Easy & Delicious GF Pie Substitute

I hate to keep whining about this gluten-free thing, but I’m amazed how often it comes up.  Not just as an ingredient but as a convenience – what could be more convenient or available than a sandwich – and even as a tradition.  Every year (for 7 glorious, much-appreciated years), Dad and Step-Mom have invited us for a week at the Chautauqua Institution, a place full of thought, the arts, compassionate spirituality and for us, family meals that include pie made at a local farmer’s market.  My husband and my Dad often enjoy pie 3 times a day, with the ‘all that fruit’ offering the perfect justification for their over-indulgence.

What to do about this gluten-full tradition?  As much as I want to help, I am on vacation and not about to spend the week trying to perfect gluten free pie crust.  So, I sought to create a lazy alternative that would satisfy the pie-ready-triangle-shaped space in my husband’s gut.

Here is my easy peezy, lemon squeezy cobbler recipe that has been very well received.  Thank goodness!!
I made it twice, and guess what Little Sis? – the second time was better than the first!

Easy Peezy Lemon Squeezy Cobbler or EP Cobbler
- Fruit to cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan about 1/2 – 1 inch thick.
The first time I made it I used 8 peaches in a slightly smaller pan… The second time I used 3 peaches, 1 small nectarine and a pint of blueberries.  The result was better with the fruit more spread out.
- 2 cups oats divided into 1 cup measures
- 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar – which translates to about 1/3 packed I’m guessing
- 1/4 cup dairy butter (I haven’t tried vegan butter or oil, let me know if you do!)
- 1/4 tsp salt (optional – I did not use, but it probably would only improve the flavor)

Pre-heat oven to 350
Wash and cut if using large fruit – don’t cut blueberries ;-)
Spread in bottom of lightly oiled pan
Mix in 1 cup of rolled oats and stir around

In mixing bowl mix 1 cup oats, butter cut into chunks, brown sugar and salt if using
Mash it around until it is small clumps.
Spread the small clumps out as evenly as possible over the fruit

Bake for about a half hour, or until lightly browned on top and fruit is fragrant and soft.

Serve to pie lovers on pie plates with pie forks and with loving instructions to place, with or without ice cream, in pie hole :-)

(Take a big serving for yourself because they’ll be back for more and eat it all.   You know how they are.)

Camm (coconut almond milk mash) Cookies

If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know that I am writing about last week’s cookies! (Course I had to tell you. I’m not very good at keeping secrets – you can ask Little Sis.)

My family has been on the road visiting other family, including Little Sis (yeah!), Step-daughter and 2 of my three wonderful step-grands, and we are now enjoying The Chautauqua Institute in New York with Dad and Step-Mom.   Little Sis kindly has posted in my absence and now I’m cooking in someone else’s kitchen…Luckily I have pictures from last week’s second endeavor to use the almond milk meal (AMM) leftover from making almond milk.  And most importantly, I took a photo of the write-on wipe-off board on my frig where I noted the ingredients…

Ignore the cumin – from an earlier endeavor :-)

In the past I have been an overzealous holiday cookie maker who then embarks on the dreary 12-step process of cookie-making recovery.  Despite having only made it to step 4 this year, I have been thinking about treats that can go in a lunch box and be eaten by my gluten-free husband.  Here is my attempt to make something recognizably treat-y from AMM.

CAMM cookies
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup almond milk mash
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. liquid sweet (I used 1 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 Tbsp. agave)
1 egg
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
dash salt and vanilla (I’d guesstimate 1/4 tsp vanilla for this small batch)

Preheat oven to 350
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
Mash together the AMM, butter, and coconut
add coconut, vanilla and salt
add beaten egg

Drop by spoonful onto parchment lined baking sheet

smash with a fork to flatten
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until getting a little crispy.
If you take them out too early (I tried taking them out at different times) they stay kind of mushy.
Cool on a rack and enjoy!!

As I contemplate my only child entering Middle School with the concomitant increased freedom and exposure regarding worldly foods and foibles, I am going to attempt to provide snacks in the lunch that will entice him to walk the straight and narrow – or narrow-ish.  It ain’t going to be easy my friends!  But my rapidly rising (in height, ability and attitude) 6th grader thought these cookies were awesome, so we’re off to a good start.

Choppity, Chop, Chop… Look at Mommy Go!

I’m not usually a product endorsement kind of gal.  I am, in fact, a marketing scoffer – okay it’s more like marketing scorner.  I, rather hostilely, resist attempts to convince me that I NEED something and that a particular version of that something is the ONE that I have to have.  Generally I find that my position on purchases has worked out in my favor, finding items that are good enough, that serve well enough without requiring me to shell out more than I care to or more than I can.  I should, however, admit to an error in judgment when it comes to my kitchen equipment.

For the most part in the kitchen I believe that a couple of decent knives, a cutting board that won’t screw the knives up and a couple of cast iron pans and a pot are the basis for most delicious dishes.  My desire to keep extra crap off the counter led me to deny my poor husband a toaster for many years (can’t we make toast some other way, do you really eat so much toast that we need a machine devoted to it).  It was in this same vein that I long refused to consider a food processor.  I do have knives, and after all this is really just a special knife, right?  Right.  It is.  When Big Sis purchased a Vita Mix a million years ago and then moved and decided she didn’t wish to pack both the Vita Mix and the food processor, she gave me hers.  Accepting a small appliance for free is, for me anyway, decidedly different than buying one.

The machine was nothing fancy and over time I lost some of the bits and bobs that might have allowed it to be more useful to me, but it served its occasional purpose, and as I became more interested in plant based eating, and a regular devotee of hummus, my modest food processor and I began a bit of love affair.  Hummus, brownie bites, awesome oaty bites, pesto… we had a ball.  And then the bottom rim that locked it on began to separate from the bowl.  No problem – no internal damage, super glue to the rescue.  Kept going.  More food and a couple of months later… a tiny screw falls out of the lid.  I couldn’t see what the thing did, but found out the next time I used it that the screw was in some part responsible for keeping the food IN the processor.  Another little adjustment.  More food and a couple of months later.  The screw fell out, the pst it screwed into broke off, a piece broke away from the lid, the bottom rim separated from the bowl again….  OK, OK, OK.  I give.  Perfectly good motor, but replacement bowls are no longer available.  I freecycled the parts that were still working and began to explore my options.

I meticulously read all the reviews and heard it over and over “Cuisinart, Cuisinart, Cuisinart.”  It was like a whisper “dark chocolate, dark chocolate with a little caramel and a touch of salt and maybe some nuts… you really NEED this.”  And after checking with a few fab bloggers who also make a lot of hummus and nut-based yum, I took the leap that a big sale made MUCH less painful and ordered this little beauty.  It came and as I removed each heavy, sturdy, sharp bit from the box it was clear to me that this was not just ANY food processor.  And so I embarked on my first cooking adventure with my new toy.  And while I will not concede the point that I NEED this device, I will say that I really LOVE having my new super-powered and suprsingly quiet awesome Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor.  And so I made beet burgers with it.  Because what else would you do with a brand spanking new food processor but cover it with beet juice as an initiation.

I started with this recipe on Post Punk Kitchen (a good place to start for most things plant-based, BTW.  As per usual, I made some changes based on what I had available, and in order to better accommodate my children, and well, because I can’t seem to help myself.  Instead of brown rice, I used leftover quinoa. Instead of lentils, black beans as I actually had a couple of cans and was starting late.  I mournfully eliminated the fennel as I suspected it would cause kid problems and I replaced the almond butter with peanut butter because it’s cheaper (there, I said it).  Had some breadcrumbs left from another dish – wouldn’t say they were fine, but it didn’t seem to be an issue.  As for procedure, I followed the directions to a tee (aren’t you proud of me),

I shredded my beets in my fabulous new knife and then used it to chop the onions and garlic because I was so happy with how the beets came out.  Onions out, quinoa, beans, and beets into miracle machine, pulsed many times until beet shreds were less shreddy and beans were less beany – whole thing looked, much to my mixed feelings, like purple meat.  Put that in bowl with remaining ingredients.  Chilled for 20 minutes (she says half an hour, I’m a bad planner).  Made patties, cooked in fabulously versatile and cheap cast iron pan which had been preheated with some oil.  Flipped after about five minutes when crust developed (watch yours, I get interrupted often in the kitchen at this point, so my timing is approximate at best).  Served as I would my favorite burger.  For me this means bread,  ketchup, lettuce, and kimchi.  Delish, and easy, and relatively quiet for such a powerful spinning knife.

Sneaky Pete Strikes Again

So we’re in it.  High summer with all of its promise and all of its chores.  The bugs are completely out of control (imagine I used to think that grasshoppers were interesting; now I simply loathe them), and the powdery mildew is rampant.  Maintaining the garden is a delicate balance.  It would be easy to spend all day out there and have a neat garden with fewer pests and probably greater productivity.  Well, I shouldn’t say it would be EASY because there is simply not time for me to be that kind of gardener, and my garden elves have an attention span of approximately 35 minutes for garden related chores.  I can sometimes distract them for a while longer, but the fact is that distracting them from their boredom so that I can work is often as time consuming as simply changing course and doing something fun with them, like melting crayons between sheets of wax paper.  Let’s face it, melting crayons is WAY more fun than stalking grasshoppers.  And so, I get what I get from the garden.  It is productive enough and (knocking on wood) it looks like I may get tomatoes this year, provided the squirrels let me keep them….

The gardening tricks don’t end at growth however, we must find ways to eat the lovely produce that we get from the garden.  For me, this often means eating while I pick, but the kids are not always so easily enticed.  And there are few of our glorious garden vegetables that have made it onto the “I will never, not ever eat a ______” list.  Zucchini has taken up permanent residence on this list, despite my fabulous grated zucchini.  This being high zucchini time for many gardeners in the U.S., there are many fabulous recipes that highlight this wonderful veg – accenting its natural deliciousness, mixing it with its natural flavor friends – tomatoes, eggplant, onions, garlic…. a quick Google search on the proud green squash  and you will be overwhelmed with options. But  I had a different goal: getting the zucchini in the little people without them knowing.  Yes, I wanted to sneak in a zucchini.  I am a fan of sneaking in for two reasons: 1) it allows me to get more veggies into my kids without the occasional drama that the “eat your vegetables” command can produce and 2) it provides me with the opportunity to inform them that they’ve eaten something on the black list of produce and didn’t realize they were eating it, and that they in fact enjoyed a much maligned veggie. HA!  The simple joys of parenting.

And so… I messed with the queen mother of my daughter’s favorite dishes: Cheesy Noodles.  I humbly bring you:

Zucheezy Noodles with Crunchy Bits

  • 1 lb noodles (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2c water
  • 2 c soft cheese (I used this awesomeness)
  • milk to blend (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 2 T nutritional yeast (opt.)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2  c unsweetened flake cereal/crackers/bread crumbs (opt)
  • 1/2 c wheat germ (opt)
  • 1t kelp flakes (opt)

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease a casserole dish.  For this little experiment, my kids chose gobettie (corkscrews) for this recipe (a little pretend democracy never hurts when trying a new recipe on them), but any thick noodle would work.  Cook noodles according to package directions or your own tried and true.  While waiting for water to boil/noodles to cook, assemble your sauce.  Peel zucchini and put  in powerful blender (in whatever size your blender is going to need) and add enough water to create a slurry.  Blend until the zucchini is unrecognizable.  Add chunks of the soft cheese, adding milk to create motion in the blender and a very thick, but still pourable sauce consistency.  Add nutritional yeast if you like it, and salt if you’re not trying to avoid it.  Add the garlic powder because it makes everything more awesome.  Adjust spice and consistency to your tastes.  When noodles are done, drain them.  Pour half into greased dish.  Add half of your cheese sauce.  Pour the rest of the noodles in and cover with the remaining sauce.  Do not scrape out the blender – you will use the cheese on the sides for the topping.

The Topping: Meausre the cereal and wheat germ into a bowl.  Use a spoon to mash the cereal up a bit for easier eating.  Add the scrapings from your sauce to give a little fat and damp to the crumb topping so it doesn’t burn and actually gets a little crunch going.  Add to top of casserole.  Bake in oven with rack in middle or just below (burned crumb topping is a buzzkill) for about a half an hour, or until it’s hot enough for you, or until the children come completely unglued.  For me, these three seemed to coincide last night, a miracle of good time or simple coincidence.

We served ours with peas (peas are always served with cheesy noodles here) and fresh carrots.  Little buggers had no idea they were also eating zucchini until I revealed that at lunch today.  They were unphased; I’ve no idea if that means they’ll be open to zucchini, but I’m pretty sure I’ll keep it a secret again next time and slip that bugger in there.  The dish was delish and if my zucchini plant produces the way it looks like it might, I’ll be sneaking those things in many suppers to come.

I’m Crackers for/from Almond Milk Mash

Now that’s a confusing title.  I ditched some even more confusing titles, but suffice it to say that I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the mushy almond stuff leftover after making almond milk.  This post is a Eureka! for my first success with AMM (almond milk mash).  The recipe provided can be used with or without the marvelous mash, so read on if you are not yet an almond masher!

Making almond milk is very easy and MUCH cheaper than store bought.  It is about 1/4th the cost after you pay for your nut milk bag.  I followed instructions provided by our dear friend Somer at Good Clean Food.  After using 1 cup of almonds (which swells to 1.5 cups when soaked for 24 hours in the refrigerator) I am left with about 1 cup of AMM.  I decided to add some of it to an awesome cracker recipe from Angela Liddon called Endurance Crackers.  They are gluten free and packed with energy.  These are NOT low calorie folks, but sometimes I need some calories – just ask Jillian Michaels who regularly leads me to new realms of soreness and exhaustion!

At any rate – Here is the original recipe with my alterations because even if you don’t make your own almond milk, you can still make these awesome, healthy crackers.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds        (I used 1/2 cup AMM plus 1/3 cup each of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds)
1/2 cup pepita seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup water    (I replaced 1 Tbsp of water with 1 Tbsp of bragg’s liquid aminos – you could also use soy sauce)
1 large garlic clove, finely grated
1 tsp grated sweet onion (I’ve used regular onion as well and the onion gives a lot of flavor)
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Herbamare & kelp granules, to taste (optional)  (I did not use /don’t have)

1. Preheat the oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix the seeds together.  In a small bowl, mix the water, grated garlic, and grated onion. Whisk well. Pour the water mixture onto the seeds and stir until thick and combined. Season with salt, and optional Herbamare and Kelp granules, to taste. Add spices or fresh herbs if you wish.

3. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet with the back of a spoon until it’s less than 1/4 inch thick. Not to worry if a couple parts become too thin, you can just patch them up.  (I found it much easier to spread evenly using my hand than a spatula or spoon.)

4. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, slice into crackers,

Carefully flip the crackers with a spatula.

Bake for another 30 minutes, watching closely after about 25 minutes.

The bottoms will be lightly golden in colour. Allow to cool completely on the pan. Store in a container or plastic baggy.

These crackers are hearty and tasty with or without AMM, but AMM saves me a little money and makes me feel like a good doobie who uses all parts of the animal… er, plant.  Now if I could just figure out what to do with the caps from the commercial almond milk containers that I saved figuring they must be useful in some way ;-)

Breyer’s Frozen Dairy Dessert Reply

Progress can be slow.  As slow as melting ‘Frozen Dairy Dessert.’

I wanted to keep you posted on my interactions with Unilever, the multi-national corporation that owns the Breyer’s brand.  If you missed the letter I sent to Unilever about the change in many of their Breyer’s products from ‘all-natural ice cream’ to ‘Frozen Dairy Dessert’, you can read it here.

Clearly, I am not the first person to complain about the change in quality and taste as well as the addition of UN-natural ingredients to the ice cream formerly known as Breyer’s all Natural.  My letter was met with an almost immediate email response (read below) and the promise of a more in-depth look at my concerns in the future.  The email includes a list of the flavors that will not be changed to Frozen Dairy Dessert – but beware!!!  The ‘Ice Cream’ label does not preclude the use of either tara or guar gum or of caramel color which is an additive that the Center for Science in the Public Interest places on their AVOID list.  Please feel free to add your voice to the discontent appearing in the Unilever in-box at this link.

Additionally, I just received a coupon in the mail for a free Breyer’s product.  This was also obviously a canned response as the opening sentence is, “Thank you for contacting us regarding Breyers Ice Cream.  We are very sorry to learn you had this experience.”  I’m not deriding them for the canned comments, after all they did respond quickly, just amused and wondering if I will indeed ever hear any more.

As to the coupon for the product I swore I would never buy again… I will actually use this coupon to obtain for free the least offensive of their ice creams because it is not putting money in their pocket…. in fact it is taking it OUT of their pocket.  If a lot of people sent them letters to complain about the changes, Unilever would be sending out a lot of free coupons.  Might cost them more than they are saving by using cheap ingredients!  I’m just sayin…  Here’s the link for comments again.

And finally the moment you’ve all been waiting patiently for… here’s the email I received.

“Thank you for contacting us regarding Breyers Ice Cream .

Breyers® products have consistently delivered high-quality ingredients, great flavors and smooth creaminess that our fans love and we assure you that we remain committed to using high-quality ingredients in all our Breyers® products. Our Ice Cream varieties and new Frozen Dairy Dessert options continue to use fresh milk, cream and sugar.

What distinguishes our Frozen Dairy Dessert from our Ice Cream is that it’s blended in a whole new way to create a smoother texture, tends to have lower fat, and maintains a better texture throughout distribution…from our freezer to your home freezer.

Breyers® offers a wide range of products to meet the different taste, nutritional, and value needs of consumers. Many flavors will not be converting to Frozen Dairy Dessert, including: Natural Vanilla, Natural Strawberry, Chocolate, French Vanilla, Vanilla/Chocolate/Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, Homemade Vanilla, Coffee, Vanilla/Chocolate, Lactose-Free Vanilla, Triple Chocolate, and NASCAR® Checkered Flag.

Your comments are extremely important to us and we will share them with our staff. We thank you for your interest in our products and we will be sending you a complimentary coupon via U.S. Postal mail which you should receive within 7-10 business days.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Breyers”

All I can say is…. Eat Food!  REAL Food!

No Farms, No Food

This week I have had such a privilege. I signed my children up for nature camp this week through our county parks and recreation department. Two hours per morning for the week, led by naturalists, conducted at a nature center, and titled: Creepies and Crawlies. My daughter has been looking forward to learning about these critters all summer. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been looking forward to the guarantee of two hours a day where I’m not in charge, or playing referee, or helping guide them towards a snack we can all feel good about. I did not expect the impact that his camp would have on me. Yes, it’s been fun to hear them talking about hissing cockroaches, ratsnakes, salamanders, and slugs (well okay, not so much the slugs)… but that’s not what has affected me the most. I have been moved by the drive to and from camp.

Frederick County farm courtesy of Wikipedia

I live in middle Maryland and our area is pretty varied in the sense that we have a small city 2 miles from our home and a great number of reasonably modern developments within 5 miles of that city, but once you get out of that 5 mile ring, it’s pretty much all farms – and an occasional cluster of small stores (bakeries, butchers, barbers and gas stations seem to be the most common) with a four way stop or stoplight. I’ve been floating through the farmland of Frederick County all week, marveling at the hard work and persistence that each field and house represent. It is relentlessly beautiful. Everywhere I look there is life and today, finally, there is rain. Sweet rain. It arrived last night in an avalanche of bluster and booming that forced us to drug the dog (yes, I’m serious) and break out the glowing bracelets I had left from the fourth of July for the kids. They fell asleep in a sweaty tangle in the bunk they chose to share during the storm. I stepped out onto the patio for a moment to catch the smell at the beginning of that storm. A smell I remember well from childhood summers, but that we don’t seem to get all that often anymore. It was glorious.

The rain eventually tapered off a bit, and so I am hopeful that it was gentle enough at some point in the evening to begin to ease conditions for the crops and farmers I’ve been admiring all week. I know one storm will not stem the tide. Today’s fits and starts of gentler rain will need to show a little more staying power to make much difference either. I also know that our situation here in Maryland is nowhere near as dire as it is in so many parts of the country. I am thankful for my neighbors that they haven’t yet had to admit to themselves that this year’s efforts were all for naught. I am heartsick for the farmers of the mid-west and other parts of the U.S. and Canada who are likely to lose their entire crop for the year.

There are a lot of conversations that we can have about this drought, but for the purposes of THIS blog, I want to stick with our guiding principle: eat food, real food. Tomorrow is farm market day in many communities. If you are fortunate enough to have a farmers’ market near you, I urge you to visit. If you live in an area where the farmers are struggling, I implore you to go. See what’s on offer, and support those who work such long days to grow food.

My farm stand haul

The prices at your grocery store are about to go up friends. Most products that come in a can or a box or plastic wrap contain some form of corn and/or soybean oil. Corn is used in the fuel that the trucks use to bring those giant packs of beautiful strawberries from California. Wheat (in some form or another) likely makes up a huge part of your diet (unless you are gluten free). These crops are severely threatened. Prices of processed foods are going to go up. I confess there is a small part of me that is curious about the impact that these price changes could have. Would it be easier for more of us to choose real food if pre-packaged food becomes more expensive? And then I remember the farmers…. I suppose I can work my head around to some long-term gain that might be eeked out of this situation, but if I were looking out at those crops, I would be frightened and heartbroken. And so tomorrow, I shall go to the market. I grow a lot of veggies, but there’s always something that I didn’t manage or that didn’t work out in my garden. I will go find those items and I will talk to our farmers and share with them my concern for them and hope to support them with my grocery budget. I will take those veggies home and eat them in the simplest preparation I can muster so I can taste the life in them, and appreciate the tremendous effort that came from someone else’s hands to help me fill my table.

Click here to find a farm market near you.

More about the drought:
A moving story about the drought’s impact on one farm from Rachel of A Home in College Hill here.
Grist describes why the drought is hardest on small farms here.
NPR shows the progress of the drought here.
The New York Times discusses the breadth and depth of the drought and its economic impacts here. NYT also provides a pretty shocking graphic here.
Click here to get up to date drought info for the United States from the National Integrated Drought Information System

Why the corn and soy crops are important:
USA today covers the trickle down impact of crop failure here.
CNN describes how prevalent corn and soy are in American grocery stores, American pantries, and in American bodies here.

Soccacia / Gluten Free Pizza crust

Going gluten free to treat my husband’s colitis has introduced us to lots of new foods!  As of yet, nothing that feels quite like wheat bread, but I find that if I think of the gluten-free foods as something new and exciting rather than as a meager substitute for bread, I am often more than pleasantly surprised.  I know, it is not earth shattering news, the impact of positive attitude, but I am indeed trying to take some of the advice I freely give my 11 year old regarding trying new foods.

Back to the GF adventure… We have made a doubly pleasant discovery in the easy and flexible form of dosas and now Soccas.  Socca is a mediterranean snack that is basically a baked or broiled chickpea crepe/tortilla/crust/dough type thing.  It is really similar to a dosa except that instead of cooking the chickpea batter like a pancake, you bake it.   A gluten free dough-type thing I can bake in the oven is begging for topping.  “Please Ma’am,” it says in a nasal chickpea tone, “slather me with veggies and perhaps tomato sauce and vegan cheese!!”

I love it when my food speaks to me.  I also love combining elements of a meal so that I don’t have to serve a bunch of different items.   Throw it all together Baby, it all ends up the same place anyway, right?

I did not venture for pizza tonight as I didn’t have the ingredients or time for vegan cheese, (hubby is not eating dairy either) but a socca pizza is definitely in our future.  Tonight, I figured I’d experiment with this Socca thang and just plop some sauteed whatever-needs-to-be-picked-from-the-garden on top.

Swiss chard wins!  And Swiss chard rules by the way, so I was delighted to have a big armful.

Here is the recipe for socca that I used (borrowed from The Vegan Chickpea):

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup cold, filtered water
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare a 9″ round cake pan by cutting out a round piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan and then lightly greasing the sides of the pan and parchment. (Don’t go all crazy cutting this out perfectly, but pour carefully so it doesn’t go under and know that whatever hits the pan will stick a little.)

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine garbanzo flour, water, garlic, and sea salt and whisk until completely combined and no lumps remain.  Pour into prepared cake pan.  (It is quite wet and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to post this because it wouldn’t work… but it did!!)

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  (You can see below that it dries and firms up.)

Add your sauteed toppings and pop back if needed to synchronize warmth.  I sauteed onion with the swiss chard in a little olive oil and salt and pepper, but really the possibilities are endless.

Much more filling than wheat dough crust with some leftovers to take to work.  Easy dinner and easy lunch… That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it!  Hubby is getting better as well, making all of the GF adventure very rewarding indeed!

Surviving Solo Flights or Days that Call for Creamy Sauce

It’s been a bit of a zoo around here lately.  Mr. Little Sis has been CRAZY busy, and as all of you who’ve ever been in a partnership, particularly one with dependents know, one half being crazy busy means both halves are crazy busy.  The garden has needed quite a bit of hands on tending right now to save the progress I’ve made from high insect season (I am excited to have gotten this far.  This reformed over-waterer will NEVER go back.)  The busy-ness has led to a series of weird Mommy meals (often involving leftovers reconfigured in some fashion to decrease recognizability, or demonstrating complete surrender in an effort to attain peace for some portion of the day).  The living continues to be tasty despite the hodge-podginess.  I think my continued culinary sanity and pleasure (and the kids’ relatively reasonable attitude towards these seemingly mish mosh meals) has to do with a few simple strategies that I employ when pressed.  I thought I’d share them as you are undoubtedly busy as well…

1) Employ leftovers as they were if they were a big hit; if response was moderate, ask for input: “Hey guys, I think this would taste good cold, but would you like yours warmed up instead?”  Notice that I’ve not offered a choice about what they are eating, but the temperature.  I have also been know to offer a sauce, or to serve something as a sandwich that wasn’t the first time around.  They’re happy because they think they’re choosing something.  I know, it’s deeply manipulative.

2) Offer a choice if there really can be one.  “Guys, I’m a bit pressed for time, so rice is out.  Would you rather have quinoa or bulgur?”  The answer, if you’re wondering, is consistently a grudging quinoa.  They don’t know the name of lentil-bulgur mix, and we’ll be leaving it that way for the foreseeable future.

3) Fresh raw vegetables and fruit.  When I’m really pressing my luck in the kitchen (running late, poorly planned, they’re extra hungry) I will cut the freshest veggies I have (or the ones we most need to use to avoid waste) and place them in a bowl on the table while I’m cooking.  Kids can munch more or less at will.  I get more peace for cooking AND they eat veggies of all kinds because they’re in that 30 minutes before dinner red zone.  They get double veggies and I don’t get nagged.  Pretty sweet, eh?  When the veggie intake starts early and strong, I’ll also offer a little fruit with dinner, which makes the troops quite happy.

4) Flexibility.  A story from the weekend fits nicely here.  I was making some tilapia, planning to steam rice as well when I discovered that the rice jar (which was sealed, by the way) had gone buggy.  (Big Sis is probably chuckling a little right now because she knows that despite my being reasonably “tough” about many things, moths, and in particular pantry moths and their spawn put me over the edge.)  So the kids are losing it and I’m trying not to puke as I watch a jar full of crawlies.  I mercilessly filled the jar with water so they would drown before I put them in the compost.  Yeah, I’m hardcore like that.  Turned to the fridge.  Leftover pasta abounded.  Lovely.  Change of plan; leftover pasta next to tilapia seemed infinitely better than buggy rice.

5) Be nice to yourself.  Same said buggy meal (at the end of a particularly trying mother of twins kind of day) led mommy to desire serious comfort food…..  enter avocado cream sauce.  Oh yes, that’s what I said, heart healthy cream sauce for pasta.  I kind of giggle just writing that.

Basil Avocado Cream – inspired by this avocado pasta sauce dish.

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of one lemon
  • twist of the pepper grinder
You know what’s coming, right?  Put it all in a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth and creamy.  Mix with pasta – this recipe would likely adequately cream up pasta for a few people.  A little goes a long way.  Top with pine nuts, or chopped nuts that you love.  So incredibly awesome, and just the thing while you’re watching your children scarf down their dinner, which does not include the suspicious green cream sauce.  That’s okay.  I didn’t want to share that night anyway.  De-lish.