2014-07-25 Fabulous Friday Finds

Flower of a Sarracenia rosea (carniverous pitcher plant) near Wellesley College's Paramecium Pond

Flower of a Sarracenia rosea (carniverous pitcher plant) near Wellesley College’s Paramecium Pond

Salsa is awesome, right? I prefer making something that’s more interesting than standard tomato salsa, since I can still buy that, and this jicama, mango, and avocado salsa fits that bill. I think this would be great on fish, if you can do that, or just on its own, with all the colors and flavors and textures.

I can think of about 1000 variations on this blackberry-sage spritzer. I wonder how blueberry mint would be (since I have those both in the fridge)?

If you’ve got carrots you don’t know what you want to do with, our friend Mary S. sent me (Denise) this genius sounding recipe for Carrot Cardamom Confiture. It sounds right up my alley and it’s vegan and free of the top 8 allergens, and I can make it corn-free. 

Okay, this is a weird one, and I’d have to sub out the nutritional yeast and the coconut oil, but I’m still thinking I want to give it a go. I give you Zucchini Cheese, which is dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free (except for coconut, but there’s debate about that). I confess that I’m really, really curious about this. I’m wondering if I can do it with lard or olive oil and chickpea miso maybe in place of the nutritional yeast. 

Have a great week everyone!


WW: Homemade Olive Oil Soap

Homemade Olive Oil Soap

Homemade Olive Oil Soap. On the moon.

Back in June, Mary Kate and Denise met up at the far side of Mary Kate’s apartment complex parking lot, with a super-long outdoor extension cord, a garage sale crock pot, a can of olive oil, some devil lye, and safety googles.

Denise and Mary Kate put safety first.

Denise and Mary Kate put safety first.

We were there to make soap. Safely outdoors, away from cars and buildings and enclosed spaces, lye and water were mixed, added to olive oil, and cooked in the crock pot until done. Or until it sorta kinda maybe looked a little bit like the pictures Denise got off the internet. Then we dumped it in a baking dish, and Denise took it to her in-laws  – because soap needs to tour — before taking it home to cool completely.

Why make soap? Well, if you are Denise, there may be two soaps on the market that you might be able to use because the majority of soap is coconut oil-based. Add avoiding palm oil (because of cross-reaction possibilities with coconut allergies) and corn-derived ingredients, and good luck to you. If you’re Mary Kate, anything that involves mostly sitting around but also the possibility of destruction is good. Plus, there were safety googles.

The other reason is cost. Denise did the math when we were done: Her soap costs $26.78 for 64 oz (8 bars @ 8 oz each) which works out to 41 cents an ounce. The supplies for making this soap (not counting the equipment, which is reusable, and ran approximately $30 or so) cost $13.87 for 74.73 oz, which works out to 19 cents an ounce. It was also a few hours of fun.

Denise uses the soap for laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and shampoo, as well as for actual soap. This represents a significant cost savings. The olive oil soap is maybe not as pretty as commercial soap, but it works great and is gentle.

This soap is a “hot process” soap, meaning it uses heat to help the lye saponify (make into soap) the oil. There is also “cold process” soap, where time alone completes that reaction, and we do want to try that soon. The internet is full of recipes for soap, but this is the one we followed.

We made you a video. It’s really an automatic slide show of the photos we took set to music, and it runs about a minute. Enjoy (and be kind?).

(Because we have limited luck with embedding videos, here’s the link, too. Half the time, this works in previews; half the time it doesn’t.)

So this is what we do for fun. And then we fix it up and share it with you on the internet. If WE can make soap, so can you.





If I was going to a cookout B.F.A. (Before Food Allergies), one of the things I’d pick up is a bag of marshmallows to toast. With the corn allergy, that’s pretty much not an option these days. I’ve been pinning recipes on how to deal with this for about a year, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet because there were other things that were much more high priority. Plus it was going to be a significant effort because I’d have to make the cane sugar syrup to replace corn syrup and the powdered sugar (stuff at the store generally has corn starch in it) from scratch and that seems like a lot of steps in advance for so little a thing. But I’m going to a cookout in a week, and it seems like it’s finally time. Normally I’d list out the ingredients in the order that you’re going to use them, but since you’re going to have to make some ingredients ahead of time, I’ve listed those first.

Our friend Fred M. makes beautiful, ethereal, fluffy, light marshmallows, but I wanted these to stand up to getting stuck on a stick for toasting at the cookout so I upped the gelatin amount a bit in the recipes I found and tweaked. These marshmallows are a bit sturdy, but if you want them to be lighter with a little less structure, knock back the amount of gelatin by a tablespoon.



  • 1 1/4 cup of cane sugar syrup (You will need to make it ahead of time – there are two good recipes and I’ve used both before. The one from thekitchn.com makes about a quart, and the one from justapinch.com makes about two cups.) 
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (You will need to make it ahead of time – here’s a recipe from glutenfreegigi.com on how to do it. I used tapioca starch.) 
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or another extract might be fun, such as cinnamon (Here’s a bunch of recipes for vanilla extract, make sure to use safe alcohol if corn or wheat are an issue for you. I used Luksusowa Vodka because it’s made only from potatoes, where some vodkas may also use grain or corn. Also you can make cinnamon extract by using whole cinnamon sticks instead of vanilla beans. It’s totally killer in coffee.)
  • 4 Tablespoons of unflavored gelatin powder (Knox or Great Lakes are generally regarded as being okay if you’re not super sensitive to corn, again no affiliation with Amazon, just linking for reference)
  • 1 1/4 cups of cold water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups of cane sugar (make sure you use a safe-for-you brand)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch (You could also use potato or arrowroot starch, whatever’s safe for you)
  • safe-for-you-oil for greasing the pan or you can use the oil in an oil mister as well

Kitchen Stuff you will need:

  • Stand mixer with the whisk beater attached
  • candy thermometer that will clip on the side a saucepan
  • 3 or 4 quart saucepan
  • 9 x 13 baking pan or another flat container to spread out your marshmallows
  • a pizza cutter or a sharp knife
  • the normal assortment of bowls, measuring cups, spatulas, forks or whisks and so on

Grease or spray your baking pan with the oil. Use a paper towel to wipe the pan and make sure that every surface is coated in a thin layer of oil. Put the baking pan and a spatula next to your stand mixer, which should already have the whisk beater on it and your splatter guard ready to go.

Mix a 1/2 cup of cold water in a measuring cup along with the vanilla. Put the gelatin into the bowl of the stand mixer, and pour the water and vanilla mixture over it while whisking it with a fork or a small whisk. Mix until there are no lumps. Put the bowl back into your stand mixer and attach it.

Gelatin, water, and vanilla extract well mixed

Gelatin, water, and vanilla extract well mixed

Place your saucepan on the burner and clip your candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Add the rest of the water (3/4 of a cup), and add the cane sugar, cane sugar syrup and salt. Don’t stir it up.

water, sugar, cane sugar, syrup and salt with candy thermometer

water, sugar, cane sugar, syrup and salt with candy thermometer

Place the saucepan over high head and bring it to a rapid boil. Boil until the sugar mixture measures some where between 245ºF and 250ºF. Don’t let it go any higher than 250ºF. Take the saucepan off the burner and remove the candy thermometer.

Sugar mixture at a boil

Sugar mixture at a boil

Turn on the stand mixer to medium and CAREFULLY pour the sugar mixture down the side of the stand mixer bowl. There will be some bubbling, so go slowly. Also it will freaking burn and hurt if you spill it on yourself, so please don’t.

When all the sugar mixture is in the mixing bowl and is mixed to together, make sure your splatter guard is down and increase the mixing speed to high.  Continue to mix on high for 10 minutes. Make sure you do the full 10 minutes.

Whipping marshmallow mixture

Whipping marshmallow mixture

Once the ten minutes is up, do not dally, get the marshmallow mixture into the baking pan as fast as you can as it will start to cool really fast, and you want to be able to spread it out in the pan. Use a spatula to scrap out the bowl, but it’s really think and sticky, so you won’t get every bit out. Once it’s in the pan, spray or coat your hands with your oil and spread out the marshmallow evenly.

Marshmallows spread evenly in baking pan

Marshmallows spread evenly in baking pan

Let the marshmallows sit uncovered and at room temperature for 6 or more hours. Don’t let it go any longer than 24 hours though. Once they have cooled, mix your powdered sugar and tapioca starch in a bowl.

Powder sugar and tapioca starch mixture

Powder sugar and tapioca starch mixture

Take a large cutting board or cookie sheet and sprinkle some of the powdered sugar mix on it.  Then sprinkle the top of the marshmallow in the pan with the mixture and smooth it out over the surface. Flip the pan over onto your cutting board. Once you’ve got them out of the pan, sprinkle more of the mixture over the top of the marshmallow layer that was previously on the bottom of the pan.

Marshmallows powered before cutting

Marshmallows powered before cutting

Cut your marshmallows using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter into small squares.

Marshmallow pieces cut by pizza cutter

Marshmallow pieces cut by pizza cutter

Put each square in the bowl with the powdered sugar and tapioca and toss it until coated thoroughly. (If you have extra marshmallow coating afterwards, put it in a jar and use it the next time.)

Marshmallow being tossed in marshmallow coating

Marshmallow being tossed in marshmallow coating

Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. They’ll last for a couple weeks if you don’t eat them right away. Take them to your cookout and toast them. If you can’t wait you can use your stove burner and a bamboo skewer :)

Marshmallow toasted over stove burner

Marshmallow toasted over stove burner


2014-07-18 Fabulous Friday Finds

Teenage geese with their parents - think it was the first time I noticed seeing a teenage goose...

Teenage geese with their parents – think it was the first time I noticed seeing a teenage goose…

In food allergy news from the FARE Blog, researchers report that they have discovered the cause of eosinophilic eophagitis (EoE), a hard-to-treat food allergy. Go check out the article here.

In anticipation of getting some of the yummy peppers that our friend Mary is growing for me (Denise), I found this post on how to dry your own pepper flakes or powder in the oven. And while I was poking around for pepper things to do, I found this Homemade Hot Pepper Cream for Arthritis and Joint Pain. It could be interesting…but I’m kinda scared at the same time. 

Do you have too much zucchini or other squash? Or just enough? The spice mix in this Summer Quinoa Salad with Seared Zucchini and Chickpeas sounds different enough to make zucchini exciting again.

I’ve really enjoyed exploring some of the grains and recipes, many of which are gluten-free, featured on Naturally Ella (and her photography is impressive, too), but this round up of where to buy different grains and what to do with them seems like a really good place to start.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

WW: Toothpaste (Corn-Free and Coconut-Free)

Toothpaste (Corn-Free and Coconut-Free)

Toothpaste (Corn-Free and Coconut-Free)

Toothpaste has been a challenge because the commercial versions have corn or coconut or both in them. For a while, I was just using a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste, and it was gross. It worked to some extent, but I hated the taste every morning, and sometimes I cheated and used my husband’s toothpaste (which is a bad idea, don’t do that). Then I came up with the bright idea to put peppermint essential oil in my mix to see if it helped the taste. It tasted better, but the peroxide seemed to evaporate off quickly and/or the baking soda all settled to the bottom in a cement like layer. So then after playing on Pinterest and Google, I decided to try a batch with some bentonite clay in it, and I’d read something about clove essential oil being good for dental health, so I added them to the mix. This may be too much information, but you know how your teeth get sort of fuzzy with plaque as you go through the day? Well, I saw a drastic reduction in fuzzy buildup when using this toothpaste. At this writing, I brushed my teeth 8 hours ago and my teeth pretty much feel like I just had a cleaning at the dentist. I know that the toothpaste looks gross in the picture, but it seems to be working well. Let me know what you think.

Toothpaste (Corn-Free and Coconut-Free) 

Makes about a 4 ounce jar.

  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda (use a safe-for-you brand, some are corn-contaminated, watch out)
  • 2 Tablespoons bentonite clay (I used Living Clay, the Detox Clay Power)
  • 3 Tablespoons hydrogen peroxide
  • 3-4 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 3-4 drops of clove essential oil

Put your baking soda and clay in your jar.  Add the peroxide and mix it with the clay and baking soda until it is smooth. I used a Popsicle stick, but you could use a chopstick or a barbecue skewer or a fork, whatever will fit in the jar. Your mixture is going to want to bubble up and rise a bit from the reaction between the baking soda and peroxide. Mix it back down. Add the peppermint and clove essential oil and mix well. Cover your jar with a lid. I dip my toothbrush in the jar to get the toothpaste, but I’m fairly comfortable with being uncouth, and I’m not sharing my jar with anyone else. (If that bothers you, they have empty toothpaste tubes on Amazon, no affiliation, yada, yada, etc.) If the baking soda has not finished reacting to the peroxide, you might find that it has bubbled up again when you open it and it will look a bit dried. It isn’t, just mix it up again.

Toothpaste (Corn-Free and Coconut-Free)

Toothpaste (Corn-Free and Coconut-Free)

Enjoy reaction free clean teeth!

Vegan Sushi Rice Salad


Vegan Sushi Rice Bowl, raw veg and soy-free sauce

Vegan Sushi Rice Bowl, raw veg and soy-free sauce

Denise and I both love sushi, and, with a little care, it’s something we both seem to be able to order out in relative comfort. But I could eat sushi a lot more often than I go out to eat. You can make sushi at home, but mostly, I’m too lazy to roll my own maki*, and I don’t trust my own judgement on sushi grade fish. When I do sushi at home, it’s always vegan.

So my solution to weeknight laziness and/or heat is a sushi salad — flavors on the order of a California roll** or a veggie roll, which differs from restaurant to restaurant. I’m going to give a menu of options — the rice, cold avocado and cucumber, and dressing are necessary. Everything else is optional — I’m including some roasted veg, as an option, and some additional vegetables I’ve used and liked.

This recipe makes one sushi rice bowl. Increase as needed to feed more people. The roasted veg will make enough mushrooms for one, but I would just roast the whole bunch of asparagus and use the leftovers for snacking the rest of the week.

The recipe calls for sesame in the form of seeds in the dressing and toasted sesame oil in the rice and roasted vegetables — this is optional. It adds a nice bit of flavor, but if you’re allergic or just don’t have it, don’t worry about it; your sushi bowls will still be good.

*(Side note: Want to learn to roll sushi? The internet has tons of videos, but the one I learned from is part of the sadly short-lived Post-Punk Kitchen video series: Episode 1: Sushi and Cupcakes, which I used years ago when living in Bismarck, North Dakota before they got a sushi restaurant — they have one now. If you can eat soy, try the tempeh “spicy tuna.” It’s so good.)

**(Side note 2: Regarding California rolls, beware the imitation crab sticks. They can be rife with allergens, including dairy, soy, egg, and gluten, and likely they have corn derivatives. It would be generally safer to avoid it.)

Vegan sushi rice bowl with just raw vegetables: cucumber, avocado, sugar snap peas

Vegan sushi rice bowl with just raw vegetables: cucumber, avocado, sugar snap peas


Vegan Sushi Rice Salad


  • 1/2 cup sushi rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar (set aside for after rice is cooked — and check this for additives!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)

Cooked option veg:

  • 3 or so shitake mushrooms, washed and stemmed
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and discarded (you will likely have leftovers of this, which is good!)
  • 1 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt (optional) and pepper, lightly applied

Raw veg (use these with or without roasted vegetables):

  • 1/2 cup cucumber, cut into sticks or cubed
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 sheet nori, cut into thin strips and then into bits (use scissors for this)

Additional raw veg options:

  • carrots, finely shredded
  • sugar snap peas, strings removed, cut in half


  • 1 Tablespoon gluten-free tamari or soy sauce replacer, or coconut aminos (I have not tested coconut aminos in this recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar (check this for additives!)
  • 1 pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 pinch of ginger powder
  • 1 pinch of wasabi powder (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

If you’re going to roast vegetables, preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Start the rice. I always use a rice cooker, but if you don’t, you can do this on the stovetop. Just don’t ask me how. I can’t cook rice on the stove at all.

Roast veg: Toss mushrooms and asparagus in oils, and sparingly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tender.

While the rice is cooking, prepare your raw vegetables.

Prepare the dressing by mixing everything together.

When the rice is done, toss the rice with rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil, if using. If using raw carrots, I like to toss them in with the hot rice to soften them.

Scoop the rice into a bowl. Top with the roasted and raw veg, sprinkling nori on top, then add the dressing.

2014-07-11 Fabulous Friday Finds

This is Edgar. His humans make him look dumb sometimes, but he doesn't much care.

This is Edgar. His humans make him look dumb sometimes, but he doesn’t much care.


Happy Gas Station Store Food Day! Or, you know, not. The last time I had a Slurpee, they had all sorts of weird flavors (not just, you know, CHERRY), and I was disappointed. Also, no, I don’t trust food that should have labels, but doesn’t, not anymore.

So. About food. How about black bean tofu? Based on the chickpea tofu I think Denise has linked to before, but I think this sounds like an even better idea (if a weirder color).

Our CSA onions and garlic haven’t been THIS prolific yet, but I really really want a garlic braid and an onion braid. My kitchen even has (weird 1960) beams that would look so (not) rustic with braided produce on them!

It’s summer and I (Denise) want potato chips. Fork and Beans has Homemade BBQ and Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips on her blog. I’d have to sub out the nutritional yeast (Damn you corn!!), but they look yummy. 

For those of you who have nightshade allergies (for which I extend my deepest sympathies), check out this No-Mato Sauce (tomato free pasta sauce). It looks interesting and reportedly really tastes like tomato.

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Blueberry Syrup and Bonus

Blueberry Syrup

Blueberry Syrup

So recently I’ve become concerned that I may be reacting to maple syrup. It stands to reason that with the number of types of tree pollen to which I am allergic that the sap of the tree might be an issue as well. I’ve noticed some correlation, but there were other potential issues during the same time frame, so I need to do some food challenges to verify whether it’s truly an issue or not. However, in the meantime, I need some syrupy stuff for waffles while I wait to do a challenge. As some you know, I’ve been canning to beat the band so that I have convenient, shelf stable, safe food and condiments, so I took a look in my canning books to see what I could find.

Now I’m not suggesting that you can this recipe, as I know that that’s a lot of work for most of you, and you might not be into the canning thing. But if you wanted to do that, the recipe is here. I’ve cut this down to a manageable amount for immediate use and made a suggestion for thickening it for a more substantial syrup. The recipe still makes 3 cups of syrup. Since that’s still kind of a lot, you can freeze a portion of it before you thicken it. Be aware that the pictures are some what deceptive because the batch I made was three times this size so that I ended up with 12 half pints of canned blueberry syrup. Also because there’s so much blueberry pulp left, I’ve provided you with some ideas for using it in other recipes at the end of this post. When food is so hard for many of us, we don’t want to waste anything.

Blueberry Syrup

Makes about 3-4 cups of syrup.


  • 4 cups of blueberries
  • 3 cups of water (used divided, as described below)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups of white cane sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of arrowroot or tapioca flour (optional)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of water (optional)

Necessary equipment:

  • Stainless steel or other non-reactive (ceramic or enamel, do not use aluminum or cast iron) pot
  • Potato masher or large spoon
  • Strainer or colander
  • Cheesecloth (look in grocery stores where the utensils are, or in hardware stores or department stores where the canning stuff is)
  • Candy thermometer

Wash your blueberries and pick out any squished or yucky berries or any stems or leaves. You need to crush your berries. Place a thin layer of blueberries in a large stainless steel stockpot (the pot needs to be stainless steel or another non-reactive surface), and mash the berries with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Make sure they are all squished. Then add another layer and mash them, repeating until all the berries are mashed to bits.

Once the berries are all mangled, add 1 cup of the water and the lemon zest, and over medium heat, bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Allow the mixture to continue to boil gently for 5 minutes.

Set up your strainer so that it hangs over a deep bowl or other non reactive pot so that the strainer does not rest in the bowl or pot, but so that all of the blueberry mixture will drip into the bowl or pot, without coming out the sides or making a mess. The bowl or the pot should also be deep enough that the strainer will not come into contact with the liquid as it drips out of the strainer. Line the strainer with several layers of dampened cheesecloth. You want several layers so that it prevents any seeds or pulp from dripping into your juice. The reason for dampening your cheesecloth with water is so that the cheesecloth doesn’t absorb as much of your precious juice.  Once you’ve got your strainer and the container for the juice to drip into properly situated, add the mixture to the strainer. Let it drip for at least two hours. If you’re a purist and you want a clear syrup, you let it drip undisturbed for at least two hours. If you’re like me, and not a purist, you let it drip for at least two hours and then you use a spatula to get as much of the juice as you can. (Keep the pulp, I’ll talk about what you can do with it later.)

Blueberry Mixture in Strainer

Blueberry Mixture in Strainer

Wash the stainless steel stockpot you used to cook the blueberry mixture, and in the now clean pot, add the sugar and the remaining 2 cups of water.

Sugar and water mixture before boiling

Sugar and water mixture before boiling

Over medium high heat, bring the sugar mixture to a boil and cook until it measures 230ºF (you may need to adjust for altitude, we don’t have an altitude issue here). Add your blueberry juice, and increase the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once your five minutes is up, remove the pot from the heat, and stir in your lemon juice.

Blueberry Syrup after cooking

Blueberry Syrup after cooking

At this point, if you’re going to put any of it in the freezer to save for later, pour that amount off into freezer safe and heat safe container and let it cool to room temp before sealing it and putting it in the freezer. If you’re satisfied with the syrup as it is, great, use it for pancakes, waffles, desserts, you name it.

(SAFETY NOTE: You CANNOT thicken the syrup if you are planning to can it, unless you use Clear Gel, which contains corn. No other thickening method is safe for canning, so if you are allergic to corn, just thicken it after you open the jars and when you are planning to use it.)

If you’d like to thicken the syrup, place the syrup back over medium heat.  Mix 1 Tablespoon of tapioca or arrowroot with 1 Tablespoon of water to form a paste, and then whisk it slowly into the syrup. Continue to whisk until the paste is well incorporated with the syrup and the tapioca and arrowroot has cooked. If this isn’t sufficiently thick enough for you, repeat the process, until the syrup is the right consistency. Yay! You have blueberry syrup!

Now, let’s chat about that leftover pulp. There are a few ways you could use it:

(1) Put the leftover pulp in your pancake or waffle batter for blueberry overload. Yum!

(2) You can make yourself some blueberry butter/jam. Put the leftover pulp in a sauce pan with a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice, and bring it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and stir frequently until the mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon. Store it in the fridge until you want to use it on toast, on ice cream, or just eating it with a spoon, haha!

(3) Make blueberry vinegar. Mix the pulp with 4 cups of white wine vinegar and put it in a glass jar, covering it with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and securing it with a rubber band. Let it sit on your counter top for a week or two, stirring it once a day to prevent any mold. Strain out the blueberry pulp, and you’ll have blueberry flavored vinegar to use for salad dressings or marinades.


2014-07-04 Fabulous Friday Finds

Tower Court at Wellesley College, the dorm that Denise lived in for three years during college

Tower Court at Wellesley College, the dorm that Denise lived in for three years during college

Happy (USA) Independence Day, readers and friends. This edition of F3 will not be particularly patriotic (at least not from Mary Kate), but instead will focus on the “independence” part of things — because, hey, with this storm headed at us, we may be “free” of electricity at some point this weekend, and with this past week’s heat, I’ve been “free” of desire to turn on the stove or other heating elements in my 90ºF apartment. So! No-cook options! Yes, these links rely a little more than most allergic eaters would like on prepared foods, but depending on what you can find that is safe, here may be some ideas on what to stock up in for emergency heat waves.

Starting with the one for those who aren’t allergic to fish: a tuna-and-beans salad. I’d make a slightly different vinaigrette, probably, and might add more or different veggies, depending on what I have on hand, but tuna (which Denise hates) is one of my go-to easy staples. I’ve found one brand that’s free of soy: Seasons, in the kosher section at one supermarket here in town. I buy a lot of it.

The other recipe that popped in my searching was this Thai Beef Salad. I’m not sure how my faux soy sauce would work in this (again, from the jerky post, I made this without fish sauce and with a little more salt) instead of the fish sauce, but I’m willing to try it. I usually cook a chunk of beef (roast or flank steak) once or twice a year, and leftovers go in the freezer. I might make one to freeze just for this recipe. I think I’d use spinach instead of lettuce (because I don’t eat lettuce).

There’s also this old recipe from the blog, not for the corn-allergic: Hominy Salad. Replacing the hominy with beans if you don’t like it, can’t eat it, or just want more protein, would likely work pretty well.

This week was my (Denise’s) vacation and I spent it doing food prep and canning so that maybe I can get some of my weekends back. As of Thursday at noon, I had canned 109 jars of food since Sunday. It’s so hot and humid in this apartment that I’ve not been interested in cooking anything else and that I’m not even hungry to be honest.

So here’s a no cook recipe as well, except it’s Peach Liqueur, vodka, peaches, brandy… what could be better? Except I wish I had started it a month ago so it’d be ready now. Also if you can’t find a safe brandy, just use safe vodka. 

For a nice cold cool refreshing treat when you’re too hot to even want to eat, this Watermelon Gazpacho  might tempt me. Or if you’re into avocados, and I am, you could try this Avocado Gazpacho soup too. 

Hope you all have a fun and wonderful holiday!

Berry Poke Cake (vegan, gluten-free)

Vaguely Patriotic Poke Cake

Vaguely Patriotic Poke Cake

So this week is the both the classic summer holiday of Independence Day in the US. I know maybe cake isn’t the first thing one thinks of when you think of summer holiday picnics, but this week is also my birthday, so cake is important. So your theme is: BERRIES. Hah. Actually, berries are one of the more awesome things about summer, and cake is the one truly awesome thing about birthdays, so here’s a berry-themed cake that also just happens to be color-appropriate for a few upcoming holidays — nicely, this works as well for Bastille Day as it does for Independence Day. It’s multi-purpose. This is good, because every day is better with cake.

This is a riff on a cake my mother used to make — a poke cake, where you soak your cake with gelatin. Her “recipe” came from a magazine recipe (I’m going to guess Better Homes and Gardens, but it might have been the Parade magazine section from the Sunday paper) and involved box cake mix, a box of Jell-O, Cool Whip (which I absolutely adored for all of my formative years) and berries on top. My FrankenCake version involves other people’s recipes instead of boxes, but combined to make “classic” poke cake that is gluten-free, vegan, and completely without preservatives or weird flavorings. This is a dense, moist cake, flavored by the gel, topped with a whipped cream and berries. Served cold, this is great for summer. I mean, it’s berries. What is there not to love?

You’ll make the cake, cool it, poke holes in it, make a fruit gel, pour it on, cool it, and the “frost” and decorate it. Because it needs to cool completely, twice, this is a good make-ahead recipe. The day before is a good idea, adding the “frosting” and berries not long before serving.

Cake Assembly

Cake Assembly

IMPORTANT NOTE: In case you skipped reading to go straight to the recipe, this is not a “day of” recipe. You need to cool this twice, and the coconut milk for the topping must be refrigerated overnight.


Patriotic Berry Poke Cake

1 carton of strawberries or other fresh berries is also needed to decorate the top of the cake.

Cake (very lightly adapted from Gluten Mama’s GF Vegan Vanilla Cake)

  • ¾ cup sorghum flour
  • ¾ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ cup plain almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) unsweetened applesauce (I use the snack pack sizes)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease an 8″x11.5″ pan, or a 9″ square pan.

Add lemon juice to almond milk and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients. Then add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 35 minutes or so — cake is done when lightly browned on top.

Cool completely, and then poke holes all over the cake with a fork. The more holes, the more your fruit gel will penetrate, so I’d suggest holes no more than 1/2 inch apart, all over the cake.


Vegan Fruit Gel (I used this recipe from Manjula’s Kitchen)

Poke and Gel the Cake

Poke and Gel the Cake


  • 1/2 cup blueberry juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon agar agar powder


If you need to, juice and strain blueberries to get blueberry juice. I just had a bag of frozen berries I picked last summer, so I defrosted them and ran them through a food mill and then a strainer. This made more juice than I needed, but this also makes more gel than you need for the cake.

Mix the agar agar into your water. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for three minutes.

Pour very slowly over the top of your hole-poked cake (this is easier to do if you aren’t taking photos while pouring), letting it soak in, and stop when the gel stops soaking in. You may have a little leftover, so just make a serving of gel for later.

Put the gel-soaked cake in the fridge and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.


Coconut Whipped Cream (see recipe here at Oh She Glows)


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk without guar gum, refrigerated over night
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • OR 3 teaspoons of vanilla sugar
  • A chilled metal bowl and electric mixer, with whisk attachment if you have it.


Flip your can upside down in the fridge. To open it, flip it back upright and open it. Pour off the watery part (you can use this for things, but I don’t like it much, personally.)

Put JUST the solid part in your chilled bowl and whip it with your whisk attachment or mixer.

Add the sugar and vanilla (or vanilla sugar) and whip again. Taste it. It’s amazing. Add sugar or vanilla if needed.

Use the coconut whipped cream to frost the cake, being generous in your application. Top the cake with berries and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

This cake is ready for its close-up

This cake is ready for its close-up


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