Friday, December 30, 2011

Snackmaster Multi-Grain Crackers

Crackers are More Than Snacks

When I am at work, I like to have salads for lunch. But I also like to have some sort of carbohydrate to round out the salad. If I don't have some sort of carbs, I find that I'm hungry an hour or two later.

Crackers are the perfect solution for me. I like the crunchiness and I can usually find some that are baked. Fried chips have more fat than I need.

So, I'm always looking for a good gluten-free cracker option. Some gluten-free crackers are awful. Some are fantastic. Trial and error is the only way to find out which are which.

Multi-Grain Crackers

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

Citrus in the Winter

My husband loves citrus. I was going to invent some oatmeal cranberry orange bars.

I was thinking of how I could use our leftover, homemade cranberry sauce. We wanted to make some oatmeal bars or cookies. We found a recipe for oatmeal and raisin bars. We could skip the raisins and use the cranberry sauce somehow instead.

But that didn't seem like enough. Cranberries and oranges go well together. Maybe that was the solution.

And it just so happened that my husband brought some canned mandarins home. Great! How about Oatmeal Cranberry Orange Bars?

Sounded great.

But we didn't make them.

Somehow, we got side tracked and we ended up making Gluten-Free Lemon Bars instead.

I'll have to create some gluten-free oatmeal and cranberry and orange bars some other time. But not now.

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gluten-Free Toffee Bars

New Traditions

Traditions are great, to a point. Sometimes, I feel the need to try something new.

A couple of years ago, I was trying to decide what cookies to make for giving (and eating) at Christmastime.

I was looking for something that would be tasty and easy to bake. A full sheet of cookies was even better.

Then I found some very cute white chocolate chips that were striped, some with red and some with green. I loved them and I needed to find a good use for them. I decided on these Gluten-Free Toffee Bars, which would be a perfect way to showcase those colorful, striped chips.

Everybody loved them!

That was the last time I ever saw those cute, striped chips. Bummer. I have kept looking for them every year since. I haven't seen them.

But in the process, I ended up liking the toffee bars so much, I have made them every year since then. These Gluten-Free Toffee Bars are great, even with just plain white chocolate chips!

Time to get baking....

Gluten-Free Toffee Bars

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gluten-Free Peppermint Kiss Cookies

Festive Cookies

A couple of years ago, I was gearing up to make Christmas cookies. I went to the store looking for the particular baking goods I needed.

While looking for cookie sprinkles, I came across the most adorable, striped, white chocolate chips! They were white chocolate and striped with either red or green. Both the red-striped and green-striped white chips were mixed together in the same bag.

They were oh so cute and I used them my Gluten-Free Toffee Bars that year. They were a big hit and the colors looked great!

But since then, I have never seen those striped chips again. Not red and green on white chocolate chips.

But this year, when I went to the store, I found white chocolate and peppermint Hershey's Kisses. Striped. Red and white. They were so cute!

Please note:  Hershey's makes no guarantees about their products ever being gluten-free, since they share their equipment among ingredients.  I've often wondered about kisses, but I've never had a problem with them.  Please be careful and only consume those foods that are safe for you.

But stripes and kisses in the same package? I was dying to try them and I just knew I had to find a way to use those cute, striped kisses!

Gluten-Free Peppermint Kiss Cookies

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eating Gluten-Free at Uno's Chicago Grill

Dinner and a Movie

Actually, in this case, it was a movie and dinner. In that order.

We decided we wanted to go see the new Hugo movie. Given all the constraints we had that day and for the rest of that weekend, we struggled to find a movie time that didn't impact other things.

Finally, we settled on a time that ran into dinner time. That would really squeeze us trying to fix a dinner and force us to eat late. Not desirable.

The solution: go out to dinner.

Ah, here we go again. Where can we go that everyone else likes and I can find something safe for me to eat?

This time it was easy. Both options on the table have gluten-free menus! Hurray! And we had just eaten at one of these a few weeks before, so the choice was really made for us.

After the movie, we were going to eat at Uno's Chicago Grill.
Uno Chicago Grill on Urbanspoon

Uno's Chicago Grill

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Moor

Book Review

The Moor by Laurie R. King

I recently reviewed The Hound of the Baskervilles. And I did so because of this book: The Moor.

The Moor is the fourth book in the King series, and seeing how I have already read the first three, picking up The Moor seemed like a natural thing to do.

Which I did. And I started reading it. And it is full of references to The Hound of the Baskervilles. About a third of the way in, I decided that I had to stop reading The Moor, and go off and read The Hound.

Which I did.

Then I returned to The Moor.

The Moor

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gluten-Free Lebkuchen


Some families have traditions of some kind. Okay, so many families have traditions. Alright, alright... most families have traditions.

Many family traditions are associated with a holiday. And, gee, it just so happens that Christmas is a holiday. And, wow, would you believe it, Christmas is just around the corner.

Enter, Christmas traditions.

One of my family's Christmas traditions is Lebkuchen.

Lebkuchen is a traditional German spice cookie. My maternal grandpa loved his mother's original, brought-over-on-the-boat German Lebkuchen. When my grandma married my grandpa, he asked her to make some. But my grandma didn't like my grandpa's mother's Lebkuchen.

What is it with mothers-in-law? Oh, let's not go there.

Anyways, my grandma set about to find one that suited her and made Grandpa happy. She found one.

This is it.

And this has been made in my family for as long as I can remember and even before that. But only at Christmas time. It was always a Christmas cookie. I've never seen it, had it, or even thought of it any other time of year. This is a Christmas tradition.

Now, I'm making it gluten-free. And it is delicious as ever. Even the gluten-eaters don't find anything different about them.

I see no reason why traditions can't continue, just without the gluten.

Gluten-Free Lebkuchen

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Book Review

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle 

I was forced to pick this up and read it quickly. 

Okay, so I wasn't forced. But I did decide it was well-advised to do so.

See, I've been reading the Mary Russell series written by Laurie R. King. In this series, Mary is married to Sherlock Holmes.

My most recent reading in this series, The Moor, refers back the Baskervilles case repeatedly. Setting, family curse, and characters. The references became so many, I decided I needed to know what they were talking about.

See, I've never read "The Hound of the Baskervilles". I've read other Sherlock Holmes stories, but not "The Hound".

After getting about a third of a way into The Moor, I decided it was time that I know what the original "Hound" story was all about.

It was time. And not a moment too soon.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gluten-Free Pecan Pie

No Matter How You Say It...

All that pie practice was leading us to this moment. The big test. 

Gluten-Free Pecan Pie on the big T-Day.

Do you say "pee-can" or "puh-kahn"?

Well, you know what? It doesn't matter as long as it comes with "gluten-free" attached to it.

This has been my stumbling block for a couple of years now. Back in my gluten-eating days, I made pecan pies no sweat. No problems. No fear.

Then I went gluten-free. And I made a gluten-free pecan pie. And it was soggy.

And then I tried making another gluten-free pecan pie. And it didn't set up, no matter how much extra time I added.

Time after time, I had gluten-free pie failures. After a few of these, my confidence in baking had been shaken.

Hence, this fall's Gluten-Free Pie Practice. I've been making gluten-free pies throughout the fall. I made a variety of gluten-free pies, some better than others.

But then, do you know what happened?

The big T-Day snuck up on me. I ran out time to practice my gluten-free pecan pie.

How did this happen? I had planned way back in August to start making pies and to be sure to leave enough time to practice a gluten-free pecan pie. And now I was out of time?

Yup. Too many other pies. Too little time.

Well, the good thing about Pie Practice is that practice is practice. I think I've learned a few things along the way, so... I had to put my abilities and new-found experience to the test.

Oh, and no pressure. Nah. No problem. I'd just be doing it on the Big T-Day!

... It Comes Out Tasting Fabulous!

Gluten-Free Pecan Pie

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Odyssey: Poetry and Graphic Novel

Book Review

The Odyssey by Homer and graphic novel by Gareth Hinds

Somehow my education never included any Greek reading. I am still completely unfamiliar with Greek myths, with the only exception being the tidbits I picked up through astronomy. That still didn't include full stories or much general knowledge of the Greek gods.

Now I do acknowledge that I did not have a very strong liberal arts exposure. I was focused on the physical sciences. That was fine then, because I was on a mission and didn't have much time or interest for things outside of my mission.

Now, I have time. And I'm on a different mission. Now, I'm on a mission to fill in perceived gaps in my literary education.

Greek mythology is one of those gaps.

So, for many years now, I have wanted to read The Iliad and The Odyssey. I started The Iliad earlier this year.

And I struggled. I read a bit and then put it down. Put it down for too long. When I would pick it up again, I had to go back and reread most of the brief bit I had read before. I was continually losing the flow of what I had read. And then, suddenly, my library renewals of the book were up.

Okay, not actually suddenly, but they were gone. I had to return the book. Our library gives us 3 weeks to borrow a book and 2 renewals. That makes for nine weeks.

I didn't get very far in nine weeks with The Iliad. So, I bought a copy at the local used book store.

I haven't opened that book since.

It was proving difficult to get through. And I was trying to stick to my guns about reading it before I started reading The Odyssey, since The Iliad describes events taking place before the events in The Odyssey.

But then I went to my daughter's Back-to-School Night. This is where we get to meet teachers and find out what our children will be doing in school for the current year.

This is good, since we are now in the realm of the teenager. This particular realm consists of a product of my loins who has forgotten how to use her vocals chords for normal, calm, illuminating, straight forward information exchange. Timely. Did I include timely? That's forgotten now too.

Anyways, it was during Back-to-School Night that I learned that they would be reading the major books of The Odyssey this year. I'm not sure what "major" books means, specifically, but in any case, I now had a very real incentive to start reading The Odyssey sooner, rather than later.

And that's just what I did.

The Odyssey

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gluten-Free Turkey Pot Pies

Leftovers, Anyone?


Turkey, turkey, turkey.

Are you tired of turkey yet?

Last year, when I made everything from scratch and gluten-free, I ended with lots of leftovers. And I needed to find a way to deal with them. My family wasn't interesting in having repeat Thanksgiving dinners for weeks on end. And we have limited freezer space.

So, I looked around at what I had left and I started thinking. I looked and thought and thought and looked.

And then I came up with a solution for many of my leftovers:  gluten-free pot pies!

Leftover turkey. Leftover mushroom soup. Leftover green bean casserole. Make a new gluten-free pie crust. Add some new peas and carrots.

Voilà! Gluten-free turkey pot pies!

Gluten-Free Turkey Pot Pies

Monday, December 5, 2011

Half Broke Horses

Book Review

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Somewhere along the way I became vaguely aware that this is a book I wanted to read. I don't know when it happened. I don't know how it happened. But it did.

And when I had a gap in my reading on the treadmill, I just happened to stumble upon this in large print. Available right then in large print. Ready for reading in large print, immediately.

Good enough for me!

Right on the front cover, this is advertised as "a true-life novel". See those labels that I chose at the bottom of this blog post? I listed this as both fiction and non-fiction, since it is based on true events, but the details and dialogue have been manufactured.

But that's fine by me. This reads like a novel, is enjoyable like a novel, but rings truer than a novel.

Half Broke Horses

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gluten-Free He 'n' She Lime Meringue Pie

No More Time to Practice

Time's up!

There's no more time for Pie Practice. It's time for the real thing.

But before we get to Thanksgiving pies, I have to make a Birthday Pie, by request.

This is completely exploratory and experimental. This has never been done before. Do not try this at home.

Or, rather, do try this at home, if I get a favorable result!

This is intended to be a combination of our favorite parts of a gluten-free Key Lime Pie, a gluten-free Lemon Meringue Pie, and a gluten-free graham cracker crust.

We want lime, but no evaporated or condensed milk. We want meringue, but no regular, gluten-free pie crust.

We want a gluten-free pie that is lime, without milk, with meringue and with a graham cracker crust.

I don't think this has ever been tried before.

Viewer discretion is advised.

Gluten-Free Graham Crackers