Friday, December 19, 2008

The Easiest GAPS-Friendly Desserts I've Thought Of

Coconut-stuffed Date Sweets

Coconut butter spread, slightly warmed (we get a lovely one by Artemisia, but I think you could take whole coconut and just blend the meat with the fat and a bit of the water for a similar spread)
Chilled dates

Slice each date on one side, open wide and remove the pit. Scoop about a 1/4 to 1/2 ts coconut butter into the place where the pit was. Close around the butter which will then harden into a fudgy center. Eat.

Bananas and Creme Fraiche

Slice up bananas and top with homemade creme fraiche. Eat.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Strange Loaf

It's not quite bread and just short of a souffle. It's sort of nutty, having a nice base of sunflower seeds (this is a test of the emergency allergy system, it's only a test) and squash. Lots of eggs. Forgot the baking soda and it rose anyway. Really.

It's based on the SCD sandwich bun recipe, but I blended it instead of food-processed it. It has no almonds. (Of course.) So it wasn't hard enough to form into buns. I poured it into a loaf pan instead and baked it for an incredible 1.5 hours.

Put into blender:

5 pitted medjool dates
1 cup dry curd cottage cheese (ours was cultured and gave the loaf a nice tang)
1 cup ground sunflower seeds, previously soaked in salted water and slow-roasted at 170 F until dry
1.5 cups sweet butternut squash
3 eggs
1/4 c butter
(feel free to add 1 ts of baking soda - I forgot, but it is part of the recipe.)

Blend well. Pour into bowl.

Add about a tablespoon or two of coconut flour to stiffen it slightly. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for a LOONNNNGGGG time. For me it was 1.5 hours. It puffed up and got nice and brown on the top. It's golden inside with lots of nice loft.

It's a bit soft right out of the oven, but at Snackboy's request I sliced a few pieces off, cut each slice into 3 squares, added banana slices and creme fraiche to each one. Quite nice!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


After disemboweling my first coconut by hand with my husband's help, I have developed a great respect for those folks who get out their machetes, knives and hammers to do this every day.

Next up: homemade coconut butter!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a (mostly) GAPS Thanksgiving!

So, I made it to the sixth week and although I've had some awful setbacks here and there, I'm starting to feel better slowly. I think it will take the entire year, but I do see some nice improvements. And I'm eating much better.

Foods I've successfully introduced:
citrus, (raw) dairy in the form of butter, ghee, yogurt and cheese, greens, possibly macadamia nuts, although the jury is out on those.

Honestly, now that I can thoroughly enjoy a dessert of dates with coconut butter and the hopes of adding nuts to that...and CHEESE! My previously favorite food! Of course the raw stuff is the more expensive, but's not something I'd eat all the time.

So here's our (mostly) GAPS Thanksgiving plan:

Chicken soup with giblets, greens, onion and carrot, coconut milk kefir and a bit of sea salt.
1 chicken and 1 duck (no one here likes turkey), roasted, using butter to add fat to the breast
Cauliflower with raw butter and olive oil
Brown rice for everyone but me with butter and olive oil
Sauerkraut with cabbage, kale, carrots and radishes
Pickled cucumbers
Cranberry sauce with dates and orange bits
Raw milk cheddar and manchego with crackers for those who partake
Pumpkin custard with either creme fraiche or creme fraiche made into ice cream, depending on time, outdoor chill and mood.

I'll probably blend up a batch of squash cookies with the leftovers from the custard...but that's probably not going to happen until the day after.

So I have the pumpkin baked and the cranberry sauce made...although I discovered that Snackboy had eaten all the oranges that I got in preparation. (Serves me right for not saying anything.) He just came back with a bag of organic oranges and I have to add one of them...then it's done. I hesitate to use the blender with the baby asleep, but there will be no other time for custard. That's next.

Recipes soon!

Happy T-day!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Raw Milk!

It's been a while since I talked about dairy.
Since I started GAPS there have been a few hitches. Dairy hasn't been one of them. I started with raw butter a ways back, moved to ghee for the diet (no lactose, thank you!), and then, after a few weeks, started making yogurt from raw milk. It is THE BEST yogurt I have ever tasted. Best of all, I believe that Little Moo is completely able to digest it without a problem. I say that carefully, since she's biased against anything she can scoop with a spoon or sip like soup. If it's something she can chew and that she can hold in her hand, she's happy with it. Otherwise, she might like the taste, but there will be only one or two tastings and we never get to the three that make a complete allergy test.

Raw milk is one of those things that has been taboo for me. I've realized that my mother, who was raised in the 50s, has a much different philosophy about eradicating germs from her life than I do, although she herself had a yogurt and sourdough-making period when I was a kid. I tried to explain what the mainstream dairy industry was trying to do by insisting on eliminating all but a tiny number of "coliforms" in milk, but I think she can't quite get her head around the goodness of certain types of bacteria. (Now, watch as she responds to this post with her poem that she wrote years ago about yeasts...heh.) That kind of bias is, I think, something that most people have, which is a problem. The Standard American Diet (i.e. S.A.D.) has too few good bugs in it and as a result we're quite sick. Milk as all good Americans drink it is pasturized and homogenized, with the fat split away from it, then vitamins re-added to achieve...a food that gives you phlegm, minor amounts of damaged fats that could be carcinogenic due to exposure to high heats, very little of it's original vitamin, enzyme and mineral nutrition and none of its probiotic goodness.

Although I'd love to write more, these guys have done much of the job here:

The Campaign for Raw Milk

So here's my dilemma. I have heard from many a source that milk should be boiled or should be heated to at least 180 degrees and then cooled to body temperature before adding cultures. My question is, then, what does this do to the good rawness of this milk? I realize that I'm not pasturizing it, which is so harmful. I do know, though, that the good stuff in the milk can't necessarily survive such treatment.

Our electric oven doesn't do the job, so I need a yogurtmaker that I suspect is overheating the yogurt. Someone on a list suggested buying a plug-in dimmer, which I may do, and a calibrated thermometer, which I still have to research.

Anyone out there have any ideas?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kitchen Sink Blender Cookies/Autumn Root and Greens Soup

It finally got cool here tonight. Autumn has begun.

I'm sitting here looking at the table after dinner has been eaten by myself, Snackboy, Little Moo and Mother of Snackboy. There were several things to eat, all portioned out onto plates in smallish amounts. It was colorful...everything from rich red soup with greens to raw carrots and late tomatoes, to pastured chicken stirfried with leftover rice pasta and mushrooms. There were green beans, wine for Snackboy and his mother, and sauerkraut. Finally there were the most amazing cookies. As usual, they were a complete accident. They are, I think, late-week GAPS-friendly, although I have to check on all the ingredients.

Kitchen Sink Blender Cookies

1 cup cooked squash (I used butternut)
1 cup pitted dates
about 1" piece of ripe banana
1 hachiya persimmon, removed from skin, very ripe and gooey!
1 cup coconut oil (butter would also be fine here.)
1 egg and 1 yolk
2 ts guar gum
1 cup-2 tb coconut flour
1 ts baking powder
1/2 ts baking soda
1/2 ts cinnamon
1 ts vanilla
1/2 c raisins and/or nuts (optional)

In a strong blender, thoroughly blend the squash, dates, banana and persimmon and coconut oil until creamy. It was so tasty and appetizing at this point that I thought it might be nice to simply stop there and call it fruit pudding, but I had my heart set on autumnal cookies...if you'd like it as a pudding, then go for it. If you'd like to make cookies, keep reading.

At this point, I took the batter from the blender, but you could continue in the blender if it's more convenient.

Partially beat the egg and yolk. Mix into batter.
Add vanilla and cinnamon. Blend baking powder, soda and guar gum. Mix into wet ingredients.
Add coconut flour a little at a time until nicely creamy and somewhat stiff.
Add raisins and mix.

Grease a cookie pan well and drop by spoonfuls. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or a bit more. Tops should be brown. Insides spongy and moist.

Autumn Root and Greens Soup

1 red beet, chopped coarsely
1 carrot, chopped coarsely
about 1/3 skinned, cubed squash
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 ts butter, beef tallow or coconut oil
3 leaves kale or other greens, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
4 ts homemade coconut milk kefir
lime slices

In saucepan saute the onions in fat until half-cooked and sweet-smelling. Add beet, carrot, squash and broth. Bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer covered. Add greens. Simmer 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly in order to keep the kefir's probiotic organisms alive. Add kefir and squeezes of lime juice to taste. Serve with lime slices floating on top.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fried Bananas and Coconut Custard

Did you ever get one of those bunches of bananas that was so green that they just never ripened? We've had one of those for a few weeks now. It was threatening to simply go bad. That was the point at which I peeled them, fried them in coconut oil and discovered that they turned sweet in the pan!

Fried Bananas

1 bunch of questionably green bananas or a good bunch of not-too-soft ripe bananas. (This would also be superb with plantains)

2 tbs coconut oil

Peel and slice the bananas. Fry them until gooey in the middle and slightly crisp on the outsides. Serve with chilled coconut custard. It would also be nice to put that custard into an ice cream maker. Hmm. Yep. If you were wondering, San Francisco is about 80 degrees. Our apartment, with the malfunctioning radiators and timed steam heat system is probably about 90 degrees by dinner time. Yuck.

We're eating it chilled now. Even with the solidified coconut oil on it, it's delicious.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back to normal...Chicken soup

It happened fast. The grapefruit seed extract does wonders for sudden yeast attacks. I used 10 drops in cool filtered water, twice a day the first day and once a day the second. Aside from some problems on my hands, everything is normal and I'm back to my normal diet, whatever that may be.

I always forget to post my grandmother's (and possibly her grandmother's) chicken soup recipe. I've made a few adjustments to it.

Variation #1: for purists

1 whole soup chicken with gizzard, heart and neck, preferably organic, preferably pastured. I don't trust kosher chickens these days. Only 2 companies appear to have a chokehold on this business and that's not good for business or chicken-raising practices.

Back in the day the hens used to come with an occasional unlaid egg which would also get thrown into the pot. My mother told me that she and her sister used to fight over the boiled, soft-shelled egg when it was done. I believe that feet may have shown up in the broth as well occasionally. The only thing that wasn't there was the liver, head and beak. The liver makes the soup taste "gamey" according to my grandmother, which I've also found true. I can't speak for the other verboten parts. :)

1 whole onion
1 whole parsnip (not GAPS friendly, but super-tasty and traditional)
1 whole carrot
1 or 2 sprigs of fresh dill or a pinch or two of dried dill (I can't eat it, but perhaps you can!)

Wash the chicken with cold filtered water, inside and out. place it in a large soup pot or slow-cooker. Wash the organ meat and put it in the pot, too. Fill the pot 2/3 of the way with filtered water and place on the stove. Turn the burner onto high.

Wash and peel the onion. Leave it whole. Wash and scrape the parsnip. Cut into 3 or 4" long pieces. Wash and scrape the carrot. Cut into 3" or 4" long pieces. Put all the veggies in the water. Cover and wait for the water to boil. (Or cover slow cooker and go do something else for a day. Now isn't that much easier?)

On a stove: Turn it down immediately to simmer. Go do something else for a few hours, checking it occasionally. After 3-4 hours, it's soup.

When it's cool enough to handle, scoop out the chicken, organ meat and veggies. Eat the soup chicken with the soup or in the soup. The organ meat is good, too.

Version #2: for non-purists

2 chicken backs/necks
Organ meat if you can get it (not liver)
1 onion
1 carrot
1 parsnip (unless you're on GAPS)

Put it all into a pot, fill 2/3 with filtered water, and follow all the instructions above.

Pour the soup into jars or containers for storage. If in the fridge, after 3 days, reboil for 3 minutes before eating. This can be done for two or three sets of three days. Freeze before this deadline.

To make a nice veggie soup, cut up whatever veggies are in season. If you're on GAPS, peel and seed the veggies. Saute in tallow, lamb fat, coconut oil, butter or similar fat until slightly browned. Add broth. Add cut up chicken/organ meat if you like. Bring to boil. Simmer 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Variation on Loztnausten's Rice Sourdough Bread

So the new stove is in. It's minimal but works quite well. The refrigerator is great. Also minimal, but works. That's all we needed. Since I last posted (it was a while ago...sorry!) I've had a terrible reaction to a batch of pecans that had been dried for a while...then Snackboy went and turned off the light in the oven, which is what keeps it at 115 degrees...yeasty nuts! I had no idea until I tried them and a try was all it took. HUGE allergy attack, including allergic conjunctivitis. I was high on Benedryl all of yesterday when nothing else worked. I even went to get my eyes checked for infection, but it was just a reaction. My hands are a mess, as is my face, still. The hives are back...every night.

Okay, so there needs to be a bit of background on this.

The company that makes the rice sourdough bread, Food For Life, mysteriously stopped making it. I'm guessing that the wild-yeasted thing hit home and they had to reconsider their label. Anyway, that bread went down incredibly well with me and the yeast made very little impact. I found a lonely two loaves left at the co-op the other day and bought them.

So I continued to cut out rice, although I was less careful, since shaking by 5 is not my speed, especially since Little Moo is still nursing (and nonstop for these last molars...ack). I started cooking with coconut flour, which agrees with me.

I also tested crispy pecans, which appeared to be FINE...just so long as the light stays on all night!

So I had an enormous setback. I'm also finding that the BioKult doesn't kick the little yeasties like my old Klaire Labs Complete Powder. So I'm going back and forth between the two. Not what the doctor ordered, but triage must occur. I've put the old grapefruit seed extract into water again. I'll do that for a few days. Started on the butter oil...who knew that a supplement oil could taste wonderful on food? Waiting for the non-steroid herbal cream to come. Meanwhile I'm using the cortisones again at night so I can sleep.

I always get like this right after an attack, though. I think, well, now it's back and it won't go away, then a few weeks later, I'm clear and clean and feel better and wonder how I could have doubted the body's healing powers.

Okay, so I've been meaning to post this amazing recipe for ages. I have no idea if it's giving me problems, especially because I'm back to reacting constantly without knowing if anything is a trigger, but I think it is perhaps somewhat okay when I'm baseline.

Loztnausten is a blogger who is also a homeschooling mom of three. I've never met her, but her kids, me and Little Moo have a lot in common as far as our allergies go and she's done some amazing research on foods and cooking. Here's a variation on her sourdough bread recipe that has turned out an amazing loaf:

Sourdough Rice Bread


Mix 2 cups of brown rice flour with 2 cups of coconut milk kefir
Let stand 24 hours. If you don't make the bread immediately, feed it daily with 1 or 2 tbs each kefir and flour.

1/2 c tapioca starch
1/2 c coconut flour
1 t celtic sea salt
4 t guar gum

whip 6 egg whites until frothy (but not peaked)

into the meringue pour:
1/3 c olive oil
3 egg yolks
1 tb maple syrup
2 c starter

Mix in dry ingredients

Pour into loaf pan. It should be spreadable, but not hard like wheat bread dough. Loztnausten describes it as like "toothpaste." Refrigerate 8 hours. Loztnausten suggests "or overnight," but it clearly didn't rise as well for me then.

Rise in warm oven 1-2 hours until the top is cracked and the bottom is slightly liquid. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

Well, I have a grumpy 2-year old demanding "a boobie," pulling on my leg and there's dinner that needs to be put on the table...

Friday, September 26, 2008

So much for our new stove...

The handyman for our apartment is the worst flake. He says he'll be there at 11 and please call if there are any questions. He shows up at 3 demanding to know why I never called to confirm.

Today we had an appointment for 5:30. I busted a gut to get home and almost immediately cleared the path and took down the safety gate, took out all the recycling and made sure that everything he requested was in place to get the stove into our kitchen and our old stove out. At 5:40...nothing. The sitter looked out the door and found a little note saying that he left at 5:15 and that he'd be around tomorrow. I immediately called him, because we'll be out at a birthday party. He insists that he "knocked" but the sitter says she heard nothing and she was sitting in the next room within easy hearing of the door and what happens on the other side.

Now he wants the building manager to let him in. He says that we can just leave everything the way it is...he obviously doesn't have kids. So I told him that the gate goes back up and the storage furniture has to return to the hallway where it started and if he wants to come in tomorrow, it's up to him to clear it all and put it back the way he found it. If it's not, I'm complaining to the manager.

And no bread for him.

I was going to bake another loaf of that lovely kefir-sourdough rice bread, and it's now rising (hopefully) in our barely-functional old stove. (I figure I'll do it until I make the GAPS break...and that has to be after introducing nuts.) I'd better get back to (finally) pulling dinner together.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Rice Canary in a Disaccharide Coal Mine

Well, it's not a definite, objective, proven thing yet, but yesterday's flirtation with not eating rice yielded some interesting observations.

At about 1 pm I had chicken broth, a bit of meat, fruit, a slice of sourdough bread with a hunk of raw butter. The bread was Food For Life's "yeast-free" brown rice bread (the fact that it is probably a wild-yeasted sourdough hasn't hit their marketing department yet?), but I'm guessing that the disaccharide problem may be at least partly solved by the fermentation. I wasn't being a purist, just trying something new. At any rate, it felt different.

I got hungry again quickly and there were no snacks in sight. I haven't tried nuts since Little Moo was about 4 months old, so NT "crispy nuts" were out. The only portable food left were rice crackers which I decided to leave at home. I was shaking by the time I finished my workout and headed home at 6. When I got home I scoured the refrigerator for something I could eat quickly that wasn't just simple rice. The second slice of bread was frustratingly close to plain rice, but still felt different. Dinner included rice pasta, but it was still a day with an entire midday break from the stuff.

Last night I had no hives at all. Nothing even vaguely resembling them. Usually I get a tingle here or there by about 9 pm, even if no hives show up. I usually get rashes on the backs of my knees by then too, but they were also gone.

I'm wondering if I can get Little Moo squared away with some kind of nuts and start her on nut snacks instead of rice if those little rashes on the backs of her poor little knees will go away.

Unfortunately, if I find that nuts are not a possibility for us, the GAPS diet will not work in our case. There's just not enough on the menu that I can make that can be stored well at room temperature and taken out of the house for lunches or snacks. I've tried squash and other starchy veggies with her and she simply won't touch them no matter what the incarnation. I'm also afraid that Dr. Cowan simply prescribes this diet for everyone who comes into his office and isn't really looking that closely or thinking about options for the truly eating-impaired.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Well, the fun is over...for now. I have to put my rice away and eat other things. It's time for least it will be after I make my next big grocery run. It's not so different from my normal diet, actually, except for the lack of rice, which is a major staple for me. Just to try it, I went this afternoon without rice, just broth, fruit. I was super-hungry by 5 and not yet home. Meat is so expensive that actually having a piece with each meal will be pretty cost-prohibitive. Sigh. And coconut flour is also kinda pricey. On the other hand, the food is so much BETTER! It would be supercostly to buy it premade, even if that were possible. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two starters later....and other bits.

I don't have pictures this time, but I got the bread to work. It's not a true sourdough, though. The soured rice flour was so strong that anything I made out of it tasted off. Someone named Loztnausten made a meringue-based cold-fermented (?) "Almost Anything-Free Sourdough Bread" with kefired flour. So that's what I did. She used kefired apple juice, which would be off-limits to us, so I used our tried-and-true starter-based coconut milk kefir. The resulting bread is light and yeasty tasting, almost sweet. It has a texture and taste that reminds me a bit of one of those cheese danishes that I couldn't dream of eating any more. I think in a gas oven, it would have risen much better, but even a bit heavy, it's delicious! 

I was so excited with her blog that I actually e-mailed her. She never answered, of course, but then, she might have noticed all the links that hook up with my name that have to do with San Francisco dance and theater and decided that I might be sent from the devil. Her profile indicates that she's a homeschooling Christian mother of 3. I am refusing to make any assumptions that she'd hate me simply because I live in a city where a same-sex couple holding hands walking down the street is a normal sight, or that I'm a Jew, or worse perhaps, a dancer. Or maybe I am and I'm completely paranoid. So perhaps she's just busy with her three children and her kitchen, and why do I think everyone responds to e-mails? 

Loztnausten's a terrific writer, appears to like speculative fiction - with a religious Christian twist, of course, but then, I like some of that stuff, too.

She takes great photos of her kitchen masterpieces that have been adapted brilliantly for a house full of gluten-, dairy-, soy-, corn-, grain-, and as she says, "everything-free" eaters. She also talks about how she feels her family's inability to eat comes from their use of antibiotics at some point, and many other things. I have a terrific respect for the amount of research and experimentation she's done. Her latest is an injera recipe. For real!

So now I have a cup measure...taken up with a fine starter that makes the house smell heavenly and also makes delicious pancakes. 

...and requires me to constantly be making kefired coconut milk, which is a bit expensive, but you know, probably less expensive than keeping us constantly stocked in rice-based baked goods. 

So I did the hardcore thing and ordered real water kefir grains from Dom, who is the guy in Australia who knows everything about kefir and is the main source, I believe, for many of the WAPF folks here. Then I won't have to keep buying starter and will also be able to make kefired sodas.

Speaking of kefired sodas, the Hibiscus-Rosehip drink didn't culture correctly, although it did become a strong and sweet brew that is quite tasty, so I strained it and put it in the fridge. It gave me a big fat hive on my left cheek, so I know it's chock-full of vitamin C. (Feh.) I gave it to the sitter since Little Moo has been blowing big wads of snot these last few days and Snackboy is 3000 miles away visiting his family for a week. (Which is why this blog hasn't been touched in a while.) 
This is the first cold she or any of us have had, for that matter, since we added extra vitamin D plus our off-the-grid diet. That's shy on a year now.

I could get bummed. I am. Single mothers do something incredible, especially those with no family around. Little Moo is so off her patterns right now. I think she's mad at her daddy since she doesn't yet understand comings and goings entirely.  She takes one look at the sitter, who has been here every day since Snackboy left, and simply says "No (sitter's name inserted here) today." Then the day is an uphill battle until the sitter leaves. I'm thinking of dismissing her for the rest of the time, but I honestly need her help since I really am alone here. 

Also, news from the itty bitty kitchen. We have a new-used refrigerator! While it's fridge section is smaller, the freezer is bigger and lower so I can actually see inside and can reach in all the way. Woohoo! The building manager has told me that we're going to get a new stove, too, although the way he works, it will be another few years before that happens, and at that point, it will be because I remind him during one of his many alcoholic funks at which point he tells me that he remembers not at all. Sigh. I think of all the things I could actually make if the oven actually worked. The baking element on this hunk of junk has what looks like boils on the rear left side and heats not at all back there. I broil all kinds of things on low with the grate down simply because I can't bake and have anything come out. Then I could also give true directions on this blog! Hah!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A quick and yummy soup dinner for two tired parents

Little Moo fell asleep in the car at 6pm after a napless day, so Snackboy and I dug into the fridge and made something up.

Tasty chicken miso soup with noodles

leftover rice noodles
2 cups of chicken bone broth and two mugs
2 or three snips from a bunch of chives
1 ts garbanzo miso per cup of soup.

Boil the soup for a moment and lower the heat. 

Add a handful of noodles to each cup
Add a spoonful of miso to each cup
Pour soup over noodles and miso
Snip chives over the tasty soup.

Velvet Coconut Cupcakes - 

They're actually based on the rice bread recipe, believe it or not. 
I substituted 4 tbs of coconut flour for rice flour and used coconut kefir as a liquid base with just a little coconut oil added, then added, as usual, a bit less maple syrup than the recipe calls for. I completely forgot the vanilla, so add that if you like (about 1 ts or so). It seems to taste fine without.

1 1/2 c coarse rice flour minus 4 tb
4 tb sweet coconut flour
1/4 c rice flour
1/4 c - 1 ts tapioca starch
1 ts arrowroot starch
1/2 ts guar gum
1 tb baking powder

1/2 c coconut milk kefir
about 2 tb coconut oil, melted but not hot
fill up the rest of a cup measure containing the kefir and oil with maple syrup (that's what, about 1/3 cup?)
1 cup tepid water

Blend all dry ingredients.
Blend all wet ingredients except water.

Add wet to dry, mix well. Add water. Mix well.

Pour into muffin cups lined with paper liners. Check at 20 minutes. They may need another 5 or so. They were just barely brown on top and done in the middle, although the crumb is very soft. Little Moo prefers things soft, but you and yours might like a bit of a crust on it. 

Enjoy! Dip in custard. 

Lest you think that I'm all about complaining about our's the result of some serious fun today: velvet coconut cupcakes and date-vanilla custard to dip! As usual, they're gluten-, just-about-all-grain-, dairy-, corn- and soy-free. The little grains in the custard are from the date sugar. If I could do it again, I'd make it with rapadura or sucanat, but that's what I had. 

We're going to a birthday party for a little friend of Little Moo's. Unfortunately it's right when she's at her most tired and hasn't yet napped, so we're most likely going to go, hand over our present, play for a bit, have our snack and then go. It seemed to be very important not just to bring lunch, but also to bring a sweet treat for Little Moo when all those gluten and dairy eaters brandish their forks for birthday cake.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How dysfunctional can it get?

Let's see...we've needed duct tape to keep the freezer sealed up since we moved in and our stove is probably from the 70s. You can't really tell by the photograph, but each burner is at around a 20 degree angle unless you mess with it each time...then it's still tilted and half the burner doesn't really heat anything, so you have to constantly turn the pans around to cook the contents. The oven heats up well in front, moderately in the middle and anything beyond that is never fully cooked, so you have to turn things in the oven, too, which does NOT work for cakes. Nothing rises...when I made the special bread for Rain's birthday in Philadelphia, it looked like a fine CAKE! Here it's like something shy of hardtack (although quite tasty).

The good news is that we're getting a new fridge and possibly a new stove on Monday!!!! Yay!!!!! 

Pictures from the Itty Bitty Kitchen #1

Finally, some kitchen images. Just to give you an idea of how small this little kitchen/chemistry lab is...this is as far as I could get back to shoot. It's about 8' square. The rice flour starter is bubbling happily on the toaster oven and gets moved briefly when I cook something in there. The big bowl is the beginnings of what I hope will be partly recycled grain sponge. I took it out to stir it after some hours on top of the fridge. It smells great, but no bubbles as yet. The third image is our latest crock of sauerkraut which eventually has to go live on top of the fridge since that little table is the only workspace. 

More pics of our itty bitty kitchen soon...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A mysteriously tasty happy accident: Smoky Summer Squash

This happened because I tossed them into the pan and forgot about them while I did other things. They got slightly dry and over-brown on the outside so I drizzled them with olive oil after. Something about the tastes from both oils and the smoked salt does something unexpectedly magnificent. 

3 or 4 big summer squashes (the kind that are shaped like small UFOs)
a smattering of smoked salt, available at Rainbow Grocery
about 1 tb coconut oil
a small drizzle of olive oil.

Slice up the squashes about 1/2" or so thick. Lay them in a pan. Spread the coconut oil over them with a butter knife. Sprinkle a small bit of the smoked salt over it and bake at 350 degrees until slightly brown on the outside. I'm guessing it was about 30-40 minutes, but your oven probably works better than ours, so it probably won't take so long. Remove from oven when done and drizzle olive oil on the squash pieces. Serve warm. 

Houston, We Have Bubbles

Sorry for the terrible pun. But we do. Have bubbles. 
Yesterday our oceanside neighborhood got foggy and cold again, so I put the starter with its three little black grapes in it beside the cooking stew on top of our toaster oven. This morning I woke to an oddly sweet, spicy, winey smell. When I came into the kitchen, the starter had bubbled! So I picked out the grapes, added 2 tablespoons of flour, stirred and put it back on the table. Then I made Little Moo's toast and will replace the bowl on top of the toaster oven after for the warmth. Now I'm going to have to keep something cooking all the time so that the chill doesn't invade again.

Here's to lactobaccillus sanfranciscensus!

Monday, September 8, 2008

More on tomatoes, rice sourdough, soured radishes

The tomato sauce turned out amazingly. Slow-cooked foods are perfect for parents. I get the thing chopped and put together, then simmer it super-slow while losing track of time with Little Moo (for all intensive purposes, an alias, not so secret for those who know us, for DD). When she's finally in bed, bathed and played out, I go back to the kitchen to the fragrance of tomatoes and onions that has completely filled the front half of our place. No garlic this time...that's one too many challenges for me. The 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil is quite enough, thank you! I added the aforesaid basil and let the 30 minute clock in my head go off. Then I put the delicious results away in the fridge in a glass storage bowl. 

No bubbles yet in our rice flour starter. Just three lonely grapes bobbing around like pigs in mud. 

The radishes alternately smell rich and winey and then don't smell at all. I checked them yesterday and they were still not pickley enough. 

We have found that radishes make incredibly tasty pickles. They're also good mixed with young squashes, tiny cucumbers and other small or sliced things. The brine becomes a lovely pink color.

Pickled Radishes

(I used Sandor Katz's salt-to-water measurements)

Slice up two large daikon roots and two bunches of red radishes. Layer into a 2 gallon crock with a hunk of onion at the bottom. (Sorry if "a hunk" isn't never is for me. Suffice it to say we never eat the onion since it gives all of us gas, so I just slice off about 1/8 to 1/4 of a yellow onion for flavor and toss it when the results get ladled into jars.)

Measure water to salt: 4 c water to 3 tb sea salt. I usually wind up making two or three 4 c measures. Pour over the radishes and press a plate down over them so that every bit is submerged with about 1 inch of brine over the plate and no floaties. 

Cover with a clean cloth and tie around the lip of the crock. 

Let ferment for about 1 week. You're supposed to check every few days but I never get around to it. I've always had good results. I also always get what Katz calls "bloom." I never let it scare me. I just scoop off the mold with a big spoon and it's always tasty beneath. 

I've had good results with Celtic salt and better ones with Esprit de Sel, a rocky French salt available at Rainbow. Use more when it's hot out, less when it's cool.

We've just found that at least I can eat black pepper so I might wind up tossing a few peppercorns at the bottom next time. 


Hooray for Tomatoes!

Yes, we can eat least I can and we know that Snackboy can. DD has sniffed at every bit of tomato that has landed on her plate. I think she expected the sweet but of course acidic little grape tomato to be a grape and that was just not okay. Then of course, each time a tomato showed up it was insult added to injury. So tonight I made a slowly simmered tomato sauce based on Nourishing Traditions's chunky version. (Which is really just like my old sauce with more care taken to remove skins and seeds 'cause I'm just more slow-foody these days.)

Basil appears to be okay. We'll see. 

Tomorrow night we're having some tasty Tinkyada rice pasta with sauce and some slow-cooked lamb, squash and kraut. Yum! New food!

I've also taken the plunge and put up Jessica Prentiss' Hibiscus and Rosehip kefirred soda. DD and I have been drinking hibiscus tea now for about a week with no bad effects and have had lemon for nearly a month now with no problem. I'm hoping that the rosehips will be fine if cultured. 

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Slow Food Nation 08

We finally made it today, on the last day, in the last hour. We couldn't really afford the entrance fee for the events, so we were glad to just stroll around the stalls and see the lovely garden that was right in the middle of Civic Center. I was excited to see Organic Pastures with their raw dairy and their evangelizing of real milk. We bought 2 tubs of lovely butter. One to use and one to freeze. Each tub was only $5! It's about twice that at Rainbow and they're always out of it by the time we get there. I figured that it would actually be worth while to drive all the way to Fresno to stock up on the stuff a few times a year instead of going to Rainbow, even with the phone book coupons. 

In the middle of the square, beside the garden, was a small bandstand with all kinds of music going on. There was great produce from all over California. We stopped at the Pt. Reyes Bookstore stand to check out the books that were, in the last half-hour, on sale for 30% off. I bought "Full Moon Feast" by Jessica Prentiss. I read her first essay while Rain slept this afternoon. She wrote about her young-adulthood in which she partook of what Pollan calls our "national eating disorder," that is, being faced with excess, but little real food, and finding herself obsessed, yet incapable of eating well. 

That made me think. The oddity of starvation when food is so plentiful, yet so awful, makes horrible sense in a way. I grew up eating what my mother grew in her garden, along with traditional foods like chicken bone broth, homemade sourdoughs and meats from the supermarket cooked simply. Some time in the late 70s or early 80s, the foods in the market changed. Corn and soy were hidden in prepared foods. Corn syrups took the place of sugar. Weirdnesses like Nutrasweet joined saccarin on the shelves. The meat industry became more and more deregulated, resulting in an unsafe meat supply, full of hormones and antibiotics. Our eating lives became the equivalent of being alone in a crowd. People were surrounded by huge excesses of food, but it was junk, stripped of nutrients and filled with additives. It became more common to see fat, yet malnourished poor people, while toned, slim physiques became the mark of the wealthy. The overweight and the thin were all starving, because despite the huge amounts of food, with the illusion of choice (it was all wheat, soy and corn additives, citric acid, corn syrup, vegetables and fruits were tasteless and filled with pesticides, corn-fed meats with little nutrient value and too much fat, etc), but actually none. If you were sensitive to corn, soy, wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, citrus or any of the other big 8, you were up a creek. 

I realized something when I started to buy and prepare real foods. Food is expensive. It's also rare to find. There are places in the country where it's impossible to get produce without pesticides or that can be guaranteed not to have been watered with raw sewage or chemical runoff. Most of the country drinks pasturized and homogenized milks and eats meats that some from the centralized slaughterhouse system. In fact, it's nearly impossible for independent ranches like Marin Sun Farms to slaughter their own animals thanks to the regulatory system that is weighted towards big business. A woman I saw at the market today told me that in the centralized slaughterhouses, the ranches are told that there may not be a guarantee that the meat they will receive will be the cows that went in. That means a lot if those cows were raised as carefully as they are at MSF. Although raw milk has made it back to our markets legally, it's always under threat from big dairy. It's rarely seen at any market and often has to be purchased through a cow-share.

Real food is scarce. It is unbelievably expensive. If we choose to only eat real food, we eat sparsely by necessity. The famine, is, in many ways, real. 

Okay. Now I have to reserve Michael Pollan's new book at the library. :)

Thoughts around a chicken dinner

As I sit before the remains of my plate, I watch my 2-year-old run around the living room with her daddy, pulling out pans and spoons and bowls, mixing and "cooking." She announces to my husband that "it's hot! I have to be careful!" He asks what she's cooking and she says loudly "PANcakes!" She uses a lot of exclamation points these days for everything, but especially the "food" that she makes in her "kitchen." Her "kitchen" exists on the bottom shelf of everything within reach in the dining room where she stores her implements....a tiny steel pot with a handle, a potholder, several small plates, wooden and plastic, spoons, and other bits and pieces. She's now proudly feeding her baby doll pancakes.

My plate is still colorful. It's my idea of the perfect dinner, more than half-eaten. I bought a small organic chicken from our local market at 6001 California St., locally raised and slaughtered in Petaluma. There was a nice head of kale and brown rice from Other Avenues Co-op in the Outer Sunset and homemade sauerkraut that is a shocking shade of pink against the greens. The kale was stewed with chicken drippings and a bit of beef tallow. The chicken was cooked very simply, roasted at a fairly low temperature with a bit of olive oil on top. When it was newly on the plate there was a lovely heap of brightly colored kale and kraut with the soft beige chicken and rice on either side. I know that the Weston A. Price people would be all over me for the fairly low fat content of this meal. We don't do laundry on washboards anymore, nor do we work in the fields from dawn to dusk or need the huge calorie load. I love the idea of eating fat well, but there's nothing wrong with a nicely distributed plate, either. 

I enjoy using everything and get several long-term recipes going at once. While I cooked the chicken, I soaked a beef bone, then put it in a crock pot with rice, a bit of  tapioca starch, a few pounds of stew beef and the broth from cooking the kale. The back of the chicken will be turned into broth in a day or so, then after that, broth-cooked rice. If I could get my hands on some decent giblets (or any giblets, actually) I could add that to the broth, too. The leftover kale will be added to the stew, possibly with leftover bits of chicken. There's a crock that's been on the butcher block since Thursday that has about three or four days left on its fermentation that contains a nice batch of tiny cucumbers in brine. 

I also enjoy sitting at the table with my husband and daughter while we all eat. My daughter asks for "a big one," an assisted forkful of a bit of everything on her plate (except for greens). My husband goes back for seconds. My child can't get enough of sauerkraut and anything salty or spicy. She started eating those foods by the time she was 11 months old. She's only now starting to be interested at all in sweet things.

All this was made in a kitchen about 8 feet square with an electric oven that barely works and burners that all sit at creative angles. (Just imagine making eggs in an iron skillet at a 20 degree angle...yep. Welcome to my life.) Our refrigerator and freezer doors seem to have no seal and are closed with duct tape. But I manage quite well. In fact, fermentation is a no-brainer in a kitchen like ours. I make coconut milk kefir in a jar that lives in our dining room hutch for 24 hours. Sauerkraut and other salt-brine pickles stay in one large crock and one small, accompanied by a small army of glass canning jars. All of them are either on top of the fridge from where my husband sweetly moves them to the butcher block table for midway checks, or on the butcher block table where I do most of the kitchen work. 

I should sign off for now to get out the coconut milk custard and fruit that's waiting for everyone in the fridge.

I wish you all a tasty, slow and savory dinner. (We went to the final day of the Slow Food festival here in San Francisco today...more on that later if I have time.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another birthday night burgers!

By the way, folks, that green burger recipe does beautifully with ground grass-fed bison meat. We used kale chopped in my great-grandmother's ancient five-and-dime chopper and bowl set. (We think it's from the 1920s or so.) with coarsely chopped onion, sauteed. I served it over rice pasta with a gorgeous salad made by my husband, John, the salad expert with homegrown tomatoes and sweet organic cucumbers from the Oakmont Farmers' Market in suburban Phila.

Amazingly Tasty Coconut Milk Custard

It was amazing on the cake from the last entry, but also good just as a pudding with fruit.
  • 2 c whole coconut milk (not "light")
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c sugar (we used turbinado here, but I think raw sugar like rapadura would be even better. White is fine if that's all you have)

Beat the yolks. Blend the yolks and sugar together in a small bowl. Scald the coconut milk. (Coconut milk scalds differently than dairy milk. It doesn't bubble at the edges the same way, but it does seem to bubble up in the center somewhat before it takes off on a rolling boil. I found that medium heat did well here.)

Turn down heat to low and SLOWLY add the yolks and sugar mixture, a bit at a time. Blend quickly and well to prevent yolks from setting before mixed in. When it's all mixed in, turn up the heat a bit and stir in a figure-eight until the custard starts to set. It might take a while. (Thanks to my mother for stirring endlessly while I moved on to cook another part of the dinner!)

Pour the custard into a nice dish and allow to cool to room temp. Then put into fridge to cool all the way.

SUPER yummy with fruit. This batch served six or so over cake with fruit.

Ricebread makes a comeback as birthday cake!

We had a fabulous birthday party - the first one of two - for Rain's 2nd birthday tonight. My mother and I took over the kitchen and sent my dad packing. We had some decent girl-time cooking and baking together, which we don't usually get. Rain's deal was "Rain no pants! No underwear!" So, she was the pantsless baby. Friends of the family I haven't seen in years came. They enjoy exciting new foods, so they were really into the grass-fed buffalo and veggies on rice pasta. (Whew.)

I baked a totally miraculous cake that was gluten-, corn-, soy- and dairy-free. Unlike us, my parents have a great oven, and it actually ROSE. We made a custard from coconut milk, egg yolks and sugar and had tons of fruit with it.

Note: My dad ran out to the store to get vanilla extract. In suburban Phila, there's next to no options for whole foods, so there was one kind of vanilla - McCormacks. I noticed after I let a few bits into the cake that it has CORN SYRUP in it. What the heck, right? Okay. So, not entirely happy with that, but I'm not the elephant man yet, and my child seems to be okay. Anyway, if you don't do corn, don't get McCormacks. I'm sure the recipe would be fine with extra banana and no vanilla, if necessary. Even better. Use a vanilla bean!

This cake was basically the Ricebread recipe from the Allergy Survival Guide with a few twists.

  • 1 1/2 c rice flour1/2 c flour mix (1 part rice flour to 1 part tapioca starch)1 tb baking powder
  • 1/2 c coconut oil, melted
  • almost 1/2 c maple syrup
  • about 1/4 of a soft banana, mashed
  • 1 whole egg + one yolk, beaten
  • about 1/2 ts vanilla extract. (Stopped short when I realized it had corn syrup in it! I'm sure it would be tasty with 1 whole ts, or even a vanilla bean...)
  • 9" round pan. Ours was Pyrex glass and worked fantastically.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend dry ingredients well. Blend wet ingredients: Put mashed banana into a cup measure and fill up the rest of the way with maple syrup to 1/2 cup line. Blend with oil, egg, vanilla. Add wet ingredients minus the water to dry. Add water at the end. Mix well

Pour into a greased pan (we used coconut oil) and bake for about 45 minutes.

See next entry for tasty coconut milk custard recipe...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Coconut Milk Kefir

We're dairy, soy and nut-free at the moment, so finding a good cultured food for Rain was a challenge. Then we found coconut milk, which makes a great yogurt or kefir. If we had a gas stove with a pilot light, I'd be all over yogurt, and do use a yogurt maker from time to time, but the kefir is both easier and tastier, we've found.

Although I'd love to make this "raw," I do boil the milk for 3 minutes. According to our nutritionist, there are potential bugs in coconut milk that are best not included in home made cultures.

This stuff is incredibly tasty blended with fruit and avocado to thicken. Since it's not as protein-rich as dairy or nut milk, I sometimes cook up a batch of beans (well-soaked in bicarbonate and water overnight), then blend a tablespoon or so of those per cup. If it's not sweet enough, blend in one or two dried dates. Yum!

Another idea for serving is to make a pancake or sweet rice-based bread, then cover with strawberries and use the kefir like creme fraiche on top.

It can be added to pancake batter to make something that tastes a lot like buttermilk pancakes.

Lastly, I do use a sealed jar to culture it, mainly because when I first started doing it, I didn't know that it wasn't the best idea. Nothing bad has ever happened with the kefir, and no jar has ever exploded, but it is probably better to cover the jar with a clean cloth bound tightly to the neck.

3 cans full-fat organic coconut milk
1 packet freeze-dried kefir starter (I use Yogourmet)
1 clean half-gallon glass jar

Pour all three cans of milk into a pot, whisk the water into the cream and boil for three minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool until roughly body temperature. Pour through a strainer into a mixing bowl.

Empty the contents of one packet of starter into a small bowl. Add just enough milk to blend with the starter and blend well until fully dissolved. Then mix this combination of milk and starter in with the rest of the milk. Pour into the mason jar, cover and leave on a shelf or some place that won't be disturbed for 12-24 hours. I always let it go for 24, myself.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rain's Allergic to Pork

How lovely. Another vomit marathon. Luckily, she's okay. I think the stuff doesn't even get into her system since she pukes it out before it can do damage.

Apples still give her a tummy ache.

Now I don't know about dairy, and we're too tired to try a new food.

The good news is that sesame is fine.

More later...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Homemade Gatorade

We have lots of food allergies here. Mine come out on my skin. John's in migraines, although we're not sure of the culprits with him. For our daughter, her allergies make her vomit...for hours. She can't keep anything down and it's terribly worrisome, but each time, she's in bad shape overnight and the following day seems to be okay. By the following evening, she's fine. One reason why is this nifty tea that both hydrates and replaces electrolytes. I call it homemade gatorade since it does what gatorade or Pedialyte professes to do without the chemicals or the colorings.

1 part filtered water to 1 part chamomile infusion
Unprocessed, uniodized sea salt to taste

The chamomile reduces inflammation and irritation in the stomach and gut. The salt is the critical part. If your salt is clear or white and the crystals slide easily over each other, it's processed. Avoid that stuff. The salt you want is grey and cakey and would be called "Celtic" or "unprocessed" sea salt. My favorite is called Esprit de Sel and is in large rocky chunks, but there are many kinds. The good stuff has a mineral composition not unlike human blood, which is why it's so good to ingest when you've been losing fluids. It even tastes better than processed salt, probably because it's not just sodium, but magnesium, manganese, zinc, etc.

If a baby or child has been throwing up and can't keep anything down wait until they can take a gulp or two of liquid and feed this to them by the single spoonful every five minutes. When it looks like they can keep it down, let them sip it slowly until they're feeling better. Serve it to them for the rest of the day alternating with plain water.

It's also great after heavy exercise.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Medicinal Strength Chamomile Infusion

This is basically chamomile tea deluxe. Chamomile is nature's antibacterial herb. It's soothing and reduces irritation and inflammation. We keep a jar in the fridge all the time thanks to the advice of Dr. Song.

Brew up 1 tablespoon of organic chamomile flowers in a cloth bag or tea ball in a 1/2 gallon mason jar full of hot (not boiling) filtered water. The tea should steep for at least 20 minutes to an hour or so. When the mixture looks pretty darn strong, remove the bag and put in the fridge. It should last about 5 days or so. Once it's cold, don't rewarm too much, and DON'T heat it in the microwave!


For eye infections or irritations:
Mix with a few drops of calendula oil, wet the end of a clean cloth with the solution, drip or gently swab into eyes.

For sore, rashy skin:
Bathe in a tub with warm water and 2 cups of the infusion

To use as an antibacterial compress:
Soak a clean cloth in the infusion and press onto broken skin. If the skin is dry and itchy, include evening primrose oil or calendula

For internal inflammation, colds, irritable bowel or other digestive issues, drink a cup. It can also be diluted with filtered water for something like an iced chamomile tea.

For hot days:
Dilute with filtered water to taste, add a bit of lemon and ice to taste.

A Treatment for Excema

This is from a combination of experience with nutrition and our pediatrician, Dr. Elisa Song, who in very simple terms...ROCKS.

My daughter, like me and her daddy, has excema. I have had it for my entire life and have treated it with a combination of cortisone cream and coping.

A while back, I discovered cod liver oil. My skin is clear, for the most part, for the first time in my life. I take two tablespoons full a day.

For our daughter, we started to add 1/8th teaspoon of lemon-flavored Nordic Natural CLA to her morning rice with sea salt and she gobbles it up. That, in and of itself helped. Then we used Dr. Song's recipe for salve and gave her long evening soaks in warm baths with 2 cups herbal-strength chamomile tea (steep a full tablespoon at least in a mason jar of hot but not boiling filtered water for 20 minutes minimum). The rash went away in two days. That's after over a month of awful rash and no improvement no matter what we tried.

Excema Salve ala Dr. Song

1 quarter-sized dollop of pure, organic, unadulterated shea butter
1 capsule of Evening Primrose Oil

Blend in your hand until the shea butter is smooth and the oil is completely mixed in.
It's possible to make a little jar of it to keep around, too.

Green Burgers: how to get a toddler to eat her vegetables

When my daughter decided that greenness meant "not food" I decided to get serious about getting greens into her somehow. The answer? She's a diehard carnivore. We follow Weston A. Price's general guidelines (although we're gluten and dairy free), so we eat as much grass-fed meat and pastured eggs as we can afford. The fattier and more flavorful meat is, the more she likes it. So...

Green Burgers:

1 lb pastured ground lamb
1 lb pastured ground beef
1 bunch of the greens of your choice (we enjoyed kale, chard and mustard greens)


1 package of organic frozen spinach
Sea salt to taste

Gently steam the greens and puree well.

Mix the ground beef together with the lamb and mix the vegetable puree through it well. Form into slightly flattened balls and line a pan with them.

Broil until the interior is 140 degrees F. I like to use a low temp for broiling since we have an awful wacky electric oven that burns everything and I like to cook at lower temps anyway to keep in the nutrients. I keep the temperature setting at 350, cook for about 15 minutes or so and turn once.

Serve with rice or rice pasta and home made sauerkraut or fermented veggies. Save the fat from the burgers, which has a nice green color and the water from the steamed greens. The steaming water makes a nice addition to bone broth. The tallow is delicious for frying eggs the next day or to add to soups.

Which is another thing...DD will also eat nearly any vegetable that has been fermented. To date, that includes: beets, cucumbers, cabbage, daikon, red radish and yellow summer squash. She refused the bok choy. I thought that was perfectly fine considering at this point she now eats greens at least once a day and was downing a fine combination of pickled beets and sauerkraut that night.