Monday, May 26, 2008

Gluten-Free Waffle Extravaganza

I knew I was in for a treat this Memorial Day when I woke to the sounds of the Kitchenaid mixer running. I could clearly discern the unmistakable sound of the whisk attachment spinning away, which surely meant that egg-whites were part of whatever gluten-free recipe was being created. Given the hour of day, it was a fair bet my initial hunch - waffles? - would correctly identify the first course of the day.

I love waffles! Homemade gluten-free waffles especially, since their wonderful texture and taste can not be beat by any store bought varieties (though, I don't know why, since we freeze our "extra" waffles and then reheat them in a toaster at a later date just like a purchased gluten-free waffle would be - and they are perfectly delicious for months this way).

Today's assortment of fresh-baked (or fresh-ironed, in the waffle iron) waffles were all dairy-free in addition to gluten-free, and included a nice range of flavors. My wife has again outdone herself and baked an assortment (for this morning, and for future consumption) including:
  • Cocoa, Chocolate-Chip, and Pumpkin variety
  • Tofu, Flax, Buckwheat, Blueberry, cinnamon
  • Banana-Walnut
Oh what a treat!
I was able to sample from each type, and had one of the greatest Memorial Day gluten-free / wheat-free breakfasts anyone could ask for. It was the perfect way to start the day!

I'll try to get around to posting the various recipes soon. They are each essentially variations on a theme, originating with the existing waffle recipes we have online already at the Gluten-Free Recipe Library here (though, those original waffle recipes were not dairy-free, so I definitely need to post the extended versions).

Enjoy your Memorial Day... I know I will, especially after starting out with such a great breakfast treat!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

International Shipping Inflation

If you did not yet notice, the United States Postal Service (USPS) increased shipping rates again early this week. I knew the prices for domestic shipment postage increased slightly (standard 1-ounce letter rate went from 41 cents to 42 cents) since that had been in the news. Now, this tiny increase sounds reasonable, and in-line with what the government keeps saying "core inflation" is; i.e., roughly 2.5-3%. But, this doesn't tell the whole story of real inflation, which as we all seem to witness in food and energy prices especially, that is much higher.

Upon further examination, I noticed that yet again the cost of shipping my gluten-free desserts recipe cookbook has increased another 15 cents domestically (which, again, I am just going to absorb as to not contribute any more to this seemingly endless cycle of inflation). This is the second time in less than a year, and I have seen domestic postage costs rise 15%+, while not passing any of that increased cost along to my customers.

Oh, but wait... there's more! I started checking out international shipping rates. My first reaction was: "those can't be the right numbers!?" The USPS flat-rate Priority International Envelope I use to ship my gluten-free cookbook to Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and the rest of the world has soared in price by nearly 20% just with this current increase! And this is on top of a similar increase on May 14th of 2007! In just over a year, my international shipping cost has increased 35%!

So, I am sad to announce to my international gluten-free book buyers: I have to raise the standard charge for shipping a book. I am a bit reluctant, though I sure hope the weak USA Dollar helps make up for the increased price. I can hold the line on domestic shipping charges for now, but that 35% increase for foreign gluten-free book shipments is a bit rough. I sure hope this is the last postage/shipping increase we will all see in a while, but I can not help thinking it a sign of things to come.

I also can not help wondering, if in the unlikely event oil prices fall considerable, will the USPS cut its rates. lol! (I think this is a case where "what goes up, must come down" will never apply - I can not see the USPS lowering shipping rates once they raise them)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gluten-Free Cake Recipe Variation - Dairy-Free Black Forest Bundt

We are getting around to adapting even more of our Gluten-Free Desserts to be dairy-free (in addition to wheat-free / gluten-free) in hopes that we help as many Celiac sufferers as possible find great dessert recipes they can enjoy. Pictured above is one of the latest variations that my wife has created - a variation on our Gluten-Free Black-Forest Bundt Cake (from pages 36-37 in our book), which has now been modified to no longer contain any dairy products in this latest variation.

You will also notice that we were out of cherries when we baked this particular cake, so we cheated a bit and used Strawberries instead (which you can see inside the cake and one on the surface). The results were still quite delicious!

Hopefully, if you are dairy-free, you can still enjoy soy in your diet. I realize there are a few people that also have gone soy-free out there, and none of our original recipes in our cookbook use any soy. We made a conscious decision to avoid soy in the book since it seemed that a fair number of people considered it an allergen or dietary ingredient to avoid. But, we also realize the benefits that soy protein can offer to the majority of people that still consume soy as a part of their gluten-free diet. So, with this cake recipe variation, we tried for a happy medium: dairy-free, but with soy ingredients.

This particular recipe variation made use of soy-protein, in the form of soft Tofu (the kind that comes in those little 12 ounce "boxes"). The tofu replaced the sour-cream we originally used, thus bringing some additional protein into the mix and lowering the fat content a bit while, of course, removing that dairy / casein containing item. We also replaced the butter with margarine, making the whole cake dairy-free. If you own our cookbook, and want to try baking this dairy-free variation, just see this gluten-free cake recipe-variation link for all the details of the remaining few minor modifications we made.

The soy protein (i.e., tofu) makes for a really nice result: it gives the cake a wonderful texture while also enhancing the "shelf life" of the cake from my experience -- I was eating this cake for a few days and had it just sitting out on the counter with a bit of plastic wrap over the top. The tofu seems to make the gluten-free cake retain moisture well over time, and thus be less susceptible to drying out if left exposed to the elements.

As with any gluten-replacement strategy, using soy-protein to replace the wheat-protein (i.e., gluten / gliaden) is one approach to gluten-free baking that can be helpful. Other (gluten / protein) alternatives that can be helpful include dairy and egg proteins, which in this case we have opted not to use the dairy-protein side of the equation. Along similar lines, my wife created a wonderful soy/tofu waffle variation that is quite nice too! I'll publish that full recipe soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the latest gluten-free dessert recipe / variation!