Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gluten-free sugar cookies

I made the Gluten-Free Baking Classics sugar cookie recipe for the first time the other day. I made a batch of hearts for Valentine's Day for my kids. I thought they turned out great. Don't do it in a rush because you definitely need time to chill the dough. If you like them a little chewy, cut them a little thicker and cook them just till they start to turn colors. Great recipe, it'd be good frosted with pink frosting, but frosting and diabetes just don't mix. Oh well, you can't have it all.

Note for diabetics: I made 40 hearts that were about 2.5 inches across. I used all the dough. I figured a very modest 12 g of carbohydrates for each cookie, including the red sugar sprinkles.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A pan for GF dinner rolls

Annalise Roberts recommends a square cupcake pan for making her Traditional Dinner Rolls, but I couldn't find one. But I found this "mini-loaf pan" at Christmas-time in Wal-Mart for about $5. It works really well. It might be a seasonal item, though, I did see them on clearance recently. I do turn the oven temperature down 15 degrees because it is a dark pan.

Note for diabetics: I figure that in a batch of 12 rolls, each roll has 20 g of carbohydrates.

Gluten-free Hamburger Buns

A cheeseburger served on a hamburger bun from "Gluten-Free Baking Classics."

I have a house full of boys and hamburgers are a popular meal. When I started making hamburger buns out of "Gluten-Free Baking Classics" I thought I'd make a half-dozen, and freeze them individually. My celiac son would get a GF bun, and the rest of us would have hamburgers on purchased buns. But the GF hamburger buns smelled and tasted so good none of the non-celiacs wanted a purchased bun, and we haven't bought them since. They really are delicious, and they make your house smell wonderful when they are baking. An added bonus to everyone eating a GF bun, is that there is no way for a non-GF bun to contaminate the GF food. That makes serving dinner less stressful.

A batch of hamburger buns.

A couple of notes on making GF buns, the dough is really a batter, so you need a mold. I've tried making tinfoil molds, but they don't work very well. So I bought this Chicago Metallic muffin top pan on for less than $20. (The price has come down since I first posted.) It is worth every penny. The pan's manufacturers recommend turning down the oven temperature by 25 degrees, but I've found that that is too much and turning the heat down by 15 degrees works better. I spray the pan lightly and instead of dusting them with rice flour, I dust them with finely ground corn meal. After you mix up the dough it takes about 40 minutes for them to rise, and 20 minutes to bake. If you wrap them up well, they do freeze. (We rarely have leftovers!)

I get so many requests for this recipe, I thought I'd come back and add a link to Annalise Roberts web site where you can find her hamburger bun recipe, and many others.

Note for diabetics: I figure that in a batch of 6 rolls, each roll has 40 g of carbohydrates.

A clean muffin-top pan.

Gluten-free Oatmeal

One of the few things my son was really sad about not being able to eat was a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. So we were thrilled to find Gluten Free Oats. Their motto is "Our celiac family serving yours." This company started out as an Ag project by a boy with celiac who wanted to taste no-bake cookies and has turned into a company. They had great service and a quick turnaround when we ordered and the oatmeal is delicious. I ordered three large ($10) bags and paid $10 in shipping, which seemed like a lot, until I figured out the price per serving of Gluten Free Oats and the price per serving of Quaker Instant Oatmeal packages and realized that they are about the same. This is a wonderful product. There is a link to their web site in the list at the right.

Gluten-free Beef Stew

Gluten-free beef stew with Traditional Dinner Rolls from "Gluten-Free Baking Classics."

Buttercup's mother hesitated, then put her stew spoon down. (This was after stew, but so is everything. When the first man first clambered from the slime and made his first home on land, what he had for supper that first night was stew.)
-from William Goldman's "The Princess Bride"

I love beef stew. When I was a kid, my mom would make make homemade bread, and then serve it for dinner with beef stew. Stew is comfort food for me. I used to get kind of sad when summer would come and the weather would be too hot to eat it. I got really sad when I read the label on the stew seasoning mix and realized that it had wheat flour in it. But now that I have a from scratch beef stew recipe, I can't figure out why I was using a mix for something I love so much (that has happened to me a lot since my son's diagnosis).

This recipe is a combination of three recipes; the method from my stew mix recipe, and a combination of ingredients from a crock pot beef stew recipe, and a stew recipe off a beef broth web site. I make a simple meat, carrots and potatoes version, but you could always add a chopped onion, a couple of stalks of chopped celery, or a handful of green beans if that is what your family likes. You can use stew meat, but I find that the quality and quantity of fat in it varies widely depending on your source, and so I prefer to buy London Broil (on sale, if I can), trim it, and cut it into bite size pieces. Use 2 pounds if you like it beefy, but if you are feeling frugal, you can get away with a pound and lots of veggies.

Gluten-free Beef Stew
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1-2 lbs. stew meat, or London Broil, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup sweet rice flour, or white rice flour if you can't find sweet rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 cups beef broth (a 32-oz box)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4-5 medium carrots
4-5 medium potatoes

Put the stew meat, rice flour, salt and pepper in plastic container with a lid (I use a 7-cup Rubbermaid). Shake it up. Heat the canola oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat (I use a 4-quart pan) and brown the stew meat in 2 batches. There will be flour left in the bottom of the Rubbermaid, don't dump it all in the pan, or throw it out. Add garlic powder, bay leaves, and paprika to the leftover flour. When all your beef is browned, add it all back into your pot. Add your broth, and the leftover flour and spices, and the Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer (make sure it is just bubbling), cover with a lid, and let cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally. At that point, peel your carrots and potatoes, chop into bite-size pieces, and add to the pot. Bring back to a boil, turn down to a simmer (make sure it is just bubbling), cover and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for another 45 minutes or until your vegetables are cooked.

To cook in a crock pot: Reduce beef broth to 1 1/2-2 cups, reduce Worcestershire to 1/2 Tbsp., and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Note for diabetics: I figure 15 g of carbohydrates for each 1/2 cup of potatoes and carrots.

If you haven't read "The Princess Bride," you should. The book will make you laugh even more than the movie. And who doesn't need a good laugh these days!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gluten-Free Creamy Tomato Soup

One of the first things that they tell you to do after diagnosis is to clean out your pantry. Because I feed a diabetic and cook a lot of our food from scratch, I didn't have too many gluten-filled convenience items to throw out. But there were a few, and the one I was saddest to get rid of was Campbell's Tomato Soup. Sometimes you just need a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot bowl of tomato soup.

Luckily I have found a delicious and simple recipe to replace it. It's almost as easy, and so much more delicious than condensed soup. This recipe is an adaptation of a Creamy Tomato Soup recipe by Pam Anderson in USA Weekend. You can find the original on their web site.

Gluten-Free Creamy Tomato Soup
1-28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup chicken broth
1-5 oz. can of evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Check your ingredients and make sure they are gluten-free (see note about ingredients). Pour tomatoes into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Whisk the baking soda into the chicken broth until it is dissolved. Combine the tomato puree, and the broth/baking soda mixture in a large sauce pan. Whisk together and heat over medium heat until hot, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the can of evaporated milk. Return soup to a simmer if needed (I don't bother). Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 generous 1 cup servings. This recipe keeps well for a few days in the fridge, and reheats in the microwave nicely. I like a large mug of it for quick and healthy lunch.

A note about ingredients: If you can't find 5 oz cans of evaporated milk, you can double the recipe and use a 12 oz. can. I buy 5-oz cans of Great Value evaporated milk at Walmart. They are marked gluten free (most evaporated milk should be, but I appreciate that they have gone to the trouble of labeling).

Note for diabetics: 1 cup of soup has about 20 g of carbohydrates.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My favorite cookbook: Gluten-Free Baking Classics

My copy is looking a little worse-for-wear.

Annalise Roberts' "Gluten-Free Baking Classics" is a great cookbook. I checked out every GF cookbook I could find in the public library after my son was diagnosed, and read all the reviews for GF cookbooks on Amazon, and this is the only book I've bought. I have not been sorry, I bake extensively out of this book. This book has made feeding my son and my family SOOOOO much easier. I recommend it without reservation (and if you read her reviews on, you will see that I'm not the only one). There are very few baked goods that I can think of that aren't in this book (maybe pumpkin cookies and peanut butter cookies). UPDATE: Annalise just emailed me to say that there is a new pumpkin cookie recipe on her website. I'm all over that -- 2/5/09.

This book is well written with clear instructions that even a beginning baker can follow. She depends on two basic flour mixes, a rice blend for most goodies, and a millet/sorghum blend for bread, neither use bean flour. She does recommend a specific brand of rice flour, Authentic, because it is ground finer than most other brands. But I have a hard time finding that brand, so most of the time I use Bob's Red Mill brand, and most of her recipes turn out just fine. Occasionally, I notice a little grittiness when I use BRM on some recipes. I also had a hard time finding millet flour, I had to order it by the case from Sunflower Farmer's Market, but it is worth it. I also like that her mixes are half whole grain.

We've tried a lot of GF recipes and mixes, but Annalise Roberts' recipes are among the few that really taste like the wheat version. And because she doesn't use a bean flour in her bread mix, her breads don't have that funky after-taste. My celiac son loves PB&J sandwiches on her bread, my non-celiac husband is partial to her pizza crust and chocolate chip cookies, and I love her hamburger bun recipe, it is so much better than the (wheat-flour) buns that you can buy in the store. We have also enjoyed the cornbread recipe, the blueberry muffins, the vanilla cupcakes, banana bread, pumpkin bread, buttermilk pancakes, dinner rolls, stuffing, and chocolate fudge cake. I even made a GF Boston Cream Pie for my birthday, yummy!

I got it for about $12 on Amazon, but if you want to try some of her recipes before you buy her book, she has her sandwich bread, and quite a few other recipes on her web site, I also e-mailed her with a question and she e-mailed me right back. I'll repeat myself and say: I would recommend this book without any reservations.

Why the blog? Why a monkey?

I started this blog because I wanted a place to record what I've learned about feeding a child with celiac disease. My 6-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 16 months of age, and then last year with celiac disease. Both diseases require a lot of effort by myself and my husband to keep him healthy. But it is all worth it -- he's a super kid, and he feels so much better now that he is gluten-free, he's growing like a weed, and his blood-sugars have improved. It has been difficult, but not as difficult as I originally thought it would be. And I have to give him credit, he has done great, and has been so good about going gluten free.

I've been keeping a file of recipes, GF products, ideas, and it was just getting out of control. SO I thought I'd start keeping a lot of those things online, that way I can access them without digging through a giant pile of paper, I can refer family members or friends to them when they need to feed my son, and hey, if I can make life easier for another family dealing with celiac disease I'm all for it. I know how hard the initial shock and adjustment to a life-changing diagnosis can be, I've done it twice.

Why the monkey? Well, for many reasons: I needed a mascot and I didn't have a crocheted yak puppet, my boys and I love Curious George, my boys have been known to act like monkeys, and when I want them to know that I really, really love them, I call them my little pumpkin-monkeys.