baking a batch of fresh blueberry muffins is one of my favorite simple pleasures.
I do it early, before the summer day turns sultry and my body slows to a liquid ballet of movement designed to conserve every last salty drop of intention and energy my creaky, vanilla lotioned body can muster. I rise and bake to the rosy morning sun, stirring my batter half asleep, sipping hot coffee. A northern mockingbird sings his deceit outside the kitchen window. He is remarkable in his uncanny repertoire, a gifted mimic, silhouetted high against a summer-blue sky, perched on the tallest utility pole.
I've been reading this week. Finding books a provocative companion. Words that illuminate and poke. Shared stories that send shivers of recognition, trigger anger, or tug one's soul (kicking and whining) into that impossible place- that place where you don't want to go. The stuff that scares you. Because it might be true.
Reading a book about mothers and daughters at twenty is one thing. You bring to its wisdom your newly hatched self-hood, your fresh experience, your familial-infused expectations (and prejudices). The expectations, assumptions and dreams of a young woman. You are the heroine, the daughter starting out on your journey, looking at a long and winding road ahead. So you read. And listen. And play with ideas. You see what fits. And what doesn't.
And then you stand, decades later, stirring blueberry muffin batter on a cloudless morning. And here, now, the words ring deeper. And the truth stings darker. There is a lifetime of days spiraling out beneath you and above you (because by now you know that time is not linear, or finite, like a string of numbers across a calendar). And the same words vibrate with a different meaning, engraved with experience and regret. The same words illuminate as if from a different light source.
Not from the world.
From within you.
And so here I am. A daughter, still. Learning something old as if it is new. And discovering truths as if for the first time, arriving, as T. S. Elliot wrote, where we started.
My intrepid husband slash sous chef was craving a carrot cake style quinoa bar for a mid-morning snack. To be exact, he said, Hey. I'm craving a carrot cake style quinoa breakfast bar. You know. For breakfast. To which yours truly replied, Look who wants to get fancy. My chocolate chip quinoa breakfast bars aren't good enough for you? Now you need frosting?
To which said long suffering husband replied, Frosting makes everything better.
Looking for a fresh idea for a summer picnic or backyard get-together? This cool and breezy quinoa taco salad might be just what you're craving. Laced with lime juice and sea salt, the combo of fluffy quinoa and ripe avocado, spiked with red onion and sunny sweet pepper, served on a crisp bed of romaine lettuce, is a light and healthy twist on the salsa drenched bean and cheese heavy taco salads so ubiquitous years ago.
It's a total win for gluten-free vegans and vegetarians.
And let's face it.
Quinoa is much more hip than canned re-fried beans.
And this particular quinoa taco salad boasts FODMAPs-friendly dairy-free vegan ingredients.
Quinoa is a complete vegetarian protein, so you really don't need the black beans (as a complementary protein)--- unless, of course, you're fond of those fiber rich little beauties in your quinoa salad. And if you do? Legume away dude.
Dairy lover? You can add your favorite shredded cheese or goat cheese, if you desire.
The luscious time of year is fast upon us. And short-lived. Carpe diem we must. So I'll get right to it, Babycakes. Here are my favorite gluten-free strawberry recipes to celebrate the beginning of Summer. Can you dig it?
Parfait This! Easy elegance for a long hot summer- a fabulous coconut ice cream recipe served parfait style with blueberries and strawberries. (And it's gluten-free and dairy-free.) ...
During a heat wave yours truly is unable to muster any enthusiasm for cooking. Typically, I live on gluten-free peanut butter toast. And ice cream. Yes, I know. I am a poor, sad, sad role model. What kind of food blogger doesn't rise to the challenge and cheer-lead you to whip up kale salads and raw peach smoothies? What kind of food blogger would simply give in to her sticky, damp fatigue and general overall crankiness and not create some inspiring, nutritious, bunny food slaw for you?
She who is about to share a no-cook recipe she actually DID make last night, standing directly in front of her three-speed fan, silver streaked hair pinned wantonly (fashionably!) askew atop her itchy, sweaty head.
Sweet and cold and creamy. Coconut milk ice cream.
Beautiful Quinoa Salad with Grilled Veggies Everyone loves a good old fashioned barbecue. The easy conviviality of a family backyard picnic. The smoky summer scent of charred goodies grilling. Lemonade chilling. Badminton birdies sailing. The crack of croquet balls. The last pink of June daylight. Punching lids on firefly jars. It's the stuff of a midsummer night's dream.
But if you need to be on a gluten-free diet- or if you happen to be vegan- or allergic to wheat- barbecues can be a tad less than convivial. Those mysterious grilling sauces and marinades (so often containing wheat-laced soy sauce). Those gluten-rich fluffy hot dog buns. All those meaty manly burgers and boiled egg dotted salads.
What's a gluten-free vegan to do?
Munch on lettuce?
Don't worry, Babycakes. I've got your back.
How about a light and summery quinoa salad with grilled corn, fresh parsley, lemon, and chopped mint topped with smoky grilled veggies- velvety red onion, sliced zucchini, charred bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, tender-crisp asparagus and butter soft eggplant?
When I first set foot on this lonely gluten-free road (it was 2001, remember, pre-gluten-free boon; there was nary a gluten-free bagel or wheat-free blueberry muffin in sight), I wrestled with converting my beloved tried and true wheat flour recipes, gamely baking and tossing too many gluten-free hockey pucks and brick loaves to count. Until I discovered xanthan gum- the weirdo secret ingredient that gave gluten-free batter and dough a hint of that elusive stretchy tenderness that gluten once gifted. Xanthan gum was a find.
And it has been a nifty little problem solver for many years.
Until it wasn't.
After a decade or so of cooking, baking, and eating strictly gluten-free I began to feel- shall we say- less than wonderful after eating something with xanthan gum (or guar gum, or locust bean gum, or carrageenan).
Ingredients my grandmother never heard of. Ingredients I never used to eat. Or bake with.
I had a gluten-free shakabuku.
I was seeing gums and emulsifiers added to everything. From coconut milk to olives, from gluten-free gingersnaps to vegan ice cream.
And I decided to go back to the way I used to eat- still gluten-free, of course- but- no xanthan gum. No guar gum. No carrageenan.
My tummy is (WAY) happier. My digestion is normal (translation- no pain, no bloat, no kill me now existential ennui).
I've been experimenting with baking without xanthan gum. And I'm here to share my blueberry muffin success. I'm using flax seed meal to help the batter a bit. And so far?
Karina's Side Note: I baked these tasty little gems in my new Cuisinart Deluxe Convection Toaster Oven Broiler (our new apartment has no oven, so after researching counter top toaster ovens, we ordered one of these from Amazon.com). I love it- it keeps the kitchen cool (gives off very little heat) and the convection baking is super efficient for baking gluten-free goodies. So far we've made my xanthan gum free Dark Chocolate Brownies, and the new Blueberry Muffins in it, using the convection method.