Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Memory...

My Grandpa was a kind, sweet, gentle man and he will be missed...

                                              LOUIS RAY KING
                                      7 August 1926 - 20 June 2011

Louis was born and raised in Long Beach, California by his parents, Raymond and
Charlotte King. Louis lost his father in 1932 and survived the Long Beach earthquake of 1933. His grandfather then helped his mother to raise him.

During the early war years, Lou met his future wife, Joye, at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp as the war shifted to the Pacific. He married Joye in 1945 just before shipping out to the Philippines, and after the war ended, he was part of the occupation forces in Japan.

Upon his return to the States, they moved to Cal Poly SLO for his bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering. In 1951 he began work at California Electric Power Company in Riverside. Shortly afterwards, Louis earned his Professional Engineering license. In 1963, the family moved to San Diego where he worked for San Diego Gas and Electric advancing up to Systems Planning Engineer until his retirement in 1985. He was a member of Toastmasters, a life member of IEEE, and played tournament bridge.

He spent decades with his wife researching the family tree and combined many trips with research, including a trip to Wales in 1995.
Lou is survived by his wife of nearly 66 years, Joye; his three children Janet Berggren, Dennis, and Larry; four granddaughters; eight great-grandchildren; and his older sister Ellen Huffman in Idaho.

Birthday Party!

My daughter just celebrated her 8th birthday this past weekend. With the help of  Haley's Corner Bakery in Kent, Wa we were able to celebrate with a beautiful, GF/CF cake! The cake was a bit on the sweet side because my daughter chose frosting as her middle layer inside but the taste and texture of the cake was excellent. Haley’s offers an assortment of fillings (the chocolate mousse is very good!) and we had our choice of eight different cakes.

For dinner that night, my daughter really wanted spaghetti and garlic bread. I had not tried to use my bread recipe to make garlic bread but it ended up working out great!

Start by mixing up a batch of  my basic bread  recipe. Then, instead of putting it in the bread machine, use a muffin top pan similar to this one Cuisinart Chef's Classic 6-Cup Nonstick Muffin-Top Pan  If you don’t have a muffin top pan, you could use English muffin rings or maybe even tuna cans with the top and bottom cut out placed on a cookie sheet. What didn’t fit in my muffin pan, I put in a regular bread pan.

Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees for about 5 minutes and then turned it off. Place the bread in the oven and let it rise for about 1 hr. Remove the bread from the oven and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the bread back in and bake for 10-15 minutes.

After baking the bread, let it cool (I actually made mine in the morning for that nights dinner) and then split whatever shapes you made in half. I had 6 round buns and 1 small loaf.

Use whatever butter or butter substitute you want. I used Earth Balance spread mixed with garlic powder to butter them. Bake them at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes (keep an eye on them as they can brown up quickly).  
Next time I think I will make a larger batch of these and freeze them. The round loaves would make perfect hamburger buns as well.

We enjoyed the bread with Trader Joe’s Rice spaghetti noodles with spaghetti and meat sauce.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Starlight Yellow Cake

     This is, by far, my family's favorite cake and my kids begged me to make it today "for Daddy on Father's day" of course!  It is based on the Betty Crocker Cookbook Starlight Yellow Cake but with a different frosting. I just tweaked it to be GF/CF.  Usually we do either vanilla or chocolate frosting but this time my kids couldn't agree, so we did both! The frosting recipe is from I double the frosting recipe to have enough for the center layer.

I have fooled many "gluten eaters" with this recipe!

Starlight Yellow Cake, From the Betty Crocker Cookbook Bonus edition 2006

315g  All-purpose GF flour mix
1 tsp Xanthan gum (or 1/2 tsp Xanthan + 1/2 tsp Guar gum)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cup milk substitute (I use rice milk)
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray two 9-inch round pans with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat all ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Pour into pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool the pans for about 5 minutes, then remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely and then frost.

If you want a center layer of chocolate frosting, take about 3/4 cup of the frosting and mix with 2 tbsp cocoa powder, blend well.

Just a note about the applesauce, I use it not only to make the cake just a tiny bit healthier but also to be more frugal. Every year I glean free apples from a nearby orchard and make them into applesauce. So by using the free applesauce, I am saving my paid-for oil. You can also make this cake by using 1/2 cup Earth Balance Butter Substitute or by using 1/2 cup oil.

1/12 piece (including the double batch of frosting) has 14 points on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program.

Happy Father's day to all the Dad's out there, especially mine! I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Making Bread


When going GF most people immediately think of bread. Without bread, how can you have a sandwich? Toast? French toast? Hamburger buns?

The hardest recipe for me to settle on was the one for our every day bread. My only issue with it still, is that it is very much like traditional white bread (I am more of a whole grain girl) but my son eats this bread every day.

I make our bread in a bread machine. I was lucky enough to score this baby at a thrift store for $7.00! I must admit that I am a bit of a thrift store junkie, but more on that later...

     I have read lots of posts on other blogs where they are able to cook bread in the oven. Our house is a bit on the cold side and I find that if I don't do the bread in the machine, it doesn't rise correctly. If your house is warmer, you should be able to do just fine with the oven.
     This recipe has developed from several different recipes on the web. It most closely resembles this one. But I use a different flour mix than she does.

GF/CF Bread Machine Bread

380g All-purpose flour mix
2 tsp Xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp bread machine yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp canola (or other) oil
1/2 tsp Apple cider vinegar
1 whole egg + 2 whites

Place warm water, yeast and sugar in a small container. Mix lightly and set aside.
Measure out your all-purpose mix in a small bowl and add xanthan gum and salt, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (you could probably do this with a hand mixer as well) place the oil, eggs, and apple cider vinegar.
Check on the yeast mix. If it has proofed

you can go ahead and mix that in with the other wet ingredients.
Mix all the wet ingredients for about 15 seconds to combine.
Add the dry ingredients. Mix for about 30 seconds, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and knock any clumps of the mixing paddle. Your batter will look something like this.

Turn the mixer on high and mix for 4 minutes (don't skip this part or your loaf will end up very dense).
While the dough is mixing, remove the mixing paddle from your bread pan (you won't be using it) and spray the inside of the baking pan with cooking spray. Even if the pan is "non-stick" this will help the loaf slide out with as little damage as possible.

After 4 minutes the dough should have turned a white color and will look very much like a cake batter.

Pour the batter into your bread pan and smooth the top of the loaf. You can use a spatula or your hand. If you use your hand, slightly moisten it with water to keep the batter from sticking to you.

Place your bread pan in the machine. On my machine I have what is called a "home-made" menu. This means that I can control or skip any cycle. I have read that if you can't control the cycle, that "quick" settings on many machines will work. Please check with your machines manufacturer as I can only tell you the way it works on mine.

Let the bread rise for about 1 hour (I set my machine to the Rise 2 setting). It should rise to almost the top of the pan. If it isn't near the top, let it rise for 15minutes longer (Sorry the picture is blurred. I didn't want to open the lid to get a clear shot, so this is through the little window on top.)

Bake for approx 40 minutes. The top of the loaf will be lightly browned.
Remove the loaf from the pan and place on a cooling rack. You need good air circulation around the loaf or else the bottom will get soggy.
Let the loaf cool completely! I can't stress this enough. If you cut into the loaf when there is even a hint of warmth, the pieces will be gooey and hard to cut. If you can leave the loaf to cool overnight that would be great but at least 4 hrs should work.

I use a bread cutting guide to cut uniform pieces. Also, I store my bread in a Sterilite snap-tight container, as you can see in the top photo. It fits this loaf perfectly and keeps it fresh. I have heard that storing GF breads in the refrigerator makes them dry and grainy so I keep mine on the counter.
Please feel free to leave me any questions in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


     If you read yesterday's post, you saw what could be done with just a few basic ingredients. Dried apples, dried blueberries and 1/2 a lemon. You get a great tasting iced tea. But you can do more with the leftover ingredients!

     After you have drained your tea, you will be left with plump re-hydrated fruit!
     What better than to use this mix to make a yummy smoothie!

If you aren't ready to make a smoothie the same day or day after making the tea, I would suggest pureeing and freezing the fruit in an ice cube tray. That way it will keep until you are ready to use it.


1/2 cup of any kind of milk substitute (I used Trader Joe's Almond)
1 banana
leftover fruit
Stevia to taste (I use liquid, about 8-10 drops)
2-3 tbsp Water (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth. Use the water to thin the smoothie if it is too thick.
Makes 2 servings

Each serving is 2 points on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program (just a note, I am counting the dried apples as having points even though they are re-hydrated.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Frugal Iced "Tea"

         I love iced tea, so I was pretty thrilled when I came up with this super easy, super frugal version of it.
          For my birthday, a friend gave me a container of dry tea that contained bits of different dried fruits. I started making ice tea with that. When I ran out, it occurred to me that I had a ton of dried fruit  from last year.  I had spent time harvesting free blueberries from our local blueberry farm. I also harvested apples from a local apple orchard. I dried some of both, not really sure what I would do with them.  I decided to throw in some lemon and see what would would happen.

I used my handy tea maker very similar to  this one  that my wonderful husband gave me for my birthday. It has a really cool strainer built in on the bottom. Place about 1/2 cup dried blueberries and 1 cup dried apples in the container, along with 1/2 a fresh lemon (peel removed) into the tea maker. Fill the tea maker with boiling water and let steep. After the tea has steeped, you sit the container on top of your cup and the liquid pours out from the bottom. I put my tea straight into a glass pitcher.

      I think I let the fruit steep for at least an hour (I went off to do other things and didn't time it). The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor will be. Chill and then add a little stevia and you have a cool, fruity drink!

Tomorrow, I will show you what to do with the leftover fruit pieces, so don't throw them away!

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Natural Flavors"

     Have you ever wondered what "natural flavors" or "spices" actually means when it is listed in the ingredients of a packaged item? Well, you should. Many ingredients can be disguised as a  "natural ingredient."
     By law, only the top 8 allergens have to be listed on the package as a warning, out of those 8 only one is a grain (wheat), yet there are at least 10 other grains that contain gluten. Some items are clearly labeled but if you don't know what the original form of that ingredient was, you may not realize that it contains gluten. A great example is malt. Malt will be clearly detailed in the ingredients, but did you know that malt is made from barley?  Barley contains gluten.  The gluten is not destroyed in the making of the malt, therefore malt contains gluten.

     Always contact the manufacturer if the package does not clearly state that it is GF/CF. I recently contacted Sara Lee, the makers of Jimmy Dean Natural Sausage. I simply went on their website and found a contact email address that I used. I sent my email on a Friday and had this answer by Monday afternoon...

     Here at Sara Lee, we have a 'truth in labeling policy'. Anytime there is a gluten-containing ingredient in one of our products, the ingredient will be listed on the ingredient label. As we do not print a gluten-free list, we recommend checking the label every time for any ingredients your physician has told you to stay away from. We never hide gluten-containing ingredients in general listings such as flavorings or spices.  Casein would also be listed by name if present in a product, not hidden in a generic listing, like flavorings or spices.

     My son loves this brand of sausage so I was relieved to hear that they don't hide G/C, it would be clearly stated on the package. They make a good point though, that you should read the label every time you buy their product. Companies are constantly making changes.

     Another thing to note. If you contact the company and ask "what are the ingredients included under the heading of natural flavors?" or similar question asking for the actual contents, they will not give it to you. It is considered "proprietary" information. In other words, its a secret and they aren't telling! But, they will tell you yes or no if it contains a specific ingredient.

     It may seem like a hassle to have to check the labels and contact the companies but it is an important step in making sure you (or your kids) don't accidentally ingest an unwanted allergen.


     When I began my GF/CF adventure,  I would measure my GF flour the same way as traditional flour. I would use a spoon to scoop the flour into a measuring cup and level off the top with a knife. This method contributed to many failed recipes.
     As you start to use GF flours and starches, it will quickly become apparent why the traditional method doesn't work. Not only is it extremely messy (the starches fly everywhere unless you are VERY gentle), it is very inaccurate. If you put the starch in the measuring cup by letting it sort of fall off the spoon and drop into the cup, you are actually packing down the starch. If you gently place it in the cup you won't pack it at all and may not have enough in the cup.
     Please go and buy a kitchen scale. You will save more money in the long run by not having failed recipes. My scale was $2.99 at a thrift store. There are a ton of different scales out there, and you can find good prices on Most scales will measure in Grams but make sure you check first. Grams are much more accurate than Ounces.

     Simply place a container on the scale, then turn the scale on (that way it doesn't measure the weight of the bowl or container you are using). Measure the amount of flour you will need and then add the Xanthan gum to it. I find that if I don't add the Xanthan gum with this step, I sometimes forget it! Set the container aside until you reach the flour step in your recipe and you are ready to go!
     If you have a favorite recipe that you want to convert to GF, remember that 140g of my all purpose mix is equal to 1 cup of traditional flour. If you want to experiment with other flours and need to know their weight conversion, you can find a great chart here. I printed this chart and put it in the front of my cookbook for easy reference.
     It won't take you long to get used to weighing your flour mix, I promise, once you get to used to it you won't want to go back to measuring cups!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Party Survival

     A few weeks ago, my kids received an invitation to a birthday party. They were thrilled... for about 30 seconds. Then they turned and looked at me and said "uh, mom, do you remember the last party we went to?" Do I remember? Oh, yes, I remember. It involved 2 hysterical children and leaving early. The last party we attended was the first party I had ever enforced our GF/CF diet. See, we used to do the diet at home but if we went to a party or had the desire to eat fast food, we would break the diet, allow the offending food, and then suffer through the reaction for the next week. It was a constant roller coaster of emotions and frustrations.
    This time, I assured my kids, it would be different. And guess what? It was! They both had an absolutely wonderful time. There were no tears, no fits, in fact it was almost...normal.

     So, what was so different? Mom was prepared!! The first thing I did was contact the mom of the birthday girl and asked what was going to be served. I also expressed my concerns about what could possibly happen to give the mom a heads up if we had to leave early.

    Here is what was planned for the menu. Pizza (uh-oh, that's a toughie), cake (of course), popcorn (another uh-oh, due to sensory issues Alex can't stand to be around someone eating popcorn because it makes a "squeaky" sound), and candy (oh please let there be no chocolate). There was going to be a movie being shown (please let it not be one that disturbs Alex).

     Ok, deep breath mom, we can do this!
 I sat the kids down and told them what was going to be served and asked them what they thought a good substitute would be. After some negotiating (I had to remind them that cookies are NOT a substitute for pizza) we arrived at a menu that we could all live with. Scrambled eggs and sausage for Alex. Hannah would be having the pizza (she is only GF/CF to support brother so we do allow some for her). The mom giving the party was wonderful in choosing the candy for during the movie. She made sure that a majority of it was GF/CF. They also ended up serving chips that Alex could eat and skipped the popcorn since the kids were so full from everything else. I also brought an assortment of other foods in case the kids wanted something else.

     What about the cake? Before the party we made a special trip to a  Gluten free bakery  (they also offer many items CF). The kids each picked out their own mini cake, they were about the size of a single slice of birthday cake (I forgot to get a shot of them before they were devoured, sorry!). Once the birthday girl had her slice of the big cake I served the little cakes to my kids, there was no issue.
     We had an absolutely wonderful time. No issues, no crying, no leaving early. It was...normal!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Making the switch

     So how exactly do you make the switch from eating "normal" food to eating GF/CF? My best advice? Go slowly! When we were first starting this adventure I focused on showing my kids that they will still have great "treats" to eat, because of course that is what kids worry the most about. I played around with the flours until I found one that not only worked taste wise, but also worked for our budget.

     I read a ton of blogs to get ideas. There is so much information on the web, use it!

     I would go to the store and buy one of each brand of something, for instance, non-dairy milk. There are so many varieties out there, which can be overwhelming. The great part is, though, that lots of variety means lots of choices! My son likes Rice milk while I love Almond, so we buy both now. Take notes about which brands you liked/didn't like. I made the mistake of not keeping track at first and re-bought items we didn't like. If you accidentally do that, remember that you can use any kind of non-dairy milk in your cooking and you can't tell the difference.

     I looked for products that we were already eating that are already gluten free, such as bacon, lunch meat (make sure you read the package!), hot dogs (again, check the package as many contain Casein), fruits, veggies, meat. Many foods that are "whole foods" naturally do not contain G/C.
     Start cooking. Being GF/CF means cooking from scratch a lot unless you are blessed with an unlimited income, which I am not. I happen to think that home-made GF/CF items taste better simply for the fact that GF/CF items don't store well. That is why a lot of the packaged foods tend to be dry and break easily.

     Be prepared for flops. I not only had to contend with flops, I also have a son that is extremely picky with his eating. Sometimes GF/CF stuff doesn't work out the first time you try it. Don't be afraid to try again! In the beginning I was using some of the bean flours and couldn't figure out what in the world the "weird" flavor was in the food. Well, it was beans! That is why I stay away from GF "mixes" such as Bob's red mill, many of them contain bean flour. Be prepared to waste some money in the beginning, there is a definite learning process here that you have to get through.

     Be willing to give up foods that you can't mimic. My son still won't eat a non-dairy milk with a bowl of cereal, so he doesn't eat cereal anymore. I haven't found a GF spaghetti noodle that I like, so I don't eat spaghetti anymore. It took a long time to make a GF/CF bread that we liked, so for a while, we didn't eat bread (or we paid a crazy amount for a pre-made loaf at the store). I am thrilled that my son now likes my home-made bread better than Udi's!
     Don't give up. Your taste buds WILL change. We recently tried my son on a milk challenge and it was so hard because he couldn't stand the taste of cows milk! This from a child who used to drink almost a half-gallon a day!


Friday, June 10, 2011

All-purpose GF flour *Updated

A lot of my baking success has been finding an all-purpose flour mix that is truly all-purpose. I tried quite a few variations before coming up with this mix. It is a slight variation of the one found here

The great thing about working with GF flours is that it is very easy to substitute one for another. The general rule is that you must substitute a starch for a starch and a flour for a flour. For instance, if I run out of cornstarch (or don't want to use it due to an allergy) I can replace it in the mix with extra arrowroot, or I can use tapioca. Out of Brown rice flour? Use more Sorghum or white rice.

Another tip I learned from other GF bakers is that you will always have better results if you weigh your GF flours instead of using measuring cups, especially when it comes to the starches. When you use a measuring cup it is very easy to scoop too much or too little.

I mix up a large double or triple batch of this at a time and keep it in a large glass container.
To use it in a recipe simply measure out 140g for every cup of flour called for. Then add 1/2tsp of Xanthan gum for each 140g (you can also use Guar gum). I find that the Xanthan gum doesn't have to be exact. If a recipe calls for 2 1/4 cup flour I would use 315g of my all purpose flour + 1tsp of Xanthan gum.

All Purpose Gluten free flour mix

300g Brown rice flour
250g white rice flour
150g Arrowroot starch
100g Sorghum flour
100g Potato Starch (not potato flour)
100g Cornstarch

140g = 1 cup of "regular" flour
140g = 13 points on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program

Happy Baking!

* Update * Make sure you whisk the mix thoroughly after you put it in your container. If the container has a tight fitting lid, shake it vigorously to mix.


     Part of the fear of going GF/CF is the belief that you will have to eat weird, funny tasting foods. While I do agree that some of the alternative choices can have a different flavor, there are many options that very closely mimic the original.

     Our breakfast this morning was pancakes. Light, fluffy pancakes straight out of the Betty Crocker cookbook. I simply substitute my all-purpose GF flour (I will put a post up about that soon), with a bit of xanthan gum and rice milk.

     I know that a lot of bloggers out there are turning to grain free and whole grain (less starchy) GF baking. I think that is wonderful and have tried some of that myself, but when it comes to feeding a very picky 10 year old who just wants his food to look and taste how he remembers it, this is the way to go.

We topped them with a non-dairy butter (be sure that the one you use is CF, many of the "non-butter" subs still contain it) and homemade pancake syrup.

Pancakes, makes 9 4-inch

1 egg
1 cup all purpose GF flour
1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
3/4 cup milk sub (you can use rice, almond, soy, hemp, etc.)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, beat egg with hand beater (I use a stand mixer) until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients. Mix on high for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Grease whatever pan you are using to cook these (I use Trader Joe's canola spray). Use a scant 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook pancakes until bubbly on top, puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other sides until golden brown. I find that using a lower heat setting than I would with "traditional" pancakes gives them time to cook through without burning.

Each pancake is 3 points on the Weight Watchers Points Plus Program (6 points for 2 pancakes)

For anyone who may be following the Weight Watchers points plus plan, I will try to include the points value of each of the recipes I post. Please remember that if you are using a different all-purpose flour, your points may vary slightly.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How did we get here?

     Our journey with gluten free, casein free foods (GF/CF) actually started more than 8 years ago, I just didn't know it then! My older sister was having a lot of physical issues and decided to have allergy testing done. One of the foods that she showed allergic to was wheat. At that time, there was no Udi's GF bread, no Pamela's cookies, no Glutino crackers. Or at least if there was, we didn't know about them! I started looking into cooking GF cookies and cakes at that time and must admit, my first tries were pretty big flops. My mom attempted GF pie crust every year for Thanksgiving. It was edible but not great. My sister was alone in her "allergen diet".

     Fast forward to 2009. I started having increased muscle and joint pain, the pain had been there for a long time but for some reason started to escalate. I was diagnosed as having Fibromyalgia and through much research decided to have allergen testing done. Not a big surprise that I showed allergic to almost every item they tested (it was a long list). At the top of the list? Gluten, milk & sesame seeds (Seriously, who is allergic to that?) and the list goes on...

     So, I put myself on a GF diet and life went on.

     Fast forward again to 2010.  My son is suspected of having Aspergers (we are still on that journey to a diagnosis), the first thing recommended was to put him on a GF/CF diet. We put him on the diet and saw a huge improvement in his functioning and coping abilities.

     So, here we are in 2011! I am now very comfortable cooking GF/CF (no more huge recipe flops, just little flops!)

     Whether you're here because you are getting into a GF/CF diet, too, or you're just curious what it is, you're welcome to join in the adventure--I will be using this blog for my thoughts, recipes, pictures, research and anything else that I discover along the way.  Please feel free to leave feedback in a comment on any posts here!
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