Category Archives: Food

Sacrificial Celebration Cake to honor one month in Indianapolis.

Making cake

Mixing the ingredients.

A month ago today, our family arrived in Indianapolis. We wanted celebrate somehow and when Sandra Dodd brought up her page on cake as sacrifice, a page I’d read before but particularly spoke to me this time, we decided to make a cake today. We’ve been calling it the “Sacrificial Celebration Cake”.

This cake was a bit of a sacrifice. Kai put in a lot of hard work making this cake (I helped, but only minimally). And then, there’s the cost of the ingredients (because, with our food allergies, cake is not cheap – and money is tight right now). But also, there’s the concept doing something specifically to honor something that’s pretty big for us.

Making cake

Decorating the cake.

Note: this is not in any way a “religious offering”, but I do think that it does people to good to honor and celebrate things – big events, rites of passage, even just the passing of time. So we’re celebrating. Because we can and because it makes us happy.

Sacrificial celebration cake

Happiness is making a Sacrificial Celebration Cake… at least it is today, anyway.

And even though we’ve had some struggles getting here, we’re happy to be here.

Eggnog Fudge!

The boy likes to help me cook. Especially when the end result is something sweet.

Helping me make eggnog fudge. December 18, 2013

And who WOULDN’T smile about eggnog fudge? It’s super delicious and tasty. But I do have to warn you… it’s very rich. Like Daddy Warbucks rich, but in candy. I can eat a LOT of sweets, but I could only have a piece and a half of this and not big ones, either!

We had to let this sit a day, to let the flavor develop. Otherwise, it tastes mainly like white chocolate, with a bit of eggnog. But man, oh, man. The flavor is WORTH IT.

Eggnog Fudge

Eggnog Fudge

Ingredients
2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup eggnog
1 12 ounce bag of white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
One 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon rum extract or vanilla extract – I used rum

Directions

  1. Measure everything out, even your extract and nutmeg, ahead of time. You’ll use lots of tiny cups this way but your fudge will be better for it.
  2. Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan (okay, mine is actually rectangular and a weird measurement – this measurement is more common) with foil and let it hang over the sides to make vague handles. Butter the foil. Butter it well or the foil will stick to the fudge!
  3. In a heavy, 3-quart saucepan combine sugar, butter, and eggnog. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir. Stir. Stir. Some recipes make you use a thermometer. I don’t think that’s necessary, as long as you keep it over medium to low heat, keep it boiling, and STIR.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, work quickly to stir in white chocolate chips and nutmeg until chocolate is melted and smooth. Once it is smooth, stir in the marshmallow creme and extract. Beat until well blended and then pour into your well-prepared pan. Let stand at room temperature until cooled and solidified. I recommend waiting 24 hours before eating to give the flavor time to develop.
  5. When completely cool, use the “handles” to pull the fudge out of the pan, and cut into squares. Store in a covered container, separated by layers of waxed paper if need be. I hear this freezes well. I wouldn’t know. Ours won’t last that long. But you can sure try it.
  6. Nom and enjoy.

I doubt I actually have to say this, but boiling sugar stuff is hot. Please do be careful.

Reason Number 78,935,767 That I Love My Husband: He Makes Yummy Food

Joe made these!

Brownie, PB cup, and chocolate chip cookie.

There’s been an image floating around Facebook that uses pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough, PB cups, and brownie batter in a brownie pan to make square-shaped baked goods. We can’t use the premade stuff (see also: usually full of gluten) but he made a version we can have, using a muffin tin.

It was glorious.

If you’re wanting to do this yourself, bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Use any cookie dough, pb cup (I wonder if you could do this with Rolos and get a caramel center?), and any brownie batter. Then revel in the tastiness.

Banana-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, Made With Almond Butter

Banana-chocolate chip oatmeal. Made with almond butter.

I have made cookies like this off and on for years. I used to make them when I was vegan – mainly just banana and quick cooking oatmeal, sometimes with peanut butter, sometimes with other goodies thrown in.

But I stopped when I went gluten-free. Because gluten-free oats were hard to find. And expensive.

But… Kai wanted oatmeal, to see what it was like. We got some, gluten free, and it’s… not his thing. Not as breakfast cereal, anyway. But not expensive either. I mean, they’re more expensive than regular oats, but not like some gluten free items are. (For the record: I use Bob’s Red Mill certified gluten-free oats.)

Recently, a Lifehacker post reminded me about these cookies. (They do something a bit different, but very similar.) I decided to try them again.

There’s no real recipe. It’s more like a formula.

First, the oatmeal: if it isn’t quick-cooking, you’ll want to blend about half of if in the blender until it’s powder. (Money-saving hint: if you were to just scoop this stuff into plastic baggies, you’d pay a lot less for “instant oatmeal”. Add some flavoring-type-goodies and you’re set. But I digress.) Tonight, I made twelve big-ish cookies and used two cups of oats (I added more towards the end… you’ll see). I powdered about half of that and dumped it and the unpowdered oatmeal into a big bowl.

I added a cup of Pamela’s baking mix, which, for those of you who can eat real food don’t have a bunch of silly allergies, would be similar to baking mix. Before I was gluten free, I’d do this with a cup of flour and a teaspoon of baking powder. But last week I left the flour out entirely. So, you know. Whatever floats your boat.

Then, I grabbed some bananas. Tonight, it was three. I got the “reduced for quick sale” bananas which are VERY good for this. Just make sure your bananas are starting to brown up. They’re super sweet that way. I threw them in the blend with some vanilla extract. (Btw… am I the only person whose mother used the cap as a measuring device for extract? I didn’t realize until I was an adult that some people actually measured theirs.) I added two eggs .Blend until liquidy. When I made these last week, I did NOT add eggs. I think I added a bit of water, but mostly, I just blended, scraped, blended again, etc. Bananas are a good substitute for eggs, by the way. As is flax meal mixed with some water.

Now, really, you do not have to make these with bananas. I’ve made them with applesauce. I’ve made them with pumpkin. I’ve used babyfood (fruit, you know? I bet you could do it with veggies though.)

At this point, I looked over at the oven and silently cussed at it: not on. You want to preheat to 350F.

Dump your “blended fruit” into the bowl. Mix together.

Add nut butter! This gives it some protein and fat and helps things stick together. I used almond butter because Kai always looks at it suspiciously when I put it on a sandwich, so it sits in my fridge and I try to use it when I can. Plus almonds are good. They’re also less likely to trigger an allergic reaction that can kill someone (airborne, anyway) – unlike peanuts, which I have become increasingly paranoid about eating in public due to the whole “peanut allergies don’t joke around” business. I would say I probably used half a cup. But my almond butter is really really REALLY runny. You could use less if it were a thick nut butter.

And then, for fun, I like to add chocolate chips. Because it makes Kai more likely to eat the cookies. And I like chocolate, too. A lot.

Stir that stuff up. Tonight, mine was, for whatever reason, fairly runny. So I added more oats until it “seemed right” – about a minute. You should be able to scoop it up with a wooden spoon.

Put on a cookie sheet. You can see that I line mine with parchment paper – I spray that with cooking spray usually. Two reasons I use parchment: I used to not have a cooling rack, so this made cookies easier to slide off the pan so they didn’t burn. But! The reason I use them now is because I do not have a Silpat. If you’ve never used one (I used to use them in culinary school), those things make sure your cookies don’t stick. So does parchment paper.

Bake these cookes for 10 to 12 minutes.

Then, tell yourself it’s a healthy cookie. A healthy breakfast cookie. Well, it’s healthier than most muffins or sugary breakfast cereals, anyway.

Please note: I have to give credit where credit is due. A long time ago (ugh… a very long time ago now), I used to buy the “Cheap Vegan” zine. WONDERFUL vegan zine. There was a recipe in one issue called “Pick-Yer-Poision” cookies. You can find the recipe here. These cookies are what developed out of that recipe for me. I do not know if there is anywhere to buy these zines and that, my friends, is a very sad thing. She had several different “Pick-Yer-Poision” recipes, like quickbreads and such (I think). Mine are… long gone. Sadly. Anyway, thanks to Stephanie Scarborough for the basis for this wonderful recipe (which I do often make vegan… just not tonight).

Super Easy Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatball

Super Easy Porcupine Meatballs

  • 3 cups COOKED rice
  • 0.5 – 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 – 1.5 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix everything together.
  3. Roll into balls (I used a tablespoon as a scoop). Using the tablespoon as a scoop means that they’re small enough to pick up with your hands if you want without being TOO small. And they’re all the same size.
  4. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray (or use oil) and place meatballs on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked through.
  6. Consider serving with ketchup.

This is not what I normally see as a “porcupine meatball” recipe. But I’m lazy I needed something I knew would be not crunchy, as Kai looks at crunchy foods that are not chips with much suspicion (that’s actually true – but so is the lazy part, although maybe not, because I had to cook the rice first).

MOST people seem to do this with raw rice. And no cheese. And covered in tomato sauce. While I will try that one day, the day I made the poorly photographed meatball above was NOT the day for that kind of adventure. This way is also quicker if you, like me, usually keep leftover rice frozen in your freezer. The other way cooks for an hour.

And, you guys, this is totally NOT in any way an exact science. If you like spicy food, throw in red pepper flakes. You could make “taco” ones with different spices (that sounds good, actually). Or, serve with another sauce.

But there you have it. Gluten-free, MSG-free, super easy, fairly quick porcupine meatballs.

Minecraft Cakes!

For Kai’s birthday, Joe and I wanted to do a Minecraft cake for him, because Kai loves Minecraft. (For those of you who have not yet heard about Minecraft, you can find out about it here.)This proved to be more difficult than we had imagined.

First, we needed supplies. We’re gluten-free, so that is even more challenging than normal. We ended up going to Fred Meyer, to Joann’s, and to a local cake decorating store. Now, this cake decorating store? I love what you can get there, but it’s like walking into a hoarding cache of cake supplies. Everything was so difficult to find. We ended up getting the dye we needed (both black and white), then had to head back to Joann’s (we’d seen some Colorburst Bits that we wanted to get). After the running-around craziness was done, it was time to actually bake.

We made two cakes, one colored grey (stone), the other chocolate (dirt). We also mixed in some color bits to the grey (for diamond or lapis lazuli, redstone, and chocolate sprinkles for coal), to make cupcakes.

Cupcakes

Then, Joe got to work cutting.

Joe, making the cake

My husband, by the way, is very meticulous. Very.
Organized cake station

See?

So, he built this cake, glued together with jam.

Cake, before disaster

BUT (dun dun dun)… we forgot the frosting. (Ugh.) So, he tried using the only frosting we had in the house: pecan frosting (a la german chocolate cake frosting).

DISASTER HAPPENED.
Disaster

Actually, this was good, in a way, though. Because we thought we’d try the cake.

AWFUL.

It was soooooo sweet we could not eat it. JAM IS TOO SWEET.

Not to be deterred, we pressed forward. More cake making. Different plan: we would make a twice-baked cake so that the stone would be nestled inside the chocolate cake.

Once again, Joe cut the grey cake. I put in the pan, poured chocolate cake batter over it, and baked it.

 

Attempt two

And this is what it looked like after the twice baking.

Twice-baked

After it was cooled, it got frosted with green (grass, you know). And a creeper face.
Kai's Cake (actual day of)

And this is what the inside looked like.Inside cake

So, that was the first cake. It worked well! Kai was happy. YAY!It's a hit

Kai was so happy with it, in fact, that for the (family) party on Saturday, he told me he wanted lots of Minecraft-related things on his cake. We compromised. Creeper face and a skeleton face. And even though I think it looks horrible, Kai loved it. And that’s what matters.

Cake for the party.

Oh, and by the way, for those of you keeping track, that’s NINE boxes of cake mix in all (one chocolate, one vanilla for the first, two chocolate and one vanilla for the other two). (And, yes, we used mixes because, you know, gluten-free cake is a lot of work to do from scratch and we were more concerned about the outside. We’d tried the cake mixes before and knew they worked well.)

If you’re going to double-bake a cake like this, I suggest slightly underbaking the first cake, so it doesn’t dry out. I noticed a difference from the first one to the second one, but neither was particularly bad.

The Minecraft cake was not a lie. But, now, we’re pretty done with cake for a while.

That Which Shall Not Be Eaten. (Or… a list of a food intolerances.)

Joe and I have some food sensitivities. When I say “We’re hard to cook for”, there’s a reason for that.

Anything containing nitrites
Anything pickled
Any meat that has been slow cooked or aged
Leftovers more than a day old, possibly two
Aged Cheeses
Abyssinian Hard (Wheat triticum durum)
Wheat Protein
Atta Flour
Barley Grass (can contain seeds)
Barley Hordeum vulgare
Barley Malt
Beer (most contain barley or wheat)
Bleached Flour
Bran
bread Flour
Brewer’s Yeast
Brown Flour
Bulgur (Bulgar Wheat/Nuts)
Bulgur Wheat
Cereal Binding
Chilton
Club Wheat (Triticum aestivum subspecies compactum)
Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Cookie Crumbs
Cookie Dough
Cookie Dough Pieces
Couscous
Criped Rice
Dinkle (Spelt)
Disodium Wheatgermamido Peg-2 Sulfosuccinate
Durum wheat (Triticum durum)
Edible Coatings
Edible Films
Edible Starch
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum)
Emmer (Triticum dicoccon)
Enriched Bleached Flour
Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour
Enriched Flour
Farina
Farina Graham
Farro
Filler
Flour (normally this is wheat)
Fu (dried wheat gluten)
Germ
Graham Flour
Granary Flour
Groats (barley, wheat)
Hard Wheat
Heeng
Hing
Hordeum Vulgare Extract
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Kamut (pasta wheat)
Kecap Manis (Soy Sauce)
Ketjap Manis (Soy Sauce)
Kluski Pasta
Maida (Indian wheat flour)
Malt
Malted Barley Flour
Malted Milk
Malt Extract
Malt Syrup
Malt Flavoring
Malt Vinegar
Macha Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Matza
Matzah
Matzo
Matzo Semolina
Meringue
Meripro 711
Mir
Nishasta
Oriental Wheat (Triticum turanicum)
Orzo Pasta
Pasta
Pearl Barley
Persian Wheat (Triticum carthlicum)
Perungayam
Poulard Wheat (Triticum turgidum)
Polish Wheat (Triticum polonicum)
Rice Malt (if barley or Koji are used)
Roux
Rusk
Rye
Seitan
Semolina
Semolina Triticum
Shot Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Small Spelt
Spirits (Specific Types)
Spelt (Triticum spelta)
Sprouted Wheat or Barley
Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Strong Flour
Suet in Packets
Tabbouleh
Tabouli
Teriyaki Sauce
Timopheevi Wheat (Triticum timopheevii)
Triticale X triticosecale
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
Udon (wheat noodles)
Unbleached Flour
Vavilovi Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Vital Wheat Gluten
Wheat, Abyssinian Hard triticum durum
Wheat amino acids
Wheat Bran Extract
Wheat, Bulgur
Wheat Durum Triticum
Wheat Germ Extract
Wheat Germ Glycerides
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat Germamidopropyldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Wheat Grass (can contain seeds)
Wheat Nuts
Wheat Protein
Wheat Triticum aestivum
Wheat Triticum Monococcum
Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Bran Extract
Whole-meal Flour
Wild Einkorn (Triticum boeotictim)
Wild Emmer (Triticum dicoccoides)
Glutamic acid (E 620)2, Glutamate (E 620)
Monosodium glutamate (E 621)
Monopotassium glutamate (E 622)
Calcium glutamate (E 623)
Monoammonium glutamate (E 624)
Magnesium glutamate (E 625)
Natrium glutamate
Yeast extract
Anything “hydrolyzed”
Any “hydrolyzed protein”
Calcium caseinate, Sodium caseinate
Yeast food, Yeast nutrient
Autolyzed yeast
Gelatin, depending on how it is “harvested”
Textured protein
Soy protein, soy protein concentrate
Soy protein isolate
Whey protein, whey protein concentrate
Whey protein isolate
High fructose corn syrup
Anything “…protein”
Vetsin
Ajinomoto
Carrageenan (E 407)
Bouillon and broth
Stock
Any “flavors” or “flavoring” (potentially… a few are okay)
Maltodextrin
Citric acid, Citrate (E 330)
Anything “ultra-pasteurized”
Barley malt
Pectin (E 440)
Protease
Anything “enzyme modified”
Anything containing “enzymes”
Malt extract
Soy sauce
Soy sauce extract (like Vegemite or Marmite)
Anything “protein fortified”
Anything “fermented”
Seasonings, depending on what’s in them
Fermented sausages: pepperoni, salami, mortadella, summer sausage, etc.
Non-fresh or improperly stored meat, fish, poultry or pickled herring.
Aged cheeses: e.g. Blue, Brick, Brie, Cheddar, Swiss, Roquefort, Stilton, Parmesan, Provolone, Emmentaler, etc (The harder ones are an absolute no. Limitations on the softer aged cheeses.)
Fava or broad beans
Sauerkraut
Concentrated yeast extract
Aspartame

Kai drinks soy milk, but I can’t. I tried putting it in eggs and was in pain.

Joe can’t do a lot of diet sodas and neither can I. I can’t do most regular ones.

Joe’s allergies are worse than mine, at least the effects of them. A bag of those spicy chili lime cheetos put him in the hospital with stroke-like symptoms.

Additionally, Kai has texture issues and is often bothered by “mixed foods”.

Now… would you like to invite us over for dinner?

Advice On How To Treat Your Friends With Food “Issues”

Here in the US, it’s Thanksgiving. With that in mind, I’d like to offer tips on how to treat people with food “issues” –  allergies, sensitivities, conditions. (I only use the word “issues” so I have something nice and short to lump everything together. Nothing negative is meant by that. Feel free to suggest a better word for next time.)

You are not the expert. Do not try to act like you know better than them. That’s just plain rude in any case, but particularly when you’re talking to someone who lives with something every single day.

Keep your opinions to yourself. No, really. It is not your place to tell your fat friend not to eat. It is not your place to try to cajole your thin friend into eating. It is not your place to chide someone for being “picky”. Back off.

Regardless of the reason, NEVER try to force someone to eat something. Do I really have to explain this one? Gosh, I hope not!

Please use different utensils and dishes for the “allergy-safe” food. Yes, it matters. It’s called cross-contamination. It’s really helpful if the utensils look different and can be consistent throughout. For example, red utensils for all foods containing gluten or all of the metal utensils will ONLY be used for dishes that are egg-free.

Do not suggest to your friend that they “cheat just this once”. I’m lucky. For me, that just means three days of stomach cramps, bad moods, headaches, and trips to the bathroom. For some people, it would mean death. Either way, it’s not nice.

 Labels are really useful. Little notecards beneath the food with EVERYTHING in it would be nice, but at least most of the major allergens. I understand this is a pain and that a lot of people won’t do it, but I’m more likely to dine with people who do.

Think about cross-contamination. Regular toasters will often cross-contaminate. Counters. Dishes. Pans. Everything should be cleaned really well (the toaster usually CAN’T be). Cooking the food for the person with allergies FIRST could help with this.

DO NOT TRY TO SNEAK IN FOODS just because you don’t “believe” they have the allergy or problem. For some people, this could just be minor discomfort. For others, death. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

DO NOT SNEAK CHILDREN FOOD. Particularly if you know they have allergies. They might not know what they can have. They might know and not realize or care about the consequences.

Likewise, LISTEN TO A CHILD IF THEY SAY THEY CAN’T HAVE A FOOD. Or even if they say they don’t want to. They often know what they can and cannot have. Or… maybe they don’t want to explain everything. Maybe they’re embarrassed. Maybe whatever. They’re still people. Unless you’re their parent, it’s not your place to attempt to dictate their food. That’s a conversation for the child and their parents.

Please don’t say something like, “There’s nothing wrong with it. It just looks weird because it has no ____.” Trust me, the person probably already feels awkward or bad enough. Likewise, if you are eating at THEIR place, don’t complain if they don’t have something. There’s probably a reason for it.

If someone says they can’t or don’t want to eat something, please don’t tell them why they can or should. By this, I don’t mean things like saying, “I made a gluten-free pie for you.” That’s fine. It’s things like, “But I made this special, just-for-you, because I know you can’t have ____.” This is for many many reasons, but it may be that you forgot or weren’t aware of something else and they’re trying to be nice rather than point it out.

Salad doesn’t count. I’m not necessarily meaning JUST salad. For me, it’s salad because salad is one of those foods that I can get at almost any restaurant, provided I say “No dressing” and “No croutons”. So, that usually means I eat salted lettuce, maybe with a piece of tomato. Whoopee. I’ve had friends say they were going somewhere that I could eat at and THAT is what they meant. It’s boring, it’s inconsiderate, and, frankly, I don’t want to pay $8 for something I can make at home for $2 to have something that’s sub-par and not what I want while I get to watch all of you eat all the things I wish I could have but can’t. Thanks, but no.

Please don’t be offended if we ask, “What’s in this?” after you say, “It’s ____ free.” There may be other things going on or we might just be concerned about it.

If they offer to bring a dish, please let them. Often times, this is the only way I know of to be sure that what I’m eating is “safe”.

Please respect their “no”. You should anyway, but there are times where I don’t really know that the person understands me or I don’t want to go through the trouble of explaining or I just “don’t want to”. Please respect that. For some people, they’ve made the decision to only eat things they’ve made.

I know this is all a lot of work. If you don’t want to go through it, that’s okay. If you invite someone and they say, “I’ need special accommodations,” and you can’t or don’t want to make things they can eat, let them know. Just say, “I don’t know if I can accommodate that.”

Please know that any effort you make in this direction is appreciated. It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s that I’m tired of hurting because I wanted to spend time with you. We can do something another time.

I have friends who go out of their way to make sure I can eat with them and I appreciate it probably more than they will ever know. It makes a huge difference, especially when it’s holiday time and instead of being able to eat what I want, I’m only able to eat a few things. But that’s better than nothing at all.

I hope these tips have been helpful. If you have any to add, please do put them in the comments below.