Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's for dinner

In my typical fashion I jumped into this adventure with both feet, not looking back, and not looking too far into the future. I needed to live this right now, feel better, heal my body, and then reassess. It was a very willing jump, I wanted so badly to feel ok, not even great, just ok, that I didn't really care if I could no longer bake those big, golden loaves that slowly tear apart when cut, that melt against your teeth with just the slightest bit of hesitation. I have baked my entire life, I remember baking cookes at 5 BY MYSELF. Baking bread was done at least twice a week in my house, and cookies, brownies, etc. more often. It's so soothing to me to toss a bit of sugar, salt, flour, water into my Kitchenaid and watch it whir and blend into something decidedly delicious. To serve it to my kids and watch them savor every bite and then ask for more.

The day I was diagnosed I immediately went to my local Co-op and bought a gluten free flour mix. I came home and made cookies, tortillas, and pie crust. I really needed to know I could still feed my family and myself good food. Food we'd still enjoy eating. The other night after another gluten free dinner my hubby sat back and said "You know, I think you make better meals gluten free than before we went gluten free." Love.

In our house we have what's been dubbed "family dinner" by our oldest son. We all eat together, around our big table, and in between bites we talk, watch, and enjoy each other. I was so scared at the start of this whole "gluten free" thing that that time would change. I could no longer make the kids favorite foods the same way I always had. Everything would be new, different, better? worse? Better, far better.

I have a tad bit of frustration with some foodie blogs, when I find a recipe I want to try I have to search and ponder what to serve with it. I love to cook and bake, I hate to come up with what to cook and bake. If I were to ask my family what to make for dinner we would be having pizza and burritos every damn night. So I don't ask, I come up with my own menus, and that is not always fun. I'm hoping to create a record of complete dinners, dinners that were loved, savored, chewed and enjoyed. Here's my first

Yellow Dal, Smashed Potatoes and Flatbread.

Yellow Dal
(adapted from Smitten Kitten)

Serves 4

1 cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
1 large tomato (about 8 ounces), cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 Tbsp minced cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt (I use Herbamare)
Splash of white vinegar (probably about a tablespoon)

Instructions: Drain the dal (split peas) and place in a large saucepan. Add the tomato and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over very low heat.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. After the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the onion and saute over medium heat. About 3 minutes later, add the garlic and saute until most of the onion has turned dark brown, about 5 minutes altogether. Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne, stir and pour mixture over the dal. Add the cilantro, butter and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

I always add a splash of vinegar at the end of cooking whenever I make lentils or beans. It really livens up the flavor and adds a bit of oomph. I forgot to add it last night and no matter how much salt we sprinkled on the top to try and give it a bit more flavor it tasted really flat.

I serve this over Quinoa - my new favorite grain. I boil 2 cups chicken (or veggie) broth, add 1 cup quinoa, and simmer, covered, on low for 15 minutes. For some reason there are times after 15 minutes my quinoa still isn't cooked - I just throw the lid back on and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Smashed Potatoes
adapted from Food & Wine

2 pounds fingerling potatoes
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1.Preheat the oven to 400°. In a pot, cover the potatoes with water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and peel the potatoes.
2.Spread the potatoes on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and then the spices. Season with salt and bake for 45 minutes, until tender and crisp. Using a fork, lightly crush the potatoes, then sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

I have made these without peeling the potatoes, or heck, even peeling only half off the potatoes, and they come out great. If you want to leave the skins on they are still great, just not so easy to "smash."


Mix together 1 cup brown rice flour, 1/3 cup potato starch, 3 TBPS tapioca starch. You will only need once cup of this mixture - save the other bit for thickening sauces etc.

1 cup above brown rice flour mixture
1/2 cup millet flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

1. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the wet and blend on high speed for 2 minutes. This is important - you will see the texture of the dough change as it beats. Use the cake beater attachment if you're using a kitchenaid, not the dough hook.
2. Drizzle a 15x10 rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, enough to cover the bottom well. Dump dough onto the pan and using moistened fingers spread it around, roughly 1/2 in. thick. Cover with saran wrap sprayed generously with non-stick cooking spray, and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
3. While dough is rising prehead oven to 425 degrees. Before putting in the oven drizzle a few Tablespoons of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt. I use my fingers to make dimples in the surface to create pockets for the olive oil to fall into.
4. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and cut into slices. Yum.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Is it always this weird to post the It's a blank slate, and while the possibilites are endless, the openess overwhelms me. But our adventure is beginning and I feel the need to write it out, to process it, to throw it out there.

I received my diagnosis a few months ago, after years of seemingly unrelated symptoms. That seems to be the trend I've found after scavaging the internets for others stories, many of us feel off, not right, but not debilitatingly sick. Not in a hospital searching for a cure, but often at our doctors office. As long as I can remember I've had horrible, terrible migraines. Not once or twice a year, but once or twice a week. Migraines and children are not a kind mix. I have three of them, children that is, all boys, and they are noisy. Firetruck noisy. I love them to death, but they do not help one iota when your head is pounding. Thanks to the migraines I've been on a variety of meds to try and fight them off before they start and fight them off after the first defense didn't work. I hate migraines.

In the past year I also was diagnosed with arthritis in my right hand. At 30. Weird. The overworked doctor I saw said it was definitely arthritis - who knows why - nothing they can do - and sent me on my way. I was so devastated. I knit, I spin wool, I change diapers. How could I do those things without my right hand throbbing?

I decided to see an acupuncturist about both of the above and while she was seeing progress, she wasn't seeing enough. Something else was off. So she recommended a naturopath she'd heard great things about, and after years of never feeling like the doctor was fully listening to what I had to say, I was in luck. She watched me closely as I described everything and I could see her brain spinning. She asked key questions, probed for more information and at the end of the two (!) hours she told me she strongly suspected gluten and sent me off for testing. I'll give you one guess as to how those results came back.