August 29, 2006

Mixed Berry Fruit Pops - Gluten Free

In the warmer months of the year my family enjoys relaxing and cooling down with homemade fruit pops. I wanted to try substituting agave syrup for cane sugar in my gluten free fruit pops. So, I worked up a variation with agave syrup and bag of organic frozen mixed berries. They were delicious.


1 bag Cascade Organic frozen mixed berries
1/3 cup agave syrup
2/3 cup water

Mix in a food processor until smooth. Then pour mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. Then pour the mixture into your Popsicle molds. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

August 16, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies Gluten-Free - Version #2

I was beseeched by my kids to make cookies today. They needed to be gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies, like the ones I had made before that were so good. Oh, that made my heart children were requesting gluten-free cookie rather than the spelt version.

I had made a spelt version of these cookies using brown rice flour, Montina flour and spelt for my family . Since they were low gluten and not gluten-free, I didn't get to try them. This combination of flours got high ratings from my family for taste. Since then, I have been trying to recreate the richness these cookies had using only gluten free flours. I've come close, but haven't quite hit it yet. Try, try, again....

This version looked good on the cookie sheet as they came out of the oven. They held their edges and retained a little loft. This recipe is based on the traditional Toll House Cookie recipe. The main modifications are made in the use of the various flours and adding a binding agent.

Recipe - Version #2

1/4 cup Montina flour
1/2 cup Almond Meal
1 cup Brown Rice flour
1/2 cup Sweet Rice flour
1/2 cup Oat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kuzu (kudzu) powder, softened in 1 tsp water
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter. Add the sugars and vanilla flavoring and cream again. Add the eggs and blend well after each one is added. Add the rest of the ingredients gradually as you blend. Add chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet for 11 to 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing them from the cookie sheet.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Both of my kids said that these were the best yet of all the chocolate chip cookie versions I've made. My husband and I think they're great too.

August 15, 2006


My doctor reviewed my blood work and said, "You've got antibodies." I smartly responded with, "Well, of course I've got antibodies." She laughed and said, "Yeah, but these are attacking you." She got my attention with that statement. She continued, "You have tested positive for gluten sensitivity. You will need to remove wheat from your diet...." Hmmmmmm........

I went to one of our larger natural & organic food markets. It seemed so vast. I'd never noticed gluten free foods in there on previous trips. How was I supposed to find them? I sought help from Customer Service. The young lady behind the counter handed me a map and said the gluten free foods are marked in each aisle. "Markings? What markings?" I ask. "The ones on each package," she tells me. "So, I need to look at all the food packages?" She smiled and said, "Yes." "Don't you have a food list?" I ask. "No," she smiled. Not a stellar moment for customer service...

The pain of that took so long. I was sick of grocery stores by the time I had read my way down 3 aisles. When I found the gluten free cookies, I was thrilled. I was really looking forward to savoring one on the ride home. When I bit into the first one I just about choked...these were disgusting...bland, crumbly and a funky after taste. There has to be something better than this....sure there is....I know there is...I'll keep looking.

Why am I writing this down for all to read? I was frustrated with my search for tasty baked goods. I had made more yuck and chucks than I cared to think about. Plus I was thoroughly disgusted by the amount of money I'd spent on gluten free foods that seemed to taste like paper. Where were the reviews of gluten free foods...or of gluten free recipes... Didn't anybody get creative or try some of the really interesting flours? If they did, what was the verdict? I wanted to know...maybe someone else did too.

I decided to document my journey after experiencing some spectacular failures and some wonderful successes. Some of my failures included the discovery that you shouldn't cook gluten free pumpkin bread in the bread maker. The smell of burning pumpkin bread will take 3 days to get out of your house. Or yellow pea flour really isn't all that mellow (it was described as a mellow tasting flour in a well known gluten free cook book) ...well okay so it is before it's cooked, but after it's cooked your bread will be overcome by the taste of peas. Maybe I can even save some folks a little money so they won't have to throw this stuff out in the trash. And by the way, don't bother leaving the pea bread out for the birds...they won't eat it.

August 13, 2006

Fruit Pastries Gluten-Free

My children dearly love Pop Tarts. I think they have too many additives that their growing bodies don't need. Replacing Pop Tarts with a nutritious fruit pastry recipe is becoming quite important at my house. So, I tried my hand at making mini gluten-free fruit pastries.

First, I selected which fillings my children would like the most...strawberry and mixed berry jams. Then I needed to select a crust recipe. My inspiration for the crust of the fruit pastry came from the Almond Pastry recipe at the Paleo List.

Oats & Almond Pastry Crust

2/3 + 1/4 cup ground oats
1/3 almond meal
2/3 cup shortening
1 tsp Montina Flour, rounded
1 tsp ground Flax Seed, rounded
Pinch salt
just less than 1/4 cup water
2 tsp sugar

Use only as much water as will make a crumbly dough. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper. Peel off one side and use biscuit cutter to cut out Pop Tart pieces.

Place on a parchment paper lined pan. Put a small scoop of jam in the center of one side of the dough. Place the other half on top and press sides to keep jam from oozing out.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

The mini Pop Tarts came out beautifully. The kids and I really liked them, but my husband felt that they were tasty yet crumbly. The crumbly aspect of gluten free baking really bugs him.

August 10, 2006

Vanilla Ice Cream - Gluten Free

I have fond memories of eating home made ice cream in the summer. A gluten-free and organic version of vanilla ice cream has been on my wish list.

When I was a kid, my parents would invite a number of friends over for a summer barbecue and the dessert would be brownies and ice cream. However, in order to have ice cream you had to help crank the churn. All the kids would line up to take a turn working the crank. Sometimes two of us at a time would try to put that handle around. After a few minutes, one of the dad's would come over and say, "If we want ice cream tonight guys, I need to put some spins on that handle!"

These were always great parties. When the ice cream was finally declared ready and was served, the silence was amazing. Everyone sat and savored their cool and delicious ice cream. We had our reward and it was fabulous.

At our house, I like to make up the ice cream early on Saturday morning and put it in the freezer to chill down. Then we go out to do the yard work or clean up the cars. By the time we've finished taking care of the lawn, everyone is ready for a rest and we start up the barbecue grill. After dinner, we have brownies and ice cream. Our sweet reward for a day of working in the sun.

I have wanted an ice cream churn for a while and my family remembered my interest in making ice cream. For Mother's Day, they gave me an ice cream bowl attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. This baby 20 minutes it has a nice soft serve which is ready to eat. If you prefer it harder...put the ice cream in another container and let it freeze for about 4 hours... or less if you don't have the patience to wait that long.

My Mom's recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream was made for a 5 to 6 Qt. traditional or electric ice cream churn. I have modified her recipe in size and by using half & half plus whipping cream.

Mom's Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

6 pasteurized eggs, whole
2 cups white sugar
1 can condensed milk
1 can PET cream by Carnation
1 Tb Vanilla
Add milk until you get to the fill point on the cannister.

Note: This ice cream recipe is not cooked prior to churning.

No Cook Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (makes 1 Qt)

3 pasteurized eggs, whole
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup half and half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tb vanilla (mine is homemade)

Place in an already blending Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment. Allow to mix for 20 minutes. Transfer to a freezable container for storage and serving.

This is a quick and delicious ice cream and a family favorite. It gets 5 yes votes at our house, because our dog loves ice cream too.

August 8, 2006

"Lessons From A Green Kitchen" by Michael Pollan

I purchased the August 2006 edition of Food & Wine magazine primarily for the article called "Lessons from a Green Kitchen." I hoped to learn more about making my kitchen more green. I learned a little bit more than I thought I would from food detective Michael Pollan. I should forewarn you that this subject is best contemplated when you are feeling stout of heart and stomach. So, if you aren't ready for this type of it for another day.

I knew the food industry has some horrible methods of treating animals in their daily conditions, but I didn't realize exactly what they were now feeding our beef and chickens. The idea that they would feed herbivores manure, desiccated members of their own kind and blood was shocking. Was this really true? After Googling the phrase, "feeding cows chicken manure," I was shocked to discover this is true. This isn't right. You can't turn herbivores into carnivores and cannibals without there being biological consequences. Thoughts of "Jurassic Park" and the chaos theory come to mind.

Additionally, feeding cows the manure from chickens raises other heath concerns. There are poultry producers who feed their chickens arsenic to help them bulk up faster. Just follow the food chain to see the additional concern. Not only are we getting arsenic from the chickens we eat, but the cows are getting arsenic from the chicken excrement which then comes back to us when we eat the cows. So everybody in this circle is now poisoned with arsenic and the resulting health issues that come from this particular poison. For more read this article at Wikipedia,

The cows are not alone in their mistreatment by the food industry. They also extend their unique methods to chickens and pigs. After being crammed in small cages unable to satisfy their basic biological needs to forage and wander the pigs and chickens have developed unique anti-species behaviors. So the food industry strikes back with detailing pigs so they can't bite off another pig's tail and debeaking chickens so they can't cannibalize each other.

Finally, since roosters don't produce enough meat to make it financially worth while to raise them, they are disposed of in a horrific way after hatching and sexing. For more about the egg hatchery read this article from Farm Sanctuary,

For more on cows, start with the Organic Consumers Association article on "Grass Fed Beef" at

I agree with Michael Pollan, you can choose what to do 3 times a day. Join us in choosing to vote with your fork for as many meals as you can.

August 7, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies & Montina Bread - All Gluten Free

For our planned weekend of yard work, I made up several gluten-free recipes ahead of time - chocolate chip cookies and Montina rolls.

We spent the weekend working in the yard trying to tame the overgrowth from all the rain we had in July. We were victorious! The jungle has been tamed! At our house, yard work requires constant infusions of ice tea and fruit pops so we can survive the summer heat. Another yard working necessity is grilling while we work...the aromas of cooking hot dogs and buffalo burgers will keep your mind thoroughly occupied on something other than how your body is reacting to the heat.

To reward us for all our hard work, I made a variety of things this weekend to go with our organic Applegate hot dogs and buffalo burgers. I tried an alternate version of my Montina rolls, made chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream.

I took the traditional Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and then played with the "flour category" by try a different combination of flours and meals. The recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups of wheat flour which I substituted with 1 cup of brown rice flour, 1/2 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup tapioca flour and 1/4 Montina flour. I didn't use any xanthan gum in the recipe. After mixing up the cookie dough, I put it in the refrigerator to cool over night. The next day, I placed small spoonfuls on parchment paper to cook in a 350 degree oven. Instead of the usual 8 to 9 minutes per batch, this flour combination took 10 to 11 minutes to brown. Needless to say, this combination got four happy votes.

Next came the Montina rolls, I played so much with this recipe that I felt more like a mad scientist than the family cook. I started with the basic Montina Rolls recipe in the Montinia Recipe Booklet by Montana State University at Bozeman by Betty Drummond. After playing with it several times, I've remade these rolls a variety of different ways, one version I've posted earlier. What follows is my attempt at making a rich tasty roll that doesn't have lingering tastes of a bland starch (tapioca or potato) or of xanthum gum (which doesn't agree with me in larger amounts). The resulting roll wasn't large (I hoped they would rise a bit more...but considering the flour combination it is a dense rich bread).

Montina Rolls

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 package Rize Yeast (an organic yeast by Rapunzel)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup ground oats (ground in my coffee grinder)
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup Montina flour
1/3 cup ground white grits (ground in my coffee grinder)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (ground in my coffee grinder)
1/3 cup or less whole oats (enough to make the dough firm enough to make into rolls)
2 Tb agar agar
1/2 tsp kuzu powder (kudzu)
2 tsp baking powder

Place into a sauce pan the coconut oil, milk, sugar, agar agar, kuzu, and salt. Heat to a low rolling boil for about 3 minutes. This allows the agar agar to begin gelling. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then add the dry yeast and stir. Give the yeast time to begin to work. Add to the bowl with your flour combination the beaten egg and then the liquid mixture. Add as much of the whole oats until you get a manageable dough. Form into rolls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Allow to rise in a warm place until the dough leaves a dent. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Notes: I used agar agar because of it's jelling properties and I want to see if I can substitute it in some recipes for xanthan gum. Yes, you can use agar agar instead of xanthan gum. Agar agar does have nutritional properties (contains iodine) unlike xanthan gum which doesn't have any. I added the kuzu root to see if the bread would hold together better with two jelling agents rather than one. It did do this nicely, however I could have used more kuzu powder and achieved the same results.

What did my poor guinea pig family think about my edible science experiment? I got 3 thumbs up. What did I think? It was a bit more work to put things together, but the result was a rich tasting roll. It was very satisfying with it's slightly sweet and rich undertones without any funky after taste that you get from xanthan gum.

August 6, 2006

Wasabe Slaw - Gluten Free

Being gluten-free changes how you regard food and how other people prepare recipes, which makes you wonder about recipes and the ingredients they contain. Once you have to go gluten-free you research every ingredient that you put into recipes of your own and what you buy at restaurants.

On one of my exploratory visits to Whole Foods, I was inspired to buy a lovely green cabbage, but once I got it home I was uninspired to do something with it. It's been mocking me, laughing at me from it's resting place in the refrigerator. I didn't want to add it to my compost pile unused. So, today I decided to do something slightly different with it. My green slaw is a combination of what things I had around the kitchen and my mood for something spicy.


1/2 Head of Cabbage
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup wasabe mayonnaise or to taste
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper or to taste
1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste

Blend and serve.

The family voting? My husband and I really liked it, but my kids won't even attempt to try wasabe again. Too spicy.

Pamela's Gluten Free Pancake Mix - A Misadventure

My adventures in using Pamela's Pancake Mix have been interesting to say the least. I used it to make chocolate chip cookies and one batch of pancakes that turned out quite well. The third time, I wanted to use up my bag of mix to make another batch of pancakes. Third time was not a charm....

Here is my picture of the lovely batch of pancakes that I made using Pamela's Pancake Mix.

The last batch of pancakes that I made kept sticking to the pan. I even threw out the first batch and made a second one, but it did the same thing. See how lumpy and destroyed they looked? These pancakes even tasted slightly different.

What went wrong? I'm not sure, but I've got a couple of ideas. First the mix could have been getting older. Second, the mix wasn't totally mixed. Depending on assembly line processes, the various ingredients could simply have been put inside the bag one at a time rather than mixed before bagging. Third, the various ingredients could have settled down and weren't mixed anymore after sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.

I have bought another bag of Pamela's Pancake Mix to try again. This time I'll mix the ingredients in the bag before trying to make something with it. More to come on this one.