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Gluten Free FAIL

24 Jun

I had a recent and quick trip to my home for my gramma’s funeral. My brother has a gluten intolerance. I am very interested in the whole process of baking without gluten. I feel that so much science must go into it to make it and I want to learn more.

I premade a brunch for the morning of the funeral. I made everything but the eggs and bacon the day ahead and packed everything up for the 7 hour trip. I picked a scone recipe and decided to make it gluten free. I looked up every ingredient to check on the tolerance level.

I found out that not all vanilla extracts are gluten free! I ended up using my Mexican vanilla extract which is much stronger than the Madagascar one I tend to use when needing vanilla, but do not want it overwhelming the dish.

Along all of the gluten free recipes using Gluten-Free AP flour, they would include Xanthan gum. I never heard of it and figured… well I don’t think I need it.

I was wrong. Again it goes back to baking is a science. You cannot just substitute and expect equal results. My scones flattened and spread while baking. When they finished baking they held a nice scone-like crust but they were very cake-like. But not a good cake. I hoped the glaze I made would help. IT did not. If I used the not-sure-if-gluten-free Madagascar vanilla the glaze might have been okay. It was just too strong.

It turns out that xanthan gum acts like a binder. Which is what is missing in gluten free products. oops.

So sadly I present these pictures. I am not deterred though. I will try again.

Never open the oven while baking. But I have no oven window.

Post Baking

Sometimes you need to adjust

7 May

I made this week’s menu plan last week. Something I rarely do. I mentioned in my first menu planning post that I like to sit down and take 30 minutes on a sunday night. But I had extra time last week. One of the reasons I suggest doing it every week is that sometimes we need to make adjustments based on price and availability.

This week’s plan is attached in PDF below. I went through my grocery circulars and though I planned on a nice potato and leek soup to accompany my chicken on Thursday, leeks were just too pricey. I know I wanted a meatless soup (I do not mean vegetarian because I like to use real chicken stocks and broths, I simply mean “no meat” because I am planning on having soup as a side- not as a main)

I tend to use three websites when finding dishes

Each has their pluses and minuses. I will rate each on another post.

I decided to change up and go with Fresh Asparagus Soup from All Recipes. Asparagus bunches were less than $2 at Aldi!

For my “daily fish” I bought two tilapia fillets for $6.99 a pound. Here is the thing for those that are wary of cooking fish. It is so simple- just bread and be done! After breading you can bake or pan fry depending on the meal (or in my case the HEAT in my kitchen). Once you learn to bread, chicken and flakey fish will be your BFF in the menu planning. Plus you save money by breading it yourself!

Schmecipe for breading

dish of dredging (I use a bunch of AP flour and a paper plate.) Dredge your item just to coat

dish of egg (I use 1 white, 1 full egg and a pie dish.) Dip your item and make it nice and goopy.

dish of breading (I always pour more than I think I need. It is easier to do it ahead when your hands are not gross from the first two steps.) Bread your item. Get all 6 faces of it. I tend to lay mine on a drip rack as I finish all of the items.

Dredge, Dip, Bread. Done and Done

This works with panko, bread crumbs, or even left-over crusty bread pulsed through the processer (or knuckle hand grater like I do). Within the breading you can get creative with your mix-ins.

Add some cheese- I do not use the bagged cheese here- it is too big and moist, instead I take out my grater and a nice strong rind you can get near the deli for a great price. (When the rind gets too small to grate, throw into your pot of soup!) Please note, if you are pan frying your cheese will fry in a bad way if you add too much. Just a bit to spruce up the breading.

Change up the spices (Savory Spanish theme? Rosemary, Thyme, Orageno! Zippy Mexican Theme? Chilis, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cocoa! Italian Theme? Corriander, Nutmeg, Pepper! Some swear by the Salt Trilogy) I tend to do all of my mixing on the side and then add to the breading. I never mix directly in- I feel I cannot smell it correctly to get a good ratio.

Here is a Spice 101 from the Food Network. I actually abridged it on a couple of index cards and taped inside my cabinet.

Don’t forget your freshly ground Salt and Pepper Blend. I actually put a couple passes through in the flour, not the breading. I want it as close to my source as possible.

That being said, here is this week’s menu plan. I will let you know how these worked out. Monthly Menu

Summertime cooking in an apartment

4 May

I live in a nice little 2-bedroom apartment. No yard. No deck. No patio. A bunch of windows and wall-to-wall carpet in the kitchen. I find that to be a nice little touch.

It is hot right now in W. PA. Very hot. I do not do heat well. So my kitchen transformed into summertime cooking two days ago.

Summertime cooking? Without outdoor space? How you ask?

It is quite simple. IF it cannot be cooked on the George Foreman, in the rice cooker, or eaten raw, it is not on my menu.

Last night’s dinner consisted of grilled chicken (Foreman), green beans (microwave), and quinoa (rice cooker).

Cooking quinoa in the rice cooker is simple. My rice cooker does not like to use anything less than 2 cups of dry.


Rinse quinoa (I buy mine in bulk. Sometimes the bulk bins @ the groceria scare me. So I rinse!)

2 parts chicken broth, 1 part quinoa (I used ~2 cups broth, ~2 cups water, 2 cups quinoa)

Season to taste (I used my new penzey Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave Chicken and Fish Seasoning)

Set to steam (I use the brown rice setting. You can stir throughout unlike with rice)

Drain (Always drain your quinoa!)

NB there is serious debate on how to pronounce this little round pellet of versatility. It is pronounced KEEN-wah