Fresh Corn Stew

Fresh Corn Stew

Fresh Corn Stew

I hate writing recipes I know Denise can’t eat, but that’s one of the things we deal with with food allergies — I almost feel guilty eating things someone else can’t. But I also know not to push that guilt on them. So sorry, corn-allergic friends and readers, but this one isn’t for you.

With our CSA share, we are currently getting a ton of corn — about 6 ears a week. And I get all of it (which, I think works out — Denise has taken all the lettuce because I don’t eat it.) Corn on the cob is awesome (if you’re not allergic), but frankly, it gets boring quickly. Using up all the leftover corn gave rise a few variations to this recipe, a corn stew, though I’m not entirely sure about calling it a “stew.” It’s not primarily broth, like a soup, but it’s not a chowder because there is no cream or milk in it (though if you stir in the cashew sour cream suggested as a topping, BAM: chowder!). So we’ll go with stew. English. So imprecise sometimes.

If you’ve never taken corn off the cob, here are some ideas about how to do this. I just use my largest cutting board and a long thin knife and clean up the mess.

This stew is completely vegan, but depending on the toppings you choose, you might alter that. I suggest considering, as toppings: avocado, crumbled bacon, scallion greens, cashew sour cream, cheese (vegan or not, as you decide), and cilantro. You sure don’t need all of these, but this stew kind of begs for a topping or two. In any case, it highlights the sweet corn that says “summer” to so many people.


Versatile: with bacon, vegan, and with cashew sour cream

Fresh Corn Stew is Versatile: with bacon, vegan, and with cashew sour cream

Fresh Corn Stew

  • about 2 T oil or fat of your choice (if you are going to top this with bacon, consider using the fat!)
  • 2 leeks, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 Italian pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 ears of fresh sweet corn, cooked and kernels cut off the cob (between 1.5 and 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (or about 4 leaves fresh, chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16-20 oz. of vegetable broth or stock
  • 3 small fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks (between 3/4 and 1 cup)

Toppings, all optional:

  • scallions
  • cashew sour cream*
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • cheese or cheese substitute
  • avocado

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add leeks, stir well, and then add chopped pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

Add corn kernels, stir well, and then add basil, salt, and pepper. If you are using commercial broth, go light on the salt until you’ve tasted the broth. Stir seasonings in well.

Add broth and bring to a low boil. Add tomatoes, and when low boil is again achieved, turn down the heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes.

Top as desired, and enjoy. This soup is great the next day.

Cashew Sour Cream (modified from oh she glows!) (obviously this makes it not nut-free)

  • 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked overnight or in hot water for a few hours
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • pinch salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chives

Add cashews, water, and lime juice to blender. Blend until smooth. Stir in chives and salt. Refrigerate for an hour to thicken.


Fresh Corn Stew with Bacon

Fresh Corn Stew with Bacon

2014-08-22 Fabulous Friday Finds

A hummingbird just hanging out at the Sonoran Desert Museum in AZ

A hummingbird just hanging out at the Sonoran Desert Museum in AZ

It’s starting to get cooler here in NH already. I’m not sure I’m ready for fall.

I (Denise) miss chips, because eating guacamole or salsa with a spoon just isn’t the same. But if you can have chips or crackers, then you need to check out this recipe for Warm Ginger Curried Lentil Dip. I’d have to sub out the maple syrup (potential issues still not tested) and the tahini, but it sounds really good. (I think that’d be awesome on veggies, too. — MK)

Also, some one posted this recipe for Crock-Pot Caramelized Onions in a Facebook group that I’m in recently, and it sounds like an easy way to do something I love, and they can be stored in individual containers in the freezer to use as needed. Yay! Sort of convenience food!

I seem to be running out of things to do with cucumbers. I’ve pickled some (the second batch was edible!), but maybe these cucumber chips would be good with hummus or that curried lentil dip Denise linked?

My gluten-free flour collection is extensive and messy and taking over a huge amount of space in my cabinets. So I’ve been watching different storage solutions on Apartment Therapy, and some of these look a little promising. Sadly, not specifically for the flours, but for other things so that I have more room for flour maybe?

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Zesty Mexican Style Bean Salad

Zesty Mexican Style Bean Salad

Zesty Mexican Style Bean Salad – Photo by J. Andrews

I modified this recipe from a recipe in an old Weight Watcher’s magazine. The original had raw green bell pepper and Great Northern beans in it instead, but back in the day before food allergies, I preferred it with roasted red pepper in a jar and garbanzo beans, and with some added spice enhancement. (Shocker, I know.) These days I can’t buy roasted red peppers at the store because of the citric acid, and I’ve been meaning to can my own so I could make this, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet with everything else on my plate. So when Mary Kate and I decided to have a cookout, a light bulb went off that I could grill the red peppers and make this again. You could also broil the red peppers in your oven. (Not sure why that did not occur to me until I went to type up this post; I could have been making this all along. Sigh.)

Zesty Mexican Style Bean Salad

  • 1 – 15 ounce can of black beans (Find a safe brand for you. I pressure can my own from dry beans.)
  • 1 – 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (Find a safe brand for you. I pressure can my own from dry beans.)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup grilled or broiled red bell pepper (about one and half peppers)
  • 1 cup of sliced green onions
  • 1 cup of salsa (Make sure you use a safe for you brand. I used my home canned salsa.)
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Adobo seasoning (If you don’t have Adobo seasoning or you don’t have a safe version, mix 1/8 cup of paprika, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of ground black pepper, 1 Tablespoon of onion powder, 1 Tablespoon of dried oregano, 1 Tablespoon of ground cumin, 1/2 Tablespoon of ground chipotle, and 1/2 Tablespoon of garlic powder, this makes half a cup of seasoning)
  • hot sauce to taste (Use a safe for you brand. I used my own homemade version of Sriracha.)

Cut your red bell peppers into quarters and seed and de-stem them.

Quartered and de-seeded peppers - Photo by J. Andrews

Quartered and de-seeded peppers – Photo by J. Andrews

Place the red bell pepper quarters on a hot grill or under the broiler in your oven on a rack with a cookie sheet under it, and grill/broil them until they have a bit of char and are tender. When they are done, take them off the grill or out of the oven and let them cool a bit.

Peppers on the grill - Photo by J. Andrews

Peppers on the grill – Photo by J. Andrews

In a large bowl, place the chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, salsa, red wine vinegar, cilantro, salt, black pepper, and Adobo seasoning. Drain and rinse the black beans and garbanzo beans and add them to the bowl.

All ingredients except the grilled red pepper - Photo by J. Andrews

All ingredients except the grilled red pepper – Photo by J. Andrews

Now that your red bell pepper has probably cooled down a bit, either give them a quick spin in a food processor to chop them into small pieces, or chop them up finely with a knife, and put them in the large bowl.

Mix everything in the bowl together very well with a spatula or spoon. You want to make sure that none of the spices are clumping up. Taste it, and then decide how much hot sauce to need to add. Mix in the hot sauce really well.

Mix all ingredients together - Photo by J. Andrews

Mix all ingredients together – Photo by J. Andrews

If you have safe chips, feel free to eat this with them. I don’t at the moment, but I’m happy just eating it with a fork or spoon. It also holds up very well in the refrigerator if you have leftovers.



Zesty Mexican Style Bean Salad

Zesty Mexican Style Bean Salad

2014-08-15 Fabulous Friday Finds

Chinese Garden, 2009

Chinese Garden, 2009

Okay, I think this is a great idea for the first episode of our cooking show: cooking over lava. It involves safety gear, so it must be run, right? (Mary Kate, I think this is extreme, even for us. This is beyond Denise-crazy. I don’t see how we get out of that without burning a finger off. – D)

I (Mary Kate) don’t really follow “food” in general or famous chefs (who don’t do something dumb enough to make internet headlines), but Matthew Kenney, chef and owner (I think?) of M.A.K.E. restaurant in Santa Monica, CA, seems like someone I need to know about. That interview and discussion of how to make good vegan raw nut cheese really makes me want to check out his cook book, Plant Food.

For those of us who may have too much zucchini either through the sweat of your brows, or because we’re friends with people who grew some through the sweat of their brows, this zucchini spread uses up a lot and looks good if you have safe crackers or safe bread, but I (Denise) bet it’d be awesome on a baked potato too. Also you’ll have to sub out the butter for a safe for you alternative, but I think I’ll give it a go this weekend.

Sometimes I (Denise) wonder where my brain is. I love oven roasted garbanzo beans or chick peas as a snack, and I’ve coated them with all kinds of dry seasoning mixes, like cajun seasoning or vindaloo seasoning. But somehow, despite the fact that due to corn I can no longer buy Sriracha and that I’m so obsessed that I ferment the peppers and garlic on my counter for weeks to make a safe version for me by the quart, it never occurred to me to make Sriracha Roasted Chick Peas. I’m just going to pretend that my brain is foggy from a reaction so that I don’t have to admit I’m an idiot.

Hope you all have a great week!

WW: Badger Balm Factory Visit (with product reviews!)

The W.S. Badger Company, Inc.  Headquarters

The W.S. Badger Company, Inc. Headquarters

In early July, on vacation, Denise and Mary Kate took a day to head west to Gilsum, New Hampshire, home of the Badger factory. Badger is a skin care products company based here in New Hampshire. In the interests of “shop local,” we figured we could head out and get to know one of our local companies. We’ve waited this long to tell you about it so we could post some reviews, too.

About Badger:

Badger started with one product: Badger Balm, an intensive hand moisturizer designed by carpenter Bill Whyte for his fellow carpenters and their winter-dry skin. Formulated in the Whyte home, Badger has grown from that single product and home production in 1995 to a product line of more than 70 items and a factory/office building of its own in 2014. This building is open for tours (which are short and fun — and the place smells amazing).

Badger formulates all its products in the Gilsum factory. Their focus on “natural” ingredients and herbal and traditional medicines is great for those of us with allergies — NOT because “natural” means anything at all these days, and anyway, most of what we are both allergic to is natural. But the small size of the company and their attention to detail means that a) they can tell you where their ingredients are sourced, how they are processed, and how they are used in each product, and b) because this attention extends to detailed labeling that cites much of this information right on the label. Need to know how the extracts are produced? The label tells you: most of them are carbon dioxide extracts. Need to know the source of the vitamin E? The label tells you: all their vitamin E today is sunflower-based, rather than soy-based (bad for Denise, good for Mary Kate).

In our tour, we asked specific questions about processing and cross-contamination and cleaning procedures. In the production facility on site, most of Badger’s equipment is cleaned with detergent, alcohol (yes, corn-based), and a hot olive oil flush. All of the tinned products, as well as the oils and bug spray, are made on site. The lip balms and sunscreens are made in other production facilities, with ingredients sourced and supplied by Badger, that follow Good Manufacturing Practices.

A display of Badger products at the factory

A display of Badger products at the factory

On specific allergens:

No wheat or peanuts are used in any of the products produced in Gilsum, though the facility is not certified free of either. Your comfort level with this may vary, but if you want to ask questions, customer service is knowledgeable and friendly.

The soaps, lip balms, and sunscreens are produced off-site, and on lines that may have processed these ingredients.

Soy is used in a few Badger products, as well as used on lines in the off-site facilities. Tree nuts, including coconut, are used in Badger products and may have been used on any of the lines. In all cases, good manufacturing processes are followed, but your comfort level with these may vary.

Corn is not used in Badger products, but corn alcohol is used, at high heat, as part of the cleaning process (but not the final step, which is a hot olive oil flush).

The company does recommend patch testing if you are sensitive to any of these things.

Products made before 2012 may have different ingredients than today’s. Read the labels.

On our tour:

We wish we’d been able to take pictures, but when we asked, the tour guide regretfully explained that photos weren’t allowed because some of the things we were shown were actually somewhat secret. Which makes sense. But we really wish we’d been able to take pictures of the gleaming machines filling the balm tins because that was really awesome. The factory itself was spotless, clean and airy, in direct contrast to other factories Denise has worked in the past. On the production floor, they had the biggest olive oil containers we’ve ever seen. We could have gone for a swim in them if the containers didn’t have a top. The company works directly with a family estate in Spain called Soler Romero. The factory store also sells the olive oil which is USDA certified organic. Denise is still kicking herself for not buying any.

The headquarters has a cafeteria which serves employees a free daily organic lunch during their paid 30-minute break, which includes fresh, in-season produce from the Badger gardens.  The tour guide told us about their Babies at Work program where on a case-by-case basis a parent may be allowed to bring their new baby to work for the first 6 months. The company also has opened its own full-day child care center for children of Badger employees at reasonable prices in the former Badger Company facility.  Employees get a quarterly stipend for products from the Badger lines. It seems like it’d be a pretty cool place to work.

We also got to see The Secret Badger Lab, where they design and formulate new products.  The Secret Badger Lab had big picture windows in it, which seemed somewhat antithetical to the secret part (no one was in the Secret Lab that day). It was impressive to see the whole process, from idea to production, all in one building.

Our tour guide was wonderful and because we had emailed in advance, discussing our food allergy issues, she had prepared a handout for us to review, and was ready to discuss the manufacturing processes, the cleaning protocols and their cross-contamination processes with us. If you are local and you want to go on a tour yourself, they are available Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. by appointment. And if you buy products at the factory, there is a discount.

Name Tag MK


Mary Kate's Badger haul

Mary Kate’s Badger haul


So far, I’ve really enjoyed trying out the stuff I bought on our Badger visit. Overall, the products smell great and are very moisturizing. Going more or less clockwise:

I’ve been a regular user of the Headache Balm for years, so I thought I’d give the Stress Soother stick a try. I really like the delivery system (it’s basically a giant chapstick — in fact, Denise has a chapstick that size), but while I do find it nice mid-afternoon or during conference calls at work, I will buy the headache balm in stick form next time. I prefer the smell and, for me, it’s slightly more effective.

The dual color Lip Tint lipbalm (top, in Copper) is a little bit of a mixed bag for me. I rarely wear lipstick because I can’t remember to reapply it all day and I generally can taste (and don’t like) the flavor of the pigment. That’s true here, too, though I’ll say that the color is subtle and nice when I do wear it. I think I’m just destined to be a lip balm kind of woman forever.

The Mustache Wax was a gift, and while I haven’t personally used it, I do like the results. It’s not stick or greasy, but it definitely adds a final touch to facial hair grooming. The Arnica Sore Joint Rub wasn’t particularly effective for me, but mostly I get muscle aches, not joint aches, so I might not be the right user for the product. It smells pretty good, though.

The Anti-Bug Sunscreen I’ve only gotten to use once so far. The zinc oxide might, I think, make it difficult to use every day, under makeup, and it does make it harder to rub in (but, conversely, you have to rub it in and therefore probably apply it more thoroughly and effectively). I think that will be true for all zinc oxide sunscreens, though. I was out for a few hours, and the sun went in after a bit, so I might not have gotten burned anyway. Not the best test for the sunscreen part. BUT. It was hot and humid and buggy. The bugs left me alone and I did not sweat off the sunscreen. This would be excellent for hiking, I’d think.

I’ve kind of saved my favorites for last. The Nutmeg and Shea moisturizer is amazing. The smell, which is nutmeg-forward, is different in a really good way, and the moisturizer is rich. It takes a bit of time to soak in properly, yes, but the results are definitely worth it. This will be a product I’ll use for a long time. I can’t wait to use it on my hands and feet in the winter. This is definitely my favorite product of the entire haul. The last thing up there is the Highland Mint lip balm. This is also a keeper, with a good mint flavor and a really nice smooth texture. There are about a thousand flavors, though, and I might need a different flavor next time. Though mint really is nice.

Badger, as a company, is a place I’d like to support. Luckily for me, I enjoy their products, which makes it pretty easy to do.

Name Tag Denise



With the coconut and corn allergies, I have a really freaking tough time finding personal care products that are safe for me, and you’ve all seen me put recipes for lotions, lotion bars, and lip balms on our blog. That being said, when we were looking into places to visit Badger seemed promising because there might be a sunscreen I could actually purchase and not have to make myself. And I really did not want to order zinc oxide to experiment with making my own sunscreen until I got  a recipe right.  Here’s my haul from left to right: Cayenne & Ginger Sore Muscle Rub, Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray, Lime Rocket Cocoa Butter Lip Balm, Pink Grapefruit Lip Balm, Sweet Orange Cocoa Butter Lip Balm, Badger SPF34 Anti-Bug Sunscreen and Eucalyptus & Mint Aromatic Chest Rub.

Denise's Badger Balm haul

Denise’s Badger Balm haul

I know that you’re going to ask, Denise, why buy lip balms when you’ve made them before and you have the stuff to make them? I’m going to make this really simple. Because I CAN. The fact that I don’t have to spend half an hour making lip balms the next time I run out is worth gold in and of itself. It’s nice to just be able to buy a product for once JUST LIKE A NORMAL PERSON. (Oh, was I yelling? Sorry about that.) The Pink Grapefruit lip balm, which has a olive oil, castor oil, and beeswax base instead of the cocoa butter, seemed a bit more moisturizing to me than the cocoa butter oil ones, but I liked all three. For those with corn allergies, I did not seem to have any issues with cross contamination either from the corn alcohol equipment cleaning or from potential cross contamination from the beeswax (depending on what the beekeeper fed the bees), but I’m not super-sensitive either. They all smelled pleasantly fruity, and I’d buy them again.

The Eucalyptus & Mint Aromatic Chest Rub smells wonderful. It’s intended for use as a soothing chest rub, or as a steam inhalant when added to a humidifier or pot of hot water, but I really haven’t had a cold, a cough or a stuffy nose since I bought it, so I haven’t been able to give it a good test. But the aroma is pretty awesome.

The Cayenne & Ginger Sore Muscle Rub smells amazing. Because with ginger and cayenne spicy goodness, how could it not? I concur with Mary Kate’s review in that it didn’t seem that effective for sore muscles, but it’s got some great moisturizing ingredients so I’m happy using it as a balm.

The Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray works well. It has the aroma of Citronella, Rosemary, and Wintergreen essential oils. You’re really going to smell like citronella, but it kept the bugs away. I didn’t mind the feel of it and the spray is a convenient application method. Just a quick disclaimer, I am generally pretty accident prone and if it’s possible to break something, I’ll probably break it. However, I didn’t expect to put a significant dent in the spray bottle by tossing it a couple of feet. I was aiming for a tote bag but I missed by a couple of inches and it landed on the floor. I’m not saying that I’m disappointed in the package or that it’s a problem, because again, bug spray that works that I don’t have to make is gold, but just be aware that you may not want to repeat my mistakes if you wish your bug spray to remain pristine and without big dents in the bottle.

The only safe for me sunscreen that Badger had was the Badger SPF34 Anti-Bug Sunscreen. I’d echo Mary Kate’s review in that it is harder to rub in than other sunscreens. I did like the dual sunscreen/bug repellent properties. I do wish that it had a higher SPF, as I used to use an SPF 100 before coconut, but according to WebMD, that might not be as big a deal as I had previously thought. And again, I didn’t have to make it! (Cue heavenly choir).

I wish more of their products didn’t contain sunflower so that I could try them, but I’m happy Badger has some products I can use and make my life easier.


Overall, the Badger visit was a rousing success. If you are looking for personal care products, check out Badger’s website and see if they might have something you’d like to try. This post is all the opinions of Denise and Mary Kate, was not sponsored, and we were in no way compensated for any of this review.

Grilled Chimichurri Pork Chops

Grilled Chimichurri Pork Chops. Photo by J. Andrews

Grilled Chimichurri Pork Chops. Photo by J. Andrews

A few years ago my friend Liz was up in the Boston area and we went out to dinner somewhere north of Boston. I think it was an Argentinian restaurant, but I’m not 100% sure. This was pre food allergy apocalypse, but I was in a phase of not eating much beef. For whatever reason I ordered pork chops, which, I think, is an odd choice for me — I can’t recall ordering them out before or since. But these were amazing. They were marinated in chimichurri sauce and then grilled. This recipe is my attempt to recreate that meal, but also just to make chimichurri.

Chimichurri sauce, as the internet has well-educated me, is a traditional Argentinian condiment that the non-South American internet has fallen in love with, and, as the internet is wont to do, bastardized. Yes, you can add all sorts of ingredients to all sorts of recipes, but then they are no longer that thing, right? So far as I can tell, this is a reasonably traditional chimichurri. From what I can tell, it doesn’t really need anything else — it’s really good as it is.

The other thing that internet writers rail against is the claim that, in Argentina, chimichurri is used “like ketchup” or “on everything.” Now, I do have one friend who does use ketchup on everything, but overall, ketchup is not all that universal in my opinion. But I do think that the reason writers may say these things about chimichurri is that it really is amazing and, if you make it, YOU might want to use it on everything. And because I’m me, I’m frying my breakfast potatoes in it now. I may need chimichurri in my life forever. See, internet, that’s just projection.

I pulled the parsley apart, measured it, and scaled the recipe to the amount of parsley I had. I’d suggest you consider doing the same unless you are way better at using up leftover parsley than I am. I’m pretty sure that traditionally, fresh oregano would be used. I couldn’t find any. I used dried. I also used a food processor. Tradition only goes so far. This recipe does make way more than you need for a recipe of pork chops, unless you’re cooking for a mob, so make plans for the leftovers. (Breakfast potatoes.)

Chimichurri Sauce Grilled Pork Chops

  • 4 cups flat leaf parsley, leaves removed from stems (one bunch of parsley)
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 6 cloves of garlic, or about 1/4 of the head
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or you know, “enough.” Do people measure freshly ground pepper, really? I never do.)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 cups olive oil
This is what herbs look like when "ground" in a food processor

This is what herbs look like when “ground” in a food processor

With your S-blade in your food processor, pulse the parsley down a bit.

Add the oregano, garlic, salt, and red and black peppers. Pulse until ground.

Scrape the ground herbs and spices into a bowl. Stir in the vinegar, and then the oil — use a fork to get the best mixing.

Let this sit at room temperature for 2 hours to let the flavors meld, and then bottle up and store in the fridge. I’m assuming this will last a few weeks. To use, spoon herbs up from the bottom and use as a marinade, condiment, or anything else you can think up.

For the pork chops:

  • thick, bone-in pork chops, however many you need.

In a glass dish, spoon a layer of chimichurri into the bottom of a glass dish. Place pork chops on top of this layer, and top with thick spoonsful of chimichurri. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 12 hours or so.

Marinated pork chops. Photo by J. Andrews

Marinated pork chops. Photo by J. Andrews

Grill by the “piled” method — put all your charcoal to one side (or turn on half the burners). Place the meat over the hot side of the grill to sear the outside, both sides, and then move to the cool side of the grill (which really isn’t cool) and cook until done. For pork, that’s 145°F, remembering to rest the meat for at least three minutes after cooking before cutting into.

Add some extra chimichurri before serving. Then proceed to prove the internet right and use chimichurri on all the things.

(P.S. to my friend Cathy, yes, this is just like when I discovered lefse and put “inappropriate” things on it.)

2014-08-08 Fabulous Friday Finds

Apocalypse on the Grill. Photo by J. Andrews

Apocalypse on the Grill. Photo by J. Andrews

Our little corner of the internet is now 2 years old!

This is such an excellent idea, even if the (gorgeous) design is a little bit complicated and unlikely: an alarm clock that brews coffee to wake you up. What do you think?

Matt at No Meat Athlete has two new energy bar recipes with tart cherries (same as in the pistachio cherry macadamia bites), and I admit I do really love the tart cherries. Have you ever tried tart cherry juice?

I’m hearing more and more about FODMAPS. I’m still not sure I get what it is, and since I don’t have gluten sensitivity or celiac, but instead I have just a straight up IgE wheat allergy, I haven’t tried that hard. But since it might be more important to some of you, Allergic Living had an article on The Link Between Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, and FODMAPS that you might be interested in. 

Amy over at An Allergic Foodie has a recipe for flax seed mayo from a review copy of Colette Martin’s new book, The Allergy Free Pantry. Now, I’m allergic to flaxseed, but I’m wondering how it would be with chia seed. I may need to give it a try. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!

WW Kitchen Stories: Mary Kate’s Rice Cooker

Mary Kate's Rice Cooker

Mary Kate’s Rice Cooker

If you are gluten-free, you might find that rice becomes an even more important staple in your diet. I actually discovered the variety of rices out there  when I tried out eating vegan for a while right after I cut out dairy (and as far as I know, my friend Cathy may still be eating all the random bits of rice I passed on to her when I moved, many years ago). With the right rice to pair with the right foods, rice becomes more than just a base for Chinese takeout. I still really do not like brown rice with “traditional” Chinese(American) style food; white rice tastes right. But brown rice with roasted veggies is fantastic, sushi rice with saucy foods, jasmine rice with delicate flavors. Rice is amazing. I can see why it’s a staple food in many parts of the world.

But you may have noticed that, while I make a lot of rice dishes, my instructions for rice usually boil down to “cook it. However you can.” That’s because despite being reasonably adept in the kitchen, my sad truth is that I cannot cook rice on the stovetop. In a pot, with water, like a normal person.

Or, as my college roommate put it in the birthday card that came with the rice cooker, “I don’t know why you can bake a 10-layer cake but not cook rice, but here, this should fix it.” That’s not verbatim. I may have the card somewhere, in a box, but it was along those lines (but possibly with more profanity. This is the same person who sent me Geritol for my 30th birthday.)

This is true. My first baking “experiment” was a concoction called the “Heaven and Hell Cake.” Go ahead and Google it. I found it in a USA Today while my family was on vacation in Florida, along with a story about a chef whose parents ran a diner, and his childhood conundrum: angel food cake? Or devil’s food cake? So he combined them into an 8-layer cake, alternating angel food and devil’s food, with peanut butter mousse between and a chocolate ganache over it all. Ridiculous. And also full of so very many things that I cannot now eat, so I’m glad I got a chance to try it.

But standard rice? Even of the Uncle Ben’s variety in the nice orange box with very specific cooking instructions on the side? Stymied me. It was always mushy or partly cooked, or otherwise barely edible.

A rice cooker fixes that pretty solidly. You still need to measure the rice and the water. In my rice cooker, a spritz of oil on the bottom is necessary or it sticks pretty badly. But after that, you turn it on and let it go. It turns down to warm when it is done. Easy, right? Yeah, it still took me 6 months to get it right regularly.

Rice cookers come in super-basic models which basically turn on when you plug them in, to super-fancy models that should be able to know when you’re getting home from work and have a 5-star meal on the table. When I took a Chinese cooking class from a local Chinese restauranteur in Bismarck, our instructor told us that spending a lot of money on a rice cooker was pointless (or at least unnecesary). His advice was to buy a basic cheap one, use it until it died, and then buy another. I think I’ve had this one 10 years and as long as I measure the water right, it has never failed me.

I’m mostly in agreement with Alton Brown’s rants against the evils of single-use kitchen devices, but this one solves a very great need. My rice cooker not only fixes one of my basic culinary inadequacies, but it also frees me up to concentrate on the vat of stir-fry I’m making or the sushi salad veg I’m working on, or whatever else I am doing. In theory, I could also steam veggies in the basket that came with the rice cooker, but I’m not sure which box it’s in. This appliance may be a one-trick pony, but it’s a really good trick.

Homemade Hot Dogs

Hot Dog with Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut, and a bad attempt food styling using the sauerkraut juice - Photo by J. Andrews.

Hot Dog with Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut, and a bad attempt food styling using the sauerkraut juice – Photo by J. Andrews.

When I was diagnosed with the dairy allergy, I could still have Pearl and Boars Head hot dogs. And then came the corn allergy, and wiped out both of those choices too. So I was left with trying to make my own. The thing is you really need a KitchenAid Mixer with the Food Grinder attachment and the Sausage Stuffer accessory or a sausage stuffing machine (they have those, seriously, who knew?) to make this.  Or you can just make them into patties and fry them. We did that with a bit of the leftover filling and it tasted hot dog-like.

You can get a beef collagen casing from LEM Products, which is what I did (I’m not saying it’s not corn contaminated, it probably is, but I seemed to tolerate them okay, and I only plan to do this once in a great while) or you can get some DeWied Natural Sheep Casings.

By the way, we have no affiliation with Amazon, the above links are just so that you can see the product and look at the information.

I didn’t grind my own meat but you could. I decided to cheat and get some ground beef because this was going to be a big enough process all on its own without getting all Denise crazy. You may also want to use a food processor, as discussed below to get a better texture in the filling. This recipe does take two days, so please read the whole thing. 

Also before anyone asks, the hot dog bun pictured is not gluten-free or otherwise safe. I don’t have a safe hot dog bun yet, but I thought the pictures would look stupid if it was just a hot dog on a plate with condiments. Don’t worry, we fed it to my husband who has no food allergies.

Homemade Hot Dogs:

Again, this recipe does take two days, so please read the whole thing. 

  • 2 1/2 pounds of ground beef (don’t get any leaner than 80% or you’ll have really dry icky hot dogs)
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of ice water
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons 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 makes about a quart, and the one from makes about two cups.) 
  • hot dog casings (see notes above for your choices)

On the first day, take the ground beef, the kosher salt and the ice water and put it in a bowl. Knead the ingredients together with your hands until everything is well incorporated.  Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Ground Beef Mixture

Ground Beef Mixture

On the second day when you’re ready to start stuffing, place the mustard, paprika, coriander, black pepper and garlic power in a small bowl and mix well.

Spices before mixing

Spices before mixing

Take the ground beef out of the fridge and pour the spice mixture and the cane sugar syrup over the ground meat. Knead the spices and cane sugar syrup into the meat until everything is well incorporated.

Knead spices and cane sugar syrup into ground beef mixture

Knead spices and cane sugar syrup into ground beef mixture

If you do not have a food processor, place the ground beef mixture into your KitchenAid mixer bowl, use the flat beater attachment and turn the mixer to high and beat for several several minutes. Just understand that the texture may be a bit more rustic than if you used a food processor. If you do have a food processor, in batches, process the ground beef mixture with the regular chopping blade and process into a fine paste.

Ground beef mixture in mixer

Ground beef mixture in mixer

When you have finished processing the ground beef mixture either in the food processor or the mixture, spread a piece of parchment paper, or cling wrap out on a cookie sheet. I like to lay a sheet of parchment paper down first, just for ease of cleaning and it makes it easier to remove the paste later to put in the food grinder to stuff the casings. Spread the paste out on the cookie sheet so that it is a even layer across the cookie sheet. Place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Ground beef mixture spread out on cookie sheet

Ground beef mixture spread out on cookie sheet

While you are waiting for the ground beef mixture to chill, set up your KitchenAid Mixer with the Food Grinder attachment and the Sausage Stuffer accessory. Depending on the size your casing you’ll need to choose the larger or smaller nozzle. I needed to use the smaller nozzle with the casing I chose, and I used very little of it.  I probably have enough casings left to do 5 or 6 more batches. Slide the casing on the nozzle.

KitchenAid mixer set up with Food Grinder, Sausage Stuffer and with casing on nozzle

KitchenAid mixer set up with Food Grinder, Sausage Stuffer and with casing on nozzle

When the ground beef mixture has chillled, take it out, and place small-ish meat ball sized blobs of ground beef mixture in the food grinder. Slide a bit of the casing forward and tie the end closed before you start the mixer. Put the mixer on speed 4, and as meat comes out, hold the casing on the nozzle so that more casing does not slide out until the casing has been filled by the meat coming out. It’s easier said that done, and I found that it was helpful to have my husband assist me at this point, as I needed the two extra hands. Make sure you shut off the mixer just before the last bit of casing is filled as you’re going to want to have room to tie it off. Add more casing if you have more ground beef mixture and repeat this process to fill the casing. I will say that is easier if you have one person run the Food Grinder and one person deal with the casing.

Holding casing while mixture fills it

Holding casing while mixture fills it

Once you have filled the casing, you are going to want to portion off your hotdogs by twisting the casing. Be careful, I broke one strand open trying to portion them off.

Twisting filled casing to portion hotdogs

Twisting filled casing to portion hotdogs

Hot dogs after portioning

Hot dogs after portioning

Preheat your oven to 225ºF and place your hotdogs on a rack on another sheet pan.

Hotdogs before cooking in oven

Hotdogs before cooking in oven

Place the hot dogs in the oven and cook until their internal temperature is 150ºF. This could take 40 minutes to an hour. Check them with a meat thermometer occasionally.

Hotdogs after coming out of the oven

Hotdogs after coming out of the oven

Transfer them to a bowl of ice water, and when cool you can store them in the fridge or freezer to use later.

Cooked hotdogs cooling in ice water bath

Cooked hotdogs cooling in ice water bath

We saved out a couple from the ice water bath, and fried them up immediately.  After all, all that hard work had to be rewarded right?

Homemade Hotdogs fried in a skillet

Homemade Hotdogs fried in a skillet

We froze the remainder and took them to a cook out and grilled them.

Hot Dogs on the Grill

Hot Dogs on the Grill – Photo by J. Andrews


Hot dog with ketchup, relish and mustard

Hot dog with ketchup, relish and mustard – Photo by J. Andrews


2014-08-1 Fabulous Friday Finds


Tapestry Loom at Arizona State Museum

Tapestry Loom at Arizona State Museum

Okay, here’s a another dairy free cheese thing, Vegan Queso Dip, but using eggplants as a base. I’d have to sub out the nutritional yeast, corn starch, and almond milk, but it looks interesting.

I found this Creamy Cannellini-Broccoli Soup recipe, which sounds great, except for the fennel bulb in it. I may sub that out for celery just because I’m not a huge fennel fan. But I love the idea of using the beans to make it creamy and thicker. 

Amy at An Allergic Foodie reviewed Jennifer Esposito’s new book about celiac (and her long road to diagnosis. I’ve read a few Jennifer’s Way blog posts, and think the book sounds like an interesting read.

With some wayward zucchini taking up real estate in my fridge from a “failure to grill” incident last weekend, I have been thinking about the zucchini bread muffin tops we used to sell at a sandwich shop I worked at in college. Mmmmm, muffin tops. ANYway, I’ve been looking hard for recipes, but having a hell of a time finding what I wanted — not savory, not with other fruits or veg in, not “double chocolate,” just zucchini and spices and such. I think this recipe might do it, though I think I might futz with the spices a bit (there’s no nutmeg or clove, and I kind of want both) and leave out the nuts (which I love, but not here) in favor of a few almonds on top. But the fundamentals are really good.

Have a great week everyone!


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