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Shoe Fly Pie to the Rescue!

Sometimes I need a pie and I have no fruit in the house.  What can I make? This is a simple to create pie and very popular in Pennsylvania.  The venerable shoe fly pie…. a Pennsylvania Dutch treat, sweet and crumbly in your mouth.  I took my sister Margie’s recipe that I have used for many years and substituted in my favorite gluten free crust and crumbs.  It worked great and frankly your pie eaters will never know the difference.  Whip some up and your family will be thrilled.  Image

Margie’s Shoe Fly Pie, GF version

Directions 

Make one GF crust; roll out and put in a 9 inch pie pan.  Do not bake.

Crust:

1 c plus 1 tbsp brown rice flour mix (see flour mix recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter; cut into 6 chunks

1 large egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions:

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it a bit in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you make the crumbs.  You can use the same mixer bowl and beater without washing them up.

 

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour (make sure it is finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Crumb topping

1 c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

Roll out chilled pie crust between the two sheets of wax paper; try to get the thickness even, no fat middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, try to get it centered.  Peel off other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  I do like to use a pie crust bag; can get on Amazon or at King Arthur flour (also on line.)  It works far better than wax paper and I get a lovely even thickness of crust.

Put 1/3 of your crumbs (more or less) in the bottom of the crust.  Pour over the hot filling.  Top with the rest of the crumbs.  Don’t press them into the filling. You don’t need to use all the crumbs; up to you.  I do though!

Filling:

1/2 cup molasses

¾ cup boiling water

Scant ¼ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda    Image

Put all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. It will foam up when you add the baking soda.  Don’t freak out! If you like a dry bottom pie you can leave out ¼ cup of the water.  Up to you…

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the crumbs are light brown. Let cool an hour or two before cutting.  I like it with a big glass of milk.

Don’t forget the cinnamon, it makes the filling pop.  Image If the pie sinks a touch while cooling, no big deal, it will still taste fantastic.

This is an easy, tasty, gf, made from scratch pie that you can quickly make with the ingredients in your fridge and pantry.  No need to shop for fruit or other fancy filling ingredients.  You get the accolades for serving this classic without all the work of most fruit pies. Now go make a pie!

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Super Spring Salad…and Simple to Make

Sometimes I crave sweets, especially dark chocolate and sometimes I crave fruits or vegetables.  Once when I was visiting my sister Margie for the weekend she served a mixed green salad with a snappy vinaigrette that had some Dijon mustard and was just delish.  We both enjoyed it so much we had seconds instead of a dessert!

If you live salad maybe you would like my new favorite spring salad.   It is flexible so put the greens in that you love.  But one caveat, no iceberg lettuce, please.  It has minimal flavor and is the wrong texture for this spring salad.  Not to mention that it is seriously lacking in nutrients.   Image

So, to create my special Easter salad, I got a box of cleaned and washed spring greens from Valley Farm Market in Bethlehem, full of tiny leaves of a variety of lettuces as well as beet and spinach leaves.  I also got some sugar snap peas and a bunch of radishes from there.  The produce is very fresh and of outstanding quality at Valley Farm, located on Stefko Boulevard.  This bunch of radishes looked just picked and still had the greens attached.  ImageI washed them and cut the root tail off and the stems.  I cut each into ¼ inch rounds.  I cut the pea pods in half and steamed the sugar snap peas for 3 or 4 minutes, removing them from the heat just before they were done so the pods still had a bit of snap to them.  I drained them and put them and the radishes in a dish and refrigerated them for 30 or 40 minutes until they were really cold.

The greens were washed, dried in the salad spinner and placed in a large salad bowl.  Mine is translucent plastic from Target, nothing fancy!  Toss in the chilled snap peas Imageand the radish rounds.  Then sprinkle with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Here is my basic vinaigrette recipe.  You can alter it to your tastes and leftovers keep for several weeks in the fridge.

I use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients.  Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, not the cheap store brand (skimpy 1/4 cup).  Then some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or two tbsp.). Next I add ½ tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt, a ¼ tsp dried thyme, one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor), 1 tsp mayonnaise, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper and ½ tsp sugar. Then top off with some extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (1/2 cup plus one tbsp of olive oil).  Shake it up really well.  It tastes best at room temperature and marinate it all put together for at least an hour before you use it the first time.  Keep in the refrigerator if there is any left over. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayo helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.

You can guild the lily with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you like.  This is a light and delicate salad that will complement any number of main dishes like pasta, roasted meat or fish dishes.  As I said, you can swap out the peas or radishes for other veggies like raw zucchini, carrot rounds or whatever floats your boat! I like to choose things that look fresh and are in season.  Don’t put too much of any one veggie in; you want them to be like treasures to be discovered in the nest of fresh greens you have lightly coated with a tasty vinaigrette.

Be creative and have fun making fresh, healthy and yummy salads that will round out your meal and keep you feeling great!

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If the Menu Says Gluten Free Your Staff Should Know What That Means….

So I went out to eat on a Saturday night before going to the movie theater. I chose a certain restaurant as it was fairly close by the movie location. And, on line they boasted of a GF menu. We got seated quickly. A tall, pretty young lady was our server. I informed her of my GF status. She said they had many GF choices. I picked steak fajitas. She said I couldn’t have the rice that normally comes with it as that had gluten. I said that rice has no gluten, that perhaps the seasoning was the reason why it was not GF? She smiled at me in a pitying way and said as though I was a simpleton, “Rice is a grain so it is not GF.” I said rice was something that we who have celiac can eat. She repeated, in that same patronizing voice, that rice is not GF. Hearing it said just that way, again, I decided to just agree with her and accept the lack of rice.       Image

My steak was juicy. The condiments were extensive including guacamole. I put one fajita together and took a big bite. Totally tasty. Still, the corn tortillas were kinda small and they tore easily when full of fajita components. So it was a messy enterprise to eat them. But, really worth the effort. Now if only they could make seasoned rice without any wheat flour in it! Then the GF fajita experience would be perfect for me.

This tiny vignette out of my Saturday evening should give you some idea of how little most people know about celiac disease and being GF. This server should have been well informed and ready to steer me towards GF choices. Instead, she gave me fairly incorrect information and corrected me in a somewhat patronizing fashion.

So…just for the record. The following foods cannot be eating by those with a gluten allergy (celiac disease is the most severe of the gluten allergies): wheat, barley, rye, spelt, farro and any variant on any of those grains. If an ingredient list says starch without identifying it any further then you should consider it to be wheat starch and avoid the product. Safe grains are all rices including wild rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and some other unusual items like chia, flaxseed, sesame seeds and other seedy items!

But, even a trace amount of gluten can cause a severe reaction in some people with gluten allergies. So you have to be careful about anything you eat or put on your body, read all food labels, take all possible steps to avoid contamination by even tiny amounts of wheat and when eating out, make sure your restaurant server is well aware of your gluten allergy.

Restaurants need to educate their staff more carefully so they can be more knowledgeable and more helpful to customers like me who know what we are allergic to! This is not some mild pesky thing but a very painful mistake if you serve gluten to someone with celiac disease. All serving and cook staff need to be properly educated in terms of not contaminating food with gluten and in discussing GF food choices with customers.  Such training would take less than 15 minutes and could be done in a large group making it quick and relatively painless.  If you are going to say GF on your menu, then every staff person should know the basics of what that means.  Your mistake could make someone very ill.  Patrons need to be properly informed on safe choices and why some things are not safe.  Are you listening local restaurants?

Originally posted in June 2013.

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Crackers, Snacks and Other GF Treats

I wanted to check in with others who eat wheat free and see what some of you like. I do a lot of my own baking but others who eat GF take a slightly different path. They buy most of their GF breads, crackers, cookies, cakes, muffins, etc. So I thought I would share a couple of favorites of mine and see what you all like to buy for snacks.   Image

My new favorite snack is Snyders of Hanover’s Mini Pretzels, they are also dairy and egg free. Somehow Snyders is able to make a small but mighty pretzel that reminds me strongly of their wheat/gluten pretzels. I was really pleased as my
first pretzel purchase of some “twig” pretzels found them to be rather odd and uneven in flavor. Some were yummy and some just this side of inedible! But these mini pretzels are quite tasty so check them out. Giant carries them in the GF aisle.

Another tasty treat are Van’s “Lots of Everything” crispy baked crackers. I got them at Frys Better Foods and they are awesome if tiny! Full of flavor and crunch they will hold their own against any wheaty cracker you can buy! They were great with some extra sharp cheese…or maybe as a snack for kids in the car or at gatherings like a church service.

A few weeks ago I bought some Glutino Cheddar flavor GF Crackers. They are round and look quite like a Ritz. The flavor is mostly of cheese and the texture is rather tough compared to the tender flaky buttery delight of a Ritz. Okay with something on it but not that great alone. I will continue to search for my Ritz replacement.

So what do you buy to snack on? GF of course? Share, please do, so I can try more things without as much trepidation. To know that someone finds something tasty is really a big help when snacks cost far more than what one is used to paying. I look forward to your suggestions with much anticipation!

First published in April 2013.  Stay tuned for an update later this week.Image

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Wheat Farewell Tour 2013

So as that old song goes: “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…” Old school but there is some truth to it. But sometimes you realize loss in a painful way as you say goodbye. Is it more painful slowly? Or should it happen fast like tearing off a band aide? Hard to say. Depends on the sufferer and what they are saying goodbye to.

I was on my wheat farewell tour for about a month. The first week was full throttle wheat, every day, every meal, nearly every snack. Pasta: tortellini in broth, linguine with seafood, orzo with parmesan and tiny pasta balls with a creamy garlic sauce. And the Italian bread fresh from my oven, crispy and yeasty. Perfect. Don’t forget desserts. I made them, shared them, savored them. I sought out some of my favorites, blueberry pie with crumb crust, apple pie, lemon buttermilk tart and chocolate chip cookies, No matter that I felt
ill for it all, especially by the second week. I ignored the burning pain in my right
side. The spot my PCP said was where my small intestine was at… It was like a low grade fever that burned in me. I heard the siren song of my dear, dear wheat and could not stop my gluten orgy. More…bring on the scratch chicken soup with wide real egg noodles. Mix up pasta dough to make three cheese ravioli with wild mushroom sauce. At the time, the ravs seemed worth the pain in my tummy. More tasty whole wheat cereal at bed time and hot five grain cereal at breakfast. More burning feelings….Yumm

I laughed about the farewell tour with friends whenever anyone called. It was my excuse to indulge, to bake one last loaf of bread. Two of them went out with us the last weekend of my “tour” to drink craft beer before I had to give that up. I ate some flour tortillas too. My only regret was that I didn’t get the burger with the big wheat bun! I think my family thought I was in total denial every time they read a message full of what wheaty things I enjoyed eating that day. Nope. The real deal was that I knew it was closing…the door…my portal to wheat paradise. So I leaped in and rolled around like a hog in smelly black mud. Perogies fried with onions, leek soup thickened with flour, fresh hot English muffins with jam and anything else that had the gluten beast in it! Savoring all my favorites and devouring meals that were built around the wheat I adore. Loved past tense should be the word as I was now feeling pain more and more as the weeks of farewell wheat orgy draw on yet I loved my gluten buddies still. I could clearly feel the symptoms my docs were talking about. The realization came slowly but I finally faced it and knew it was time. Well, almost time….

I grieved privately for the loss of so many things I loved to eat. So I devoured them one last time. Well and maybe one more. I extended the wheat tour one more week. This was rationalized by my need to eat stuff in the pantry and freezer. Couldn’t afford to pitch it I thought. So my freezer is a lot emptier and my cravings were satisfied….sort of. Actually it was like the more I ate the more
I craved the pasta and bread of my dreams. Seemed like a cruel joke to have to stop eating all my favorites. Not funny though to think of the illnesses that I could bring upon myself if I continued my farewell tour indefinitely. After about three weeks I came to my senses. I stopped cooking wheat pasta for supper. I gave the half eaten Utz specials pretzel bag away. I packed up the bread crumbs and that bag of Italian three cheese tortellini. I gave it all away. Or so I
thought. As I sorted through my pantry and freezer the other day I found half a loaf of Italian bread in my freezer as well as some angel dinner rolls from the holidays. The cans of tomato soup (wheat in there too!) …more to give away. It is a new beginning. A new world. Scary to say the least.

But I do enjoy my new GF friends like the cookies I made the other week
and the coconut raspberry muffins. A week ago I made a GF wheat bread with fennel and golden raisins. So tasty we each ate four or five slices of it.
Thank goodness the loaves were tiny! And the other day I made a yummy cinnamon bread with currents in it. Almost as good as the real deal. So as one door closes (the golden wheat door) another opens. That of weird flours,
beaten egg whites and odd gums added to hold that fake sandwich bread loaf together. More about that next posting…. Peace and a piece of fruit for all my listeners….fruit is pretty much always GF 🙂

 Originally posted approximately February 26, 2013