Sunday, December 19, 2010

A step beyond applesauce.

We have a philosophy in our family that no one goes without. That means that even though we don't eat gluten, dairy, soy, corn, processed sugar, packaged food or other kind of Standard American Diet fare, that everyone gets something delicious to eat and if you want dessert, you get dessert. And it's good. Not just good. It's the dessert that all your friends wish they were eating instead of theirs.

This is a take on applesauce that wound up becoming a seasonal pudding that is sweet enough for dessert, yet has enough fat in it to keep that fructose from turning our not-exactly-placid child into a superball in play at 6pm.

Just be aware, for those of you watching your sugar intake, that one small serving of this pudding is at least one apple's worth of the sweet stuff, so limit accordingly. If you can have dairy, make layers of whipped cream between layers of the pudding, or serve a small amount over a slice of stevia-sweetened or unsweetened coconut bread, or add a layer of ground nuts to the serving dish to lessen the amount of the sugar per serving. (I could see a possibility for a nut/apple/persimmon pudding, too, which would also cut the sugar.)

Apple Persimmon Sauce (or Pudding, depends on how you spin it, really)

4 or 5 apples
1 nicely ripe fuyu persimmon
2-3 tablespoons ghee
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
a spritz of water

Peel, core and cut up the apples, peel and cut up the persimmon and put in a saucepan with a bit of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until soft. Drain. Put the hot fruit into a blender. Add the ghee and blend well. Add vanilla if you like. Chill well.

The ghee makes it stiffen slightly when chilled.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GAPS Latkes!!!!

I am thrilled to say that for the first time in 2 years I have eaten latkes with my family on the first night of Chanukah. Happy Chanukah, by the way. :)

So, here it is. It mainly speaks for itself, but I will say that these are probably the tastiest latkes I've had, and since they're not white potato, they don't turn that odd purple color when your back is turned. They're not mealy and turn this glorious golden yellow color when fried. Our four-year-old somehow ate 4 large ones before I could even get to the table. She actually favored her latkes over the slices of apple on her plate. (No time to make applesauce tonight, so everyone had some fresh apple pieces.)

My one issue is that there's not enough starch in these roots to really bind them together. Ours had that consistency of "Chanukah Chash Browns" in places, which was fine. If the solidity of the pancakes is very important to you, more eggs would be helpful, as would a period of draining and more coconut flour.

GAPS Latkes

1 rutabaga
1 celery root
1 kohlrabi
1 onion
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pepper to taste
3 eggs
about 3 tablespoons coconut flour (more if necessary to sop up the moisture)
enough grapeseed oil mixed with ghee to fill a skillet to halfway up the sides of each latke.

Wash, peel and grate the roots, put in a big bowl. Finely chop the onion and add to the bowl. Add the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Beat the eggs. Add the eggs and mix well. Add enough coconut flour to absorb the moisture (ours were a bit wet, but it cooked tasted fine).

Heat the fat. Fry the latkes on both sides - they take longer than you'd think.
Get to the table fast before everyone eats your share while you're cooking the last few!

Serve with a combination of apple something and something creamy. If you do dairy, raw sour cream would do the trick with applesauce. If you don't do dairy, double culture some coconut milk kefir until it thickens, then put a dollop of that with the apple stuff. I could see a combination of the cream with some nice fresh apple shavings, too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pie, take 2

Here it is...or was. Even the gluten and dairy eaters seemed to enjoy it. I've noticed that the coconut milk plus ghee non-dairy version cracks no matter how delicately it's baked.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ugly, but tasty

That ugly, ugly pie was absolutely fantastic, by the way.

Now to make another one. Sigh.

I forgot to mention that our Thanksgiving meal (and our leftovers for the next three days, of course) include a jar of my raw cultured cranberry sauce. I think the recipe is on last year's blog. I'll dig it out and will provide a link...

Here it is:

This year's changes. I'm watching the lemon juice for Rain and there's no nuts for me. In general I'm trying to vary our foods as much as possible - I included the meat of one hachiya persimmon instead of pear, substituted one peeled orange for lemon juice, left off the raisins and the nuts and used a few drops of stevia. I also thought there was enough cinnamon in our meal, so I left that off, as well and let the taste of the persimmon come through more.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pie

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving. The apple persimmon raisin bread is baked (and a small piece will not be missed). The duck is defrosting. The vegetable soup is made and awaits reheating for tomorrow's dinner. The pie...

The pie. 

The pie is overcooked. 

Before I say another thing, I have enough squash, eggs, ghee (oh, dear, and I have to make more of that tomorrow!), dates, etc for one more. But there's nothing more difficult for my late night ego to deal with than a final recipe botched. (Did I ever mention that although I appear to be a night owl, that I'm more functional in the mornings?)

Today I FINALLY bought an oven thermometer. I intend to check the temperature on that dear appliance tomorrow because it's almost certainly too hot. I've known this for a while, but after a busy day the pie didn't start until after supper and I was already tired. I waited 43 of the 45 minutes before suddenly remembering its overwarm tendencies. By then it was too late. Snackboy has proclaimed it a "breakfast pie." It doesn't smell burnt and the top, although too brown, peels away to reveal a lovely, golden orange interior. That coconut flour crust is the most temperamental I've ever baked. Now that's got to be peeled off the sides of the pan. That was something of an experiment and I should have known better. The last pie crust had to end at the top of the filling because it burns at the drop of a hat. There's no way it could survive the initial 425 degree baking temperature for this pie (that was no doubt more like 450 in our oven...).

It wouldn't be such a big deal except for the fact that this pie is our showcase donation to dessert at our friends' Thanksgiving gathering tomorrow. Thanks to our food limitations as well as this month's insanity we've decided to have our own Thanksgiving the way we like it. We'll have vegetable soup, roast duck and rice-bread stuffing, apple raisin persimmon bread (GAPS-friendly - only slightly sweet), steamed green beans, sweet potato rounds with cinnamon and ghee. Then we'll bring out the pie to our friends' place. I figured I'd get that done tonight. Oh well. One more thing to do tomorrow. 

After we have pie for breakfast, of course. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yay! Eggs are back! Coconut stovetop custard...

So we're back eating eggs again and Little Moo's rashes are looking much better. BioSet has made a huge difference. If you're wondering what that is, go here:

Meanwhile, we had an amazing coconut milk custard tonight. It was fine for my (now modified) GAPS limitations. The only sweetener was a handful of raisins and a few drops of stevia. The fat from the eggs and the coconut milk made it so delicious that no one missed the extra sweetness. The gelatin adds goodness and healing for the gut.


1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon Bernard Jensen's gelatin
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 handful of raisins
2 drops liquid stevia

Put the coconut milk, gelatin and vanilla in the top of a double boiler. As it heats, whisk well. Add the raisins. Cover until it's hot to the touch, but not boiling. The sweetness from the raisins should leak into the mixture.

While whisking, slowly add the egg yolks and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens slightly. (Be patient here. Coconut has a different chemistry than dairy. I've found that it takes a bit longer to thicken. On the other hand, it's much more forgiving, too.)

Remove from heat and beat the steam out for a moment or two. Add about 2 drops of stevia while beating. Then pour into cups and chill well for a few hours.

This is also a great way to make a sweet or unsweet coconut milk cream for tea, cake topping, filling, parfait layering, ice-cream making, etc. For a harder custard add more gelatin.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blogging the Borscht!

I made borscht tonight.

Now when I was a kid, borscht was this awful cold watery stuff that was a magenta color that nothing in this world should achieve naturally. It was generally out of a bottle with a thick blob of sour cream in the middle. And the taste. Ugh. It was weirdly sweet and dirty tasting with an edge of chemical preservatives. Ew.

Since I started this thing with traditional cooking I've discovered that many of the adulterated dishes I'd hated as a kid are something else entirely when made from scratch. Borscht is one of those things.

First of all, Sandor Katz's version is made with home-pickled beets. About 2 weeks ago I diced up 5 lbs of beets, added brine and caraway and sealed it up for a week. When it came out it was delicious - sweet/sour and with a brine that was like blood. We discovered that it is amazing with any kind of meat and even better mixed into salad.

Today I made his borscht. Here's a variation on it:

Saute about 2 or 3 onions in a soup pot until brown in grapeseed oil. I had giant ones so I just used 2 and I sauteed for over 15 minutes.

chop and add:

2 carrots
1 root veggie (he calls for potato, so I used celery root. I'm sure turnip or something similar would also be good and add less salt to the result.)

Add 2 cups of pickled beets
Add 6 cups of water

Toast and grind up 1 tablespoon of caraway and add that.

Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes. Put into blender and blend until smooth.

Allow the soup to sit in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours and possibly all night, since it's better the following day.

Heat it up, put in a bowl and drizzle with a few spoons full of coconut milk or dairy kefir or yogurt.

Seriously, it's amazing. My one complaint is that it's a bit too salty. I think that next time I will rinse the beets before adding and will probably use a root other than celery.

Monday, September 20, 2010

10 things I've learned about food.

  1. Food is precious, as are the bodies and beings who eat it, and the land, sun, air and water that creates it.
  2. Food production is like great art and should be valued highly. 
  3. Food preparation is an art for everyone. Going the other way, everyone deserves to have good quality, well-prepared food in their life. They should also know how to make it themselves. It doesn't have to be fancy, just nutritious and well-made. We've lost the thread of mothers teaching young eaters of both sexes kitchen wisdom. I think there's just as much wrong with a culture that forces parents to overvalue the workplace and undervalue the home as there is with one that traps mothers at home and doesn't allow them to work at all. 
  4. Good meat that is grown and slaughtered mindfully is good food. If it's expensive, we eat less of it. We don't bother with the other stuff.
  5. With that in mind, our family is not built for vegetarianism, too much sugar (including fructose) or a low-fat diet. Maybe some people out there are. Not us. 
  6. Between my allergies and my daughter's, if it comes in a package it's not an option. Besides, it often takes just as long to heat up a package of stuff as it does to prepare the ingredients from scratch. Homemade always tastes better. 
  7. If a sweet food doesn't taste rich enough, add ghee, not sugar. If a savory doesn't taste satisfying, add a dash of unprocessed sea salt and more ghee or dress it with olive oil. If it's still not quite right, add a bit of lemon or lime juice.
  8. When a person wants to eat just one thing that's generally the thing to which they're sensitive or allergic. When that food goes away, the diversity comes back to the taste buds. 
  9. For heat: Turmeric, cumin, mustard, cinnamon, fat, broth. (I'd add ginger, too, but I'm allergic to it.) Cook it, preferably slow-cook or steam. Eat soup before or as a meal. 
  10. For cooling: Add a raw veggie or fruit like pear or apple. Add coriander or yogurt. Eat a salad before a meal. 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Water Kefir! A sort of cottage industry.

It's delicious and it makes you feel like you've just gulped down a strong dose of well-being. (If I'm remembering correctly, that's what kefir means, actually.) Unfortunately, I can't have it.

But this is not where this story ends.

A few weeks ago I got some grains from a person in Bernal Heights and started making jars of this stuff. I drank a small amount each morning for a week, and started to notice that although my digestion was FABULOUS, that I had started getting hives, itchy scalp and itchy eyes again. In short, the candida liked the kefir also, and rather too much. At least it wasn't like it was over a year ago when I started making kefir before and immediately had severe candida symptoms right after I drank it. Then, it took weeks to get rid of the infection. This time it took less than one.

I'm still not finished this story.

So I'm making it by the gallon, literally, and it has to be renewed each night in a new batch, or the grains will die. Already I've had to give away 1/4 cup of grains to a friend. Now that I can't drink it my husband puts away a large glass of it each night and my daughter loves the coconut milk version, but there's still, oh, a gallon minus one cup each night that sits in the fridge for days.

I started giving friends a small jar here and there and was promptly told by one afterwards that she'd pay for me to give her a jar each week. So here I am. It's $5 a jar, easy to produce and everyone's happy. My friend was surprised, she said, by how little I charge. I'm not greedy, and honestly, it's nearly all profit on my end at this point.

Once she started, then two other people who know both of us jumped in and said they'd each take a jar. One of my clients bought one and another said she'd try it this week.

I'm excited to be able to make something useful and healthful for folks that they can use. I also believe in the health benefits of true kefir (as in, made from grains not from starter), even though I can't tolerate it at this point, myself. It's also great to be doing something financially useful at this rather too-lean time for us.

Meanwhile, the kefir factory keeps bubbling and I look forward to spreading around the well-being.

(If anyone out there is in San Francisco, and you'd like to buy a jar, drop me a line! It's $5 for water kefir, $7 for coconut water kefir, $10 for coconut milk kefir! Each jar is about 14 oz or so - all recycled.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Amazing Mint Tea!

Yesterday I had the most amazing cup of mint tea I've ever had. Seriously. It was also unbelievably expensive, especially considering what it had in it. I picked up some herbs at the market yesterday and today made a cup that was just about a duplicate of the storebought one. Ready? Here it is.

Amazing Mint Tea

makes 1 cup or a small pot

1 small handful of crisp spearmint leaves, freshly picked off the stems
2 fresh sage leaves
1 fresh basil leaf
1 green cardamom pod

Put the herbs and the pod in a cup. Boil water and let sit for a few minutes. Pour the water over the herbs. Infuse for as long as you like. I thought it was still tasty after sitting about 5 minutes. Strain if you want. Or just dodge the leaves as you drink. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

An Evening In The Life

Welcome to our kitchen. It's a cooking day, which means that I get back from taking Little Moo out or from work, put my apron on and multitask for several hours, both before and after dinner. It occurred to me that I never actually documented one of these insane evenings. So, here goes.

This is one of these days when I have NO food to eat, other than a soup that disappears soon after breakfast. Right after I got back from work I threw together these coconut muffins so I'd have something to eat between breakfast and dinner besides fruit (the sugar is just too much). This is one of two boxes. I also made a coconut custard with papaya and dates that's already in the refrigerator. I wish I could have included more protein in it, but I'm off nuts again. :(

The cauliflower is the first thing made for dinner. It's steamed, with a bit of salt and olive oil. Since it takes such a short time and holds up well after a while sitting out it went first.

The next thing I do, once I set out the rest of the dinner-makings, is to set up a few things for the next day or so. Here's a jar of dried navy beans that will be good in the braised lamb dish that's already started in the fridge (or if the beans aren't soaked enough by tomorrow it will go into a soup of some kind the day after). I soak the beans with brine (yep, red cabbage!) and put it up next to the coconut kefir I made earlier. 

Next, it's time to make a new batch of ghee. That takes roughly an hour of oven time, but nothing else is in there tonight, so it's okay.

Next I put on the entree, which is some very nice looking rockfish with ghee, dill and lemon. The non-GAPS eaters are having rice pasta, which is on the burner next door.

Here's the fish, all done and ready for eating. There's fermented veggies, and broth for everyone, too. The cauliflower is off to the side. Notice that the broth is made pink with brine - that's a technique I often use to get our resident pinkophiliac to drink at least some of it. (And, yes, for those of you wondering, Little Moo usually prefers to come to the table with as little clothing as possible.)

While Little Moo is in her bath I strain the ghee. This time, for some reason, it took forever. In the meantime, I start cleaning up and loading the dishwasher.

Then, while Little Moo is in the bath, I prepare her evening supplements. What a trooper. Not even a peep of complaint tonight. 

Then, the little person has to go to sleep. At the moment we're using the living room rocking chair and her daddy's lap, which means that the kitchen has to be dark. Here's the finished ghee about to go into the refrigerator. I still have stuff to do - the meat has to be browned for tomorrow's stew - but it's too dark, so I thought I'd start this entry...

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's a sample of an evening around here. Of course, tomorrow, I get to put the stew in the slow cooker right before we leave the house at 11:30 and then later I get to relax before dinner. :)

Monday, June 14, 2010


FYI...use a nice, big jar...bigger than the one I used. Be sure to keep at least 1" open at the top and keep that top on loosely!

Luckily, I caught it just as it was expanding. There's just a small puddle of cleanup. :)

Summer Stonefruit Preserves

This started out as a chutney, then I thought twice about making it too spicy since it's also for Little Moo and there's a good chance that I will still be just as allergic to peaches as I was three years ago, so she and Snackboy will have to eat it all themselves...

I chopped up several small plums, three nectarines and three peaches, added some dried cherries, dried papaya and about 3 chopped dates. Finally I added a teaspoon of salt and the juice of one lemon (it was hot here for a few days...) I dropped in about 4 drops of stevia, then added 1/4 cup of coconut milk kefir.

It didn't fill up high enough, and I thought that perhaps the dried fruit might want to soak up some liquid, so I added about 1/4 cup filtered water and filled the rest of the jar up with the kefir.

It's been sitting for about 24 hours when these photos were taken. I tried a bit of one of the plums and it's quite delicious. Sort of sweetish, super-creamy, but with a bit of salt and tart. A nice balance. (If you were wondering, yes, that is an old-fashioned transistor radio leaning on the jar.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The best gluten-free bake-book...

If I haven't said it before, it's Babycakes by Erin McKenna.
One of my two complaints, though, is that it's all too sweet and uses too much sugar. They're not bad on the fat, and they do use coconut oil, but do not specify that in order to bake at 350 and higher the coconut oil has to be REFINED, not virgin.

I think it's the vegan thing. People who don't get enough good, whole animal fat and proteins in their diets crave sweets and starches. There's also this tendency that we all have to jump onto a simple bit of information and lose all sense of context. What Michael Pollan calls "nutritionism." There's a lack of information about smoke points and detailed information about what makes food good and good for a person - people just glom onto a factoid, and discard the system that surrounds it: "blueberries have antioxidents," "spinach is super-good for you and has lots of b vitamins," and "agave is less glycemic than sugar" or "coconut oil will do everything including help you lose weight, help your immunity and organize your closets." If coconut oil is damaged in too high of a heat, (or if your spinach is unaccompanied by a good fat,) it's not doing anything good for anyone!

Our other fantastic allergy-free bake-book, which is also vegan, is the same way with the over-sugaring, but better with the nutrition information, although they've bought into the mainstream myth that low-fat is good. I always cut out at least 1/4 cup of whatever sweetener is used and occasionally remove all the sweetener and replace it with applesauce or raisins or whatever.

Some recipes for Nicola...

These are especially for Nicola, who's older boy has recently gone gluten-free. 
All these ingredients are available at Rainbow. Some of them are at Whole Foods.
One of my favorite books for allergy-free baking is the Food Allergy Survival Guide by Vesanto Melina, Jo Stepaniak and Dina Aronson. My only complaint is that there's too much sugar and the recipes are too sweet, so I cut them down quite a bit and add more liquid to compensate if it's honey or maple syrup.

Flour Mix from Food Allergy Survival Guide:

3 cups potato or tapioca starch
2 cups chickpea/garbanzo flour
2 cups brown or white rice flour
1 cup arrowroot starch

This can be kept in a jar or airtight container for months. It seems to almost behave like wheat flour, which makes it nice for substitutions. FYI, though, the potato flour is SUPER absorbent. I much prefer the tapioca starch for consistency.

Super-easy one bowl muffins:

12 muffins

2 cups flour mix
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon guar gum or 1 egg, beaten
large pinch of salt
2 cups nondairy milk or water
1/2 cup coconut oil, grapeseed oil or ghee, softened

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with baking cups. Blend together all dry ingredients: flour mix, guar gum (if using it), salt, in large bowl. Whisk in milk or water, oil and blend until smooth. (Add egg here if you're using it instead of guar gum.) 

Spoon into cups being careful not to overfill. Bake until lightly browned, and when cake tester or toothpick comes out smooth from middle of a muffin, about 25 minutes. Cool on a rack. 

These will be best the same day and still tasty the next am. After that, freeze them and they'll keep a long while. 

The muffins can be varied with just about any blend of fruit, nuts, spices, etc. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hee Hee. "The Totally Insane Cook Goes To Town"

So this is one of those evenings when I'm cooking for the entire week. First there was dinner to be had tonight, early - Baked chicken, coriander beets, cauliflower, green salad and rice pasta for those who partake, (and no one did tonight) - then Little Moo and I baked cookies because she hasn't had any in at least 3 weeks - then I whip into gear and clean the kitchen in preparation so that I can start a whole bunch of stuff for the week. There are nuts to soak, one batch to drain, rinse and get to drying in the oven and an oxtail stew to start to be finished tomorrow. The stew comes complete with a battery of fine veggies that make it a pretty much complete meal, including roots, greens, onion, garlic, and finally, broth. If I have a spare burner I might put on a batch of coconut milk custard cause I can just ignore it until it's done.

So I was on Facebook and just finished a thread with this little tidbit, which I think completely embodies the crazy evenings of cooking that happen here about twice a week. A friend commented that I should write a book with recipes and stories about our journey with allergies and GAPS and the rest. This was in between a few tasks and while doing a few others:

Oh, what about a cooking show that doubles as a comedy called "The Completely Insane Cook Goes To Town." Each episode would feature a Julia Child impression, a song for each recipe, plus one tearful confession while I chop numerous onions...sort of like a more sane Glenn Beck if he actually did anything useful. Then there could be, at the end, "This show was brought to you by the letter G, for garlic...yep. Lots of garlic."

My apologies. It's another long evening in the kitchen and I'm already half way to insane."

Thought my readers might appreciate that.

And, no. I'm absolutely not being serious.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A moment of weakness, then it's over.

Those of you who know me also probably know that we have food allergies. They're not severe - so far, no one has wound up with anaphylaxis. But we do get covered with itchy hives and have all kinds of secondary symptoms. One of our allergies is gluten, which has all kinds of repercussions. If you know me then you also probably know that I'm generally not one to complain, but tonight was just awful, I'm exhausted and at my wits' end and, so here I go. One whiny blog entry and then I'm done.

Ready? Here it goes.

Another of our allergies is corn. Yet another is soy. Both of these are so ubiquitous, especially corn, that we don't buy any prepared product, unless we know for sure that it has none of our allergens in it. I can count those products on one and a half hands. Frozen organic spinach, mango chunks, berries, coconut milk, Food For Life rice breads, coconut butter, rice pastas, rice crackers. That's it! We don't even use spice mixes since often they have fillers in them.

We are the ones sitting in the park with our big steaming thermos of whatever is for lunch that day with a side of homemade sauerkraut. No restaurants, no takeout. Generally no food cooked by anyone other than me and a few people who know our situation. It's extremely limiting. We often can't break bread with friends...unless it's rice bread. Whenever we bring L. Moo to a birthday party I've generally been up baking the night before so that L. Moo can bring a batch of cupcakes that she can eat and share with her friends, who are also stuffing their faces with whatever storebought vanilla or chocolate corn/gluten-filled confection that would be sheer poison for us.

I'm fine about this. The only room I inhabit besides the bedroom is the kitchen. I've accepted that fate and try to make it as enjoyable as I can.

There are nights, though, that try my patience. This is one of them. One of our main issues is getting Little Moo down to sleep at a reasonable hour. She has always been reluctant to sleep. Any obstacle to getting to bed keeps her up. For a long time we couldn't get her down before 10. Now we push dinner as early as we can, which is difficult when so much from-scratch preparation goes into it. I try to make food for 2 or 3 days at a time, but that's not always possible. We eliminated all but the smallest amounts of meat at night. This means that her big protein meals are the first two, and more cooking for me during the day. Her breakfast is now hearty dinner fare, which is fine. I'm perkier in the morning, anyway.

Tonight we got her dinner-filled, bathed and in bed by 8:10, at which point, I went comatose in front of this screen and left her with my husband who tried to get her down until he suddenly remembered: Supplements!

Ack. The supplements. Chinese herbs for immune boosting, inflammation-taming, and rash-soothing, all in a tiny pink Ikea teacup with a bit of water. Little Moo is a trooper. She takes them morning and night, every day, rain or shine. If we miss a dose, she wakes up the next day with bigger rashes and noticeably more itching. Morning supplements go hand in hand with a teaspoon of cod liver oil, one drop vitamin D3, high vitamin butter oil and probiotics. Luckily, she likes the taste of the oils and her little spoon of dairy-free yogurt paste. But the supplements taste awful. I've heard this kind of wretched drink prescribed by Chinese Herbalists called "mud tea." Really, for a little kid, she has absolutely fantastic discipline, but still, she's only 3!

Each day there's a new way to get her to take them.

"When you take the supplements, you get a slice of fruit/a few raisins/dried mango."

"Do you want to go to swimming? Well, we're not going anywhere until those herbs are in your tummy!" (We've never yet missed a swimming lesson for this reason.)

"Your friend, who's a very big girl, most certainly takes her supplements all by herself!" (I know for a fact that the little girl in question takes no supplements at all and if she had to take them all #@!! would break loose...)

"Look, either you take them yourself, or I can help you take them." (It's never fun, and it makes me feel like Joan Crawford of the Chinese Herbs, but sometimes she just can't do it by herself.)

For the first month or so, we were nearly 40 minutes late to preschool each day, then finally in the last 2 months it's gotten easier during the day. Her evening dose is another matter, especially when I screw up.

Tonight I was exhausted from last night's insomnia and completely forgot to mix the herbs at the right time. I'm usually obsessively habitual about it, but I just couldn't focus tonight. By the time the herbs were taken, one batch had been spilled on her blankets and she was mad and decided that the time had come to stop cooperating.

So here I am, seeing tracers and posting this.

All done ranting. Now it's back to the kitchen for me where a batch of half-made coconut milk kefir awaits its mason jar before I can call it a night.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

(Almost) Instant Mango Lime Sorbet

The key to this is a powerful blender, like a VitaMix, although you could just as easily do this with a blender and an ice cream maker.

For a vitamix:

2 bags frozen organic mango chunks, or about 4 frozen mangos
Juice of 1 lime
3 drops stevia or 1/2 tsp honey
1/2 ripe banana
1/3 cup coconut milk or coconut milk kefir

Put in blender. Blend. Scoop. Eat. Enjoy.

If you don't have a vitamix:

Blend the above ingredients until smooth. Put into ice cream maker. Churn for the appropriate time according to instructions on appliance. Scoop. Eat. Enjoy.

If you have any left over, you can either freeze it (reblend before serving if you're using a vitamix), or if you use kefir in the sorbet, you can plunk the rest in a jar, let sit overnight and call it preserves.  Add to nut butter on some kind of nut butter delivery system (toast, lettuce leaf, celery stalk, spoon, finger...etc.)
Or, use to top something else tasty, like a 1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt or kefir, or nut yogurt. Use your imagination. It's super tasty.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jam, sort of.

When Little Moo refused all attempts to get her to eat nut butters (even super-delicious toasted cashew and pecan butter - go figure,) I'd all but given up, until she requested "jam." I think the sitter keeps it around and maybe Little Moo got a taste. Who wouldn't like a super-sweet sugar-filled mouthful of something that isn't really fruit but claims it is? Not me. But Little Moo now has "jam" on her mind and let me know.

So one morning I dropped her off at school, dashed down to the co-op, bought our weekly groceries, carted them home, and in my last hour of freedom, while I put them away and made myself something to eat, I dumped one bag of frozen organic blueberries and one of raspberries into the blender with some coconut milk kefir. Then I blended the heck out of them for longer than I probably should have, because I was multitasking. I scooped the delectable treat that came out into a jar (and put the overflow into a nice little bowl, 'cause, really, what resulted was a kind of berry sorbet and I couldn't resist) and left it all day and overnight to ferment.

The next morning I presented Little Moo with a "nut butter and jam sandwich," which she wolfed down with wide eyes and a face full of nut-buttery purple goo after.

Heh. No sugar. Only fruit and a bit of coconut with some kefir-y goodness.

So, no recipe today, only a nice idea. Try it out...I think any fruit would work. And if you like the sorbet idea, that's a lovely treat, too if you start with frozen fruit.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Surprising Easy Everyday Lunch

Hey, GAPS people! Squash idea! Although I'm sure it's been done before. I've always avoided it because it takes so long to prepare. It's also a bit testy on the digestive tract for me, but this version is bathed in good fats. The ghee and coconut butter formed a kind of creamy sauce, which is very tasty and seems to be acting a bit more kindly going down.

So, I peeled a whole delicata squash, scooped out the seeds, and cut it up into about 1/2" squares. I steamed it for 8 minutes in a metal steamer. Then I added about 2 teaspoons of ghee and one of coconut butter.

Super delicious - and the one issue, for me is that it's a bit low on protein. But then, we don't have the butter, nut or egg options and we're between batches of soup and meat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kitchen Sink Soup - GAPS style

I know it looks like all I make is desserts, but really, that's what I do for fun and many of them I can't even sample because they have too many disaccharides.

Okay. So this is what I eat for two, sometimes 3 meals in a day, in as many variations as is possible to come with over a year and 3 months.

This version was started with bone broth from buffalo ribs that had lots of meat on them.

Then I sauteed a whole yellow onion for 25 minutes. Generally I use ghee, but I thought I'd take a break and use grapeseed oil and drippings from yesterday's chicken. Then I added chopped spring garlic and continued until they were almost transparent - just a few minutes more. I added vegetables I had around - a bunch of chopped spinach, some peas, about five stalks of celery chopped and continued to saute it until everything was coated and the spinach was slightly wilty. I stuck a sprig of thyme, a pinch of oregano and a bay leaf in a bouquet garni bag and tossed it in, then added 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then the broth. It boiled, then settled to a simmer until done. I think this one took 15 minutes. Remove bouquet garni. Put in bowl. Add either kraut or coconut milk kefir. Eat. Enjoy.

Oh, I forgot to mention that somewhere along the way I like to add a bit of Bernard Jensen's gelatin. Generally about a tablespoon for a large pot of soup. I look to see if it gels when it's cold. If it's hard or almost hard after a night in the fridge, it's enough gelatin. If it's watery, add more.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Realization


I never talk about stews and all the meats I cook. They're just too banal-seeming for that, I guess. But next time...

Maybe I'll talk about the joys of a good bone broth stew or something? *Snort* Especially since that's pretty much what I'm eating two and three times a day right now. :)

An unintentional cavewoman.

Last week I saw John Durant on The Colbert Report and a lightbulb went off. Sort of. I mean, diets are all in the eye of the beholder, and the eater, to a certain extent. I'm sure that there are some folks in the world who are better adjusted to a menu that contains grains and vegetable matter than I am. I just don't know where or who they are, necessarily. I remember, as a youngish dancer meeting a colleague who was actually raised vegan who was in excellent shape, not counting some laugh lines that could be chalked up to a smoking habit. On the other hand, then we were 20-something. Now we're all nearing or in our 40s and I don't see her much, (although she's still dancing, as far as I can see) so I don't know what her health is like. I also have a friend who is amazingly creative in the kitchen as a vegan and manages to make some spectacularly varied macrobiotic meals for her family. She's also from an ancestry that ate lots of vegetables and rice. So perhaps that's a good fit, as well.

I do know that my years as a vegetarian helped to ruin my health. I lost several years just trying to get my life back. First there was the wild moods of my adolescence - I'm sorry, folks, but that kind of emotional mess is NOT normal for a kid. Then there was my back injury, constant rashes and infections. My gut was a mess, too. I had chronic dysbiosis. I've been allergic to gluten (perhaps Celiac's, I'm not sure...) all my life, but my childhood and later vegetarian diet was full of it. This was on top of the routinely overused antibiotics given to kids who grew up in the 70s and 80s and too many foods that came out of boxes and cans. At least I ate fish, eggs and dairy.

My ancestors ate meat, including organ meat (during lean periods in the form of stews, most likely), fresh and preserved fish, poultry, bone broth, roots, fermented drinks, dairy and vegetables. They had soured breads, black breads and kasha, nuts, honey and probably some dried fruits. In the summers they had whatever vegetables they could grow. My great grandmother had 7 children, six of whom lived. Two of her children she birthed in her forties - at the turn of the century. My mother tells me that her favorite part of the chicken were the feet. She was also unusual in that she was a birthing assistant, basically what we now call a doula. She believed in nursing, rather than the bottle feeding that was forced on mothers at that time. She nursed all her babies. So did my grandmother. My mother nursed me until about 16 months. My maternal grandmother lived to a ripe old age of 97 with little illness and amazing bones. The fact that my mother nursed me as long as she did probably saved me from even more difficulties.

Since the turn of the century, the health of my extended family has suffered as the diet changed to packaged and processed foods. Few people actually die of old age. Instead, we have cancer and diabetes. Many of the women have fibroids, including me. (I currently live with nine of varying sizes. It was a bit like having a multiple pregnancy, with only one coming out at the end. We named them after the Seven Dwarves with two extra whose names changed often - Annoyance and Irritation were my favorite.) I have a theory that there are lots of unnoticed food sensitivities and allergies, especially gluten.

I started GAPS diet over a year ago and watched as layers of dysfunction peeled away, sometimes painfully, usually with relief. I still have a few, but I have hope that these will go at some point, as well. One thing that hasn't happened is true relief from my food allergies. I still can't have peach, honey, salmon, oranges, ginger or nuts. I have occasional problems with nightshades, broccoli and can't eat any vegetable raw. The diet doesn't allow any soy or starches, so I don't know (and actually don't care) if I can eat grains, soy or corn. My child is off of eggs and dairy. Since we're still nursing, so am I.

That leaves meat. Lots of it. It's my main protein since legumes are more of a starch. Then there's ghee, drippings, well cooked vegetables, fruits that aren't from the peach family, herbs and spices. I did discover that although I couldn't really eat nuts that I could eat coconut so I do, although my great grandmother probably would have thought it a strange food. I'm suddenly remembering that coconut was a favorite food of my maternal grandmother's. Go figure. I like to think that's a sign. Of something. I'm not sure what, though.

Since the GAPS diet, I'm physically much stronger than I was. I've always built muscle quickly - a curse to a ballet dancer - but now that I'm in my 40s and eating more or less a paleolithic diet, I'm finding that the extra muscle mass feels good and is probably good for the rest of my body. I digest fats well and definitely use them for energy, although small amounts of GAPS-legal well-soaked or sprouted beans or fruit give me a little extra when I need it.

Little Moo is definitely a carnivore, as well as a what...a lipidivore? She likes fats. She's never liked grains or starches all that much. If her preferences indicate what sort of instinctive diet our genetic makeup should eat, then we're definitely talking caveman here. That is, if cavemen enjoyed mustard and kraut.

I just looked up some of the offshoots of this food movement and thought that at least on the surface it was a bit simplified and also on the macho side. There's lots of talk about what the body looks like, weight loss and ketosis, building muscle (yep, that's a man typing) and lots of pictures of well-muscled male abs and arms doing pull-ups and the like. I read a little more on the Primal Blueprint site and found some deeper analysis, but not quite as much as on the Weston A. Price Foundation's or Natasha Campbell-McBride's.

One thing I just love...and it has nothing to do with food, so please excuse this digression...I adore the idea of barefoot running. I have terrible feet. Always have. My theory is that when I was born with inwardly rotated femurs that from then on doctors insisted that my feet be shoved into hard little "supportive" shoes. I don't think that my feet fully developed. The ligament that runs around the arch on both feet is lax and the tendons on either side of the foot work too hard. My talus doesn't move very well. I have all kinds of foot pain and have needed orthotics all my life. The only place I don't, though, is when I'm dancing and warmed up. I do my best to get to that state these days and to take off my shoes whenever I can. I love wearing sandals that let my feet move, even if I can only tolerate them for a short time. I do think that I'm doing myself a favor.

Little Moo, on the other hand, has great feet. From the time she started walking my instinct was to let her go as barefoot as possible. I loved the Robeez shoes that were like soft little sheaths for developing feet. I wish there were similar shoes for older kids! I let her take off her shoes (always as soft as I can find, but with protective soles) at clean parks and climb things while her toes wrap around bars and ropes. Two days ago we found an empty dance studio. We took off our shoes then ran and danced together until we fell down laughing and that's a great time!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

GAPS Apple Pie

We've been finding that the squashes are getting sort of late-season unpredictable. I finally made another squash pie, but it just wasn't quite as spectacular as past pies. That was when Little Moo made some suggestion about apple pie.

So I thought about it.

It would be great for Little Moo who is right now GF/DF/EF/CF/SF.

I'm off nuts, so, no crust.
I can't have honey, sugar or syrup, so that's not an option, either. Of course, I'm always one for the low glycemic option.

The doctor suggested that I eat cinnamon, so that's a go. No cloves or allspice, though.

I cut up a bunch of apples and pears and layered them deeply in a pie pan (that's a buttload of fruit, by the way), sprinkled it generously with cinnamon, then poured over it a small amount of water mixed with lemon juice, vanilla and about 4 drops of stevia.

I stuck the thing in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

It's basically a cross between a baked apple and a pie, or a crisp, or something. Only there's no crust and no crisp.

It's actually seemed to form a sweet syrup, even without added sugars.

It's even better cold! I tried it a few days ago with cold coconut milk kefir and it's super that way. It would even be better if the kefir was turned into ice cream. (Can you tell it's warm here now? Heh.)

Monday, February 1, 2010


I can't eat these, since they're made from garbanzo flour and have tapioca in them, as well, not to mention maple syrup, but they're fine for Little Moo, who managed to fill up on them for one day, then wouldn't touch them again.

Recipe to come...

Monday, January 11, 2010


I've been craving this thing that I used to get as a treat when I was a kid. On weekends, my parents would go to the deli and bring back nova lox, whitefish salad, pickled herring and sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. There would be a little package beside it that contained a precisely wrapped slice of cream cheese from a big block and another block, this one of halvah. It was the perfect confection of candied tahini, spices, honey and occasionally nuts. Sometimes it would be marbled with cinnamon or chocolate.

It's a particularly Jewish food memory, I think, because no one out here that I know has ever heard of halvah, at least not like it was in my memory.

I can't always have seeds or nuts, and honestly, I'm not sure how long to soak sesame seeds before the drying process. This batch was the experiment, but the chemistry works, at least. Also, I can't have syrups, sugars or honey, so, again, I went for ground dates.

This was the basic recipe, made in a monster blender. :)

3 cups lightly toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup sesame oil
7 medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon vanilla.

Reserve a handful of seeds for the top. Blend the toasted seeds and oil into tahini. It should be pretty liquid. If it's not, then add more oil. This also is a good base for lots of sauces and dressings. Add the dates and vanilla. Blend until it starts to caramelize - the blender should be strong enough to heat up the mixture and not explode. Spoon the mixture into a pan and spread well. Top with the rest of the seeds. Cover and refrigerate until solid. Slice and eat!

If you can't use your blender to heat the mixture you could try to heat the blended mixture in a pan or add some gelatin dissolved in boiling water before refrigerating.

My batch was a bit too caramelized (I was fully expecting to have to make a gelatin surprised me!), so I think next time I won't blend it as long. Dates, I'm guessing, get more of a burn-y taste than sugars or honey when heated, so I think it's necessary to keep it from heating too much.

Favorite spice mix - homemade curry

A week or so ago I mixed up this vegetable ferment that turned out really good. Our friend's vegan son loved it and she asked me about how to make the spice mix that went into it. So here it is. It's actually a home made curry. You need a grinder or mortar and pestle to make it. Personally I like the m&p, but I usually go for the tactile experience when given options. Also, measurements are approximate. My unit of measurement was the cupped palm of my hand, which is about 1 teaspoon. :)

I got all spices from Other Avenues.

1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
1/8-1/4 teaspoon each fennel, fenugreek, black peppercorn
fresh turmeric root - about the size of the top of the average thumb. I think, grated, it was about 1 teaspoon.
2-3 cloves garlic (this varies depending on what you're making, of course - my general rule is to add one more than I think is necessary. :) )

Put all seeds into a small fry pan or an oven pan. Toast them gently over medium heat or in a 350F oven until aromatic and slightly toasty looking. (Don't walk away here - it happens quickly!)

Put toasted seeds into grinder or mortar and grind well, although it's not important that it be fully pulverized.

If you're making a hot dish and have onions to saute, add your spices to the onions while they're cooking. Add the garlic and turmeric near the end of the saute, before adding meat/broth/beans/veggies or whatever dish you're making.

If you're making a kraut, toast and grind seeds, then add them with whole cloves of garlic and grated turmeric to the bottom of the crock before adding your vegetables and brine.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bean quiche with mixed greens, mushrooms and onions!

This is what the quiche in the last recipe looks like before and after baking. This version had more veggies in it and a bit more turmeric than the recipe calls for.