Well, I’m sure that one of my links will be no surprise to anyone, because it’s got chiles in it. This recipe for Green Harissa looks pretty awesome.
Because I’m in the market for a smoker, well in the next couple of months’ anyway, I thought this article from Serious Eats on The Best Smokers Under $500, 2015 Edition was interesting. I’m probably going to go with the Weber Smokey Mountain 18.5-Inch given advice I’ve received from a local friend who is into competitions, and based on the killer Amazon reviews. I need to smoke bacon, and eventually ham, once I get my curing recipe sorted out.
I know Denise posted about Anti-Grain Foods flours a few weeks ago, but I got the sample pack as a gift from my friend Laurie, which is awesome. We’re planning to try out this recipe for squash flour potstickers (with a few modifications) later today.
Last recipe for the day: I have never heard of moong dal chilla, but my friend Deb had pinned this, and it looks really good. I’m probably still eating potatoes for breakfast most days, but I’m definitely trying these bean-and-veg pancakes soon.
I realize, looking over this list, that we’ve not been very holiday themed, but you can always check out the All-American Chicken Ranch burgers or the homemade hot dogs for weekend grilling. Don’t blow your fingers off, everyone.
This started out to be a different post. Denise and I had gone to a public lecture at one of the big medical facilities in our area to hear an immunologist talk about food allergies. I don’t think either of us held out hope that we would be enlightened, but given our conversations after, I think we’d both hoped to learn something.
The questions from the audience showed a hunger for knowledge, for answers. About half the audience seemed to be there because they have children with allergies. The other half seemed to be adults with unexplained chronic health issues or actual diagnosed adult-onset food allergies, looking for information and answers. We did not really get answers. There was an implied dismissal of patients who have anything less than full anaphylactic shock (and, again, that was not all that clearly defined other than “can lead to death.” If the actual definition is applied — any reaction involving more than one bodily system reacting — all of us in the food allergy and most in the food intolerance worlds have been in anaphylaxis way more often than we’d believed.). There was also very polite scoffing at anyone searching for answers who believes that food allergy or food intolerance might be the problem.
Denise and I have both encountered this in our fun exciting journeys through western medicine and the US health insurance and health care systems.
Here’s the rub: For some of us really unlucky people in the world, our bodies have decided that foods, some foods, are enemies worse than viruses. This food fight can take a variety of forms. Food allergy is an IgE-mediated allergic response to a food. Food intolerance can be a lack of digestibility (e.g. lactose intolerance) or something more vague than that. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. The only one of these things that has a clear clinical diagnosis protocol is celiac. In all of these cases, though, the prescription is the same: Avoid eating the things that make you sick. This is generally just good life advice, but when the fight in you takes days, weeks, (or a trip to the ER) to resolve, it’s a little more serious.
So without clear diagnostic protocols, and with a pretty basic (if really time-consuming, life-altering, and fucking annoying) treatment plan — avoid the food — how do you, a sick person, get actionable information about what to do to improve your own health? How many of you have asked your medical professional about certain tests, certain diagnoses, or certain studies that they hadn’t ever heard of? How many of you have relayed information about how you experience symptoms in your body, whether in relation to food or not, and had a doctor ignore that information because they don’t know what it means diagnostically? How many have been told that food has nothing to do with your issues, even if your issues are digestive? How many have waited months to see a specialist who spends 5 minutes listening, shrugs off everything you’ve told them, and then prescribes a drug without explaining anything about it?
I think this is common for those of us with adult-onset food issues — allergies, intolerances, and the like. I know that I read more than my primary care practitioner on the research about food allergies. She has admitted that. She has suggested tests and diagnoses and let me go off to research them and see if I think the descriptions of symptoms fit with my experience. At first I was not on board with this, but now? Who knows better what I feel in my body than me? I’m the only one living here! Besides, she has maybe hundreds of patients. I have only myself and my own symptoms to read up on.
When I research, however, how do I find valid information? Who do you trust, how do you vet your information, and how do you avoid bad data? How do you tune out the really bad advice?
I trust that most of the research being done by federal health agencies (NIH, CDC, FDA) is based on solid scientific methods, that they will be properly cited, and that the authors will be clearly identified. I trust research being done or promoted by FARE is the same. I trust that data provided by major hospital and research groups (Mayo, Dartmouth, Mass General, Kaiser) is also scientifically valid. But bear in mind — scientifically valid and useful are two different things. Like many other people with food allergies, I think I’ve learned as much if not more from other food allergy sufferers as I have from “proper” scientific research. I’m not a scientist, and neither are most of the other food allergy bloggers. Nor are most of us dieticians, doctors, pharmacists, or other medical professionals. But we live it, this food allergy life.
So this is how I try to weed out useful information from randomness. Writers I trust relate their own personal experiences of symptoms, suspected causes, trials and missteps in figuring things out, methods of “research” on themselves, any helpful or non-helpful information from medical professionals, tests, and outcomes or results. They do not try to generalize this to everyone. Most food allergy writers know how idiosyncratic allergy and intolerance presentation is, and they write with that in mind. Writers who generalize that their personal story must be everyone else’s, writers who purposely or knowingly relay “health information” that has been debunked or disproved, writers using anything that sounds like a “health information headline” in a major news outlet (i.e. alarmist and click-baiting), or anyone promoting a magic cure, I do not trust and generally drop from my reading list. Writers who do their research and cite it, I am more inclined to trust and keep reading. This includes anyone whose research is “I tried this and here’s what happened.” Sometimes, we learn best by doing.
Anyone who dismisses all alternative treatment methods outright, I don’t trust. It’s one thing to share studies that show efficacy or lack thereof of different alternative treatments. It’s also great when, again, people share their personal experiences and even their theories. Most of us who are in this boat are or have been desperate at one point or another, and if you try some supplement or massage therapy or anything else in hope, how can I blame you? I understand. Doesn’t mean I’ll follow you, but I’ve done my own experimenting.
The wealth of information available to us is a benefit and a pitfall, I think. Anyone who has had a long bout of ill health with no good answers from their doctors has probably tried the sugar water, and I don’t fault them for that. This is one of the reasons that the gluten-free trend doesn’t bother me that much. People don’t feel great and they are searching for answers. But too many “health” blogs and “health” companies out there promote magic cures that do nothing or, at worst, cause additional harm. I do not believe in magic cures.
You are the only person who has to live in your body and deal with whatever is wrong with it. If you can learn to pay attention to what it’s telling you, I think that is generally your best chance for achieving your own optimal health. This one I feel okay making a generalization on — what better primary source of information do you have than your own bodily experience? With the information you get from paying attention, you can evaluate health information and treatment options from the internet, from well-meaning friends and family, and from your health care professionals.
We don’t have a magic cure. If we did, honestly, I’m not sure I would trust it. I guess the closest thing we’ve come up with as “magic” is being able to make and eat good food that doesn’t want to kill us. That is why we write this blog. I hope at least one or two of our recipes has made you forget you’re being “deprived” of “normal” foods.
If you’re like me (okay, probably not, as I have issues as outlined in my post, WW Kitchen Stories: Rosemary or Denise’s Spice Issues), you might have a few dried chiles kicking around. Or more than a few. Since I have so many, and since I was running low on chili powder, I started looking into how to make it. Although Mary S. of the green thumb gave me some chili powder that I tolerate after I mentioned I might do a Penzey’s order, it’s good to be able to make your own so that you know that there’s no anti-caking agents, disclosed or undisclosed, and less chance for cross contamination. Plus, I really have a crap ton of whole dried chiles, thanks in part to the harvest I got from Mary S. last year that I dehydrated.
Although this might be a bit spicier than your normal chili powder, I tried to keep it in the realm of reasonable for those of you who are not fire breathers. Feel free to switch out dried peppers based on your own tastes and/or what you have on hand. You will need a blender or a food processor.
DIY Chili Powder
Makes 1 cup.
- 2 dried, whole chipotle chiles
- 2 dried, whole guajillo chiles
- 2 dried, whole New Mexico chiles
- 2 dried, whole ancho chiles
- 2 dried, whole cascabel chiles
- 2 dried, whole arbol chiles
- 2 dried, whole habanero chiles
- 2 Tablespoons of cumin seed
- 2 Tablespoons of garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon of Mexican dried oregano (you can use plain oregano if you don’t have Mexican)
- 1 Tablespoon of smoked paprika (you can use plain paprika if you don’t have smoked, but the smoked is nice)
Destem, seed, and slice the dried chiles.
Place the dried chiles and the cumin seed in a skillet over medium high heat.
Move the skillet around constantly to shift the cumin seed and chiles until you smell the cumin seed toasting.
Remove the chiles and the cumin seed from the skillet, and allow them to cool completely.
Once cool, place the chiles, cumin seed, garlic powder, oregano and paprika into a blender or food processor.
Blend or process until you have a fine powder. Before opening the blender or food processor, let the powder settle for a few minutes. You really don’t want to gas yourself.
Store your chili powder in an airtight container, and use as you would normally use chili powder.
Greetings, readers. This one’s going to be short and sweet from me (Mary Kate) or short as your average English major can make it. My computer is having a major case of cranky slowness.
First up? Cara Reed of Fork and Beans has a new cookbook. As you might know, I’m a huge fan (I just pulled the White Out cake out of the oven from the first book), and this one talks more about the chemistry, substitutions, and technical side of gluten-free vegan baking. I’m super excited.
Secondly, it is now very officially summer. Summer means grilling, right? The Kitchn has us all covered. For me, the first thing I consider grilling is burgers — that’s my dad’s fault — but I’m always open to how to make them even better. But I also love vegetables, and there are lots of ways to do them on the grill.
Last week I posted a link to a company making butternut squash flour, but it’s pretty pricey, so I looked to see if anyone else had DIY’ed their own butternut squash flour. They have. Mary Kate and I will have more things to do with the dehydrators, as I foresee other types of flour experiments.
Because bug repellent can be a bit hard for me, and I have a lot of mason jars, and the mosquitoes are making an appearance at our place, I think I’d like to make these DIY Mason Jar Citronella Candle Oil Lamps.
Have a great weekend everyone!
I have a dehydrator! One of Denise’s friends is clearing things out, I guess, and when she asked if I wanted a dehydrator, I jumped on it. I’ve tried some straight up fruit so far, but I was most excited about making jerky and home-made fruit rollups, as well as drying some of my herbs this summer.
I really like fruit leather as a snack. It’s almost as good as candy, and I had some ideas. First up: strawberry mojito. This is a super easy recipe — IF you have a dehydrator. If you don’t and want to try making these, ask around and see if you can borrow one. It takes about 8 hours to dehydrate these. You will need the liquid trays. This recipe is scaleable — I’m writing it for ONE dehydrator tray, but you’ll run it with four trays (at a minimum). Try other flavors, increase it by 4, or add other food to the other trays.
AGAIN: THIS MAKES ONE TRAY. Scale up as needed, or try your own flavors.
Strawberry Mojito Fruit Leather
- 1 pound of strawberries, washed, with hulls and stems removed
- 1/4 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
- 1 Tablespoon, packed, mint leaves, chopped finely
Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pour slowly into dehydrator tray and tilt, if needed to spread it out. Dehydrate at medium (140ºF) for 8-10 hours (it may take longer if it’s humid.)
Peel and eat. Will keep for about 2 weeks in airtight containers, maybe slightly longer. I wrapped mine in plastic wrap so that I’d get the experience of peeling them off the wrap — part of the remembered joys of fruit rollups.
My apologies for the rather dull photos. I didn’t check them this time around and by the time I noticed all my “pretty” photos were blurry, I’d eaten all the fruit leather. They tasted great.
It just felt like a good time for President Lincoln, from Chicago.
So. What did you read this week?
Mary Kate got excited by the idea that Ben and Jerry’s might enter the vegan ice cream market next year. I say “might” because, despite the announcement, they don’t even know what the base will be, so, who knows? They are looking at coconut and almond, I gather. If you like coconut ice cream and want it now, see if you can find Steve’s in your area. They’ve recently made it to New Hampshire (or, rather, my friend Jodi told me about this and a hunt ensued), but the non-dairy flavors are hard to find. If dairy isn’t your issue, I hear the regular flavors are good (and many are gluten-free and/or egg-free).
These vegetable spring rolls are gorgeous. I think I need to make them soon. I might mix up the veggies, though — two different bell peppers seems like too much pepper; I’m not sure you’d taste anything else.
So I finally figured out that the blisters that show up on my feet after an exposure to corn actually has a name, Dyshidrosis. My reactions are not as extreme as those depicted, but at least I feel like I know what it is, and that I’m not the only one that gets it. If you get weirdo little fluid filled blisters on your hands or feet after an allergy exposure, check out the link.
So I just saw this recipe for 4 Ingredient AIP Flatbread Recipe, which was paleo and vegan, and I clicked reluctantly, because nine times out of ten, if it’s paleo, it has coconut in it and I’m allergic to coconut. But the main ingredient was butternut squash flour. Apparently there’s a company called Anti-Grain which sells butternut squash, sweet potato, and apple flour. I need to check this out.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Because I like transparency, you should know that this recipe was the result of a mistake. Yay serendipity!
I wanted to make crunchy granola bars like the Nature Valley ones I liked before the food allergy apocalypse hit. But I wanted to make them not so breakfast-y and more of a treat or a snack. So I found a recipe for a crunchy granola bar and decided to add cocoa powder to the sticky mixture sticking it together. The recipe called for honey, but I don’t have a safe honey or maple syrup, so I made a cane sugar syrup used that instead.
Well, I threw all the ingredients for the sticky stuff, i.e., the cane sugar syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon, all the saucepan and began heating it. But then it didn’t want to melt. So I thought that maybe the cocoa powder was too dry and I added a bit of grape seed oil. And the mixture still looked sugary, and I began to worry that the cocoa powder would burn. It was at this point that I read the actual directions for the mixture from the recipe I was trying to modify. It said to cook the sugar and sugar syrup first and then add the vanilla and cinnamon after. Oops. So I decided that I had enough sugar syrup to do it over, but I decided to see if I could get it to melt, and as I did that, I realized that it wouldn’t be accurate if I wrote it up without the do-over and I didn’t want anyone else to risk burning chocolate. So I quickly greased a small baking sheet and dumped the mixture on it so I could start over again with the sticky stuff for the granola bars. I thought it might end up like tootsie rolls, but when I came back to it after finishing the granola bar attempt (which also didn’t really work as it didn’t set up into bars, but might make a great cereal if I had a safe non-dairy milk, sigh), it was hard as a rock. I pried it off the cookie sheet and then put it in a zip top bag in the freezer for bit and then dropped the bag on the floor a couple of times to break it up into pieces. If you were smarter than me, which you are, you’d use a metal spatula or turner to divide the candy into smaller pieces when it’s cooled a bit but is still warm and pliable. Or put them into silicone candy molds.
Chocolate Cinnamon Hard Candy
- 3/4 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.)
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar (make sure it’s safe for you)
- 4 Tablespoons of cocoa powder (make sure it’s safe for you)
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract (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 use either Vikingfjord or Luksusowa Vodka because they are made only from potatoes, where some vodkas may also use grain or corn.)
- 1/2 teaspoon of grape seed oil (or other safe oil for you)
- enough grape seed oil to grease cookie sheet
Grease small to medium cookie sheet with grape seed oil. I used a mister.
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly with a silicone spatula, so that you can scrape the bottom of the saucepan really well. Make sure that all ingredients get combined really well.
Cook over medium heat until the brown sugar begins melting into the cane sugar syrup. I didn’t measure the temperatures, but if you’re using a candy thermometer, you’re probably aiming for somewhere between 250°F and 300°F. Once the brown sugar is melting into the sugar syrup, pour the mixture onto your cookie sheet or into silicone candy molds.
Once it is cooler, but still somewhat pliable, use a metal spatula or turner to cut the candy into pieces and let it cool. Or resort to the zip top bag method as described above.
Enjoy! Also, it’s great with coffee.
As much as I (Mary Kate) want to, I will not make fun of Massachusetts pronunciations of their own towns. I mean, I type the name of the state wrong nearly every time, so … ah, spell check. You are a wonderful invention.
ANYWAY. Here are some links for this week:
Check out this Vintage Kitchens pinboard. If you like architecture or cool-looking places, check out the rest of Mike Jackson’s pinboards, too, as they are amazing. Pinterest really can be more than recipes and diet tips, as Karen Nyberg posts awesome space photos from space. (I have noticed a distinct increase in pinned ads or paid for pins. That is annoying. Understandable, but annoying.) You can also follow either me or Denise (or both!).
Here is a theoretically way better way to peel a mango. I have not tried this yet, but I should, and soon.
This week has been a bit off for me. I ended up having to use my epi-pen and head to the ER in an ambulance after eating food that should have been safe. Based on what I ate, it’s possible I have a new food allergy. I was not as prepared as I should have been, and I want to remind people to have a plan. In case you didn’t see the links Mary Kate posted on our Facebook page, go check them out.
Also, since there was an study showing that people misuse their epi-pens, go check out this article which also has a list of training videos for different auto-injectors.
Have a good weekend and be careful out there!
This recipe comes from two sources. First, a salad I read about on a menu and was really excited to try — until I was informed by our knowledgeable server that all the sauces and dressings at the restaurant were unsafe for me. How is it possible that not a single sauce was allergy-friendly? I don’t know. I was grateful to be steered away from food that would make me ill, and I ate my boring but properly cooked plain food instead. But I was still thinking about it, and figured I could absolutely whip up an awesome chopped salad. Secondly, after all the ingredients were chopped, it was so gorgeous that I thought I could use the “salads in mason jars” technique that is all over the food internets to make a) better photos, and b) lunch.
Keeping salad in a mason jar allows you to put the dressing on the bottom and layer the ingredients so they do not get smushed or soggy. Layer something that won’t absorb the dressing and get soggy on the bottom — I put the chicken down there. Carrots, celery, corn, bacon on top of that. Avocado under tomato (so the acid would keep the avocado green), a sprinkle of Daiya cheddar shreds (absolutely optional), and some sprouts on top. Instead of croutons, I’ve used roasted fingerling potato slices. I served it all over spinach, but use whatever greens you prefer. The dressing in this case is a super simple cilantro-lime vinaigrette, using frozen chopped cilantro (but use fresh if you’ve got it!).
Chop everything up. Add or replace ingredients as you choose — go for color. Think about your layers a bit, but layer it into jars and go to town. Lunch for days, in the time for one meal prep. It’s color, freshness, and portable flavor. This recipe makes about 4 pint jar salads (with the greens kept separate). You will likely have leftover potatoes and chicken.
Chopped Cobbish Salad, in a jar, gluten-free, allergy-friendly
- 4 teaspoons chopped cilantro (thawed, if previously frozen)
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 4 Tablespoons lime juice
- 6 Tablespoons best-quality olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- olive oil to coat
- seasoned salt or spice mix of your choice
- fingerling or other small potatoes, sliced thin or chopped small
- chicken breast
- mixed herb seasoning of your choice
- 6 slices bacon, cooked
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped small, or shredded
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 ear corn, cooked and removed from cob, or 1/2 cup defrosted
- grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 avocado, cubed
- spinach or other greens
First, cook your cooked ingredients.
Roasted potatoes for “croutons”: Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Wash and slice. Toss potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt or other spice of your choice. Bake 20 minutes or until crispy. I can’t tell you how many of these to make — I always make a full pan because they make great snacks.
Cook your chicken breasts. I prefer to grill them on my little electric grill, but you can always use this method.
Cook your bacon until crispy, drain and crumble.
Okay. Now on to the vegetables. You’re looking for about 1/2 a cup of each vegetable, divided up into 4 servings. Given that the corn and tomatoes are sort of pre-sized, aim to get everything else between those two sizes.
Now mix up your dressing — whisk or put all the ingredients in a jar and shake. Add about 1-2 Tablespoons of dressing to each jar, depending on how much dressing you like (and remember you’ll be putting this over additional greens). Then layer in the rest of the food. I put the sprouts on top so I could pack them in. Cap it, put it in the fridge, and look forward to your next meal. When ready to serve, I tipped the jars over and shook them a little. Put the greens down on a plate and pour over the rest of the goodies. I pulled the sprouts aside so that I could use them to swipe the rest of the dressing out of the jar.
The longest I’ve kept a jar salad around was 2 days — they might last a bit more, but I haven’t tried it yet.
There’s some new information about a connection between your brain and the immune system, which might explain my allergy exposure induced confusion and inability to retrieve words correctly.
Allergic Living has an article comparing the airlines’ allergy policies which may be of interest to those traveling this summer.
The New York Times has a book review of Another Person’s Poison, which is apparently a cultural history on food allergies. I’m probably going to check it out.
It’s a little early to talk about fresh tomatoes in New England, but I’m bookmarking this fresh tomato soup, Polish-style, for later this summer. I love the fact that it’s a creamy soup veganized with pureed cashews — not great if you’re allergic to nuts, but good for me being dairy-free.
Have you ever heard of “bamboo rice“? I have no, and now I want to try it. I’ll be looking for it the next time I make it to the Saigon Asian Market in Nashua (and I really hope they open in Manchester again soon!)
Also, happy birthday to Denise’s mom!
Have a great weekend everyone!