Monday, March 9, 2009

Gluten Free Family Meals

Family meals can easily be made into gluten-free meals that are also enjoyed by the gluten advantaged. There are little changes that are subtle enough everyone can live with them. The hardest change is the cost. Gluten-free beef broth is more expensive then plain old whatever broth. All the various flours used in gluten-free cooking is so much more expensive than wheat flour that you will cringe when you see it. However, in terms of flavor switching to gluten-free broth thickened with potato flour, no one has complained that my gravy tastes different. If fact my husband insists that my gravy is just as nasty tasting as it has always been.

Well, with the quality of my gravy aside, I thought I would share with you a couple examples of family meals that are easily converted to gluten-free and the family will still love them. My first examples is your basic baked ham meal. Old Kentucky Ham is gluten-free. Potatoes are gluten-free and any fresh vegetables, or straight forward frozen vegetables, are gluten-free. Let's cover the menu one dish at a time.

Old Kentucky Ham cooked as you always had before. If you covered it in pineapples before read the label on the can of pineapples to make sure that it is Gluten-free and use it just as before. The only change here is perhaps your brand of ham and/or your brand of pineapples. If you poked it all over with cloves before, check the label to be sure, but most likely whole cloves are whole cloves. If you used oven bags before, you can still use oven bags. The directions call for the dusting of the bag with flour. I e-mailed Reynolds and they e-mailed back within 5 minutes. The e-mail included a detailed explanation about the purpose of dusting the bag with flour. The bag could burst (it has to do with layers of water and fat in the bag turning to steam and boiling fat,) and how to reduce the possibility of it happening. How cool was that! The up shot of it is, you can use any GF flour or starch to dust the bags.

Mashed potatoes and gravy are done about to the same as before. If you do not have a dairy allergy then you can mash butter and milk into your potatoes without any change. If, as in our case, with dairy allergies, and one with a soy milk allergy we have found it best to mash the potatoes with just salt and pepper added to it. We don't add the pepper when the relatives who have a pepper allergy comes over. Each person at the table has to add what they want and mix it on their own plate. I have a nightshade allergy. The nightshade family of plants include, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant. I either skip this dish for myself, or warm some rice from the batch of cooked rice I keep in the refrigerator.

When I make the gravy I brown up bits of ham and throw it in with onions, carrots, celery, and two quarts of water. I simmer this, while I bake the ham, bringing the two quarts of water down to one quart of stock. After removing the ham from the roasting pan I strain the stock into the pan and bring it to a boil. This is to capture more of the browning flavor. The recommended method for making gravy with potato flour is to mix the flour with water, just as you would with regular flour, and pour this into the boiling broth. I'm a bit lazy on this point and just sprinkle it on top while whisking it into the broth. This allows me to adjust the thickness of the gravy to suit my family. Usually two to three tablespoons does the job for this much liquid.

Salad vegetables are gluten free and are easily made into many different versions. My quick and simple favorite is spinach, romaine lettuce, with shredded carrots. Since I don't eat meat I sprinkle cooled, cooked beans on my serving of salad. Garbanzo beans go best with spinach. Salad dressing is easy to make. Since mayonnaise is gluten, and dairy free, I whip it up with dill weed and lemon juice for my daughter. For a low fat dressing for me I sprinkle dill weed and lemon juice or apple juice on my salad. For the 'regular' folks I still serve regular store-bought dressing.

Corn from the freezer is just corn. It's gluten free. If you have a corn allergy, just substitute this with any cooked vegetable of your choice. Since we have corn allergies it isn't unusual for me to cook green beans, as well. Or just serve the salad as our vegetable.

Bread is a nice addition, but it will be at least a week before I post my 'learning to make gluten-free bread' experience. Tomorrow, I hope to post my chili and corn bread recipes.