Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Gluten-Free New Years!

I've taken a bit of time off from blogging for the holidays, and I'm trying to prepare myself for what is bound to be an exciting and fun 2007! Part of the reason for a break from the gluten free blog was to of course enjoy the holidays, time with family and friends, and just something different for a while. I've been able to do some of each, and have had time to refresh myself a bit.

It's also been a rather strange year-end here in Cleveland, OH, as temperatures have been well above normal for this time of year. Yesterday I took full advantage of the 50+ degrees and sunshine, and parked a lounge-chair outside on the South side of my house where the sun was reflecting nicely off the siding, and sat there in shorts and a T-shirt enjoying the equivalent of 70-degrees or so. What a treat for almost January in Cleveland! (though, I find myself asking how bad the greenhouse-effect and global warming must be for this to occur.)

Not everything the last week and a half has been relaxation though. My daughter and I were busy making sales calls to retailers throughout Ohio that are now carrying our book, and that has stirred up all sorts of upcoming "to-do list" items for the coming year. The largest retailer of natural and organic products in Northeast Ohio, the Mustard Seed Market and Cafe', is now carrying our book and would like my wife and I to do a gluten-free baking lecture and/or book-signing event as soon as we can schedule one. This is certainly wonderful, but oh my gosh do I now feel the pressure to get some practice prior to doing a larger show! Our local health food store also wants us to do an event, and that will likely be where we work out some of the kinks before taking on a much larger crowd.

We have also run into an interesting outlet for our books through the medical professionals in the region, especially allergists (wheat and/or gluten allergy treatment) dieticians, and doctors that treat autism. Seems there is a fairly strong correlation between autism and celiac disease, and these professionals are regularly dealing with children that they want so badly to enjoy all the normal experiences of childhood (like, eating a wonderful birthday cake, or enjoying cookies and brownies at a party) while remaining on a gluten-free diet. And, the practitioners are thrilled with the prospects of being able to finally provide their patients with fantastic recipes that will let them realize this goal - ours!

In fact, this same group of doctors has been encouraging me to consider raising the price of our book since they feel it is so above-and-beyond what our "competition" offers; they are telling me to charge $39.95 for it, which I am not inclined to do since my goal all along has been to get the book out to as many Celiac and gluten-free persons as possible and not make price a barrier to acquiring the book. But, I do find the suggestion encouraging, since quite a few persons have now made similar comments that we have done a great job with the recipe book and have kept the price quite reasonable for a full-color satisfaction guaranteed gluten-free desserts recipe and baking guide.

Next, I have been really, really happy to realize my goal of helping other gluten-free, wheat-free, and coeliac persons find complete satisfaction, and even amazement, in their desserts again! I just received a testimonial a few days ago from a lady whose father has been wheat-free and gluten-free since the 1980's. She decided to purchase the book and make her father something he has long since desired: a great birthday cake. She chose our Chocolate-Ganache Cake to bake for her father, and she was completely new to glutenfree baking. I received a few emails from her regarding where to aquire ingredients, and she was able to track down everything just in time to bake the cake for her father's birthday. He was so utterly impressed by the results, that he told her it was the best cake he has had since going GF nearly 20 years earlier, and was blown away by how moist and delicious the cake was. Turns out he was accustomed to dry or crumbly cakes/muffins and such til now, and has appointed his daughter the new "gluten-free baker" in the family. This story just made my day when I read it! It has made me completely confident that I did the right thing by taking the past couple years to complete this book (with much help from my wife and daughter).

2006 was a year of challenge, excitement, and happiness that now seems like a big blur in the rear-view mirror. And, I now enter a 2007 knowing I have all sorts of things I want to accomplish this year as well. There are all sorts of new gluten-free recipes coming soon, since my wife had time during the holiday to perfect a few more wonderful recipes. I have a goal of traveling around a much larger portion of the country selling our book (since we only had time for northern Ohio before the holidays). I resolve to give exercise and fitness plenty of emphasis in 2007, as I did in 2006. But, first and foremost, I will try to maintain a focus on enjoying life and finding happiness in what I do. And, I wish everyone that same happiness and enjoyment for their New Years and all of 2007!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The night before gluten-free Christmas is near.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,Rang the noise of the mixer, the cause of my rouse;
The only creature stirring, it seems, is my spouse.
The recipe notes, jotted down with great care,
The next winning formula - something with flare?
Could it be yet another one of those breads,
An awesome addition to holiday spreads?
Will this new recipe be considered "a wrap",
or may it turn out that something else is on tap.

Baking gluten-free foods, a serious matter,
especially great ones, worthy of some chatter.
Burn through ingredients and piles of cash,
Making recipes for the holiday bash.

The gluten-eaters among us just won't know,
The "fun" it has been creating this new dough.
Through trial and error, what should appear,
pumpernickel bread with spinach dip near.

Although a bit challenging, with the right trick,
This new GF bread is ready for St. Nick.
Anyone else that can not eat wheat grain,
is sure to enjoy this one all the same.

No barley, no gluten, no wheat in our mixin',
This recipe is done - no need for more fixin'!
Once again my wife has heeded the baking call,
When it comes to glutenfree, she's in for the long haul.

More recipes are coming in 2007,
Some bound to make you think you've gone to heaven.
:)

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the gluten-free recipes published over on our book site's recipe page. It is time for me to take a break from blogging for a few days, and focus a bit more on some things I need to wrap up before the holidays. (quite literally in some cases.) I'll be back to posting on the blog before I know it, since time flies, especially around this time of year.

I hope everyone has a wonderfully enjoyable Christmas and holiday season!

No Gluten or Dairy Pumpernickel Bread Recipe


Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Pumpernickel Bread

Pumpernickel Bread: Full of Flavor and Gluten-Free with this Recipe

The Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Pumpernickel Bread Recipe is now available at our Glutenfree recipe library! I had promised this recipe a few days ago, and it seemed I had a few people getting a bit anxious for it, so there is the link to it. I described this recipe in my previous post where I showed it in use as a gluten-free pumpernickel sandwich bread. It works great for this, since it has a nice hearty crust and a soft spongy center, all infused with plenty of pumpernickel bread flavor.

Complementary Dill / Spinach Dip Recipe

In addition, I posted a recipe for a simple and versatile dill and/or spinach dip recipe. I don't know about you, but spinach-dip served with cubed pumpernickel has been rather popular at parties - both around the holidays and any other time of the year. Many people carve the center out of the loaf of pumpernickel bread, and fill the bread with the dip... using the carved out portion to form the cubes of bread for dipping. This glutenfree pumpernickel will work fine for that, since it is made in a round pyrex 2-liter dish, and achieves a height of about 4 inches when baked. So, plenty of volume for holding dip. Personally, I prefer keeping the dip in a separate bowl so as not to cause the remaining pumpernickle loaf (the part of the loaf you are using for a "bowl") to become soggy. This goes for bread with or without gluten. Why waste any great GF bread to sogginess?

Here's a picture of the dip with some cubed-pumpernickel bread - all glutenfree of course.
GF Pumpernickel Bread with Dill Dip
Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Glutens have arrived! Beware!


Gluten-Monster, or gooey Gluten-Blob, or whatever
I was playing around with this idea of a "Glutens" cartoon of sorts, and I missed my first target of Halloween for an initial prototype of what one of the "Glutens" looks like, but here is the first incarnation just in time for Christmas.

My daughter sketched up the gooey little elastic gluten-ball "monster" that will hereafter serve as the basis for my "Glutens". After I had a bit of fun with the sketch in Photoshop, the Gluten monster lives in full-color. The above picture is what we envision those pesky and evil little glutens looking like as they prepare to do their dirty work on our intestines. Certainly these glutens have evil intent when it comes to our bodies!  This one has even gone as far as to appear incognito with a Santa hat to throw us off his scent.

So, what do you think? Is this what one of those "Glutens" would look like? They are always lurking in the shadows and preparing to mess with us, and I figure this one in particular is going to be out there trying to make Christmas less than optimal by tainting our holiday food if we are not careful. So, watch out for the Glutens that would steal your Christmas — I know they are out there!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Gluten Free Perfect Pumpernickel Bread


Laura's Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Pumpernickel Bread Recipe : Perfection!

Incredible Gluten-Free Pumpernickel Break Recipe

My wife has worked tirelessly on perfecting a GF pumpernickel bread (dairy-free too!) over the past few weeks, and she has finally achieved her goal! I just had to take a picture of my lunch today, which is a tuna salad sandwich on this new glutenfree pumpernickel bread she just finished baking earlier today. Here's a direct link to this wonderful Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Pumpernickel Bread Recipe.

The bread is wonderful. A nice hearty crust, and a soft spongy center! What more could anyone ask for in a pumpernickel? Oh, yeah... taste... it tastes great too! I think it is very much like a real pumpernickel. In addition to the sandwich, we tried it with a gluten-free dill-dip / spinach-dip (recipe here) that was being made as I type this. Once again it is time to start planning how to burn off these extra calories! But, I much prefer having this "problem" of calorie expenditure over the problem of not being able to find good food to eat as a Celiac person.

With a fair number of breads in our repertoire now, there really isn't too awful much I find "missing" from my daily eating habits when compared to the pre-gluten-free days. I am so glad to have a wife that is quite gifted with baking gluten free recipes, and most food in general. And, if something gives her a rough time, she takes it as a challenge to figure it out and perfect it. This recipe and a couple others now join our online GF recipes collection (see links below).

I noticed Lynn Barry just finished a version of pumpernickel recently too! I guess it is the perfect season for pumpernickel! Can't wait to serve it at a Christmas party or dinner.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

GlutenFree Sesame Cookie Recipe


Gluten-Free Sesame Cookies : Yum!

Sesame is the star of these Gluten-Free Cookies

This one is definitely a winner - a delicious gluten-free sesame cookie recipe! I think I put on a pound today as I ate about a dozen of them! That's not likely to be a pound of muscle either, though I did make sure to go outside afterwards and walk a mile and jog another mile. Still, I doubt that will offset the calories in these gluten-free temptations of the day, but better than nothing.

I have to give credit to my daughter for this recipe. She just wrapped up another semester at college and is done with her GRE's, so she finally has had a bit of extra time between grad-school applications to get back into the gluten free baking spirit! This recipe took her a couple tries, but she definitely prevailed with a tasty cookie that has a wonderful texture.

This GF cookie has sesame and coconut inside and out, with sesame tahini in there too! So, plenty of flavor, and plenty of calories to boot I'd guess. But, it is a cookie and as such calories just have to take back seat to wonderful taste! Now if this recipe would have come along a few months back, I'd surely have considered putting into our new gluten-free desserts cookbook, but this recipe was just a bit late arriving on the scene.

I have another recipe to post soon, also from my daughter: a gluten free tea-leaf and honey cookie.  That one reminds me of a sugar cookie, but not. It worked well for holiday cut-out cookies for Christmas, and was delightfully crisp and crunchy with accents of honey and tea. Different, and good. It'll be coming soon.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake Recipe - Bundt


Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake, Bundt Pan style

Gluten-Free Bundt Cake Recipe : Pumpkin and Spices

Here is another gluten-free recipe, a lovely GlutenFree Pumpkin Bundt Cake Recipe which I just uploaded to our free recipes library for anyone that is looking for a holiday pumpkin treat that is a bit different than a traditional pumpkin pie.  Some other pumpkin-theme blogs also recently included a spectacular Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Roll recipe my wife created for the holidays.

This recipe is easy to make, and it has much of that pumpkin-pie type flavor but in the form of a cake. All sorts of flavor comes together in here: clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger - and even a bit of cocoa. This recipe is also dairy-free, in our push to accommodate those of you who can not tolerate milk products very well.

We made this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, but it should be equally welcome around the Christmas holiday table - whether for dinner or at a party. We have tried it both with and without added Xanthan gums, and it works fine either way (the Xanthan gum does give it a bit better bounce, and makes it less likely to crumble), so take your pick whether to include that in your gluten free recipe or not.

Now, if I can only remain this productive in my blog postings for the rest of the week! I am finally catching up on posting a few of those outstanding recipes. Some of the others recent recipes include a new type of GF and dairy-free/casein-free muffin my wife came up with, 
some cranberry pumpkin muffins, and there is also a chocolate angel-food cake to post eventually.  I did get around to posting a gluten-free chocolate-chip angel-food cake (variation to one in our book), a GF pumpernickel bread, and a few others. I have quite a few other things I want to still get done this week though, so time will tell whether they are posted sooner rather than later on this blog.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Gluten-Free Panettone Bread Recipe


Gluten-Free Panettone Bread Recipe, baked, and sliced

Holiday Sweet Bread with Citrus: Gluten-Free Panettone


My daughter recently created a rather tasty gluten-free Christmas Holiday bread in the style of traditional panettone bread. It features orange/citrus flavors in a sweeter dough that has dried fruit and nuts in it. Here is a link to the gluten-free panettone bread recipe (as pictured above).

I promised this recipe to my blog readers a while back, and finally the gluten free recipe is online and ready for others to try. Baking a panettone, in the traditional full-cylindrical form would probably be a bit rough for a variety of reasons: the first being the tall cylindrical shape, which I doubt many would have a specialized panetone pan for. I have wondered if it could be baked in a coffee-can or a couple smaller cans, though I do not know if it would come out of the can easy when done, or if it would rise enough to fill the entire height like a gluten-containing one would probably have an easier time of.

Regardless, this version of a panettone is done glutenfree (sorry, not completely dairy-free this times), and is baked in a standard springform pan. The bread has a nice mellow flavor, with a touch of sweetness, and accents of orange. Perfect for the Christmas holiday. If anyone tries it, please let me know your thoughts. And, as always, if you have variations or improvements, feel free to share them.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Dairy-Free Focaccia Bread & Crouton Recipe


Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free Focaccia Bread Croutons

Gluten-Free Focaccia Bread / Croutons Recipe 

I had time to post the Gluten-Free and Dairy Free Focaccia Bread and Croutons Recipe today that I promised in my last blog. It features plenty of pictures to go with the various steps too, like these:

The Fresh Gluten-Free Bread Dough Rising, with Caramelized Onions on Top


Beautifully Caramelized Onions used on top of the bread dough
The picture above shows those wonderfully tasty caramelized red onions that are both in the dough and on top of the bread. The onions combine with garlic, pepper, rosemary, and more to create a very flavorful bread and crouton. It's a bit of a specialty bread, and I have not had focaccia in a long time (since going GF), so we may still end up tweaking the recipe a bit over time. But, I think it is plenty good enough for public release — readers, you tell me what you think after trying it.

Hope everyone enjoys the recipe!

I have been busy reformatting quite a few other gluten-free recipes from Word into an HTML format for upload to my gluten-free recipes-library, so stay tuned as more GF creations are coming and will be online soon.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gluten Free and Dairy-Free Focaccia Bread Croutons


Specialty Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free Croutons by Laura

More GF Recipes from Laura

My wife has once again outdone herself!

Today's undertaking was this GlutenFree and Dairy-Free Focaccia Bread recipe, and subsequently some Croutons (shown above) made from that bread. The results, in my opinion, are remarkable. These are some darn fine croutons! Loaded with flavor to say the least... red onions, and all sorts of herbs. Fantastic!

The Focaccia bread itself was plenty fine too. It has been a LONG time since I had focaccia bread, and that is a bit of a problem for me since my memories of it are a bit faded. I think what she has created is rather like the real deal, and I await feedback from others once they try the recipe. I was mixing up bruchetta and focaccia in my mind at first, which goes to tell you how long it has been.

Needless to say, there have not been any memorable gluten-free focacia breads in my diet since going gluten free — until now. That's one thing about Celiac Disease you have to watch out for... you avoid so much of what you used to eat, you start forgetting what the "real" thing tasted like. That is also why we enlist the help of our friends and neighbors (not gluten-free persons) in taste-testing, just to make sure we have a valid test-group.

This one is a winner in my opinion!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Almond Paste in Baking GlutenFree Recipes

Solo Foods Gluten-Free Pure Almond Paste
I have had a few people ask me about Almond Paste as an ingredient in various Gluten-Free recipes. We use it in a fair number of recipes, as it adds a nice flavor to certain desserts and breads. To being with, Almond Paste is not to be confused with Almond Butter. Almond Paste is a combination of Almonds, Sugar, and water basically — it is a very thick paste. We use a canned variety of pure Almond Paste from a company called Solo for our GF recipe baking.

Solo Foods offers this nice gluten-free "pure Almond Paste" product (which has been GF for quite some time now, and although their company produces other products that are not GF, they have not had any issues with cross-contamination). I also inquired about the ability to purchase direct from them, which you can since they are one of the few manufacturers that will sell directly to the consumer as a benefit to persons that can not locate the product close to them. Moreover, if you call their customer service number (800-328-7656) you can order a 6-pack of 8-ounce cans on the phone with your Visa, and with shipping included in the price, it is only $22.50! ([Note: 2006 price; call them to get current rates] at $3.75/can, this is much cheaper than we were buying from our local store before - they were over $5/can there), and direct to your door!

I tend to stock a dozen or more cans at a time for friends and family that need a quick source for Almond Paste when they are doing their glutenless recipe baking, especially if they do not want to order 6 cans at a time.  Perhaps you can find a few fellow bakers that want to split an order.  I have to believe this stuff will last "forever" (years?) in the unopened cans. We use a can per month or more, but then again we do a lot of baking.

I plan to put eventually place a link to this article and to the Solo Foods site from our cookbook website. Although I would love to simply allow people to purchase a can of Almond Paste along with my recipe book, shipping makes that impossible, so it is best to get it in the supermarket or direct from Solo Foods. I know we use it in our wonderful Pecan Pie / Tart, and a few other tasty gluten free dessert recipes. It really adds a nice flavor to so many recipes.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Monday, December 04, 2006

What do 3 TONS of cookbooks look like?



Better yet, what does your body feel like after moving 3 tons of recipe books to your basement? From (very recent) first hand experience, I can tell you: not good! I do not even want to know what I will feel like tomorrow. Thankfully, the work was spread between three of us - me, my wife, and our daughter. We had a decent system for moving the cookbooks from the garage to the basement worked out, and created a rudimentary "slide" to quickly get cartons down the steps. So, one person at the top, another placing them on the slide, and another loading a hand-truck at the bottom to transport to the storage racks. Then, getting them from the hand-truck onto the racks. Oh, what a workout! What have I gotten us into?

The next thing is knowing that we'll have to move some of these same boxes out shortly to take to, or mail to, our retailers, and to everyone on our pre-orders list that is waiting for their gluten-free desserts book to arrive just in time to make some delicious treats for Christmas and the holidays. But, at least the cookbooks are out of the way, and we can get an automobile back in the garage.

After being nearly 2.5 weeks late from the shipping company (arghh!), I feel a huge sense of relief and satisfaction knowing that the cookbooks are now in our hands, and the glutenfree/celiac population that is eagerly awaiting them will soon also feel some gratification when they get their hands on one. I apologize to anyone that has found the waiting as tough as I have -- when/if we reprint another batch, I'll allow more time for delivery issues (and, hire some teenagers to move the books).

So, it seems we have a seriously busy week ahead of us getting these things out to everyone. I think the post-office will love me, though anyone behind me in line at the post-office waiting to send holiday gifts is going to absolutely hate me (as I take a long time in front of them)! :)

For those of you overseas that have asked about ordering online -- give me a couple more days to get the international shipping rates updated and implemented. The only international destination ready to go right now is Australia for quantity-one shipments only (that was my "test case" where a very patient Australian has helped me work through the process). I'll soon be ready for Canada, UK/Great-Britain, Germany and a few others. Just need to figure out how much the rates to each location will be; of course the "flat rate" package the post-office had for international would not quite fit the book!

As I type this gluten free blog entry, I think that tomorrow may well be a good day to do some "desk work"... anything non-physical, as I already feel the exertion really taking hold in my knees, lower back, and elbows. I know what will help, at least for a few minutes: a nice gluten-free dessert/snack; perhaps even going overboard and eating some celebratory Haagen Dasz ice cream!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What could be better than Almond Milk?

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Milk : Yum!

Chocolate Almond Milk (whether sweetened or unsweetened variety), of course, what a great idea! I have used Blue Diamond's gluten-free regular or vanilla Almond Milk (Almond Breeze line of products) for some time on cereal in the morning, and I find it just as tasty as Soymilk for this type of thing. In fact, I overwhelmingly prefer Soy or Almond Milk to regular milk when it comes to my cereal. I find the nutty flavor of either one really complements the flavor of whatever grains are in the cereal.

Chocolate Almond Milk Product Review

I just tried this gluten-free Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Chocolate Almond Milk a few hours ago, and, I must say, I really like it! I happened to see it for sale at Trader Joe's right alongside the other flavor I normally get, and I though - sure, why not give it a try. I am glad I did. The chocolate flavor and almond essence really come together for an overall great flavor. I can actually enjoy drinking it just for something different - and, it is another way to get a bit more calcium in the diet (or whatever other excuse I can find to get more chocolate into my diet) :)

I don't plan to start pouring the chocolate variety over my morning cereal, but I will keep it around for something to drink when I just do not want water or juice. And, for anyone allergic to Soy and dairy, this may be exactly what you are looking for in a milk-replacement. As an added bonus, it is gluten free!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Glutino Sans Gluten Sesame Bagel Review

Glutino brand gluten-free sesame bagels, toasted, with almond butter

Glutino Gluten-Free Sesame Bagel Review

I am celebrating today with a wonderful Glutino Sans Gluten Sesame Bagel, or what they ended up calling Glutino Gluten Free Premium Sesame Bagels (in some year after I originally wrote this review).  I toasted this bagel up, as pictured above, with some Roasted-Almond Butter as a topping. I definitely recommend these bagels. I prefer them toasted (like many GF products), but the textures and such is really pretty decent when toasted. It's not a Panera Bread fresh bagel by any means, but it really isn't that much different than a normal frozen bagel. These glutenfree bagels hold up rather well in the fridge too — in fact, I have had this one in there for at least 4 or 5 weeks, and it was fine toasted.

What am I celebrating with this lovely toasted GF bagel today?

GOOD NEWS: My printed gluten-free recipe cookbooks have arrived at the nearby Cleveland warehouse — they are delivering the books to me on Monday. Funny thing is they are literally a block away from a friend's house that I am going to visit today. I could walk from my friend's house to pick them up, but I have no vehicle capable of handling 3 tons of books. I tried to get the shipping company to allow me to pick up a few boxes today, but as expected, they won't let me take a partial load.

So, the time frame for getting the cookbooks and being able to send them out to customers is now a definite one. From here on I am to deal with local shipping contacts (no more LA contacts), and, I expect that will make life a bit easier! Snow if forecast for Monday, which will make moving the books more fun — and, of course, the entire week last week that the books were supposed to be here the weather was wonderful (sunny and 60's)!

Next, I have been contemplating a book-launch party for sometime in the next couple weeks. We have quite a few friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances that were involved in our recipe trials and such, that is just seems appropriate to have some kind of celebration and get-together. I have a feeling this is going to be a challenge when competing against all the company Christmas parties and the like. Worst case is I can push it off until January I guess.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oats update, recipe variation post, and more.

For anyone that is interested in knowing how the gluten-free oats consumption is going, I thought it was a good time to provide an update. I have been eating the certified gluten-free oats for breakfast every few days now. I started with a quarter-cup uncooked, and worked up to 1/2 cup uncooked at a time now. I have consumed them a total of 4 times now. In general, I did not notice any particular issues. But, today, whether coincidentally or not, I have had these stabbing pains in my upper-stomach area (just below my sternum) on and off all day, and the pain is worse when I take a deep breath or lean backwards and stretch my mid-section.

I have not had problems with the Oats thus far, and I really have no idea if the pains are from my body not taking well to the oats today, or if it is from the post-Thanksgiving over-consumption routine :) So, not quite sure what to make of things. I will still have the oats again over the next few weeks I am certain, and I will see if any pattern emerges. I'd say there is a good chance I ate something else that I should not have recently. Time will tell.

Aside from that, I had a reader who tried our Artisan Style Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Bread send me an email message to tell us how wonderful and "awesome" the bread was! Needless to say, we are thrilled whenever someone thoroughly enjoys our recipes. The reader also sent me information about how she adapted the recipe to a dairy-free (and even egg-free) variation. See the comments under the above link -- I posted her variation description there, and I will (sooner or later) post it on the book-site.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving - gluten-free and wheat-free of course! And, I hope to have more time to get back to writing new blog entries over the coming weeks. I have a few recipes I really want to get out for Christmas season, including a Panettone Bread (my daughter's creation), and some other nice recipes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free Cornbread Stuffing / Dressing Recipe

Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free Cornbread Stuffing / Dressing Recipe

Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing / Dressing Recipe

This is a timely (though perhaps a bit last-minute) Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free Cornbread Stuffing / Dressing Recipe (with Cranberries) perfect for the Thanksgiving Holiday! Enjoy!

Corn Bread Ingredients:
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¾ Cup Cornmeal
  • ¼ Cup Glutinous Rice Flour
  • ½ Cup Sorghum Flour
  • ¼ Cup Flaxseed Meal
  • ½ Cup Water
Additional Stuffing Ingredients:
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2.5 Cups Diced Onion
  • 1 Cup Chopped Celery (approximately 2 stalks)
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • ½ Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Teaspoon Sage
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Chopped (can used dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chives
  • ¼ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • ½ Teaspoon Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1½ Cups Vegetable Broth*
  • NOTE: *Vegetable Broth used in recipe: Pacific Natural Foods -- Organic Vegetable Broth (Gluten Free)
Directions:
Start by creating the cornbread: In mixer, mix egg, sugar and vegetable oil on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add remaining cornbread ingredients and mix until combined. Pour corn bread into greased Pyrex 11 x 7 x 1.5 inch baking dish and cook in 425° oven for 15 minutes.

While corn bread is cooling, start preparing the additional stuffing ingredients. Place olive oil in large skillet that can be placed in the oven (if not using an oven proof skillet, the stuffing will need to be transferred to an oven safe casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray), cut up the onion and celery and place in the skillet (such as a cast iron skillet), cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender. Add minced garlic, cranberries, herbs and salt and pepper, cook for 2 additional minutes. Turn off heat.

Crumble the baked corn bread into the stuffing ingredients and mix gently.

In a bowl, combine vegetable broth and eggs, whisk together. Pour over corn bread/stuffing ingredients and gently mix until combined. Place all the mixed stuffing and additional ingredients into an oven-safe cast-iron frypan/skillet, and bake at 3750 for 45 minutes (again, if not using an oven safe skillet, place corn bread into an oven safe casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray).

Recipes to Enjoy during your Gluten-Free Thanksgiving: Stuffing and Pumpkin Bundt Cake!

These recipe should do the trick! The picture above shows the final product (some stuffing shown in our preferred baking equipment: a cast-iron fry-pan).

Note: I have added this recipe and a bonus holiday recipes to our online GF recipes library, here:


Other Cookbook Happenings...

I was a bit distracted this week when I got word from my Shipper that my recipe books, which were supposed to ship last week out of LA, were still sitting in a warehouse there instead! Oh, I had some choice words about that situation. It seems that, as of just a bit ago, the shipment has been "expedited" and released, but this puts the ETA a week later than expected.

I apologize to anyone waiting anxiously for their books, since I am now not supposed to have the new cookbooks in hand until next week (Nov. 30th). Needless to say, I am disappointed, since we, like every other person with a product to sell, wants to get our product out for the all important holiday season. Now, it seems I will miss the entire first week of that holiday rush, and my distributors/retailers are certainly going to miss out a bit. And here I thought I had ample slack time in our plans for anything like this.

Well, here's a happy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving to all my loyal readers! Best wishes and may your gluten-free feast be joyful and memorable!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A race to the finish line.

Time just seems to fly by, and not just when you are having fun! I have been working at a frenetic pace all week on getting the last issues worked out with my gluten-free recipes book sales website so I can actually accept online payment for the books when they show up (if on schedule) next week. I have completed the integration of online payment processing finally! Whew! It works for USA shipping-destinations at least, and aside from the few anomalous overseas pre-orders I have to figure out how to calculate shipping for yet (eek!), I think it is ready for business.

The finish line is near! Or, is it? It seems this is just the beginning, as I now have to process all the preorders that stacked up over the past few months, and then deliver books to various retail locations (at least the ones close enough to drive to) in time for the all important holiday shopping season. I still plan to put a web-page up that lists the various retail distributors, and that should start taking shape next week or soon thereafter.

I also need to work out a better arrangement with the good old US Post Office too - since, according to one worker there thusfar, I will need to take every single book to the Post Office to send (they claim that due to new security regulations, I can not put anything over a pound out in the mailbox for delivery - each recipe book will have to "pass over the counter" at the Post Office)!

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving next week, simply for a time to relax (at least for a day). My wife has been busy creating some new dessert recipes I will get to posting soon too -- hopefully in time for Thanksgiving, since a couple are really a nice match for the holiday: a gluten-free pumpkin Bundt cake (it was darn good!), and some nice muffins featuring pumpkin, cranberry, walnuts, apples, and a few other things. And, they are both gluten-free and dairy-free! (trying to be conscious of that crowd too these days).

I also have tried a few new gluten-free baking products and gluten-free foods recently that I hope to blog about. I want to give recommendations where a product merits it - and, I have found a few items I really like.

One notable product I tried was "Mary's Gone Crackers" Original variety - a very crispy and hearty cracker with a sort of nutty flavor. Wheat-free, Gluten-free and organic, featuring whole grain brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds and brown sesame seeds, with no added fat. I ate some with a type of Indian Relish I really like (which I normally will serve over rice), and they were excellent together! I plan to try some Garlic Hummus on them soon too - yum!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gluten-Free Garlic, Pepper, and Herb Quinoa Recipe


Quinoa with Garlic, Pepper, and Herbs : Gluten-Free Dish

Quinoa: the wonderful Gluten-Free Grain

Another day, another recipe. I may have mentioned this dish before, since it is a favorite of mine. Simple to make, and should be "Safe" for not just gluten-free/celiac-disease folks, but also for the casein-free, corn-free crowd too.

Here's a link to the Gluten-Free Garlic, Pepper, and Herb Quinoa Recipe (as pictured above).

I like this quinoa dish both as a main course and as a delicious side dish. I have been wondering, in fact, whether or not this quinoa could be prepared as such and then used to stuff a turkey? I have created gluten-free quinoa-stuffed poblano peppers, so why not? I don't see why it would not work. Though, perhaps it is best to just serve this as a side-dish in place of stuffing and not worry about actually placing it inside a turkey - since there is probably little benefit other than perhaps keeping the turkey more moist and having some turkey flavor permeate the quinoa. Oh, just thinking as I type by gluten free entry of the day in my blog again.

For anyone that cares about the "healthfulness" of quinoa, I did a prior blog entry on quinoa
where I discuss the protein and fiber content and such. It really is an awesome gluten-free grain, and I have seen the grain gain more attention and popularity lately - even our latest issue of Cooking Light has a quinoa dish in it, which thrilled me.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll Recipe


Laura's Incredible Gluten-Free Pumpkin Roll Recipe

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll Recipe : Awesome!

I promised this Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll Recipe a while back, and finally got around to posting it on my cookbook website. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this may be a recipe a few readers would like to try out. My wife adapted a pre-gluten-free-days version of a pumpkin-roll recipe that her grandmother often made around the holidays.

And, much like the original pumpkin roll recipe, this wheat-free and GF version has plenty of pumpkin and spice flavor throughout, all coupled with a creamy sweet cream cheese filling.

I have a few more Thanksgiving and Holiday gluten-free recipes, both here on this blog and over on the cookbook website. These include things like a Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake, a Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free Pumpernickel Bread, and many other goodies.  Laura has been so busy baking and being utterly creative in the kitchen lately, and I must say that I am very much enjoying sampling all these treats.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Baker's Edge pan review - with pictures



I recently purchased a new specialized baking pan called The Baker's Edge in order to try out a some gluten-free recipes baking in a pan that is basically "crust optimized". Now, why would anyone want a pan that produces much more crust (or edge) surface area than a regular baking pan? For a variety of reasons actually!

First of all, I love the crust on breads, brownies, and so forth - in fact, in must be a genetic predisposition to those chewier and crunchier edges, because, I recall how while growing up there was always a battle between my father and I to see who could first lay claim to the edges and crusts. There is just something special about the consistency of those edges where sugars have so perfectly caramelized to form a crispy, crunchy, and/or chewy surface. The innate appeal of a chewy brownie crust extends far beyond my own family, as I have witnessed quite a few others similarly drawn to that prized corner brownie square at parties.

The good news is that the rare corner brownie, or end-crust piece, is no longer rare when using The Baker's Edge. In fact, that is the whole point of the pan -- to maximize the proportion of edges & crusts throughout a dish. This works great for brownies, cakes, breads, and even dishes like lasagna.

My second attraction to the pan has to do specifically with gluten-free baking. For anyone that has any experience baking without gluten (i.e., without "normal" flour - meaning: no wheat, rye, or barley products allowed), as most anyone with a wheat-intolerance or Celiac Disease would have, there is a challenge to getting some recipes to come out as nice as their gluten-containing/wheat-containing counterparts. Since gluten is the protein that adds elasticity and binding capacity to standard wheat flour, baking without gluten means getting recipes to hold together without that all important intrinsic stickiness that gluten contributes to the chemistry of a recipe.

The typical option gluten-free recipes rely on is added vegetable/plant gums (like Guar, Xanthan, etc) to mimic the elasticity that gluten would otherwise add. If you do not wish to use added gums, one of the best things you can do is maximize the ratio of crust in your dish, since the caramelization of sugars and such that occurs at the edges of your baked goods also adds much-needed binding capacity and outside-edge rigidity to help your foods hold together well.

This is where The Baker's Edge pan can be quite advantageous to glutenfree baking: by maximizing the amount of crust area throughout your entire dish. The pan is shaped a bit like a maze, or a giant "M" shape, with its back and forth trenches. My wife tried the pan out with chocolate brownies and biscuits; each worked quite well in the pan. As you can see here, the brownie has all sorts of edge-area, with each brownie that you cut having at least two edges that are nice and crunchy/chewy.



In addition to having the promised extra edges, the brownie (if left whole) is bound to garner some attention for its rather unusual shape. In this case, I have the luxury of telling everyone the giant "M" stands for "Mike" of course :) I liked the resulting brownies quite a bit, as there was no shortage of that coveted prize: the corner brownie!

Likewise with the biscuits - no shortage of crust here!



Here are my overall observations of The Baker's Edge in general and in regards to glutenfree baking:
  • It is a well built pan. Sturdy construction of heavy gauge aluminum that is coated with a wonderfully effective non-stick surface.
  • Price: it currently costs $37.00 (that includes shipping), which is certainly more than the price of a standard bread pan, but it compares favorably with other high-quality specialty pans.
  • It is simple to clean! Even though it has a maze-like layout, the interior corners are all smoothly rounded and clean easily. Although you can get "maximum crust" by simply baking your recipes in muffin pans or mini-loaf pans, there is no comparison when it comes to cleanup time: The Baker's Edge pan wins easily when compared to cleaning all those individual muffin cups and such. No contest.
  • Bake times have to be adjusted a bit, since all those interior surface areas also decrease the bake time a bit. When we use the pan for a recipe, we will note the new bake times on our recipes for anyone else using a Baker's Edge.
  • The pan's internal volume is optimized for standard cake-pan recipes - so, you don't have to adjust your brownie or cake batter up/down to fit the pan.
  • As mentioned earlier, the final food product sure has a unique look that is bound to get attention at a party or event.
  • Although the pan comes with a cute little serving spatula that fits perfectly within the "maze" sections to remove your foods, if you have a thicker dough/batter to distribute throughout the pan, it is a bit of a challenge getting your product to be evenly dispersed throughout all the channels. This is not a huge bother, but it will help if you have a spatula about the width of the grooves. In all, it still takes less time to distribute your batter/dough throughout the channels than it would to fill a dozen or more mini pans.
  • Gluten-free foods do certainly benefit from the additional surface area and tend to come out with more texture and substance. Yes, you could use a bunch of little pans to accomplish similar results, but this is much simpler.
The bottom line: The Baker's Edge works as promised, holds equal promise for gluten-free baking, and is bound to be a crust-aficionado's delight! I certainly enjoy the results we achieved.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We finally bought an ice-cream maker.



We have considered purchasing an ice cream maker for nearly 15 years now it seems, and each time we contemplated it, we decide that we would not get enough use out of one to make it worth the bother. Well, yesterday that changed.

We finally gave in and purchased one - a simple $50 Cuisinart model where you freeze the bowl part of the machine for a few hours (6 or so is recommended), and then put the frozen bowl into the electric-powered machine once you have your ingredients ready to pour into the bowl and turn the thing on for 20-25 minutes. Our first experiment was Italian Lemon Ice (pictured above), and oh my god is it so good. Much better than any I have purchased pre-made.

Note: I placed some gluten-free frozen dessert recipes on my website now, including:


Recipe and method to make your own delicious Lemon Ice

The formula is so simple:
You dissolve 2 cups of sugar into 2 cups of water on the stovetop (only heat as much as needed to dissolve sugar easily). While that is cooling, zest and juice a pile of fresh Lemons until you have 1.5 Cups of fresh-squeezed juice, and a couple tablespoons of lemon zest. Mix that into the sugar/water.

Now place that (room temperature) mixture into the machine, and run it for 20-25 minutes. Then, place the (rather soft) lemon ice in the freezer to firm up the rest of the way.

Ahhh... how refreshingly tangy and sweet and satisfying the end result is! Glutenfree, wheat-free, dairy-free... but, not sugar free of course :)

The inspiration for this purchase is twofold. First, we have seen a lot of The Food Channel personalities making ice-cream and/or frozen desserts lately (nearly as many as are pushing alcoholic beverages of recent), and second, I ran across this vegan ice cream blog yesterday that had so many wonderful ice cream (well, vegan - so iced soymilk or such) & flavored ice recipes... that pushed me over the top. Check that site out... nearly everything is GF from what I could tell.

Since the original lemon ice creation, my wife has created a chocolate-blackberry ice-cream in the mixer. Still gluten-free, but not dairy-free needless to say (the recipe called for heavy cream). And, it too is just oh so good! Perhaps not good for you, but who is making icecream for the health benefits anyhow? (though, that vegan ice cream surely should not be TOO bad for you aside from the sugar)

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

GlutenFree Oats for Breakfast (certified gluten free)

Yes, you read correctly! I have eaten gluten-free oats for breakfast today!

It has been so long since I had any oats, and I must say, they tasted darn good! There has been a lot of controversy about whether or not oats are gluten-free, and whether oats are safe in a Celiac diet. This was one of the topics discussed at the Columbus Celiac Conference this prior weekend, and the bottom line from the latest in scientific and medical research is simple: oats themselves are gluten-free by nature; it is only any cross-contamination (with gluten-containing grains) that would render oats anything other than gluten free (GF).

I have been following the back-and-forth arguments about whether oats are "safe" for a long time now - years in fact. And, with this latest information, coupled with the availability of certified gluten-free oats, I finally have given in and tried oats again. At the conference, one of the vendors this year was a certified gluten free oats grower called Gifts of Nature, Inc. They had a supply of oats on hand and were selling 2.75lb (44 ounce) bags for about $10/bag (i.e., $3.63/lb!). A bit steep for oats! But, they are independently certified free of cross-contamination and all. Even at this price, they easily sold out their entire stock before day's end at the conference. I guess I am not the only one that so badly wants the taste (and health benefits) of oats back in my diet.

I did try earlier in the year to order some GF Oats from another place online, but when I did, the vendor was out of stock for a couple months or more (due to super-high demand). What I expect to see happen is this: 1) short-term prices will remain high, or perhaps even spike higher with increased demand; 2) other suppliers will start popping up all over the place as they see how they can turn a piece of fallow land into a serious cash-maker by producing certified gluten-free oats (compared to very low prices for standard oats - which I can get for 40-cents/lb or less at retail in some places yet)... $3.63/lb is nearly 10 times the price for essentially the same commodity; 3) at this gold-rush kicks in over time, the supply will finally exceed demand, lowering prices. This will likely take 10 years or more to play out, but one way or the other, it will happen given enough time.

So, I just consumed my oats about 1/2 hour ago. I took it light -- 1/4 Cup uncooked this time. I want to see how my system takes to these things before I start ramping up. Other conference attendees that had tried the GF oats before all said to start out with small amounts and work up. Most had good experiences and were able to tolerate them if they started small and worked up. So, that is where I am at too. I'll report in on the outcome over time.

Now, one thing I have been waiting a long time to make again are a couple recipes I really love: Oatmeal Cookies (I have a nearly-perfect gluten free oatmeal cookie recipe we left out of our book due to the potential "controversy" about oats) and another thing I called the Triple-Oat-Energy-Bar (I use Rolled-Oats, Oat-Flour, and Steel-Cut Oats) that is sort of a really hearty granola bar. I have not had either one for at least a couple years. When I first went gluten-free, I was tolerating oats yet, but that ability slowly went away until I could not eat them. That was in the days of non-certified-GF oats, so I really hope these certified gluten-free oats make the difference and bring back some of my favorite Oat recipes (oh, and my mother has this rather tasty oat-flour chocolate cake recipe too). If all goes well, I will bring all these recipes back out of the archives and put them online for others.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Columbus Celiac Conference and more...

My wife and I attended the Columbus, Ohio Celiac Conference the weekend, and it was an interesting experience for us. This was our first time attending the conference, and it provided us with a great chance to meet people and make contacts within the Celiac and Glutenfree community. Some educational information was acquired while there too. But, the one thing that seemed to generate the most excitement among all attendees was the fact that quite a few vendors catering to the Celiac/Gluten-Free population were there peddling their foods and related products.

When we first arrived, there were very long lines for a few things in particular. One of the most popular items were the Gluten Free donut holes by Celiac Specialties out of Chesterfield, Michigan. I had not eaten a donut in so many years (not that I am a huge fan of donuts) that I figured I would try one - I purchased a box of them, and I found the taste and texture to be unbelievably realistic! It was 90% like the real thing! Kudos to Celiac Specialties on that achievement. And, their donuts can be stored frozen - which explained the long line of people stocking up. We had heard that in prior years they sold out quickly, and that of course increased the demand further.

Another popular vendor was Everybody Eats from Brooklyn, New York. They had samples out of Gluten-Free French Bread, a thin-crust Pizza, and even Cinnamon Rolls. I must say, these guys (literally two guys own the company) appear to be at the top of their game. Their products were amazingly like the "real" (gluten-containing) versions. From what I understand, they actually deliver products to households throughout the NYC area, and they distribute through a few stores in the region as well. I just wish I was closer to their delivery-zone so I could get some of their products without the mega-shipping charges I would otherwise have to incur (yes, the do ship items from what I was told - 2-day FedEx or such).

Next, we met Anna from Breads from Anna (formerly Manna from Anna). Anna is a wonderful person and incredibly nice. She was there with her sister (also extremely nice) demonstrating and selling her various bread-mixes. Her breads convinced me that my prior experience with bean flours (leading to grainy texture) was not a problem for her at all -- she uses bean flours in her bread mixes and they are wonderful. She has mixes that are free of basically every major allergen as well. We talked quite a bit, and I will be working a cross-linking promotion to her website from my book-site, and she plans to do the same in return. This should be nice for both of us. And, she purchased a copy of my book (one of the few I had with me)... I still need to get one to her sister once I have more.

We met people from the Raisin Rack in Columbus, as well as persons from some other retail stores catering to gluten-free persons. After showing them our book and discussing options for how we can have our Gluten-Free Desserts Book featured in these various stores, it looks like we will have no problem finding distributors to help us move our books. We may even work out some book-signing promotional events at a few places. Needless to say, we are absolutely ecstatic about all this opportunity! (though, more WORK is implied by all these -- oh, I feel overwhelmed).

Speaking of work -- I now owe quite a few people all sorts of information. Some want flyers to pass out at upcoming Celiac events. Others want us to provide artwork that they can incorporate into newsletters, and so on! I know this is all good, but I also know it means more work that I need to fit into my already packed schedule. And here I thought selling books would be a way to wind down a bit and relax - think again!

Now, back to the conference assessment. My one major complaint (shared by many that I spoke with) was about the lunch that was served at the conference. It was sad, and surely not even remotely adventuresome for a GF menu. Here's the menu:
  • Plain Chicken Breast with diced tomatoes on top. And, I mean plain! It was like they boiled or steamed the chicken breasts. Sad.
  • Green Beans with plenty of butter and salt. Though, these were the best part of lunch, they were a bit salty for me.
  • Rice Pasta (overcooked - mushy) with the same diced-tomatoes from the chicken. Really now, doesn't anyone know how to at least cook a decent spaghetti sauce?? Sad!
  • And, last, and worst... the dessert. My god, if they would have contacted me I would have eagerly assisted/advised on how to produce some wonderful desserts for everyone! They had brownies and blondies (light-colored brownies). The Brownies were road-asphalt - and just as hard! Overbaked, bad flavor, and they could be used for weapons since they were so hard. The blondies were just not good either: grainy, and not much for flavor. Seriously, next year I want to help them get that part of the lunch right!
The crowd started clearing out considerably after lunch. Perhaps because lunch made them ill? he he he. Actually, it seems many persons come for the vendors, and attend a speaking event or two, do lunch, and then leave.

All attendees recieved a "goodie bag" of various sample products. I already found one good one in the mix: GF Turkey Jerky by Shelton's Poultry in Pomona CA. The show also had various manufacturer's reps showing their goods, and plenty of samples to be had -- which, with Glutenfree foods is a wonderful thing, since you can try something without wasting $5+ to find out something sucks (which does happen a lot!). I tried some boxed cookies and crackers I had to pitch in the garbage (one cracker was like styrofoam), and then I tried other pretzels and crackers/chips that were really good. I hope to do a full product-review of some of the better ones I encountered.

Last, but certainly not least, I must thank Sande from Butler, PA for all her help at the event! Sande helped my wife and I by way of introducing us to Anna and others that she knew at the show, and as if that was not enough, she took one of our books around along with business-cards and showed it off to many of the conference attendees. Sande has a great personality and is very outgoing and engages in conversation with others easily, which is a huge plus for this kind of thing. And, it seems she has a very strong background as an executive in the marketing field (who would have guessed!). She was their with her husband and daughter (all equally nice) this year, and I am guessing we will meet up with them again in the future at other CD/GF events around the area.

Well, I could write more, but my wrists and fingertips are going numb using the keyboard now. So, that's the quick summary of things! I'm sure I will think of other important noteworthy things - they'll just have to wait for a later posting on my gluten free blog.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Snow accumulating in Cleveland

Is it just me, or is it just too darn early for snow to actually be heavy enough to accumulate?! It is November 3rd, and the forecasted low temperature is around 22 degrees F, and lake-effect snow is in the forecast as well. We actually have about an inch on the ground here now, and some areas around us have 4 or more from what we have heard. This is not what I want the beginning of November to look like. Reminds me of last year -- cold November, then warm (very warm) December, though December this year will have to prove itself equally warm for me to consider it a valid reprieve from this (premature) cold spell.

We have a gluten-free / Celiac Disease conference to attend in Columbus tomorrow, and I surely better not be snowed in when I am ready to leave for the event! I doubt I have to worry, but it is just strange to even need to think about the possibility of such a thing this early in the year.

As always, the only good thing about bad weather is how I tend to get much more work on the computer-based activities done. I have made significant strides in getting my online TOC (Table of Contents) for my book up and running. All the recipe preview pictures are there, and I am working on PDFs to go with them (not that the PDFs show much extra). I figured since I made some PDFs for the GoogleBooks effort, I would upload and link to them while at it.

Here's hoping tomorrow is snow-free so I make it to the Gluten-Free event on time! :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Extended life - for mice only?

Have you heard the latest research news on attempts to extend lifespan in mice? Researchers have succeeded in doing so by giving the mice large amounts of a molecule called resveratrol (a compound derived from plants put under stress; and, which occurs in red wines). The findings were remarkable in that not only did mice on the resveratrol supplement live longer, the effects of aging, in nearly all categories, were diminished even when the mice were put on high calorie diets!

Oh, if only they could get this available for humans.

First of all, I, like most people, certainly find the prospects of living 30% longer rather interesting, especially if that extra lifespan is a healthy one. And, that "high calorie" diet thing, with no ill effects... oh, the possibilities! :)

Here is a link to the reveratrol molecule and mice life-extension findings. It is worth a read. Fascinating to say the least! I thought I heard elsewhere that the concentration of resveratrol the scientists were giving mice would be the equivalent of us drinking 100 bottles of red wine a day... so, I guess drinking wine to get such effects is just a bit out of the question.

I know this doesn't have much to do with gluten-free diets or anything, but I thought it interesting enough to share.

Now, back to work. Just finished uploading my book PDF to GoogleBooks for inclusion in their online book-search, and hoping that gets setup properly without any more involvement. I'll probably make the same file(s) available on my website within the next few days. Needless to say, I stripped out the actual recipe/directions text from the book, and included only sample-images, but it should give people a decent feel for what recipes are in the new gluten free desserts book. So much to do, so little time... oh, if only I could get some of that mouse-potion, I could get 30% more time!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween - carve your pumpkins!




We really like making gluten free desserts from Pumpkins, but, to be quite honest, we "cheat" and use the canned pumpkin - it is just so much easier. There are pumpkins that are especially good for pumpkin pie filling, but those pumpkins are not the type you will see most often around Halloween for decorative purposes. When you go to create you Jack-o-Lantern, chances are you have a much larger variety that would probably not be optimal for baking with.

We acquired our pumpkins (pictured above) from farmers an hour South of us, and a couple from local stores once they were marked down the last few days before Halloween - most were only a couple bucks. We had beautiful weather here in Ohio Sunday and Monday this week (versus the rain/snow mix that has plagued most of October), so we carved our pumpkins and lit them up last night.

That is part of what has been keeping us busy, but only a small part. I have taken time to begin the migration of this gluten free blog to the new Blogger Beta so I could use "labels" to better categorize my postings over time, and be able to group things like "Recipes", "News", and so forth. Should make life easier for readers.

On the gluten free recipes side of things, my wife has been busy as always. In fact, she created a perfect fall-holiday dessert we will soon publish the recipe for: gluten-free pumpkin roll! Mmmmmm! Delicious! I have not had a pumpkin roll in ages; in fact, not since I went GF quite some time ago. The problem was always getting the gluten free version of the recipe to handle the rolling up step, since without gluten it does not have the elasticity that a normal pumpkin roll would have. Well, Laura has done it, and with minimal added Xanthan Gum. And, the flavor is quite similar to any good pumpkin roll I can remember.

While she works on recipes, I have been trying to eradicate the fall leaves that have piled up in the yard. That has been a non-stop adventure. No sooner do I have them cleaned up, then a whole new wave of them come down. And, we have well over a hundred trees in the yard, so this is no small pile I am talking about - the resulting pile is the larger than my dining room. I pile them up in the back of the yard to make compost material for the garden/flower-beds. Every year the pile starts out huge, and then reduces to about a foot or two deep as it decomposes. And, yes, the Halloween pumpkins will end up on that same pile in a few weeks. Call it recycling on a grand scale. :)

In addition, I have been working on our website and other aspects of the book-sale preparations. Not much is visible online perhaps, but hopefully that will change in the coming week. Our online recipe collection has been increasing, and plenty more are on the way as we have time to post them. In addition to the pumpkin-roll, we have a nice quinoa dish, plus some roasted peppers and garlic, and our daughter even created an interesting and tasty Panettone style bread (a sweeter bread with dried fruit and nuts in it).

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Recipe - gluten free and dairy free Buckwheat Bread




Life has been a bit busy lately. But, Laura has managed to produce another bread recipe worth publishing on the web. This one is a gluten free and dairy free Buckwheat Bread (pictured above). I like it, and my parents like it, and everyone that has tried it likes it thus far. It uses light buckwheat to obtain a rather mild flavor, along with a bit of Flax and some SoyMilk.

I have eaten it plain, toasted, and even with a chocolate-hazelnut spread on top (which all really went well together). There are now a solid four bread recipes in our repertoire, which gives me some nice variety. More on the way too. Next planned one is a Cinnamon-Raisin bread (mmmmmmm! I miss that bread).

Off to pick up a few hundred shipping boxes for the books now. Thankfully Cleveland still has some local manufacturing capacity, and I found a very reasonably priced box-manufacturer here in town that doesn't mind selling to me direct if I pick up at their site in person, and though I have purchased smaller quantities than usual for them, they gave me an excellent pricing discount so I stick with them as operations grow.

Another thing that is slowing our book-company progress is the darn Patriot Act. How, you say? Well, read my blog entry about Patriot Act insanity if you want details. Basically, the new law makes it nearly impossible to quickly add a "dba" (doing business as) to an existing company. So, more government bureaucracy in the way of progress! Argghhh! In the mean time, or for good if I don't get this resolved, I will have to take payments for the book under my existing Software Company's Name instead of "SureTalent Books" (the "dba" name). Lame! But, oh well.

My wife and I have been trying out this nifty little specialty pan recently, called the Baker's Edge, which maximizes crust-surface-area through a unique maze-like design. I'm doing a full review on it in the next few days - so stay tuned for results and pictures.

Off to real "work" for the day now!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

GF Foods Discount Bounty Day!



Today offered a few wonderful surprises for me. One of them was an unexpected bounty of heavily discounted gluten-free products. I was just up at my local health food store discussing strategies for selling my new book there, when the owner mentioned that another regional health food store was going out of business. And, since he had been in talks with the other owner about taking over their customer-base, he told me how the store was liquidating their merchandise if I got there today.

Talk about good timing! So, I made a trip the Stess-Less Gourmet in Strongsville (the one going out of business) to discover there was still a rather decent inventory of gluten-free products for the picking -- all at HALF OFF! Oh, I was like the proverbial kid in a candy-store! I left with my car's trunk full of gluten free foods and related products that are otherwise just so expensive. Even the famed Larabar (energy-bar style treat) was a half-off item, and since I had never purchased one before due to the $1.79/bar price, I tried one right on the spot and then loaded up on the chocolate/coconut/date variety (it was rather tasty).

I continued this opening/tasting of things I had not ever tried before (due to the potential risk of paying a lot, and not liking it), with the store manager's approval (since I said I'd pay for anything I opened). Oh, what a wonderful day to try things! So, I found a few new products I liked, and a couple I did not. The ones I did like - I bought the entire inventory of. In fact, that picture above doesn't even start to show the pile. I purchased all the Quinoa grain (a favorite of mine), a good amount of the flours and starches (like Amaranth, buckwheat, and more), all of the cereals that I liked (gluten free cereal is so ridiculous otherwise - and now it was the price of "normal" cereal), and anything else I knew I could use. Heck, even the Silk Soymilk was 1/2 off and cheaper than anywhere else I could get it.

Another bit of good news is that my normal store (Vital Choice) is taking on the business from the other store (which was only 6 miles away), and my store is selling my books too. So, a new crowd of regional people will have a retail opportunity to buy my book now. Overall: an excellent day!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday, exciting Monday! Recipe Books arrival!

Mondays are not always the best day of the week, but for me, this Monday is going to be hard to beat. Just a bit ago, I saw the DHL Courier Van backing up into my driveway, and I thought "could it be?" I was not expecting my first book copies until the end of this week, or early next week, but I also did not expect any other shipments.

Yes, the delivery was my first 12 advance copies of our new Gluten Free Desserts book! I was jumping for joy, but I had to do so alone since everyone else was already out and about for the day. Had I known the books would arrive early, perhaps I would have had company during my mini celebration. Regardless, I am excited and very much pleased with the results.

Up until now, I have had a good feel for what the final book would look like, but the book was always in pre-assembled form, which left a bit to the imagination. But, not any more. It is now here in its full-color glory, and looks like I had envisioned. I called my mother and let her know the good news, and I am planning a whole bunch of activity for the day now -- I need to go show some area health food store owners (since they agreed to sell the book for me sight unseen), and pay some visits to friends and family and so on. Oh the excitement!

The only down-side to this is that it really makes me think about how much more work I have to do in order to fully support this gluten-free book sales operation. I have roughly a month until the remaining couple thousand books arrive. And, I still don't have the payment-processing up and running on the web (though, banks and vendors tell me it only takes a week or two after I decide which vendor I am going with), I still have to convert the book to "preview" format for Google-Books (I am partially done, but much more effort required), and so much more. So, now I am struggling with the intense dichotomy of excitement and a semi-overwhelming feeling of how much work I have ahead of me.

On that note, I think I just need to go exercise a bit and burn off some excitement energy, and warm up my brain for all the work I have ahead of me. At least the weather outside lately has been cold and damp... that'll motivate me to stay inside and work perhaps. :)