Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pumpkin Spice Muffins (free of gluten & most allergens)

This is a recipe I came up with tonight to use some of our pumpkin bounty. These muffins are egg-free, gluten-free, corn-free, vegan and non-dairy. The flaxseed takes the place of eggs and oil.

The flavor and texture are quite good, but slightly too sweet for my taste. I might try it with 1/3 cup of honey next time, adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed.

You could substitute 1 cup of any kind of gluten-free flour for the rice flour, or 2 cups of gluten-containing flour for the rice and tapioca flours. Sweet or glutinous rice flour should work as a substitute for the tapioca flour.

Brown rice syrup, agave nectar, or another sweetener should be substituted for the honey if you will be feeding the muffins to a child under 1 year of age. It's debatable whether baking destroys any potential botulism spores in honey.

If you want less of a pumpkin pie/gingerbread flavor, you can leave out some of the spices and just include the cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pan.

Blend dry ingredients:
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
3/4 tsp cream of tartar (substitute 2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added to the wet ingredients if allergic to grapes)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice (can substitute cloves)

Beat together:
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs ground flax seed, mixed with 3 Tbs hot water and cooked until gelled (you can whip this when cooled to give the muffins more lift, if desired)

Add to honey mixture:
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree, or 1 cup mashed or canned pumpkin plus 1/4 cup water

Quickly mix honey/pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients, stirring just until there are no large lumps

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cream Cheese Icing

Here's a cream cheese frosting recipe that's egg free, free of refined sugars and corn-free if you leave out the vanilla or use corn-safe flavoring.

From Desserts by Sue Gregg (Eating Better Cookbooks)


Blend together until smooth and frost completely cooled cookies or cake with:
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Banana Sweet Potato Frosting

This icing recipe is from Bridget at Never Here Again. It's egg-free, dairy-free, corn-free and free of refined sugars--hard to find in a frosting recipe!

Mix together:

1 cup mashed sweet potato
1 ripe banana (could also use amasake)
2 T maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1 t orange juice

We can't have sweet potato or maple syrup, so if anyone tries this please let me know how it is.

Carrot-Pineapple Cake

I was supposed to bring a dessert to an event a few weeks ago, so I made this carrot cake. It's pretty healthy and free of our allergens. I even gave my kids some for breakfast the next morning.

Everyone loved the cake and wanted the recipe.

Carrot Cake
recipe from Desserts by Sue Gregg (Eating Better Cookbooks)

"Light, tender, moist, and not too sweet."


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 9" x 13" or bundt pan

Cream together:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup honey

Blend in:
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups shredded carrot
1 to 1 1/4 cups crushed pineapple, drained (I used pineapple in its own juice)

Blend dry ingredients thoroughly in separate bowl:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly blend dry ingredients into creamed ingredients

Mix in:
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)

Pour into greased pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until knife comes clean out of center.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Cool thoroughly before frosting. . . .  
Makes 18 to 24 servings.

I substituted orange juice for the vanilla, or you could just leave the vanilla out to make it corn-free.

I didn't have crushed pineapple, and my can of pineapple was 24 oz. in chunks, so I just drained the chunks and put them in my food processor to crush them. I put in the whole can even though it was a little more than the recipe called for. Then the batter didn't seem quite moist enough, so I added just a bit of the pineapple juice to it.

I used King Arthur's "White" Whole Wheat Flour, and left out the walnuts.

Basic Stir-fry

Stir fry is one of the easiest and most flexible foods to make. It's really hard to ruin; you just put in random amounts of various vegetables, add a protein of some sort if desired (meat, cooked or canned beans, or chickpeas work well), fry a bit, and serve.

Or, you can take the same mixture of vegetables and throw them in a steamer for 5 or 10 minutes. Steaming gives a different flavor and texture, but is also good.

I don't own a wok, so I just use a frying pan for my stir-fry.

If I'm using meat in the stir-fry I like to toast my garlic and onion in a bit of oil the pan first so the meat picks up some of the flavor. Then I remove the garlic and onion to another dish and fry the meat, adding the garlic and onion back in with the other veggies. You can leave out the onion, garlic and oil if you need or want to; they're not really necessary at all.

Incidentally, if you use much garlic a decent garlic press is definitely worth the $5 or $10 investment. I use mine all the time. It's so much faster than mincing garlic with a knife. The trick is to rinse the mashed garlic out of the press before you put it in the dishwasher, or it will be hard to get clean.

While the meat is cooking I wash and cut up vegetables, stirring the meat frequently. I do the firmest vegetables first, because they take longest to cook.

When the meat is almost or barely done cooking, I start adding vegetables as I cut them up. I'll put in hard things like carrots, potatoes, turnips and parsnips first if I've cut them into chunks or slices. If they're grated, you can add them at the same time as the softer vegetables and they will cook faster.

In general, I add the hardest vegetables first and the most delicate vegetables last. Something like lettuce, corn or peas takes very little time to cook, so it will go in just before serving. You can throw in any leftover cooked vegetables at this time, too, and just heat them before serving.

If you are using tofu or cooked legumes, you'll want to add them with the soft vegetables or at the end of cooking so they don't get overcooked and broken up.

Kale, although it is a leafy vegetable, takes longer to cook so you'll want to add it earlier. I usually blanch broccoli for 1-2 minutes in boiling water before adding it to a stir-fry; it has a better color and texture that way, and cooks faster.

I often cover my stir-fry with a lid or some aluminum foil to help hold in the heat so it cooks more quickly and evenly. Stir frequently so the veggies don't burn. Cook just until the veggies are starting to get tender and brown a bit on the edges.

Most vegetables have quite a lot of flavor, so extra seasonings really aren't necessary, although you can add them if you like. I usually use just salt, maybe a dash of pepper, and sometimes some sesame oil.

Last night I made a stir-fry with a minced clove of garlic, about half a leek, a pound of ground veal, 4 or 5 smallish carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 4 leaves of kale, and a zucchini, all sliced thin and added in that order. It was delicious.

Other vegetables that are good in a stir-fry include turnip, jicama, parsely, cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, cooked beet, green beans, yellow squash, peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, cooked cassava/yuca, bean sprouts, lettuce or just about any vegetable you enjoy and can tolerate. Some fruits such as apples or citrus fruits add a really nice touch to a stir-fry, too.

You can serve a stir-fry over some kind of a starch or grain (noodles, spaghetti squash, rice, cubed bread, any cooked grain, or a mashed root vegetable such as potato) if you want to. Or, as we did last night, you can simply eat the stir-fry by itself.

It's a great thing for someone who doesn't cook much to try making, because it's such a simple and flexible dish.

A basic rule of thumb if you're making a stir-fry for the first time might be to choose 5 ingredients or fewer in addition to your protein and seasonings. Don't make it too complicated for yourself at first. If you add too many different things and cook it to long, you can end up muddying the flavors. It will probably still be good, but keeping things simple seems to make it even better.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Gingerbread Cookies

This gingerbread cookie recipe was a big hit at a recent birthday party we attended. Several children ate their cookies and left the cake and ice cream nearly untouched. With whole foods and no refined sugars, these cookies are a great choice.

I did use slightly more honey than the recipe called for . . . maybe a tablespoon more. My cookies were a little too sticky to roll out, so I had to add a little extra flour and dust the rolling pin and rolling surface with an extra-thick layer of flour.

I used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour. King Arthur and Gold Medal seem to be the most corn-free of the widely available commercial flours.

I made just half the batch and it made 2-3 dozen cookies.

Gingerbread People
From Desserts by Sue Gregg (Eating Better Cookbooks)

"A special holiday cookie. Children will especially enjoy making these."

Cream together:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup molasses, unsulfured or blackstrap (molasses may be problematic for some people who are highly sensitive to excitotoxins)
2 Tablespoons honey

Beat in:
4 eggs

Blend together in separate bowl:
4 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture thoroughly but do not overmix.

Wrap in wax paper and chill for 1 hour.

Roll dough small amounts at a time 1/8" to 1/4" thick. Cut dough with gingerbread cookie cutter.

Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Ice when completely cooled, and decorate with raisins and red hots.

The cookies could be made non-dairy by substituting another fat for the butter. I like to use palm kernel or coconut oil to substitute for solid oils (like butter, margarine, shortening) because they are non-hydrogenated oils that are solid at room temperature.

There is a recipe for icing, but I didn't try it . . . it contains a lot of dairy products. We used a different frosting.

I would suggest dried fruit, nuts and puffed grains as decorations instead of candy.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hypoallergenic Fruit Waffles or Pancakes

This is an original (and I think rather unique) recipe I created today. I'm still tweaking it quite a bit, so please do share your comments, experiences and variations.

This recipe is completely free of all common allergens as well as being gluten-free and vegan. The baking soda reacts with the slight acidity of the fruit to provide leavening, so no baking powder or other acid is necessary. The flax seed takes the place of both eggs and oil. I made my waffles with water, but substituting fruit juice would give them a stronger and sweeter flavor.

You can, of course, substitute types of flour and fruit freely for different tastes. Just use any combination of flours to make a total 1 cup of flour per batch. A gluten-containing flour will probably rise more than rice or other gluten-free flour will. With the gluten-free recipe you'll want to fill your waffle iron or other container almost full, as it rises just a little.

Basic Fruit Quick Bread

Mix together and set aside:

2 Tbs. flaxseed meal (ground flax seed)
1/4 cup very hot water

In large bowl combine:

1/4 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda)
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt (additive-free salt--no iodine added!--is a must if you're allergic to corn)

To dry ingredients, add

1 cup fruit puree * or all-natural applesauce
Flaxseed mixture
1/4 to 1/2 cup water or fruit juice

Mix just until blended. Bake in waffle iron.

Makes about 2 large waffles or 4 small waffles. These are dense and filling.

* The amount of fruit puree does not have to be quite exact. You'll want to adjust the amount of added liquid accordingly.

To make fruit puree: core and (if desired) peel a large pear and puree in blender with 1/4 cup water or fruit juice or amount needed to process. Slicing the fruit before processing helps the blender work better. You can also use other fruits (apple or banana work well) or a combination of fruits.

Suggested add-ins: 1 tsp-1 Tbs honey or other sweetener, 1/4-1/2 tsp. spice such as cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg.


If you are not greasing your waffle iron in any way, you'll probably do better to use the lesser amount of water listed, as the batter sticks less if it's stiffer. Just heap it onto the waffle iron with a spoon. My waffle iron takes about a cup of batter to fill it.

For a fluffier waffle, cook the 2 tbs. flaxseed with 1/4 cup water until gelled, then cool to room or refrigerator temperature and whip as you would egg whites (you can add 1/8 cup (3 Tbs) more water if needed). It won't beat up like egg whites, but it will retain some air bubbles and get a bit fluffy.

If you use a gluten-containing flour and are going to grease the waffle iron, try cutting the flaxseed meal down to 1 Tablespoon in 1/4 cup of hot water. You can use the smaller amount of flax with the rice flour, too--it still works, but yields a batter that is a little more grainy.

To make other breads:

For pancakes, simply add more water to reach desired consistency and fry in nonstick pan.

I expect this recipe could be baked in muffin tins or a bread pan as well, but I haven't figured out the temperature and time exactly yet.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Banana Waffles

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks . . . a two-volume set I picked up at a little antique shop. Originally printed in 1947, mine is from the 9th printing--Dec 1957. Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking.

It has a lot of great recipes in it you won't find elsewhere--everything from baked quinces to stewed possum.

Banana Waffles

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp D.A. baking powder (or 3 1/2 tsp tartrate or phosphate type)--make sure your baking powder is safe for your dietary restrictions, or use a substitite.
1 Tbs sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup oil or melted butter
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)

Sift flour, measure and resift 3 times with remaining dry ingredients.

Beat eggs, add milk and shortening. Pour into dry ingredients, add bananas and beat until smooth.

Use 1/2 cup batter for each waffle. Bake in a hot waffle iron until golden brown. Serve immediately with butter and hot syrup.

Makes six 7-inch waffles.

It's a pretty foolproof recipe. I substitute freely (non-dairy milk, various kinds of flour, oil instead of the melted shortening called for in the original recipe) and don't bother with the sifting part (just stir dry ingredients together and use a hand-mixer to blend in the wet ones).

For real decadence, add safe chocolate chips!

Be sure to use corn-free baking powder if you're allergic to corn.

If you want the waffles really fluffy, separate the eggs, beat the whites and fold them in last. I haven't yet tried substituting anything for the eggs, but I plan to try it soon with ground flaxseed instead of eggs.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eggless Banana Bread

The girls and I have made this banana bread quite a few times. My 4- and 5-year-olds are able to do much of it themselves, with a little help. The 1-year-old likes to watch and help eat it.

The recipe is from a 1970's Sesame Street Library book, Volume 14.

Big Bird's Banana Bread
Here is what you will need:
3 peeled ripe bananas
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 big bowl
1 big wooden spoon
1 fork
1 bread pan (rub some cooking oil around the inside of it)
1 wire cooling rack
1 measuring cup
1 set of measuring of spoons

Here's what you need a grown up to do:

1. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.

2. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a pan.

Here's what you do:

1. Put the peeled bananas in a bowl.

2. Mash up the bananas with the back of a fork.

3. Add the melted butter.

4. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup honey.

5. Stir everything in the bowl with the big spoon. Stir until everything is mixed together.

6. Pour the mix into the oiled bread pan.

7. Bake for 1 hour.

8. After 1 hour, put a toothpick in the bread. Is there some bread on the toothpick when you pull it out? If there is, let the bread cook for a little while longer. If there is no bread on the toothpick when you pull it out, the bread is done! Ask your grown up helper to take the bread out of the oven. They need to take the bread out of the pan and put it on the wire rack.

10. When the bread is cool, cut it up and share it with your neighbors!

The bread is dense, very sweet and a little gooey. It holds together quite well even without eggs, because the bananas and the honey are so sticky.

I used a silicone bread pan, which turned out a beautiful loaf with no need to grease the pan.

The honey we used was orange blossom honey, which gave it a very nice and slightly fruity flavor (and also cuts down on the chances of their being any corn pollen or nectar in the honey).

If you substituted oil for the butter, it could be a completely vegan recipe, and other types of flour could easily be substituted to make it gluten-free.

The girls absolutely love it, and M&M literally cried when it was gone last time. We shared a few slices with the neighbors and ate up the rest within minutes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Breakfast Banana Splits or Apple Surprise

Even my child going through the "I-don't-like-anything" stage loves to eat this for breakfast. I also serve it as a lunch, snack or dessert.

Breakfast Banana Splits

Put a banana, cut in half the long way, into a bowl. Spoon plain yogurt on top. Layer on fresh or canned fruit, if desired.

Drizzle honey, maple syrup or other sweetener over the mixture (optional). Add a small handful of uncooked rolled oats (quinoa flakes or puffed millet would work well for a gluten-free version). This is good topped with a sprinkling of chopped nuts or seeds if you can tolerate them.

You can combine all different types of ingredients for this, just like for a sundae.

For instance, you can turn it into Apple Surprise this way:

Substitute a fresh grated apple or pear for the banana. Soak 2-4 tablespoons of grain flakes in about twice the quantity of water (cold water overnight, or boiling water for 2-5 minutes), then mix it all together with 2 tablespoons of yogurt and a teaspoon of honey.

Add other fruit or berries if desired. Top with chopped nuts (I like roasted almonds) or puffed grain such as rice, amaranth or millet.

To make the Apple Surprise non-dairy, you can substitute rice milk or rice yogurt for the yogurt. If you can tolerate soy, silken tofu or soy yogurt would probably work as well.

I use Trader Joe's plain yogurt. The only ingredients are milk and active cultures. My corn-allergic daughter can tolerate the cow's milk yogurt but not the goat milk yogurt (the goats are fed corn). Brown Cow brand yogurt contains fruit-derived pectin and seems to be corn-safe (but avoid pectin if you're allergic to apples!).

The possible combinations are endless. Use your imagination!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pumpkin Muffins

All three of my kids devoured these muffins and asked for more. They are really good--moist, flavorful but not too spicy, and tasty but not too sweet.

Pumpkin Gems
from Soups & Muffins by Sue Gregg (Eating Better Cookbooks)

"These are great for snack or dessert as well as for meals. Good hot or cold."


AMOUNT: 10 large or 12 medium
Oven: 350 degrees preheated
Bake: 20 to 25 minutes

1. Spray muffin pan with no-stick cooking spray (or grease with oil or shortening--I used non-hydrogenated palm kernel oil shortening)

2. Blend together thoroughly with wire whisk in large mixing bowl:
1 egg (or 2 egg whites, or 1/4 cup egg substitite)
1/3 cup honey (you could substitute another sweetener)

3. Blend in:
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1/4 cup water

4. Blend dry ingredients together in separate bowl
2 cups whole wheat flour (or whatever type of flour you prefer--you may need to adjust liquid amounts for other types)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I substituted rolled oats and added a bit more liquid)

5. Blend dry ingredients into liquid ingredients just until mixed. Do not overmix!

5. Fill muffin cups almost full. Fill any empty cups half full of water.

7. Bake at 35 degrees for 20 minutes.

8. Cool muffins in pan for 5 to 10 minutes for easy removal with slight tug on side of each muffin.

I had already pureed my baked pumpkin with enough water to make it work in the blender. So instead of using mashed pumpkin and water, I just used pumpkin puree without adding water. Since I was substituting rolled oats for the nuts, I put in 1 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree--oats absorb more liquid than nuts do.

I heaped the measuring spoon on the cinnamon a bit and put in just a bit less nutmeg than it called for--maybe 1/4 teaspoon less--to cater to my family's tastes.

I baked them in a mini bundt pan instead of a muffin tin, so the recipe made 6 baby bundt cakes. They really did pull off the sides of the pan with a tug as the recipe said. I tipped them on their sides to allow steam to escape while they cooled, so they wouldn't get soggy.

Then I refrigerated them in zippered plastic bags and reheated them for breakfast this morning. They were quite good reheated. I think they would freeze well, too.

The muffins are fabulous. We ate the entire batch, and I'm going to have to make a double batch next time if I want any to freeze.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Brown Sugar Cake

This brown sugar cake is a recipe from Tastes of Country, a cookbook by Frances A. Gillette. Almost every recipe I've tried from this cookbook has been fabulous--I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on a copy.

Quick Cake
A rich brown sugar taste. Rose Merne makes this cake often.

1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 2/3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder (info. on safe baking powder ) 
1 tsp. vanilla

Put ingredients into bowl in order given and do not stir until all have been added. Beat 3 minutes. Bake in buttered pan for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Nuts or raisins may be added, if desired.

I sometimes cut down on the sugar a bit, and I always substitute rice milk for the milk. C & H brand brown sugar seems to be corn-free, and if you can't find corn-free vanilla you could substitute maple syrup or just leave it out.

Whole-wheat or an alternative flour could be used in this recipe. Depending on your needs, you could probably substitute shortening, margarine or oil for the butter and still get decent results.

This cake is wonderful by itself or with frosting, ice cream or whipped topping.

Swope Bread

If you like homemade bread but don't have time to wait for yeast bread to rise, try this recipe I discovered on the back of a Bob's Red Mill flour sack. It's yeast-free, but breadlike enough to make sandwiches.

If you make it with brown or turbinado sugar, it has a sweet, nutty flavor slightly akin to the flavor of Raisin Bran without the raisins (although it would be quite good with raisins added!). It's very nice toasted, with butter and honey on it.

A long-time customer of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods shares her "so easy it's laughable" recipe with us. It makes wonderful bread for toast. She calls it:

Swope Bread

4 cups Bob's Red Mill stone ground whole wheat flour
2 cups Bob's Red Mill unbleached white flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 quart buttermilk
4 tsp baking soda
2 bread pans, greased

Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large mixing bowl mix first 4 ingredients. In a separate bowl mix baking soda and buttermilk. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Pour into bread pans and smooth tops of loaves. Place in center of oven. Turn oven down to 350° and bake approximately 50 minutes. Turn out and cool on wire rack.

I substitute rice milk soured with a bit of lemon juice for the buttermilk. You can do the same thing with regular milk--put in about a tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar per cup of buttermilk you need and fill up the rest with milk or your milk substitute. Use whatever type of flour is safe for you--I use King Arthur whole wheat, and King Arthur white whole wheat flour instead of the BRM flour.

Be careful when you mix the baking soda with the acidic milk--it will foam up!

Note: Corn-allergic readers, please be aware that some have complained about higher-than-usual incidence of corn cross-contamination with Bob's Red Mill products. 

Simple Soup Stock

Broth or stock is the basic ingredient in soup making, and is also used in many recipes.

You can, of course, make a soup with just water and your soup ingredients. In most recipes, you can simply substitute water (and salt, if desired) for the broth called for. Or, for a meaty-tasting vegan option, add a tablespoon or more of nutritional yeast.

That works just fine, despite what the bouillon cube and soup stock manufacturers would have you believe. Most commercial bouillon or soup stock is mostly water and salt, anyway.

But for an extra nice, rich flavor boost to your soup, you can easily make your own soup stock.

The very easiest way to make stock is to simply take the leftover liquid from cooking meat or vegetables and condense it. You can add salt and other seasonings if you like, or just use the liquid as is.

Condensing the stock is easy. Just put the liquid into a pot and simmer it slowly with the lid off until it's half or less of its original volume. The more the water evaporates, the more condensed and stronger-flavored your stock will be.

This will take several hours, so you can just leave it to simmer while you're doing other things. I usually set my burner at 1 or 2 on a scale of 10 for this. As long as the broth level isn't getting too low, I've even gone to sleep or left the house while broth is simmering on a back burner of my electric stove. A flat-topped woodburning stove is great for simmering things over a long period of time, too.

Once it's condensed enough for your tastes, take the pan off the burner and let it cool. If it's a meat-based broth, you'll probably want to chill the stock and scrape the fat off the top before doing anything else with it. The fat can be saved and used as your oil or shortening in cooking later.

I like to freeze my condensed broth into ice cube trays to use as a substitute for bouillon cubes. After the cubes freeze, I store them in a labeled container and can take out exactly the quantity I need for use in recipes.

Remember that the flavor will be stronger than the original broth, so you'll most likely want to add water if the recipe calls for broth or soup stock instead of boullion. I usually use between 1 and 3 cubes per cup of water.

I like to cook chicken by covering it with water and simmering it until done, so I usually condense and use the water and juices left in the pan this way. Sometimes I do it right away just by leaving the pan on the stove after I remove the chicken. Other times I put it the broth in the refrigerator for a day or so until I get a chance to condense it.

You can make an even more flavorful broth from scratch.

The basic idea is that you simmer meat and/or vegetables in a quantity of water until the flavor and many of the nutritional qualities of the other ingredients have seeped into the water. You can use just about any combination of one or more ingredients for this. Many people like to keep a container in their freezer and dump leftover bits of meat and/or veggies into it until it's full, and then use that to make their soup.

If you are starting a meat-based broth from scratch, it's nice to use the bones if you have them. You can roast them in the oven at 375 or so until browned for a richer flavor, if you like, but that's not necessary.

If possible, it's a good idea to crack or break the bones to allow the calcium to escape into the broth. If you're buying soup bones from the butcher, ask to have them cracked or cut up. Adding a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar will help draw the calcium from the bones into your broth.

Put the bones and/or meat into the pan and add enough water to cover them with at least a half-inch of water over the bones. Then add the vinegar, if desired, and whatever spices you want. Anything other than the meat or bones and water is completely optional.

For most broths you can add some salt (I use unrefined sea salt) at the beginning if desired. If you are cooking legumes (beans or dried peas) the salt will make them tough, so you'll want to add any salt toward the end of cooking.

All you do is bring the water to a gentle boil, then turn it down to a simmer so that it's just barely or almost boiling. You want to simmer it for at least an hour or two, but the longer you simmer it the stronger the flavor. Any longer than 12 to 24 hours, though, and you're going to start getting a bitter flavor and degenerating quality. I recommend 1 to 4 hours for vegetable stock and 2 to 8 hours for meat broths.

You may need to add water occasionally to keep the bones or vegetables covered during cooking.

Once you think you've simmered it long enough to get most of the flavor out of the ingredients, remove the meat or vegetables from the water. You can taste them to see if they're getting rather flavorless; if they are it's time to take them out. If you want to use them in a soup, you'll want to cook the broth for a shorter amount of time so that the meat or vegetables still have some flavor.

Now you may want to strain your broth to get out any chunks. Straining is optional, but because you're cooking this for so long, any chunks will not have much flavor by the time you eat them. If you have shards of bone in your broth, straining is not optional. You don't want bone slivers in your soup.

Next, return the liquid to the pot and condense it as described above.

This broth is healthier and much cheaper than anything you'd buy at the store.

Baking Powder and Substitutes

Here are several ways to make baked goods rise without using corn or other allergens, with hypoallergenic baking powder or other substitutes:

Corn-Free Baking Powder from The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook by Marilyn Gioannini

"It is easy and economical to make your own baking powder. The basic ingredients are cream of tartar and baking soda. Cream of tartar is an acid, and baking soda is a base, and when they are mixed with liquid, bubbles form. Arrowroot powder is added to help keep it free-flowing. If the mixture cakes, mash it with your finger in the measuring spoon.

"To make your own corn=free baking powder, mix together 2 parts cream of tartar, 1 part baking soda, and 2 parts arrowroot powder. Store in an airtight container, and substitute in any recipe calling for baking powder. It is more economical to buy cream of tartar and arrowroot powder at a natural foods store, especially if they are sold in bulk.

"This is a single-acting baking powder. That is, all of the rising occurs as soon as the liquid is added to the dry ingredients. For best results, mix all of the dry ingredients well, mix the wet ingredients separately, and have the pan and oven ready to go before mixing them together. Keep mixing to a minimum."

I believe you can also use tapioca flour, potato flour, or another kind of starch instead of the arrowroot.

Or you can just leave out the starch altogether and substitute 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp. baking soda for each teaspoon of baking power called for in the recipe.

If you are allergic to grapes or glutamates, you should be aware that cream of tartar (a.k.a tartaric acid) is a grape-derived acid salt that is a byproduct of the fermentation in wine-making.

You can often substitute vinegar (but not white vinegar if you're allergic to corn) , lemon juice or any other edible acid for cream of tartar in recipes. You'd use 3 parts vinegar or fresh lemon juice to substitute for 1 part cream of tartar, and would probably need to lessen the amount of other liquids in the recipe accordingly.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Why this blog, and who is Purple_Kangaroo?

I like to cook, and I tend to be a bit of a gourmet.

Unfortunately, I come from a family with extensive food (as well as environmental) allergies and intolerances. That's given me a lot of experience creating and modifying recipes to be appropriate for special diets free of various allergens, sodium, yeast-feeding foods, and other elements.

I really enjoy being creative in the kitchen. Writing a food blog for me is a challenge, as I rarely actually measure anything and tend to throw in "a little of this, and a little of that" and find it difficult to remember or duplicate a dish later unless I write it down right away. So keeping the blog is partly for myself--a reminder to write down what I did when we liked a recipe so that I can duplicate (or at least approximate) it again in the future.

It's very difficult to find resources and recipes for dealing with food allergies, especially to foods other than the top 8 allergens. Since I started this blog, we've gone through some changes in the way we eat, which will be reflected in the recipes from each time period.

I had to learn to be creative to a whole new level for the sake of my highly allergic third child, Baby E. She was very sensitive to corn and soy, and also did not digest sugars (especially fructose) well. She has grown out of all but a mild dietary fructose intolerance (she has trouble digesting large amounts of apples or fresh pears, which have a high fructose-to-glucose ratio).

For a brief period of time Baby E and I were on an elimination diet which her doctor recommended, starting with only chicken, rice, bananas, broccoli and pears (ironically enough, the pears later turned out to be a problematic food because of the high fructose-to-glucose ratio), and then adding and subtracting foods trying to figure out which foods were problematic for her. So there are several recipes here with very limited ingredients.

My oldest child and I are lactose-intolerant, so while we can tolerate some foods like butter, raw goat milk and small amounts of yogurt or kefir, most of the recipes here tend to avoid large amounts of dairy products.

Currently I avoid excititoxins (quite an extensive list of ingredients that includes MSG, modified food starch, "natural flavors", artificial sugars, and prepackaged foods like canned soups, as well as foods naturally very high in aspartates and glutamates such as peanuts, brewer's yeast, seaweed and soy). I am on the sensitive end of the excitotoxin spectrum, but since even natural foods can contain some level of excitotoxins you will have to use your own judgment about whether the recipes are safe for you or not.

Most of the foods we eat are free of refined sugars, refined bleached grains, and artificial or processed foods. In general, most recipes posted here will be corn-free, soy-free and often dairy-free. Many of the recipes here are also free of nightshades, gluten, legumes, dairy, and other common allergens. Some of them are Nourishing Traditions-style recipes (tagged NT-style) with soaked grain, raw ingredients, bone broth and high-enzyme foods.

But since we didn't go excitotoxin-free until late 2009, many of the recipes from before that time will contain excitoxins (such as the modified tapioca starch in the Chebe Bread recipes).

I'm going to start by posting some recipes I've used, created or modified. I'm hoping that eventually readers will pitch in to contribute their own recipes, help test and modify other recipes, and contribute to the conversation. I also envision taking requests to find or develop recipes that fit certain dietary restrictions. Hopefully, this blog will become a helpful resource for those with dietary restrictions and those cooking for them.

Feel free to make requests or suggestions in the comments or by dropping me an e-mail at the address in my profile. I'd also love to hear how the recipes work for you, and enjoy hearing about any modifications you make. E-mails or comments always make my day, and often inspire me to try a new recipe or start posting again after a hiatus.