Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Early Summer Garden


After a cool and rainless spring, our gardens are finally springing into vegetable frenzy with lots of recent warm temperatures and hazy, rainy weather. We've enjoyed tatsoi, mustard greens, radishes, asparagus, boat loads of volunteer dill, mint, parsley, lettuce, and spring peas. There's nothing like strolling around our garden beds pulling out supper fixings.

Rampaging moles still irk me, but at least we are past cutworm season and none of my veggie tykes have been decimated from down under. I am beginning to pull out some of the dill to make way for Fall peas to be planted in a couple of weeks, though I take care with this task as many swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs in these plants for their ravenous offspring to chow. The newly emergent caterpillars start out as little black fuzzy babies about 1/4 inch long and rapidly become beautiful green, white and black striped beauties. I found a fat one last week just sitting still when I went to remove him to another dill plant and then I looked more closely and saw that s/he had slung a gossamer thread of silk around its back to anchor it to the plant. I checked back the next morning and the caterpillar had metamorphosed into this spiky green cocoon with festive yellow trim. Amazing.

I like to have flowers mixed into my vegetable beds to attract pollinators so right now the most vivid thing growing is my army of red poppies. These beautiful, delicate and downright fecund flowers are the descendants of a packet of seeds I sprinkled around several years ago. Their tiny seeds disperse like mad around my yard and I have them in all of my flower and vegetable beds. I let them grow in the spring and then when they get yellow and spent, I yank them out, only to find that when cooler September weather hits, they are back again!

Off to yank some weeds and collect some salad....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tatsoi with Mushrooms and Indian Spices



One of my new favorite cookbooks is Sylvia Thompson's "The Kitchen Garden Cookbook" (NY: Bantam, 1995). I was so happy when a customer brought in a copy to trade in our used bookstore and immediately smuggled it home to peruse. The book is organized by vegetable types and has so many unusual treatments for veggies that Dan and I have been consulting it frequently as the motor on the home garden has started to cycle.

Our crop of Tatsoi, little baby bok choy, started to flower now that the warmer weather is here, so it was time to start harvesting. The Kitchen Garden has lots of intriguing recipes for Asian greens and a passing blurb caught my attention about how one might prepare them in an Indian manner with spices and mushrooms. I headed out to the garden patch and within half an hour had a delectable stir-fry lunch for my sweetheart and I to gobble for renewed rounds of last-week-of-school chauffeuring for the girls.

We liked this recipe so much we made it again for supper last night, using chopped up portabellas. It was good that way too, but I think the portabellas' rich flavor got somewhat lost in this spicy dish so I would stick with the plain white mushrooms for this recipe.

Tatsoi with Mushrooms and Indian Spices

2 big bunches tatsoi, bok choy or other mustardy/cabbagey greens, chopped, stalks even more finely chopped so they cook evenly

1 (10 oz.) pkg. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

2 bay leaves

2 Tbsp. peanut oil

2 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. cumin seeds (ground cumin would be acceptable, but the seeds really pop nicely in your mouth)

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, sliced thinly

Heat oil in wok or large frying pan. Add garlic and stir, one minute. Add onions and spices and cook, stirring, another 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and tatsoi and stir well to wilt, then cover and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice. Try to fish out the bay leaves before serving as they are rather stiff and pointy.

Serves 3-4.

Leftovers are fantastic the next day.

I am submitting this recipe to the monthly blog event, Grow Your Own, hosted by Andrea's Recipes. This is a cooking event which I just discovered and am wild over as I love to garden and preserve the harvest in my freezer, new (well, newly garaged-saled) dehydrator, and in the canning pot. Grow Your Own features recipes about edibles that participants have either grown or raised themselves, foraged or hunted/fished.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Apricot-Ginger Shortbread Fit for a Queen


A buttery, rich shortbread studded with bits of crystallized ginger, white chocolate chunks and dried apricots (apricots making this hedonistic chew a healthy cookie, of course). Just lovely.

The Leftover Queen has summoned her minions for another Foodie Joust and this month’s trio of ingredients are apricots, ginger and butter. Not having much experience with apricots, I had a bit of foodie fun browsing my cookbooks and much food bloggery, but nothing made me flex my jousting arm until it struck me that the toothsome Cranberry and White Chocolate Shortbread I made recently from a Joy of Baking recipe might be transformed into an appropriately apricoty and gingery sweet.

The gambit paid off and this sophisticated blend of flavors was declared a winner among our taste testers and will be presented to the Queen for her delectation.

For our gluten-free household consumers I tried a batch with millet flour and another with sorghum flour, and the sorghum flour seemed less gritty and had a nuttier flavor. I think brown rice flour might also work here in a future batch. If you are not baking gluten-free, you could substitute wheat flour.

Apricot-Ginger Shortbread

8 Tbsp. butter, softened

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp. vanilla

¾ cup sorghum flour

¼ cup corn meal

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/8 tsp. salt

1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

4 squares white baking chocolate, chopped

2 Tbsp. crystallized ginger

2-3 Tbsp. Turbinado or raw sugar crystals

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Blend in vanilla.

In a separate bowl whisk together sorghum flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, and salt. Add this mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat just until incorporated. Fold in apricots, white chocolate and crystallized ginger.

Press the shortbread dough evenly into an 8 inch springform pan or tart part. Prick the surface of the shortbread all over with a fork and then, using a sharp knife, score the top of the shortbread into 8 even pieces. This will make the CRISPY shortbread easier to cut into eight pieces when baked. Sprinkle tops with Turbinado sugar for extra dazzle, as we are cooking for royalty.

Place in the preheated oven and bake until the shortbread is tan, about 60 to 75 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before removing sides from pan. Cut into 8 wedges and allow to cool completely before snacking, or shortbread will shatter.

Makes 8 shortbread cookies.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Peanut Butter Eclair Cake for the Peanut Butter Boy






Nick the Peanut Butter Boy, whose food blog is a paean to the nutty paste and whom I suspect may be a gluten-free blogger as well, is having his third Great Peanut Butter Exposition. This foodie contest involves peanut buttery cakes and so this was the perfect excuse to try out Lea is Gluten Free's Peanut Butter Eclair Cake, one of the oldest recipes in my To-Be-Cooked pile. I am not planning to officially enter the contest as this is not my original recipe, but just wanted to join in the cooking fun.

The recipe takes a while, as you must cook stuff on the stove, mix it in a mixer, cool it, throw on another mixer batch of peanut butter pudding, cool some more and then top off with whipped cream (I don't do Cool Whip with its periodic-table-of-contents ingredients list) and chocolate sauce, so it's not a recipe I would make often.

The caloric content is probably off the charts too, so there's another reason to limit supply, but the demand for it among my family and friends was high! A dessert winner! It's a gooey, rich, comfort dessert that seemed to get better the next morning, when we had it for a completely decadent breakfast. But I'm sure the Peanut Butter Boy would approve of that, he of the Peanut Butter and Banana Omelets and Chocolate/PB/Cream Cheese Toast Spreads.....

I didn't have any Tom's Light Gluten Free Bread Mix on hand as Lea used in her recipe, so I used a box of Gluten-Free Pantry's French Bread and Pizza Mix. The base was a bit, well, pizza-like and probably more chewy than desired. The next time I make this treat I would try a blend of rice flour and corn starch to get it to be a more delicate texture. We brought a batch of this deliciousness to my daughter's softball banquet last night and the Bulldogs (70-2 this year!) polished off the batch, though I did see some of the eclair part left behind in the pan.

The Peanut Butter Boy's Cake Contest continues on through the rest of this month, so you can still have time to whip up something worthy of George Washington Carver's favorite legume and enter in this fun foodie event.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Three Spring Sisters Pasta

Subterranean moles continue their deviltry in the garden and left me with exactly three spinach plants, three fennel plants and three
Italian dandelion plants in my carefully planted and tended rows. I
have been summoning mole hunting advice from all quarters and have several options profferred from my neighbors, blogger buddies and bookstore customers:

1) Poke mothballs into the mole tunnels

2) Poke unwrapped wads of unchewed pink bubble gum into the mole tunnels (the moles apparently choke while chewing).

3) Pour gasoline into the mole tunnels.

4) Get a Jack Russell terrier.

All of the above seem worth investigating, although I am an organic
gardener and don't think I want to ingest mothballs and gasoline
(especially not at $4.29 a gallon!) and the chewing gum idea seems a
bit cruel. I don't mind mole hills and tunnels in my lawn, but when
they start eating my groceries, I turn into Mr. MacGregor. Please let
me know if you have any other methods for banning moles from my
vegetable patch.

With my trio of spinach plants, some fresh garden peas and fat asparagus spears, mercifully spared by the mole brigade, I put together a light pasta sauce which came out rather deliciously and which I thought I would share with others.

Three Spring Sisters Pasta

10 asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1/2 cup fresh peas
3 spinach plants (or more if you got 'em!), chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 (1 lb.) box of your favorite pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta and drain. Keep warm.

Heat saute pan. When hot, add butter and olive oil and let butter melt. Add garlic and stir around for 1 minute. Add white wine and bring to boil. Lower heat and reduce liquid to half.

Add peas, spinach and asparagus. Cover and cook over medium heat about 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss with your pasta.

Serves 6.

This recipe is being submitted for this week's round of Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn's Kitchen and actually hosted by her this time! Check Kalyn's blog later in the week for a roundup of other blog posts featuring vegetables, flowers and herbs. With gardens and farmers markets in full swing in the northern hemisphere this should be a great roundup!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Squeeze the Grilled Mango

Those of us who came of age in the Eighties remember the English pop band Squeeze. They had interesting lyrics and a catchy, New Wave sound that still makes me bop around when I hear one of their singles.

Well I remember helping my first date in high school try to jimmy open his car door after inadvertently locking ourselves outside. Inside the car, the cassette player kept going, playing Squeeze. My date had the unfortunate last name of "Bras", so I knew the relationship would never come to anything, but I had fun riding around that summer in his (later unlocked) car, going to the movies and eating out at Chinese restaurants.

With the lyrics of "Tempted" playing in my head, I was tempted by the fruit of another; in this case Lyra, the Gluten-Free Hippie's Cardamom-Glazed Grilled Mango recipe. I have been digging fresh mangos a bit now since jousting away with them in a Chutney at the May Foodie Joust Event. I had a nice fresh mango at the ready, but the weather was uncooperative when I set out for some grilling and therefore had to switch to grilling the objects of my fruit temptations in my toaster oven.



The results were tasty enough but not as agreeably charred and caramelized as I am sure they would be if grilled properly outdoors. However, I and my family managed to scarf these tasty mango chunks up, deftly removing the skins inside our mouths like diligent chipmunks, and we will certainly add grilled mango to our repertoire of tasty barbecued treats.

Tempted by the fruit of another...yes, I am afraid I had to indulge myself in this mangoliciousness. Thank you Lyra.

This recipe is being submitted as part of the fun Eat to the Beat blogger event, started by Elly Says Opa! and her delicious blog which features lots of Greek and other international flavors. Eat to the Beat runs until June 30th and features blog posts that pair food with music. Mangos and Squeeze, perfect together!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chinese Take-in at the Crispy Cook

So Gluten-Free Gobsmacked has been tempting me for many months now with a recipe for Shrimp Dim Sum Balls and I finally got around to corraling the ingredients and making a batch. I tried the Shrimp Balls with a beard of rice vermicelli coating (Dan likes them that way) as in Gobsmacked's original recipe



and without

(us chicks preferred ours nude)



They were yummy bits of shrimp goodness either way and so we over-gorged on them and were unable to feast on the beautiful and tasty Spring Rolls that I also made that evening. It was okay, though, since they are nice cold and we tucked them in our respective lunch pails the next day.



I had a dickens of a time trying to break up the rice vermicelli noodles, though. I I used my hands and kitchen shears and just had to wrestle with them to get them into 1/2 inch pieces. They kept sproinging all over my kitchen and I'm finding them still as I sweep and clean up days later. I would just avoid them.

I also also added an 8 oz. can of sliced water chestnuts to the shrimp goo mixture in the food processor, as well as a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic powder. I also made a nice dipping sauce for both the shrimp balls and the spring rolls out of soy sauce, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and sesame oil. With a little pickled ginger on the side, it was a heavenly feast.

For the spring rolls I softened up some rice wrappers in water and then filled them with a stir-fry of 1/4 head cabbage, some chopped mint and cilantro from the garden, 5 cloves garlic, 2 shredded carrots and the remaining rice vermicelli that I gave up on bearding my shrimp balls with and tossed in hot oil in the wok until puffy and CRISPY.

And of course, Crispy is always good.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where's My Spinach Risotto!


It seems that celebrity chef and kitchen tantrum expert Gordon Ramsey is always nattering on about how slowly his apprentice chefs are taking with his beloved risottos on my guilty TV pleasure, Hell's Kitchen.

"Where's my risotto?!", he bellows and whines.

"Aw, come on, this risotto is too mushy!".

"There's no seasoning...it's unpalatable!"

I get a guilty shiver of schadenfreude when I watch his bullying tactics and his discus toss of offending appetizers. Nonetheless I was inspired to whip up a spinach risotto of my own the other night. I looked longingly at my struggling spinach seedlings, pruned harshly into a Morse code of dots and dashes by infernal underground moles. There was not enough fresh spinach for my family of four, so I was forced to reach into the freezer for a block of icy greens. Perhaps a mole risotto?

At any rate, I did pull together a lovely, fresh meal for my bunch, spurred on by my husband's occasional exhortation of Ramseyisms.

Here's my recipe:

Spinach Risotto

2/3 stick butter
2 cups rice, rinsed
4 cups vegetable broth (homemade is best and always naturally gluten-free!)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Salt and Pepper to taste
Snippings of fresh herbs to taste (snipped fresh dill is divine)
Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese

Heat butter in a heavy saute pan. Add rice and stir frequently until it is a toasty golden color, about 8-10 minutes.

Pour in vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, over a low flame, for 20 minutes, or until broth is absorbed and rice is al dente.

Heat olive oil in another pan and add onions. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes more. Stir spinach-onion mixture into risotto and cook until completely mixed and warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with snipped herbs and grated cheese.

Serves 6-8.

I am submitting this one-dish recipe to the current round of "Go Ahead, Honey, It's Gluten-Free", started by Naomi over at the witty food blog Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried and hosted this time by Carrie, the Ginger Lemon Girl. Carrie is still accepting submissions for this event until June 27th, so get cooking!

Enjoy!~

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread


I needed a Father's Day treat for my sweetie, and found this great recipe on The Joy of Baking. It was easy to adapt as a gluten-free delight by substituting sorghum flour for the all-purpose wheat flour. I sprinkled Turbinado sugar on top for a little extra sparkle. I also didn't have a 6 inch tart pan so I used an 8 inch springform pan. Next time I will put a cookie sheet under my springform pan to catch any drips.

Since this recipe didn't need a lot of structure (aka gluten) and the crumbly, sandy texture is one that benefits from cornmeal and rice flour, it was a perfect, rich end to a lovely meal to pamper our favorite daddy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Housekeeping at the Crispy Cook

Hey guys:

1) I decided to give my blog a snappier title, and so henceforth, this blog is now named The Crispy Cook. Wheat-Free, Meat-Free is the original name and got the point across, but since our family does eat fish and seafood, strict vegetarians have been misled and dismayed to find these fishy recipes. Also, Wheat-Free, Meat-Free takes a lot longer to type. The blog URL address will remain the same, so you don't need to change your bookmarks, but the Crispy Cook is my new handle. Goodness knows I often feel quite crispy when I am cooking up supper. Also, crispy things are usually good to eat, so I'm going with Crispy.

2) After scanning over 70 gluten-free blogs for the last galactic post here, I learned a whole bunch of interesting news. First, Mama and Baby: Gluten Free, (yet another GF Blog to add to the list) is having a gluten-free products giveaway, so be sure to visit her site to leave a comment, if you are interested. Second, Sea at the Book of Yum will be hosting the next round of the fun Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event from June 23rd through July 7th, so you can start hunting for an adoptee and a recipe to cook up. Third, Gluten-Free Gobsmacked is having a Gluten-Free Barbecue and we're all invited! She has folks committed to bringing food starting with every letter of the alphabet and as of this moment, only four letters remain (and X is one of 'em!). Later on, she will post the roundup of tasteful recipes so we'll be all set for the outdoor grilling season.

Yours in Crispiness....

Rachel

My Cucumber is Famous

The glistening forkful of cucumber and mint salad photograph that graced this blog two days ago has made the big time by appearing on the front page of Tastespotting. That was a surprise, because I've been regularly submitting food photos to this breathtaking and hunger-inducing website for a couple of months now and nary a photo has been picked. This time I thought I might have a shot, so to speak, because the timing worked out perfectly in catching the elusive drip of salad juice off the fork. It required balancing my old old clunky Sony Mavica (with its whopping 2.0 megapixels and slot for a floppy disk to record the photos) on the ground and using my left hand to dip the cucumber fork repeatedly in the salad juices and pressing the shutter button with my right hand. All that happened on a blastingly hot and humid afternoon, where I had as much sweat dripping off my nose as left the fork, but didn't that shot look cool.

Off to read my old camera manual some more....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Galaxy of Gluten-Free Bloggery

I thought I would update my gluten-free blog list on this website and as I got going with typing up little snippets about each blog, it just got amazingly huge. When I started blogging here a year and a half ago, I think there were only a handful of gluten-free blogs and websites and I was grateful for each and every one of them as I explored the Brave New World of Gluten-Free Cooking.

Below is a smorgasbord of 70+ gluten-free blogs that I was able to visit. Bloggers are listed alphabetically and are actively blogging away as I type this. Probably a few new ones just launched. If you would like to add your blog to this list, and heaven knows I must apologize right now for not being able to know about or visit them all, please leave a comment below:

Aprovechar - Sally's got lots of healthy, gluten and other allergen-free recipes and meal plans, along with a dollop of contemplative essays about women's health and the importance of nurturing one's self.

The Art of Gluten-Free Cooking - Blog host Karen specializes in gluten-free desserts and has lots of stunning art and poetry to accompany her recipes.

Asparagus Thin - Manda is a Philadelphian and gluten-free, vegetarian blogger. Baking is her passion.

Baking Love - This gluten-free baker not only knows how to make scrumptious gluten-free baked goods, but she makes them look like they came in a pretty white box tied up with string from a professional bakery. Awesome.

Book of Yum
- Vegetarian with some fish and seafood recipes added, this blog features a lot of Asian recipes and recipes that are not only gluten-free, but dairy and egg free. Book of Yum also has a lot of raw food and vegan recipes to try and is the home of the monthly Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger Event.

Celiac Chicks - These New York City gals know where all the good gluten-free restaurants, delis, pizzerias and foodie havens are and also dish out good gluten-free advice about travel. If you sign up for their email newsletter you can also enter contests for free gluten-free products.

Celiac Teen - Lauren's a Canadian teenager interested in good food and fashion.

Cindalou's Kitchen Blues - Cindalou has a clean and well laid-out blog featuring gluten-free, dairy-free and pareve recipes, with healthy eating as the primary focus.

Crazy Orange Turtle - Canadian Shauna is a plant scientist, cat lover and lives the gluten-free life with lots of slow-cooked Dulce de Leche.

Delightfully Gluten Free - Cassandra is actively involved with the North Texas Gluten Intolerance Group and shares her recipes, posts about celiac disease and product/restaurant reviews.

Don't Need No Stinkin' Wheat
- This California grad student dishes up lots of fabulous food that is gluten- and lactose-free.

Easy Gluten-Free Baking - Elizabeth Barbone, author of the "Easy Gluten-Free Baking" cookbook maintains this blog about baking tips and updates on her gluten-free baking classes and other information.

Elana's Pantry - Elana's a Little League baseball coach and Boulder, Colorado businesswoman whose elegant site promotes gluten-free cooking, healthy homemaking and environmentally-friendly information.

Everyday Gluten Free
- Sarah has been living gluten-free since 2007 and shares her recipes and frugal shopping advice.

Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen
- While not a gluten-free blog per se, there is a wonderful archive of gluten-free recipes on this popular food blog.

Faking it Gluten Free Style - Who can resist a blog with Betty Boop as the mascot? Great recipes abound on this excellent blog.

Free From - Lucy is a U.K. mother of three, one of whom is a celiac, and has years of experience documented in this blog about the gluten-free lifestyle, product reviews, and resource links.

Fresh Ginger - Ginger is a wheat-free, but not totally gluten-free blog (she can tolerate spelt) with loads of fabulous farm-fresh and international recipes. Look for her Appetizer and Cocktail Recipes of the Week.

The GFCF Experience - Blog host Thomas is a Montana father of four who feeds his family a gluten-free, casein-free diet. You'll find lots of great recipes, information about Autism Spectrum Disorder and parenting anecdotes.

Ginger Lemon Girl - Carrie is from North Carolina and has a particular penchant for gluten-free baking. She also hosts a Gluten-Free Girl interview feature which showcases other gluten-free bloggers and a Kid-Friendly Fridays event for gluten-free goodness that kids will lap up.

Gluten A Go Go - Sheltie Girl is a Westchester County, New York baker extraordinaire whose experiments with various wheat-free flours, thickeners and binders are inspirational and beautiful.

Gluten-Free Bay - Isaiah in upstate New York cooks up wonderful gluten-free food with an emphasis on heart-healthy recipes and food that is Ashkenazi Jewish, Ethiopian and Indian. Awesome stuff.

Gluten Free Blog - Mike's blog of recipes, as featured in his book "Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts". Mike also runs the Gluten-Free and Celiac Blog Aggregator summarizing pertinent blog posts from hundreds of blogs worldwide.

Gluten Free Cooking School - Mary Frances has a tasty blog of recipes and wonderfully detailed cooking lessons for the beginning or advanced gluten-free cook.

A Gluten-Free Day - Wonderful gluten-free recipes and ethereal photography.

Gluten Free for Good - Melissa is a nutritional therapist who blogs about the healthiest gluten-free recipes. Wonderful advice and information with the added bonus of lovely food photography.

Gluten Free Frugal - Here's a budget-conscious mom chronicling the gluten-free life with little kids in South Dakota.

Gluten-Free Fun - Erin is a New York City resident who has lived gluten-free with gusto for 25 years! You can find product and restaurant reviews, recipes, and other information.

Gluten Free Gastronaut - Lynn is a Decatur, Georgia student and adventurous gluten-free cook.

Gluten-Free Girl - Shauna James Ahern married the Chef, published a book and is expecting a baby, all in one year. Her blog is more essay than recipe heavy, but when the recipes come, they are perfect and seasonally fresh. Make sure to buy her book, "Gluten-Free Girl", or make your local library buy it.

Gluten Free Gobsmacked - This girl Cheekalina can cook! Lots of great recipes for everyday comfort foods to the wildly exotic to all kinds of baking.

Gluten Free Goodness - Cheryl is an Alexandria, Virginia dietician whose blog features her tasty experiments in gluten-free and other allergen-free cooking.

Gluten-Free Guide - A stylish blog about life as a celiac with lots of recipes, travel tips, essential posts about Thanksgiving and cupcakes, and product/restaurant reviews.

Gluten-Free Hippie - Lyra resides in British Columbia, Canada and her beautiful blog is gluten-free and features scrumptious vegan and raw recipes.

Gluten Free in Georgia (and Florida)- I guess I can't say it any better than Ginger in describing her blog, "Adventures in Gluten Freedom with a Crazy Southern Blogger Chick". Decadently good gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, witty writing and lots of fun and useful GF information from this Mass Communications Professor.

Gluten-Free in the Greens - Follow this blog by a Vermont school teacher for great eats and gluten-free travel advice.

Gluten Free Journey - Dianne in the U.K. dishes about cooking gluten-free and experiments with lots of international cuisines.

Gluten-Free Kathy - The accent is on healthy eating for an active lifestyle on Kathy's blog.

Gluten Free Kay - She's a gardener, cook and excellent food photographer. Kay's gluten-free and has other food allergies, so check out this blog for lots of beautiful, tasty options if you or someone you cook for has a restricted diet.

Gluten Free Mommy - Natalie is the North Carolina mom of two cute young sons and has lots of great, family-friendly recipes to share. She is also an incredible baker and the founder of the weekly Gluten-Free Menu Swap.

Gluten Free Saratoga - Suzanne in Saratoga Springs, New York, dishes out great recipes, tips on gluten-free eateries and groceries in Saratoga County and other interesting tips.

Gluten Free Sox Fan - She's a lawyer married to an Aussie and has some really great recipes, including a homemade mushroom ravioli with pesto.

Gluten Free Steve - Steve gives out the skinny on gluten-free products, recipes, and restaurant/eatery reviews for those in the Denver, Colorado area.

The Gluti Girls - A mother-daughter blogging team with lots of luscious recipes.

Going Gluten-Free - This Pennsylvania homeschooling mother of three dishes out her gluten-free recipes.

The Good Eatah - Life with this Massachusetts native involves gluten-free, dairy-free cooking, in between skydiving and biking trips.

Good Without Gluten - Jeff in North Carolina appreciates good food and has a great recipe blog. The polenta recipes are my favorites.

Grain Damaged - A Portland, Oregon gluten-free support group with great information on area restaurants, bakeries and gluten-free hot spots.

Great Mastications - Torontonian Orla follows a gluten-free, legume-free, tomato-free and dairy-free diet, and the results are in...it's delicious!

Hey, That Tastes Good!- Jill lives in Philadelphia and blogs about local gluten-free eateries and has some excellent recipes, as well as the occasional gluten-free travel report from Slovakia.

I Am Gluten Free - Ellen is a musician and excellent cook, judging from the delectable range of gluten-free recipes on her popular blog.

It's Just Not Dinner Without Cat Hair - In our household it's all about the dog hair (St. Bernard-Golden Retriever), but Sheri concocts some wonderful gluten-free recipes, particularly for baked goods, interspersed with cute pix of her cat and dog menagerie.

Jeena's Kitchen - Jeena is a U.K. food blogger with a ton of gluten-free recipes in her index. Her focus is healthy and fresh food, with an emphasis on Indian recipes. My family is hooked on her Onion Bhajis recipe and all the variations with other vegetables that we cook up.

Karina's Kitchen - Karina is the Gluten-Free Goddess, whose blog reflects her background as an artist and writer, with lots of gorgeous food photography. Karina's gluten-free and other allergy-friendly recipes have a Southwestern flavor and a focus on fresh and natural ingredients.

Kill.the.gluten - Two sisters in law cook gluten-free in a stylish and tasty manner and also offer good gluten-free product reviews.

Lea is Gluten-Free - Lea lives in Western New York on a farm with lots of animals of all kinds and cooks up some wonderful things to eat. I've bookmarked quite a few of her recipes.

Lilac Kitchen - A blogger over in the U.K. whose lovely pastel purple kitchen inspires her to bake up scrumptious and Daring things.

Li Loves David - Somewhere in the Southeastern U.S., Li blogs about her gluten-free world as a celiac, with the occasional scrumptious recipe.

Life After Gluten - Denver, Colorado pastry chef Tiffany learns to live La Vida Gluten Free after a celiac disease diagnosis. Great recipes and travel tips on dining safely in Mexico.

Make Mine Gluten-Free - Another Coloradan named Tiffany has good information about gluten-free products and eateries.

Mrs. G.F. - Lots of great recipes for kids and for easy, tasty meals from the Slacker Mom.

Only Sometimes Clever - An Arizona homeschooling mom who blogs about the gluten-free lifestyle, books, GF products and hiking.

Pig in the Kitchen - This U.K. pig is one of the funniest food writers out there and her recipes for her family of many allergies are great to boot. Throw in some great food photos and it's a blog party!

Please Don't Pass the Nuts - This New York City psychotherapist and social worker shares recipes and lifestyle advice for gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free, lactose-free and other -free diets.

Rachel's Recipe Box - This New England homeschooling mommy's blog contains a wealth of gluten-free, dairy-free recipes and advice about healthy living.

Radish Boy - A mom's blog about trying out recipes to feed her multiply-allergic son.

The Sensitive Baker - The blog attached to the gluten-free, kosher and allergy-friendly Culver City, California bakery.

So Familiar a Gleam - This Rochester, New York lady was raised in a bake shop and dreams about opening an allergen-free bakery some day. Until then, feast your eyes on her great recipes.

Sorry I Can't Eat That - Allie in Western Massachusetts gives out advice on gluten-free groceries, restaurants and other places.

Sugar and Spice - A Boston girl who likes to cook, read nonfiction, kick box and watch the Red Sox.

La Tartine Gourmande - French ex-pat Bea (accent aigue in there over the e) is a food and travel writer/photographer, whose blog is achingly beautiful. Find over 100 gluten-free recipes in her recipe index.

Trav's Gone Gluten-Free - Philadelphian Travis explores the gluten-free world, with many recipes and reviews of gluten-free beers and other products.

Triumph Dining - The publishers of the "Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide" and Grocery Guide have a blog packed with tips about finding gluten-free food throughout the U.S.

The Vegetarian Celiac - This Cincinnati, Ohio teacher offers meatless and wheatless recipes, the occasional gluten-free menu and some poems. Delightful.

Wheat-Free, Meat-Free - Hey, that's this blog! Gluten-free and mostly vegetarian recipes, with the occasional fish and seafood recipe. Some product reviews, gardening posts and other fun stuff.

Wheatless Bay - Adventures in international cuisine is trademark for this ex-pat Canadian blogger. Try some of her Uzbek, Belarussian, or Tamil gluten-free recipes!

A Year of Crockpotting - Stephanie is the hilarious, gluten-free chef who has a strong attraction to her herd of crock pots--but she's OK with that. A funny and tasty food blog which started on January 1, 2008 with a new crock pot recipe each day.

This list is just an appetizer, there are so many other great gluten-free food bloggers out there that I haven't had time to taste and more sprout each day. If you have a gluten-free food blog that you would me to sample and add to this blogroll, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get to it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cool as a Cucumber Salad


Every living thing is being pounded by the fourth day of an early summer heatwave here in Saratoga County. The garden plants need twice daily watering to keep from looking like limp celery, my poor fuzzy dog and cats are just laying quietly on the wooden floors and we're all sporting a head full of frizzy ringlets above our shiny red faces.

Since there's NO WAY I'm gonna heat up the stove, I've been using the food processor a lot to cook us up some grub. I was perusing Joe Famularo's "A Cook's Tour of Italy" (NY: HP Books, 2003) where he described a Bolognese recipe for Sliced Cucumbers with Mint, and this sounded like an intriguing, and more importantly, COOL, flavor combination.

I pulled out the Cuisinart and whipped up my usual recipe for Cucumbers Vinaigrette, only with the pleasing taste of a few mint sprigs, and darned if eating this didn't lower our collective heat index.


The Greedy Gourmet is currently accepting Summer Salad recipes for its Snackshots #4 contest and I am submitting this as an entry. There's still time to enter as the deadline is June 16th, so check it out if you are interested.

Cucumber-Mint Salad

3 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced thinly (A food processor is great for this)
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh dill
Several sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
Splash of extra-virgin olive oil

Mix vinaigrette ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over sliced cucumbers and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Serves 4.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Spring Garden 2008

What a slow start to the Spring garden here at the old homestead! Between cool weather, tunneling moles, scarce amounts of rain and a gaggle of cutworms, I have little food for the table to show for all my callused hands.

Things were promising enough at the beginning of May. Dan moved one of our outdoor sheds and we used the underlying bald patch of ground as a third garden plot, intended for the crazy cucurbit family to roam free. Pumpkins, gourds and squashes tend to take over the other garden plots, so we stuck our winter squash transplants there along with a few cucumbers and peppers for company. The yellow-striped cucumber beetles immediately found these infants and gnawed at them for a couple of days until we found out about them. I went out each morning and night and squished them until no more striped inhabitants remained.

I was not so lucky with my other garden plot, where the stubby Striped German tomato plants and hot pepper plants were lovingly plunked into compost-rich holes. The morning after transplant, I found several tomatoes felled by offending cutworms, which have never been as ravenous as this year.



Here's a photo of the damage caused by these grayish caterpillars that are the larvae of several moth species. They apparently come out at night and wrap their bodies around the stem of a delicious plant and then whip around with their pincers and fell it. Then they feast and sometimes drag the tops back into their little underground lairs. I grubbed around in the soil around the base of my damaged plants and found this little guy



whom I promptly consigned to the Circle of Life when I tossed him to a hungry robin lurking nearby.

The organic way to prevent cutworms from lumberjacking your crops is to encircle them with a cardboard toilet paper tube or juice can, which lessens the aesthetic value of the garden, to be sure.



Meanwhile, Mole Miners have been tunneling underground to slice away at the sumptuously tender roots of my other crops and I have been bereft of radishes and spinach and fennel as a result. Radishes are the easiest vegetable of all to grow, and yet from two rows of radishes planted from a fresh packet of seeds, only a few bunches are present. I grew Easter Egg Radishes this year, which are a gorgeous mix of purple, pink, red and white.



I have resorted to importing snapping turtles to rid my garden of these crazy moles.



Just kidding. This guy/gal sauntered into the yard yesterday afternoon and it's a good thing we spotted him before letting our beloved Martha dog out for a romp because these prehistoric critters have lightning-fast and fearsome beaks. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with the moles and would welcome advice on organic mole control. I've tried stuffing hanks of Martha's everpresent hair into their mole hole openings, but so far the mole rampages have gone on unabated. At least they leave us some asparagus.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Dad's All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce


It's almost full bore summertime here in upstate New York and so I made up a batch of Dan's dad's barbecue sauce to have on hand for our grilling. Dan's father Gene isn't around anymore, but we smile and think of him and his post-retirement passion for cooking, especially barbecuing, every time we make a batch of his lip-smacking sauce.

This sauce is mellow and sweet (kind of like Gene was, come to think of it) with a nice tomatoey flavor that he used to enjoy on barbecued chicken and steaks. In the Wheat-Free, Meat-Free world, we slather this on portabellas, thick slices of eggplant or zucchini, and tempeh. I have tinkered with the original recipe to substitute out the high-fructose corn syrup-infused ketchup with tomato puree, but I feel Gene's eyes disdainfully boring down on me when I do I usually make the sauce as he handed it down, thusly:


Dad's Barbecue Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder

Mix all ingredients together in saucepan. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

Makes 2 cups of sauce.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stalking the Wild Nettle

In the constant struggle to amend our sandy soil, I procured a bale of hay some years back to sprinkle over my agricultural lands at the end of the season. This was intended to seal in some of the good juices that normally leach out with winter snows and I hoped the hay would rot nicely, to be tilled into the dirt in the springtime to add more texture and water-absorption capacity.

The plan mostly worked, but what I didn't bank on was that the seeds of the nefarious Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) would impregnate my garden bed and send forth its prickly spawn each year. This plant is armored with hairs that contain an irritating poison and even a light brush against the skin causes an insect-like sting and subsequent rash and/or numbness that lasts a day. I find garden gloves too floppy for weeding, so I invariably yank out several of these prickly pests each season before my mind registers the enemy.

This year I decided on a counter-assault. My scheme was to not only yank out the nettlesome weed early on, but stuff it into my stockpot and eat it. I would be a Nettle Predator!

Armed with fashionable yellow dish washing gloves, a couture nettle entrapment bag and my trusty hunting hound, Martha, I went on the attack. I had previously consulted our home library, containing the complete works of the late Euell Gibbons and scanned the chapter in his book Stalking the Healthful Herbs (NY: David McKay, 1966) in which he devotes a entire chapter to the Common Stinging Nettle. Gibbons waxes devotedly about its healthful properties (vitamins A and C! protein!, chlorophyll! trace minerals!) and noted that the plants, if gathered before they flower, are a tender potherb that resemble spinach. The horrible nettle venom would be zapped in the cooking pot and provide a healthful and satisfying meal for the family.

Martha and I went forth and topped off every nettle we saw ringing our house and garden. I flung the lower extremities into the compost heap, where Euell told me they would add their high nitrogen content. Perfect. I would be eradicating a pestilent weed and foraging part of my supper in a delirious weeding/frugal feeding/garden composting tactical maneuver.

I hosed off the nettles outside and then stripped off the leaves and tops. These got swished around some more in a large stockpot of water and then placed in another large pot on the stove, where I snipped them up with kitchen shears. I didn't want to try anything fancy with my first batch of nettles, although Euell tempted me with Creamed Nettles and Nettle Pudding.

I covered the pot, brought everything to a satisfying rolling boil, and then simmered away for 20 minutes. The nettles seemed tender at the end and while the perfume wafting out from the pot had a slight medicinal scent, I was chortling as I dished out a couple of bowls of stewed nettles and topped each with a pat of butter and some salt and pepper for Dan and I to savor for lunch.

Foiled again! I chomped up a bite and found them to spinachy enough in flavor, but the texture was unpleasantly matted and coarse, sort of like munching on an Irish sweater. Or maybe an Irish setter. Something awful. The back of my throat started to feel scratchy, like I was getting a cold. Dan took a tentative mouthful and munched, but spat it out again quickly, asking me pointedly if I had read the recipe correctly.

Indignantly, I brought out Euell and showed him the Chapter of Nettle Rhapsody. Dan read it slowly, and then asked whether I had registered the sentence about only harvesting nettle plants that are less than a foot tall. Taller plants have gritty cystoliths that make them unpalatable. Oops. Cystoliths! This is one powerful plant-enemy. I remain vanquished by Nettles, but do plan another assault next Spring, much, much earlier.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: The GFCF Experience


For the last two three rounds of the Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger Event started by Sea at the Book of Yum, my adoptees were all female bloggers, but this time I thought I'd check out one of the male GF bloggers, Thomas at the GFCF Experience. He also happens to be the current host for this round, which runs through June 9th.

The GFCF Experience is a labor of love for this devoted father of four, one of whom resides on the autism spectrum. A gluten-free, casein-free diet has been shown to have many beneficial effects in treating kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Thomas' blog has many informative links and resources on this subject. He is also an awesome cook, as a list of his many recipes show.

I tried out the Brownie Tart recipe that Thomas had modified to be GFCF from the Barefoot Contessa. I didn't have a 9 inch tart pan and used an 8 inch springform pan instead. I also didn't have a bag of gluten-free flour mix on hand and substituted brown rice flour. The tart came out nice and chewy, with a meltingly rich chocolate-coffee taste, that was perfect with a cup of coffee on the side. Bravo GFCF! Another dessert winner for our family recipe box!

Check back with The GFCF Experience after June 9th for a roundup of all the blogger recipes from adoptees.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Marinated Mushrooms


I came across a recipe I had made before, a long time ago for my mom's college graduation feast. We had a nice picnic in her basement apartment and feasted on deviled eggs topped with black caviar, a selection of salads, and some classy French-style marinated mushrooms. I blew the dust off my recipe card and set out to make them again this afternoon. They need to sit for a couple of days to "mature", so but I did sneak a premature sample of pickled fungus and the taste was delicate, yet earthy, and very good.

Here's what I did:

1 pound white mushrooms, wiped free of dirt and quartered
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 lemon, cut in half and juiced, rinds reserved
2 cups white wine
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 scallions, sliced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 tsp. salt
Handful of parsley, chopped
2/3 cup olive oil

Soak mushrooms in lightly salted water for 10 minutes. Drain. Add to small pot containing remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until tender. Discard lemon rinds and bay leaves and then chill at least two days to let flavors marry. To serve, drain marinade and serve with toothpicks for spearing.

Makes 1-1/2 pints.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Gluten-Free Buffet of Newsy Bits

There is a smorgasbord of interesting and noteworthy items to report in the gluten-free blogging community:

Karina, the Gluten-Free Goddess over at Karina's Kitchen, has posted a tasty roundup of summery dishes in her Recipe Rodeo to highlight Celiac Awareness Month. Her website has a fresh, new design and even more gorgeous food photography, so be sure to check it out. I was honored to have my Salmon Burger recipe included in the roundup, which is a lot of work, but ultimately an elegant barbecue burger perfect for summer entertaining.

Another health awareness cooking event sponsored by The Food Blogga, Beautiful Bones, has wrapped up with an awesome calcium-rich recipe roundup of over 100 recipes. The Beautiful Bones event was designed to highlight awareness of osteoporosis and prevention of bone loss through better nutrition. I contributed Dan's new Polenta-Quinoa Sticks recipe which has just been the meal voted least likely to become a leftover in our house. There are an incredible variety of beautifully bony dishes at the roundup, from soups to Mango Ice Cream.

Carrie over at the relatively new gluten-free and dairy-free blog, The Good Eatah, recently announced her engagement. She and her honey were on vacation skydiving (whoa!) and just before he leaped into the sky, he ripped off some tape on his helmet which popped the question. Congratulations!

Thomas at the GFCF Experience, is hosting this month's edition of the Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger Event. It runs through June 9th, so there is still time to adopt your favorite GF blogger, cook up one of his or her recipes and blog away. Click here for more details.

And finally, the latest round of the Go Ahead, Honey, It's Gluten-Free cooking challenge, which featured breakfast dishes, has a roundup posted over at Naomi's beautiful and often humorous Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried blog. I contributed a potato recipe which is amusingly described in this delightful roundup. The next GAHGF event will focus on one-pot meals and will hosted by another gluten-free Carrie, The Ginger Lemon Girl, so look for details on her blog.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May Cookbook Winner and June Book Giveaway

Last month I decided to try something new here at Wheat-Free, Meat-Free and offer a monthly cookbook giveaway. Each month I am going to forage through the cookbook shelves at Old Saratoga Books, our used and rare bookstore, and pick a cookbook to give away to one of my loyal readers. All you need to do is leave a comment at the end of this post to enter.

The first winner is one my gluten-free blogging buddies, Carrie, the Ginger Lemon Girl. The scientifically-exact method of winner determination was the following: I asked Dan to pick a number between 1 to 9 (the number of contest entries I received) and he chose #7 because that is his childhood baseball hero Mickey Mantle's number and his adult softball hero's number, our daughter Amy. Carrie was lucky number 7 and will be notified of her win of Tassajara Cooking posthaste. Check out her blog, if you haven't already, to get many excellent and tasty recipes. She is an adventurous and occasionally Daring Baker, which is something I aspire to someday. Congratulations Carrie!




For the June Cookbook Giveaway, I am offering a copy of English author Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Dishes from Around the World (NY: Pantheon, 1982). This is a great all-purpose cookbook for soups, appetizers, main dishes and side dishes using fresh produce, all with an international flair. With the garden season underway, I thought this would be a seasonally-appropriate cookbook to get us all thinking about new ways to use up the vegetable bounty when it kicks into high gear.

I will come up with another random way of choosing a winner from the comments posted below on July 1st, so don't all try to be number 7. Good luck everyone....