Think of Me Gluten-Free

Think of Me Gluten-Free: September 2012

30 September 2012

Egg-specting Today

The morning was cold but awash with sun from the cloudless sky. Down in the Cove I would expect to see swarms of tourists embarking the ferry dock, expectant of markets, shopping, restaurants and many different hikes to await them on the island.

However, to their surprise, it's an even more low-key island than the guide books suggest.

Especially in the fall, when crimson and bronze coloured leaves fall from the towering maple trees, who's trunks take more than five people, arms stretched wide and finger just touching, to wrap around the base. The tourists march their way up to the nearest local, upon being greeted by the few shops at the entrance of the dock, and express their need for another attraction which is generally met with,

"Well you could walk up that hill there..."


"There happens to be a bus in an hour and half..."

And so, turned away by the thought of walking up, wander around and snap pictures of the picturesque marina, filled with boats that bob like rubber ducks in the bath tub. The prickly wind rustles the leaves of the trees above, and hats fly across the green as surprised victims turn around in wonder.

In time, they'll venture up, rested by the tranquillity and serene atmosphere of this place. No one shouts at one another. People stop their cars in the middle of the street, forcing others behind to carefully manoeuvre around, to have chats with friends and neighbours. Kids and dogs run in the grass, chasing the thrown ball, laughing and barking with excitement.

The walk up to more shops is not long, nor is it strenuous, however it is not what visitors expect to be faced with when they arrive. The core of the island should be located along the beautiful ocean front, where waves lap lazily against the shore, and where most people want to spend their time, looking out from a spot on a bench.

Fall is the season tourists also yearn for a hot drink, coffee and hot chocolate sales rise while the ice cream shops slowly shorten their hours. They ask around, in hope of a place where they can warm up after exploring the well-known and well-worn trails.

Walking into the kitchen this morning, with my hair pulled back into a pony-tail and a sweater snuggling me in, I had stepped into a typical fall day, alight in a warm glow characteristic to this season alone.

Like pumpkins and squash that dot the valley fields in preparation for harvest, warm colours were cast out around the scene from our large windows out front, and leaves rippled on the alders.

Breakfast Eggs
Print recipe. 

Full of vegetables and protein, Breakfast Eggs are a great way to the start the morning right, giving you the energy and nutrients needed for a full day.
I added some chili spice to my eggs for added flavour, which revive the taste buds after sleep, and awaken the senses as well. And since this recipe does not take too long, it can be made before any big day quickly!

I served these with hash browns (recipe soon!), and I bet they would also be yummy on gluten-free toast.

Makes 4 servings.


1/2 tbsp cooking oil, such as grape seed
1 red bell pepper
1/2 white onion, diced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

5 free-range eggs
1/4 c rice milk
1 tbsp butter, or alternative such as Earth Balance
1/4 - 1/2 tsp of chili powder (depending on how spicy you prefer it)
Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and add the onions and red pepper. Cook until softened, and slightly browned.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with the rice milk, butter and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Lower the stove temperature to medium-low, and pour in the egg mixture and sprinkle the cilantro.

Stirring constantly, cook until the eggs come together. This may take longer than you expect, but do not raise the temperature. The eggs will turn out better without such strong heat, resulting in a softer, smoother texture without the rubbery consistency that results from eggs being cooked over high heat.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Curry Home for Dinner!

Mum and dad spent the end of the week together in Victoria, and arrived home late Friday night in hunger and a tiresome state, having followed my direction to wait until they were home for dinner. And to ignore the smells of hot food from the ferry bistro, which was an excuse to steer clear of the long lines, winding down the hall, and nearly to front of the ship.

Their hunger, as they walked in the door, was stretched on as I simmered off dinner, regretting my planning for time. Thankfully, they had wine to sip at. I've never quite got a handle on the time it really does take for me to cook: a perfectionist's best trait. Starting too late, some nights we eat closer to bed time than "dinner time."

It was my fault for leaving to the store just before closing time, trailing my shopping bag and list, and trying to find the ingredients as quickly as I could in order to race back and start cooking. Before I left, I had been caught up in refurbishing my blog, and emerged in the savoir-faire of things, I kept pushing the trip down later and later as the light outside dimmed slowly. I had finally found out how to add an ingredients index, which means no more scrolling through each post to find the right recipe!

And better yet, this recipe index is filling up nicely.

So, to prepare for cooking I cranked the music loud with the best songs of 2012, and laced my apron around my back. It was a gift last Christmas from mum after she noticed my flour stained shirts after baking, the white powder apparent on black tops, and ruining some too.

Mum and dad sat at the table, poured the wine, and sank into relaxed conversation about the week's events, which overflowed with snippets from their days exploring around. I listened as I attended to the stove, hearing about mum's excursions of Vancouver Island and the people she saw and met throughout.

Starting with coffee, in a small building bursting with noise and activity from the customers settled in, she watched how life played out in this area. Her book as a mask of sorts, she watched as some locals spent their mornings huddled around a large mug while other stretched out the morning paper, scanning the headlines for interesting stories. A group of bikers who'd ridden from another town caught up with friends while comparing their accomplishments on bike. And all different parties, those quiet and those exuberant, were connected by the time and the place in which they had decided to settle for an hour, or just a few moments, and were all greeted by the warm welcome of the young Calgarian at the till, spending time there to explore different places of Canada, experiencing life just as everyone else was, in his own way.

In our own way, we have dinner as a family on weekends, untied by work and commitments we can enjoy the company of each other.

As the skillet was taken off the stove, it steamed proudly and fogged the lenses of my camera as I tried to take pictures before it was snatched into awaiting bowls. Watering mouths were nearly burnt when fingers reached to test the food, and I tried to press,

"Don't worry! It's definitely worth the wait."

And boy, were we glad we did.

Guzzling down water after a burn from scalding food is never enviable, and food is never as flavourful when half your tastebuds are gone, squealing at spicy, and resisting sour in agony.

Instead, we could taste the different spices, all emerging from one pot.

Ginger root, surprisingly the most common ingredient in natural arthritis relief supplements because of it's anti-inflammatory compounds called 'gingerols,' added to this curry dish by complementing the other spices incorporated together as well as making our legs feel great despite sitting at the table for a while.

I once heard that by ingesting raw ginger root one could self remedy problems in the joints, as well as awaken the tastebuds! If raw ginger is too powerful (I've once sneezed because off it's taste!) it can also be steeped in hot water for a few minutes.

And to add to that, check out all the other super-food ingredients packed into this one recipe! Garlic... Coconut... Nutmeg... "An apple a day keeps the doctor away..." And even cilantro, the best cleanser around!

And I don't mean household cleaner, I mean, this superfood is loaded with vitamins and nutrients such as calcium, iron, beta-carotene and vitamin C and has the ability to remove heavy metals from our systems.

Call that spring cleaning!

Especially beneficial for people suffering with depression, Alzheimer's, or other neurological disorders, cilantro can oppose the effects of these conditions which worsen the levels of toxicity in the body.

So with that, I hope everyone will Curry Home for Dinner tonight!

Curried Chicken
Print recipe. 

For a delicious weekday meal, or a scrumptuous Friday night feast, this recipe can be adapted for the spice-happy or the mild-lovers by adjusting the amount of chilli added. To accompany, cook some jasmine rice or a favourite quinoa recipe, which both will soak up the curry and leave your plate clean (which I doubt anyone will need help with at this dinner!)

Serves 3 - 4


3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 tbsp grape seed oil

1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp chilli (add more for an increased spiciness)
1/2 tsp both nutmeg and turmeric

3/4 can light coconut milk
1/4 c mango chutney
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp salt

1 Golden Delicious or Gala apple, cored, peeled and cubed (make sure the pieces are not too small, otherwise they will become too mushy and fall apart in the curry.)
2 tbsp cilantro, minced (I added more, since I am a huge fan of the fresh flavour cilantro adds, it was more like 3 - 4 tbsp)


Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken until cooked through and browned slightly.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Lower the heat to medium, and in the same skillet cook the onion, red bell pepper, and minced garlic until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the grated ginger, chilli, turmeric and nutmeg. Stir, and cook for another minute.

Pour in the coconut milk, and add the mango chutney, lemon zest, salt.

Stir in the apple and chicken and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Removing the lid, toss in the cilantro and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving over a bed of wild rice.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

28 September 2012

Just Chai It

In the absence of school on Wednesday, I had the freedom of the whole day to myself. With adults at work, an act that usually leaves only the dog and cat to their own devices, comforted by a small stuffy or treat, the kids had their homes as their playgrounds for the day.

I awoke to the late morning sun streaming in, almost beckoning me to go outside with my dog more than her puss-in-boot-like eyes and nudging of my hands, which to her, must have held the "key" to the wall that opens.

However the cosiest pyjamas (in the world!) still hugged me warm, and it was nice to have escaped the tasks which usually muddled by thoughts and stirred up my priorities that followed a day of school.

I'm usually calmed by a well-baked muffin, one of my favourites, or a big mug of tea, that more than often contains a caffeine boost to get me back on my feet after school and to get ready for dance.

And being deprived of sleep by the Monday morning, I reached the afternoon on a low, with a severe deprivation of energy. The remedy? A quick trip across the block, a small wait in line, to the satisfying comfort of holding a hot cup, with the knowledge that in a while, I'll be bouncing back. And forth. And back. And forth... Which continued until the next day, keeping my eyes peeled, and my brain wide awake the entire time.

Luckily it was only just after midnight, but the clocks had still changed the date, a worry on my mind as time ticked closer the shrill of my alarm... 6 hours... 5 and a half... 5 hours...

With sleep blurring my focus and hazing the clarity of messages beeping on my phone, I set to cooking.

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day after all.

The aromas of spices started to fill the kitchen, the juice of freshly sliced ginger remained on my hands, a better replacement for perfume, and intriguing the dog when she came near.

Her nose flicking up and down, and nostrils flaring.

Cardamom, my favourite spice, spilled on the counter, but added to the overall warmth of the smells around, and caused no blip of annoyance or anger at myself for causing such a mess, I was unwinding the coils of agitation. Each stretch smoothing out bumps from the last weeks.

I added the spices to the water in the saucepan and turned up the heat, the temperature rising in unison with the sounds from the radio, which were becoming clearer and clearer as the spices awoke my senses.

Homemade Chai Tea

Print recipe.

Comforting, soothing, and smooth. A drink well worth the small wait as you inhale the spices from the bubbling saucepan, invigorating the senses. For cold winter days, chilly September mornings, or as a gesture towards family and friends as they make their way in from work or school (*hint hint* mum!), this drink is the perfect thing to make, and look forward to, in any day.


2 1/2 c water

a pinch of ground cloves (I find the powder as a much stronger taste, which can make the drink end up bitter, therefore I use very little)
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole peppercorns
2 star anise
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced thinly
1 tsp cardamom seeds
2 peppermint teabags (or 2 tbsp peppermint tea leaves)

1 c almond milk (or alternative)
1 tbsp honey (optional)


Pour the water into a saucepan adding the spices and the tea bags. Bring to a boil.

Lower the temperature and simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Pour in the almond milk and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Strain, and stir in honey. Add more almond milk or honey if desired.

Serves 2.

From so many chai teas, from recipe, and using the available spices in my house, I've become so accustomed to the strong flavours and no longer sweeten mine, instead I test the limits of my taste buds with different quantities of ginger, cardamom and cloves.

*Replacing the peppermint teabags with black tea will add a caffeine boost, but will make the chai darker, and may mask some of the flavours of the spices.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

23 September 2012

Camped Out

Despite going to sleep quickly last night, falling into bed with drooping eyelids and blurring eyesight, I awoke too late this morning. Bundled up in my cosiest pyjamas, fleece Christmas pants, and curled up into a cocoon of blankets, topped with an array of colourful pillows, I was able to sleep restfully, and without the disturbance of kids' yelling outside my door at 7 am. I even had to nap earlier that evening because exhaustion clouded my judgement and caused simple inquiries posed by either mum or dad to seem irrational or critical. I was so exhausted after camp for two and a half days, and resting for a couple of hours, even though I thought I'd only lay down for just a moment, was clearly what I needed.

I'm clearly camped out.

And I'm sure the only reason I woke up at all this morning was because of my parents' stomping around in the kitchen, which regrettably, is directly above my bedroom. The dog's paws scratched and skittered across the wooden floorboards, and I noticed the change in her excitement (bacon was cooking) as I drifted out of heavy sleep and her feet made many more scraping sounds. The noises suddenly came much quicker, as if she was trying to keep in time to a fast paced dance routine.

My tap dancin' dog.

The Charleston maybe.

Mum and dad's breakfast was cooking when I walked in the door, still groggy, and they had already finished some of the day's chores as well, displayed by the wiped down counters and a disorganised array of bottles and cardboard boxes across the floor as dad finished up taking out the recycling - a job we often wait for him to complete anyway. I knew, from my apparent sleepiness, that I needed something delicious to start my Sunday, and possibly a caffeine boost other than coffee, which I drank too much of during the two days at camp.

At first, I tried to restrain myself, it's not good for adolescents is it? However, since each meal was eaten outside, with the September chill of the wind blowing across us from the ocean, the only way to warm up was to caress a steaming mug in our hands, with the added boost of diminishing our exhaustion for at least an hour or so.

For the two and a half days we spent at camp, I don't think I got more than eleven hours of sleep in total. From the time we got our cabin groups to bed until around two that night, we patrolled outside and watched for kids peering out their doors, expectantly waiting for our backs to be turned.

The second night was mayhem, with nearly half of the kids in each cabin trying to escape the clutches of sleep, and meet up "by the low ropes course" with friends. By the time I finally went to bed that night, leaving the other leaders to keep their own cabins in order, there were only a few kids still running around, although most had fallen into sleep without the disturbance of their cell phones, and the distraction of music playing from their ear buds.

The boys' cabins, which were located across the field from most of the girls', housed boisterous kids still expectantly crouched by the door in their sneakers ready to leap up and out the door at the turn of the leaders outside, but also ready to bounce back into bed and dive under their blankets if anyone came in to check for opportunists. And upon being caught in bed with shoes on, they would reply,

"Oh! I didn't know I still had them on."

Causing suspicion of course, but nonetheless saving them from being caught in the act.

Those that were caught racing across the field to the forest encircling the camp where some kids waited, huddled in groups to keep warm and to defend themselves from the stories told to scare each other, were chased down by their leaders armed with water guns. I expect this was quickly shut down by the teachers however, who must have been roused from the shouts and yelps from kids soaked by the sprays.

I was so relieved to be presented with gluten-free foods at the camp, the kitchen staff were extremely knowledgeable about which foods were wheat free, and were also very accommodating for those of us that didn't eat wheat by preparing 'special' foods such as rice flour pizza and potato flour pancakes. However, it was a little disappointing that so many cookies and muffins were served to everyone else, for snacks throughout the day, and even before bed.

So, when I came home, I had extra motivation to bake something delicious.

Pumpkin Scones
Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Harvest Pumpkin Scones
Printable version.

Makes 12 scones.


325 g gluten free flour mix (I used 50 g sorghum flour, 150 g white rice flour, 75 g arrowroot flour, and 50 g cornstarch)
1/3 c coconut sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice powder

1/2 c cold butter (or alternative)
1 1/2 c raisins (You can also use chopped candied ginger, nuts of any type or gluten-free chocolate     
1 c canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1/3 c rice milk (Or another milk alternative)


Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl.

Add the butter, and rub it in to form a breadcrumb texture. Stir in the raisins.

In another, smaller bowl, beat the eggs and add the canned pumpkin. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingedients and mix well.

Slowly add the rice milk until the batter becomes sticky and cohesive.

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Drop the batter in spoonfuls onto the baking sheet, and let it sit for 15 minutes before baking.

Brush the scones with more rice milk and sprinkle with coconut sugar if desired before cooking for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with a steaming cup of tea.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sitting Here

With the first rays of fall streaming in through the trees and reflecting on the strongest leaves still clinging to the branches of the alder trees, I reminisce to my holiday in England when, uncharacteristically, the weather was hot, and even the female statue in my aunt's garden was sweating in the heat.

Pigeons huddled on the low branches of trees, or hid in the clutches of fruit bushes to escape the heat, their presence only known by their constant cooing to each other, and once night fell, their rustled feathers could also be heard as they made their way across the grass in search of food or one another.

Now, bundled in a sweater and my feet cozied into slippers, I rush to each spot of sun that makes its way into the house, where its still warm.

In England, it felt like the south of France for those few days under the sweltering heat when we ate dinner outside under the trellis of vine leaves, and the adults drank southern wines. The table sat all nine of us, and my aunt cooked elaborate meals, which always included gluten-free foods for my grandad who lives nearby, just a short walk to pop by.

My aunt spent those afternoons painting in her conservatory, which was elaborately decorated and dotted with paint brushes and pots, and cooking in the sweltering kitchen. After a few days of the sun's persistent heat, she was forced to put up curtains to block the sun, and to keep the room cooler as heat from the oven always filled the room as well. Returning from exploring the nearby towns, one being the seaside at Lulworth Cove, where the beach was an endless expanse of families and children playing in the sun, aromas of home cooking would be filling the house as dinner cooked.

A large bowl of freshly picked berries sat on the table, covered to keep out the pesky flies who envied our delicacies that evening.

My aunt informed me that my dad had told her about a cheesecake I baked a few weeks before flying to England, made using a simple recipe, but with a wild berry coulis to serve, and with berries inside.

Since I had baked another pie for her when she came to visit us that spring, it was time for her to reciprocate.

The Dessert Competition had begun.

However, all competitiveness aside, her cheesecake was delicious, probably even the best. And since it was gluten-free, I decided to tweak my own recipe.

That evening, with the trill of pigeons to each other across the yard, and all of us laughing and enjoying each others company, I felt a sense of ease and familiarity of being around everyone so close to me. I loved being around family that holiday, and enjoyed every moment, bathing in the relaxed lifestyle of summer as I laid in the sun soaking up the heat.

I spent most of my time in my aunt's garden those few days as well, the grass, cut short by my uncle the day previous, rolled down in a slight hill ending at the rows of bushes enclosing the delicate flower beds and towering apple tree. Roses dotted the garden, adding delicate color, and creating the perfect English garden image I remember so clearly. On a beach towel draped across a lawn chair, I balanced a cold drink on the arm rest and a book in my right hand.

I tried doing this a few days ago here, however a steaming mug of tea replaced  my cold drink, and the towel was a blanket. With the falling sun across the sky, I was forced to move my chair after each page I read to avoid cooling off in the growing shade. The sun would dance behind the trees, or disappear behind a mass of cloud, formed from the evaporation of last night's rainfall.

Similar to England, I couldn't stay out long, but for a different reason. In England, the heat became too much and my mouth parched after I'd finished my iced drink, and the shade beckoned me in its oasis cool. Here, inside beckons to me in its comforting warmth and steaming kettle, a preferable alternative to the chill outside.

The Best Gluten-Free Berry Cheesecake
Printable version.

This cheesecake is best for the summer season, when berries can be picked and be used fresh, however, frozen berries can also be used. If you don't have any gluten-free shortbread cookies to make this crust, try my gluten-free cheesecake crust from almond meal, but without the ginger for this summer cheesecake. 

Makes one 9 inch cheesecake. (Serves 8-10)


1 c crushed gluten-free shortbread cookies
1/4 c brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter

2 packets (250g each) of cream cheese
200 mL sour cream
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 - 2 c fresh or frozen berries (I like raspberries)


Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

Mix the gluten-free shortbread crumbs with brown sugar, and add the melted butter until combined. Press mixture into the pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese until fluffy and smooth. Add the sour cream, sugar and vanilla, whirling until well mixed. With the motor running, slowly add the beaten eggs.

Pour the mixture over the crust, making sure it covers evenly.

Press approximately 1 c of whole berries into the uncooked cheesecake, allowing them to sink into the mixture.

Place the cheesecake in a heat proof baking dish with sides, and fill the dish with hot water about one to two inches up the side of the pan.

Lower the oven temperature to 300°F and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and run a hot knife around the edges before placing it in the fridge to cool completely, at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

To make the coulis, blend the remaining berries, saving some for serving, until pureed and add sugar to taste if need. Cover, and keep in the fridge.

Pour coulis over each slice of cheesecake, and top with whole berries.

It's really important to be very delicate with the cheesecake, as rushing the process can lead to the cheesecake cracking or not cooking properly. To prevent crumbling when serving, use a hot, clean knife to cut each piece, running the knife under hot water between each cut.

Labels: , , , , ,

22 September 2012

Something New, Something Amazing

This is the first time that I will be going away to camp without having an endless sea of nerves filling my thoughts before I leave. Tomorrow, more than half of my class is going off with the first year high school kids to help out and get to know them better as our aim in this course is to help them throughout this first year.

Before my first year of high school I went away to two different camps in the summer. Both, I went alone, and both were equally as frightening, although by the second I was fairly used to meeting new people, and could expect that only the best would come out of going off for a week.

First, I went away to a popular camp quite nearby, and one that had lots of praise from my friends. Unfortunately, the week that I went was one where I knew no one, and I felt that most other kids had made their friends in previous years.

I was young, and cliques should not have mattered, but for some reason I felt as if I could not break into their social circles.

Fortunately, the second camp, a horse-focused week with riding and caring for the animals, was very relaxed and there were only a few of us, under twenty. I made friends with a lot of the girls there, and overall had a better experience.

Perhaps it was due to the familiarity of being placed in such an unfamiliar situation, or because of the nature of the camp, which had kids with very similar interests to myself, and the smaller group allowed us to all get to know each other better.

My experience at outdoor school in my first year of high school was quite fun from what I remember. I recall getting to know a lot of new people, and began to relax as the days followed, and we tried out activities such as archery and traversing the ropes among the trees.

I hope that with this camp tomorrow, I will be able to help the younger kids to relax, and enjoy themselves. Their energy and enthusiasm will aid us as helpers as well, as it is much easier to get a group excited about an activity if they are willing, and it is also much easier to make new friends when you are confident in the situation.

My most recent camp experience, in the south of France this past summer, really helped me realize the importance of putting yourself out there, and the enjoyment you gain from approaching difficult or unfamiliar situations with confidence.

It was a new place, unknown to me, and unknown to my parents since I was traveling alone. Although, with a smile and positive energy, I was able to create friendships I could never have dreamed of before, and had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.

Had I displayed shyness or buried myself behind a shell, I would have most likely missed out on so many memories which I cherish everyday. This camp helped me grow as a person, and aided a realisation that my world, home and to and from school each day, however much we learn about global issues and ponder social and political issues, cannot reflect the many experiences and people that await us in other parts of the world, and in many different times of our lives.

Two weeks in France was an amazing experience to say the least, and when people ask me how it was,


Never does it justice.

Would I have the mind set to reflect upon myself, and how I may have grown as a result in this way had I not departed on a flight alone, with my nerves spilling out my ears, and landed in a country where the language they spoke was only reflected in me by my broken,



"Esc-que je puh alleh oh twa-lette?" 

From french class.

The french I learned was simple french, although my confidence in talking and forming sentences is what improved the most. I tweaked the pronunciation of my questions by the end of the two weeks, and was almost fluent in Franglais!

Our camp was situated along the southern coast of France, just outside of the small country of Monaco. Amazingly, we were able to walk right into Monaco without passport-checks, as there were no gates or patrol between the two countries. Down the stairs, we counted over one hundred and fifty one day before heat hit upon our backs, and to the beach was our usual destination, however many times we explored the nearby towns, including Nice for gelato and shopping.

Coupled with the heat and humidity, the difference from weather in England where I stayed previous was intense, and nights were difficult to sleep in as our rooms had neither air conditioning or large open windows to catch even the faintest breeze.

At eleven one evening, we ascended the stairs back to camp after watching the 'feu d'artifice' in Monte Carlo, and by the time we arrived back, we were very ready for a shower! The whole group was breathing heavily, and despite being such an energetic group, everyone was ready for bed after so much walking!

With these newly-made memories, I present my most familiar recipe as of late.

This is the loaf I usually bake on Sundays, so that each day when I come home from school I can have a slice of homemade zucchini loaf

Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread
Printable recipe.

This is my go-to recipes for weekends, when I want a tasty treat with my tea. So far, every time it has worked out, and ends up lovely and moist!

My no-stress loaf...
Makes one 9 inch x 5 inch loaf


2 large eggs
3/4 - 1 c brown sugar

1/3 c cooking oil such as grape seed
1/2 c unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c grated zucchini

1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c sorghum flour
1/2 c arrowroot flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

1/2 c walnuts or raisins, or anything else you would rather, such as gluten-free chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan with butter or oil.

Beat the eggs, brown sugar (starting with 3/4 c and adding more upon taste preferences), oil, applesauce, and vanilla on medium speed.

In a separate small bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and powder.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on slow until combined.

Stir in the shredded zucchini and nuts or raisins.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan, and place in the oven.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, then allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

One time I made this recipe, I substituted the apple sauce for the same quantity in grated apple. The outcome was very similar, with the same taste! So if applesauce isn't available, this is always a perfect substitution!

For a moister loaf, add slightly more apple sauce, substituting the sugar if you would prefer a more savory tasting loaf, and vice versa if you would rather it sweeter.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

15 September 2012

Cinnamon Baked Golden

Locally-grown apples!
Last night, after serving hot Cinnamon Baked Apples after dinner, our bellies were full as we hovered in the kitchen together enjoying each others' company. It's always different spending time together at the end of the week, dad's home from work, and there are no pressing issues to be dealt with immediately as we make our way into the weekend. Time stretches out on Friday night. And as we wind down from the busy hubbub of mid-week projects we each begin to relax a little more, and are able to enjoy the moments together rather than anticipating our next move.

Replaying the night's events, I recall talking about how well we were each able to balance on one foot, which was preceded by a "competition" of sorts in 'tree pose.'

Balancing on one foot, with the other foot tucked up against our supporting leg, we stood for as long as we could with our arms stretched high above us.

Dad tried to tickle me after I was able to stand for some time, I think in jealousy that I beat him by staying up longer!

Interestingly, I once heard that our abilities to balance steadily are directly related to our minds' equilibrium, which can be upset by pressing issues, stress, a lack of sleep, or restlessness of our brains. If you have trouble balancing one day, or keep tripping over yourself when walking, it may not be a sign of your clumsiness or a show of your abilities, but rather, an indication of your minds' peace.

Trying to balance right before a final exam may be very difficult, however when the test is done (if you feel good about your performance) balancing should be much easier! Relaxing your mind is important as well, as buzzing images through your brain cause chaos, and therefor make balancing difficult.

As we all went into our poses, mum, dad and I lined up in the kitchen with the dog scurrying around us, confused, and looking up at each of us expectantly. Mum and dad wobbled first, and as I tried to focus only on one point on the ground, I became steadier and steadier.

To the dog's delight, the trivial game was quickly over after I was tickled out of the pose, and again we settled back into our comfortable chairs.

What made me think of last night's events was two little boys we saw in the cafe where we had coffees this morning.

Similar to us, they stood up, bored by their parents lengthened chatter over bitter hot drinks, and proceeded to have a contest of who-can-balance-longest in 'tree pose.'

Their little heads swayed over their bodies, before they toppled down to both feet being firmly planted on the floor. They tried numerous times to balance, but with each attempt they tumbled down, and each time became shorter and shorter and giggles erupted.

I don't think that such young kids would have enough anxiety to affect their balance, nor would it be likely for them to have a lot to deal with, so perhaps their lack of balance is only an indication of their active brains being unable to rest.

Cinnamon Baked Apples
Click here for printable recipe. 

I served these today, and dad cried out 

"OOOH! Yum! I haven't had these in ages!"  

They are definitely a fall treat around here. With the warm cinnnamon flavour, and especially when they're piping hot, no one can resist them! Since they're also completely gluten-free (no substitutions either!) and filled with plenty of healthy ingredients these are a perfect go-to dessert!


3 apples (perfect for this are Royal Gala or Granny Smith's)
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 c raisins
1/4 c pecans
1/4 c brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp butter (or alternative)


Preheat the oven to 375°.

Using a knife, cut the top off the apple about 1 inch wide,  rub the lemon juice on both sides of the cut, and set aside the top.

With a spoon, scoop out the inside of the apples, leaving approximately 1/2 an inch around the sides. Keep the insides of the apples. When finished, rub the lemon juice inside the apples.

In a blender, combine the apple insides, raisins, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Blend on low until everything is in small crumbs, but not until it becomes smooth.

Scoop the mixture into the apples, and top with a small scoop of butter, or an alternative such as Earth Balance. Sprinkle with some brown sugar and put the tops of the apples back on.

Place the apples into a shallow pie dish, and fill up with hot water approximately 1 inch up the sides of the apples.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife.

Delicious when served with vanilla icecream or cream!

Labels: , , ,

14 September 2012

Last Of Summer

As we sift back into our annual September routines, diligently pairing sweaters with boots, and jackets with scarves, I reminisce on those summer days when I wore my bathing suit and shorts into the evening, and could spend the whole day sunning on the beach. This weather went hand in hand with my relaxed and joyful mood, so I was thrilled this week to be reminded further of these care-free days, when my hair curled effortlessly from the salt and wind, by the continuing sunny and warm weather for the next few days!

So, in my enthusiasm I have decided to show excitement by bringing out my shorts again, and lazing in our sunny yard with my flip flops hanging off my toes.

My dog, thrilled to be outside with me, wags her stumpy tail at the turn of a page in my book, expecting me to be as sporadic as she, and jump up to throw the ball for her. Peeling my eyes from my book, hanging off the last sentence I've just read,

"In her secret garden..."

I see her dart around the rhododendron bush, and high-tail it down to the bottom of the garden where a small grey cat lurks timidly. They go off down the path, hidden behind the array of tangled branches and leaves, and for a few moments I am left alone before I need to call her back.

Enticing her with a favorite toy, a red frisbee disk, she bounds back up the hill and waits expectantly at my feet. At one point the disk lit up upon impact with the ground, drawing her near it whether or not she could see the flashing colors. Unaware by the toy's declining condition, she happily chases after the flying disk, speeding up as it hits the ground. The sound surprises her, as my weak throw causes it to land behind her as she flits happily around, mouth hanging open.

I laugh as she tries to pick it up, scraping the top of the frisbee with her claws in a digging motion and trying to flip it over so that she can grasp it in her jaws. She continues this endeavor for some time, pausing briefly only to glance at me expectantly.

As if!

And so she returns to her efforts. Finally, with just a small nudge of her nose, the frisbee flips, and she is able to grasp it to carry it back to me. Her little tail wags excitedly, and I imagine her saying,

"Look at me! Look at me!"

As she shows off her prize.

This sunny weather seems to have lifted everyone else's mood as well; even as I shopped this evening for dinner's ingredients people were jovial, exclaiming their enthusiasm in seeing their friends and neighbors, and with our brighter moods comes a brighter, sunnier evening.

Summertime lived on in my kitchen this evening, with this park picnic recipe.

Perfect for my busy schedule, I prepared components of this recipe before I went out for yoga (thought I would try to relax a bit) and left them in fridge to be cooked quickly when I came back.

Walnut Pan-Cooked Cod with Green Pea Mélange
Adapted from Gluten Free Girl's Pistachio Encrusted Salmon with Edamame Mash
Click here for printable version.

Before I was ready to cook, I prepared the Green Pea Mélange and the walnuts to store in the fridge.


1 1/2 c cooked green peas
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp gluten-free fish sauce
1/4 c grape seed oil, plus 1 tbsp for cooking

1/2 walnuts
1 egg, beaten
1/8 c rice flour

2 cod fillets


In a blender, combine the green peas, grated ginger, rice wine vinegar, and fish sauce and blend until pureed, but still lumpy. Add the grape seed oil, and whirl until mixed. If it is still too thick, add some more oil or water to thin. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the mix into a bowl or cup, and cover, setting it aside.

In the same blender, washed out and dried, pour in the walnuts and blend until finely chopped. Make sure the motor is stopped before it begins to turn to butter.

Set out three shallow bowls on your workspace, in one add the egg and beat, in the second sprinkle the flour, and in the third add the chopped walnuts.

Season the cod with salt.

In a frying pan, add 1 tbsp of grape seed oil, and turn to medium-high heat.

When hot, quickly dip the cod on both sides into the beaten egg, smothering it in the rice flour, and then transferring to the walnuts, coating the cod thickly.

Place the fillet in the pan, and repeat with the second piece. In the pan, sear the cod for approximately two-four minutes, or until slightly browned underneath. Then, flip both pieces and cook thoroughly, covering the pan with a lid for a faster cooking time.

Serve with the Green Pea Mélange, either on the side or spooned on top.

If you prepared the mélange some time before, it should be heated up in the microwave quickly, or on the stove top until simmering.

Also, when coating the cod in the walnuts, it didn't stick very well without a second plunge into the beaten egg, although in doing so, the different ingredients were mixed slightly!

Labels: , , , , , ,

12 September 2012

Just A Simple Thing

I just don't have enough time in the day to cook, that is, unless you count chemistry as cooking. I mean, it's combining ingredients to form something new right?

Which leads me to wonder about what actually happens when the cake is in the oven, or when the baking soda ("Not a milliliter over one teaspoon!") is added to the batter. This chemical reaction is so unknown to me when encased and hidden in a well-greased baking pan and surrounded by 350°F heat I can't venture into without my trusty mittens.

I've had many failures cooking gluten-free lately, especially with the breads when I replace eggs with flax or don't add enough liquid. My chemical reaction is imbalanced. Before the mixture goes into the oven, it seems moist enough (often, too moist), and I think,

"Yes! This is it! It will definitely work!"

But I've learned my lesson: let the batter sit for a while to see whether it is affected by the humidity of the air, and therefor whether it requires more liquid. (You may want to try this, and perhaps it won't even be necessary as the air becomes more humid this fall.)

These gluten-free attempts, not failures simply because I in fact learn from them every time, are probably the most frustrating thing when I bake with the purposes of indulging in my hard work. I crave something sweet RIGHT NOW.

I have this image in my mind of sitting down in a big lounger chair, with the sun streaming through the windows and warming me up while I hold onto a large cup of steaming hot tea. I imagine enjoying a freshly baked piece of gluten-free zucchini loaf in a few moments; expecting to see a baked-to-perfection loaf sitting well-risen in the oven when I open the door, I am disappointed to see only a depleted center. It hasn't risen. It's still crumbly. And I'm exhausted from all the effort.

A lot of my energy has gone into the kitchen recently, cooking as well as cleaning my dirty mixing bowls and sticky measuring spoons, causing me to rethink my usual approach to baking, which formerly began with,

"What's the most difficult thing I can attempt today?"

Because with regular flour it was pretty easy to pull off something gone manic even if it didn't go so well. And it always ended up tasting good.

That's so not the case anymore.

Some flours taste weird... Like vegetables. And as much as the U.S. Congress tries to fight it, pizza still isn't a vegetable, even if my dough tastes like snap peas.

So I decided today I would treat myself to something easily home-baked.

I needed to unwind from my busy days at school, and to relax a bit before sitting down and starting on the continually growing pile of homework. And I'm sure I de-stress the best with a little chocolate in my system.

So I set about finding something amongst our ingredients to make something simple and quick, containing pure enjoyment with each and every bite.

They're delicate, decadent, and desirable.

Ginger Coconut Cranberry Chocolate Clusters
Click here for printable version.

Because these are so quick, they're a perfect go-to treat for guests, family or yourself when craving chocolate!

When setting, these clusters require some space in the fridge, so if it's packed from your latest trip to the grocery, I would recommend clearing a shelf (or half) before you carry your laden tray to the open door and attempt to clear a space with one hand! (And nearly drop all of your little clusters on the floor, to the dog's delight!)


225g dark or milk chocolate chips (depending on your preference of sweetness)

1 c shredded coconut

3/4 c chopped dried cranberries
3/4 c chopped candied ginger


In a medium size bowl over a pan of simmering water, pour in the chocolate chips until they heat and begin to melt. As the chocolate melts, begin to stir more frequently until it is completely smooth.

While the chocolate melts, line a large baking sheet with parchment, and set aside.

Add in the coconut, mixing in before stirring in the chopped cranberries and ginger.

Once all ingredients are mixed together, drop the mixture onto the baking sheet by using a spoon.

Transfer the sheet to the fridge, and allow the chocolate to cool and harden. (Approximately 30 minutes)

Makes about 18 small clusters

 Next time, I will definitely try different flavors of chocolate. Especially the ones that come around Christmas time: Chai? Mint? Sea salt or caramel? Let me know any other combinations you try!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

09 September 2012

To Changes

A typical Sunday around here, after we try to delegate who's turn it is to clean up from brunch with "Well, I set the table!"

Followed by,

"And I put the kettle on to boil!"

Forcing me to reply with,

"I mixed the pancakes!"

And eventually ending up in a shared effort of putting away the condiments, stacking the plates neatly (which don't need to be scraped this time!) by the dishwasher, and wiping down the counter, is then filled with dad building something outside, whether that be replacing our very old and very rotten wrap-around deck, or some other handy-man project, and mum and I working on our own individual "projects" as well. Today, I started this blog. And cooked.

That's our typical Sunday.

And in the middle of this very relaxing-but-very-exciting day sits lunch, later than other days to allow the pancakes to digest (except they don't feel like they're sitting in your stomach like gluten pancakes!). However, eventually everyone begins to need food, which is evident as things begin to annoy us, and nothings goes quite so smoothly as they did earlier in the day.

Like when I got frustrated because I couldn't figure out which button would lead me to publishing my first blog post. Mum can attest to that, as I yelled out in annoyance,

"This isn't working! Again!"

Yep, definitely lunch time. Which was only realized after mum suggested it.

Before I stopped eating gluten, I loved open-faced tuna-melts for lunch. Okay, I still love them, but they're just one of those fantasy things... That is, until I have them with gluten-free bread! They're a comfort food for a cloudy and gloomy day - just like today with the clouds threatening rain all day, and the September chill in the air. As mum suggested tuna-melts, after she scoured the pantry for ideas and coming into the kitchen pleased and excited that she'd found something: we looked at each other and both knew,

Of course, we don't have any gluten-free bread.

Double and triple-checking the fridge and cupboards, we still didn't turn up anything for me to have with the tuna melt. Devastating.

This was a roller coaster few moments for me clearly; I didn't want to be left eating cold beans from the can while delicious smells wafted around the room. No. That's just not okay.

And then the most brilliant idea came to me. Yam.

Or sweet potato. But I'm pretty sure it was a yam.

There, in the midst of the vegetable drawer, covered by the red and yellow peppers, and obscured by the baby carrots, was half a yam left with my name on it. It was quickly microwaved until almost cooked (2-4 minutes), and then my almost famous tuna melt mixture was spooned over top before it went straight under the broiler to melt the cheese to perfection.

There's definitely a recipe coming soon for this.

It tasted amazing, mainly because I love yams so much, but I learned that there needs to be some quick alternative for meals when my parents want bread, and without the drama of trying to find something.

So I decided that today was the day I would finally venture into gluten-free bread making. A recipe which I was scared to try, mainly because of the many stories of horrible results, including clumpy, dry, and distasteful "breads."

My solution? No recipe.

I did my research, reading bread recipes with wheat flour and gluten-free, and choosing from the most reliable ingredients to me (at the moment I'm sticking with eggs because they tend to bind the dough together and prevent too much crumbling), I formulated an easy gluten-free roll recipe.

We had them for dinner, so around three that afternoon I got out my many flours from the cupboard, and lined them up across the counter, labels facing me and ready for measurement time! The funnest part is adding them into a big bowl and seeing all the different colours turn into one big mix.

These babies might turn out purple...

The purple flour I used is purple maize, and even though the mixed together dry ingredients don't appear purple, the addition of any liquid will turn even the tiniest bit a deep purple. I love seeing how things change with the addition of each new ingredient and process. Like rising.

From when I first set the batter out to rise...

To a little over an hour later...

The difference is amazing!

However, while forming my rolls, the dough was extremely sticky, and not at all like dough. I hoped this would mean they'd be moist and delicious once they came out of the oven! But in the mean time, I had to deal with dough stuck to my hands, making it extremely difficult to form perfect little dough balls. But I managed.

Then, lined up perfectly in a little baking pan, I sent my creations into the heat, to be changed again into something wonderful!

... Mmm. Delicious. They ended up tasting like bread, but the texture was more like scones, which was alright by me! But I'll be revisiting this recipe in search of the perfect dinner rolls. Maybe I didn't quite get the proportions right?

Anyways, here's the recipe for my rolls - square shaped - that taste delicious with stews and soups!

Gluten-Free Rolls
Click here for printable version.

It's important to be aware of the amount of liquid you may need to add to the dough, depending on the atmosphere of your kitchen, or the types of flours used, which all act differently, the dough may need different amounts of liquid.

I cooked these for 25 minutes at 350°F, which didn't produce a hollow sound on the rolls when they were tapped, but they were cooked.


1 packet (8g) of instant yeast
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c to 3/4 c warm liquid (equal parts rice milk and water)

1/2 c sorghum flour
1/2 c blanched almond meal
1/2 c arrowroot flour
1/2 c white rice flour
1/2 c purple maize flour
1 1/4 tsp salt

1 egg
1 tsp lemon juice


In a small bowl, combine together the yeast, brown sugar, olive oil, and 1/2 c of the warm liquid. Set aside.

Mix together the egg and lemon juice in another small bowl, and set aside.

Combine the flours and salt together, and forming a well in the center, pour in the egg mixture and the yeast mixture. Stir until all ingredients are well blended.

At this point you may need to add more liquid if the dough is not wet. I must note, that the dough should not resemble wheat-flour dough - otherwise you will end up with dry and crumbly rolls! It will change texture as it rises, drying slightly, and binding.

Oil another large bowl, and carefully transfer the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit between one and two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a square baking pan with oil, and dust with a gluten-free flour.

With your hands, form little rolls and place into the pan.

Cook for 25 minutes, or until tops have set and begin to brown slightly.

Enjoy with butter, and excellent accompanied with any meal!

Labels: , , ,

It's Just the Beginning

I'm still trying to figure out this whole blogging thing, as well as posting and getting the format right, so forgive me. In time it will be better. (I couldn't quite figure out photos yet, so they may come later!)

To start,

I've decided to begin this blog with the intention of tracking my gluten-free journey (for lack of a better word). It's only been a few weeks since I said no to wheat and other gluten products in my diet, and I've been feeling better from it already!

My grandad was diagnosed with celiac disease as a young adult, and has been living healthily and gluten-free since then! (He's in his eighties now). I have not been diagnosed with the intolerance from a doctor, although I have been tested numerous times, wheat still seems to negatively effect me in all sorts of ways, and some I am only just discovering now.

For instance, my skin has improved since removing gluten from my diet! And thankfully, seems to (finally!) be on the mend after months. I've had eczema and psoriasis most of my life, so its amazing to see a significant difference from something seemingly simple once started.

I've also noticed a huge change in my mood, days are no longer stretches of time that I do not enjoy, and school, who would have thought, is actually exciting to go to each day! Its amazing now, I'm much happier, despite waking up at 6 am each morning, I am full of energy!

This September I've started my grade twelve year of school (Last Year!) and I expect to be busy with dancing, volunteering and other sports at school, so of course, I need to be feeling my best without complications from anything! In previous years I've always found it hard to juggle lots of things going on at once, with homework and tests among dance and competitions, but this year, just maybe, this change in my mood will carry on, and I'll just slide through my last year easily! (Though friends in older grades have never said this was the case...)

But right now, I'm enjoying the moment, and what better way than filling that craving for baked goods (gluten-free banana muffins right out of the oven anyone?) with cooking and baking, which I've been doing loads these past few weeks.

To start my lazy Sunday off in just the perfect manner, and to start this blog and the journey (must find a better word!) that will ensue, I gathered the family to make a typical Sunday brunch meal, with that gluten-free twist of course! - Banana Pancakes!

Ever since I was very little, my dad would wake up before everyone else and whip up some amazing crepes to urge us out of bed on those lazy days. They weren't gluten-free then, but boy they were good, so I felt it would be extra special if dad and I could make these pancakes together today, and maybe (perhaps too wishful?) he would venture into gluten-free cooking, and attack a recipe of gluten-free crepes to usher me out of the thickness of my blankets on another rainy Sunday morning.

So we dressed in cooking aprons, me in my too-small apron from years ago, and dad in the floral housewife apron (good thing I took photos!), and set to measuring our flours and gathering ingredients.

And it went well! Dad cooked of course, with all his experience at pancake flipping, I couldn't exactly deny him, and I gathered ingredients and mixed the batter. Mum set the kettle for coffee, and the dog wandered around the kitchen for scraps while the cat dozed in the corner. It was a good morning.

Instantly, it smelt amazing. Warm banana pancakes ... It's heavenly just thinking about it. So I better just post the recipe before I get too reminiscent.

Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes
Adapted from Pig in the Kitchen's Banana Pancakes Recipe
Click here for printable version.

Since we aren't vegan, we used an egg instead of the egg replacer mix used in the original recipe. I've made breads without eggs and they've never bonded together properly, and ended up crumbly and dry, so if this is a first time attempt at pancakes, I would recommend sticking with the egg unless you don't eat them!

We used rice milk in this recipe because of the excess in our pantry, as we ended up buying extra right before I found out about almond milk, and realised I preferred it much more! I don't drink milk, although my parents do, because of the taste. I usually alternate between using almond milk and cow's milk in my recipes, but I've found that either works.

Also, a quick note when cooking them, these pancakes need a bit of time to cook thoroughly through before you flip them, otherwise they'll fall apart. So keep the frying pan on medium-low temperature, and wait a little longer than you would with regular pancakes.


100g white rice flour
50g sorghum flour
50g almond flour (or meal)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 tsp baking soda

1 egg
1/4 c brown sugar
1 c of rice milk (or almond milk), and you may need a bit more depending on the consistency of the flours


Preheat the oven to 200°F and put a plate in the oven to heat up.

Combine the flours and the baking powder in a large bowl, until mixed. Making a bowl in the center, add the egg.

Next add the brown sugar and rice milk, whisking until the batter is mixed and quite thick.

Add the baking soda to the mashed bananas, and slowly add to the flour mixture. Whisk again until the batter thick, but still runny. (At this point you may need to add more rice milk - but do this slowly!)

Heat up oil (I always use grapeseed oil for cooking) in a frying pan over medium-low heat, and then pour about 1/3 c of the batter into the pan. Wait until just after the edges begin to bubble, and then flip! (Or get someone else to do this, in my case).

Transfer the cooked pancakes to the waiting plate in the oven to keep warm.

Delicious when served with frozen blueberries and real Canadian maple syrup!

Labels: , , , , ,