Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve Mediterranean Feast

Preparation for our Christmas Eve Mediterranean feast began several days in advance with culling though our cookbooks, selecting recipes, making a shopping list and checking it twice, deciding where to shop for best values for which items, doing the shopping, putting away the groceries, and cooking up what we could the day before. All in all, it was an enjoyable process with my husband just as enthusiastic and willing to do whatever it took to help me shop and cook.

Although dinner was intended to feed four adults and a child - the two of us, our daughter and son-in-law, our two year old granddaughter, with the addition of our week-old grandson - ...

Baby Leif fast asleep in Nana's arms.

...we made so much food, we had leftovers for all of us for three more meals, including Christmas day!

~ Our Mediterranean Menu ~

  • Vegetarian Lentil Soup - Arabia - TLOB*, pg. 19
  • "Start the Party" Hummus & Pita Bread - Arabia - TLOB*, pg 125
  • Orange, Red Onion, Black Olive Salad (Munkaczina) - Arabia -
  • Subsistence Tabbouleh - Arabia - TLOB*, pg. 143, also see quinoa tabouleh, gluten-free
  • Dolmathes - Greece - GCIAAK*, pg. 122, also see stuffed grape leaves - vegetarian dolmades
  • Garlic Green Beans with Mizithra Cheese - Greece - PA*, pg. 89 (with asparagus)
  • Special Rice with Cinnamon - Arabia - TLOB*, pg. 29
  • Mo Kadeem's Roasted Fish in Tahini Sauce - Arabia, TLOB*, pg.315
  • Mrs. Manarelli's Civilized Panna Cotta - Italy, TLOB*, pg. 86
  1. *TLOB - The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber (a culinary memoir)
  2. *GCIAAK - Greek Cooking in an American Kitchen (1983) by St. Demetrios Church Cookbook Committee
  3. *PA - Papas' Art of Traditional Greek Cooking by George and Chrisoula Papas

cinnamon rice, quinoa tabouleh and munkaczina with feta cheese

vegetarian dolmades in tomato sauce, roasted red snapper in tahini sauce with roasted pinenuts, garlic green beans with mizithra cheese

vegetarian lentil soup with cumin, green beans with
olive oil, roasted garlic and mizithra cheese, pita bread,
roasted fish and dolmades

panna cotta with chocolate sauce


2 cups heavy cream, less 2 tablespoons to dissolve in gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons gelatin (1/2 packet)
4 to 8 tablespoons of chocolate sauce, fruit puree or sweetened fruit

  1. Heat two cups (less two tablespoons) of the heavy cream and sugar in a sauce pan.
  2. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. In a very small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining two tablespoons of cream.
  4. Remove the simmered cream from the stove and add the gelatin-cream mixture.
  5. Stir to dissolve.
  6. Pour 1/2 cup of the hot cream liquid into 4 lightly-oiled metal molds or ramekins*.
  7. Refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours until set.
  8. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  9. Dip the molds in hot water and run the edge of a knife around the molds to loosen.
  10. Invert molds onto serving plates and drizzle your choice of sauce over top.
  11. *Option: Serve panna cotta in ramekins without removing and serve with sauce.
Serves 4

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gluten-Free Apple Oat Muffins

Something's been missing the past few years, but what is it... Muffins!

Yes, muffins; I haven't allowed myself to indulge in muffins since going gluten free. So, I went in search of a gluten-free muffin recipe. The criteria? It had to be quick, easy, moist and flavorful, and that I had all of the ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator. Voila! Love the Internet. I came across this recipe, contributed by Terri Gruss, MS on About.com, adapted from "Apple Oat-Bran Muffins" recipe in The Good Carb Cookbook by Sandra Woodruff, M.S., R.D.

This recipe is indeed quick, easy, and yields moist and flavorful muffins! And sweet, but not too sweet. Just right. I used Bob's Red Mill gluten-free steel cut oats. Grinding them in my Vita-Mix to a fine flour.


  • 2 cups freshly ground certified gluten-free, rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain, gluten-free yogurt
  • 1/2 cup good quality 100% apple juice
  • 2 lightly beaten large eggs plus one egg white
  • 4 tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil (I used peanut oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded, unpeeled apple (equivalent of one large apple)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to sprinkle on muffins (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°
  1. Use a blender or coffee grinder to process the gluten-free oats into flour. Grind in batches if using a small coffee grinder.
  2. Combine the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Whisk to blend.
  3. In a smaller bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in the yogurt, apple juice, oil and vanilla. Slowly pour this wet mixture into the bowl with dry ingredients. Stir with a fork to thoroughly blend.
  4. Fold in the shredded apple (I used a hand-held cheese grater) and nuts. Stir until blended. Avoid overmixing.
  5. Line muffin pan with paper liners, or lightly grease pan and fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of muffin comes out clean (in my oven the muffins baked for 18 minutes).
  7. While hot, sprinkle muffins with cinnamon sugar mixture and allow muffins to cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving, if you can.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mama Siran's Date and Hazelnut Spread

I began my day with a delicious serving of natural goodness and sweetness. With a butter knife, I easily and liberally troweled Mama Siran's Date and Hazelnut Spread on a toasted half of a UDI's gluten-free bagel. Mama Siran's Spread has a creamy, smooth consistency like the thick, homemade apple butter I enjoyed as a young girl. Both dates and hazelnuts are loaded with nutrients and health benefits.

I look forward to serving Mama Siran's Spread during the holidays as an appetizer atop cream cheese on thin slices of a gluten-free baguette.

Soulikhan also sells both of Mama Siran's date products, date-hazelnut and date-apricot, as pastes. A 2 tablespoon serving has 120 calories.

Home-Baked Pizza with UDI'S Gluten-Free Crust

Yesterday was a busy day out and about with our granddaughter. We even fit in a late afternoon movie. By the time we were heading home, our thoughts were to either eat out or eat simple. Hungry, yet opting for the latter, we made a quick stop at the grocery store for toppings to go on the 9-inch UDI'S gluten-free pizza crusts we had in our freezer back home. We hadn't tried UDI'S pizza crust yet, so this was the perfect opportunity to load those crusts up with savory items and sink our teeth into them.

We weren't disappointed; the pizza was easy to cut with a pizza wheel and tasted great! The crust was crisp on the outside, yet chewy and flexible so we could pick up individual slices loaded with sauce, cheeses, fresh veggies and tomatoes, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and olives... bending, and folding to wrap our mouths around them to take big bites!

The directions are to cook the pizza at 375-degrees for 5-7 minutes, if defrosted. Our crusts were frozen, so I let them cook for 10 minutes. I could have left the pizza in the oven for another minute or so, but I opted to microwave for 30-seconds on high instead. I said I was hungry! So, depending on the type of oven you have and how well it heats, the temperature of the crust, as well as how much you load up your crust, you will want to experiment on the time so your pizza is thoroughly cooked through from the crusty bottom to the juicy top.

Not only is UDI"S pizza crust gluten-free, it also dairy, soy and nut free. Each packages comes with two 9-inch uncooked crusts. The main ingredients are: tapioca, potato and corn starches, brown rice flour, canola or sunflower oil, evaporated cane juice xanthan gum, salt and yeast.

Note: I already have a couple posts about homemade gluten-free pizza and recently posted about trying gluten-free take-out pizza from Papa's Pizza. Next, I'll try making gluten-free pizza crust dough from a variety of dry mixes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gluten-Free Gravlax with Sour Cream Mustard Sauce

Gravlax is a Scandinavian entree or appetizer made with raw salmon that has been cured in salt, sugar, dill, and in this recipe potato vodka. Gravlax is served on thinly-sliced bread with a dollop of mustard sauce.

I served 2-1/2 pounds of Gravlax to family and friends at my daughter's baby shower this past November. It was so delicious, I plan to make it again for the holidays. You may still have time to make it for your Christmas party later this week, but you do need 48 hours for the salmon to cure before serving. And you'll need a sharp knife!

Ingredients for the Salmon (per half pound):

1/2 pound fresh, boneless salmon fillet
2 tablespoons potato vodka
1 round teaspoon coarse salt
1 round teaspoon sugar
Fresh dill weed to cover

Ingredients for the Sour Cream Sauce:

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
Pinch of salt
Minced dill weed (optional, to taste)


  1. If the salmon has skin, place it skin-side down in a glass or enamel baking pan.
  2. Pour the vodka over the fleshy side, then sprinkle the salt and sugar evenly to coat.
  3. Completely cover the salmon with sprigs of fresh dill weed.
  4. Cover the salmon with a sheet of plastic wrap and place a heavy object on top to weigh it down while is cures in the brine. I set a smaller glass baking pan in side the larger glass pan and placed a water-filled tea kettle on top for weight.
  5. Put the salmon in the refrigerator for 48 hours to cure in the brine.
  6. Meanwhile, go ahead and make the sour cream mustard sauce. Mix together the sour cream, mustard, salt and minced dill (optional). Season to taste and chill.
  7. After 48 hours has past, scrape all the dill and any remaining crust of sugar and salt off the top of the salmon fillet.
  8. Place the salmon on a cutting board, and with a very sharp knife, make thin, diagonal slices the length of the fillet, making sure to slice clean through each segment.
  9. Carefully transition the sliced fillet to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh dill weed, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve or transport to your party. Don't forget to take the sauce and bread and appropriate serving utensils!
  10. Set the Gravlax platter on the table along with the bowl of the Sour Cream Mustard Sauce (with small spoon) and a basket of thinly sliced bread or crackers.
Note: Increase ingredients according to how many pounds you wish to serve.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Festive Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad

Very exciting news! Our daughter Effie gave birth to a beautiful baby boy this past Wednesday, on December 15th.

Besides caring for our two year old "big sister" granddaughter, I wanted to make a nutritious meal for the family to enjoy when they returned home from the hospital.

I slightly modified the "Southwestern Quinoa Salad Recipe" I saved from the blog A Chic Life. It seemed like a versatile offering; one they could enjoy as a main entree and serve the next day as a side dish. Although the perfect salad for summertime meals, this quinoa salad is also a colorful, flavorful and festive contribution to any luncheon, dinner or potluck during the holidays. And it's gluten-free!

  • 1 cup quinoa, dry and uncooked
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds, minced OR 1 small can of diced jalapenos (mild or hot)
  • 1 small jar of pimentos
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder


  1. Rinse the quinoa and combine with the 2 cups water in a medium pot.
  2. Bring quinoa to a boil and simmer on low heat till the water absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking to the pot. Cool.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cooled, cooked quinoa, black beans, bell pepper, corn, jalapeno, and cilantro to combine.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lime zest, lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, and chili powder.
  5. Pour dressing over the quinoa salad and stir gently to combine.
  6. For best flavor, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gluten Free Take-Out Pizza

My husband didn't know when he called late this afternoon that I didn't feel like cooking dinner tonight. However, he did call to say that when he came home for lunch today, he checked the mailbox, and in it there was a handwritten message on the back of a Gluten Free Menu from Papa's Pizza. It reads:
"Here's the menu. It sounds like you may not have been to Papa's before. I'd describe their pizza as consistently mediocre, but, they do have a respectable salad bar & gluten free pizza." S
S is a neighbor of mine, who recently introduced himself when passing my house on foot while on his way to walk the Amazon Trail. He knew of me through the community newsletter, which posts updates, including a note that we were new to the neighborhood. S mentioned that he is planning the annual neighborhood potluck and wanted to know what I thought of it being held at Papa's Pizza. I said that it was something to consider, but wondered if they had a gluten-free menu. This note in our mailbox was a follow-up to that conversation.

Back to my husband. He also called me to tell me that he had called in an order to Papa's Coburg location for a medium vegetarian pizza. Wow... I've been craving take-out pizza for over a week. It has been at least four years since I've eaten take-out pizza, and only a few occasions that I can think of where we ordered a gluten-free pizza at a restaurant. We arrived home about the same time, hungry, and dove right into the pizza with only a 30-second warm-up in the microwave. Pizza craving satisfied! Not bad... actually, pretty good. And I didn't have to cook.

Papa's Pizza - Vegetarian
Olive, Mushroom, Green Pepper, Onion, Tomato, and Cheese

Papa's Pizza crust is Bavaria Mills' gluten free, soy free pizza crust. Ingredients: rice flour, chickpea flour, eggs, sorghum syrup, grapeseed oil, olive oil, potato starch, rice bran, xanthan gum, sea salt, yeast, rice vinegar, chia meal and guar bean gum.
Bavaria Mills is a Wholesale Bakery in Vancouver WA but they will ship retail orders with a $50 minimum balance. Call them at (360) 571-7619 and stock up your freezer." Gluten Free Mom
Papa's Pizza gluten-free pizzas can be ordered in either a 10" or 12" size, with a selection of over a dozen pizzas and extra toppings to choose from. If you dine at the restaurant, there is a large salad bar with a list, for your convenience, of all the items that are not gluten-free.

Next time I see S, I'll not only thank him for the introduction, I'll give him a thumbs up for having our neighborhood get-together at Papa's.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gluten-Free Cottage Cheese Cornbread

Our family loves a good vegetarian soup, stew or chili accompanied by cornbread, especially when it's cold outside. Here's a quick and easy recipe for cornbread that is almost a meal in itself - nutritious, moist and gluten-free.


1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/4 cup oil or butter
1 cup corn

* If you don't have buttermilk on hand, pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup, top measuring cup with milk, and let stand for 5 minutes before adding to the other ingredients.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the cornmeal, gluten-free flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-size bowl.
  3. Whisk the sugar, oil, buttermilk and cottage cheese in a larger bowl.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then fold in the corn.
  5. Pour mixture into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.
  6. Bake 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
  7. Let cool slightly before cutting; serve warm with butter, honey....
  8. Another option is to place each serving of the cornbread in the bottom of individual bowls, ladle stew or chili over the top, and garnish with grated cheese.
Serves 8-10

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gluten-Free Noweigian Krumkake

Krumkake (pronounced “KROOM kah kah”) is the traditional Norwegian waffle cookie, typically rolled into a cone and stuffed with sweetness! No reason for your gluten sensitivity or mine to keep us from enjoying such a wonderful holiday treat! My family is of Norwegian descent, so it's fun for us to keep our culinary heritage alive through the generations, especially during the holidays.

This week my youngest daughter Effie, my granddaughter Sephira and I spent an wonderful afternoon together making gluten-free krumkake in her kitchen.

One of the reasons the batter is so smooth and light is that the flour is finely sifted.

For the sorghum flour blend, I incorporated Bob's Red Mill Sorghum Flour.


2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cup sorghum flour blend - 1/2 of a recipe for two batches:
  • 2 cups sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
1 cup rice milk
1 pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

For variety, you can add one (1) teaspoon cardamom and/or substitute butter with 1/2 cup coconut oil.

  1. Beat the eggs well, then add in the softened butter, sugar and cardamom (optional).
  2. Alternately add the sorghum flour blend and rice milk into the egg mixture, beating until smooth. We used our Kitchen Aid mixer for this step.
  3. Avoid over-mixing, as that will only make your batter coarse.

4. Pre-heat the electric griddle to desired heat-setting (read recommendation). We used about a tablespoon and a half of the batter to make a 5-inch waffle cookie. Pour the batter off the spoon behind the center-line of the griddle. As the lid closes, the batter is pushed toward the front of the griddle. Wait 5-10 seconds, then lock the lid for a thinner, crispier waffle cookie. If you try and lock too soon, the batter tends to run down the outside of the griddle.

5. If you don't have a waffle griddle with a decorative pattern, you can spread the batter in a crepe pan (check for doneness after a minute)... they'll still taste just as delicious! When you waffle is a light golden brown, use a synthetic or wooden utensil to lift the waffle away from the griddle or pan.

6. While the waffle cookie is still warm, roll it with the krumkake form to shape a cone. Press the form with the handle only, krumkake-edge down, firmly on a smooth clean cloth to seal the edge of the cookie cone. If you don't have a form, use a kitchen utensil with a thick, long handle or a dowel. You can also roll them perfectly straight, which allows you to easily store them or give a bundle of krumkake as a gift.

7. Let cool a few moments before removing the waffle cookie from the cone and let complete cool on a cookie sheet.

8. A simple way to serve krumkake is to dust them with powder sugar.
9. A delicious way to serve them to your family and guests is to invite them to fill their krumkake with fresh whipping cream and choose from a selection of compotes, jams or fresh fruits.

"An afternoon of baking delicious, Gluten Free, KrumKake at home! Sephira was our official mixer and taste tester - a job she was very proud to have. Nana and Mama alternated making the KrumKake in between mixing whipped cream for the filling and other dinner preparations. A lovely day in the kitchen together - awaiting the arrival of Leif!" Effie S.

And of course, a big hit is krumkake with Nutella and whipping cream.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brie with Garlic-Chocolate Sauce and Strawberries

This rich and uniquely delicious appetizer is great for any special occasion, and particularly festive at holiday gatherings. I recently made this for my daughter's baby shower. Most agreed that for them it was an unusual combination. Many tried it and liked it, some even loved it! A taste-outside-the-box experience. The image is the best I can come up with right now. It's a chilled slice left over from the party sans the strawberries, but it shows you how I liberally spread the hot, chocolate-garlic mixture over the top of the brie wheel.


2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole head of garlic - cloves separated, peeled and slivered
2 Tablespoons of sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate - chopped or broken into pieces
2 - 8 ounce rounds of Brie cheese or 1 - 19.6 ounce round
2 pints of strawberries - washed, pat dried and tops left on
1 baguette - thinly sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 275-degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a small oven proof pan or skillet.
  3. Add the garlic and shake the pan to spread around.
  4. Sprinkle sugar on top.
  5. Roast in oven until tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Place round or rounds of Brie on a large serving platter.
  7. Heat chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water for 2 minutes or until melted. The other option is to melt the chocolate in your microwave (see directions on chocolate and microwave manual to appropriate time and settings).
  8. Remove chocolate from the heat and fold into the garlic.
  9. Pour mixture over the cheese round(s).
  10. Arrange the strawberries and bread slices around the Brie on the platter.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

There's More Than One Way to Deseed a Pomegranate

My mother would hand-pick the largest, least-flawed pomegranates at the market and artistically arrange them on a platter or bowl during the holidays. Sometimes she would spray paint them silver and gold, and dust them with glitter. Elegant. Occasionally, she would let us eat one, when they were no longer needed for her centerpiece. To eat a pomegranate was to get messy with the likelihood of irreparably staining our clothes.

Had my mother known that there is more than one way to deseed a pomegranate, we would have had enjoyed the pleasure of eating them over and over again through the years, and I would have passed that delight on to my children. Learned behavior is fascinating. When I was raising my girls, I too set pomegranates in a bowl on our table, and gave them one to share between them at Christmas time. I remember briskly scrubbing their fingers with a nail brush to remove the stains and furiously scrubbing stains on their clothes with spot-remover... just like my mother.

How wonderful to be enlightened that there is indeed a faster, easier way to deseed a pomegranate with the least amount of mess!

Elegant! The Globtrotter Diaries shares a slight various on this technique.

Pomegranate.org provides a menu of recipes that will expand your experience beyond popping those little seeds one by one in your mouth to tempt your taste buds:

Pomegranate Grenadine

3 cups pomegranate juice

Take 3 cups pomegranate juice and boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and skim the froth, until the juice is reduced to 1 cup. Cool, bottle and store in the refrigerator. Can be added to soups, sauces, and marinades for a rich, tart flavor.

In our family, we use the grenadine syrup to drizzle over half a grapefruit per person, and place them under the broiler in the oven until heated through for a delicious side of fruit with our breakfast. A pat of butter and brown sugar are other options for an even sweeter, buttery flavor. Serve in bowls with serrated grapefruit spoons. Enjoy!

'Tis the Season

I don't even know where to begin, because I don't know where the past few months have gone! The last time I posted was three months ago, and here we are embarking on the Christmas season.

Today on Facebook (facebook.com/leeenryerickson), my status reads: "We're a blended family... gluten-happy and gluten-free." The past two days I have been making Christmas cookies with my youngest daughter and granddaughter. They are "gluten happy". We had so much fun decorating sugar cookies cut out in the shape of a tree, star and snowman. They were all for their enjoyment, because I am "gluten-free".

Next time we bake together, we will make a variety of Christmas cookies in a cookie mold with gluten-free dough. And they will be for all of us to enjoy, when visiting Nana and Papa's house during the holidays.

For a recipe for gluten-free Christmas sugar cookies go to Celiac.com, the Gluten Free Cooking School and About.com for their "Decorated Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Recipe". Oh, and if you don't have time to make your sugar cookie dough from scratch, Cherrybrook Kitchen makes a terrific sugar cookie mix that is nut, dairy, egg, wheat and gluten free.

These past few months, I've been distracted and preoccupied with many things... health issues, sailing, projects, and especially busy with our family as we prepare for the arrival "Littlest" Sephira Lee's baby brother "newest" Leif Kohl Ericson. He can make his debut any day or week now. I'm waiting for the call! I've devoted little time for experimenting in the kitchen. Since we moved last July, leaving my large, beautiful kitchen behind, I've lacked some of the motivation I had adjusting slowly to working in a smaller, less inspiring and accommodating space. And, to be perfectly honest, there are times when I just don't feel like cooking much.

I have found however, that my interest in learning all I can about the differences and similarities between celiac disease (CD) and gluten intolerance has greatly increased. I recently posed that very question on Facebook. If you are a member, click here to add your vote and join the discussion. At the time of this posting, the vote is nearly 50/50. I'm also trying to connect with a many people and experts as I can who are either a Celiac or gluten sensitive. Another online community that I have joined to connect with others is Gluten Free Faces. I'm beginning to feel inspired once again!

My intention is to reboot my blog with entries about experimenting with more raw foods and gluten-free recipes, as well as working all this into an acid-alkaline balanced diet. I recently responded to a friends inquiry: What do you guys think of the acid v alkaline theory? The following was my response:

I've learned that a balanced alkaline-acid body chemistry is foundational to health. If our bodies are too acidic, then that imbalance can cause a myriad of maladies from a-z. Acid waste in the body attacks joints, muscles, nerves, organs, gut, glands, including our thyroid, adrenal and lymphatic system... and opportunistic infections and insidious diseases like cancer. It's primarily our poor dietary choices, which lead to alkaline-acid imbalance that is the underlying, root cause of why we see a pandemic of illnesses, allergies, sensitivities and syndromes. Alkaline neutralizes acid. It is essential to know which foods and minerals are alkaline-forming or acid-forming to avoid over-acidity and create alkalinity. The best diet is an organic, raw foods diet rich in alkaline-forming foods and drinking the purest water we have access to.

The best book I've read on this subject is Alkalize or Die by Dr. Theodore A. Baroody.

I also plan to start putting together a blog entry that will provide links to my favorite celiac disease/gluten-free blogs and website, as my side bar would cascade to the bottom of the sea if I posted all the links there.

Last Christmas I shared my recipe for making a delicious, organic Gift of Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix. 'Tis the season to share it again. Click here. Gift a batch of sugar cookies while you're at it!

Happy Gluten-Free Holidays to You and Yours!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Green Drinks

This past year, we rented then bought a copy of "Crazy Sexy Cancer" DVD by Kris Carr, which I highly recommend if you are on a journey toward optimal health and wellness. At the tail end of the documentary, Kris shares how she makes her green drinks either using a Brevel juicer or Vita Mix blender.

Here are examples of what I put into my green drinks using my Vita Mix blender or Brevel juicer. As Kris clarifies, the only difference between the juicer and blender is the pulp - the Brevel juicer removes the skins of fruits and vegetables creating a liquid. The Vita Mix will make a smoothie.

Cheers! Here's to Your Health!
Green Drink Smoothies made with my Vita Mix blender.

Try a Variety of Ingredients:

Sweat Pea Sprouts
Mung Bean Sprouts
Romaine Lettuce
Cucumber (peel, if not organic)
Celery (Brevel)
Broccoli Stems (Brevel)
Thai Coconut (1/4-1/2 cup milk)
Protein Powder
Stevia (optional for added sweetness to taste)
Ice Cubes - 3 to 5
Option - shredded coconut topping


Add some of the fruits and veggies of choice and portion to serve one or two. Tamp down and stir with the Vita Mix push-tool. Add more ingredients, tamp down and stir with the push-tool, and then add ice cubes if you wish to chill your drink. Top with shredded coconut for a treat. My Green Smoothie is so thick and creamy I eat it with a spoon. Yum!

More about Kris Carr and Kris' Vlogs.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Blueberry Smoothie

If you missed picking fresh blueberries this season and freezing a year's supply, many of the blueberry farms offer frozen blueberries for less than you will pay retail for them at your local grocers. If you add fresh blueberries to your smoothie, drop a few ice cubes into the blender to chill your beverage.

Making yourself a blueberry smoothie is a delicious and nutritious way to start your day!


1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (or 1/2 cup soft tofu)
1 cup plain or vanilla almond milk (or rice or low-fat milk)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups frozen blueberries (or fresh + ice cubes)

Optional ingredients: a variety of berries, banana or apple (use less blueberries), freshly grated ginger, flax seed, protein powder....


In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Serves 2

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Szechwan Eggplant

I've been on a sabbatical of sorts from the Internet, work, volunteering, cooking and a routine. Instead I've been going through a huge transition from a living a rural lifestyle to immersing myself in both an urban and nautical environment... with a major overhaul regarding my life in general and my priorities. One of the outcomes is spending less time on the Internet and blogging. I will continue to blog, but less often. Read more on my other blog.

Although I was feeling unusually tired last night and it was getting late, I really wanted to be in the kitchen cooking us up something really tasty, having shopped at one of our local Asia grocers earlier in the day after a wonderful bike ride along the river and rose garden and working up an appetite.

So while my husband put rice on to steam and set the table, I made us Szechwan Eggplant from The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen by Donna Klein, on page 103. It was very tasty and fairly hot. I used 1-1/2 tablespoons of "Rooster (chili-garlic) Sauce" for the Chinese chili paste. It was simple to prepare and we were enjoying our meal within 45-minutes of making a decision to eat in or eat out. Eating in was a far better choice!

1 eggplant (1 lb) - I buy the long-style and cut into cubes, sprinkle with salt (optional) and drain for 30 minutes.
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable broth, low-sodium
12 fresh shitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1 Tbsp Chinese chili paste, or less to taste
2 Tbsp tamari sauce (gluten-free)
1 Tbsp dry sherry
1/2 tsp toasted (dark) sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 cups hot cooked brown or white rice
salt and pepper to taste


If salted, rinse the salt off the eggplant with cold-running water and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a large, deep non-stick skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until softened - about 4 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, except for the rice, salt and pepper.

Return to heat and let come to a brisk simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered, until the eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Serve over rice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Female Nomad and Friends, a Travel Adventure Anthology and Cookbook

Four years ago, my husband and I were operating a rural, homestay bed and breakfast in the heart of the wine region of Lane County, Oregon. While we thoroughly enjoyed hosting guests and cooking for them as well as listening to their travel adventures, our travels had come to a screeching halt. It was during this season of our lives that our daughter introduced me to Rita Golden Gelman’s first book, Tales of a Female Nomad – Living at Large in the World.

When ever I could find a little personal down-time between biding farewell to current guests and greeting our next guests, from my cushy armchair with feet propped up on the ottoman in our “Gathering Room”, I vicariously traveled with Rita on her journey around the world, depending on her intuition, trust and serendipity... experiencing adventure after adventure as she connected with people in faraway places I’ve never been. It took me a month, but eventually I finished the book, only wishing there were more stories to read to satiate my hunger for travel.

Our Gathering Room at Le Roost Lorane B&B

"Timing is everything", so the saying goes. Now, in the midst of selling our home along with nearly all our personal possessions and plans to live aboard a sailboat, Rita has published a new anthology/cookbook Female Nomad and Friends, Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World. Between showing our home and working on projects, once again I sat in that same chair and immersed myself in Female Nomad and Friends. This time reading aloud to my husband, both of us laughing and crying and celebrating as we read the eclectic mix of travel adventures and recipes shared by Rita and forty other contributing authors from around the world... with our future travel adventures now within reach.

Here is an excerpt from How Female Nomad & Friends Came to Be and What It's All About by Rita Golden Gelman, Female Nomad and Friends.
"It was not planned; it kind of snuck up on me when I wasn't looking. E-mail was the vehicle.

Let me back up a little. Well, maybe a lot, because this book actually started in 1987, when I was divorced, gave everything away (no storage), and took off with a backpack to start a new life...." [Come back here to Read more of the excerpt after you've finished reading this post.]

Rita's universal truths about connecting with others, besides being friendly and smiling a lot, includes “food is the universal connector”, which is the reason she invited submissions for her new anthology/cookbook. Her invitation evolved into an amazing collection of fifty-nine fascinating and entertaining travel adventures from forty-one authors and thirty-three taste-tested and author-approved international recipes.

Some of the common threads, besides friendship and food, which seem to travel in some form from story to story in Female Nomad and Friends is that in order to experience life at its fullest, we will find new and exciting experiences and adventure when we stray from the well-traveled path, learn to overcome our fear of the unknown and take risks, trusting that new acquaintances, even complete strangers, will help us, feed us, teach us and receive from us whatever we have to give. Also, great things can come from what initially appears to be far less-than-desirable circumstances.

For twenty-three years, Rita has lived a nomadic life with no permanent address. Over the years she has made friends wherever she has wandered as well as with those who read her books and connect with her via email and website found on page 303 of Tales of a Female Nomad (which was contrary to the publisher's advice). I am one such reader. Rita and I communicated back and forth a few times, and most recently, due to our connection, I have become one of her friends who volunteer to assist her with miscellaneous tasks involving her non-profit Let's Get Global promoting the "gap year movement" in America, and her Female Nomad and Friends Global Dinner Party. The global dinner party is happening this week – “Connecting Through Food” - on Friday, June 18th anytime between 4:00pm and 11:00pm. You're all invited! All you have to do to participate is to host a dinner party at your home and invite family and friends, while others are doing the same thing, the same night, all over the world. Your guests' ticket to the party is to order or bring a copy of the book (all royalties go to send kids living in the slums of New Delhi to vocational school) and to bring a dish using one of the recipes from Female Nomad and Friends, or a personal favorite. For more information, go to Rita's Facebook fan page "Female Nomad" or her Rita Golden Gelman - Female Nomad website.

Rita Golden Gelman with Female Nomad and Friends authors Bonnie Betts and Sally Brown met for the first time at the launch party.

Female Nomad & Friends, Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World was launched June 1st and celebrated with Rita and some of the contributing authors and friends in Seattle at her daughter's home, Jan Gelman (also a contributing author), followed by an authors' reading and book signing at Ravenna Third Place books later that evening.

Rita Golden Gelman with Jan Gelman, Sally Brown, Bonnie Betts, Asa Marie Bradley, Tim Amsden

and Patricia Lundquist posing with a copy of Female Nomad and Friends.

Although friends communicating by phone and email, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Rita in person and connecting with her and others through food as we celebrated the launch of Female Nomad and Friends.

Rita and friends take turns making toasts. Rita toasts to the scholarship funds raised by 100% of the royalties from the sale of Female Nomad and Friends

We toasted to the book sales' royalties that will continue to provide scholarships for high school graduates growing up in the slums of New Delhi to receive further education and learn a trade at the vocational school. Already more than $40,000 has been sent to the New Delhi Rotary Club, who is vetting and mentoring the scholarship recipients!

Jan, Pat (hidden behind bouquet), Tim (back of head), Rita and Sally signing each other's books.


Female Nomad and Friends by Rita Golden Gelman with Maria Altobelli and iIlustrated by Jean Allen, copyright © 2010. Published by Three Rivers Press/Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. BUY IT HERE.

Arriving in Seattle a day before the launch party, Rita invited me to go shopping with her at the Vietnamese market, located in Seattle's Chinatown International District, for a variety of Asian ingredients, introducing me to various basils, produce and condiments that were unfamiliar to me... like Bumbu Pecel, a peanut instant salad dressing that comes in a block that you shave and add water to thin. I bought some of their sweet, floral tasting mangosteen and lychee for the party.

Fruits include mangosteen and lychee

By the time we had checked off everything from the shopping list, we were both quite hungry. Rita introduced me to her favorite Vietnamese restaurant nearby. I took her travel advice to heart about food - "eat everything you are offered." Although I am a pescetarian (seafood-vegetarian), I wanted Rita to freely introduce me to some of her favorite Vietnamese dishes at the Tamarind Tree, without any of my dietary restrictions. What an amazing menu! We shared a savory, crispy Vietnamese crepe filled with prawns and squid and beansprouts, squid stuffed with ground pork, and eggplant satay. This was definitely the best Vietnamese food I have ever eaten. Thanks again, Rita!

Back at Jan's we prepped and cooked food for the following day, as we continued talking. Sally Brown, one of the contributing authors (Connecting to Raymond on page 41), who drove four days (all the way from Minnesota) to attend the gathering, arrived just in time to help with preparations. We washed, sliced, squeezed, chopped and cooked as we chatted and told stories. Rita's Larb Gai (ground chicken) is really, really good! See page 71 of Female Nomads and Friends.

Here is a delicious Curried Carrot Soup recipe from Female Nomad and Friends (page 109), shared with permission by Rita Golden Gelman (more recipes posted for the Female Nomad and Friends Global Dinner Party on the Facebook Female Nomad fan page: 5 Female Nomad Friends Recipes.

Adapted from a recipe sent by Adrienne Jury
Serves six to eight

1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, sliced
10 carrots, cut into ½ inch slices (about 6 cups sliced carrots)
1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder, to taste
2 tablespoons powdered chicken stock
3 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons applesauce (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh dill, snipped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

Sauté onion in butter for five minutes.
Add carrot slices, curry powder, chicken stock, and water.
Simmer until carrots are soft.
Add more water if necessary in ½ cup increments. (Generally, you will need 3 cups more)
Add salt and pepper and adjust for taste.


Serve with fresh dill, mint, and sour cream.

I’m always sorry I didn’t make more. There’s never enough left over. Next time I’m going to double the recipe. I pass the herbs and sour cream at the table in separate little dishes.

Some powdered chicken stock is quite salty. Check ahead of time. The caldo de pollo I use in Mexico often substitutes for salt. I use less than 2 tablespoons powder and add no additional salt. At one of the tastings, Jean (our illustrator) made a batch of applesauce and set it out with the herbs and sour cream. People put big dollops of the applesauce in the soup. The curry and the applesauce provide a very different but wonderful taste.

Do I have favorite Female Nomad and Friend stories? I love them one and all for different reasons. But, yes, I do have more than a few that readily come to mind, probably because I've already reread them a couple of times - Chapati Love Remembered, Train to Tithorea,
Riding Out the Storm, The Perfect Seatmate, Connecting to Raymond, A Boat Ride... and then there's... oh, I do love them all!

Rita Golden Gelman at the Female Nomad and Friends Author Event at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle, Washington - June 1, 2010

We invite you to join us on the Female Nomad and Friends Virtual Tour. From June 7 through July 2 you can return daily to click on the link to other scheduled Female Nomad and Friends book reviews throughout the month, to read what others are saying about Rita and friends' new anthology! You can learn much more about Rita and how you can host a Global Dinner Party at your home via her Female Nomad website.