Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mother's Day Ambitions, plus Awed by Spam

    I'd like to say I'm on the mend, yet that might be considered something of a lie seeing as sleeping has been a near impossibility lately (going on 24 hours currently!) due to stomach issues. BUT NO MATTER. I'm able to eat this time around, so who cares! Probably only a week more and we'll be back in business. 

    Regardless of how things turn out, Mother's Day is coming up soonish and I intend the meal to be of special magnificence... I planned it all out just now. My mother always expressed her love for us kiddies with the food she prepared, so it's time to return the favor (a little - it'd be hard to repay so many years of cooking for six exceptionally opinionated children)!

    Actually, looking this over again, I'll probably chicken out on a few of the menu items... It's so easy to be ambitious on paper; I never account for how lazy I am in reality. Still, though. IT'S GOING TO BE GOOD. I'd bet my life on it, maybe.

    On an unrelated note, I used one of those English muffins for an Egg (Mc)Muffin. So good! I used spam, which I'd never had before, since there was no sausage in the house. How was I to know meat purée stuffed in a can would be so delicious? The addition of baby spinach made it extra fly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It happened because there weren't any chocolate chips, probably.

    Gluten manifests itself in a strange way for my system. That is, it takes a week to really kick in and then I'm sick for about 14 days. Pretty serious stuff, to be wiped out for the better part of a month... And I think I'm settling into another episode. It's not my fault this time! 

    I can admit to the chicken nuggets being mostly partly my fault (they were in the freezer egging me on, though. I tried to find ground chicken ASAP but they didn't have any at the store. ...Why I always crave gross, low-quality gluten foods is a mystery). Besides, it was all for science anyway. I had to perform tests! Those blood tests often result in false positives (wishful thinking)!

    But if it happens this time, I cannot be blamed. They were just sitting there on the counter... freshly baked... I'd been planning to bake my own, I swear! But there weren't any chocolate chips!

    It was only one cookie, one week ago. I've been feeling sick since then, and today have no appetite. The usual symptoms. At least we know for sure that I have Celiac disease after this last impromptu scientific experiment! Right?!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

English Muffins!

    I followed a recipe exactly for once and the result was heavenly~! This makes me wonder if I should be good more often instead of automatically assuming I know best...

    English muffins lathered in butter with honey drizzled over them has always been a major favorite of mine, and I have sorely missed them since deglutening. I had been "planning" on making an attempt at them for some time, but my track record is very bad and converting normal recipes to GF is rarely very easy (even for the experienced baker) so I was nervous to try.

    I ran across this recipe and felt heartened by the fact that there's no rice flour used (I'm sorry, but rice flour usually ruins texture. IT JUST DOES). Those picture are a great selling point, too; look at that texture! Plus, I had just bought teff flour and needed a recipe to try it on.

    Mine look a bit funky on the outside. I didn't take a picture of it since they're kind of like... albino lumpy things on the top, thanks to my makeshift English muffin tins being too big height-wise (one side is nice and flat, the other is all dilapidated. The dough is super sticky as well, more like batter, so it was difficult to smooth out the top). But you know I can deal with that, considering the texture and flavor are absolutely perfect! They're sooo chewy and soft inside with a flawless crunch on the outside, and the taste is slightly yeasty and wholesome and lovely.

    I'd offer these bad boys to anybody, gluten free or no. Smitten!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Homemade Ramen Noodles, The Series. Episode 3: Desserts Always Helps the Mourning Process

Had another failed attempt today... At least I didn't throw it all away this time! I managed to make a lovely little dessert from the ashes of the noodle dough, but more on that later.

    I have come to the conclusion that, for the time being, my knowledge is too limited on Gluten free ingredients and thus cannot produce a proper ramen noodle. Everything that makes ramen noodles ramen noodles doesn't work without the gluten it seems. So, we'll just have to find a way to make some normal noodles... that also taste good in ramen!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homemade Ramen Noodles, The Series. Episode 2: Longing for Eggcellence

    Today I made another failed attempt at ramen noodles. I managed a better flavor in these ones (by a very small degree) but fared far worse in the texture department somehow. So depressing...

    I used only a quarter of the original recipe from Tess to save on flour. This is apparently going to become an expensive venture.

3/4 c flour
    1/4 c sorghum
    1/4 c millet
    1/4 c tapioca
    1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp kansui diluted in 1/4 c water
2 tbsp approx. oil

    Since my last post I've done a little bit of research on ramen noodles. "Normal" noodles tend to have a nice yellow color which I had assumed came from the use of egg, but apparently it doesn't! By all accounts (those being the ingredients list on Nissin Chicken Top Ramen and various nameless individuals on message boards) egg isn't even supposed to be in the classic ramen noodle. The yellow color actually comes from some class of chemical reaction between kansui and flour (I'm assuming that that, too, only works for wheat flour. Gluten: 10001 and counting, Gluten free: 2).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Ramen Noodles, The Series. Episode 1: First Heartbreak

    I really love ramen. It's one of my primary cravings from the olden days of gluten gluttony. I've made some really lovely ramen soup (recipe from Cooking With Dog) but let's just be honest, here: Those Quinoa spaghetti noodles from Ancient Harvest (though very good) don't cut it. We need ramen noodles, my friends.

    After reading around, I saw on Tess's Japanese Kitchen that there's supposedly a secret elixir for making this stuff called Koon Chun potassium carbonate. Apparently the well water used to make ramen noodles originally was alkaline, which lent the noodles their nice, springy texture.

    At $0.69 for a bottle at the Asian market here (hidden with the vinegars and oils) I didn't hesitate to invest. Having made them, though, I can't say they seemed particularly springy. Maybe it worked with the gluten, maybe I didn't have enough, maybe some other ingredient overwhelmed its activity... Who knows? Take it or leave it; I don't think it's necessary.

    I used the recipe Tess posted, halved, and with gluten free flours. Notes at the end.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Slightly Indulgent Introduction

    When my family gets together the days usually revolve entirely around preparing, eating, and discussing food. (Family outings are fun and everything, but the real attraction is lunch!) The majority of the time after one meal is spent planning and prepping for the next, with the six siblings, spouses, and parents crammed into the kitchen to create divinely delicious dishes. Someone once summed us up rather neatly by saying, "We eat to live. YOU live to eat!"

    I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in July '10 and figured I should just throw in the towel and call it quits. Gluten was basically my life... Noodles most of all, along with breads and pastries and cookies and gravy and creamy soups... I was really a gluten glutton, and so, apparently, was every company to ever process food. The stuff is ubiquitous!

    I eventually got over the shock and for a short while even resigned myself to wildly inferior substitutes for breads and the like, thinking there was nothing better. But, well, that didn't last long... Food Life is too good! You can't just let these wonderful food opportunities pass you by because of a disease! These things can be circumvented and there is better. I WILL eat a piece of homemade bread one day and think it's completely and utterly delightful.

   I don't know much about cooking or baking, having never done much of it before, but I do know good food. Determination and a whole lot of flour will have to make up for the rest!