Friday, June 21, 2013

Springing Back with Cilantro Beet Tacos

Thanks for the hiatus, this blogger needed it. I started a new gig last summer and have a lot more screen time than I'd like so the blog was put on the back burner to simmer. Thankfully my sister helped out and added a few posts during the lull. I may have taken a hiatus from blogging but I never stopped taking food photos. It's such an ingrained habit now to whip out the camera before I pick up a fork. I haven't been cooking as much this year- Dave's stepped up in that world. 

I'm still also a gluten-free ambassador. I met more people these days from my past, present and even in the aisles of the local grocer who have started on their own GF journey for a number of reasons. I'm happy to give advice and share information. I remember how hard this all seemed back in 2008 when I first cut wheat (and eventually gluten) out of my life. 
I've made some other changes too over the last year. I'm a nut about not getting a plastic shopping bag from any store. I even carry these in the grocery to avoid bags for fruits and veggies. I don't use lotion anymore and now use oil to moisturize my skin like grapeseed or coconut as a lot of commercial lotions contain chemicals. I've become obsessed with Lush shampoo bars partly for the lack of packaging (again no bag for me) but also because I love the way they make my hair feel. 
I still have my vices and even some new ones... I've discovered some new convenience food and even "fast food", Instagram and still have a wicked sweet tooth. Chaos and Mayhem still compete with knitting for my free time but we overall have a good balance. 
I had a great refresher on label reading and the worst glutening of my gluten free life because I grabbed the wrong bag for my convenience food vice. 

The two bags look similar but have some key difference... the biggest being the big swatch of blue on the Gluten Free bag. Somehow I managed to grab the gluten filled bag from the freezer section at the store, bring them home and eat them. I had a bad week and didn't put it together until the next time the bag came out of the freezer for a slacker dinner... Dave saw the bag and realized what had happened. It was almost a relief to have a reason for a week filled with mood swings, irritability, joint pain, bloating and blahness. I've grown more cautious as a result. That mistake put a lot of stress on my body and it was affirmation on how much the gluten free diet has changed me. 
One of my favorite fresh meals has been this Cilantro Beet Taco. It's been great for the heat waves that have hit the East Coast in between the rainy days. Simple- easy and fully adaptable for summer grilling. 
Cilantro Beet Tacos
Dice beets in 1/4" chunks- place in foil packet with light drizzle of EVOO and a dash of sea salt
Close foil packet so it will create a steamy environment and place on a hot grill on a medium/high temperature for 20-25 minutes or until beets are tender.
Meanwhile... dice up red onion and cilantro (desired amounts) 
Fry soft tacos in a tablespoon of oil on both sides so the taco still bends but has some crisp. This should be on low/medium heat for a minute or so for each side. 
Fill Tacos as desired and garnish with Cilantro and onions. 
I've also gone for basil in the absence of cilantro from our herb window. And yes, I had to ask Dave to refresh me on a few of the steps as he has been head grill master for our summer beet grilling this summer. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

cookie link (& love)

Kim here again.  Guest posting, uninvited, on my sister's blog.  (Watch out, Kate! Although I just started out with the occasional comment and random 'like' on Patrick's Facebook, well, you can see where gradual beginnings got me . . . Just so you know, I never intended to take over.)

My husband, Patrick, doesn't really bake. He's great on the stove top, can roast a bird, and like many men before him, is a grilling master. You can imagine my surprise then, when he executed these gluten free, corn free, dairy free, and egg free chocolate chip cookies.

Here's the link to his recipe:

Patrick's g.f. flour blend, based on ingredients available to us here locally, is 1/2 cup potato starch, 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, and 1&1/4 cups white rice flour.

This is our gluten free, corn free, dairy free, and egg free daughter Keturah awaiting her made-especially-by-daddy cookies.  Keturah has big issues with milk, but no reaction at all to butter, so at this point we have no need to find a butter replacement in our kitchen.  (Yay!)


Are these masterfully baked cookies not one beautiful representation of the love of a daddy for his daughter?

Patrick scored double on this labor of love, though, because his g.f. wife not only appreciates the lengths gone to for our second-born, but for me as well.


You'll have to head on over to my blog to read that version of cookie-love, though.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

thankful muffins

When I post on Kate's blog, obviously it is with gluten-free-food in mind.  Today is no different.  But although I've got high accolades for a stellar muffin resource, I'm actually posting with my gluten-eating, recipe-following, blog-savvy son in mind.

Due to my middle daughter's food limitations, all of the cooking I do at home is not only gluten-free, but corn, egg, and dairy-free too. We do a lot of recipe searching, improvising, substituting, and making stuff up on the fly.  It's a lot of restrictions to work with, and we live in a country that doesn't major in ready-made, gluten-free anything, but well, we've still got to eat.  So we make-do with simple fare, generally skip restaurants, and don't bake much.

When my kids ask what's for dinner, they are never surprised if it's completely made up. I'm very blessed with children that are not only accepting of our food restrictions, but are also a little into it.  I cannot tell you how many times over the last year or so my firstborn, Moyer, says, "Wow, mom, you made this recipe up?  You should totally post it on Aunt Kate's blog."

I love it.  He's so sweet.

Honestly, though, not so many of our meals are worth re-cooking, let alone posting on-line for the gluten-free community. And how many times would I never in a million years be able to reproduce what we just ate?

Moyer: (excited and affirming) "Mom, this is like seven thumbs up.  You should totally write the recipe down and post it on Aunt Kate's blog."
Me: (sigh--I know what's coming) "I can't, sweetie."
Moyer: "Why not?"
Me: (a little exasperated with his insistence on all meals coming from a recipe) "Well, I didn't really keep track of the ingredients."
Moyer: (whining disbelief) "You mean you don't know how to make it again?"

I know, I could have it WAY worse.

And sometimes (I get a huge kick out of this particular scenario) I have to tell him, that didn't make it up and I didn't follow a recipe:

Me: "Honey, this isn't my idea."
Moyer: (in his best adult-I-all-about-how-the-internet-works-voice) "Oh, did you find a recipe on-line?"
Me: (trying to remember exactly how dinner did just happen to unfold on this particular evening) "Well, I got the idea for the recipe on-line."
Moyer: (he's disappointed already, because he's sensing the answer) "But you didn't follow the recipe?"
Me: "Nope."
Moyer: (he still doesn't understand exactly why one wouldn't precisely follow an available recipe; he's precise like that) "Why not?"

When I'm feeling patient I go on to tell him how I converted it to a Keturah-friendly recipe or a China-friendly recipe, or how I didn't have any such and such on hand, so . . .

He's very interested in this process.  And very interested in posting all about it on Aunt Kate's blog.  Though he does wish that I'd do more recipe-following.

So today's post is for Moyer.  In honor of re-posting recipes that I find on-line, and then don't follow at all, I'm here to direct you to the best gluten-free muffin recipe that you don't have to exactly follow ever.  Gluten-free girl and the chef even invite you to mess with it.  These muffins are intended to be tweaked and turn-out.

My very first time making them, I followed all of the advice I could manage, and still make them corn, egg, and dairy-free as well.*  They were so easy and turned out so perfectly.

So I made them again, but followed the recipe even less carefully, thinking that I was probably pressing my luck.  They worked out again.

You know what?  I've made these muffins a bazillion times since then, tried all kinds of creative substitutions,** don't measure a single thing, and don't bother looking at the print-out that I previously had been referring to, and they always turn out.

The trick is to read the whole post.  It's not just a muffin recipe.  It's kind of like a gluten-free quick-breads baking manual.  (And even though I read it, and reaped much, I'm also here to tell you that I didn't use a scale.  I used the principles and recipe as a guide, and then went by feel.)

We made them the evening before Thanksgiving, and served them up as Thankful muffins for breakfast on Thursday.

Here are my muffin models (including our newest muffin model in-training) being very thankful for them after they were cool (and iced!) on Wednesday night.

Moyer is pumped that we're taking pictures to post on Aunt Kate's blog.  Keturah is grateful that they're gluten, corn, egg, and dairy-free.  Marilla is having trouble understanding why muffins need models.  She'd rather be a taste-tester.

Thankful for great eaters, a recipe-loving boy, and an adaptable muffin recipe.  


*My go-to for egg replacer is flaxseed, and I sub anything from water to orange juice for the buttermilk.

**I've iced them, topped them like coffee-cake, flavored them like gingerbread, made them orange-themed, used date-syrup as a sugar sub, and varied the oil content a great deal.  I usually use mostly buckwheat flour as the base, but actually change up the other flours and starches a lot!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday Night Rituals

This summer I started a new Wednesday night routine. I leave work on time and drive past my usual route home and cross the Merrimack River into Newburyport. By this time the clock is hovering around the 5:30pm mark and I'm ready for the first stop in the routine.

I drive through the quaint town that seems pretty quiet these days after a busy summer full of tourists and head to my favorite  cafe. The best part about this place? I can have everything on the menu... it's gluten-free, dairy free and even soy free. The food is fresh and the smoothies are satisfying.

The Revitalive Cafe just feels like a good way to start the evening. I grab something light and maybe a goodbad snack.
a spring roll stuffed full of goodness
They don't always have the gf/df "cheesecake" but when they do it's hard to resist...
Lately I've ventured to the smoothie menu, last week's love was a peanut butter cup flavor and this week... Carrot Cake. 

It was perfect for the season as here in New England we've hit Fall. The hazy, hot and humid summer has given way to crisp nights and apple orchards full of people waiting for the classic New England experience and Apple Cider Donuts. It's made me a bit sad until my favorite chefs whipped up a recipe this week... I can't wait to try out Team Bronski's gluten free donuts soon.  

The rest of my night? I grab my tote full of yarn and head to my local yarn shop for a night of knitting with new friends. 

It's not often life brings together people of all ages, demographics and temperaments; when it does it's a pretty cool thing. I love my Wednesday night rituals, good nourishing food, great knitting time and even better company. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

hello friends~ Las Olas in New Hampshire

It's been a busy summer and life at campchaos has been one adventure after another. We picked up an old canoe and have been spending time on the lakes of New England and staying cool as these mountain kids readjust to a summer on the humid east coast.
I've found a new gem... a place that makes me miss La Cocina de Luz in Telluride just a little bit more while also satisfying a need for a bit of southwestern cuisine. A place that has a pineapple salsa which has the perfect fusion of flavors and is well versed in the land of gluten free. Las Olas translates to The Waves and it's a perfect name for this seacoast favorite. They have two locations in Exeter and Hampton, New Hampshire. We hit up the original location in Exeter first and loved it so much that the next day found us traveling over to Hampton.  The last two times we've gone I've kicked myself in the parking lot for not having shared this yet. It's clean, simple food that's full of flavor and I can't believe it's taken me this long to blog about it.
 I've been my ususal creature of habit self and typically get two soft corn tacos- one chicken and one steak with pico de gallo and the pineapple salsa. It doesn't disappoint. They only server a few gluten items at Las Olas and the staff is well trained- but as always pay attention. They don't mind changing gloves and will bring toppings out from the kitchen to ensure that there's no cross contamination. Let them know your needs and they are happy to accommodate.
The pineapple salsa left us both craving more so we went home and recreated using the Bronski's recipe from Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking. 
I've also started a new job so I've been adjusting to a new work life balance and some looonnng days behind a computer... it's hard to come home and flip open the laptop while these faces beg for attention.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life Alive in Lowell, MA Gluten free & organic cafe

How do you judge a good restaurant? The atmosphere,  the menu or the bathroom? I'm happy to share that Life Alive wins on all three... especially the bathroom. The converted dwelling kept the tub and turned it into a wonderful plant oasis. 
A few weeks ago we ventured over to Lowell, MA to meet up with our friend Carol for her birthday. She doesn't eat meat and I don't eat gluten so finding a place to feed us both can be a challenge. Thankfully Life Alive came onto my radar via Urbanspoon and this place fed us not just safely but well.

I enjoyed a Demi portion of the Goddess for lunch and the size was perfect- not too small but I didn't leave the table feeling like I overate.  Life Alive described it in such a way that this non-veggie monster was craving this dish.... (as taken from their website)
Our famous Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce nurturing carrots, beet, broccoli, dark greens, & tofu gracing short-grain brown rice. 
Somehow they took all my favorite veggies and crafted the dish so well that I didn't miss the meat. I even enjoyed the tofu. The staff was well versed and helped me sub a dressing that was gluten free and paired well. They even had Liz Lovely treats as well... which I couldn't resist but ended up taking home  for later.
We enjoyed a great day with the birthday girl and the pups even snuck in a swim.
Although I'm not sure Sara was too excited about the swim after the monsters shook off onto her...
We were all excited to have a good day with great friends and yummy food and to be able to give the birthday girl her new handknit socks.
It must have been birthday ju-ju as these socks totally knit up as a matching pair- the self stripping yarn doesn't always and it was fun to see them match so perfectly.

Life Alive also has locations in Cambridge and Salem, MA so check them out on your gluten free travels.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rolling with the Tides and Just for Me Gluten Free in Haverhill, MA

One of the biggest things that we all have to learn in our gluten free journey is how to deal with change and  roll with the tide. Some of us embrace the challenge head on and dive into learning, cooking and enjoying all that the gluten free life has to offer while others may take some time to warm up, no judging here- we all cope with this journey differently. Often times these lessons learned in gluten free living can help us deal with other areas of life as well.

These days I'm rolling with the tide and shifting gears a bit. It's a big step and the magnitude may not really hit until the snow flies next winter but I'm ready for the next phase of life. Camp Chaos (my home) has traditionally been in the mountains and this year we're moving to the ocean. We'll always be skiers and the mountains will always be our love but we're not solely defined by one thing or where we rest our head at night. We're opening up our lives to the next adventures and discovering that life can also feel good with a bit of sand between your toes (or on your tennis ball as in the case of the pups)  

This also changes my gluten free game as I'm now within striking distance of PF Chang's and Whole Foods. Seriously- this is big. It doesn't mean I'll hit each weekly but now I could as I'm less then 30 minutes from either. Last week I took a little field trip to Haverhill, MA and hit up a new-to-me store which I happened to feel right at home in...

I thought you might too. Just for Me Gluten Free is a small boutique that I found via a google search and since I *had* to go to Haverhill anyhow to go to Target I figured I should swing in.
There were so many of my favorite gluten free goodies but I was on a time crunch and couldn't linger. I quickly found some English Muffins that my younger sister loves and a few Liz Lovely treats.

Foods By George makes one fat english muffin and I actually thought the hearty four pack was a six pack at first. I kept them in the freezer and would let it defrost on the counter for a few hours. There's not dedicated gluten free toaster for me so I sliced it in half and fried it up in a pan with a bit of Earth's Balance before loading it with strawberry jam. I have to say- I'm impressed with George. These were thicker then the ones my Gluten Free English Muffin dealer supplied me with this winter and had a more "classic" appearance with all the delightful air pockets that became perfect little homes for the jelly.

My Liz Lovely finds were a real treat,I've been a fan of the vegan bakery since my friend first shared their gluten free goodies with me on a road trip in 2009. While I lived in Colorado I would order a case of cookies for special occasions (really- it was the best shipping deal- I had to get a whole case...thankfully they let you mix it up!) so it was fun to just pick up a pack or two. I also got to try a new product...
the new gluten free and vegan Liz Lovely Oh's. These little bad boys come in packs of 8 and are thickly coated in chocolate.
Love at first bite... I hid them in the back of the fridge but that was mostly from myself and not from Dave...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Walt Disney World- the Disney gluten free dining plan

On the morning of our first full day in Disney I had this for breakfast... a banana, a cup of strawberries, an apple juice and a protein bar from my stash... notice Dave's plate of a great filling breakfast in the background. I was feel very unfulfilled and when I'm hungry- I get grumpy. 
The dining hall at Port Orleans was hard to navigate that morning so I pieced together a small breakfast to carry me through miles of walking in the Magic Kingdom. I wasn't feeling like I was on the happiest place on earth... I was worried that my snacks were going to last through the vacation.
So I sent an email to Disney Dining and complained.... then I went to the concierge. You might remember that I had tried to be proactive and asked a few questions before we hit Florida via email.
The concierge was hesitant... she was a cast member from another country and she stumbled through my conundrum but then did the best thing for both of us... she asked for help. Ray, her fellow concierge stepped in and quickly gave me a game plan. The best thing I could do was to ask for a chef at each dining place... this didn't make me needy but would ensure my needs were met. Dave and I walked back to the dining hall and met Chef Laura. It was mid afternoon and she gave us the rundown of options I had... they weren't limited at all!  She had so much information and the Disney Chef's are very well trained in food allergies... I love them. They had a dedicated fryer and this camper could enjoy gluten free french fries and chicken fingers... so many options and this is what I wanted most.

 In fact I had those a few more times. Except at breakfast... then I enjoyed gluten free waffles with Mickey's smiling face...
I couldn't help it. It was the best kind of comfort food and that brownie? OMG it's gluten isn't good for me but I figured it wasn't going to kill me with all the miles I walked through the park and it was a really yummy goodbad treat. Obviously as food blogger I love food and it's a huge part of memory for me. I can still remember all the fresh fruit I ate when I went to Disney back in 1989 and now 23 years later I'm in love with gluten free waffles and gluten free comfort food. If I could have found the Mickey Mouse waffle iron I most likely would have bought it so I could enjoy my own gluten free Mickey waffles at home...