Thursday, November 26, 2009


When you sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner and lively conversation you don't want the conversation to be about who the lumps in the gravy look like. Although my family is very fussy about gravy and have left me with the impression that good gravy is hit or miss with me, I have the basic concept of how to turn a liquid into a gravy. For professional instruction go to the website of The Gluten-free Girl and The Chief. This video is well worth your time and much better instruction then I have here. I'm not a professional; I'm a mom and a grandmother.

These gravy recipes will only say flour, not what kind, because the choice is up to you. To make a more informed decision I will share what I have learned about starches and flours.

Any recipe that says corn starch can be substituted with arrowroot without any difference to the recipe.

Potato flour
When I first started cooking gluten-free I learned something about potato flour I haven't seen mentioned on blogs, websites, or in books that left me frustrated. If you add a little water to it and stir the starch thickens and keeps on thickening until you can't work with it and adding a little more water doesn't help either, because it keeps on thickening. Yet, the taste is a just right for a gravy that will be going on potatoes. Below I will teach you how to work it into a gravy with my I'm in a hurry and don't tend to follow recipes method.

Brown Rice flour
The flavor of rice flour is mild enough to not overpower the flavor of sauces and gravies. In the right amount it makes a good gravy. Add enough and it makes gravy flavored cream of rice.

Garbanzo bean flour

Garbanzo bean flour is a great way to add a little more protein to you meal. It thickens just as any other flour, but you'll need to cook it 5 minutes instead of 2 to make it digestible. It does impart a flavor I prefer for soups and white sauces.

Roux is equal parts melted butter with flour cooked in. Don't use potato flour for the above mentioned lumping problem. Roux is a good choice if your main course meat doesn't provide much juice and you'll be using a store bought broth. The butter will add flavor.

To make 2 cups of gravy start with 3 tablespoons of butter. I use a butter substitute, Smart balance Light, which doesn't melt well. To solve this problem I use 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of my butter substitute.

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan on low heat. When melted stir in 3 tablespoons of flour. Once the butter is soaked into all the flour you should have a past. Keep stirring as you cook it for a couple of minutes. From this point it is actually the same instructions as with the slurry. Pour your roux in small amounts into 2 cup of boiling broth. Be sure to include any of the browned juices that the meat has provided. Bring it back to a boil before deciding if your gravy needs more roux.

3 Tbs. melted butter or substitute
3 Tbs. flour

This is simply equal amounts of starch and cold water. Use cold water because warm water will cause the pectin in the starch to gel making a lump, not a slurry. No need to really measure, but I use a heaping tablespoons of starch and then add water until I have a thin paste.

Bring the meat juices to a boil. You will need to stir the slurry before you can pour it, because the starch has the tendency to settle. Pour the slurry in small amounts, bring the broth back to a boil before deciding if your gravy needs more of the slurry. The slurry/starch remember has a tendency to settle to the bottom, this will turn into one big lump if you don't keep stirring, using a whisk.

1 heaping Tbs. starch
1 Tbs. cold water, more or less

Quick “I'm in a hurry and don't tend to follow recipes closely” gravy

Warning this method has a higher likelihood of coming out lumpy.

If you have plenty of broth from the meat to work with sprinkle small amounts of the flour, lightly dusting the surface of the boiling broth. Again the most important part of a non-lumpy gravy is to keep stirring it in with a whip. After you sprinkle and stir in about a tablespoon worth stop adding flour, give it a moment check it's thickness. When it reaches your desired thickness turn down the heat and cook on simmer for a couple of minutes, so your gravy doesn't taste like raw flour.

About 3 tablespoons of flour to 2 cups of broth works for me.

Most of the pictures over the past few days have been of my second born son Jared age 18 months. He had wanted thanksgiving dinner so much he pulled the large wooden high chair about 15 feet from the pantry area to the table. Jared is now 24 and has 2 little boys of his own to feed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ginger Cookies

It's Thanksgiving, for goodness sakes, don't keep the cookies from the kids. Jared is about a year old in these pictures. He decided he had to have cookies. Despite his best efforts he just couldn't reach them. After a lot of trying, and some pushing and pulling on me, I brought them down to his level.

It seems like cookies were the first thing I set my eyes on when I walked in the door of Grandma's warm and cozy home. Her home was always full of things that had been there forever or was homemade, especially the food.

Grandma couldn't have managed a Thanksgiving feast without a buffet. Otherwise, where would she keep the cookies, four kinds of pie, a cake, the three tiered tray full of things like green olives, black olives, sweet pickles, baby dills, and cream cheese stuffed celery.

Remember the Thanksgiving it snowed so much you could make a snowman in the front yard. I do and I did. In 1974, my cousin Debbie and I went out, and amid the kids throwing snowballs and pulling sleds, we built a pleasant, little four foot, very traditional snowman.

It's been so chilly I'm surprised we don't have snow on the ground, this year. Not that I want snow. Snow is pretty to look at, but I hate the cold and the way it can permeate to the bone. I do, however, have an answer to the cold, coffee and ginger cookies.

I wish they were ginger snaps, but I can't, yet, get that hard snap in my cookies. In this case I'm considering on increasing the fat and lowering the baking powder amounts.

I find their flavor a bit milder than ginger snaps and I will increase the ginger and molasses the next time I bake some. But here is what I did this time:

Ginger Cookies

Makes 3 dozen small cookies

Preheat oven to 375°

Grind 10 pieces of Reed's crystallized ginger chews in a mini chopper or food processor until it is the consistency of a meal. Place in mixing bowl, then mix in:

3/4 c. rice flour

½ c. millet flour

½ c. almond meal *

2 tsp. guar gum

½ tsp. baking power

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbs. ground ginger

½ tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional)

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 c. brown sugar

2 tsp. lemon zest

Add to this mixture:

1 egg

1Tbs. molasses

Cut in:

1 Tbs. Coconut oil*

2 Tbs. shortening

2 Tbs. smart balance light

Roll dough into small balls, place on greased cookie sheet, and flatten into cookie shapes.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until browned.

* I f you can't have nuts exchange the almond for flax seed meal and the coconut oil for shortening.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cranberry Bread

1 ¾ cups brown rice flour
¼ cup millet flour
1 package unflavored gelatin
2 tsp gar gum
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. butter or any fat of your choice (may be omitted)
1 well-beaten egg
1 ½ cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. In a bowl mix together dry ingredients. Stir in orange Juice, butter, and egg.
Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries. Turn into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes; remove from pan.

Cranberry-raisin Muffins

1¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup millet flour
¼ almond or flax meal
1 teaspoon Guar gum or Xanthan gum
3 teaspoons baking power
½ teaspoon salt
¼ more or less brown sugar
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup dried cranberry
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons Smart balance light or butter
1 egg or egg substitute1 cup milk of your choice

To make muffins, combine dry ingredients, and then mix in wet ingredients until just combined and no longer dry. Grease and flour a muffin tin and fill the cups full. Gluten free does not rise like glutenous, so you needn't worry about it overflowing here. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (give or take 5 minutes).

Thanksgiving Menu

If your cooking Thanksgiving dinner chances are you're pulling up an extra chair.(Son Jared age 2 here, now has his own one little ones)

Let's check and see if our Menu is in order. (Me at age 35)


Mashed potatoes and gravy

Maple Mashed Sweet potatoes

Stuffing (store bought gluten variety baked in a dish separate from the turkey)


Green beans (Might make a creamed casserole)


Rolls (store bought treat for those who can have gluten, bake while mashing potatoes and making gravy.)

Cranberry Bread (bake on Tuesday, do most of the cleaning)

Apple pie (Bake pies on Wednesday)

Pumpkin pie (Jared age 4, he has always loved food)

Cinnamon sugar Cookies (Bake cookies on Monday, begin cleaning)

Ginger Snaps

Cranberry- Raisin muffins (Bake on Tuesday for snaking.)

Now let's get cooking. The underlined food items above are links to some gluten-free recipes.

Don't worry yourself thin over those critiques. (Me mid-twenties)

They're simply too fussy to please anyway. Just do your best and know that you are blessed. (Son, K. C., age 14 months, who is now 30 years old.)

Tomorrow I hope to post my recipes for ginger snaps, pie recipes, and tips on making gluten-free gravy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Remember the sights sounds, and smells of Autumn?

Apples, pumpkins and candy,
pies, cookies, and haunted houses,
cider, donuts, and a hayride,
Halloween, Harvest Feasts, and Thanksgiving Day,
children running, laughing and jumping,
crisp leaves on crisp days,
the list could go on.

As a little girl my best friend Mary Ann and I would rake leaves into rows, making corners, and going around until we had a series of boxes representing the walls of a house. After we made a quick trip to the corner store for candy we played house. We lived in a neighborhood filled with kids and in great hordes, we went tricker-or-treating. Each coming home with a grocery sack of candy.

It must have been as a baby when I fell in love with the Fall Season, because I can't remember a time when I didn't love autumn. It has the most beautiful mix of warm colors with cool days, with crisp leaves to shuffle your feet through.

Crisp is the word that keeps coming to my mind. It is one of my trouble spots with gluten-free cooking. I'm pleased with my cookies, but they still don't have the crunch I'm looking for, I believe I have, however, learned a few tricks.
Starch has the ability to provide flexibility during the dough stage of a bake good and adds a bit of crispiness in the finished product.
Almond meal can make a cake product more tender, yet help things like cookies, pies, waffles, and fruit crisps have a melt in the mouth flavor and a satisfying crunch.
Flax seed meal is nearly as good as almond meal, but beware to use one or the other in most cases. Using both can make bake goods stick in their pan.
Coconut oil works better than palm shortening when you are looking for a flaky, tasty, crispy, crunch.
Palm shortening works better than Smart Balance Light, when looking for crunch but it won't add the buttery flavor.
Water will make a crispier waffle than milk ever will.
With these facts all lined up I have created a fruit crisp that surprises even me. Even better, I have my Hubby's seal of approval. Give it a try and let me know how the recipe worked for you.

Fruit Crisp
Melt :
2T Smart Balance Light
2T Coconut oil

mix with it

¾ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum
¾ tsp. cinnamon
½ c. rice flour
¼ c. millet
¾ c. almond meal or flax seed meal
2 Tbs. cup tapioca flour or potato starch
¼ c. quinoa flakes or oatmeal
1/4 tsp. each baking powder, salt, and baking soda

Sprinkle this over sliced fruit in a 9x9 cake pan.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350°.

For apple
peel, core and slice 6 medium apples, mix in ½ Tbs. Lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of arrowroot starch.

For peaches
use 3 15 oz. Cans of peaches in juice. Drain off the juice. If desired add a ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 Tablespoon or 2 of sugar.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mashed Potato Patties

I'm suffering from a thyroid roller coaster ride. I've had about three hours of sleep. So today I'm making a quick post about a quick fix from leftover mashed potatoes.

Ken didn't like leftover mashed potatoes until I started turning them into fried patties. In last night's version I included leftover ham. He liked them so much he was wishing for more.

Mashed Potato Patties

1 ½ cups mashed potatoes
½ cup ham or other meat chopped into small bits (optional)
1 tablespoon minced onions
2 eggs
¼ millet flour
pepper to taste

Stir all together. Using a large serving spoon and a rubber spatula slide about 1/3 cup of of mix into hot oil. Flatten a little if need be. Cook until brown around the edges then flip over. When brown place on paper towels to drain.Eat plain or topped with one of the following: sour cream, applesauce, or ketchup.