Pickle Pickle Who’s Got the Pickles?

Some of us adore pickles and some dislike them.  If you are a pickle fan read on.  If not, read anyway as these are far better than the tired flabby canned pickles found at the grocery store.  A good gardening friend gave me this recipe.  It is really easy and rather fun to construct.  Even better is that you can pickle most any veggies. I have tried zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, green peppers and red peppers.  Of course, cucumbers are in there too!

You do need a couple grape leaves.  You might be able to find a neighbor with a grape vine.  I am betting you could use wild grape leaves from a state park or along a country road.   They really add to the authenticity of it so snag a few from somewhere.

Also needed are 3 dill heads (the flowers of a dill plant).  This might be more problematic but if you know a real gardener, aka someone like me, you can beg the dill heads as frankly they are not used much for cooking and I was happy to give some to the friend who gave me this recipe.  Grow your own dill for next summer; it is so easy to do and it does reseed and come back year after year.  Dill is lovely in potato salad and in other salads like my stuffed tomatoes which I plan to blog about later this week!

Refrigerator Pickles

2 cups white vinegar

¼ cup salt, I used kosher salt in mine

4 cups water (I used 3)

¾ cup sugar

3 garlic cloves cut up

3 dill heads

2 grape leaves

Bring the first four ingredients to a boil in a sauce pan and let cool fully.  Put the other three ingredients in the bottom of a gallon jar.  Cut up your veggies and pile in the jar.  Top with the vinegar mixture. Put on the lid. Put in the fridge and let marinate for 3 days before trying it.

I have done pickling cucumbers, short zucchini spears, broken up cauliflower heads, thin slices of white turnip and peppers.  I want to try broccoli next!  Maybe celery?

My grandson Aiden who is almost four clamors for the pickle jar to come out when he eats meals here.  I say, eat your food and you can have some pickles! He gobbles up his food and waits expectantly for me to fish out a pickle or two.

I like how fresh they are and how crunchy the pieces still are. Plus they have no additives or preservatives.  You can keep adding veggies as you use them up.  I think the tough part is fishing them out of the jar.  The other day I lost a fork in there but luckily it didn’t go to the bottom of the jar; a cuke round stopped its descent! Now, go pickle fresh veggies and have some fun with it….

Originally posted by me late last summer 2014.

Musikfest Update Friday 8.14.15 GF Brownie Alert!

Eating gluten free at the Musikfest is sure challenging and when you are volunteering with only 30 minutes for a meal break it can be tough.  Snacks might be easier.  Last year I had some great kettle corn and some super Creamery ice cream up by the Hotel Bethlehem.  I am guessing you can still get those treats this Fest.

hempzels

I did find some incredible brownies, up on the edge of Leiderplatz; right at the back of the Sun Inn.  Hempzel Pretzels has a small stand there.

hempzel signI used to eat their tasty soft pretzels years ago at the fest, when I could still eat wheat and gluten.  They still have many great pretzel products for sale but there are also some certified gluten free brownies.  I didn’t get a picture of them but the stand has a big basket of them.  The flavor is outstanding, creamy and very chocolaty.  Well worth the trip up to Leiderplatz.  They also sell a garlic jam, didn’t get a taste of it but it is gf and looks like it might be great on a sandwich.

garlic jam  I didn’t find anything else at Leiderplatz that was gf and safe for me other than ice tea. I like the one that is half lemonade. Thirst quenching…

Saturday I plan to trek down to Voltzplatz on my break for their crazy good baked potato with pulled pork topping.  It was incredible at last year’s fest, lots of tender meat topping a creamy baked spud. Can’t wait!

No, I Can’t Eat Even One of Your Cookies!

This post is for those of you who wonder about us celiacs deliberately consuming gluten at will just because we miss wheaty foods.  I have no “big” answer but maybe this will help you understand how I roll. I’m gonna get kinda serious but I think that is necessary once in a while.  Next post I will get back to a yummy gf food recipe!

I belong to several on line celiac groups.  I see a lot of interesting comments and discussions on foods and eating styles.  Some people are very critical of how others live their lives and others are incredibly supportive.  Recently I read a somewhat whiny post by a lady who cheats on her gluten free status in what seems to be a regular pattern.  “It is  very hard to stick to a gluten free diet when your family and friends eat gluten right in front of” you.  Well, I had to respond to that because, I am constantly exposed to gluten based foods in my jobs and I have been able to resist the temptation…so far.  This is what I wrote to her.

Of course it is hard but I would rather live than die from cancer due to cheating or constantly suffering the pains from being glutened. The more you cheat I bet the more you rationalize it. If you set your mind to never ever cheat no matter how tempting it is it gets easier over time. It is a mind set…..I miss many many things that contain gluten. And it is very difficult at times. But I never intentionally eat gluten, I see it as a dam, I don’t want any cracks in my dam from cheating that will lead to my early demise….

That lady is correct, it is very hard to stick to eating gluten free every single day.  But she is wrong to rationalize it and to cheat, deadly wrong.

take-care-of-your-body

I write today for all of you who think it is easy to live gluten free or that we who do must cheat a lot.  I frankly do not see a lot of people on line who admit to voluntarily eating gluten on occasion.  When someone does make that admission a number of others generally jump in to chastise the person, to explain how detrimental to their health it is and generally attempt to persuade them to return to the straight and narrow, no gluten ever, life style.  No one says, hey, that’s okay.  But usually someone says, “It happens, we all make mistakes.”

The thing besides my fear of cancer that keeps me on the straight and narrow is how ill I feel when I get accidentally glutened by a very small amount of something, generally cross contamination.  I feel such burning pain and nausea as well as total exhaustion for hours and residual gut pain lasting for days that I am loath to bring this suffering (or worse as a big slice of pizza gotta be worse on my gut than that speck of cross contamination that made me so ill the other week) on me; all in the need to eat a slice of pizza or bagel.  Sure I get tempted but I never seriously entertain taking that bite of pizza.  The negatives are just too great to contemplate doing that voluntarily.

crunchmaster crackers

Yes, people who have celiac cheat.  Some have less will power, some have no active symptoms and just knowing it is bad for your gut isn’t enough for them I guess and some are in situations that make it easy to make poor choices. We with this auto-immune disease have to plan ahead for any meal away from home. We can’t just trust to finding something decent to eat.  That may well lead to a snack not a real meal.  I would rather bring a picnic than trust to what I will discover as I travel. I would rather suffer the torment of watching you eat pizza than getting ill from it for the next few days.

shortbread cookie 001

lemon shortbread cookie, gf of course!

I hope that my commentary has enlightened this issue for you folks who don’t have celiac. It isn’t easy to be constantly strong but it is vital to staying healthy and living a longer life. It is not a joke or a yes one day and no the next.  It is a lifesaving lifestyle that we cannot take on or off like a t-shirt.  Please take it seriously when a celiac is coming on a visit and asks you to serve only gluten free foods or brings their own meal so they can eat safely.

You or someone you know may choose to eat gluten free to lose weight.  That’s okay, but please recognize that it is not a “dieting” choice for me. I chose to do it to stay healthy and feel good, eating gluten would make me terribly ill and if done more than rarely could quite possibly lead to cancer and hasten my demise.

And for goodness sake, don’t wave your bagel in my face as a tease or beg me to taste a yummy cookie.  You are making it just a little bit more stressful as to my daily efforts to eat safely.  I will not eat that cookie/bagel but it would be far nicer not to tempt directly.

Be kind to the celiac you know, it sure would make their day if you serve something they can safely enjoy and if you are polite and understanding about their need to eat gluten free every single meal.

If you have celiac you might want to share this post with anyone who just doesn’t get it, like that person who urges you to have a slice of warm bread or a fresh roll, just this once!  You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you?  Eat safe and live well.

Turkey Posole, A Savory Mexican Stew

I am betting you have some roast turkey in the fridge or freezer, maybe a pint of gravy too?  Well, I have just the recipe for you, courtesy of foodnetwork.com.  It is nothing like most traditional turkey leftover recipes.  It is a Mexican stew.  Posole stew can easily be gluten free. Just use care choosing your chicken broth and your tortilla chips that accompany this savory soup.

I have been making it every fall after Thanksgiving and always look forward to a few bowls of it.  Spicy, crunchy, tangy; unlike any other soup I make.  It is called turkey posole. It can be made with roasted pork and I have done so.  I like it far better with roast turkey.  I have served this stew to many people and it is always well received and enjoyed, even by my elderly mother.  I haven’t made my 2014 batch but it is coming next week to my dinner table.  Can’t wait!

posole stew

Ingredients

2 tbsp mild olive oil or canola oil

2 medium onions chopped

4 cloves garlic chopped fine

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped fine –use two if you like it spicy

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 GF beer (can use 1 cup water if you want but it gives more flavor)

Coarse salt and pepper

12-16 tomatillos; about 2 lbs, take off the paper cover and chop up.  Can coarsely chop in food processor

5-6 sprigs fresh thyme; chop it up off the stems.

1 15-17 ounce can hominy

1 qt chicken stock (can be part gravy)

1 ½ to 2 lbs chopped turkey meat; can be mixture of light and dark

1 lime juiced

Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish

Tortilla chips; the ones with lime go particularly well with this.

tortilla chips

Cook first six ingredients about 5 min in a large stock pot.  Add beer, cook one minute.  Add chopped tomatillos and cook 5-6 minutes until softened.  Add hominy, thyme and stock and cook 15 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Add lime juice, stir well.  I never use cilantro; something I just don’t like, but feel free to add it as the original recipe uses a bunch of it.

We ladle the posole into bowls and serve lots of white tortilla chips to crunch over the top of the hot soup.  As the soup disappears from my bowl I like to add more chips to keep the crunch going.

Notes:

tomatillos

tomatillos

The more jalapeno pepper you add the hotter it will be. I have tried canned tomatillos and they are not really a good substitute.  You can get them fresh (found near the fresh tomatoes) in many stores including Giant and Bottom Dollar.  They are used in Hispanic and Mexican cooking and add a lot of flavor and tartness to the soup. hominy

Hominy is a corn product; whole kernels soaked in lye to swell and soften.  The kernels have a mild corn flavor plus they soak up other flavors quickly and add a certain texture and body to the stew.

The wild turkey is native to North America and another turkey species is originally from Mexico.  So turkey is a natural component in this stew.  The Aztecs revered corn and liked to cook it with meat.  Tomatillos are native to Mexico, related to cape gooseberries.  They are used in salsa verde and other Mexican dishes. So this compilation of turkey, corn, tomatillos and lime is a natural combination that will be easy to make and fun to eat. Go on, be adventurous and enjoy a steaming hot bowl of delicious posole and use up that turkey in a totally different way!

Turkey Avocado Salad: Terrific

The turkey is coming, juicy and succulent.  And it is logically followed by a mountain of leftover meat.  Once you have enjoyed a hot gravy covered sandwich the big question is what to make out of the rest of the bird.  The other day I made oven roasted chicken pieces and found myself with one last leftover piece.  I decided to make a salad out of it.  What I created was so tasty I instantly knew what I was going to make using some of my turkey, a fruity crunchy salad that is a meal in a bowl.  It is a riff on that classic chicken salad with grapes which was popular for many years; I updated it with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and slices of creamy avocado. Both add color and great flavor.

apple pear pie, squash, chicken and dumplings 008

If you don’t like avocado; just leave it out although I think you should try it at least once: avocado is really good for you and you may suddenly decide you like its smooth contrast to the rest of the salad. I much prefer the Hass avocado; smaller with pebbly skin.  Pick one with a slight give, not hard as a rock nor mushy or about to cave in.

hass avocado

The pomegranate seeds are mostly there for the color burst they give and there is some crunch and flavor I enjoy too.  To get at the seeds I usually cut carefully into the skin and peel it back in two places to make a wedge of exposed interior.   Then i break it open and pick out the seeds.  I only pick out what I am going to use and put the rest of the pomegranate in a plastic bag and store it in the fridge.  There are U-tube videos on how to easily get at the seeds if you want to check them out; might be easier. When choosing a pomegranate pick one that feels heavy for its size, the skin should not be dull or damaged, no soft spots and the color is a vibrant red.  Fall is the season for pomegranates; don’t look for them in June.  I have and they are very hard to find after winter ends.

pomegranate

But do leave in the grapes and nuts and the celery.  They are essential to the flavor and crunch of it. I used Light Hellman’s mayo, less calories and I like its texture and flavor.

This is a sort of approximate recipe; everyone has their own idea on how much mayo, how many grapes, and how much mustard. I am giving a middle ground amount in a recipe for one dinner sized salad.  Adjust to your tastes and feel free to double it or triple.

Roasted Chicken/Turkey Salad

Ingredients:

Roasted turkey/chicken; whatever part you like

Dijon mustard

Light mayonnaise

Red wine vinegar

Celery

Pomegranate seeds

Lettuce

Avocado

Directions: Cut up roasted turkey or chicken to make ½ to 2/3 cup of small pieces, half inch to inch sized.  Put them in a mixing bowl.  Add ½ a tsp of Dijon or whole grain mustard, 2-3 tbsp. good quality mayonnaise, ½ to 1 tsp red wine vinegar, one stalk celery cut into small slices, a dozen grapes cut in half, a ¼ cup of pomegranate seeds, 2 tsp. of walnut chunks.  Stir it to blend and meld it.  Tear up 3-5 leaves of romaine or loose leaf lettuce and lay in your shallow big salad bowl.  Top with the chicken/turkey salad and then a few thin slices of avocado and the sprinkle of ruby pomegranate seeds.

apple pear pie, squash, chicken and dumplings 009

I used some red leaf romaine I got at Valley Farm Markets, great crunch and color. Use whatever kind of lettuce you like although iceberg would be my dead last choice; less flavor and nutrition in iceberg.

This makes a great lunch full of protein and healthy veggies. It is simple to make, elegant looking and very yummy.  Now you have one more turkey option for all those leftovers next week!  Actually this salad is great anytime, not just after the Thanksgiving feast.  Enjoy.

Spicy Autumnal Beef Stew

When the fall weather gets nippy I find myself craving a well made beef stew.  Now that I can’t have barley I look for other things to make my stew hearty and add flavor.  This recipe is my corruption of a roast recipe from Food Network.  I think of it as “spicy stew” and it is a refreshing take on beef stew. Chock full of chunks of veggies and lots of spice, it will warm your tummy and make your taste buds sing!  I know my picture is not the prettiest but it really is tasty and despite the long list of ingredients it goes into the pot in short order and comes out tender and flavorful.

Be sure to use a cut of beef that will stand up to a long cooking, chuck is best. I used some boneless beef chuck ribs, kinda fatty but they have great beefy flavor. Chuck stew cubes also will work for this recipe.

Parsnips are like sweet pale carrots.  I also like to use them in my pot roast veggies.

parsnips

If you have some celeriac aka celery root use it in stead of the celery ribs.  It is hard to find and kinda pricy so I seldom spring for it.  It looks like a mutant potato, all bumpy which can make it a chore to peel.  celriac

I added the carrots as carrots make any stew better, in my opinion.

You can start this stew in the afternoon and let it bubble away until supper time.  I served mine with a baked potato for a starch but gluten free noodles would also be great.   If you are avoiding carbs leave off the potato/noodles.  The gravy was phenomenal though, over my baked potato!

 spicy beef stew

Spicy beef Stew
Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped
2 large yams/sweet potatoes, peeled cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 celery ribs cut in fat chunks

1 cup of baby carrots, left whole

1.5 lbs boneless beef chuck ribs, trimmed of excess fat or cubed chuck steak

Salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp. all-purpose gf flour or just white rice flour
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, plain or with added chili peppers

1 tbsp horseradish

2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 teaspoons chili powder

1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Place chopped onion, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery root or celery and the baby carrots in bottom of slow cooker. Season beef all over with salt and black pepper. Rub flour all over beef. Place beef chunks on top of vegetables in slow cooker.

Whisk together tomatoes, maple syrup, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pour mixture over beef.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours. I did mine on high for just over 4 hours, perfect.

Remove beef ribs from slow cooker with tongs or a long handled fork and chop up and return to the stew, stir well and serve in a wide low soup bowl.  If you used chunks of chuck just stir and enjoy!

Tasty Taco Salad Southside Musikfest

Well, tonight I traveled to the South Side of Musikfest, enjoying some fantastic Creole/Zydeco of Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys, then a tribute to Jerry Garcia and we topped off the night with The Avett Brothers.  I really loved the Avett Brothers; fabulously hot strings and energetic soulful singing.  I was totally wowed. Avett brothers

Less wowing was the food selection Southside for someone with celiac disease.  I could only find one thing for a main course; a taco salad they made specially for me using fried corn chips topped with the rest of their standard chicken taco salad; shredded plain chicken, black beans, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, corn, sour cream, some pico de gallo sauce.  I put on a few splashes of hot sauce which added a much needed flavor boost.  I ate it with my fingers and with the fork they gave me.  Normally it would be in a deep fried flour tortilla. Obviously that was not possible for me to eat so they offered me the fried corn tortilla chips.  It was the best thing I have eaten at Musikfest this year.  This was at Cactus Blue up by Steel Staks.  I highly recommend it.

The only other thing besides a beverage I could find was a Breyer’s ice cream stand that had scoops in a cup.  I was too full from the taco salad to have some and I did have concerns that their scoopers might have touched cones made of wheat before scooping my ice cream.  I felt lucky enough to safely eat the taco salad as I was worried that deep frying them might have contaminated the chips. I had brought an emergency serving of quinoa salad just in case so I wouldn’t starve all night, no need to eat it but I was glad to have a back up food source.

musikfest nighttime 2014

So, I am still yearning for that GF food stand at Musikfest.  Tomorrow I will be down under the Hill to Hill bridge pouring beer and rinsing my hands lots! I will be searching for something safe to eat there. I did see some walk away main course Sundays at Shookies.  Humm? I will have to go ask them some questions but it looked promising the other day.  Go out there and enjoy some great music!