Gluten Free Girl and the Chef http://glutenfreegirl.com Playing With Our Food Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:58:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=382 meet our sponsors: walker’s shortbreadhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/03/meet-our-sponsors-walkers-shortbread/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/03/meet-our-sponsors-walkers-shortbread/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 06:31:37 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10148 Walker’s shortbread now makes three gluten-free flavors: classic butter shortbread, chocolate chip shortbread, and ginger and lemon shortbread. Walker’s gluten-free shortbread. I should really just stop there. I’m assuming you’re already calling your grocery store…

The post meet our sponsors: walker’s shortbread appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
walker's shortbread

Walker’s shortbread now makes three gluten-free flavors: classic butter shortbread, chocolate chip shortbread, and ginger and lemon shortbread. Walker’s gluten-free shortbread.

I should really just stop there. I’m assuming you’re already calling your grocery store to see if they have any in stock.

Walker’s shortbread has always been my favorite packaged cookie. They taste of butter and crumble in the mouth softly. Even when I was a kid, I knew that almost every cookie that came in a bag or box was artificially flavored or strangely made, since they tasted nothing like the cookies my mother made from scratch occasionally. But Walker’s shortbread? I could never make a shortbread as good as their original. Since they’ve been making these cookies in the Scottish highlands since 1898, they clearly know what they are doing.

So when I found out that Walker’s is now making gluten-free shortbread, I was happy to try them. These shortbread taste exactly like the original to me and Danny (and remember, he can eat gluten). Shortbread doesn’t suffer from a lack of gluten. Traditional Scottish shortbread usually contains a portion of rice flour anyway, to give the familiar shortbread texture. This gluten-free shortbread is good shortbread.

And we’re happy to say that Walker’s is our latest sponsor.

When the good folks at Walker’s asked us to come up with a recipe using their gluten-free shortbread? You bet. Just another excuse to eat more of their gluten-free shortbread.

walker's shortbread tart

lemon tart with a ginger-lemon shortbread crust

When we first tasted the ginger-lemon shortbread from Walker’s, Danny and I were both elated. I was happy because this gluten-free shortbread sang with my two favorite flavors: ginger and lemon. Danny immediately started thinking about a lemon tart with this as the crust. 

Really, you can’t go wrong here. A quick tart crust with cookie crumbs and melted butter, and a batch of homemade lemon curd? Take a few spoonfuls of this lemon curd to enjoy as you stand by the sink, then save the rest for this tart. Trust us. The wait will be worth it. 

for the crust
2 4.9 ounce packages Walker’s ginger and lemon shortbread
1/3 cup melted butter
1 large egg (optional)

for the lemon curd
6 large lemons, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups fine white sugar (also known as baking sugar)
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, a bit softened
6 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Make the shortbread crust. Pulse the shortbread cookies in the bowl of a food processor until they are crushed into crumbs. With the food processor running, add the melted butter until the mixture comes together. (If you feel the crumbs just aren’t holding together enough, you can add the egg. Some folks do. It makes for a more solid crust, which some read as tough.) Pat the mixture into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your fingers or the back of ramekin, gently press the shortbread crumbs together in the pan. Even off any stray bits at the top of the tart pan. Bake in a 350° oven until the tart crust was firm to the touch and starting to get a bit of color on it, 8 to 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Make lemon sugar for the lemon curd. Add the lemon zest and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until they are clumping together and smell like a bright winter day, about 5 minutes.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter to the lemon sugar. Run the mixer until the butter and sugar are combined thoroughly and are fluffy, about 5 minutes.
With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one at a time. Pour in the lemon juice and mix, then the salt. The mixture should be a thick liquid, quite yellow and coherent.

Cook the lemon curd. Pour the liquid into a large pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens. At first, you might think it will never happen. Keep stirring, constantly at this point, to avoid curdling. After 10 minutes or so, the curd will suddenly thicken, pull away from the edges of the pot a bit, and bubble vigorously. (You can also use a candy thermometer to take the curd to 170°.) Stick a spoon into the curd. When you drag your finger down the back of the spoon, does it leave a clean trail? You’re done. Pull the pot off the heat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the lemon curd and stir until the mixture is smooth (emulsified).

Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the zest. (Skip this step if you don’t mind the bits of zest on your teeth.) Refrigerate the lemon curd until it is cold.

Finish the lemon tart. Gently spread the cold lemon curd into the crust. Smooth out the top with a rubber spatula. Chill the tart in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Working slowly, push up on the bottom of the tart pan to separate the tart from the pan. Serve.

Makes 10 to 12 slices.

 

Walker’s is happy to give away three packages of the gluten-free shortbread to three readers of this site. Leave a comment about why you would like to win here. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday, March 6th. 

The post meet our sponsors: walker’s shortbread appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/03/meet-our-sponsors-walkers-shortbread/feed/ 39
life obligeshttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/life-obliges/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/life-obliges/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:38:11 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10137 On Sunday afternoon, along with more than 100 people from our island community, we attended the memorial for a woman we adore. After battling cancer three times in her life, pernicious pneumonia set in. After a…

The post life obliges appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

On Sunday afternoon, along with more than 100 people from our island community, we attended the memorial for a woman we adore. After battling cancer three times in her life, pernicious pneumonia set in. After a few days at the hospital, so did reality. There was one decision to make: die in the hospital, connected to breathing tubes and the means to keep her alive for weeks, or go home to die, surrounded by the people she loved most. She made it home.

I could write an entire piece about this woman, who was a force of nature, a fiercely kind being who wanted nothing more than to connect good people together. She was mighty. She laughed easily and looked you right in the eye. She was a biochemist for decades, a scientist deeply dedicated to rigorous truth, and a mystic at the same time. She believed in the complexities of human beings and she was comfortable in the unknown. In her retirement, she volunteered for arts organizations, health organizations, and as many charities as she could. She was sharp as a tack and fully alive.

Lucy, who adored this woman too, chose her own outfit for the memorial: a floppy pink sun hat, a gauzy purple scarf, sparkly tights, and a dress that said smile on the front. (Danny was so struck by the light that he had to take the photo above.) Believe me, our friend would have loved this outfit.

It was the right tone, too. Our friend’s son sent out a message in advance of the memorial: sadness is understandable, and please feel free to feel sad. But promise us that your joy at having known her will be 1% bigger than the grief. We all listened to him. This was the most joyful memorial I have ever attended.

Her son shared something that has been rumbling around in my mind ever since. He said that his mother gave him this quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez:  ”.…human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but.…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

I think I sighed hard when I heard him read this quote. (And then I laughed when he said, “Yeah, my mom gave this quote to me when I was 8, so that probably tells you something.”) These words, they rush through me, because this is how I feel about my own children. I’m here for them, but they will give birth to themselves, many times over. That’s their job. I’ll just be here to hear their stories and hold their hands when they need it.

That’s my job for myself too.

When I was a kid, my dad told me a fact that astounded me: every cell in our body regenerates itself, so that every seven years, we are essentially a new person. (It turns out that’s a bit of an urban myth but isn’t everything more nuanced than it seems?) I grew up with the feeling that I was constantly changing, never the same. I’ve always felt that my biggest task is to get out of my own way and let the great shifts happen. Just let the next birth happen.

Birth is hard. But the first year after birth might be even more confusing. Next month, Desmond will be one year old. We’ve watched him open his eyes wide and take it all in. Then he learned to smile. And then sleep. There were movements from his back, then he flipped himself over. The day after our Kickstarter was done, he started crawling for the first time. And now, he’s just about to walk. I give him a couple of weeks until those first wobbly steps happen.

It makes us laugh now to think that we’ve been going through a similar first year, with our new gluten-free flour business. It was a long gestation. This past year, all those dreams came into reality in a small white box. This week, all the Kickstarter reward boxes of flour are going out. Within a week or two, we’ll have the flour for sale on this site. I bet it’s the same day Desmond takes his first steps.

There have been times this year that Danny and I have both felt like babies, unable to even roll over. This has all been new territory. It has been terrifying at times. We’ve reinvented ourselves, not only by starting a small business (what the heck do we know about this? we’ve wanted to cry out at times) but by seeing ourselves in this new light. I cannot count the number of intense conversations we’ve had together, and with people we trust, about what we want to do in this world, and what we want to give, and how we want to be, as people. This really isn’t about making money.

I love the verb Marquez used there: “..life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” Obliges. Not encourages or hopes or offers. But obliges. What other choice do we have to change when all the cells in our body are transforming themselves as I type? We must give birth to ourselves. There is no other choice. So what if those first steps are wobbly? We’re alive.

Look, I’ll be honest. I read this draft a dozen times before I decided to publish this. What kind of hell blog post is this for a gluten-free food site? We all share this sort of unspoken understanding that food blogs are pleasant places, with pieces that aren’t too long, sometimes extolling the virtues of a certain food, mostly sharing stories about gatherings and small revelations and connections with people. It’s what I write most of the time. But sometimes, that template just feels too constricting.

We don’t have a recipe for you this week. We’ve been busy learning shipping software (wobbly steps! I wanted to throw a tantrum at times!) and packing boxes for shipping and starting to make this thing we have been dreaming about into muscle memory. I could have told you stories about that and posted a link to an old recipe.

But all of this has been drifting through my mind often this week. And for months. We don’t have just one life and then a death. They aren’t divided. There are, without a doubt, a thousand deaths and births while we’re here. I think the best way to live through them is to talk about it and share it with each other. Why are we so afraid of talking about death? 

Finding out you have to be gluten-free doesn’t have to be a tragedy. It could just be your latest birth.

To participate in this life. That’s what our friend did. She participated in life.

I hope that when I go out I have the chance to die as clear-minded and loving as our friend did.

And I thank her son for reminding me of another fact my dad taught me when I was young, through a video his mom loved and shared with him: in the end, we’re all stardust anyway.

The post life obliges appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/life-obliges/feed/ 36
a word from our sponsors: bob’s red mill 8-grain hot cerealhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/bobs-8-grain-hot-cereal/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/bobs-8-grain-hot-cereal/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 04:14:00 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10129 Bob’s Red Mill is the one brand of gluten-free food that has been in my home from the time I was first diagnosed in 2005 until today. Honestly. Other brands have come and gone —…

The post a word from our sponsors: bob’s red mill 8-grain hot cereal appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
Bob's cereal

Bob’s Red Mill is the one brand of gluten-free food that has been in my home from the time I was first diagnosed in 2005 until today. Honestly. Other brands have come and gone — there were plenty of foods I ate those first couple of years that I never ate again once I taught myself how to bake without gluten — but Bob’s always stays.

This is why we’re so happy that Bob’s Red Mill has been a sponsor of this site for years.

And recently, we added this 8-grain hot cereal from Bob’s to our family’s breakfast routine.

Bob’s Red Mill 8-Grain hot cereal is hearty, filling, and easy to make.  It’s more complex in its taste and texture than most hot cereal, since it contains stone ground corn, oats, brown rice, soy beans, oat bran, millet, sorghum, sunflower seeds, and flaxseed. A couple of mornings a week, we cook some up in our rice cooker (you can also use a pot on the stove) and scoop some out in bowls before taking Lucy to kindergarten in the morning. She loves apple slices and almond milk on hers. I like honey and pistachios, with a bit of dried apricots. Danny likes brown sugar, raisins, and salted sunflower seeds on his. Desmond has his plain right now, but he’ll want more toppings later.

Sometimes, I’ll make a double batch. After breakfast, I spread the leftover hot cereal into a buttered square baking pan and set it in the fridge. When it’s cold, I cut it into squares and cook them up in olive oil in a skillet, a little like fried polenta.

Bob’s took the care to make some small adjustments to make their 8-grain hot cereal gluten-free. They make it in their gluten-free facility now as well. We’re thrilled. We bet you will be too.

Bob’s Red Mill is giving away a package of their 8-grain hot cereal to three readers of this site. Leave a comment about why you would be interested in winning this. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday, February 27th and notified by email.

The post a word from our sponsors: bob’s red mill 8-grain hot cereal appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/bobs-8-grain-hot-cereal/feed/ 46
Meet Our Sponsors: WEDO banana flourhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/meet-our-sponsors-wedo-banana-flour/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/meet-our-sponsors-wedo-banana-flour/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 06:19:42 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10071 Banana flour. Who knew? Banana flour. I never imagined this unusual flour would be one of my favorite for baking. Why? Banana flour is kind of magic. I’m not kidding. It’s pretty much magic. Banana flour…

The post Meet Our Sponsors: WEDO banana flour appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
banana flour I

Banana flour.

Who knew? Banana flour. I never imagined this unusual flour would be one of my favorite for baking. Why?

Banana flour is kind of magic. I’m not kidding. It’s pretty much magic.

Banana flour was brought to the United States for the first time last year by a company called WEDO Banana Flour. Like us, they did a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the flour to market. Originally produced in Kenya, this flour made of dehydrated green bananas is now produced in South America and brought to the United States. Why would anyone do this?

It turns out that green bananas, because they are not sweet at all, are high in starches. (And that includes resistant starch, a category of foods we’re just starting to understand are good for the gut.) Banana flour doesn’t really taste like bananas. There’s maybe a tiny hint of them. Instead, the flour has a slight earthiness to it, like wheat bran. And it actually acts like wheat in some cases.

I’m seeing some remarkable baked goods come out of our oven when we add a small percentage of banana flour to our All-Purpose Flour or our Grain-Free Flour Blend. Sometimes, we use more. Last week, we made the buckwheat pancakes recipe from Joy of Cooking, using raw buckwheat flour instead of the toasted stuff that is the norm. And we used 1/2 cup of the banana flour instead of the 1 cup of wheat AP flour in the recipe. A little coconut sugar, some buttermilk, and some butter we browned. There’s a warm, nutty taste to buckwheat, brown butter, and banana flour we thought might play well together.

We love these pancakes. We’ve made them three more times since. These pancakes are Desmond’s favorite food. (See recipe below.)

So we’re happy to announce that WEDO Banana Flour is the latest sponsor of this site. We’re truly excited about introducing this food to you.

We’ll let David Wintzer, one of the co-founders of WEDO Banana Flour, tell you more.

 

What compelled you to import banana flour to the US?
Co-creator David Wintzer was working with a group of Kenyan women distributing micro-loans through a non-profit. One of the women David was working with had a small factory that made banana flour, flour made from unripe green bananas. It was green bananas peeled, sliced, dehydrated and milled into flour. In an effort to help these women David came home and approached high school friend Todd Francis with the idea, after having the product tested and knowing it was gluten-free, the idea was born to bring banana flour back to the US and create a viable business, WEDO banana flour.

Why is it important to you that it’s gluten-free?
Not knowing much about gluten when the idea of this business was sparked reading about the effects David told his mother whom had suffered from chronic head aches for 20+ years. Once telling his mom about migraines being a side effect of gluten intolerance David’s mom went GF. Five years later, she’s migraine free. As things developed, David discovered his step-daughter had a family history of gluten intolerance and sure enough, gluten was affecting her well being. David, Todd and their families have fully adopted a gluten free lifestyle.

What are the most interesting qualities of the banana flour?

1. Since we use unripe green bananas the sugar content hasn’t fully developed so the product doesn’t taste like bananas. It has an earthy, wholewheat like flavor. It mimics “gluten-like” products remarkably well in taste and texture which allows for it to be a versatile product. Because of the high starch content you can do almost anything with this flour, you can batter, thicken soups and gravies, boost morning smoothie and bake almost anything, all of this without altering the flavor of your creations.

2. Banana flour has a property in it called resistant starch (RS2) which is a pre-biotic which aids digestion by passing the small intestine and going straight to the large intestine. It “resist” digestion and feeds the good bacteria in the gut. However, RS has to be eaten in it’s raw form, once you cook RS above 140 degrees F. you lose the majority or the RS.

Can you tell us a story of a customer who has loved the flour?

I have pasted a (long) testimonial from one of our customers. Some of our best success stories come from those who are diabetic, have digestion problems and can’t process grains. The problem/solution goes beyond gluten, it’s rooted to ulcers, diabetes, autism and much much more.

“We have two kids who have autoimmune problems galore, and it has stressed my health on top of my own medical problems. We have been off GMOs, pharma, and anything else possibly damaging, and our entire family (5 kids, myself and hubby) for about 5 years now, and we have ALL benefitted. This product of yours is HIGHLY influencing our health. I am so sick and due to being severely sick, I also am highly sensitive which is not a bad thing — I can tell what bothers me almost immediately. And, I can also tell what makes me feel better. When I take your product, my body .… just feels good. One of my sons says he feels the same way with your product and he loves the green banana flour, as he is in college and can blend it as a smoothie and take every day or so. It is key for feeding our good gut bacteria and defending our bodies.

I just want you to know how important your product is — I’m sure you know but truly, there are so many of us parents with kids having autoimmune and all kinds of disorders and you cannot imagine the suffering we go through with our kids. Nonetheless, we are a strong network and every so often we find a product that is key. I believe your product is very fitting for many of us and I guess I am writing this to show you that you are doing a really good thing for so many. THANK YOU!!!”

Thank you, David and Todd, for bringing banana flour to the United States.

And to our kitchen.

 

The folks at WEDO Banana Flour would like to offer a package of banana flour to three of our readers. Leave a comment here about why you might be interested in this to be eligible for the giveaway. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday, February 27th, then notified by email. 

 

Buckwheat-banana-brown butter pancakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup light buckwheat flour
1/2 cup WEDO banana flour
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk

Brown the butter. Set a small pot over low heat. Add the butter. Let the butter melt, then come to a simmer. Keep an eye on the butter as you keep heating it, letting the edges come to a boil. There might be some spattering as the water in the butter starts to evaporate. Raise the heat to medium and give the pot a swirl to prevent any places from burning. After about 5 minutes, the butter will start foaming on the top and release a nutty smell. You’ll see parts of the butter at the bottom of the pan start to brown. Watch the pot carefully, swirling it sometimes. Watch the butterfat solids on the bottom of the pot and let them get as brown as you wish. Be careful — it’s so easy to burn butter. Take the pot off the heat immediately and set it aside in a cooler place. When the butter has cooled, pour it into a small bowl.

Beat the egg whites. Crack the eggs. Separate the yolks and the whites. Set aside the yolks in a small bowl. With a whisk, or better yet in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs to stiff peaks, which takes about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the mixer and let the egg whites sit for a moment.

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the buckwheat flour, banana flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Make the batter. Whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks, and cooled brown butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stir them together gently until there are no more dry patches of flour visible. Fold in the egg whites, gently.

Let the batter sit. For best results, let the batter sit for 30 minutes before making the pancakes. This allows all the ingredients to hydrate and come together. (Letting the batter sit overnight in the refrigerator makes even better pancakes.)

The batter will be a little thicker than traditional pancake batter. If you put a spoon into the batter, then lift it high in the air, you’ll watch the batter trail downward from the spoon slowly. This will make a good pancake. However, if you like thinner pancakes, add more buttermilk.

Cook the pancakes. You know how to make pancakes, right? Low heat. 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Nonstick griddle or a little butter or coconut oil in a skillet on the stove. The first batch is always a little wonky. Keep adjusting the heat as the griddle or skillet grow hotter. This should make you quite a few batches of great pancakes.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen pancakes.

The post Meet Our Sponsors: WEDO banana flour appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/meet-our-sponsors-wedo-banana-flour/feed/ 85
dating him againhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/dating-him-again/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/dating-him-again/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 06:27:09 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10085 You lose a lot when you have children. You lose sleep, of course. Everyone knows that. Well, you think you know that until you are dragging through the day, the 14th day in a row,…

The post dating him again appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
Date Night In VI

You lose a lot when you have children.

You lose sleep, of course. Everyone knows that. Well, you think you know that until you are dragging through the day, the 14th day in a row, with no real end in sight, reaching for coffee again and hoping for a nap. For years, when our daughter was less than 5 years old, Danny and I took turns being depleted of sleep every other night. She just had to dance, even at 3 am when she awoke from a dream. She still dances, everywhere, but it seems to sufficiently exhaust her now that she sleeps through the night. In fact, she started sleeping solidly, arm stretched out over her head in a graceful arc, just before her baby brother arrived. We’re right back to sleeping in fits and stages again.

You lose more than sleep when you have small children, however. You lose shirts without food stains on them. You lose the ability to drink an entire cup of hot coffee, slowly, without interruption. You lose conversations without interruptions. If you’re an introvert, like me, you lose the quiet space to gather your thoughts without having to answer a question or fetch a glass of water or hear again, “Mama! He’s touching my stuff!” You lose quiet. You lose the chance to read an entire newspaper in one sitting. You lose the ability to read more than a 1200-word essay, on the phone, while hiding in the bedroom for a few moments while your partner takes the helm. And at the end of the day, there’s another night of interrupted night’s sleep.

Life is full of loss. Everything changes.

These kids are worth the interruptions, the lack of sleep. Now, with Desmond here, the noise is doubled and the joy is quadrupled. This evening at dinner, we sat together eating butternut squash soup with coconut and curry, a quinoa salad with endive and cucumbers, soft Italian cheese, salami, and homemade bread. Desmond opened his mouth wide, asking for another spoonful of the soup. He closed his eyes and licked his lips and then opened his mouth again, like a baby bird. If I turned toward Danny to laugh about his expression of pleasure, Desmond slapped his hand on his highchair, demanding my attention. Lucy ate her soup too, giggling at Desmond, then pretending to be Laura from Little House on the Prairie again. “Ma, can I bring in some more butter and milk from the barn after dinner?” Danny’s chair broke underneath him — it had been feeling rickety for weeks — and he fell backwards. We all checked to make sure he was fine, then Lucy and I started laughing. “Nice pratfall, Dad!” Lucy shouted and Danny started laughing too. Lu and I cleared the table, and did the dishes while Danny fed more soup to the still-insistent baby. She asked me why we have electricity at the beginning of the talk while she helped me do the dishes. Later, she wanted to know why we have feet. Back at the table, Danny and Lucy and I enjoyed a little piece of bittersweet brownies with salted peanut butter frosting. Desmond ate almost an entire banana. Lucy grabbed her top hat and wooden stick horse and galloped through the dining room, begging us to sing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds to her. We did, Danny out of tune (singing another tune, really) and Desmond clapping. Lucy danced. We sang Ob La Di Ob La Da to Desmond, whose eyes always go wide when he hears his name. He started bopping his head around, dancing, just like his sister. Danny and I looked at each other and just started laughing, singing louder. Who would trade quiet for this?

When I had the quiet hours to read the newspaper, more than a decade ago, I felt a little lonely there, wishing for someone else to share those stories. Now, there are no shortage of stories. And no shortage of small people opening my heart simply by being here, in the moments I start to think too much about myself.

Still, there’s one loss that seems inevitable, unless you work against it. It’s easy to lose the romance with the love of your life when you have children. You have a fellow dishwasher, someone with whom to tag team on the diaper changes, a lovely warm body to cuddle against as you watch an hour of television before climbing into bed. But someone who wants to woo you? That can disappear.

After 39 years of being alive, Danny came along, and I wrote every day about the joy, the joy!, of knowing him, finally. We had a year and a half together, dating each other, falling deeply in love with each other, and making a life together before Lucy was born. Sometimes I miss him now.

We spend every day together. We parent together. We work together. We write cookbooks together. We have started a business together. We talk about everything, everything, together. And I love this closeness, the nearness of him right now as I write this. But it’s awfully easy for our days to become a tangle of to-do lists, carpools, grocery trips, and endless conversations about the best way to ship boxes of flour and doing our taxes. But the romance? That we have to work at, when we can.

That’s one of the reasons I love Ashley Rodriguez’s beautiful new cookbook, Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship. Our friends Ashley and her husband Gabe are both incredibly talented, kind people, and Danny and I adore them both.  (You might know Ashley’s wonderful blog, Not Without Salt.) Ashley is a phenomenal photographer and former pastry chef. This woman knows how to cook. I love most what she wrote in the introduction to her book, about the routine they settled into in the evenings after the kids were finally asleep.

“It was in those quiet hours that I started to notice a very un–romantic routine forming. Gabe would retreat to his computer and I to mine. After a long day spent caring for three small children, I had nothing more to give; I felt like this time was mine. But the neglect to our marriage started to become clear, as we began to feel more like roommates than husband and wife.…It was then that I decided things had to change. We needed more than the quarterly date we were trying to squeeze into our budget and our schedule. Our finances were tight, and babysitters were not lining up at the door eager to hang out with our three young children. We had to get creative. So we turned to our modest kitchen as a new, romantic setting where we could begin to date again.”

This inspiring cookbook is a series of menus that Ashley created for Gabe on their date nights in. He put the kids to bed and she made a three-course meal to share together, meals like this: spiced cider toddy; brussels sprouts slaw with grapes and feta; white bean and pumpkin gratin with crispy shallot crumbs; and grandma’s apple cake with maple cream.

That’s my kind of date. And Danny’s.

We’ve been so inspired by Ashley’s lovely cookbook that we’re starting our own date night routine. Starting this week, I’ll put the kids to bed early (Lucy, go to sleep!) and Danny will spend the evening cooking for us. These will be dishes no one else will see. No recipe testing. No Instagram photos. Just a man cooking for the woman he loves and a woman grateful for this food. We used to share  a meal like this every night, after midnight most nights. We never make it up to midnight these days. But the two of us? We’re going to have meals without interruptions, with no talk of work, and no phones.

I’ll try not to spill food on my shirt.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about Saturday nights again.

 

Date Night In I

Date Night In III

Date Night In IV

Date Night In V

Date Night In II

Date Night In VII

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting,
adapted from Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship

If your mouth is watering just looking at this photo, wait until you taste these brownies. They are super dark fudgy chocolate brownies, with a crackly top and the crisp edges people fight over as they come out of the pan. I’ve made brownies I love before but these are the best. (Ashley! Brown butter in brownies? Stop.) They would be enough. But topped with a creamy peanut butter frosting and flaky sea salt? Stick a fork in me. I’m done. 

Oh, and the fact that these brownies contain no gluten is lovely too. 

brownies
3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
90 grams unsweetened chocolate (we used bittersweet chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (70 grams) All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour

frosting
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (100 grams) smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup (40 grams) powdered sugar
flaky sea salt

Prepare to bake. Heat oven to 325°. Line an 8x8 square baking pan with two long pieces of parchment paper so a couple of inches of paper hang over all sides. Liberally grease the parchment paper.

Brown the butter. Brown the butter. Set a small pot over low heat. Add the butter. Let the butter melt, then come to a simmer. Keep an eye on the butter as you keep heating it, letting the edges come to a boil. There might be some spattering as the water in the butter starts to evaporate. Raise the heat to medium and give the pot a swirl to prevent any places from burning. After about 5 minutes, the butter will start foaming on the top and release a nutty smell. You’ll see parts of the butter at the bottom of the pan start to brown. Watch the pot carefully, swirling it sometimes. Watch the butterfat solids on the bottom of the pot and let them get as brown as you wish, about 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful — it’s so easy to burn butter. Take the pot off the heat immediately and pour the butter into a large bowl.

Make the batter. Add the chopped chocolate (or in this case, chocolate chips) to the brown butter. Let them sit for a moment, then whisk them together. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla while the the butter is still warm, stirring until the sugar has melted entirely. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, then the salt until everything is blended into one color. Slowly add the cocoa powder and flour to the batter. Fold them all together with a rubber spatula.

Bake the brownies. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the brownies cool to room temperature. (I know. It’s hard.)

Make the frosting. Put the butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip them together until you have a light and fluffy frosting, about 3 minutes.

Frost the brownies with the peanut butter frosting and crunch the flaky salt on top, as you will.

Makes 12 to 15 brownies.

 

Feel like playing? We haven’t tried this yet, but I’m pretty sure that coconut oil would be a great substitution for the butter if you can’t eat dairy. This peanut butter frosting would be great on a chocolate cake for a birthday party someday.

As Ashley writes in her cookbook: “I realize that some people like a more cake-like top. So, here’s a way to please both with this one recipe. If you like the crackly top, follow the recipe above; if you prefer your brownies without the crackly top, simple add the eggs when you add the sugar. The crackly top comes when the sugar has a chance to melt before it bakes.”

 

The post dating him again appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/dating-him-again/feed/ 18
a ritual to feed each otherhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/gluten-free-pizza-dough/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/gluten-free-pizza-dough/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 23:51:32 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10055 I’ve been thinking a lot about ritual lately. So much of life is repetition. Do the laundry. Pay the bills. Tackle the dishes. Set the alarm. Think about waking up earlier to exercise before the sun…

The post a ritual to feed each other appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
pizza dough I

I’ve been thinking a lot about ritual lately.

So much of life is repetition. Do the laundry. Pay the bills. Tackle the dishes. Set the alarm. Think about waking up earlier to exercise before the sun rises. Hit the snooze. Drive to work.

Repetition is necessary, of course. There’s no way to learn how to drive that car, and feel competent enough to drive down the highway without clutching the steering wheel in terror, without doing it over and over again. Muscle memory is where the imagination kicks in. I’m glad I don’t have to think anymore about how to put the car into park.

But so much of repetition can seem like tedium if I approach it the wrong way. When you have a baby, and you spend part of every day picking up board books and bright plastic toys, and putting them into the basket again, and then again, and then again, you sort of start longing sometimes for a fresh start. When you cook every day, you see the same dishes in the sink that need rinsing and a run through the dishwasher. Really? That orange bowl again? Anything new sounds alluring. A sandy beach or warm sun on the face. Or even a quick takeout meal.

I can fall into this rut. When I’m sleep deprived or stressed out or doing anything that keeps me from being here, I long for innovation. Let’s create something new, right now!

This often results in Danny and I taking on too much, juggling so fast that the tasks themselves are a blur, the motion the guiding principle instead of the fleeting feeling of each ball landing in our hands. And generally, the balls fall down around our ears pretty quickly.

Instead of resenting repetition, I’ve been thinking about ritual.

One of my favorite poems in the world is William Stafford’s “A Ritual to Read to Each Other.” I must have read it, to myself and out loud to someone I love, at least 300 times. Every time, I hear it more deeply, the life I have lived meeting the words he left on the page long ago. The ritual of reading that poem has informed my life.

Ritual feels like mindful repetition. Instead of thinking Oh man, I have to do the dishes again? I try to breathe and feel my way to the kitchen. That time before the sink can be meditative if I walk in there the same time every day, the light fading from the sky. Lucy has her 30 minutes of tv time after school. Desmond is playing with metal bowls on the kitchen floor. And I can put my hands in warm water and hum under my breath as I scrub at that pan again. Muscle memory kicks in. I’m doing something with my body not my brain. And a stubborn problem that had been scraping at my mind seems to gently lift away along with the crusted food scraps on that skillet.

There are blessings in the everyday.

For years, Danny and I made a new dish for dinner every night. After years of working in restaurants, prepping the same dishes every day, Danny loved the freedom to cook whatever he wanted. I was liberated from gluten and found a new world of food. There were always new recipes to test. Why make lasagna again when I could play with kohlrabi and lamb sausage? Heck with repetition! Let’s never eat the same thing twice!

And then Lucy grew old enough to tell us she wanted pizza more than once.

When Lu was just before 5, she started complaining about our constant innovation. She wanted the comfort of knowing she would eat a food she loved more often than never again. Danny and I started talking about our food memories from when we were kids and realized our fondest memories circled around the dishes we ate dozens and dozens of times. His mom’s corned beef. My mom’s green chile chicken enchiladas. Chocolate chip cookies. And we started to wonder what Lu’s food memories would be. Would she remember the roasted kohlrabi and lamb sausage dish we made that one time when she was 3? Or would she think about pizza nights fondly, the anchor of her week?

We made Fridays pizza night. And she began helping us turn the gluten-free pizza dough we made on Wednesday into pizza every Friday evening. Then we all took our plates to the living room and watched a movie together, eating pizza.

It was lovely. It still is.

And then a funny thing happened. That ritual of pizza together every Friday night started, slowly, changing everything. We had a taco bar one Thursday and Lucy asked if we could have tacos the next Thursday. So we did. And Thursdays became taco Thursdays. After a few visits to a conveyor belt sushi place in Seattle, Lucy desperately wanted sushi every week, so we started making our own sushi (minus the raw fish for her) on Sundays. After Desmond arrived, and our lives were happily disrupted, we needed ritual and routine more than ever. So we chose a meal for every day of the week. And we’ve been doing that ever since.

Mondays are meat and potato night. Tuesdays are kid choice night (right now, Lu’s favorite choice is gluten-free corn dogs. so she is a kid after all). Wednesdays are soup and salad nights. Thursdays are tacos. Fridays are pizza night. Saturdays are pasta night. Sundays are sushi night.

To our surprise, we love this. We don’t have to think about what to make for dinner, in a panic at 5 pm every night, because we spent the entire day cooking and baking and testing recipes at the studio, and we come home without a clue about what to make for Lu (and now, Desmond). Our shopping has changed. There are certain staples we need every week: nori, sushi rice, gluten-free pasta, good cheeses for the cheese plate we make to go with the soup and salad, corn tortillas, etc. We started cooking food in batches on the weekend so we’re always prepared for the week. A big pot of tomato sauce. A new vinaigrette. Another batch of mayonnaise. (Lucy loves mayonnaise more than any person I’ve ever met.) A dip for fresh vegetables we keep in the fridge. A big pot of soup. Something pickled. A roasted meat for tacos.

And strangely — or maybe not — I think there is more constant, quiet innovation happening in our food for these rituals. Making a pizza dough every week helped me to understand the dynamics of pizza dough under my hands in a way that reading never can. Because my hands are doing something familiar, my mind understands the process in a new way.

These rituals are templates for us. Monday is meat and potato night. That could be meatballs and mashed potatoes. It could be potato gnocchi with meat sauce. It could be roast beef and roasted potatoes. They all turn into breakfast and packed lunches for Lucy. Nothing goes to waste anymore.

The one ritual of pizza night turned into a series of rituals that changed our lives. The kitchen is clean these days. The refrigerator is better organized. And mealtimes are a series of songs and happy chattering and sharing of gratitude instead of us cajoling Lucy to please eat more of her meal. Desmond claps his hands in his high chair when we all sit down because he knows something fun is about to begin.

Thank you, Lucy. Pizza on a Friday night with you is my favorite ritual.

pizza dough II

pizza dough III

pizza dough IV

pizza dough V

pizza dough VI

pizza dough VII

pizza dough VIII

Our Favorite Gluten-Free Pizza Dough 

We’ve been playing with pizza dough for years. Sometimes, it seems, I like nothing more in the world than researching ratios on baking recipes. However, since we instituted the Friday night pizza ritual in our home, we’ve settled on our recipe. I’m done playing with this one. We haven’t changed our recipe in over a year. We have our dough.

This is based on the pizza dough from Roberta’s, an incredible wood-fired oven pizza place in Brooklyn. (We highly recommend Roberta’s Cookbook for its great recipes and unexpected photography.) After studying the way they ferment dough and shape it, I started playing with this one. It’s quite different from theirs, of course, since there is no gluten in ours. But the backbone is the same. 

In this recipe, we suggest you let your dough ferment for at least 24 hours before baking it. Honestly, the flavors deepen the longer you let it rest, so we generally make our dough on a Wednesday for Friday pizza night. When we make our pizza dough, we usually use 150 grams of our AP blend and 150 grams of our grain-free blend. Since we haven’t told you the formula for that one yet, we made this pizza with 300 grams of our AP blend. It’s still great. (But if you have any raw buckwheat flour on hand, try at least 100 grams of that in place of the AP.) Play with the flours you have on hand to make this yours. 

300 grams (about 2 1/4 cups) Gluten-Free Girl All-Purpose Flour Blend
6 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) psyllium husk
8 grams (1 teaspoon) sea salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon olive oil
225 grams (about one cup) lukewarm water (about 110°)

Make the dough. Combine the two flours, the psyllium, the salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Whirl them up.

With the mixer running on low, pour in the oil, then the water, very slowly. The dough will feel soft and pliable but softer and wetter than a typical gluten dough. (Try to mimic the texture of a creamy porridge.) Turn the mixer onto medium and let it run for a few more moments. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Let the dough rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for 1 hour. Then, put the dough in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight.

Prepare to bake. The next day, pull the dough out of the refrigerator 1 hour before you intend to roll it. Divide the dough into 2 balls. Put one dough ball between 2 lightly greased pieces of parchment paper. Roll out the dough until it is about 12 inches across. Take the top piece of parchment paper off the dough. Curl up the edges of the dough, about 1/2 inch to 1 inch, all the way around the circle. Take a fork and gently crimp those edges onto the dough to seal them. Put the parchment paper back onto the dough. Put one hand under the bottom parchment paper, the other on top, and flip the dough. With slightly wet fingertips, make little indentations around the edges of the dough. Dock the pizza by making fork marks over the dough evenly. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet. Gently lift the edges of the dough to make sure no part of it is sticking to the parchment paper.

Repeat with the remaining dough ball.

Pre-bake the pizza dough. Heat the oven to 450°. Put the baking sheets in the oven—one on the lower rack and one in the middle. Bake until the tops of the doughs and the edges feel set, about 20 minutes. This will steam the water out of the doughs and give you a great dough for baking. Take the pizza doughs out of the oven.

Heat the oven higher. Bump up the temperature of the oven to as high as your oven will go. (Ours stops at 550°.) If you have a baking stone in the oven, that will generate even more heat in the oven.

Top the pizza. Top the pizza crusts with a drizzle of oil and any toppings you wish. This pizza was simply olive oil, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, sliced red peppers, and pepperoni.

Finish baking the pizza. Put the pizza in the oven when it’s truly hot, then watch it. Wait until the cheese bubbles, then turn on the broiler at the end. Watch it closely. Don’t let it burn. But get it to just before that point.

Voila! Pizza

Makes 2 (12-inch) pizza crusts

Feel like playing? Of course, you could use any flours you wish here, based on what works in your kitchen. Think of the psyllium husk here as just a touch more flour in the mix. It binds everything together beautifully without the gumminess (and for some, intestinal upset) of the gums. However, if you can’t use psyllium, you could try finely ground flaxseed meal instead. But stick with this ratio. This ratio of flours to yeast to salt to psyllium to oil to water has worked for us every time. It’s pizza dough.

 

The post a ritual to feed each other appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/gluten-free-pizza-dough/feed/ 48
Meet Our Sponsors: Luna Barhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/luna-bars-gluten-free/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/luna-bars-gluten-free/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 02:51:17 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10041 When we opened this package at our studio, our daughter Lucy read only one phrase: chocolate cupcake. “Can I have that one please, Mama?” We were about to head out for a big day in…

The post Meet Our Sponsors: Luna Bar appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
Luna bar

When we opened this package at our studio, our daughter Lucy read only one phrase: chocolate cupcake.

“Can I have that one please, Mama?” We were about to head out for a big day in the city and lunch had been rushed. She would need more energy for all that activity. You bet.

Me? I read only one phrase: gluten-free. (See that pink circle hovering next to Luna? Gluten-free.)

Decades ago now, I ate Clif Bars. Remember how strange protein bars seemed when they first hit the market? It’s hard to imagine it now, but bars used to be food only for mountain climbers and hikers and endurance runners. Now, Luna bars (part of the Clif Bar line) are designed for women on the go, running between meetings or needing more nourishment during the day.

For those of us who are gluten-free, having something tasty to keep in our bags for those in-between moments is even more imperative. Whenever we travel, I’m struck again by how hard it can be to eat gluten-free in airports and train stations and away from home. There are quite a few gluten-free bars out there now. We like some of them well enough. But something that is consistently delicious is pretty tough to find. From now on, when I travel, I’m taking Luna Bars with me again.

Luna Bars aren’t specifically kid treats. They’re designed for women, after all. However, if you have a gluten-free kid, finding something delicious for the road can be tough. At home, Lucy chooses goat cheese spread on apple slices or peanut butter on some of our grain-free sandwich bread. This kid is always dancing or running or climbing. She needs snacks that give her good energy. She’s choosy about her foods, especially when it comes to texture. She rejects anything too sticky or strange in the chew. (She’s 6, after all.) However, this gluten-free Luna bar was a big hit. She ate it all and asked for another the next day. (Luckily, she also liked the Blueberry Bliss and the Lemon Zest bars.) Since these bars have good protein, fiber, no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and 70% of the ingredients are organic, I like having them for Lu as an emergency stash for traveling and afternoons of unexpected energy crashes in my active kid.

I’m thrilled Luna Bars are now gluten-free. This company has taken care to make something good for those who have to be gluten-free. And they’ve made it delicious. Around here, that makes us happy.

We’re happy to announce Luna Bars as our newest sponsor. We work together with companies whose work and products we truly like, so we can bring them to you. There are a lot of gluten-free foods out there, and we like to point your way toward the good ones. If you’d like to read more about our sponsorship program, click here.  

Luna Bar would like to give away bars to three readers of this site. Please leave a comment about why you’d like to try the new Luna Bars. 

The post Meet Our Sponsors: Luna Bar appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/luna-bars-gluten-free/feed/ 88
the solace of biscuitshttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/solace-biscuits/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/solace-biscuits/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 04:57:33 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10029 Some days, it seems, nothing makes me feel more grounded than baking. It seems funny to me now: when I was first diagnosed with celiac, almost a decade ago (a decade? I’ve been writing here…

The post the solace of biscuits appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
biscuits III

Some days, it seems, nothing makes me feel more grounded than baking.

It seems funny to me now: when I was first diagnosed with celiac, almost a decade ago (a decade? I’ve been writing here for nearly a decade), my first reaction was to give away all my baking books. Covered in white flour and pages dog-eared and stained with vanilla extract, those baking books had been my balm for years.

Now I have several shelves of baking books at our studio. Most of them have gluten-free flour on them. That collection keeps growing.

Until I met Danny, my life was always more of the head than the hands. Raised by two teachers, an inveterate bookworm, in love with ideas and the creative life, I used my body when I remembered. My hands worked in the evenings. I wrote comments on student papers. And then I stood up to bake. I mixed butter and sugar together until they were a creamy yellow, plopped in eggs, and added a cloud of fine white flour. Those moments gave me a solace, a space away from a day in my head. It took me until I was nearly 40 to realize that white flour was making me sick. So when I realized I had to give up gluten, I thought I was giving up baking.

Now I have a gluten-free flour blend company. So, you know, life surprises me sometimes.

Life never stops surprising me.

There are nearly 8000 boxes of the Gluten-Free Girl All-Purpose Flour in a storage facility on Vashon. They’re here. They’re real. It’s surreal and lovely and unbelievable.

Within a couple of weeks, we’ll have them for sale on this site.

We’re working hard to get all the logistics in place to sell these flours. It has been quite a time of learning for us here.

When Danny and I imagined the flour blends in the world, we always had it in our minds that we would carry these flours through a prominent online retailer. Why not trust the shopping, fulfillment, and shipping to an organization that does this every day? After the Kickstarter was successful, thanks to so many of you reading, we returned to the logistics of shipping. When we started crunching numbers, we realized that the online retailer would take so much of our money that we would barely have enough money to do a second run of the flours.

So we decided to ship these flours to you ourselves.

While we never imagined putting boxes of flour into the hands of our delivery driver on a regular basis, we’re so happy that we are doing this now. This is a small business, run by a family. We want to do this ourselves. We want to sell to you directly. And we want to hear from our customers about what is working and is not working. We have many friends who run small businesses and have been guides in this process for us. They all say there will be lots of mistakes, times we want to tear our hair out, and enormous learning. But in the end, we trust small businesses. We buy from family businesses. We believe in the handmade and personal. This is the only way for us to go.

Later, we’ll probably be talking to grocery stores and larger retail places. But for now, the only place the flours will be available is through this site. This website is the heart of what we do and how we met you. How could we not sell it here?

So we’ve been scrambling. On top of our regular work, and the proofreading and final recipe testing for American Classics Reinvented (and all four of us battling a bad flu), we have been learning how to build an online shop, talking with our accountant about sales tax and state codes, and having many many brainstorming sessions about our brand and our approach to hospitality and customer service.

We got thrown a big curve ball. We’ve been doing a lot of batting practice before the big game.

I’m not complaining. There’s no complaining here. We feel extraordinarily lucky. Part of the reason Danny and I wanted to take on this new business is because we knew we would learn so much. Our hopes have already been fulfilled on that one.

Still, in the midst of these logistics, and imagining the flours in your home, I’ve been baking.

This afternoon, I walked into our kitchen studio by myself. Desmond has been sniffling and coughing with his first real cold. We haven’t been sleeping well. Danny stayed home while Desmond took his nap to finish the dishes in that kitchen. I needed to bake.

There’s something comforting about biscuits. When they’re made with love and sure hands, biscuits are layers of butter and flakiness. They don’t require any fancy ingredients, just a lot of practice. So I made biscuits again.

We created a biscuit recipe we love for our cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, for the breakfast chapter. (And some sausage gravy.) Some of you might have that book. If you’ve made these biscuits before, you know that they’re soft and pillowy, brushed with butter after coming out of the oven, and usually gone within the hour. Danny and I have been thinking about how many recipes from that book have become second-nature in our home. We’d like to share some of them with you here, so you can bake them with our flour soon.

When I put my hands in this flour, I don’t worry about the logistics of getting it to you. I don’t think again about the latest formulation for the grain-free blend rumbling around in my head. I don’t think. I hum under my breath and feel my feet on the floor. And I move butter and flour together to create something new.

Baking is peace for me, a place to just be.

And in the end, there are biscuits.

biscuits IV

biscuits V

biscuits VI

biscuits I

biscuits II

Buttermilk Biscuits

For years, I thought it was the gluten that made biscuits light and flaky. But with the help of my friend Nancie McDermott, who understands baking better than anyone I know, I realized it wasn’t the gluten at all. When I asked Nancie why all the Southern biscuits I saw in cookbooks looked so lofty and perfect, she said, “You want to know why those biscuits always turned out perfect? Because those girls had to make them every morning for years.” It’s practice that makes great biscuits, not gluten. 

After we began making biscuits with our All-Purpose Flour Blend, our biscuits turned out better. But here are a few more hints for you, baking tips that might make your biscuits even more delightful. Work cold. Cold butter, cold flour, and even a cold bowl for the food processor all help. Cold = flaky. Don’t twirl your biscuit cutter when you cut into the dough. That blunts the edges of the biscuits. Crowd your biscuits together in a cast-iron pan, rather than spacing them evenly on a sheet tray. When the biscuits touch, they go up. Finally, have fun with this. Even when biscuits are a little too heavy or not quite flaky enough, they’re still biscuits. Your family will be happy. 

280 grams (2 cups) Gluten-Free Girl All-Purpose Flour Blend
1 teaspoon psyllium husk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
115 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted cold butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, psyllium husks, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put the bowl in the freezer, along with the bowl of a food processor, blade attached.

Cut the butter. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Put the butter into the freezer too.

Prepare to bake. Heat the oven to 425°. Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with butter or the fat of your choice. (Good quality lard is good too.)

Mix the butter and flour. When the oven has been at heat for 10 minutes, take the mixing bowl, bowl of the food processor, and butter out of the freezer. Attach the bowl to the food processor. Add the cold flour. Dump the butter cubes on top. Pulse the ingredients together, quickly, until the butter chunks are about the size of lima beans. Move the flour mixture to a large bowl.

You can, of course, also do this by hand or with a pastry cutter. If you’re new at this, the food processor makes the best biscuits. The speed helps with the flakiness of the biscuits.

Add the liquids. Make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture. Mix together 1/3 cup of the buttermilk and all of the yogurt, then pour them into the dry ingredients. Gently, stir the liquids with a rubber spatula, in small circular motions, incorporating the flour in as you go. The final dough should just barely hold together, with all the ingredients moist. If there is a bit of flour left on the sides of the bowl, add a dribble more of the buttermilk, then combine, then a dribble more if necessary. If the dough grows too wet, don’t fret. Just add a bit more flour. You’re going for a shaggy dough, not a smooth round ball of dough.

Bring together the biscuit dough. Sprinkle a little flour on a clean board. Turn out the dough on the board and sprinkle it with just a touch more flour. Fold the dough in half, bringing the back part of the dough toward you. Pat the dough into an even round. Turn the dough 90 degrees, then fold the dough in half again and pat. This should make the dough fairly even. If not, you can fold the dough a third time. Pat out the dough to a 1 1/2-inch thickness.

Cut the biscuits. Dip a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter into a bit of flour and push it straight down into the dough, starting from the outside edges. Do not twist the biscuit cutter. Cut out the remaining biscuits. Working quickly, pat any remaining scraps into another 1 1/2-inch-thick dough and cut the last biscuit.

Move the biscuits to the prepared cast-iron pan, nudging them up against each other. Letting their edges touch means your biscuits will rise higher.

Bake the biscuits. Slide the skillet into the oven and bake the biscuits for 6 minutes. Rotate the skillet 180° and continue baking until the biscuits are firm on top and light golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter. Let them rest for 10 minutes before eating.

Feeds 4 to 6

 

Feel like playing? If you can’t eat dairy, you could make these with non-dairy “buttery” sticks. They won’t have quite the same texture, but they’re still biscuits. And you can also use non-dairy yogurt and milk. For best results, I make the biscuits, put them in the greased pan, and then put that pan in the freezer for 15 minutes (or up to 30 minutes), and then put them straight into the oven. It’s cold that builds flakiness, so this makes for a great flaky biscuit.

The post the solace of biscuits appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/02/solace-biscuits/feed/ 54
we’d like to feed youhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/gluten-free-cooking-class/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/gluten-free-cooking-class/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:54:28 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10012 Folks, we would like to feed you. Feeding people is one of our favorite activities in the world. Add in laughter, talking, teaching, answering questions, the chance to form a new community, and chocolate? We’re…

The post we’d like to feed you appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
chocolate chip cookies

Folks, we would like to feed you.

Feeding people is one of our favorite activities in the world. Add in laughter, talking, teaching, answering questions, the chance to form a new community, and chocolate? We’re in.

Next weekend, we are teaching a cooking class at our kitchen studio on Vashon. And you’re invited.

(We’re going to be teaching a lot of gluten-free baking and cooking classes at our studio soon, just as soon as the flour company is up and running well. There are 10,000 pounds of flour arriving on Vashon tomorrow. So excuse me if this is brief. We’ll fill you in on the process of starting this company and how you can buy some flours from us soon.)

On Saturday, February 7th, from 5 to 7:30 pm, we’re teaching a cooking class that celebrates local, seasonal food. We’ll be teaching you how to make Dungeness crab cakes, pork chops with kale-prosciutto sauce, and chocolate chip cookies with grey salt.

See? I told you. Chocolate.

After we gather around the island in our kitchen to make some of these foods together, we’ll gather at the table and eat together.

We can’t wait to see you there.

For this class, registration is through Vashon Allied Arts, a wonderful organization here on the island that brings arts to the community. We’re happy to be doing this with them, as some of the proceeds from this class will be going to fund further art classes on Vashon.

Register for the class here. Space is limited!

p.s. If you can’t make the class next Saturday, we’re also teaching a gluten-free baking class through Vashon Allied Arts on March 7th. Register now!

The post we’d like to feed you appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/gluten-free-cooking-class/feed/ 0
imperfect lighthttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/the-joy-of-imperfection/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/the-joy-of-imperfection/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 04:50:17 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10003 The day after we returned from New York, I spent all day in bed, feverish, rising only to run to the bathroom. Thirty-six hours later, I patted Lucy’s back as she hunched over the toilet in the…

The post imperfect light appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
the studio in January light

The day after we returned from New York, I spent all day in bed, feverish, rising only to run to the bathroom. Thirty-six hours later, I patted Lucy’s back as she hunched over the toilet in the middle of the night. There’s a pernicious stomach flu that turns into days of terrible aches and malaise racing around our island. Entire families are getting sick, then infecting the other members of their families. From the stories we’re hearing from our friends, we had a mild case, which feels impossible. Just when Lu and I were finally recovered, Danny spent an entire day in bed, mostly incoherent. The next day, he rose up feeling better, then fell to the bed again. The man who never rests, who sits still only for 20 minutes at a time, tweaked a muscle in his back by lying down all day. He’s been hobbling ever since then, in spite of massages and water aerobics classes and yoga-like exercises. Desmond has blessedly been mostly free of being sick. But he’s in a big-time sleep regression, being just on the edge of walking and making all kinds of cognitive connections that a 10-month-old suddenly makes. He’s awake and standing in his crib, reaching out his arms to me when I walk in at 3 am. And it’s me waking up every night, since Danny can’t pick up the kiddo with his back acting the way it is.

There isn’t enough coffee in the world right now.

However, these past couple of weeks, there has been plenty of time for reflection. Life has slowed us down, against our will. But slowing down gives me time to think more deeply than a day full of knocking things off a to-do list can ever give me.

Basically, I find the light in everything. It’s in my nature.

We’re just about to launch our gluten-free flour blends into the world. I’ll share more of this process with you on Wednesday. Before we get into the daily mechanics of shipping flours to you directly, Danny and I have been doing a lot of thinking about what we do here. With the help of our wonderful and wise friend Tricia, who has a deep background in marketing and cares about us both, we’ve been thinking about what we’ve been writing and creating here for nearly a decade. What are we really offering you?

I don’t want to write about it too much yet, because it’s new. And I’m pretty weary tired when I’m not writing. I’ll say this, before I share some of the pieces that have been dancing around my head these last couple of weeks. It’s about the power of story. It’s about accepting imperfections. And it’s about joy.

Sometimes, it’s even about food.

If you don’t follow Humans of New York on Facebook or Instagram, I’m pointing your way there now. Brandon Stanton is changing the world, one kind and wide-open photograph at a time. I check in every day, just to see the faces I have never met and hear the stories that are not my own. Recently, Brandon found a young boy who sang the praises of his school principal. His story struck so many people that Brandon found the principal, found the school in Brooklyn, and began a fundraiser to send these young kids on a trip out of their difficult neighborhood. So far, people have donated more than $700,000. Go back and see all those photos and read those stories. I imagine you’ll cry, the way I did, for these connections and the chance we all have to spread more joy in the world.

Speaking of education, this piece in the Atlantic mirrors the problem I see in the system now. There’s so little time for joy. “Building on a child’s ability to feel joy, rather than pushing it aside, wouldn’t be that hard. It would just require a shift in the education world’s mindset. Instead of trying to get children to buckle down, why not focus on getting them to take pleasure in meaningful, productive activity, like making things, working with others, exploring ideas, and solving problems? These focuses are not so different from the things to which they already gravitate and in which they delight.” Teaching kids to sit still for hours, stay quiet unless asked to talk, and fill in worksheets instead of follow their own creative delight leads them to believe that being perfect is more important than feeling alive.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the terrible effects of perfectionism, all the ways we steel ourselves against the moment of vulnerability, and how much it can damage us. I don’t drink much anymore, but this piece on alcohol as an escape from perfectionism for mothers really resonated for me. “Lean in, lean back: I’ve done both, sequentially. I’ve sat at home, in tears, believing I would never enter the workforce again. And I have sat at the office, exhausted, knowing I was missing a precious evening at home. Both positions have their downsides and their sweet rewards. One thing is for certain: Straddling both roles can turn you into human Silly Putty. I remember when my son was born, receiving a card from the writer Marni Jackson—author of The Mother Zone—who wrote, perceptively: ‘Welcome to permanent ambivalence.’”I know that fathers have a tough job too, but being a working mother in this culture amidst the expectations of perfection on every level can be devastating.

I really love this piece from Molly Watson, a food writer in San Francisco, about the arrogance of telling people they should embrace cooking and the family dinner. Like her and so many other food writers, I used to exhort everyone to cook. It took me years of working as a food writer and having two children to realize what a burden cooking can be on working moms and dads. Cooking seems like a joyful ease to me because I already love food and the process of cooking. For me, cooking is meditation and a chance to drop the rest of the day, as well as a creative act and a full sensory experience. However, I know cooking doesn’t feel that way to everyone. (And there are still plenty of days when I don’t know what’s for dinner an hour before we’re supposed to eat.) 

If you don’t love to cook — or if you feel intimidated or scared of the process — being told you should love it only creates anger or guilt. I love this line: “There would be a whole lot [fewer] labor abuses in the garment industry if we all sewed our own clothes, but can anyone imagine suggesting more home sewing as a first step towards changing that system, much less present it as a key component of a long-term workable solution? ” Cooking can be a joy but it’s not a joy for everyone. Those of us who love it shouldn’t think less of those who do not.

After reading this piece about how bad the modern world can be for our brains, I’ve been acting on something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve put down my phone. Technology can create such a false sense of urgency in our lives. We used to write letters and wait days for them to arrive.

“There are also important differences between snail mail and email on the receiving end. In the old days, the only mail we got came once a day, which effectively created a cordoned-off section of your day to collect it from the mailbox and sort it. Most importantly, because it took a few days to arrive, there was no expectation that you would act on it immediately. If you were engaged in another activity, you’d simply let the mail sit in the box outside or on your desk until you were ready to deal with it. Now email arrives continuously, and most emails demand some sort of action: Click on this link to see a video of a baby panda, or answer this query from a co-worker, or make plans for lunch with a friend, or delete this email as spam. All this activity gives us a sense that we’re getting things done – and in some cases we are. But we are sacrificing efficiency and deep concentration when we interrupt our priority activities with email.” I don’t want to measure out my life in text messages and likes on Facebook. That’s not what I want to teach my kids.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Since I first got a smartphone — one that can access the internet and go on Twitter and Facebook, allow me to look up anything instantly — I have more and more been measuring the success of my days by how much I have accomplished. It used to be — and I want it to be again — that I measured the success of a day by how much of it I truly lived.

We’ve put limits on technology in our home now. And from now on, I’m keeping office hours, a clear and firm work schedule. If you send me an email or message or request, you should know that I will only be dealing with work on the computer on the weekdays, from 9:30 to 3:30 (Pacific Standard Time) from now on.

Without the computer and the phone and the made-up sense of panic that can come from the way that work bleeds into every part of our days, what are we trying to do instead? Pay attention.

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness — an empathy — was necessary if the attention was to matter..” Do read this piece about Mary Oliver, who is like heartbeat to me, and like everyone I love, almost entirely unknowable.

Finally, even though I am sometimes queen of to-do lists, getting things done, putting new structures into place, and learning ALL THE TIME, I’m going to be going back to read this piece on radical self-acceptance from Zen Habits again and again.  “What if instead, you loved yourself, fat body and all? What if you loved yourself, laziness and all? What if you loved yourself, all that is ugly and incompetent and mean, along with the beauty and brilliance and kindness?”

I did promise you a little food, didn’t I? I highly recommend popping popcorn in coconut oil, then drizzling it with a bit of butter, lemon zest, and fresh thyme. You’re welcome.

Finally, an image that stays with me lately. On one of the first days Lucy was finally feeling better, I blasted music from the Aretha Franklin Pandora station. “Proud Mary” came on and I told her, “Lu, you hear how this song is slow? We can dance to it, but just wait. Wait for it. You’ll hear something different in a moment.” She looked at me, confused. When the pace changed, her eyes opened wide and she started to move, unable to stop. “Mama! Mama! This song makes me dance my butt off!” she shouted. And then we played it again.

I love introducing her to Tina Turner, one of the fiercest women alive. And then we started listening to Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding. Desmond isn’t getting any kid music. And I’m fine with that.

Every day since, Lucy has been asking for That Song That Makes Me Dance My Butt Off. When Desmond hears it, he starts clapping and moving his butt too. We’ve been doing this every night before dinner.

January has hit us hard but we’re dancing, together.

The post imperfect light appeared first on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

]]>
http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/the-joy-of-imperfection/feed/ 40