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Friday, October 30, 2009

Me gustan estas tortilla. There really is a Gluten Free flour tortilla...

I love these tortillas. Libertad! (freedom!) …to eat soft tacos again! Libertad! eat a pita wrap again. Libertad! I love these GF flour tortillas because they taste wonderful, but most importantly because they behave beautifully in texture for many things, something that many GF foods just cannot do.

Every gluten free home (or every home for that matter) should have a tortilla press (see the video how to use it to make these at the bottom). In a GF home you can make these amazing tortillas, but can also can make unmatched, crisp and salty GF saltine crackers (I will post soon in a future blog). It is a tool that will be used often, I assure you!
But let’s get to these GF flour tortillas. You will need to source lentil flour, also seen as Urad Dal, or a few other names in the Asian, or ethnic markets in your area. I have not tried this with other flours (like soy, or bean, or potato), but you can. Tell me how it turns out. But I find this combination of lentil flour and Tom Sawyer flour makes these what they are!

1 cup Tom Sawyer GF flour + 1 tbs
½ cup lentil flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup warm water (from the tap)
1 tsp salt, dissolved in the water
3 tbs fat (olive oil, or other oil)

Add the baking powder to the flours in your mixing bowl. In a separate measure, to the warm water add the salt and the oil, stir to dissolve the salt.
Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, blend the flours while drizzling in the oil and water mixture. Add as much of this mixture as it will take, it may not take it all depending on your climate.
Add enough to bring the mixture together. The dough will pull away from the sides. It becomes smooth and slightly shiny, but should not be sticky.

Make balls using a 1 oz scooper. Balls should be about golf ball size. Press in tortilla press using saran wrap placed on both sides of the press. If the dough is right, it will peel off easily from the saran wrap.
Cook this then on a dry griddle (non-stick), but I recommend a cast iron skillet. Depending on your stove, it should be set to around Medium. Test a small piece first on your skillet. It will look cooked and have some browned spots when done.
Let cool to room temperature before storing in a bag or covered container.
Reheat in the microwave, or steam them until soft.
Obviously, eat these however you see fit– I enjoy them as:
  • As a wrap
  • For quesadilla
  • For cheese crisp
  • Individual thin crust pizza crusts (11-year old test-passed)
  • For soft tacos
  • As pita chips (cut into triangles and bake till crisp)
I have used these all these ways with fantastic results!
A triple batch of this (match each batch one at a time, do not triple in the same bowl) makes a few dozen. Those last me in our home about 2 weeks in the fridge.
Enjoy! Muy bueno.

Using the tortilla press.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Harvest…

So, I garden. I love gardening. To me it is the most elemental cycle of life when I can press a small seed into the moist earth with my finger, and with little, or sometimes no tending, it springs forth something that lives and grows and becomes something I can pluck from the earth to sustain life with. Food sustains life. The cycle that God created is amazing to me. It really makes me appreciate the grand design God made.

The first thing I do when I get home each day is pat the doggies on the head and then head straight out to my little plot of homestead in this urban place I call home. Here in AZ we can garden pretty much anything, nearly all year round.
I plant in late September for winter harvests, and then again in late February for summer harvest. I planted what you see in my garden the last week of September.
My favorite time of day is inspecting the yard to see what new little surprises have sprung forth while I was away working in my corporate cubicle all day.

Today, to my dismay, seven little, green caterpillars munched hungrily on my mint ravaging it to nubs. But then, as I made the way to my fenced garden, I see two little bobbins peeking out from the earth, shiny, and red and happy, waiting for me to pluck them from the earth!

My first harvest of the season! Two French breakfast radishes may seem like a small harvest to some, but it just means there is much more to come very soon!

I have a philosophy of food being from its source...and while I know not everyone shares that same philosophy, I really encourage everyone to try to grow something. There is something amazing about watching the cycle play out, and being a part of it that is wonderful.

My Top Two Picks and Tips for Beginners are:
  • Radishes
  • Sunflowers
They can be grown in pots, in the ground, or even in paper cups! I like these seeds, by Botanical Interests. They germinate very quickly (in only a few days) and produce very quick results, thus giving you gratification and confidence to keep it going!
Follow directions on the seed package, and grow them indoors if your climate is too cold, and keep them near a very sunny window. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gluten Free Bon-Bons

My dearest friend, whose son is Celiac, gave me her amazing GF chocolate chip cookie recipe (watch for it in a future posting).
Her chocolate chips cookies are amazing in their own right– you know, the kind you keep thinking about when they are all gone...that good.

Well, as I have mentioned I believe the food we take in should have intentional purpose; of healing, of nutrition, or of contribution to overall health.
Her recipe offered a fantastic base to add a few additional items to make these cookies something I can eat with intent, really good things that are good for me, even while eating a treat.
I feel ok about treating myself to these because– while yes, there is butter and sugar, there are also those other beneficial ingredients as well.
These are a GF chocolate treat that are fantastic with a cup of espresso, or just a glass of milk! Make a lot, they pop easy (1, 2, 3, …did I just eat 4?) at a time!
(Thank you friend.)

The benefits of the ingredients:
  • Chocolate and cocoa contain a high level of flavonoids, and antioxidents. The 60% chips and the cocoa powder add a great dose of antioxidants; and cocoa in general has been definitely linked to cardiovascular health benefits
  • The oats add fiber and help lower cholesterol, as does the flax which is also a great addition of Omega-3s
  • Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E, and monounsaturated fat, one of the two benefical fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol.

    ¾ cup softened butter (1.5 sticks)
    1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
    ¼ cup white sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp GF vanilla
    2 ¼ cups Tom Sawyer Gluten Free Flour (or your GF flour blend)
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    8 oz Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips
    ½ cup oats (regular non quick cook)
    ¼ cup flax meal
    ½ cup cocoa powder
    ½ cup whole almonds (optional, or add a nut you love)

    Heat oven to 350-degrees.
    In a mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine. To the bowl, add the GF flour, cocoa powder, flax meal, baking soda and salt. Fold in the oats chocolate chips and almonds. Drop by tablespoons, or a small scooper on to a lined baking sheet.
    Bake for about 10-13 minutes depending on your oven.

A green lunch…

Our home is a ‘pack and take your lunch to work’ household. Our packed lunches earlier this year plagued me. There was so much waste involved. Dozens and dozens of Ziploc baggies a week, which cannot be sent to the recycle bin and have to be thrown away (or washed and reused). The brown bags we were using are recyclable, but that was still creating waste. I set on a quest to find a zero waste lunch.

Here is my solution:
With some investment on the front end, these sealable ‘bento’ style boxes are fantastic. The box is leak proof with a rubber seal. The inner plastic boxes have lids. I wrap sandwiches or wraps in foil, which can be recycled (ok, almost zero waste). The rest comes home and gets washed!
Because it’s airtight, not everything needs to be wrapped. The sandwich could even go unwrapped, some sometimes mustard makes a break for it and gets on the rest of the items, so wrapping it works out best. In the end it saves money, because I no longer by boxes of Ziploc at the grocery, and we create nearly zero waste from our mid-day meal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is there freedom in a blueberry muffin?

Being gluten intolerant, i'll admit leans itself to tendencies of slowing down the progress of some days. Like a quick grab-and-go breakfast.
Is there freedom in a blueberry muffin? Yes, there is. Freedom from gluten free Rice Chex every morning day after day because it is fast, or going to Starbucks and just having coffee instead of eating a yummy tid-bit to go with it (these muffins travel exceptionally well tucked into a corner of a purse).

Fannie Farmer tried and true (every kitchen should have one) lends her muffin recipe as my inspiration. I modified it a bit here and there to a gluten free conversion with Tom Sawyer flour, but I think Fannie would still recognize her muffin. Thanks Fannie, and thanks Tom for grab-and-go freedom.

2 cups Tom Sawyer Gluten Free Flour (or your pre-mixed GF flour blend)
1 tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
3 tbs olive oil
1 cup dried blueberries tossed in 1 tbs of GF flour (or fresh if you have them).

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg, buttermilk, and oil, stirring enough to dampen the flour, the batter should not be too smooth. Fold in the blueberries. Use a scooper or spoon to fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes. They will be a little golden on top. Mine keep under the cake dome for about a week (they don’t last past that.) Fridge works great too!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Peanut Butter

Ever on a quest for foods non-mass produced or minimally-processed foods that are simple to create at home, I now am making peanut butter. Yes– the jar can be simple. However, making it yourself lets you control the ingredients, the sugar and the oil. This home version uses far, far less oil than manufactured kinds. This one even passed the finicky 11-year old test. Texture and all.

Peanut Butter
3 cups unsalted shelled peanuts
3 tsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup + 1 tbs brown sugar

Place nuts and oil and salt in a food processor. Begin to blend it together. The mixture will go from whole peanuts, to crumble over the next few minutes. Every minute or so, stop the processor and using a spatula scrape the mixture around. Keep processing, and the mixture will magically transform. It will go from a dry peanut crumble to a magnificent pool of creamy peanut butter. Add the brown sugar and process again to combine.

This peanut butter is smooth, but maintains a grainy (in a good way) and crunchy texture. Keep it in the fridge in a glass jar.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A few words about Tom Sawyer Gluten Free Flour.

I have been known to thank our good Lord during grace at the table for a man named Tom Sawyer, and for his flour. His flour changed my gluten free life.

Tom’s flour is by far the very best to use in gluten free recipes.
 What I love about his flour is there are not extra items to add, like xantham gum, his blend is flavor neutral, and imparts no additional flavors to the food, like other flours can sometimes you want that, but often with baked goods, you don’t. Also, I can take any recipe, and simply substitute in his flour, and the food turns out amazing.

I mail order it from Sedona (local to me in AZ). You can too.

Trust me; it is worth the mail order. You will never go back. For new gluten free bakers, you will see often and wonderful success, I promise.

That said, I realize mail ordering your flour is not for all, so use whatever GF flour blend you choose to use in these recipes. If you have a mix you buy of GF flour, or that you make, you can use that in my recipes. They should turn out the same without issue, however the flavors may not be right on.

Every home should have a yogurt maker...

• Local, organic milk (any fat)
• Bob’s red mill sweet dairy whey powder (or use powdered milk)
• Starter yogurt cup (this is simply a store bought cup of yogurt, plain. Horizon organic is best I find)

In a large Pyrex measure or bowl, measure out as many cups of milk as you have yogurt containers. I have 7, so I measure seven. Add to this your yogurt starter (the store bought cup of yogurt). Add to this 7-10 tbs of sweet dairy whey powder.
Use a whisk and whisk until the powder is dissolved. Let it sit in the Pyrex on your counter for about 30 minutes to bring it from fridge-cold, to more room temperature.

Pour the mixture into the cups in the maker. Lid the maker and turn on.
I do this in the eve after work, and let it go all night. In the am, I lid them and put them in the fridge and I am done.

Here is how I use it.
I eat it out of cup and flavor with a tablespoon of jam before eating, or of agave nectar. It is also a main ingredient in my husband and my self’s several day a week smoothie routine.

A note about the whey:
Bob’s Red Mill sells it and in my city, it is easily accessible, as it should be in most that have well stocked markets like Whole Foods, Sprouts, or the Sunflower family of markets. The whey (or if using powdered milk) thicken the yogurt to a more American style palette. It also adds nutrition in the way of protein. The whey adds a sweetness, that cuts the tart a bit, that the powdered milk will not. Either is fine to use. Either is fine to omit as well, the yogurt will be thinner in consistency if you omit.

A note about the starter yogurt:
Make your first batch with a store bought yogurt. You can make a second batch from one of your own as a starter. However, I have found that going beyond that, will not make good batches. So every other, use a store bought starter yogurt.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ok, so here it is...

I've done it, I have started a food blog. Many have asked...and so today, I launch the blog. Gluten Free Chow. This is not a life of living without, it is a life with freedom, gluten freedom!