Friday, September 30, 2011

First Pumpkins

Even though the weather is still pretty warm here in Georgia you can tell it is fall because the grocery stores are beginning to carry pumpkins in their produce departments.

This young man asked for five pumpkins because he wants almost everyone in the family to have one to make Jack-O-Lanterns. When I saw this perfect pumpkin while shopping at my local Publix store I knew I had to take it home -- and no I didn't grow any pumpkins this year. I was a bit frustrated with myself about it, but when it was time to plant pumpkin seeds we had a pretty good drought going on. I don't think it would have been worth my time this year -- maybe next year.

Pumpkins are very attractive right now, but wait too close to Halloween and you will be left with knotty, ones. They won't be like this beautiful one in the photo. Its cost was $5.99 and I didn't think that was too bad for a large, perfect pumpkin.

I don't know if I will buy five pumpkins, but I know I will buy a few more and I will shop the sales and try to get them early. I will buy some sugar pumpkins and a couple more carving pumpkins. I usually also buy some small decorative gourds that look like pumpkins but (as far as I know) are not edible.

I always look for a well-rounded pumpkin that sits pretty and looks good on most sides. I want the stem to be nice and green and I don't buy a pumpkin that has flaws or dings. They tend to rot quickly.

I usually store mine close to the air conditioning vent in the kitchen until we need heat, then I move it to the coolest place in my house, probably my wash room and I will later use the carving pumpkins for an outside display. I know once I carve them, they won't last but about a week outside, so I will wait until Halloween is almost here to cut out a funny face. The sugar pumpkins will go into my Thanksgiving pumpkin pies.

Our pumpkin lover wanted to carve a face in the pumpkin right away. When we said no to this, he wanted to draw a face on with magic marker. Unfortunately for him he had to be content with drawing faces on paper that we will carve on the pumpkins when it is time. It is so hard to wait.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Surprise Lillies

The recent, long-awaited rain brought more than just a boost to our vegetable garden.

My sister went outside a couple of days ago and was inspired to take this photo of lilies that suddenly sprang up after the rain.

Her text message that she sent along with the photo said, "I am sending u some pics of some surprise lilies for ur blog when u have a chance to use them ... I don't know the real name ... I just know I was surprised yesterday when I came out and saw them blooming ..."

I knew what they were the minute I saw the photo because we recently had an article about Spiderlilies in our September/October issue of Newnan-Coweta Magazine.

Evidently, they are late-season bloomers that originated in Japan and brought to America during the time of Commodore Matthew Perry's diplomatic mission there in 1853. They understandably became popular in the south since they add a touch of brilliant color just when things are turning brown and gearing up for winter.

Red Spiderlily or Lycoris radiata, is also known as "naked lady, British soldier, surprise lily and rain lily." I know this courtesy of Katheryn McCall's Thoughtful Gardener feature in every issue of our magazine. I always look forward to her thoughtful and educational articles and I find that after almost every article, the plant featured (often not a plant or flower I am familiar with), suddenly shows up somewhere and surprises me with it's beauty or fragrance, or both, and I usually have to reread the article and look at the photos to learn more.

These perennial lilies have no foliage. The delicate flowers just spring up where they were planted and give us a treat for a few days -- a beautiful surprise.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making Funnel Cakes

It is officially fall and the fair is in town. That means it is time for funnel cakes -- a treat we only have when the fair (or one of our local open-air events) is going on.

This year, someone had the idea at our church to serve funnel cakes at our annual SonRise Church fall event. No one really knew how to cook funnel cakes but they were willing to learn. The attendees were glad we were willing to try our hands at making them because our funnel cakes were tasty and a big hit.

Luckily, we had professional cooks on the job. Richard and Zandra who own the local restaurant, Papa's Smokehouse, mixed up the easy recipe (which I will include below) and also came up with stainless steel rings that made the job so much easier.

I am not sure who came up the idea of using squirt bottles, rather than funnels to squirt the batter into the hot grease but these squirt bottles worked so well and made the job so much less messy. I think it was Kim, who led our team at the event. Whoever it was, is a genius!

Besides Richard, Zandra and Kim, we had Lucinda and Sandi ready to cook with utensils ready and aprons on. They set up the propane tanks and cook stoves under the shade of a big tree and soon the crowd was clamoring for funnel cakes.

Someone asked me if I was the expert who was cooking the funnel cakes and I told them I was the apprentice. That was certainly true. I didn't bring any skills to this job but I really did learn about cooking funnel cakes.

We did use a funnel to put the batter into the large squirt bottles. We first had to cut the tips off the bottles so more batter could come out at one time. Filling the bottles was a messy job.

You can see how the tops were cut to make larger holes.

When the grease was hot, we poured enough batter into the funnel cake ring, sitting in the hot grease to make a firm "cake."

We removed the ring and waited for the cake to show brown on the top side.

When the cake was golden underneath we flipped it and let it brown on the other side.

We then removed the hot cakes from the grease and let them drain.

There were variations of color. I think people liked them best when they were browned and crispy.

We then sprinkled powdered sugar on the cake that was sitting on the plate and delivered them to the waiting crowd.

People kept thanking us for cooking the funnel cakes and I think it was a novelty treat that reminded me of a time I helped cook donuts at a another community event.

I am not sure I would make these at home, but I really did enjoy getting outside and cooking with some very nice and talented cooks who all enjoyed making treats for the large crowd. It was fun and rewarding.

Here's the easy recipe:

1 box of Krusteaz pancake mix (mixed according to directions, 3 cups mix + 2 cups water)
1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring for each box
1 tablespoon cinnamon per box

Mix well and batter is ready for making funnel cakes. Each box of mix should make around 24 funnel cakes. This will vary with the size of the funnel cakes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Garden view

This weekend brought some pretty dramatic changes to our garden. You can tell it looks a bit greener. What a difference a few rainy days makes to a dried up garden!

Our collards, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli look great but the most exciting thing is happening -- our greens are sprouting. It looks all green and fuzzy in our greens row.

There's no sign of beets, carrots, garlic, or spinach. Those take a bit longer. Our lettuce is beginning to sprout but it's only in the beginning stages. It will take a few days more to see green in those rows.

Here's a closer look at the turnip greens. The mustard greens and rutabagas look just like the turnip greens at this point!

And we have some cucumber blooms. We just might have a few late cucumbers before the weather gets too cool. We planted them because we had the extra seeds and were beginning to think they were not going to do anything. They look really amazing now.

I can also see some nut grass sprouting up in the greens. Looking at all the dirt that is showing reminds me that we really need to mulch. That's the next step -- plus the nut grass.

I am waiting for my order of bok choy and organic blue Scotch kale so we can finish our fall garden. They should arrive in the mail within the week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall garden -- not much to see, yet

The photo of tilled soil, above, is pretty boring. This photo is from last week. I couldn't get out the last couple of days to take photos because thankfully, it was raining. I know gardeners all around our area were ecstatic because we have all been hoping and praying for rain for our lawns and especially our gardens.

I was just happy we finally had a good natural watering. It came just after we planted the majority of our fall garden. We had already added collards, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli plants and we then planted some root vegetables -- beets, garlic, carrots and different kinds of greens. We planted turnip greens, rutabagas, spinach and mustard greens, lettuce and arugula.

We still need to plant kale seeds but I can't find them anywhere! I have ordered some bok choy and red bunching onion seeds and they are supposed to be in the mail so I know we will plant them as soon as the ground is dry enough.

I really love the greens and I really hope we find some kale. I am thinking about ordering some heirloom kale seeds so that we can just let some of the kale go to seed, save the seed and plant our own. It is more economical. Usually Arnall's Grocery has plenty of kale seeds, but not this fall.

Most of the things we planted should withstand the winter. The greens, we should be able to pick before frost because they are fast growers. The collards should be really to pick around Thanksgiving or Christmas, at the latest.

The broccoli, carrots, beets, Brussels sprouts, and lettuce should survive over the winter and we know it is unlikely that we will get a harvest until early spring. If we plant some of these vegetables -- like the broccoli, beets and Brussels sprouts we should have a nice harvest after the first of the year. If we wait until spring, the weather will just be too hot for them and we won't get a harvest at all -- that is at least what I have heard and been reading lately.

We also have row covers, so if we get worried about a hard freeze, we will just cover our plants. I am always so excited about planting and I just hope this fall garden will be the best ever.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Healthy Popsicles

Here's a healthy treat -- and yes, in addition to being healthy it is very good.

You will need a popsicle mold. Ours look like little rocket ships and makes six popsicles. If you don't have a popsicle mold, use yogurt cups and an ice cream stick or a small dowel.

Mix 2 bananas, 1/4 cup walnuts and 1 cup of apple or white grape juice. Mix it in a blender that is powerful enough to cream walnuts. A smoothie maker is great. (We used a Vitamix blender.) Blend for a minute or two until mixture is ultra creamy, pour into molds and freeze.

Most kids (especially the one pictured above) won't eat walnuts even though they are nutritionally very good for you. Walnuts make an extra creamy base for treats and if you can make them as smooth as a smoothie, kids love them -- they also love popsicles, especially when they get to help.

You could also substitute almond milk or coconut milk for the walnuts if you can't cream them. This is a vegan recipe with no trans fat or milk products AND it puts happy smiles on faces, as you can tell.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coconut whipped cream

 Here's something for those who can't enjoy dairy products but would just love something rich and cream for dessert -- coconut whipped cream.

I think it should probably be labeled "Vegan's Delight" because it has the richness and body of whipping cream but no trans fats and no animal fats. Talk about easy! This was probably the easiest whipped cream I have ever made. I have seen some really complicated vegan whipped cream recipes with tons of ingredients, but this was simple and quite a surprise. 

My recipe:

Coconut Whipping Cream

I used a hand mixer for mine but a stand mixer would probably whip it more quickly. I will probably double the recipe for our family in the future but I just wanted to try making whipping cream with coconut milk and I didn't want to risk a flop with more than one can. This does have a coconut flavor but it is not overpowering. I think it tastes more like whipped cream with a medium hint of coconut flavor. From now on I will store at least one can of coconut milk in my 'fridge to make coconut whipping cream.

1 can coconut milk (NOT the low-fat variety)
1 heaping tablespoon Confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Place the unopened can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Open the chilled can of coconut milk and carefully skim off the white, creamy hardened top of the coconut milk. Leave the watery "milk" for another purpose. (Use it in smoothies or other recipes.) You are basically skimming the fat part of the coconut milk off the top. Approximately 1/2 of the can will be left.

Place the thick coconut milk into a small mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and sugar and mix until it is the consistency of whipping cream. Store it in the refrigerator, it will not last long if it is hot. Yields about 1-1/2 cups of coconut whipping cream. Use as you would regular whipped cream.

This keeps better than I expected. The photo at the top was made two days before!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Plant tags have more information than ever

The other day when I was planting my Brussels sprouts, I glanced at the plant tag because I wanted to see just how far to space my plants. When I looked at the back of the tag I notice a QR (Quick Response) code and I was quite excited about this because I knew it probably would lead to a wealth of information from Bonnie Plants on how to grow Brussels sprouts. I scanned the code, using my phone and I was directed to the page below.

QR codes are like little gems all around us that are there to guide us to information on the Internet that is very useful. (Well, that isn't always true. Sometimes it just leads you to a website that might be a waste of time. At other times you can also see useful videos or get coupons. You really don't know til you scan.)

The QR codes from Bonnie Plants are a treasure trove of information. When I scanned the code (with my Android phone) it took me to a website that told me, when to plant, how to plant, what companion plants to use with Brussels sprouts, how to cook them and it even included a video to show me how to plant my brand new plants.

I only recently found out that in hot climates with early warm spring weather (like ours) you really should plant these plants in the fall to harvest in the spring. Had I scanned the tags on the Brussels sprouts I planted last spring, maybe I would have known they wouldn't "make" by hot weather.

You must have a Smart phone and download the free application to scan bar codes but I think the wealth of information from things like these QR codes are just priceless. If you have a smart phone, check it out. I love QR codes and though I wouldn't just scan anything, I will be taking advantage of all the plant information I can find.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gluten-Free Bread on the Market

It can be tough for kids who can't have all the great-tasting foods that other kids can have. Wheat is just such a huge part of the American diet that when you are forced to make a change it can be a bit traumatic for those with food allergies and celiac disease.

There are a couple of new bread choices that have recently hit the grocery store shelves in our area. One is Rudi's gluten-free bakery and the other is Udi's gluten-free bakery. I was very confused at first and thought it was the same company. The names were so similar and both company hail from Colorado -- though one is from Denver an the other from Boulder.

When I looked in to it further, I realized that they were indeed two different companies. Rudi's has been selling organic bread for some time at Whole Foods Markets and have just recently provided gluten-free bread seekers with bread, buns, pizza crusts and bagels. They are known for using a low number of  healthy ingredients in their products.

Udi's is a newer company that opened in Boulder and they apparently own and operate some very nice restaurants and are trying to provide consumers with a good-tasting, alternative to gluten-containing products. I got the impression from their website that someone in the family has a wheat sensitivity. Whatever the reason, I can see a person using their old company name, even if it is eerily similar to a another bakery in their state.

Udi's does have a larger product line at this time for gluten-free foods. They carry breads, buns, bagels, muffins, pizza crusts and granola. I think the ingredients aren't quite as "healthy-sounding" to me but I haven't yet tested their products to see what I thought of the flavors.

One thing to consider, one of these gluten-free buns (which come four to a pack) come out to a hefty $1.25 a bun. This is very expensive compared to regular buns. We have the regular buns for non-sensitive members of our family and save the gluten-free ones just for our grandson. 

I am just glad they are responding to a need and getting some better-tasting gluten-free breads on the market. They can be purchased at Kroger and Publix in our local area. If you want to try them and the price is too high, download a coupon from their websites for $1 off.

My little grandson who is the wheat-sensitive one, didn't complain much when we took away his hamburger and hot dog buns but when we purchased some Rudi's buns he was so happy to have a hot dog in a real bun. He wanted to have them every day.

While our grandson is so over the moon about the buns, I can't really recommend one over the other at this point. I plan to do a side by side comparison at some point so I would love to include your comments on that subject. Just post a comment on my blog and I will include what you think. I can't wait to do a side-by-side comparison.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More about Milky Spore

This is the first year we have treated our garden for grubs and I am hoping that we see a long term benefit from treating with Milky Spore.

Milky Spore is a bacterium that when spread into the soil, begins a cycle that is supposed to eventually get rid of grub worms, especially the dreaded pest, the Japanese beetle. I would love for my green beans NOT to have lacy leaves on the top from Japanese beetles feeding on the leaves and the beans. But there are many benefits of using this product.

One is the benefit of being environmentally friendly. Pets and beneficial wild animals, especially birds, can be harmed when using products like Grub-X, but they are not harmed by Milky Spore. It works by infecting the grubs who feed on the Milky Spore after they hatch. The bacteria then grows in the grub and when they die from the bacteria, the Milky Spore continues to grow and there is even more bacteria in the soil for more grubs to ingest. In some reports I have read, the grubs can be controlled by Milky Spore for ten to fifteen years.

Another benefit is that you can rid yourself of some non-beneficial birds, like blackbirds (who fly in to feed on grubs and can also help themselves to other things) and a new pest to our area, armadillos who love digging holes in your yard at night while you sleep. They feed on the grubs and tear up your turf. Milky Spore will eventually control the armadillos by controlling the grubs. I've heard that you rarely see armadillos but they can really destroy a lawn. They are hard to control by any other means but when you take away their favorite meal, they will go where the grubs are plentiful.

Armadillos also carry some nasty diseases, like leprosy, and while it is extremely unlikely that a human or pet would catch a disease from armadillos, I have read that it is a possibility, though a remote one. Leprosy not easily transmitted even from person to person. I would rather have a disease-carrying pest somewhere else besides my lawn or garden.

We will treat again in the spring and then in the summer but I am hoping to reap some long term benefits from Milky Spore and I intend to keep a record of just how beneficial the treatment will be to our garden.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Deep-Dish, Gluten-Free Peach Cobbler

It was time to use the rest of my peaches, or freeze them. I did freeze quite a few plastic freezer bags full, but I had a request (by my husband) to please make a peach cobbler. Normally, it would have been easy -- buy pie crusts, cut up some peaches, add sugar, flour and butter and bake.

The only problem is that I can't use flour or butter now. So I had to put on my thinking cap and try to come up with something that would make everyone happy. This cobbler was the result.

I started out by making a crust for the top only. I think this is best when making a gluten-free pie. If one is put off by the taste or texture of the crust, they'll love the peaches baked in sugar inside which makes up most of the pie.

I used a deep-dish stoneware casserole dish, sprayed it with cooking spray and then cut up enough peaches to fit my dish (This dish holds almost as much as a 9 x 13 dish because of the height of the dish.) It took about 6 large peaches to fill the dish. The peaches will shrink a bit so I made sure they were mounded over the top. Then I transferred my peaches to a bowl. To this, I added 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of tapioca flour, which makes a great thickener. I then dotted the top with about five teaspoons of non-trans fat margarine. Some like to add cinnamon but I don't care for cinnamon with peaches. I save the cinnamon for apples. The cobbler was then ready for the crust.

I then made my crust, using the recipe below.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

There are so many pie crust recipes out there so use one you prefer. (You can also purchase gluten-free crusts at Whole Foods.)

1-1/2 cups white rice flour
1/2 cup coconut oil (Coconut oil is solid rather than liquid.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

In a small mixing bowl, using a pastry knife, mix the coconut oil into the rice flour. Add salt, agave nectar and ice water, one tablespoon at a time until it all works together into a smooth dough.

Roll out the dough for the size of the pie top onto a sheet of parchment paper, using a rolling pin dusted with rice flour. Flip the parchment and rolled out dough onto the top of the pie and use the excess around the sides to make it thicker. The sides will become a bit browner and it is nice to have a thicker crust there.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until cobbler is golden brown. Allow to cool. Serve alone or with whipped topping or ice cream (if you have a problem with ice cream try coconut milk ice cream.)

Is this a healthy alternative? Probably healthier than a normal cobbler but there is still a great deal of fat and sugar. I am just trying to minimize allergic symptoms and give alternatives. It was very good.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Starting our fall garden

 It's official. Our fall garden is underway. We now have collards, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, some leftover cucumbers and peppers and plenty of room to plant more. We still need to mulch but we were pretty weary after getting all this done.

It wasn't the most perfect summer for a garden and I have decided not to spend any time bemoaning the fact that we didn't have the most wonderful garden ever. I know that in the true spirit of farming you just have to move on to the next season. Droughts hit everyone pretty hard.

Much of the time was spent clearing things out and tilling under the vegetation that was left.

The pole from the beans need to be cleaned off and stored for next year.

The tomato and pepper cages can be stored in the shed.

My husband manned the tiller and it took awhile to get things ready.

We left some late cucumbers and the fence. They are growing pretty slowly. I was surprised they survived the last couple of weeks because the weather was so dry. In early spring, we will plant pea pods and let them run up the fence. It would be nice to utilize it while it is up. I am not sure we will have fall cucumbers but we had the seed back in August so we really weren't out anything but labor.

My job was to buy the plants. We would normally have waited a bit to buy plants but I was concerned that if I waited they will all be gone. That has happened to me before. At least the nights are cooler and since the stores have the plants, it must be the right time for them. I purchased a tray of collard plants, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and some cabbage.

I thought I had a half tray of broccoli but it was actually cabbage. I certainly didn't need that much cabbage. I guess I picked up the wrong tray at the store and had way too much cabbage and no broccoli. Luckily they have a return policy. Whew! I was so worried about my mistake. We now have broccoli plants and we will have broccoli in the ground by tomorrow.

The main thing we wanted to do for our spring planting was to till in some lime. It won't help right now but when spring rolls around, the pH level of the soil will be sweetened.

We decided to also treat for grubs. Milky Spore is a natural way to get rid of them. I would love to take care of those awful Japanese beetles. I hope this helps.

After putting out lime and milky spore it looked like this. We all looked like we had been dusted with cake flour when we were finished. The wind was blowing up small lime whirlwinds until we tilled it under.

Then it was ready ...

For our plants, heavily laced with Moo-nure and watered liberally. The photo at the top is the way it looks now -- a very good start.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gluten-free Pizza Pockets

There are some great ideas in the Flying Apron Cookbook I mentioned earlier in the week. We tried their recipe for pizza pockets and found it to be incredibly good. It starts with a quick yeast bread made with pumpkin and flax seed meal and a mix of white and garbanzo bean flours. We mixed the bread and rolled it into circles, inserted savory toppings and baked them until they were a delicious golden brown.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

This time we made the inside ingredients very simple. Pizza sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms and grated "cheese." Our cheese was made from soy. We baked it on a pizza stone and the crust was perfect.

Let's fact it. Most incredibly good things are not incredibly easy. I don't think I will be making these everyday but I will use this recipe over and over and I will be working on some new fillings to go inside. The pepperoni was a little on the hot side (I guess it is "pepper"oni for a reason!) but the taste was very good. I am thinking if you add some healthy ingredients, this would be a deceptively good meal.  This could be made from any bread recipe, though we liked that this was a gluten-free recipe that tasted like it could have been made from wheat. I think this recipe would also make a great pizza crust.

I like that you can freeze these either before or after baking. I like this idea for an easy meal. Just make a salad and thaw out some pizza pockets (they are much like calzones I have eaten in Italian eateries).

I am thinking my next filling will be chicken and vegetables in a nut cream sauce. I know that the recipe will get easier each time I make it and I intend to perfect my method as I go to help with the rolling out experience.

That's the Flying Apron Gluten-Free Cookbook. Savory pockets. Or experiment with a bread mix or your favorite recipe. Add a salad or soup and have a very nice treat. Your kids will love you for this one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


With Labor Day behind us, it is time to get started on a new gardening season. Our garden played out early this year because we just didn't get enough rain. After a weekend of rain and with cooler temperatures, it should be time to get a fresh start.

The last thing we have in our garden -- peppers. These beautiful pimentos were a first for us this year and I do plan to plant more next year. I was hoping to can them but I didn't have quite enough to bring out the pressure canner, so I decided to freeze them instead.

The best way -- roast them, peel off the skin and then freeze them. The skins can be a bit tough and a little bitter when they are cooked or frozen, so it is best to freeze them without the peelings.

I think the pimentos are meatier than regular red bell peppers. We had to pick a few of them while green but they "colored up" well after leaving them out for more than a few days. I thought the pimentos kept well and I really liked the clusters of peppers on the vines.

It is almost impossible for my untrained eye to tell the difference between a bell pepper plant and a pimento plant, but the pimento pepper is very different from the bell pepper. The pimento has a rounded bottom and become a bright fire engine red when ripe. Pimentos have a distinctively different flavor that makes them perfect in pimento cheese.

My pimentos will be the star ingredient for my favorite pimento cheese recipe. It's a tangy, low fat version that my family really loves. A bit different, but healthy and tasty. This is great on whole wheat bread or on crackers. We often serve this as a dip. It has a fresh taste.

Low-Fat, Herbed Pimento Cheese

2/3 cup nonfat sour cream
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt, softened

1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
4 ounces nonfat cream cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (or other herbs of your choice)
1/3 cup chopped red pimento peppers (or one 4 ounce jar of pimentos)
8 ounces low fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl mix the sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Add the onions, herbs and pimentos. Add the grated cheddar until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving so the flavor will be enhanced.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Peach pie -- for everyone

Last weekend we bought a half-bushel of late season peaches and we have really enjoyed them. They ripen a bit each day and are delicious. I have sliced up the ripe fruit and frozen them in packages daily -- the best way to avoid waste and keep down the fruit flies!

Yesterday I was thinking I should use some to make a peach pie and an end of the summer treat for my family. My favorite pie from childhood is the one dish pie my mom always called a quickie pie. It doesn't take much energy to make because you just throw it all in a dish in layers and bake it.

I was wondering if I could make this pie gluten-free. I hate to exclude anyone when I make something and I didn't want to exclude those in our household with allergies. I don't want to answer the question, "Why can't you make a peach pie for me?"

So I just made my own version of quickie pie from our wonderful peaches and it was great. Use any ripe fruit and everyone should enjoy it. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would be very good with this, too.

Here's the gluten-free version followed by the regular version. Very easy and very good. I was a bit surprised and pleased because it was very similar to the original.

Gluten-free Quickie Fruit Pie

1/2 cup margarine or butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup garbanzo, fava flour
(You can substitute any gluten-free flour blend for this mixture.)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 cup almond milk
6 cups sliced fresh peaches or other fresh fruit
Optional: 1/4 cup sugar to sprinkle over the top. (I didn't add this)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish in the oven. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla flavoring and almond milk in a mixing bowl and pour on top of the melted butter. Layer the fruit on top (then sprinkle on the optional sugar, if desired) and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Quickie Fruit Pie

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 cup whole milk (would work with buttermilk)
6 cups sliced fresh peaches or other fresh fruit
Optional: 1/4 cup sugar to sprinkle over the top. 

 Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish in the oven. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla flavoring and milk in a mixing bowl and pour on top of the melted butter. Layer the fruit on top (then sprinkle on the optional sugar, if desired) and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Flying Apron's Cookbook

I have been searching for a cookbook that would have some wonderful gluten-free AND vegan recipes. You can find plenty of great vegan cookbooks and I have seen a few promising gluten-free cookbooks but not together in one package.

Then I discovered the Flying Apron's Gluten-free & Vegan Baking Book and I thought, maybe. When I realized the author also had a bakery/restaurant in Washington, I thought I might have finally found something I could use. Usually, if the cookbook author has successfully run a restaurant, they have some good recipes. When I looked up the restaurant, I noticed it had changed hands but is doing well enough to add a new location. I also noticed that many of the same recipes in the cookbook are still on the menu. I knew then that this book could be a winner!

I haven't had as much time as I thought since purchasing the cookbook to try recipes, but I have made the Berry Oat Wondie Bars. I didn't take a photo of them because I was in a hurry to get out of town last week and I also didn't think, at first, that it was going to be a great recipe. I liked the ingredients and it wasn't a hard recipe. (I will admit I struggled a bit at first, as I do with most new recipes. I don't know why.) In the end they turned out pretty good, especially after they had cooled and I liked the wholesome ingredients.

Ultimately, this recipe passed the true test of a good recipe in my household ... my husband loved them and asked me to make more and my grandson (the one on a gluten-free diet) loved them and wondered why he was having dessert for breakfast. They really weren't too sweet but very fruity and delicious -- certainly better for you than those awful sweetened breakfast cereals.

There are a few notable recipes I am planning to try -- a pumpkin yest bread and some savory, baked main dish pockets that look great and could be adapted for gluten-free calzones. Sounds yummy and the recipes looked very good. They would make great meals with the addition of a salad and it is hard to imagine a "gluten-free" calzone with all the yummy flavors inside.

I will take photos when I make them.

Meanwhile, I am glad I own this cookbook.