Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Book Review

Heartwood by Belva Plain

This was one of those nearly-random choices from the library. It was available in large print and it was available at my local library when I needed something to read.

It looks girly. I don't usually go for the girly books, unless I'm specifically seeking out "fluff."

The description didn't make this sound like it was going to be in the "fluff" category.

But I had never heard of Belva Plain. I didn't know if it was going to be too girly. Time to try her out.

Then I found out that this is the last book she wrote before she died.

I still didn't know what to expect and I essentially had no expectations.

It's always better to start out that way.

"Expectations are premature disappointments."


Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving Gluten-Free Stuffing

Gluten-Free Bread

Stuffing. Ah, yes. My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, hands down.

If there is no stuffing, there is no Thanksgiving for me. Forget the turkey. Forget the cranberries. Forget the pies.

Yes, I wrote that. Forget the pies.

For me, Thanksgiving is all about the stuffing.

(Oh, and the family and love and being thankful. Really.)

But stuffing, people. It's the stuffing!

I've tried making cornbread stuffing and I've resisted wild rice stuffing. I just really, really like the regular, ol' bread stuffing too much!

I made this gluten-free bread specifically for the stuffing on Monday. I used my bread machine.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Confessions over Sunsets


I confess: This post has nothing to do with gluten-free food or books. I just have something to confess. Some things to confess.

I balked when our daughter said she wanted to go shopping on Black Friday.

I hate the crowds. I hate the mall. I hate the craziness. I hate the idea of shopping on Black Friday.

So we went to the library and the park instead. Whew.

But then we ended up at the mall on Black Saturday. Is it called that? Well, I'm calling it that, starting now.

I confess I didn't want to go. I confess I pitched a mild, minor fit about it. I confess I dreaded the idea only a little bit less than going to the mall on Black Friday.

But the guys were busy and I had some shopping to do that could only be done at the mall and Dear Daughter wanted to go shopping.

And... in the end...

I confess:  It wasn't so bad.

We did our browsing, sniffing, walking, smelling, shopping, chatting, gawking, gagging, and groaning. Then it was time to leave.

We headed to the car, which just so happened to be westward.

Why do I know this?

Because this is what we saw:

That would be the results of the sun setting in the west.

Light Up the Sky

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Day of Giving Thanks

  1. I am thankful for sun dogs.
  2. I am thankful for gluten-free bread.
  3. I am thankful for my bread machine.
  4. I am thankful for my leak-free roof.
  5. I am thankful for being able to consume dairy.
  6. I am thankful for gluten-free graham crackers. Stay tuned.
  7. I am thankful for my food processor.
  8. I am thankful for green food coloring. Sometimes.
  9. I am thankful for my local library.
  10. I am thankful for flowers.
  11. I am thankful for coffee.
  12. I am thankful for my oven. Even if it is electric.
  13. I am thankful for mushrooms. Really.
  14. I am thankful for electricity.
  15. I am thankful for my job that I love.
  16. I am thankful for onions.
  17. I am thankful for my deep frier. Maybe I shouldn't be.
  18. I am thankful for my treadmill.
  19. I am thankful for my workhorse KitchenAid stand mixer. Just like Grandma's.
  20. I am thankful for my family.
  21. I am thankful for my gluten-free pecan pie setting up!
Oh, and just so you know, those are in no particular order. This might be an incomplete list. Actually, I'm pretty sure this is an incomplete list. I don't have time to make a complete list.

I've got a full day of cooking ahead of me! Can you hear the mound of stuffing hitting my plate? Not yet, but soon. Oh so soon.

I am oh so thankful for gluten-free stuffing....

Have the best Day of Giving Thanks ever!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gluten-Free Birthday Breakfast

Yet Another Birthday

We are celebrating yet another birthday, but this one is being celebrated with breakfast and we are doing it a day early, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

When was the last time you thought about your breakfast? Not just your breakfast, but all breakfasts.

Is there any meal (aside from maybe Thanksgiving Dinner) that is more dependent on bread products?

Pancakes. Waffles. French toast. Muffins. Bagels. Scones. Cereal. Crepes. Biscuits. Donuts. Toast. English muffins. Croissants.

Seems ridiculously tough when you have to be gluten-free. Seems overwhelming.

When cooking at home, most of these things can be converted to gluten-free. Maybe a little trial-and-error is necessary, but my family doesn't seem to have any problem with my errors.

But when eating out, it is a whole different ball game.

I just look for other things I love. And I don't stare down the toast and muffins and pancakes that the others at the table get. I just don't let myself look. I look into the faces of the people who share my table. I study the cream swirling in my coffee. I savor a sip of orange juice.

Don't stare down the pastries! Focus on other things.

Things like bacon. What better breakfast meat is there?

And I love cheese. This is a major failing for me.

So, quite often, when eating out, I look for omelets. I know I love bacon and cheese, so now I'm completely comfortable asking for egg whites, instead of whole eggs. There's nothing wrong with whole eggs. I just want to save my fat for the bacon and cheese! And I don't miss the flavor of a whole egg for one nanosecond. Egg whites do me just dandy.

And potatoes are nice, but I'm a bit picky. No potatoes from a fryer, due to probable cross-contamination. Maybe hash browns or home fries, but they need to be really well-done (but not burned) for me to like them. Really, I can do without morning potatoes. But they do handily replace those simple carbs of that pastry list above when needed.

Fruit! I love getting fruit that I don't normally let myself buy for home. Pineapple! Strawberries! If I can get these fresh, I will happily stare them down before I chow down. Fresh berries are even better!

Of course, there are other options usually available too, but these are just a few of the strategies I use. I don't think about them anymore. I just started thinking about it, in anticipation of going to a restaurant that doesn't have a gluten-free menu.

Eggspectation on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gluten-free Birthday Cake and Dinners

Many Ways to Celebrate

There are many ways to celebrate a birthday. Around here, the kids usually get a weekend party of their choosing for their friends, and if the day of the actual birthday falls during the work week, a dinner out with the family on that day at a restaurant of their choosing.

This time, it was my daughter choosing the party and the restaurant. And choose she did.

Last year, we put on a big, themed party and did a ton of decorating and preparing. I spent a large number of hours working and preparing that party. This year, she wanted to do it all by herself.

Well, almost all by herself.

She wanted to plan the party. She wanted to decorate for the party. She wanted to bake her own cake. She wanted to plan the activities. She really wanted to do it.

And she did.

And it was the easiest party I have ever done. Oh. Easiest party that I have ever "not" done.

She baked the gluten-free cake, but we decorated it together. Her dad made her birthday (gluten-free) party dinner, with me assisting. She chose a birthday restaurant that has a gluten-free menu.

I really don't think it could have been much easier on me. Huh. That feels weird. I don't know that I've ever not done much for a birthday party. Strange. But I'll take it!

Gluten-Free Birthday Cake

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baltimore Blues

Book Review

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

I hadn't read anything by Lippman when a friend suggested that I do. Then we started talking about it and I realized I needed to start at the beginning. See, I had stumbled upon the umpteenth new release of a series.

This was going to be the beginning of another series.

I wasn't sure if I was ready for another series, since I'm still working on another.

Ah, well. Sometimes what's available in the library wins out.

Baltimore Blues

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Planning a Completely Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here?

Oh, right. It is November and we've already had our first snow of the season and the leaves are still falling outside and the colors are gorgeous and I'm trying to dream up birthday gifts at the same time as Christmas gifts and it was pitch black on my drive home from work last night.

Right. It's time for Thanksgiving!

I love this holiday. It's all about food and being thankful and food and family and food.

It was only a few years ago that this holiday brought terror into my newly gluten-free heart.

Now, I know how to do this holiday completely gluten-free. It certainly helps when I'm doing the cooking. And that is exactly what I plan to do!

Don't think that this a cinch.  Don't think you can throw a few cans of this together with a couple bags of that. No, I'm talking about homemade.

Homemade everything. Homemade everything gluten-free.

Stuffing. Gravy. Biscuits. Green Bean Casserole. Pie. Another pie.

It is a lot of work, no doubt, making everything myself and making everything gluten-free. But the rewards are well worth it!

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Here are our plans for this year.  We are only cooking for four, so we've opted to skip a few dishes, like sweet potatoes and/or yams.  There is already likely to be far too much food.

Gluten-free Stuffing
    gluten-free bread (based on gluten-free sandwich bread, but done in a bread machine)
Gluten-free Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Gluten-free Green Bean Casserole
    gluten-free mushroom soup (can't find the recipe from last year --- bummer! It was so good!)
    gluten-free French fried onions
Cranberry and Orange Relish
Green Salad
Gluten-free Pecan Pie
    gluten-free pie crust
Gluten-free C 'n' E Lime Meringue Pie (by request, for the birthday that falls on Thanksgiving this year)
    gluten-free graham cracker crust

Remaking Gluten-Free Leftovers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gluten-Free Pizza!

Not Quite Pie Practice

The guys headed off for a weekend of camping, which left us girls to fend for ourselves. Hurray!

I don't think I've ever had a complete weekend with just my daughter before now.

What a joy!

It was easy and nearly instantaneous that we both wanted to go shopping during the weekend. And we both wanted to cook.

What would we cook? We could cook anything we wanted. We had the time to do whatever we wanted.

I wanted pizza! We wanted pizza!

And pizza doesn't quite qualify as Pie Practice. The dough is different. The handling of the dough is different. Pie Practice will have to wait.

I struggled for a long time, going without pizza entirely, after going gluten-free. Then I tried making different crusts, but there was always something wrong with them. Many were just simply not edible.

And then I stumbled upon a combination of gluten-free flours that I liked! No. I loved it! And best of all, my family loved it too! We wouldn't have to make separate pizzas with this crust! The gluten-eaters wanted to eat my pizza!

This the pizza crust I have adopted ever since.

Gluten-free pizza... here we come!

Gluten-Free Pizza

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Healthier Without Wheat

Book Review

Healthier Without Wheat by Dr. Stephen Wangen

My husband picked this up at the library and was thumbing through it. Then he handed it to me.

At first glance, it looked like it might have some useful information, so I checked it out and brought it home.

And there it sat. Week after week.

Finally, I had nothing else to read, so I picked up. I was sure there was something I could learn from this book, even if it had waited for so long.

Healthier Without Wheat

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie

Picnics and Pie Don't Mix

Another picnic. Another pie.

It seems like the perfect solution: Want to practice the Art of Pie. Need to make something for the potluck picnic. Make one pie to satisfy both.

Sounds simple enough.

But it's not.

Invariably, I end up making my pie the morning of the picnic and there isn't enough time and I end up rushing and things take longer than expected and then something goes wrong and then we need to leave and somehow I make it work and then time is up.

Another rushed pie. 

This happened with my Gluten-Free Key Lime Pie too. Now, it was happening to my Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie. Drat.

After making this pie, I called my grandma, the Queen of All Pies. This is according to my mother, who has never bothered to try to compete with Grandma's pies. At 91 years old, Grandma still knows her stuff.

And she didn't waste any time letting me know it, either.

I asked her how cool each step (crust, filling, meringue) needed to be before adding the next part. She told me. Boy, did she ever tell me.

"Well, by the time I get to it, the previous is completely cool."

Completely? Great. I didn't have time for that.

"Um... my picnic is today. Like, now. We need to leave right now."

"Oh, well, then I would have made it the day before."

Um... too late for that now. Wonderful.

"Hmm... okay. And then you refrigerate it overnight?"

"Oh, no. I would leave it out, but covered, overnight. I would make it ahead of time, for sure."

Double drat.

Today's lesson: Don't let your friends picnic and pie. At least, not all in the same day.

Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie

Friday, November 4, 2011

Moonwalking with Einstein

Book Review

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer.

I had heard about this book somewhere, but now I can't remember where. But it is new and shiny. It must be good.

Well, not really. I recall that it did sound interesting. And it is new.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gluten-Free Halloween Candy

Trick or Treat?

Halloween is always fun for us. The neighborhood has a hayride and the kids all Trick-or-Treat together. It's fun to see all the different costumes and the kids are so excited!

My kids are old enough now that they usually want to go the entire route. Unless the daughter decides to go to a friend's neighborhood, like this year.

But The Boy stayed with his buddies in our neighborhood and we went with him. Sort of. He wanted to run with his pack, ahead of all the little kids.

Running is good. Especially given the amount of candy he is and will be consuming in the near future.

And he looked tired when he finally got done. Tired is good.

Of course The Boy was eager to see what he had gotten.

"I'm going to graph my candy!"

I had a pretty good idea of what he was intending to do, but this is not something I taught either of my kids. They just picked it up. Maybe at school? I do talk about graphs with them, nerd that I am, but I've never "graphed candy" myself. 

Later, when my daughter got home and saw his candy "graphed" on the table, she promptly did the same.

The question I immediately ask is: Which of these are gluten-free?

Gluten-Free Halloween Candy