Friday, March 29, 2013

Orange Cranberry Squares

Good Lord I'm tired tonight! Its nearly 6pm and I cant stop yawning and longing for a pillow. Needless to say, we've had a great weekend. What could be better than spending time with family, watching Indiana basketball, and going to a boat show.
When we left home yesterday, it was 51 degrees and cloudy. By time we reached Corsicana, about an hour south of our house, we had driven through a warm front. It was crazy. One moment the windshield was clear; the next it was completely fogged over. DJ used the wipers to clear it, but it was like someone literally snapped their fingers and said, "Abra cadabra! Now you see it; now you don't." By time we got to Houston, it had warmed up to an amazing 81 degrees. Yay!!

For the most part, it was an easy drive that went by quickly. Especially once we started to brainstorming names for our future retirement boat. Luckily, I had a small pad of paper in my purse and started to take notes.

1) Snorkel, Snorkel
2) Barracuda
3) Escape
4) Memory Maker
5) Shark Bate

By time we met up with DJ's mom at On The Rox, we were already up to 20 different names.

The bar was a great place to watch the IU vrs. James Madison game. They had several large TVs hung on a wall and a smaller individual TVs at each table. DJ and his Mom shared a couple pitchers of Blue Moon, and we had a great time cheering IU on to victory. I was really hoping Victor Oladipo would get another chance to do a 360 dunk. Oh well, maybe in the next game...

This morning we woke up early and headed off to Kemah for the boat show. It was a combination of sailboats and motorboats. We're primarily window shopping for our next sailboat and wanted to be able to compare and contrast the different brands and sizes.

Most surprisingly, I fell in love with a 50 foot Hunter. I never thought that I would want to sail anything that big, but it was rigged in a why that would make it fairly easy. I also loved the galley (aka kitchen). It came with a small refrigerator, freezer, microwave,and Corrian countertops.

I couldn't believe we spent 5 hours boat hopping. It's amazing how time flies when your having fun. By the end, we realized we were in desperate need of nourishment. So, we headed over to Landry's on the boardwalk for lunch.

As we sipped our drinks, we watched boats come in and out of the channel. We squinted and strained all in the a temp to read their names.

Before we knew it, we started brainstorming boat names again...

23) Wishful Thinking
24) Nauti Girl
25) Adventure's Calling
26) Hoosier Daddy
27) Wet Dream
28) "Winning" (using your best Charlie Sheen voice of course!)

We're now up to roughly 50 names! I have a feeling, naming our boat will be a lot like an expecting parents naming their first born child.

Orange Cranberry Squares
2 cups gluten free flour mix
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and hand beat until well blended. Spread batter into a prepared 9x9 pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hello Again...

It’s been a long time since my last post and I’m at a loss of what to say now.  Part of me wants to offer an explanation or an apology.  The other part thinks I should just carryon as if nothing ever happened. 

 Simply, my workload imploded which lead to some very long days.  As we had just purchased our sailboat, I could no longer maintain a balance between work, my life at home, learning to sail, and blogging.  There just weren’t enough hours in a day.  So, I dropped the blog.

After devoting so much time and love into this diary, I just couldn’t bring myself to write a final post.  I couldn't stand to say good bye.  While blogging stretched both my writing and creative skills, it also gave me a voice I that didn’t know I had.  The strength of that voice bled out of these pages and into my daily work life.  Normally, I keep my head down and put my shoulder to the grind stone. But in the absence of a leader, I bravely stepped into the spotlight helping with the development of a new team. 

I’m excited to say: I haven’t worked overtime in nearly last 3 weeks!  What have I learned? Well for starters…it’s amazing what you can do with an additional 15-20 hours a week.  At first, I just sort of wandered through the house not sure what to do.  By the end of the second week, DJ suggested I start working the blog again.  In all honesty, I was driving him crazy.  So, last week I downloaded a whole bunch of new blogging apps which consequently lead to technical issues as I learned to use them. 

During my “sabbatical,” I stumbled across a flour blend that I absolutely LOVE!!  I found it when I tried a new bread recipe.  However, I started using it on recipes from my ancient Pillsbury Cookbook.  I say ancient because my mom gave it to me when I was in 3rd grade.  It’s currently held together by the strong bonds of love and duct tape.  None the less, I’ve had great results with peanut butter cookies, biscuits and orange cranberry muffins.  Today, I used it for blueberry pancakes. 

Just a word of caution, while I love this mix dearly, I would be hesitant to use it for a yeast bread recipe.  Yeast bread normally needs additional ingredients to for increasing the protein factor.  That is why you see weird ingredients like unflavored gelatin or additional egg whites in a lot of our bread recipes.

All Purpose Gluten Free Mix

2/3 cup rice flour

2/3 cup tapioca flour

1/3  cup garbanzo bean flour (a.k.a besan flour)

1/3 cup sorghum flour (a.k.a. jowar flour)

1 teaspoon gar gum or xanthan gum

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a whisk until well blended.  Use cup for cup in your recipes calling for wheat flour.   Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shortbread Cookies

DJ’s birthday is on Wednesday.  With working long hours, I just don’t have the time or energy to bake during the week.  So I’m struggling with the idea of baking a birthday cake midweek.  I’ve decided the most practical option would be an ice cream cake.  I’ll make it this weekend and just pull it out when it’s time to serve. 
I would love to show you how to make it the whole ice cream cake; but before I can start, I need to make the crumb crust.  That’s when the shortcake comes into the picture.  It’s the first building blocks for cake.      
I can hardly believe it, but he’s turning 40!  We talked about this milestone last night on the way to the marina. 
He started the conversation by saying, “Back when you were a kid, what would you have said if someone asked, `Where would you be at 40?’”
Wow.  As a kid, anything seemed possible.  In fact, since I grew up on a small farm around horses, I seriously dreamed of becoming a famous jockey who would win the Kentucky Derby a million times.  On the other hand, since DJ grew up in Seattle around skyscrapers, he wanted to be an architect. 
You almost have to ask yourself, how did we end up as insurance adjustors?  What kid in his right mind declares, “I want to be an insurance adjustor when I grow up!”?  Let me tell you, it just doesn’t happen.  So, we started to ask ourselves; when did we lose sight of our dreams and settle for the reality of life?
Now there’s a deep question for you.
We sited broken bones, lack of ambition, or funds for the overall changes in our course. However, we also realized that as we grew, our dreams tended to grew and changed with us.  Dreaming is still important to us, and there’s one special dream we’ve held close and dear to our heart for the last 5-6 years.
Are you ready for it? 
We want to sail around the Caribbean in a catamaran. 
Someday we’ll make it there.  This is where my What about Bob mantra kicks in: Baby step to the door…Baby step to the elevator…  Every time I set sail, I’m gaining confidence and skills.  One day all these baby steps will someday add up to something special. 

Shortbread Cookies
1 cup softened butter
½ cup sugar
2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon gar gum
Cream the butter and sugar on high for roughly 10 minutes.  Lightly whisk the gar gum into the flour.  With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture.  Once the dry ingredients are incorporated bend on high for 20-30 seconds to make sure everything is well combined.  Spread the dough into a 9x9 pan and bake in preheated 325 oven for 30-35 minutes.  Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 9 squares and dust with powder sugar. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Basic Every Day Bread (Revised)

(From Left to Right - Teresa - 4 years old, and Me - 2 years old)

I love my sister.  I don’t always agree with her; but, I do love her dearly.  When we were kids, Teresa was quite bossy and opinionated, and we fought like cats and dogs the year before she left for college.  While she was away, we actually became friends. What can I say?  Five hundred miles will do wonders for a relationship.
Anyways, she’s come a long way.  Thankfully, she’s grown into a woman who’s perfected the art of grace, and persuasive speech. 
So, I get a call from her a week or two ago; and she starts the conversation off with a question about my graham cracker recipe.  She said she’s taking the kids camping and wanted to make s’mores with them.
After I answered her baking question she says, “So, I read through some of your blog posts the other day.”
“Oh?” I really didn't know what to say. She caught me off guard.  Other than my stepmom, my family doesn’t normally read my blog.  The last time my sister read it, I ended up taking down a problematic post.     
I wasn’t too surprised when she took me to school for using some explicit language.  I noted her concerns, and reassured her that I would take it under advisement.  Secondly, she didn’t agree with the way I called out a co-worker for “cheating” on her gluten free diet. 
I didn’t know how to answer her.  I was actually quite proud of that post.  I liked that I focused more on my reaction to the situation, than making it about a co-worker's failure.  In the end, I gave my sister some lip service and went on with my day. 
However, her words came back to haunt me while I was reading Shawna’s blog.  Shawna had post a letter from a reader who testified she didn’t know how to cook before being diagnosed as celiac.  She had grown up on boxed meals and didn’t even own any kitchen knifes.  Her first cooking experiment was a complete disaster and led to a hospital visit with stiches.  But, she’s slowly gaining ground in the kitchen. 
When you’re teaching yourself to cook gluten free, there are two ways to look at it.  1) an adventure, or 2) a pain in the ass.  I mean neck.  Sorry Teresa!  Believe me, I really am trying. 
Anyways, not everything I make turns out the way I want it. My worst temper tantrums have occurred after a failed loaf of bread.  I hate when my house smells all nice and comforting with a warm bread smell; and the loaf collapses into a ball of gumminess (a sign of too much water). 
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m glad you’re reading my blog and watching my videos.  I understand your frustrations, and I really hope my blog eases your transition into a world fraught by these strange and foreign flours. 
Remember to be patient with yourself and those around you.  None of us are perfect.  I love the movie What about Bob.  Ever since I watched it, my life mantra has been “Baby steps to the door... Baby steps to the elevator…”  It’s that simple.  I took my gluten free diet one step at a time.  I choose to be gluten free for the day.  Before I knew it, a week had gone by, then a month, then a year.
If you have questions, let me know.  I really do want to be her to help you.   It’s why I started this blog.  It’s why I keep blogging. 
So with that in mind, I’ve reworked my Every Day Bread recipe.  I’ve added white rice flour to the mix.  It’ll add strength and stability to your loaf.  Also, as gluten free bread bakes better in a smaller loaf pan, I’ve started using a 5”x9” bread pan.  This should really help a lot of you who’s been having issues with your bread collapsing.    
Sorry, no video today.  I had a taping snafu.  I’ll try to fix it and have something up soon.

Basic Every Day Bread (Revised)
2/3 cup White Rice Flour
2/3 cup Tapioca Flour
1/3 cup Garbanzo Bean Flour (a.k.a. Besan Flour)
1/3 cup Sorghum Flour (a.k.a. Jawar Flour)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 teaspoon Gar Gum
1 teaspoon Gelatin
1 teaspoon Egg Replacer
2 table spoons Ground Almond Flour
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 ½ teaspoons Rapid Rise Yeast
1 egg plus 1 egg white
3 Tablespoons Butter
½ teaspoon Vinegar
2 teaspoon Honey
1 cup Warm Water
Combine the first 11 ingredients into your mixing bowl.  With mixer on low, add in your wet ingredients.  Beat on high for roughly 3 minutes.  Pour the batter into a greased and flour dusted bread pan.  Set in a warm location to rise for 30 minutes.  The dough/batter should rise to the height of the bread pan.  Bake in 350 degree pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove loaf from the pan and wrap in a dish towel to cool.  Cut and enjoy! 
***Since gluten free bread will stale quickly, I freeze mine right after I cut it.***   

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tart Cherry Ice Tea

While we’re at the marina, we often see this mossy turtle floating around the dock.  DJ’s fondly nick named him “Chia Turtle.”  I call him “Mack.”
He reminds me of the Native America folklore story behind Mackinaw Island.  For those of you unfamiliar with Michigan geography, it’s a small island located where Lake Michigan mixes with Lake Huron.  I love that island!  Not to mention, the fudge is incredible.  Someday, I’ll take DJ there.
Anyways, as a kid, I had an over active imagination; but I couldn’t fathom how a turtle could morph into an island.  But, when I first glimpsed upon Chia Turtle, I finally got it.
I’ll let my mom tell you the story herself:
Note:  Mackinauk, Mackinaw and Mackinac are all pronounced the same, regardless of spelling.  Mack-in-aw.  Never "ack" at the end!! 

Long ago the Earth was entirely covered in water. There was no land, mountains, valleys, forests or meadows.  There was nothing but a bright blue sea with a murky, muddy bottom.  But the life on the Earth was alive and dazzling and bright and very full.  There were ducks and loons, otters and turtles and many other animals.  There was one creature who was large, slow and his name was Mackinauk, the largest, oldest and wisest painted turtle in the sea.   When the animals would play games, Mackinauk would let them climb onto his back when they became too tired or too cold. 

One day, Mackinauk told the other animals that the Great Spirit of the sky said it was time to build a land where all the animals could rest.  Someone had to dive very deep and bring back a piece of the rich earth on the bottom of the sea.  All the animals wanted to try and one after another they did their best to dive but not one of them was able to bring back a piece of earth.  Finally, the tiny muskrat said he would try and he took a deep breath and dove.  He was gone a long time.  Finally dusk arrived and muskrat still had not returned.  It started to get dark and when the muskrat had not returned, the animals were sad and thought he was not coming back. Then suddenly, muskrat burst to the surface with a bit of earth from the bottom of the sea and threw it up onto Mackinauk's back.  The soil grew and grew and rocks appeared then trees and flowers.  And all the animals and birds came and rested on Manitauk's back. 

They were all sad that they had lost Manitauk, but soon realized that he was still there with them. They could recognize him when they looked at the hump in the middle of their island and when they heard his wise voice in the rocks that lined the shore.  

To honor their old friend who gave them land, they called their land Mackinauk Island, "the land of the great turtle's back." 

Thanks Mom!  I love you :)  After reminiscing of cherry picking with you out at Daly's farm, I thought up this recipe.  It’s a taste of past summers.

Tart Cherry Ice Tea
4 bags of plain Lipton black tea
4 cups water
4 teaspoons sugar
¾ cup tart cherry juice (all natural unsweetened)
In medium sauce pan, boil the water.  Toss in the tea bags and let it steep for 3-5 minutes.  Remove the tea bags and stir in the sugar until dissolved.  Add in the cherry juice.  Let cool and serve over ice in a pretty glass.     

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Seafaring Crackers

When I look at our boat, I think of everything I still need to learn.  In fact, it’s like being induced into a new language and culture.  At times, I find myself feeling frustrated because I can’t effectively communicate my thoughts.  
When we took our class about a month and a half ago I proudly scored a 100% on the test.  However, I would have to say that 75% of it was just definitions.  At the time, I remember telling our instructor, Don, that I could recognize the words, but I didn’t know it well enough to “speak” it. 
A week before we bought “Yes Dear,” we went sailing with him on his boat.  That evening, I tried asking technical questions, but I keep throwing out wrong the terminology.  On average it would take me 3-4 tries before ether one of them could understand me.  DJ often teased me saying, “How did you get a 100% on the test?”  However, Don would come to my defense; but by the end of the night, he even looked at me and said “How did you get a 100%?!” 
Every time I’m out on the water, I'm learning something new.  This weekend, it was all about “weather helming.”  Believe it or not, it’s when you’re practically sailing sideway and your rudder has lifted completely out of the water.  The boat will then spin out of control and come to a stop.  I would have to say we scared ourselves silly that first half hour.  We must have spun out about 5-6 times before we decided to pull in our front jib sails. 
Just so you know, the lake was practically empty of other boats, so we weren’t in any immediate danger. 
Yesterday, I clearly learned that I don’t like sailing sideways.  I also learned that I need to be more confident when I’m at the helm.
Several times, DJ would look back at me expectantly, “Where we going babe?”  I quickly learned my noncommittal response: “I don’t know!” didn’t cut the mustard.  Ultimately, my indecisiveness caused some tense words between us. 
I normally have a hard time pulling the trigger when making decisions.  I’m not sure what my issue is, but yesterday I should have had the courage to say “Pull in the jib!”  However, I was afraid of looking wimpy. 
I keep reminding myself that I’m just a novice, but in my heart I want to be the next Horatio Hornblower.
In the end, I’m proud that we sailed for close to three hours.  We could have given up, turned on the engine and headed back to the dock, but we didn’t.  I think it says something about who we are. 
I’m excited to announce it’s time for another Ratio Rally.  If you’re unfamiliar with us, we’re a group of bloggers who create recipes based off of ratios.  When I joined this group, I had never written a single recipe on my own.  So, I'm really proud of this recipe.  These crackers are the bomb.  I’ve actually made them twice now because I've fallen in love with them. 
Since I tend to get motion sick, I was hoping to create something like a saltine cracker; but it turned out bland and unimpressive.  So, while we were on our way to the boat, two thoughts collided in my head.  First, I suddenly realized that I'd forgotten to bring the rum along with us.  Secondly, I kept asking myself what unique flavor could be added into my crackers.  Before I knew it, I was adding rum in as part of my liquid and looking around my kitchen for other tropical flavors.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Also when you have a moment, don’t forget to try out these other great cracker ideas:

TR | No One Likes Crumbly Cookies – GF Graham Crackers
Rachel | The Crispy Cook – Cilantro Crackers
Heather | Discovering the Ordinary – Zippy Garlic Crackers
Jonathan | The Canary Files – Savory Spice Crackers
Angela | Angela’s Kitchen – Crisp Bread Sticks (and Bread Stick “sparklers”)
Mary Fran | Gluten Free Cracked Pepper Crackers

Seafaring Crackers
(Ratio: 3 ¼ part flour, ½ part sugar, ½ part butter, 1part liquid)
100g White Rice Flour
100g Brown Rice Flour
100g Tapioca Flour
25g Ground Almond Flour
50g Sugar
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
50g Butter
3 Tablespoons dried pineapple, finely chopped
¼ cup shredded coconut
50g water
50g rum
Mix together the first 8 ingredients and whisk together.  Cut in the butter.  Mix in chopped pineapple and coconut.  Add the water and rum.  Gather into a soft ball.  If mixture is still dry add a bit more water.  Roll out to a 1/8-1/4 inch on parchment paper. Cut dough into squares and prick lightly with a fork.  Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes or until the edges have turned light brown.  Rescore the crackers with pastry cutter if needed.  Turn oven down to 225 F. and put back into the oven for 1 hour to finish drying.   Cool completely and store in an airtight container

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Teriyaki Pork Shish Kabobs

I hate procrastinating, but it’s exactly what I’m doing today.  I’ve worked on everything, but my blog.  Dishes are done, cloths are in the washer, and I’ve ran all my errands.  I even went to work for a few hours this morning.
I’m actually frustrated that I have nothing “interesting” in my opinion to write about.
Anyways, I’m tired of wracking my brain over it.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table; but I keep glancing over at Simba sleeping on the couch.  He's so cute.  I think I’m going to join him.  I could use some snuggle time with him. 
So without ado, I give you Teriyaki Pork Shish Kabobs.

Teriyaki Pork Shish Kabobs
2 Boneless pork chops, cut into 1” cubes
2 Servings of broccoli cut
2 Servings of baby portabella mushrooms, cut in half.
3 Tablespoons Oil
3 Tablespoons Brag Liquid Aminos
4 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Fresh Ginger, grated
Red Pepper Flakes (to taste, a pinch – ½ teaspoon)
White Rice

Heat Grill to medium.  In a plastic container, combine meat and vegetables.  In a small bowl combine the oil, liquid Aminos, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Whisk marinade until combined.  Pour over the meat/vegetable mixture.  Place a lid on the container and shake until the contents are well coated.  Thread the meat/vegetable mixture on to wooden skewers.  Grill each side for 5 minutes or until the meat is done.  Serve with steamed white rice.