Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles

Allergen-Free Cookies

It's not often you find cookies that are free of the eight common allergens.

No gluten! No wheat! No milk! No dairy! No peanuts! No tree nuts! No eggs! No soy!

What's left, you ask?

Taste and texture, that's what. Glorious taste and wonderful texture!

It's hard to believe that these cookies could be any good, but they are!

I was skeptical at first too. But I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be. I was, I braved it, and I came out the other side believing in these cookies!

Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Book Review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

From time to time, I am presented with a small novel.

Small, as in not a lot of words.

And several times I have caught myself wondering if small novels can be any good.

I seem to have a short memory.

I was impressed with The Postman Always Rings Twice. I was impressed with When the Emperor was Divine.

I don't know why I still question small novels.

Maybe I have finally learned my lesson.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gluten-Free Crumby Chicken

Gluten-Free Crumbs

Don't ever let bread crumbs come between you and your favorite dishes.

Gluten-free bread crumbs are easy.

You probably have something that will work right now. You don't need to run to a specialty store and hunt around and find the shelf empty of gluten-free bread crumbs. 

All you need is some form of gluten-free bread, crackers or chips.

For instance, I had some Udi's Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns in the freezer. I used these to make Hurricane Hamburgers last year. Not these actual buns. This brand. And don't worry, this is a newer pack of them.

Anyways, I defrosted one bun.

And then I just chopped the bun halves up in our little nut chopper/mini food processor. These made just over one cup of gluten-free bread crumbs.

And now you are ready for this.

Gluten-Free Crumby Chicken

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Loving Frank

Book Review

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

I have often enjoyed historical fiction, so I knew I wanted to give this book a try.

The historical figure here is Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect. He is famous for his "prairie houses", among other things.

Wright's work came in the midst of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which saw a complete reversal of the Victorian frilliness. Arts and Crafts is all about blending with nature, clean lines, geometric shapes, and a return to fine craftsmanship.

I've never been to see one of Wright's houses, but I like craftsman/mission architecture, which is prominent in places in California. Greene and Greene built many houses in Pasadena in the craftsman style.

I admire the clean lines, fresh woodwork, and attention to detail exhibited by most craftsman works. It was common to have furniture made specifically for the individual houses in keeping with the style of the specific house.

No sofa/loveseat sets purchased from Costco.

I was curious to know more about Wright. His legendary architecture is known far and wide. But this was bound to be a story about him, which I didn't really know much about.

It was time to get a glimpse into the legend.

Loving Frank

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Utz Rice Crisps - Salsa Fresca

Rice "Tortilla" Chips?

Tortilla chips. 

That's what I thought of when I saw these crispy triangles.

No, I've never heard of anyone outright ordering rice tortillas. But they are available, gluten-free, in many health food stores.

But rice tortilla chips?


Aren't tortilla chips made of corn?

Well, they are and they aren't.

Utz Rice Crisps - Salsa Fresca

Monday, March 19, 2012


Book Review

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I saw this book come up on the New Arrivals list at the library. And then I heard about it on the radio. And then I saw mention of it online.

Everywhere I looked, I saw mention of this book. I saw quotes expressing how funny it is. I saw excerpts that described the nature of this book.

I didn't really pay much attention to all of this. But after awhile, with so many mentions and quotes and descriptions, I started to wonder what I was missing.

I had to find out.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gluten-Free Shamrock Shake

Luck of the Irish

I don't think I have a stitch of Irish in me.

But I never let such a thing stop me from the appropriate celebrations.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day this year, I was going to make a Gluten-Free Grasshopper Pie.

I had it all planned. I knew what I needed to buy. I knew how I wanted to make it. I knew how I wanted it to taste.

Then life happened.

I spent most of the last week traveling for work. As soon I was home, I put my husband on a plane for him to visit family.

Then I had to scramble on my own for several of the kids' activities in short order.

The timing of all of this couldn't be worse for making a Gluten-Free Grasshopper Pie. With only three of us home for St. Patrick's Day, not only did I not have enough time to make a pie, I didn't have enough mouths to eat a whole pie.

Gluten-Free Grasshopper Pie would have to wait.

But I didn't want to miss out on the potential fun of using mint on this holiday, so I compromised and we made Gluten-Free Shamrock Shakes.

The kids were so excited to make these, I could have gotten them to do a whole lot more chores! If I had only thought quicker....

Gluten-Free Shamrock Shakes

Friday, March 16, 2012

O Jerusalem

Book Review

O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King

This is the fifth book written in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King.

Note that does not mean that the contents are designed to come chronologically after the events of book four.


But maybe that's why you need to read it, if you are at all intrigued by this series.

O Jerusalem

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sushi Tomo

Safe Sushi?

Is there ever sushi that is safe for those of us who need to be gluten-free?


Sushi restaurants are varied, but they are usually somewhat careful about not having a lot of wheat lying around where the raw fish is being prepared.

This doesn't mean everything in a sushi restaurant is safe. Far from it.

Avoid all tempura, teriyaki, and anything that might have soy sauce mixed in.

Sound awful?

Sushi Tomo on UrbanspoonWell, not at all.  If you choose wisely, there are quite a few sushi rolls that don't normally have any gluten in them. You just can't go and dunk them in gluten-laden soy sauce.

Sushi Tomo

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Book Review

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

I didn't really know what I was getting into when I picked this book up. I had heard of the title. I knew it had been around a long time.

And then I started poking around. This appears to be the epitome of the crime novel genre. And quite risque in its time.

I needed to know more. I had to read this.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

I was intrigued by this very small novel. I usually seem to gravitate to the longer, more involved novels. Not that I dislike short novels, I just seem to get drawn into the longer ones. Well, the good, longer ones.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I hear a voice nagging me with, "If it is that short, can it be any good?"

Yes, it can.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gluten-Free Chicken Fried Steak

Not Missing Out

Going out to dinner used to be a easy, fun, and interesting. Now things are a bit different.

Going out is not so easy, not so fun, and usually a lot less interesting.

As I have come to look over these restaurant gluten-free menus, a couple of things stand out.

One, there are usually some salads to pick from. Two, the most interesting salads are not there because of something yummy on them that apparently have gluten in it. Three, the remaining items are pretty standard and are likely to reoccur, time and time again, in many restaurants. Things like grilled chicken, broiled salmon, baked fish.

And be sure to "request no special season" in order to make it gluten-free.

No seasoning? Really? I guess it is down to just salt and pepper for me.

Thank you very much for offering these things, but after you see them again and again on the very brief and limited gluten-free menus, they get boring.

B. O. R. I. N. G.

Where's the gluten-free lasagna? or meatballs? or breaded fish? or soups?! Why aren't these things being made gluten-free and put on those gluten-free menus?

I know it can be done. I have evidence that it can be done. I'm doing it. In my own home.

Now do you see how eating out is not as easy, not as fun and not as interesting as it used to be?

"But, wait!" you may be saying. "You can get some really good, interesting food at health food restaurants." These are the few and far-between restaurants that cater to those with special food needs. Vegan. Allergens. Gluten.

And I would respond that you are right, I can go to the health food restaurants, when I find them. But they usually offer hoity-toity food. Ingredients I can't pronounce. Quantities that fit inside my left pinkie. And I've never seen one of these restaurants offer the common/comfort foods my family members like to order at restaurants and that I have to see and smell with them at the table. I have to endure those smells.

So, I've had to adjust. One of these adjustments is realizing that I may never eat certain things again... unless I make them myself.

Enter Chicken Fried Steak.

Not some fancy, schmancy cut of meat, lightly seared on each side, presented with a delicately arranged shaving of vegetable across one side and a minuscule drizzle of some exquisite sauce on the plate.

No. I'm talking about a tough cut of meat, beaten to oblivion to tenderize it, slathered with some gluten-free flour and milk and egg and fried, babe. Fried.

Health food this isn't.

Gluten-Free Chicken Fried Steak

Monday, March 5, 2012

Riding Lessons

Book Review

Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

A couple of years ago I read Water for Elephants, also by Gruen, and I really liked it.

I was transported to another time and place, to an environment I have no familiarity with. I was presented with details of that time and it made me feel like I was there.

I had hopes that this might be good too. I did notice that this book was written before Water for Elephants, but maybe it would still be good.

Riding Lessons

Friday, March 2, 2012

Grandma's Recipe Gold Mine

Grandma's Gold

There is nothing more valuable in this world than what we share with each other. Relationships with people. Music. Food. Traditions.

My dear, dear, ninety-one year old grandmother has just moved to a new home, replete with food service, personal care service, cleaning service, and entertainment, all onsite and within reach.

Since she doesn't need to cook anymore, she doesn't have much need for her recipes anymore.

I was lucky enough to inherit Grandma's Gold.

Not her gold jewelry. Not Grandpa's gold tooth.

Grandma's Gold Mine.

That would be her recipe box. Her typed recipe cards. Her clipped, magazine recipes. Her shared recipe cards from family and friends.

Thank you, Grandma, and thank you, Mom.

Why, oh why, is this the first time ever in my life I have seen this gold mine? I remember seeing recipe cards on Grandma's refrigerator or on the counter. Why didn't I ever see this box?

Oh, the digging I could have done.

Now, if I could just manage to get every story that goes with every recipe given or exchanged with friends and family....

Ah, beggars can't be choosy.