2014-09-19 Fabulous Friday Finds

In honor of my only planned vacation this year, I'm sharing my favorite dinosaur, the mosasaur (which I might be spelling correctly) at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. She's awesome.

In honor of my only planned vacation this year, I’m sharing my favorite dinosaur, the mosasaur (which I might be spelling correctly) at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. She’s awesome.

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but we’re feeling fall in New England. It thrills me, personally (that’s me, Mary Kate) because I love fall. I couldn’t care less about pumpkin things out and about, but I do love actual pumpkin and pumpkin in baked goods I can eat. Like pumpkin chocolate swirl muffins?

I’m also sharing this article from Slate on Chinese food in the US and how to order it better. I don’t know why, but it just made me happy — I like Americanized Chinese food, even though I find little of it “safe” for me anymore, but I also really enjoyed Chinese food in China. I miss being adventurous in eating, but I think if I got better at talking about to restaurant staff, I might find more new things to try.

Since most commercial dairy replacement products are a no-go for me, and a lot of recipes I (Denise) come across ask you to use vegan yogurt of some sort, I keep pondering making my own.  I came across this recipe for Raw Oatghurt that might be interesting to try. I’d have to leave out the stevia (corn in processing) and not use the honey (corn issue if the bee keeper feeds the bees corn syrup) as a topping, but I’m thinking about it. 

Also, it’s fall. And this Cinnamon-Apple infused vodka seems like it’d be a good thing to mix into tea or sip on a cold evening. You need to use safe for you vodka (for me, I have to make sure it’s distilled from potato only), but think of all other fun infusions you could make. 

Have a good week everyone!

Soy-free, gluten-free “Tamari Sauce”

Soy-Free Gluten-Free Tamari

Soy-Free Gluten-Free Tamari

Despite being diagnosed with a likely soy allergy and confirming it with a food challenge, I also challenged gluten-free tamari separately and decided I could handle it. But paying a little more attention to the fact that I felt lousy the day after Denise and I would have sushi, and also when I’d make stir-fry, I started experimenting with making my own soy sauce substitute. I did try coconut aminos. I didn’t like them. Your mileage may vary, but coconut aminos can also be a bit on the pricey side. Regardless of what you find that works for you, I think that soy sauce is a handy flavor to have in your arsenal for so many uses.

I looked at and tried a variety of recipes online, but none were quite exactly what I wanted, taste-wise. This recipe is my version — I’d suggest trying it in this size (makes a little less than a cup) and then seeing what you might want more or less of in your own final version. Then, if you find you use it regularly, double it. So far, it seems to last safely about a month in the fridge. None of mine has made it past that.

This sauce works best, in my opinion, in cooked or mixed recipes, so stir-fry, teriyaki, marinades of all sorts (like jerky), rather than as a dipping sauce for sushi. Although, hey, it works there, too, but it shows its differences a little more.

Soy-free, gluten-free Tamari Sauce

  • 1 cup of beef or mushroom stock*
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (be sure this is free of “caramel coloring”)
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (free of sweeteners)
  • 3 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns (lightly smash one or two if you really like pepper flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic or one large clove, smashed
  • 1 large chunk of ginger — approximately 1 inch square, but chopped into 4 or so pieces
  • 1 pinch of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon (or so) of salt

In a saucepan, mix all the ingredients except the salt. A fork or whisk seems to work best to incorporate the onion powder and fully blend the molasses.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a high simmer (it should still be bubbling briskly) and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until reduced by 1/3 in volume.

Remove from heat, whisk in salt. Allow the mixture to cool, then strain and bottle. Store in the fridge.

*I would not highly recommend veggie stock for this, although if you really roasted the veg good and brown, it might be okay. Mushroom broth or stock has a richer flavor in the right direction for a soy sauce replacer, though, so if you want to make this vegan or vegetarian, and you’re not allergic to mushrooms, check out that option. There is at least one boxed brand on the market, or Vegetarian Times has a recipe.

If you tweak this to your tastes, please let us know! Post your recipe or a link below in the comments.


2014-09-12 Fabulous Friday Finds

A lizard who dropped by at the Tuscon Botanical Museum

A lizard who dropped by at the Tuscon Botanical Museum

So I (Denise) already posted this on our Facebook page, but it’s interesting enough that it bears repeating for those of you not following us on Facebook (also, follow us on Facebook, here.)  FARE issued a press release about a study in which they have  developed a unique monoclonal antibody, grown in the laboratory, which would target and deactivate mast cells, which play a key role in allergic reactions. The thought that you could desensitize someone to their food allergies is amazing, but since I’ve been taking an immunology course on edX.org, it’s a whole lot more complex than it sounds in this article. 

Since the food allergy thing, my ability to take any vitamins, probiotics and supplements has been cut off entirely (damn you corn, coconut, and milk!). As a result, and as a deep seated need for me to have Tabasco and Sriracha like sauces existed, I learned to ferment to get some probiotics, increase the bio-availability of some vitamins, and get some decent hot sauce. I quite like fermenting, and Boston Ferments is having their 2014 Boston Fermentation Festival on September 27, 10-4pm at the Egleston Farmers Market, Jamaica Plain, MA. It’s free and will be headlined by one of the world’s most renowned fermentation revivalists, Sandor Katz.

Lastly, I’m still skirting around with trying to find a homemade mayo that will work for me. Since I can have cashews, this might work. I need to a mayo recipe testing weekend at some point, but this one needs to go on the list of potential contenders, Egg-Free MayonnaiseI bet it’ll work for me, at least until my body decides that it’s done with cashews (I keep losing nuts). 

I (Mary Kate) discovered a new snack, suitable for me, not suitable for others with coconut allergies, in line with my current obsession with all things coconut: Dang Coconut Chips. I’m glad they aren’t that cheap, or I might not eat anything else this week. Sadly, though, it’s triggered a mad obsession with coconut cake (and then I discovered I have no baking coconut at all; I’ll fix that tomorrow).

Speaking of cakes, though, I recently bought Cara Reed’s cookbook. You know, the Fork and Beans writer? It’s possible that she’s a little crazy (she did make cheerios), but all that obsession goes into some amazing baking recipes that are both gluten-free and vegan. The cookbook is gorgeous, includes a coconut cake as well as versions of all the Girl Scout cookies, and a whole mess of other amazing things that I want to bake all of Right Now. And for anyone missing food colorings or colored sugars? Yeah, those are covered, too.

Hope you all have a great weekend! We are going to the new Whole Foods.



Grilled Peach Salsa


Grilled Peach Salsa - Photo by J. Andrews

Grilled Peach Salsa – Photo by J. Andrews


When Mary Kate and I began to plan the cookout we held several weeks ago (grilling, friends and lots o’ posts for the blog, what could be better?), we started with thinking about what ingredients were in season and could be grilled.  We wanted to do a dessert, but I couldn’t figure out anything with my restrictions by the time we were solidifying the menu. I had seen a recipe for peach salsa for canning, but I wondered what it would be like grilled instead, because it would bring out the sweetness of the peaches and combine it with some lovely caramelized, smokey flavors. So we tried it. It’s good. And for those of you that can’t have chips like me (the corn chips are only to make the picture pretty in my case, although Mary Kate can eat them), this salsa is really good on pork chops as a sauce. You could also use it as a marinade or a glaze on pork or chicken, depending on how finely you chop the ingredients or just put it in the blender for a peach barbecue sauce. This is a low heat salsa, so don’t be afraid because I’m posting it. For the chili heads, don’t worry, I’ve got a hot sauce coming up in few weeks that blows my head off, and will have appropriate warnings.

Grilled Peach Salsa

  • 1 pound of peaches, grilled
  • 1 small red red onion, grilled
  • 1/2 of a orange bell pepper, grilled (If you don’t know what to do with the half of orange bell pepper you’ll have left over, de-stem and de-seed it, put it in a freezer zip top bag and put it in your freezer. Peppers need no additional prep to freeze. Use it the next time you make a soup, stew, chili or marinara sauce.)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, grilled
  • 1/2 of a bulb of garlic, with top cut off and with most of the outer layer peels removed (Grill the whole bulb and put the remainder in the fridge to use for mashed potatoes or something else where roasted garlic would be awesome)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil or other safe-for-you oil
  • 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper

 **Please keep in mind as you look at the pictures that I was cooking a whole lot of other things the day we were grilling, so the pictures do not reflect the correct amounts of the ingredients shown, or may show additional ingredients. Also, my original recipe made a holy ton of salsa, so we cut the ingredients in half for the purposes of this post.

De-stem and de-seed your peppers.

Peppers de-stemmed and de-seeded.

Peppers de-stemmed and de-seeded  – Photo by J. Andrews

Place the peppers on the grill and grill until they get a bit tender and have a bit of char on them.

Peppers on the grill

Peppers on the grill – Photo by J. Andrews

Peppers and Garlic on the grill

Peppers and Garlic on the grill – Photo by J. Andrews

Take your garlic bulb, slice off the top so that the cloves are exposed a bit (see the picture and description in our previous Grilled Salsa recipe), and place it on some aluminum foil large enough to wrap the garlic in as shown in the picture above. Drizzle the olive oil over your garlic bulb, and wrap the aluminum foil around it and place it on the grill. Roast the garlic until the cloves are cooked and mushy.

Trim and peel your onion and then slice it in about half to one inches slices and place on the grill. Grill until you have a bit of char, and the onion is tender. (Ours were a bit more charred probably than strictly necessary, we were having issues with the grill, totally user error.)

Sliced Onions

Sliced Onions – Photo by J. Andrews

Sliced onions on the grill

Sliced onions on the grill – Photo by J. Andrews

Sliced onions on the grill just before they got a bit too done.

Sliced onions on the grill just before they got a bit too done – Photo by J. Andrews

Cut your peaches in half and remove the pit. On some of them I had to cut the peaches in quarters to get the pit out, but it’ll still work, it’s just halves are a little easier to manipulate on the grill.  Place the peaches on the grill and grill until they are a bit more tender and have some nice charring on the outside.

Peaches in halves and quarters

Peaches in halves and quarters – Photo by J. Andrews

Peaches on the grill

Peaches on the grill – Photo by J. Andrews

Once all your grilled ingredients are cooked, squeeze out the roasted garlic from the cloves, and put the garlic, peppers, onions, and peaches in a blender or food processor, and process until chopped to the level of chunkiness that you like. I used the manual food processor from Pampered Chef because I wouldn’t have to truck everything back inside or find an electric outlet (no affiliation, I just like it). You are likely going to have to process in batches.  Place all the chopped ingredients in a large bowl and add the white wine vinegar, brown sugar, cumin and cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Completed Grilled Peach Salsa

Completed Grilled Peach Salsa – Photo by J. Andrews



2014-09-05 Fabulous Friday Finds

Sullivan and Bruno are not ready for the end of summer

Sullivan and Bruno are not ready for the end of summer

The heat kicked back on outside this week — it’s definitely been too hot to bake here in Concord. So while most people think of crock pots as winter appliances, I (Mary Kate) like mine in summer since they really don’t add much to the heat in the house. This slow cooker burrito bowl recipe definitely sounds worth trying — I’d love to try it with pork, too.

Cara at Forks and Beans is killing me with these gluten-free home-made Ding Dongs. I think the cake would even be safe for the corn-allergic, though I’m unaware, so far, of a whipped cream substitute that is both corn-free and coconut-free for Denise. Any ideas?  (Based on my sensitivity levels, the cake may be possible if we skip the xanthan gum, but it might not work for other more sensitive corn allergic people. I’m wondering about using lard based frosting instead of whip cream. Yes, I know how appetizing that sounds, but no safe margarine and no safe shortenings… – D) (I think that’s what twinkie filling and such is likely made of. That or Crisco. — MK)

Our friend Mary S. often sends us interesting links and news items and this week she sent me this one. Apparently a little girl had an allergic reaction after eating blueberry pie.  Not to the blueberry pie, but to the residue of streptomycin, an antibiotic used as a pesticide on fruit, to which she was apparently allergic. I (Denise) don’t even know what to say about this, except that it seems like every day gives me more reason to mistrust our food supply. 

It must be fall, I’m craving baked goods. I found this recipe for Salted Caramel Glazed Chocolate Donuts, for which I would need to sub out the flax, coconut oil, and coconut milk, but I think they may be possible for me. (Chia, lard, and… what do you use for milks now? Rice? Maybe rice with some added fat would work there. — MK)

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce


Blueberry Barbecue Sauce - Photo by J. Andrews

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce – Photo by J. Andrews

When Mary Kate invited me to go berry picking earlier this summer, I had already done a good bit of canning with blueberries. So when I wound up about 6 cups of blueberries, I decided I want to do something other than jam and syrups, since I had already made syrups and blueberry butter. In poking around online for ideas, I found a canning recipe for blueberry barbecue sauce. I make some tweaks to it in order to make it safe for me, and reduced the amounts by half to make a more reasonable amount for those of you who aren’t into canning. If you do want to can it, the original recipe is here. This is a low heat sauce, as verified by others, so don’t worry that just because I’m posting it, you won’t be able to handle it.

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

Makes about 2 cups.

  • 1 3/4 cups of fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup of safe-for-you ketchup (I don’t have a corn safe one so I make it myself) 
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 1/8 of a teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Penzey’s Cajun Seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a medium boil. Stir and lower the heat to a simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes. Use a hand blender to puree all the ingredients, being careful not to splash, or pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.

Once the sauce has cooled you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use it.  When grilling, I prefer to use a dry rub first, and then once the meat is almost completely cooked, I use a silicone pastry brush to coat the meat with the sauce and then grill each side to warm and/or char up the sauce.


Blueberry Barbecue Sauce - Photo by J. Andrews

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce – Photo by J. Andrews


Brushing pork with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce – Photo by J. Andrews


Grilling each side after coating with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce – Photo by J. Andrews


Boneless pork ribs with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce – Photo by J. Andrews



2014-08-29 Fabulous Friday Finds

Sailboat, Portsmouth, NH

Sailboat, Portsmouth, NH

Hey, it’s artisanal lard! With the rise of less industrial ways to raise meat, it is nice to see the recognition that all the parts can be of value. The idea of making spreads from lard is old, not new, and Denise has worked out a recipe for a margarine, playing with lard and tallow.

Since the corn allergy reared its ugly head, there’s been a lot of products I (Denise) can’t have anymore. One of them I miss desperately is pepperoni. I really haven’t bothered to work out a pizza because (a) I have to make a non-dairy cheese without coconut, corn or almond in it, and (b) who cares if there’s no pepperoni?  But someone on the Corn Allergy & Intolerance group on Facebook posted a link for Making Homemade Pepperoni…so now I’m going to have to do it and figure out a cheese. 

In food allergy research news, FARE posted a press release on work that Cathryn Nagler, PhD, Bunning Food Allergy Professor at the University of Chicago is doing that shows that the composition of your microbiome bacteria and the correlation to antibiotic and antimicrobial use may have on the increasing susceptibility to food allergies.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

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


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