Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fudgy Beany Brownies, No Flour,


Yes, they have black beans in them. This article explains the whole thing, with enthusiasm. When you try it, write a review and post it here... PL

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gluten Sensitivity Article Link


There are a lot of interesting insights in this article, and a lot of immunology that I don't understand. Several links from it are also of interest.

Here is one tidbit that might have broader appeal: the reason gliadin (another article worth reading at Wikipedia) formed in conjunction with the 'new wheat' that was easy to pick and store was to dissuade mammalian predators of it. In other words, it was an active defense mechanism that increased survivability.

To appreciate what this might mean, I recommend this article:


It turns out that early-onset and late-onset gluten sensitivies are different...

Even though the gluten article is highly technical, it's got a lot of interesting facts, too - I recommend it. Maybe someday I'll distill it....

Some Moms Talking About Their GS Kids

GS = Gluten-Sensitive


It's a forum, brief, interesting, and possibly irrelevant - you decide!

Slow Food Quote and Link

"It is normal, and it is right, for people to grow and produce food near where they live; near where they eat. Historically, vegetables, eggs, meat, and fruit have always been grown pretty much anywhere that there were people. It's only recently that we've allowed our food production to become distant, centralized, and impersonal."

So says Carol Havens, Slow Food Skagit River Salish Sea, http://slowfoodskagit.org.

Learning Food Independence

If words like "sustainable", "local", "organic", "fresh", "home-grown" touch you, you will enjoy (I think) reading through this calendar on the offerings for growing and eating local food in WA and OR.


It includes all sorts of events, including instruction in growing 'city goats', kiwis, ducks, bees... The main site also includes garden walks and much more. Very exciting...

Great News For WA Kids!

March 11, 2008 - Olympia, WA - "Today the state legislature passed theLocal Farms - Healthy Kids bill (SSB 6483). Votes were very much bi-partisan and essentially unanimous in both the House and Senate. A keybenefit of this legislation will make it easier for schools to buy locally grown food - providing markets for local farmers and nutritious, fresh local food for our children. As a package, this bill will become the most comprehensive local foods program in the nation."


Supporting the farmers is good, feeding the kids fresh food is good, not driving food halfway across the country is good...

What about elsewhere? Post it here so we can keep track. PL

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Remarkable History of Gluten Problems

Here's a great article from http://celiac.com on why gluten problems are so prevalent. Fascinating!


And one conclusion of the many is that those of us with this condition are related in a very interesting way! Wait till you read it...

The Many Issues Around Oats

I love oats, and miss them. I tried one batch of oats after I was gluten-free and got an inflammatory response not like a gluten reaction, but still inflammatory, so no good... But I haven't done a big study of oats to understand all the issues.

This article will help anyone wanting good solid RECENT information on the oat issue for celiacs and those with other types of gluten-intolerance:


As this article points out, the biggest issue is contamination, but it's not the only issue.... PL

Not Kidding: Gluten-Free Crepes!

I googled this subject, Gluten-Free Crepes, on a lark. How could they be? And up came 93,100 entries...

I picked this one: http://www.celiac.com/articles/614/1/Crepes-1-Gluten-Free/Page1.html.

This is a very sensible recipe. If you try it, please leave your comment about what you liked and didn't like about it.

Along the way, I discovered this whole gluten-free site, not just recipes: http://www.celiac.com. It just might be helpful! PL

Monday, March 10, 2008

Reprise on a food experience in Tucson

Below you can find the original review of The Melting Pot. Tonight we were invited back to have a repeat experience, guests of the owner Rich Abrahamson. It was the night to remember that The Melting Pot has the reputation of providing!

Again we took our daughter and son-in-law. One development in the intervening two months is that our daughter now knows that she is gluten-sensitive. This means she and I shared one pot and the men shared the other.

The first great surprise was that now The Melting Pot not only has a list of which foods contain gluten but they remembered that I am gluten-intolerant and told me right up front which choices would be good for me. This was a service for which I am very grateful: I find it a real challenge to eat out just because of the lack of information from the restaurant and ignorance from most waitpersons about what might be safe for me to eat.

So let's talk about our wonderful waitperson from this evening. This was Rob, the same person who apparently was having a bad night when we were last at The Melting Pot. He's the one who tonight anticipated our need to know about the gluten-free options.

Not only that, he was attentive, lively, energetic, and responsive. At times he apparently could not be at our table, but a substitute was always there to take his place, to attend to a need, to adjust the temperature on the pots, or to check on our water supply. Sometimes this was the manager.

Last time we had been promised a visit by the manager but it had not materialized. Tonight we saw him 3 times at our table, and then once more as he held the door for us when it was time to leave.

It is true that we were treated very well, and what a difference it makes in the dining experience! We really felt like we were important guests, and last time I felt that way I was eating in the dining room at Ventana Canyon with a harpist playing in the background and one waiter assigned to each guest. So our wonderful treatment really was an unexpected delight.

As for the food, it was excellent. The traditional swiss fondue is definitely my favorite, though the menu has several options to choose from. The balance of flavors was just right in my opinion. Interestingly, because they couldn't put flour in our fondue, it was on the runny side compared to the norm, but that was a perfect 'problem': the rice bread we brought from home to dip in it is on the dry side - but the combination of the two was just right.

The cheese fondue was accompanied by raw veggies as well as various breads for those who are not gluten-sensitive. It appeared the cauliflower was parboiled, because it cooked to some degree while sitting in the cheese, with a delightful result - al dente cauliflower steeped in intensely Swiss melted cheese. The other veggies, carrots and celery, didn't have the same appeal, nor did the crunchy, tart apples - they were excellent, but no match for the cauliflower.

Next came the salad course. Excellent, tasty, fresh, great combinations and great dressings - the salads alone were worth the visit (to paraphrase Prot from KPax).

The third course is outrageous! We chose the middle option that included lobster tail. And beef and chicken and shrimp and pork and more beef. And about 8 dipping sauces, though I may have lost count. These are served precut into hefty chunks and in many cases marinated or otherwise preflavored. To my taste the flavor was a bit overdone, with all the sauces to add yet more complexities, and I heard my son-in-law express the same opinion. All this was served with potatoes (which take a long time to cook!), mushrooms (perfect w/ the green goddess sauce), zucchini, and my absolute favorite, broccoli. We put all the veggies into the heated oil without any batters (because of the gluten issue) and found the broccoli came out with an unusually appealing flavor that could have been the centerpiece of a great meal.

Finally came the dessert. We chose plain dark chocolate, while the men picked out the new special, bananas with dulce de leche, white chocolate, and cinnamon - crackling cinnamon it was, sprinkled into the flames of the drenched chocolate. A lot of fun to watch! Our dark chocolate was a delight and the men liked the dessert as well - though none of us at that point had any need of nourishment at all.

Rob didn't pester us, but he was attentive. I saw him walking past on some other errand a few times, with a glance in our direction to make sure all was well, which it was.

We had good conversation with a smooth flow of food, some hefty decision-making along the way, and the need only once to turn the heat down on the pots ourselves. (The controls are a little out of the way, not really designed for guest-control.)

The whole evening was enjoyable. Rob's energy and pleasantness were dead-on appropriate, with a quick apology first thing in the evening for last time's dicey encounter, and then it was exactly what we needed in terms of service, conversation, explanations, and privacy.

This was a great evening at The Melting Pot! Don't think of going there if you just want to eat. First off, if food is your goal, you'll get more than enough and then you run the danger of bursting. Go if you want to have an evening of great conversation, interesting foods, and an interactive experience.

Make no mistake: The Melting Pot is not inexpensive, and I can't imagine eating there just any old time I didn't have something in the fridge. But our group of 4 ate LOTS of food for just over $50 each, and had a fun and a relaxed time too. Would we go back? Yes, certainly, if we had something to celebrate.

In fact, I'm trying to think of the next celebration we might bump into on the calendar. Already our son-in-law asked if they'd be open in November, when he and our daughter celebrate their wedding anniversary.

We'd like to thank owner Rich Abrahamson for his impressively quick and cordial response to our distress from the earlier visit, and Rob for an enjoyable evening.

Unless you like to read the whole story, there's no need to read below this line. This is the old review. I leave it here so you can understand some of the points from this second and nearly perfect experience.


We took our son-in-law and family to The Melting Pot for his birthday. They love that place, and of course can't afford to go. They have been raving about the service since their anniversary last fall when they splurged. I was ready to help this great young man celebrate in style!

The food was good. But the service was among the worst I've ever had. Ten minutes to menus. Twenty minutes to taking the order. Then the melted cheese is supposed to come because it's cooked at the table. But that took almost 25 more minutes, and happened only after the SIL went to find out where it was.

It tasted great, but we ran out of dippers: fruit, or bread for the bread-eaters. And the cheese was turned up too high and we kept burning our mouths. Soon we were done. The fine-tuned adjustments to the cooking vessels and constant refills of dippers they had experienced before never happened.

When that was finally cleared up, we waiting for the salad course. And waited. And waited. Finally I got up and went to see what I could find out. I expected to find a bustling restaurant, which would explain the inattention. But almost all the seats were empty. I spent several minutes trying to talk to the front-desk girl, who had told me to wait while she seated some customers - but then didn't reappear. Finally I found her, and after talking to her for a bit, the waiter showed up from the direction of the bar and said our salads would be right out. And the front-desk girl said the manager would come talk to us. Very good!

We waited only another 4-5 minutes for the salads, but the manager never showed up. While we had the waiter's attention, we also asked for more water.

We finished the salads, had another wait of perhaps 10 minutes, and the main course began to appear: first the broth and oil, then after another wait, lovely fresh meats and shrimp and a few vegetables, not nearly enough in my opinion. We began to cook our meal, but mostly we were tired and ready to go home.

We gamely cooked our portions and nibbled at them. I took most of mine home. The food was beautifully fresh if a little over-spiced. Our SIL did fine eating his!

Another wait, and the table was cleared. Another wait and the desserts appeared.

I like to linger over a good meal and enjoy the company. That had been our plan for the evening. But what we lingered over were huge gaps in service, and then when the main course finally did arrive, a rush to eat because it was so late - about 9:30 pm. Dessert, which had sounded like so much fun when we chose the restaurant for this special occasion, was just something to get done with.

Finally with the dessert, after another request, came the refills of water.

Somewhere during one of the waits a young man in a shirt and tie stopped by and asked how the food was. Maybe that was the manager. If so, he didn't address our issues. He stopped by at another table as well, so I don't think that counted as our trouble-shooting visit.

We had brought two small grandsons (ages 3 and 1) with us, and told the girl at the front desk that we wouldn't need a big booth - they would just nibble a few things. She said, 'Oh, that's ok' and put us at a big booth anyway, where one of the boys promptly lay down and tried to go to sleep. Eventually we had someone come and get the baby because the evening was dragging on for so long. So we were surprised when we went out to get our check (it didn't come to our table in a timely manner so we intercepted it at the front desk) and found that it had an 18% gratuity added on because we had 6 settings. NO, we did not - we had 4, plus a toddler who had filled up on the bread we brought with us. Our waiter said he thought there were 6 - shows how attentive he was! The check was corrected and we paid a tip we felt was generous under the circumstances.

We certainly won't waste an evening at the Foothills Mall Melting Pot again, and recommend that others don't. Or if you do, expect to get a lot of exercise finding the waitperson.

We left at 10 pm. Total time: 2 hrs 40 min. Total time eating: 40 min. PL

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fast From Scratch Pea Soup

We used to cook our pea soup all day so it got the flavor of hambone in it. This is a vegetarian version, perfect for those meatless ("pb&j") lunches we have been promoting. It's surprisingly quick to make!

Here's the link: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/vegetarian-split-pea-soup-recipe.html. It's from 101 Cookbooks again - what a site!

The recipe has some surprising ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice. But it's very easy, and so quick you could make it for lunch from scratch.

Enjoy, and let us all know how you liked it! PL

Supreme Chocolate Pudding, She Says...

Our favorite lady at 101 Cookbooks spent megabucks developing this recipe. I want someone to try it! I dare you...

Here's the link: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/coconut-chocolate-pudding-recipe.html

When you've eaten your fill, please report back. What about that raz el hanout? I haven't tried it yet. Be sure to leave your comments about it here! PL

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I'd rather incubate...


I think shipping is just too stressful for the poor chicks, personally. I think the initially higher expense is worth less waste!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pygoras-- Fascinating Possibilities-- Eloise

I was looking at all kinds of small sheep and goats that produce spinning and felting fiber, when I came across the concept of a mini-sheep-- under 21 inches tall! As I was looking for more information about that, I found out that goat breeders have been grossing pygmy goats with angora goats-- making a great fiber animal with a great meat (apparently, I personally do NOT eat goats.)

The nice thing about this cross, is that they are small, feed efficient, yet can make cashmere-quality fiber. Talk about a great backyard pet with benefits!

Monday, March 3, 2008


If you are searching for REAL food at REALISTIC prices but don't know what to do about it, or don't feel you are in a position to do something about it, I think you would really enjoy reading this:


and all of the http://animalvegetablemiracle.org site.

Please leave your comments here. Share what you've been doing to bring about the eating of sane food by your family! We will all benefit... PL

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gluten Free 'Pasta'-- by Eloise

I miss pasta a lot(sa)...

So I grill eggplant on my George Foreman (usually from my own garden) and cut it into long thin strips before putting my special spaghetti sauce over it. Yum! It's like getting to eat pasta without the gluten-- and guilt! :)

Glorious Gluten-Free Snack!

What a great idea! Here's another recipe carefully gleaned from 101 Cookbooks. I think you'll enjoy reading the many serving suggestions she gives here.

The link: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001473.html.

It's going to take me forever to make 1% of the great recipes on this site! Let me know how you like it! PL

Meatless and Gluten-Free (maybe...): More Chix

This recipe also contains canned chickpeas or garbanzos, so you might as well buy a case. It's from 101 Cookbooks. Take a look at these delicious photos! I say 'maybe gluten-free' because she makes it with bulgur wheat, which has plenty of gluten, but then gives a GF alternative.

Here's the link: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/chickpea-hot-pot-recipe.html.

The orange juice ingredient isn't going to work for me, but tomato juice might work, or veggie broth, or of course just water. PL

Meatless Gluten-Free Lunch: Babaganoush

This simple eggplant dish is absolutely addictive. We make it 3 eggplants at a time and gorge on it and barely have enough for the next day, when it's 10 times as good! This recipe is for 2 eggplants, in case you are not as baba-obsessed as we are:

Take two shiny regular eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size, cut off their green hats, poke them all over with a sharp knife, and put them on the broiler pan that came with your stove, or on a rack. Turn the oven on to 500 degrees (Five Hundred - not a typo!). Put the eggplants in the oven and prepare to keep an eye on them. Close the door...

In about 20 minutes, take a look. You want the eggplants to sag, cooked till they're nearly liquified inside, but you don't want them to burn. (Once ours didn't sag for an hour - the skins had dried to a firm shell, with the flesh was well cooked. Delicious!). You do want them thoroughly cooked, so if you err, make it on the side of somewhat overdone. You can poke them with a fork at this point - watch out for a release of steam, and if the flesh inside is resistant, put them back in for a little longer.

When they're done, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool until they are no more than warm. Then put them on a plate and peel the skins off. The flesh goes in a bowl. Repeat till they're all peeled.

Now you have a choice of mashing them vigorously or putting them in a blender or food processor. I put almost all into a food processor, but keep about an eighth of the total out to add texture.

Add about 1/4 cup sesame tahini and a couple of cloves of garlic to the eggplant flesh and whirr until it is mixed. If there are chunks of garlic not blended in, that's ok... The mixture should be very thick.

Now add approximately 3 Tablespoons of fresh or bottled lemon juice, whirr again, and taste. You may want to add salt - we don't. Balance the taste of the tahini and lemon. Pour out on a flat dish and stir in the eggplant you left out of the food processor.

Pour copious amounts of great-tasting olive oil over the top and sprinkle with cayenne if you wish. Serve with blue-corn tortilla chips, over rice, or with carrot sticks, etc. Irresistable! PL

Meatless Gluten-Free Lunch: Hummus

I have bought many small containers of hummus, some regular, some flavored, and I don't like any of them. So I make my own. This makes 2 meals for 2, and has the advantage that it tastes even better the second day:

Check the ingredient list of a large can of garbanzo beans, chick peas, or ceci (all the same thing). If it has a lot of ingredients besides the beans, pour out the liquid and rinse. If it's just beans and salt, keep the liquid (unless you are really watching your sodium). Put the can contents or beans in the container of a blender, with a little added water if you discarded the canning liquid.

Add garlic to taste. For us, 3 chunky cloves make it taste great.

Add 1/4 cup sesame tahini, or slightly more to taste.

Whirr it all up until the beans are a paste. If it is too thick to whirr, add some lemon juice, bottled or fresh, one or two tablespoons to start, and then more to taste.

You want to get a balance between the heavy oiliness of the sesame tahini and the zip of the lemon. Blend till it's homogeneous, or pour/scoop it out of the blender container onto a flat dish and stir until blended.

Adjust the flavor by adding a little more lemon juice, or if necessary, a little more tahini. Add salt if you must.

Smooth the finished mixture so that it is spread out and flat. Pour several tablespoons of great-tasting olive oil over the top and sprinkle with cayenne pepper if you like. Really ripe olives go well with it. Serve with chips, rice crackers, or pita (won't be gluten-free!). Or serve with raw veggies as scoops, or over steamed veggies.

Store it covered in the fridge overnight and enjoy some the next day for breakfast or lunch! PL

Meatless, Gluten-Free Lunch: Foul Madammas

You can call this Foul Madammas or the other way around - just make sure you say FOOL, not fowl. This is the simplest of all lunches:

Open a can of fava beans, also called Foul. We buy them (in quantity!) at our local international market, in the small can - it's big enough for 2 for lunch, and costs about 89 cents in our present over-priced economy. I'm sure you could find dry fava beans and cook them up, too.

Here's what you do with them:

Place steamy hot foul in a shallow bowl.
Pour over it some great-tasting olive oil.
Sprinkle on a little cayenne.

Serve with chips (we love blue-corn/sesame) or rice crackers or pitas (not gluten-free!)

A very different flavor of bean, very satisfying! PL

Why Gluten-Free for Me by Eloise

I, too, am recently gluten-free.

Two years ago, when I was expecting my second son, I woke up one morning experiencing excruciating joint pain, to the point of dehabilitation. Despite blood tests and lots of lab work no one ever was able to explain to me why I was in pain so much of the time. Some days I could not even get out of bed.

It was my son's pediatrician that actually flipped the switch for me. She had noticed that I was constantly sick-- I was always suffering from strep or some other disease when my sons were in for their check-ups even though the appointments were months apart. She asked if I had ever considered that I might have a gluten allergy, as that can be a huge contributor.

When my joints began to become even more painful and I became a chronic migraine sufferer I decided I had to really take action and be done with this.

There's been a definite improvement. I also have had to give up all legumes (beans, peas, soy... lentils... everything) and as I have long been dairy sensitive, combined with other allergies/sensitivities this means my diet is very restricted at this point-- but it's worth it if I don't hurt all the time.

After all, I want to be a good mom to my children, and I can't be that if I can't get out of bed!