Gluten Free Girl and the Chef Playing With Our Food Mon, 27 Jul 2015 05:38:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Meet Our Sponsors: Washington State Dairy Mon, 27 Jul 2015 05:38:55 +0000 dairy farm- cow

“The cow is queen.”

I don’t know how many times I heard that sentence the day I visited the Werkhoven family dairy farm in Monroe. As six women who write food websites walked through the farm — brought there on a sponsored press trip by Washington State Dairy — we saw cows just after birth, adult cows placidly eating, and cows being milked. Everywhere, it was clear: the comfort of those cows was top priority of this farm.

I’ve drunk milk and eaten butter all my life. My friend Cheryl Sternman Rule has written a book about yogurt (Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake, Sip, and Chill the World’s Creamiest, Healthiest Food), which I’m eagerly anticipating. I’m still a fan of cottage cheese, which puts me in the minority in this country. Luckily, I’m one of those people with celiac for whom dairy is not a problem. I celebrate that with cheese.

And yet, I had never been to a large dairy farm to see where my milk comes from before last week.

I’m so glad I went.

Werkhoven family

This is truly a family-owned and run farm. Andy Werkhoven, on the left, and his brother took over the farm from his father. (Theirs is one of 500 farms that makes up the Darigold co-operative, the 4th-largest farmer cooperative in the United States.) Now, he’s starting to pass it onto his son and his daughter — who might have the cutest pink-cheeked baby ever — along with her husband. They have all grown up around cows. They’re also all fiercely intelligent, college-educated, and constantly seeking out new knowledge of how best to run their farm. This family is not merely trying to make as much money as they can. As Andy told us, “Dairy farming is a low-margin business.”  They’re trying to create a sustainable system that benefits the environment and feeds their family.

And of course, treat their cows well.

dairy farm- baby cow

This is one of dozens of calves recently born on the farm. (There are 1 to 10 cows born a day on the farm.) After calves are born, they are immediately taken here to receive close attention. Andy Werkhoven’s daughter, Rachel, said that she was amazed to  hear from her nurses in the hospital that her newborn daughter would only need a bit of colostrum to receive immunities. After all, she is used to cows, who need a full gallon of colostrum in the first 24 hours after they are born. Studies have shown that cows who receive a full gallon of colostrum in the first day of their lives are not only healthier cows, but when they become mothers, they give more milk than the cows who received only half a gallon of colostrum at birth.

Keeping the calves in these hutches ensures that they receive the direct attention and feeding they need. In fact, Rachel estimates that she has hand fed and raised at least 5000 calves this way on the farm since she was a child. When the calves are 8 weeks old, they are sent to group pens to learn how to live in a group. (Apparently, even cows have their alpha cows and followers.) They’re then sent to a larger farm in eastern Washington to live and grown until they are 2. And then they come back to the Werkhoven farm to live out their lives and give milk three times a day.

It’s interesting. When we were on the trip, several of us there posted photos of the calves in the hutches. My friend Aran posted a close-up of one of the calves on Instagram. Immediately, many folks protested, worried that the calves were penned in, the tags in their ears hurt, and there must be mistreatment here. Nothing could be further from the truth. These little calves were being fed and tended to by people who care about them, who have thought out every step of their lives for the best milk production.

The cow is queen, after all.

“The more comfortable cows are, the more milk they make. There is no drug in the world that will produce more milk if it’s not a healthy or comfortable cow.”

dairy farm- cows eating

These cows were living in a large, airy barn, full of light. They put their heads through this fencing to get to their feed — and apparently they’re expert in picking out corn kernels and the part of the food they enjoy the most — but when they’re not eating, they’re wandering around in a wide pen. The only thing freaking them out was us with our cameras.

When this part of the herd is led to another area to be milked, three times a day, the area they had been standing in is washed out, including their manure. It goes down a big drainpipe and taken away to a place a mile and a half away. (I’ll share more about this later.) The stalls are scrubbed and gleaming by the time the cows come back from milking.

It was pretty impressive to see.

dairy farm- feed

Ben Werkhoven told us about the cows’ feed. “This is Total Mixed Ration. It’s like a big tossed salad for cows.” They have nutritionists checking the cows’ diet every 2 weeks, making sure they get the feed they need.

“Feed them right. Keep them clean.” That’s what cows need.

dairy farm- milking parlor

This is the milking parlor, where all 1000 cows parade slowly through, three times a day. The farm has one crew or another running the milking parlor 22 hours a day. (The other 2 hours a day, the milking parlor is scrubbed down.) The cows were calm, orderly, and clearly happy to be milked. In fact, again, the only thing that freaked them out was these crazy strangers with cameras.

I asked Ben about the woman talking in low tones to the cows, patting them on the legs, assiduously cleaning, constantly. “That’s Maria,” he told me. “She has been with us since I was little enough that I would have only come up to your knee. I have never met anyone who works harder.” He clearly had an enormous respect for her.

And then I said to Ben what a shame it is that people who have so many false conceptions of immigrants in this country. In my experience, and certainly in Danny’s decades of restaurant experience, immigrants from Mexico and Latin American countries work harder than most people whose families have been here for generations. “Oh, don’t get me started on that one,” Ben said, contained. “All I can say is that if all immigrant labor in the food industry in this country stopped, all the grocery stores would be incapable of functioning within 5 days.”

I smiled at Maria, who continued to work as we talked. I’m sure she worked there for hours and hours today.

dairy farm- digestor

There were quite a few impressive features of this large dairy farm. But the most impressive might have been this bland expanse of white surface.

This is the digester for the Werkhoven dairy farm. Remember I shared that the manure is washed down a pipe with water? This is where it goes. The manure — plus other food wastes like used cooking oil, fish waste, and expired soda and alcohol — go into one corner of the digester. Over the course of 18 days, the slow-moving mass moves down one end of the digester, across, and up the other. By the time it comes out of the digester, which is modeled on the ruminant stomach of the dairy cow, the manure has been pasteurized. It is divided into solids, which become great compost for farming and gardening. The liquid parts are put onto the crops at the Werkhoven farm, since they grow rye grass and corn to feed their cows. It’s an incredible cycle.

Plus, the idea for this digester came from a member of the Tulalip Indian tribe, who was concerned about the effect of manure on the air and the rivers nearby. The Tulalip and the Werkhovens formed Qualco, a non-profit energy company, to make this happen. The methane gas in the cow’s manure — a contributing factor in climate change — is not released into the environment with this system. Instead, it is burned off from the digester. The burning of those methane gases, with the help of an engine the size of an enormous room, produces enough electricity to keep all the homes in the surrounding area going. It’s really quite an amazing system.

At the end of the day, I asked the Werkhovens what they would want you to know. This young man, John, said, “We could have more cows, make more profit. But then we’d have more manure. We’d have to hire more labor. We’d have to worry about more methane and feed and create more anxiety. All we really want to do is make great milk, take care of our environment and our cows, and feed our families.”

Rachel said this: “Just learn where your food comes from.”

Every time I hand my son a cup of Darigold milk now, I think of these farmers.


My visit and this post was paid for by Washington State Dairy as part of a sponsorship with this site. The photos, words, and opinions are my own. 

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creating, connecting Mon, 20 Jul 2015 23:12:10 +0000 soft pretzels

Would you like some warm, soft pretzels? They’re especially good dipped in strong mustard.

Gluten-free awareness is far more ubiquitous now than it was ten years ago. However, most people still can’t believe that something gluten-free could taste good. I’ve done quite a bit of press and television where I feed the interviewer something we have made. And always the same amazed expression rises to the face. “Whoa! This is good!”

Of course it’s good. We’re not baking to get close to the real thing. Gluten-free baking is not an imitation. It’s baking.

There are so many talented people out there making great gluten-free baked goods. I feel lucky to be part of a community of dedicated bakers, talented and insistent on creating something extraordinary. Danny and I have never wanted to give the impression that ours is the ONLY way to bake gluten-free. Our fellow bakers — people like Silvana Nardone, Elizabeth Barbone, Erin McKenna, Jennifer Esposito, Jenni Hulet, Nicole Hunn, Jeanne Sauvauge, Elana Amsterdam, and Tara Barker — are innovators, women in the kitchen who insist on making something most people are certain cannot exist. These are my baking sisters. (Ladies, some day, I want to get us all in the same space and bake together.) We are connected by the same extraordinary excitement. We are driven by the same sense of possibility. We are doing something that has never been done before. It’s exhilarating.

I’m a baker. I’m a writer. I create things and I try to connect people. That’s the work I love most in the world. The part of the process of being a cookbook author I love the most is the creating. Day after day, Danny and I work together to understand the heart of what ingredients and techniques it takes to make a good loaf of bread or a flaky pie crust or breaded fish. And then we play and take notes and fail hard. Then we figure out something the next day and go back at it again. That’s what my baking sisters do too. We’re all in this together. We all love the creation.

It’s only when the cookbook is done that we all have to switch to thinking about sales and marketing and letting people know every way we can that this process of creation we have loved is now in finite form. And then, suddenly, and artificially, this seems like a competition. That’s why I will admit it: the part of the process of being a cookbook author I love the least is the selling. I never want it to seem that we’re out here shilling, insisting that ours is the best or the only.

However, when I think of this as a chance to connect, I love this process again. That I get to do the work I love by offering warm soft pretzels to people is a constant wonderful absurdity. I’d like to offer some to you.

So this is what I’d like to say about our new cookbook. American Classics Reinvented is filled with recipes I could never have imagined eating 10 years ago. Apple cider doughnuts. Cornish pasties. Italian beef sandwiches. Smoked salmon eggs benedict on English muffins. Key lime pie. Danny and I had one heck of a good time re-imagining these recipes, creating them with our gluten-free flours, and making them as good as we could in the process. We weren’t thinking about sales as we created it. We were thinking about the hundreds and hundreds of people who emailed us to ask for us to do what they didn’t have time to do: make their family favorites into foods they can eat now.

We loved creating this book. We’re offering it to you now. We worked hard on it for you. And we think you might love it.


p.s. It turns out that Publishers Weekly loves our new book too. We’re deeply honored that Publishers Weekly gave American Classics Reinvented a starred review, their highest honor. Thank you.



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Meet Our Sponsors: Tri-Lamb Board Mon, 20 Jul 2015 04:05:37 +0000 grilled lamb recipe

Thank you to Lean on Lamb for sponsoring this recipe and the Provencal lamb burger with red-wine-caramelized onions, goat cheese, and basil we shared with you in May. The story and recipe are ours. 

It’s nearly 95 degrees here today. If you know anything about the Pacific Northwest, you know that is hot. And by hot, I mean this: see people you know at the Strawberry Festival on Vashon, friends you haven’t seen in weeks, and ask how they are? The answer is one word: hot. 

We’re kind of weenies about heat here.

Luckily, after two full days of rides, walking in the heat, small-town parade, more rides, seeing friends, the parade of old cars, more heat, bands (especially my brother’s band, who made me dance for almost an hour in this heat), putt putt golf built by Vashon artists, and more heat, we are home. And we are done.

On days like this, the only cooking we want to do is on the grill. Thank goodness for the leg of lamb that Danny had portioned into 4-ounce pieces before we started this summer extravaganza. Double thank goodness he had been marinating it all day in mustard, rosemary, and lavender. Turn on the grill. Easy summer dinner.


Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mustard, Rosemary, and Lavender

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 heaping tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped lavender
16-ounce portion of leg of lamb, cut into 4-ounce pieces
kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Make the marinade. Stir together the mustard, rosemary, and lavender. Smear the mustard mixture over the lamb. Allow the lamb to marinate in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

Prepare to grill. 30 minutes before you turn on the grill, pull the lamb out of the refrigerator. Clean the grill and oil it. Turn the grill onto medium-high flame. (If you have a charcoal grill, get the coals good and hot and let them simmer down a bit.)

Grill the lamb. Season each side of the lamb with kosher salt and pepper. Grill the lamb until it has reached an internal temperature of 145° for medium rare,  about 4 to 5 minutes a side. Let the lamb rest for 5 minutes before cutting into it.

Feeds 4.

Feel like playing? We served this lamb with a tomato vinaigrette Danny made: grilled tomatoes, shallots, sherry vinegar, a dab of mustard, and a good olive oil. We think it would also go well with a cherry sauce or a bit of balsamic sauce. Of course, the sides are up to you.

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Meet Our Sponsors: organicgirl Sat, 18 Jul 2015 22:03:33 +0000 organic girl

Introducing organicgirl, producers of great organic dark greens, our latest sponsor. 

We eat a lot of dark greens around here. A LOT.

I know that gluten-free folks often feel left out when they can no longer eat traditional baked goods. I know how many people out there truly love the meditative act of baking for other people. And we have a gluten-free flour we believe will be a help to people who want the best treats they can bake and eat. So we tend to show you a lot of the treats here. (Our next cookbook is filled with 130 treats — churros! beignets! pineapple upside down cake! — that gluten-free readers said they most missed.)

However, pies and cakes and cookies? They are truly treats around here. This year, we instituted a new rule around the house: we only have dessert on the days that start with S. (“Saturday and Sunday!” Lu will tell us all, immediately.) We’ve set the notion of “sometime foods” into solid rotation in our schedule.

Most of the time? It’s vegetables. And my favorite vegetables are dark greens: kale, mustard greens, spinach, dark romaine leaves, chard, and microgreens when they’re in season. These days, about 50% of my diet seems to be dark leafy greens. I’m certainly not surprised to find that I feel good when I eat this way.

Every day this summer, I’ve had a giant salad for breakfast or lunch. (Think Elaine’s big salad, really.) I have a template for it: a pile of dark greens, a pile of colorful vegetables, something crunchy, something soft, hopefully something fermented, some protein, and an interesting dressing. Today’s happened to be 4 different kind of greens, fermented carrots, pistachios and dehydrated coconut flakes, a bit of Parmesan, a fried egg, and lemon-tahini dressing. After the big salad, I feel strong and don’t need to eat for hours.

We grow greens in the summer and we have farmers on Vashon we love. However, during the winter, I find that I need something other than cabbage to sustain me. And I know that most folks don’t have access to enough land to grow their own greens.

This is why we’re such big fans of organicgirl, our latest sponsor.

We love the greens offered by organicgirl. They’re delicious and already triple-cleaned. Unlike some of the greens in plastic clamshells I see in stores, the greens in the organicgirl packages are always crisp, not one leaf past its prime. I keep a container of the spinach greens in our refrigerator for my morning smoothies.

These are good people. organicgirl is a good company. We’re very happy to share the work of this company with you.

We’ll let them tell you more about themselves here.


Why are you in the business of “good clean greens”? 

Quality rules at organicgirl. Day in and day out, we work hard to give you good clean greens that we’re super proud to put our names on!  At organicgirl that means growing and selecting only the very best fresh, wholesome and tasty greens.  We have very high quality standards throughout our growing, washing, drying and salad blending processes.

We also believe that greens can be used in your daily diet in many ways, so we created unique blends that offer you versatility to cook, bake, juice & eat your greens.


Why do you feel gluten-free folks need greens and vegetables in particular? 

We know gluten-free folks are very conscious about what they eat.  At organicgirl, we are very conscious about our greens and salad blends.  We have a group of salad blends, SUPERGREENS, SUPER SPINACH and I heart baby kale, that was specifically designed to maximize nutrition AND taste great without any compromise. These greens offer versatility of use to help incorporate greens into a healthy diet.

Our philosophy is that anyone can be an organicgirl and we believe that good clean greens are a great addition to anyone’s lifestyle. Whether you’re a salad fanatic or you’re new to good clean greens, there truly is something for everyone at organicgirl.


Can you tell us about the farmers you work with? And how you work with them on sustainability? 

We are partners with a handful of growers from various farms on the central coast of California and in the desert of Arizona. The growers we partner with share our same commitment to quality, follow the organic standards outlined by the USDA and organicgirl, and together we continually work to improve our quality farming practices. This hard work was highlighted last year when organicgirl received the highest rating of “BEST” from the Whole Foods Market Responsibly Grown program.


Can you share a story from a customer that is particularly meaningful? 

 This is a hard decision.  I think my most meaningful interactions with organicgirl fans are either those where people are on a journey to health or wellness – fighting an illness or improving their health and they associate organicgirl with their success.  (Of course, we are humbled to be part of that journey, and realize ultimately it is all them !)    OR, it’s the fans who are 60+ years of age who write to us to tell us they are organicgirls too — always have been and still feel that way.  organicgirls are age-less. I find both those interactions most meaningful and inspiring.


We hope you’ll notice organicgirl greens the next time you go to your grocery store. (And if you don’t see organicgirl  greens, ask for them by name. Here’s a list of grocery stores carrying organicgirl right now.) These are an easy way to add food packed with nutrition into our lives. And we gluten-free folks can use all the help we can get with that.


The women at organicgirl would like to give away a box of greens to three readers of gluten-free girl. Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday, July 24th and notified by email. 

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places we eat: Chavez Sat, 18 Jul 2015 01:03:24 +0000 Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Eight years ago yesterday, I married my favorite person in the world. I like him more now than I did that hot July day, when I thought my heart would burst with how much I love him. Today, that love is deeper, lighter, more pragmatic, and the best part of my life. Marrying Danny was the best decision I ever made. It always will be, for as long as I live.

We celebrate with good food.

Yesterday morning, we didn’t know where we would go for dinner. We have our solid favorites in Seattle but we so rarely have the chance to eat in the city, just the two of us, that we wanted to try somewhere new. I was on a press trip (I’ll share that story with you next weekend) and asked my friends Aran and Ashley where they thought we should go. We talked about all the possibilities in the van as we drove out to a dairy farm in Monroe. In the midst of impassioned discussion of our favorite places, I mentioned I had heard of a new place called Chavez. Fresh Mexican food, chef-owned by a man from Durango, Mexico. The entire menu is gluten-free. Neither of my friends had tried it yet, but a young woman on the trip, Corinna said quietly, “Oh, that place is amazing. We just went and we’re still talking about it.” Corinna has celiac too and a solid common sense. I texted Danny. He remembered that someone who took our bread-baking class had been raving about it. He made reservations.

I cannot tell you how happy we are that we celebrated our anniversary at Chavez.

The food at Chavez is nothing like the melted-cheese-laden tastes of typical Mexican American food. Everything here was bright, clean, made by hand, and astonishing. The chorizo toppled onto the generous soft white beans had been hand cut. The tamales filled with langoustino and crab melted on the tongue, instantly ruining every standard tamale I’ll ever eat again. The shredded beef ribs taco was wonderful. However, the camarones tacos with chipotle crema was truly the best taco I have ever eaten. Danny took a bite then wanted to pound the table it was so good. I asked him to be quiet so I could hear every bite. I held the last bite between my thumb and finger for a long time, just staring at it. My god.

chavez: light and ceviche

chavez: tacos and tamales

Chavez- dessert

I can’t eat gluten. Danny can’t tolerate cream. So each had our own dessert and didn’t share. He said his churros were incredible. I didn’t care. These plantains simmered in sweet milk, smothered in chocolate, and topped with Mexican hot chocolate ice cream? All mine.

The service, the light, the incredible sour-savory non-alcoholic cocktails the bartender concocted for us — they were all remarkable. But underlying all of it was the knowledge that, with the exception of two of the desserts, everything on the menu was entirely gluten-free. I’ve rarely looked at a menu and been dizzied by so many good choices.

I have a feeling we’ll be going to Chavez any chance we get for awhile.

Chavez- menu

1734 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

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all good cooks Wed, 15 Jul 2015 21:30:13 +0000 edna lewis

I think often of Miss Edna Lewis.

I still read the opening to every seasonal section in her book, The Taste of Country Cooking, as we are about to enter into the next phase of the year. The picture book about Miss Lewis’s childhood life of harvesting and preserving food, Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie, is still one of Lucy’s favorite books. Soon, it might be Desmond’s too. Miss Lewis is an important person around here.

If you don’t know about the extraordinary words and food of Miss Edna Lewis — the granddaughter of slaves who grew up in the seasonal bounty of Freetown, Virginia,  a chef in New York after a friend hired her to make the home cooking of her Southern youth in his restaurant kitchen, a cookbook author who paid attention to the details of nature and family, community and ripeness in her gentle voice— I highly recommend you take the 20 minutes to watch this small film, Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie.

“We lived in the country, so the first thing the women would do — they would go out in the early mornings and cut the greens or the cabbages, and pick the beans with the dew still on them. And then they would bring them into the house. We had to participate in all the farm work: feed the chickens, pull the roots from the garden. When the corn was ripe, we had to harvest it. My first memory of who I was? It was food. I didn’t cook yet but I lived among a group of women who were all good cooks…No one taught me how to cook it. I just saw it. Cooking was simply part of my life.”

This is, of course, the basic story of most Americans before the 20th century. Before the convenience of plastic-wrapped food, Americans in the countryside ate what they grew and put up the rest for winter. The idea of “farm to table” eating wasn’t a trend for Ma and Pa in the Little House in the Prairie books. There was no other choice. American food feels like a celebration of making do with what we have, when we have it. And when it was good, we passed it onto family and friends.

All recipes are stories, really. They may be written like a formula — list of ingredients and methods of preparation beneath it — but a good recipe is a story. It’s the story of how some kind of need became a food. We have too many zucchini. We have to eat it all week. There’s nothing but flour and salt and lard and water. What do we make? It’s chicken killing time. How are we going to eat them? It’s the story of a good cook, paying attention, using up everything she had to make food for the family. And it’s the story of how that recipe came to be written down and passed along to another generation.

Those are the stories we tell in our next cookbook, American Classics Reinvented. You won’t find any stories about us and our lives in this book. This isn’t chef food. These aren’t seasonal vegetable dishes. These aren’t crockpot dinners with fewer than 5 ingredients that take only 20 minutes to make. The food in this book is American comfort food, made gluten-free.

That means the dishes in this book, requested by hundreds and hundreds of people like you, are celebration food. This is the food of family reunions. harvest dinners, July parties that last outside all day, birthday parties, and church potlucks. The comfort food in American Classics Reinvented is just that — comfort. There is no food in this book that will help you “detox” or “cleanse” or lose weight. This is a book filled with Amish chicken and noodle, Cuban pork sandwiches, New York bagels, sweet potato pie, fried hush puppies, date shake coffee cake, and pigs in a blanket.

This is the food so many of you have been missing. There’s no need to miss your favorite foods. We’ve made them for you.

Because, here’s the thing. Having to go without gluten? We shouldn’t have to apologize or convince a family member that we’re eating gluten-free because it’s considered a trend. (That part will go away soon.) Having to adapt a recipe, make it without a key ingredient, using what we have instead of longing for something else? Being resilient and adaptable enough to use the recipes from our grandmothers and make them our own? That’s pretty darned American.

Good comfort food takes time to make. It took us 2 years to create American Classics ReinventedIt’s available for pre-order now. (If you do pre-order, save the email you receive. We’ll have a gift for you soon.)

Still, we don’t want to make you wait for September until you can start cooking the food from American Classics Reinvented. We’re excited to share some of the book with you now.

Our publishers graciously put together a PDF of the three most-requested recipes for this book. Cherry pie. Red velvet cake. And fried chicken.

When we thought of that fried chicken, we knew we had to make Edna Lewis’ fried chicken, but without gluten. It’s treat food, to be sure, more than worth the wait. (You can see it on the cover of the book.)

In the PDF, you’ll also get the formula for our all-purpose flour and our grain-free flour, which we have not made available until today. You can use both those flours interchangeably in every recipe in the book.

Click on this link to go right to the PDF of recipes and download them today. If you make some, we’d love to hear about it. Tag photos of it on social media with the hashtag #GFGAmerica, so we can find you.

Enjoy that pie. Enjoy that red velvet cake. And in the spirit of Miss Edna Lewis, have a celebration with that fried chicken.


“And when we share again in gathering wild strawberries, canning, rendering lard, finding walnuts, picking persimmons, making fruitcake, I realize how much the bond that held us together had to do with food.”   — Edna Lewis


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American Classics Reinvented Tue, 14 Jul 2015 21:56:20 +0000 American book cover

Pre-order now! This book full of American comfort food, gluten-free, will be published on September 1st, 2015.

Amazon              Barnes and Noble                  Indiebound

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Meet Our Sponsors: Freschetta Gluten-Free Pizza Sat, 11 Jul 2015 23:31:46 +0000 freschetta gluten-free

A few weeks ago, our 6-year-old daughter went to a sleepover birthday party. She packed her bag full of books, her pajamas, and her Knuffle Bunny doll. Our friend told us the girls would be having pizza, at her daughter’s request. Lu can’t eat gluten. No problem. I put a small Freschetta gluten-free pizza in her bag as well. She had her own pizza, baked on a different pan, and felt as happy as the other kids at that birthday party. (Of course, they all stayed up too late and woke up bedraggled the next day. That’s the joy of being a kid at a sleepover. Sleep really isn’t the point.)

We’re happy to announces Freschetta gluten-free pizza as our latest sponsor.

I must admit that I’m a little dubious about most frozen pizza. We make our pizza dough by hand every week for our Friday night pizza and movie parties. Once you start making it, pizza dough doesn’t seem difficult.

However, I know that most people love a frozen pizza. After a week of making meals day and night for a week, plus snack for hungry kids, it’s a relief to have someone else cook for you. But sometimes you don’t want to go out for dinner either — too expensive, too much social interaction. Pop in a frozen pizza and turn on a movie with the kids. By Friday, that seems pretty darned appealing.

And our KitchenAid freezer — another one of our sponsors — has a slot in it labeled “In-Door Pizza Storage.” Clearly, we’re not like most Americans. This country likes its frozen pizza.

And we like Freschetta gluten-free pizza. It has ingredients I recognize. (It does have xanthan gum, for those of you can’t tolerate it.) It tastes of real tomatoes and cheese. It’s deliberately left simple so you can top it any way you like. Plus, kids like it. Every kid who has come into this house, gluten-free or not, has asked for more of this pizza.

Lucy may have told us recently that she likes Freschetta gluten-free pizza better than she likes our homemade pizza. We laughed. Actually, I understand. She eats so little food from a package that the idea of eating good pizza, gluten-free, that comes from a store? SO exciting. Your kids will probably feel the same.

Frankly, when Danny and I top our Freschetta gluten-free pizza with something interesting to use — slices of fresh basil and prosciutto, sautéed mushrooms and cauliflower, briny green olives and crispy coppa — and make ourselves a good side salad, like the fennel-cherry salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette we’re offering below? We’re more than happy with this as our Friday night meal too.


Freschetta is giving away some of their gluten-free pizza to three readers of Gluten-Free Girl. Please leave a comment about why you might like to try this pizza. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday, July 17th, and notified by email. 


freschetta gluten-free- cherry fennel

Cherry-Fennel Salad with a Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette

The people at Freschetta asked if we could create a side dish to go with the pizza. You bet! This time of year, our favorite salad is one Danny made at a restaurant in Seattle called Cassis. As soon as cherries came into season, he made this cherry-fennel salad for weeks. We offered this recipe in our first cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes, made then with a raspberry vinaigrette. Tastes change: we never buy raspberry vinegar anymore. Instead, I like this simple lime-cilantro vinaigrette, the herb cutting the sweetness of the cherries, the lime amplifying their taste. If you don’t count the salt and pepper, we’re looking at seven ingredients for a great salad. Friday night, I have a big bowl of this and a couple of slices of pizza for movie night, and I’m satisfied.

for the vinaigrette
1/2 cup lime juice
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

for the salad
2 heads fennel, thinly sliced
2 bunches radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 pound fresh Bing cherries (or whatever is in season now), pitted, stemmed, and sliced in half
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

Make the vinaigrette. Pour the lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro into a blender. Blend until everything is emulsified and the cilantro entirely broken down into the liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Taste. Blend again.

Make the salad. Combine the fennel, radishes, and cherries. Toss them with a drizzle of the vinaigrette. Taste. Add more, if necessary. Top with the fresh basil.

Feeds 4.

Feel like playing? You’ll have vinaigrette left over. Aside from making this salad every day for a week, you could also use the lime-cilantro vinaigrette as the dressing for a quinoa salad or drizzle it over roasted chicken. Inevitably, of course, someone cannot stand cilantro. If that’s you, then try mint here instead.

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and the living is easy Thu, 09 Jul 2015 03:57:16 +0000 bbq chicken- lucy's feet

The other day, I asked Lucy how her summer is going. (Summer only technically began a few weeks ago, but in kid time, it feels like AGES since kindergarten ended.) Joyful as always, Lu threw her arms in the air and shouted, “GREAT! It’s all bare feet, swimming, seeing friends, fireworks, and reading books. I love this summer.”

I have to say, I agree with her.

Dirty bare feet, tromping around the back yard, is a sure sign of summer for me. We live on a rural island, after all. Most kids here spend most days barefoot in their gardens and in the woods. There is always time for a bath later.

bbq chicken- the beach

We’ve been spending lots of time in our backyard, dipping our feet into the rainbow-colored baby pool, the cold water a balm on the hot days we endured. Desmond has been roaming free about the yard, doing the specific toddle of someone who has recently learned to walk: arms up, shoulders hunched, so excited. We’ve been clipping basil from the plant that is growing in profusion, slicing it up as one of the greens in my daily big salad. We’ve been going to the beach. We live on an island, after all, surrounded by water. Everyone on Vashon has a favorite beach. I love KVI, where we go most of the time. Lu loves this one, Dockton Park, because there’s a playground right on the water. We’re having her birthday party here in a couple of weeks. My god, she’s going to be 7 this summer.

bbq chicken: Juji and flowers

Summer anywhere is something special, I think. But summer on Vashon is something particular. Foxgloves arching over the green of June gardens. Kids in mismatched clothes, still wearing boots, with chipped nail polish, running to show you their beach treasures. The splash of the outdoor pool by the high school, the squeals audible from the main highway. An ice cream cone at Minglement, after an afternoon of kids paddling in warm beach water and building sand castles together, the adults talking on blankets. An enormous fireworks show over Quartermaster Harbor, as the night settles over the Olympic mountains, and families sprawl on the green grass of the golf course at the country club, which opens its view to anyone in town for one night. There will be Strawberry Festival soon, a small-town parade (I like the grocery store’s shopping cart brigade), booths lined up and down the main street in town, dances in the street at night, and a chance to see everyone we know on the island while licking the snow cone juice running down our arms in blue rivulets.

Plus, a lot of time at the library, which is air conditioned and offers an oasis of stories yet unread for Lucy. She is determined to read them all, all the books that interest her, in the rows and rows of books in the section of the library overlooking the park. I love being surrounded by books. Our girl does too.

Summer. I love it.

bbq chicken- salmon

Summer means a lot of salmon around here. Danny smokes a side of Coho salmon, poaches another one, lets them both cool, and makes us salmon salad with capers for lunch. I plop some down on a big bed of fresh arugula and top it with a tomato vinaigrette he made with grilled tomatoes, shallots, sherry vinegar, a dab of mustard, and a peppery olive oil. We make up a new dressing when we need it, eat it on everything for a week, then play with flavors and fill up a jar with something new. (Someday, Danny and I want to write a cookbook called Dips, Dressings, and Sauces. I swear, as long as you have a catalog of interesting dressings, eating vegetables all day feels like the only way to be in the summer.)

bbq chicken- hummus on hand

And we always have hummus around too. Put cut vegetables around a bowl of fresh-made hummus in the refrigerator and Lucy will take care of her own snacks all day. I’ve always loved hummus, but as soon as we started making Yotam Ottlenghi’s hummus from Jerusalem, our hummus game has been one slam dunk after another with the kids.

bbq chicken- people on the porch

Summer is when we eat nearly every meal on the porch. Sometimes in January I look out through the rain dripping down the windows of our back doors, and try to remember what it feels like to eat in air so warm we have to move the table under the shade of the tree to make it through dinner. January feels like the memory now. We haven’t eaten a single meal inside the house since the middle of June. When we see friends, we gather on our back porch, talking while dipping and grabbing another spoonful of potato salad. This makes me truly happy.

And those summer meals around here wouldn’t be good without Danny’s barbecue sauce.

“This sauce was from my first internship during culinary school. I left NECI and went to Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek, Colorado. It was a private club, a restaurant that only people who owned property in that town could visit. In the late 80s, those houses were going for over a million dollars. And then people had to pay dues to become members of the club. This wasn’t my world. The food was outstanding. I thought, given the community and the quality of the food, that everything there would be complicated to make. But sometimes, the best food is the simplest. All this sauce took was half an hour in a pot, simmering, then strained, and it is amazing. At Beano’s Cabin, we used it for a pizza: smoked duck slathered in this barbecue sauce, with scallions, corn, and a touch of Fontina cheese. (That pizza was the best snack when I was hungry in the middle of service.) This barbecue sauce has been stuck in my head since 1989.”

For years, we have made pots of this barbecue sauce all summer long, then slathered it on grilled chicken or salmon or duck or even tofu. Have some in the refrigerator and summer dinner takes no thought.

And it’s so easy to make.

That’s what summer is supposed to be, after all. Easy.

bbq chicken- the chicken

Danny’s barbecue sauce

The first time Danny made this sauce, I thought, “Wow, I’m never buying another bottle of barbecue sauce again.” And we haven’t.

The only ingredient here that might feel unfamiliar to some of you is oyster sauce. What is it? First of all, delicious. It’s a thick liquid, viscous, made traditionally by simmering oysters in water, low and slow, until the juices reduce and caramelize. As you can imagine from the taste of oysters, oyster sauce is a little sweet, a little ocean salty, and earthy, with a ton of deep umami flavor. Most commercial oyster sauces, however, have preservatives and fillings to make that flavor happen faster. Given how often you might be using this barbecue sauce in your summer meal, it’s worth finding a good oyster sauce.

Mostly, you have to be careful and find a gluten-free oyster sauce. Most of them are not gluten-free, since some producers use wheat flour to thicken the sauce rapidly or MSG to flavor it. (MSG made outside of the United States has gluten in it.) Most often, we use this one, because it’s available at our grocery store. When we get into the city to go to Uwajimaya, we look for the Lee Kum Kee brand, because we prefer the taste. However, be aware that only their green label oyster sauce is gluten-free. You have to pay attention when you’re gluten-free.

Other than finding the oyster sauce, this might be the easiest barbecue sauce you make: dump, simmer, stir, and strain. Make some now because you’re going to want to eat this all through the summer.

1 cup ketchup
1 cup oyster sauce (make sure it’s gluten-free. most aren’t)
1 cup rice wine vinegar
large nub of ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 green onions, finely sliced
2 heaping tablespoons chopped cilantro

Set a large pot on medium heat. Add all the ingredients and stir. When the sauce comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take the pot off the heat. Strain the sauce into a large bowl.

Makes about 3 cups of barbecue sauce.

This should last in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.


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gluten-free cherry pie Sat, 04 Jul 2015 20:34:36 +0000 cherry pie_

It’s the 4th of July today. It seems fitting to celebrate this independence day with some cherry pie.

This is gluten-free cherry pie, of course. As much as I’d love to share this recipe with you right now, I’m going to make you wait just a bit. You see, this sour cherry pie is one of the 130 recipes in our next cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented. Today seemed the best day to start telling you more about the book we’ve been calling “the American book” around here for more than 2 years now.

If you pre-order it today, you’ll have it in your hands in just under 2 months. (You can order it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound right now.) If you do pre-order, save the confirmation email you receive. Next week, we’ll share with you a thank you-gift we are sending to everyone who orders the book in advance.

Danny and I are both so happy with this book. I truly do believe it’s the best book we’ve created. As much as I love all our books, especially Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, which won the James Beard award, there’s something special about Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented. We created it especially for you.

In the past, we’ve tried to create cookbooks that offered a glimpse of the foods we love, whether it was restaurant-quality dishes, the joyful foods of first discovery, or healthy meals based on the needs of a family with small children. We created food we loved and offered it to you. So many of you have written over the years, telling us how much these books have meant to you. That has always been cause for celebration around here.

However, Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented is a different kind of cookbook for us. And it might be better for it.

This is a crowd-sourced cookbook. For months, we asked you and readers at Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Google+ and Pinterest about the dishes you missed the most when you had to go gluten-free. Emails flooded in. Danny and I spent many evenings on the couch, side by side, going through responses from folks from the South on the Facebook page or requests for Midwestern casseroles or pleadings for dishes from Pennsylvania Dutch country or Hawaii or the Southwest. We made lists and spreadsheets and divided them into chapters. We pondered and played and made dishes we loved. I researched the history of every dish we decided to make. And we cooked and cooked and took notes and made more iterations of each dish until we created recipes that truly worked. And then we had friends over for lunch to taste test. And other friends to test the recipes. And we chatted about every possibility — less sugar? could we make this dairy-free? — as we did mounds and mounds of dishes, every day. The next day, we went back for more.

We’ve been actively thinking and talking about and working on this American book since March of 2013. We’re so excited to offer it to you now. We wrote it for you.

(May we suggest you start stocking up now on our gluten-free all-purpose flour? Every recipe in Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented was tested to work beautifully with this flour. We also give you the formula for a great grain-free blend in the cookbook, which is easy to make. We’re hoping to have our grain-free blend on the market by the end of the year. We’ll keep you posted.)


I’ll be telling you all about Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented over the next two months. There will be behind-the-scenes stories of recipes we particularly love. There will be giveaways and enticements and chances to be part of a gluten-free community that loves to cook great food. We’ll share photographs of the some of the dishes you can learn to make from the book, such as soft pretzels and New York bagels and gooey buttery cake and smoked salmon eggs benedict and pigs in a blanket. This is comfort food, old familiars, special occasion food that will make you feel part of the group when you go to family gatherings and birthday parties.

(Sorry I can’t give you the cherry pie recipe for today’s 4th of July celebrations. But you can master it for next  year!)

The much-loved, regional dishes of America might be my favorite part of this country. The food that gathers us around the table as Americans is the food that we created for you in this book, Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented.

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