Category Archives: Baking

The best Birthday present and going Gluten free!

Thank you all, Dear Readers, for staying around for my blog-photo-show! It was such fun to pick each one out and see which ones you liked the most. I’ve enjoyed turning 29. There’s been a lot of new life lessons thrown at me the past 29 days.

Token sun burst kiss on my birthday.

Before I share the biggest one, I have a to share this:

On my 29th Birthday, our daughter pooped on the toilet for the first time!  Some of you may not understand the magnitude of this. I felt like dancing. One year ago, I was still giving her 5 different supplements, journaling every thing she ate, and marking the calendar for every poop. She had been struggling with constipation for over half her life. At that point, she was over two, and I didn’t know if we’d ever get her toilet trained when pooping was such a hard experience for her. She’d spend over 30 minutes grunting, and sweating, and finally pooping. It was always hard, and happened 2-3 times a week. That was a huge improvement. For the full story, you can read the post, Constipation: Why we changed how we eat.

I want to simply share my sheer delight that by working consistently and making my little girl eat her veggies, she’s reached this developmental milestone without tears. We’ve changed more than just her veggie intake, but the over-arching change is in looking at food as an important tool to our health. While our daughter can’t seem to handle digesting many animal protein rich foods, her brother can. But, we’ve just started to figure out that he can’t tolerate gluten or eggs.

A gift from my son.

New Challenge: I want to learn how to eat without gluten. I can do without eggs, and I’ve dabbled in using a variety of grains while baking. But, when I learned that our boy couldn’t have gluten for at least 4 weeks, I was totally overwhelmed. You’d think that with the success we’ve had changing our daughter’s diet, I’d be all calm and confident. No. I felt unequipped. I wanted to know this stuff now.  Instead, I went shopping. I had to face the fact that a busy week volunteering for a community event, and getting ready to leave for a road trip, meant that I didn’t have time to experiment in the kitchen. I felt a little guilty going to buy things I’d learned to make from scratch: Bread, crackers, pancake mix, etc.

I scoured the local Co-op, and found enough things to get our son started on his new diet. I went to a huge, high priced market that has an entire gluten free-aisle! As I stood there scanning everything, an employee kindly handed me a 10 page guide to all their gluten free products. While I thanked him, explaining I was new to this, a lady nearby approached to offer advice. It was like an angel had been sent to cheer me up . Seriously. She has Celiac, and has been eating Gluten free for 2 years. With a 5 year old of her own, she provided the exact advice I needed: what crackers are tasty, best flour mixes, advice on egg substitute methods (she favors using flax with water, I’ve succeeded using Vinegar or Lemon Juice). After our conversation, I felt like giving her a hug. Instead, I gushed thanking her with a huge smile.

My plea to Friends also provided a wonderful cookbook and recipe suggestions. I’m eager to share what’s passed our taste testing. But, for now, I wanted to share my latest challenge and joy.

Have you gone Gluten Free? If so, what are your favorite recipes? Favorite blogs?

I love Glutenfreegirl.com, and just discovered Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

Recipe Review: Marshmallows – Corn Free

Home Made Marshmallows

Most Americans can’t imagine camping without making S’mores. Well, last year, I decided we as a family would try our best to not consume Corn Syrup. Every package of Marshmallows I’ve seen has it as a staple ingredient. So, that meant we didn’t make S’mores when we went camping…Guess who wasn’t the most popular Mama?  So, you can imagine how excited I was to find a recipe that didn’t use any corn? I didn’t jump up and down, but was giddy to give the recipe a try. The blog, A Messy Kitchen, posted a recipe for Lemon Honey Cardamon Marshmallows. The author’s daughter is allergic to corn of any type, even corn starch. But, she’s an amazing baker and goes above and beyond to make substitute treats for her. I asked about this recipe, because I just wanted to make plain old Vanilla Marshmallows. Since it was my first try, she suggested I start out with Cookie Baker Lynn’s recipe for Classic Vanilla Marshmallows.

I must say Marshmallows are really a lot of sugar, like over 5 cups! So, I was amazed by the process of heating and mixing and beating to make them.

Lessons and Notes:

Doesn't my borrowed Kitchen Aid look pretty?

– Use a stand mixer. You’ll need to beat the hot syrup with sugar in a bowl on high speed for 10-12 minutes. I don’t recommend using a hand mixer simply because there might be some splatter, and you won’t want to get burned. Plus, the fact that beating for that long will give you an aching shoulder. I borrowed one, and a candy thermometer – Key tools!

– From start to finish, making these took over 2 hours, plus setting up overnight (the recipe says all you need is 4 hour to set).  But, I made my own sugar syrup, and took my time checking each step. Just so you know, hot sugar syrup burns like wow! I was trying to ladle it from the pot into a jar for later, and accidentally got some on my thumb. It wasn’t a blister level burn, but did make me worry that I’d mess this first try up. So, be very careful when you’re making the syrup and when you add it to your mixer to make the Marshmallows.

– The only change I made to Lynn’s recipe was with the finishing powder – calls for Powdered Sugar and Corn Starch. I used Arrowroot Powder instead of the Corn Starch, and think you could also use Tapioca Starch. And, some Powdered Sugar already has Corn Starch added. I found some at our local Co-Op made by Wholesome Sweeteners that doesn’t add anything. Whole Foods also carries some that has Tapioca Starch instead.

Sticky like glue, the Marshmallows set in 4-24 hours.

– Yield: I got 36 out of this, but cut some really small to fit into a cup of coffee, and others large enough to roast over a camp fire. The recipe says you can use a cookie cutter for fancy shapes, but I think the sticky factor would keep me from trying it out. I am happy use a knife and make squares or diamonds.

My official taste testers approved of the results and can hardly wait for camping to enjoy the rest. I’m so happy with how these turned out, that next time I want to try the Lemon-Honey-Cardamon recipe! Or, I might modify a bit and use her latest, shortened Vanilla Marshmallow Recipe, which uses a store bought Sugar Syrup, cutting the time down to about 30 minutes plus setting up (4-24hrs).

p.s. My friend Fran says you can also just roll the Marshmallows in sprinkles and avoid the Powdered Sugar coating step all together. I’m sure they’re not healthier, but I bet very pretty! A great party idea too.

Recipe: Vegan Zucchini Muffins and Zucchini Recipe Resource!

Finely Shredded Zucchini.

I love Zucchini, and it seems to be one of those garden veggies that simply thrive no matter where I’ve seen it grow around the Pacific Northwest. I prefer the delicate young ones for eating with pasta, or on the grill. Once they get bigger and tough skinned, the only way I like to eat them is in a baked goodie. So, this recipe has been a staple for a few years now. Once we discovered our daughter could no longer eat eggs and dairy, I modified it to this current one. These muffins are just as tasty! I think muffins last about 2-3 days before they need to get tossed in the compost bin. But, we never have them sitting around here that long. I’ve also frozen them and found they are delicious once thawed out. Okay, onto the recipe:

Recipe: Vegan Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

– 1.5 Cups Flour (I like to use a 1:3 ratio of Refined and Whole Sprouted Spelt Flour)

– 1/4 Cup Sugar (Regular, Sucanat, or Turbinado is great)

– 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

– 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

– 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

– 1 Cup Finely Shredded Zuchhini

– 1/3 Cup Applesauce (unsweetened, plain or with Cinnamon)

– 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

– 1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

– 2/3 Cups Water

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and in a separate bowl mix the wet, then combine. You can fill lined or greased muffin tins – this recipe makes 12 regular sized muffins, or 24 mini-muffins. It also fills a 9×13 Cake sheet for making cake like bars (I’d recommend lining it with Parchment paper first). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Feel free to add a cup of crushed Walnuts or Pecans. Dried Currants or Cranberries are another nice addition to this recipe. I’ve also successfully used Brown Rice Flour or Whole Grain Flour, but find a ratio with Refined Flour suits our tastes. And, I’m happy to share that you can substitute the Apple Sauce for 1/4 Cup Butter, or 1 egg for the 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice if you want. This recipe is really an easy, flexible one that can be modified for whatever dietary sensitivities you may have.

Mini Zucchini Muffins ready to eat!

Zucchini Lovers Recipe Resource:

I was delighted to find a local blog, Seattle Seedling, with a whole page dedicated to Zucchini Recipes! There’s 13 and counting recipes from Zucchini Risotto to Chocolate Chip Cookies (I never would have thought of that).

p.s. Shared on Simple Lives Thursday – recipe, real food info round up.