Thursday, December 13, 2012

General Talk - Winter Is Almost Here

Geee's... time is just like gone. Time... what is time?? I have none of it lately! I can't believe it's the last day of the 2nd week of December already! Just another week or so and it's officially winter and just a couple days past that it's Christmas.

What do you have planned for your Christmas meal this year? Share with us! My blog might not be very well known yet but I hope that will change and your comments will make it better! I would love to hear from those of you that are living the gluten free life and those of you that must live it such as myself.

This Christmas we have decided to join my parents at their place for dinner this year. We're going to go over early, 9 or 10 in the morning so that we have lots of time for yummy cooking while the 'boys' go about setting up a new wifi router for my father as his Christmas present this year.

We're planning on going traditional and since we don't celebrate Thanks-giving out here, we opted for a turkey for a change. Hubby doesn't care too much for ham or pork type meats at all and it's way too salty for my mother so we decided a turkey would be the way to go and lots of left overs for both families.

I'm going to go about making a home-made stuffing recipe with gluten free white bread, sage and onions. Lots to stuff the bird and lots to make another pot to bake off after the bird. We're going to make home-made garlic mashed potatoes and don't forget the home-made cranberry sauce! And to top it all off perhaps we'll attempt making a from scratch pumpkin pie but I some how think with the rest of the dinner, we'll end up with something easier like pumpkin spice bars or something more cake-ish. I don't know if we'll have enough energy or want to try attempting a home-made pie crust and then figuring out home-made pumpkin filling using real pumpkin and not canned as we simply do not have that out here.

I intend to bring my camera with so that we can take photos of our adventure since the cooking part is really going to be my mother and mine while the boys are off playing with their computers and electronics... besides I can't help but think sometimes to the days that I won't have her around any more and I want to capture some of these moments while I can. Christmas is certainly the way to go.

So, to cap it all up... here are some of the recipes that will come with Christmas this year... remember when you see something mentioned as a dish I'll be making and I've finally had the time to post about it, I'll come through and post a link to it.

Traditional Stuffed Turkey
Sage & Onion Stuffing/Dressing
Home-made Cranberry Sauce
Fresh Steamed Baby Carrots
Home-made Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Pumpkin Spice Cake/Bars w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Today sometime I will be attempting to come back and post a recipe too. It's been way too long since I got any time to do this and I really have lots of photos and recipes on stock to put up. Just need the time and today with the cold, rain and wind, it would be a good day to do so

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

General Talk - Where Does The Time Go??

My god... it's been forever since I was here. I almost forgot I even had this blog running with how busy my life has gotten over the last few months. Tonight sparked my memory though because when showing some one that I work with photos off my phone when it showed me all of the 400+ photos I have uploaded already to my wonderful gluten free food blog.

Summer... it's come and gone already and I feel that I have, at least this year, gotten a lot more done then I have in the last 10yrs worth of summers. No one to take care of like my MIL or such, still in the same apartment, finally have a beloved new car (got it July 4th, 2012 of all dates), I'm coming up on just short of being in Belgium for 11 full years, I have had a steady job for the last 8months, my health is getting better, I'm losing weight but still I have not cooked, baked or even attempted any thing in my kitchen in months. My main meals have consisted of 'poor mans omelets' and sandwiches.

The summer months have been warm and very sunny here this year. So much in fact that for the first time since moving here I've actually got a small tan going that is darker then my husband's! Usually it's him out so much in the sun that he will be 2 or 3 shades darker then this pale skinned American lady. Not so this year LOL

So I don't really know when I'll be back to post a recipe but I do know I still have photos and recipes on stock to share. Not much in the way of spring/summer things I don't think but at least they are still very yummy (or I wouldn't post them) and sure to appeal when the months start turning more into fall weather then summer.

Bare with me while I find my footing but I think this week Thursday I'll be able to bring a new recipe since I should have the day off but one never knows until one actually arrives on the day, in my case. Some times someone calls in sick and I need to fill in so never know.

Friday, July 6, 2012

General Talk - Be Careful Of On-Line 'Gluten Free' Shops!

Out of pure boredom tonight, I went searching to see if I could find anything nice and tempting to buy gluten free on the web. I came across a site that seemed almost too goo to be true. It was shop located in Aussie but also right under it's logo mentioned 'world wide shipping'. This sparked my interest right off the bat.

I started to look... first thing I went to was cake decorations. I have been DYING for some stuff like sprinkles and confetti to decorate cakes/cupcakes and what not with. I start to open pages to look at them more in depth as they also offered ingredient lists to the items. By now I'm totally and utterly excited because it's been so long since I had any of these to make things pretty, specially for Christmas and the last page I opened made my jaw drop... right smack in big bold print were the ingredients that even made FULL mention of glucose syrup from wheat! WTH?!

They say in their 'about us page' that they say and I quote (without names being mentioned of course as I'm not here to bash any one)....

'We take pride in providing the largest range of gluten free products in Australia. The majority of us here experience some allergies or food intolerances, which helps us considerably to understand what each of you, as customers,are looking for whilst shopping.'

Now this item might have only been a slip up but I can't see how it could possibly be a slip up when it comes to gluten free if a person actually has to type in the word 'WHEAT' when putting in the ingredient list. Come on.... 

So my heart sunk... another site I can not trust to be 100% gluten free. Even today I was out shopping at a local outdoor market with my mother for the last time for a few weeks due to some festivals that will be happening and wanted a bottle of water... I couldn't even do that because the only place to buy it was at a stand that sold hot dogs, sausages and burgers all with buns... then they would have to touch my bottle of water.... blah.

Ok so with that said, BE CAREFUL WHEN ORDERING ON THE WEB! If you see something that looks a bit off... DON'T CHANCE IT! I know there are a lot of people out there that are only living this life style because they think it's better for their bodies but for those of you that are following my blog because you HAVE to live this way such as I do, you can not ignore this instinct... if you think it's wrong, then most likely it is wrong.

I wrote a comment to this site and will see what their response is but I know for a fact that if people who have to live gluten free didn't have a problem with items such as sugars in items made from wheat then we also wouldn't need factory warnings on items that are only processed in places where gluten products are made... after all the same amount of wheat will be in the item with sugar from wheat as those made in a factory as far as I'm concerned... it all hurts our bodies and reverses the healing effects we've worked so hard to get to happen!

Now I might be overly sensitive to this subject so I looked up about if sugars made from wheat are 'safe' or not. The first report I found was at and says according to the FDA guidelines that it is 'safe' but sorry, I can tell them 100% that it isn't. But again, I'm only 1 person aren't I?? But I don't need medical testing to tell someone that I got into wheat some where... I don't need a test to tell me I have a tummy ache, bathroom problems, tiredness, anxiety and memory problems/fogginess due to getting into gluten some where. I believe personally the best way to avoid getting into gluten that could be doing your body harm is to just stay away from it. Simple as that. The only reason we have this issue going on is due to 'processed' foods any how and I do strive to stay away from these as much as I can and if I can't, I know I can simply avoid the few items that do contain stuff like this.

Ok rant done... storms have rolled in again for the 3rd night in a row and I'm gonna go enjoy them! I miss my old USA based thunder storms so I have to enjoy them while I can!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Simple Soft Scrambled Eggs

It seems that people always have a reason for not having something for breakfast but then it also seems that every one says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The meal that starts you off, gets your body going and gives you the energy you need to get through your day.

So here is a short break down on how to make a fast 2 or 3 egg soft scramble that are so velvety that you will want to make them every morning!

You don't need a large pan for this, in fact you want a fairly small pan. You don't want so much room that your eggs have room to move away from each other, you want them to stay together for the cooking process.

Slightly preheat your pan over a medium heat. Remember you will want to work quickly with this! Place a bit of oil or even butter in to coat the pan, break your eggs in and add a small nob of butter to the eggs themselves. Now start working the butter into the eggs with a spatula. You want to mix this. By the time the butter is completely melted, your eggs should be ready! Simple but elegant!

My photos today are showing off the eggs I made to go with our Sunday brunch a while ago of Blueberry Pancakes with chicken sausages.

Drinks - Fizzy Raspberry Lemonade

It's officially summer around here in Belgium and I don't mean just by the date but all that tells you that it's summer time. School is officially out as of this weekend, all my beloved summer fruits such as Donut Peaches and raspberries are out, the sun is already giving me problems due to having sun sensitivity (I'll take that over not having summer though!) and it's just plain ol' feel of summer.

The other day I had tried a soda that I hadn't before just for the sure want for something 'different'. It was Schweppes Lemon. I normally don't go at all for lemon soda around here mainly due to the fact that it's a bitter lemon and I do not like that at all.

This soda is different though. It has a very very light lemon taste that would remind you more of the old style American style lemonade but with the added soda fizz. This brought up a longing for a lost love from the States... Raspberry Lemonade.

So one afternoon I bought a pint of raspberries and went about trying to make it! Ok so that wasn't *THAT* hard but honestly I loved it more then my husband but lets all face it, I'm still an American by all means and lemonade + raspberries just make sense!

So grab a bottle of schweppes lemon soda, take out a nice tall/big glass, add a bunch of ice, mash up a few raspberries (no sugar needed as there is sugar plenty in the soda), place the mashed raspberries into the glass of ice and pour in your soda. Give a mix up with a spoon and let sit for a moment to get nice and cold. The results are amazing.

Later on though, I'll post a recipe for home-made lemonade both with and without fizz version so that you can also make this the old fashioned way! But for now, I couldn't resist showing off the amazing photos my husband took of these drinks and well this IS a gluten free blog... not just recipes right??

Friday, June 22, 2012

General Talk - Another Project

It has been like 15yrs or more since I had the ever famous 3-layer coconut cake by Pepperidge Farm. Not to mention as far as I go, I seem to have different tastes and cravings as I grow older. I use to like coconut when I was younger but never craved anything with it really. This past week I suddenly got a HUGE craving for a coconut cream cake though and as that sprang into my mind, it also came the thought that this is Belgium... coconut cream anything is *not* on the menu any where which means my husband would have never tasted anything like it. *BANG* it was there... I MUST MAKE THIS!

I started my hunt for a recipe but through a week of research I have not found the 'perfect' recipe for this yet. What I did find is 3 different recipes that I'm going to pull different parts from.

One for the cake itself because all the recipes I found wanted to make a yellow butter birthday cake style cake which is WAY too many calories and fat that I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. So I'm opting to make a white butter cake recipe that calls for half the butter, 1 to 1 1/2 cups less flour, a whopping 5 eggs less and half the sugar.

Another one is for the filling. I want to go all out and make my very first layer cake (yes VERY FIRST!) and I want it to be outstanding so I'm pulling a simple coconut cream filling recipe from another coconut cake recipe. This only has sugar, milk, coconut and sour cream in it. I think it will pair perfectly with the choice for frosting that I've chosen.

And of course a layer cake can't be true unless there is a good dose of a good frosting so the 3rd part of a recipe is from yet another one for a cream cheese frosting that only calls for 1 stick of butter instead of 2 and 1 cup less sugar.

When trying to figure out what to do with this, I wanted to try and come up with something that was between the good vs bad line. I didn't want the sugar, over hit of fat (like hello, no gull-bladder any more so that amount of fat is *not* gonna be pretty) or the heaviness that the original yellow butter cake called for, I didn't want the over dose of sugar that some of the fillings called for either. But I also didn't want to totally give up on a great cream cheese frosting for it so I opted for one with a bit less sugar and butter but hopefully with the filling and flaked coconut to go on the outside, it will make enough.

So yea... there is my next project! A 2 or 4 layer Coconut Cream Cake depending on how thick the 2 round cakes come out. I'm beginning to work on it today already but it's a process I must admit. First having to make the cakes that involve a bit more effort then a yellow butter cake would call for due to the whipping of egg whites and what not. Baking them for 20mins and then letting them cool for 10-20mins in their pans, turning them out and letting them cool the rest of the way. Covering them and putting them in the freezer while I prepare the filling and frosting. Then of course putting the thing together and putting it back in the fridge for a couple of hours. It's certainly not a cake you want to attempt on the fly or when you need something 'now'. Mmmm think I should start adding a rating to some of my recipes both on time needed and effort. Wonder how to go about doing that *ponder*.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Easy Shrimp Bisque

A while ago, when it was still winterish around here, I saw the recipe for an easy shrimp bisque by Barefoot Contessa on the food network. I think I drooled as I watched her make it and I couldn't believe how easy it was! I don't have a lot of 'loved' cooks but I do have a couple. Contessa and Jamie Oliver I think happen to be my top 2!

Today I bring you that recipe with my own twists and of course in a gluten free version! You can find the original recipe at the Food Network website. The biggest difference in my recipe vs Contessa's is that I didn't enrich the fish stock with the shells of my shrimp. The reason for that though is simply down to error because I thought I had shrimp with shells but turned out they were completely shelled already. The results were still amazing but I do want to try it with the enriched stock!

 1 pound (1/2 kilo) large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
 ♥ 4 to 6 cups seafood/fish stock
 ♥ 2 cups chopped leeks
 3 cloves garlic, chopped
 ♥ 3 tbs olive oil
 ♥ 1/4 cup each of Cognac and Sherry
 ♥ 4 tbs butter
 1/4 cup gluten free flour
 2 cups soya cream or light cream
 1/3 cup tomato paste
 small pinch cayenne pepper
 salt & pepper

This soup is a little more time intense then my normal creations but it's so worth the efforts and really, it's not *that* much more work. Firstly make sure your shrimp are thawed before using them. In a large soup pot fry the leek for about 10mins in the olive oil. You want them to get soft and translucent like you would if you were frying onions. When soft and tender, add your the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes, add shrimp as well as the pinch of cayenne pepper and cook until the shrimp have turned a wonderful rose pink color.

At this stage, I would put your fish stock into a kettle that is big enough to also add your leek/shrimp mixture to, you'll find out why in the next step. As per the original recipe though, add the 1/4 cup Cognac and cook for 1 minute and then add the 1/4 cup sherry and cook about 3 mins longer. This is not exact rocket science, another minute here or there is not going to matter much.

This is where my recipe differs from Contessa's. Since I do not have a food processor nor a blender that I really care to use for stuff like meat (it's meant for fruit and veggies in my house and only holds a liter if that), I thought, why not use my stick blender instead? So that is exactly what I did. This is now the reason for the kettle big enough to also fit the leek/shrimp mixture. Add your stock to that kettle, add the shrimp & leek mixture but try to reserve a couple of the shrimp for re-addition later.

Whiz the stick blender through the mixture until you produce a thick and still slightly chunky mixture. Set this aside for a moment and add the 4 tbs butter to the original soup pot, melt and add the flour. Cook for about 1 mins and add the light/soya cream to it and whisk (yes with a whisk on this part, not a spoon or such) until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Contessa mentions about 3mins for this process.

Now remember her recipe calls for you to puree the shrimp/leek mixture without the stock. Since I didn't do this with mine, you now return the thicken puree of shrimp/leek to the roux you just made, add the tomato paste and season to taste with salt & pepper. Although I did not find it needed with the salt that is in the stock and the pepper/seasonings already added. Heat the almost complete soup slowly until hot, either toss in the reserved cooked shrimp whole or cut them into smaller pieces and let warm through.

Serve with garlic cheese bread or fresh made biscuits... it's a wonderful hearty stick to your ribs soup that is perfect for a meal of it's own. And it can, if done with care of your ingredients, be low in fat too!

General Talk - So Called 'Recipes'

Hello all you wonderful food bloggers (and readers!) out there. I'm in the process of working a post about one of the wonderful soups I made toward the end of last year but in the mean time I have been wasting a bit of time (like I know we *all* do) by browsing through recipes on the net.

This is what brought up my post today, especially seeing as that this is a cooking gluten free blog where every thing comes down to cooking as good as you can with things naturally provided for you that are gluten free. At least that is what I strive for even if it's not always 100% unprocessed.

So tell me... have you ever gone on a recipe hunt for say a stew or a soup only to find so called 'recipe' after recipe that call for canned this, mix of that or a box of that?? I mean WTH?? If I wanted to throw something together that was completely and utterly pre-made, why would I waste my money on canned/boxed items that are being 'tossed together' when I can buy something much better already pre-made and cooked for me?!

I'm so tired of finding recipes that look soooo wonderful due to presentation on some blogs and get sickened by the actual ingredients that it's just not funny. For instance, the most recent one was a recipe for tator-tot casserole but instead of starting with fresh made potatoes, you can go buy a box of frozen rosti style potatoes. Then it calls for a can of cream soup, a package of dry soup, some dry herbs, pre-shredded cheese, canned corn/veggies and the only real 'cooking' to be seen or done is frying some ground meat and putting it all together in the oven for 30mins.

OMG?! It's sacrilege to cooking! Ok if you REALLY don't have a single cooking bone in your body, perhaps this is the only way you can get a decent meal into your system that isn't bought outside your home but come on people... think a bit. How much salt, preserves, empty calories, fat and so much more useless items are in these so called 'recipes'. Sure it takes longer, sure it takes more time to prepare other then frying some meat but if you think of all the health benefits to making it all from scratch vs these store bought preserve filled salt laden items, wouldn't it be more worth it to your health to do so?

I am now on a drive to produce a 100% from scratch version of tator tot casserole just to show how easy it can be to make it *without* all these pre-made/bought store items. It will only include real fresh potatoes, fresh or perhaps frozen corn (it's the season for ears of corn after all!), home-made cream soup and FRESH herbs! Ok I admit, dry herbs aren't bad but why in the middle of spring/summer especially would one want to use dry when the fresh grow and thrive so wonderfully? Only premade items I intent to use is some sour cream and a block of old fashioned mature cheddar cheese that I'll shred myself. Stay tuned for something perhaps not quite as simple but at least a LOT healthier for you!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lets Talk Exotic - Red Raspberries

I would still classify these wonderful deep red beauties in the 'exotic' field. I'm not sure exactly why but I would think due to their cost even on the best of seasons around here. Right now, even though we are very close to officially being summer, they are still at the best price of 2.99euro (about 5 USD).

However, berries... ANY berry... are well worth the cost they come at to include in your gluten free diet! Remember, any fruit is naturally gluten free not to mention soooo good for you.

Today I present some wonderful photos I took earlier in the year of some really nice raspberries that I bought. These ones if memory serves me right were the ones I froze for my Raspberry Pancakes Recipe. You'll be pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to infuse these beauties into cooking, baking and just every day life!

Remember, almost all berries are now considered 'super foods' due to their high nutrient content! Raspberries are not only sweet and wonderful in color but their antioxidant properties are off the scale!

My Apologies

I noticed today that it has been over a month since I last posted... shame on me! But as many of you know, real life and family come first and as of this past month I have been in a full time position with my work! Ok that is great as we are getting onto crunch time for moving but it also means I have 1 to 2 days a week off and those are usually crammed full of house keeping, running around for stuff like groceries or doing wash as well as trying to find some time to spend with my loved ones.

So today I am home on a Saturday of all days... not because I want to be but because some how I injured the lower left side of my back. Nothing serious but also meant I couldn't stand up straight for a couple of days and then I did a booboo by trying to work where I do lift quite a bit of weight every day. So by doctor's orders I will be off work until Monday.

So that means I get to take some time for some past time fun... COOKING! Yesterday I had nothing better to do so I was surfing more food sites and came up with my meal plan. Today is home-made beef stew with lots of veggies and potatoes, which is already in the oven simmering away for it's 4hrs of oven time. Tomorrow I am going to make broccoli cheddar soup with seasoned cheddar biscuits that you swear came from Red Lobster but still 100% gluten free!

I also plan to make some dessert... if I have enough energy and not too much pain. I have a pre-packaged (gag) box here for a chocolate cake, although I might just go all out and still make my own. It's not for the cake you see though but for this awfully sinful craving not only for chocolate but for chocolate cream cheese frosting. So what a perfect way to get that fix by making a chocolate cake to put it on. I mean if your going to make something like cream cheese frosting, might as well go all out and make a cake to put it on too! I hope after the stew is out of the oven and on it's 1 to 2hrs on the stove top (for the veggies) that I'll have enough energy left to make this indulgent dessert.

I wish every one a wonderful weekend as I know the USA is celebrating Father's Day and I'm sure having a blast letting dad loose on his grill! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL THE WONDERFUL DADS OUT THERE!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Recipe - Easy Omelets

Omelets... what could be better?? Eggs are good on the worst or best of weather days! They can be made in so many different ways that the choices are just endless. And to top it all off new studies are showing that where as eggs were once thought to be 'bad' for you are actually not all that bad!

During the summer months, it's never hard to find to find a dozen or more eggs in our house. They not are only made for breakfast but they are even made for a quick light dinner and put in so many of my summer recipes that they are just needed in the house.

Today, I bring you my make shift and no omelet pan needed omelets. This recipe is by no means an exact recipe! You can put what ever *YOU* want in an omelet... I'm just giving you an idea of some of the things you can add!

 2 or 3 eggs (I used 3 per omelet in the photos)
 ♥ tomatoes
 ♥ meats (choose a pre-cooked version or make sure your fry it before)
 ♥ onions
 ♥ herbs (fresh work wonders but dry work just as well)
 ♥ olives (black work very well, never tried green though... yet)
 cheese (mix it up or choose your favorite but best to use small chunks or shredded in it)
 extra bit of cheese for topping
 splash milk or light cream

This is not rocket science so don't be so scared of these! Find a good flat bottomed pan (we normally use our crepe pan for these and it fits it all just wonderfully). In my photos this time we used a larger flat bottomed pan just for the ease of photo work. Put it over a medium to medium high heat for pre-heating while preparing the egg mixture.

Firstly chop your meats and veggies into smaller bite sized pieces. What ever size you want really just as long as you remember you are trying to fold some eggs around it. Then make sure you have finally chopped any fresh herbs you might be using.

In a small bowl add you meats, veggies, herbs and what ever else you will be adding into the eggs such as shredded cheese. Then simply add the eggs and the splash of milk or cream. Use a fork and not a whisk to mix up the eggs. You want them well combined but a whisk will cause you to have your pieces stuck inside of it instead of inside the eggs.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to your pre-heated pan and simply pour the egg mixture into it. You should hear it sizzle right away when they hit the pan, this is a good thing! Now be patient. Wait until you see it has cooked mostly through the top of the eggs. You might want to turn the heat down to a medium heat about half way. If you use more eggs, you might want to add a lid for a few minutes to help steam the top of the omelet.

When you see that the eggs are as good as cooked through the top, simply use a flat spatula to flip the eggs half way over themselves. If you choose, you can even add a bit more cheese to the middle before this flipping stage to have a gooey center to indulge in. Let it rest a minute or two longer on the heat to ensure a finished cook and melting of any choose you might have added to the middle.

Wela, your done. Use your spatula to transfer it to your plate and you have a nice yummy full of goodness and easy to boot omelet! Place some cheese on top if you wish while still hot, have a bit of toast next to it (I love toast with raspberry jam!) or in this case of our Sunday brunch, fry up some left over boiled potatoes with some herbs. Again, the choices on this are sooooo endless! Lastly, ENJOY!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Venting - Having Patience In A Restaurant

I'm writing this entry because this effects not only those of us who live with a gluten problem but every one else around us and the posting this time is a venting session... these do not happen often but if I do go on about something, it usually means to sit back and think a bit.

When you visit a restaurant, if you are gluten free or not, please for the sake of god or who ever else you might believe or not believe in, STOP BEING SO FRIGGIN' SELFISH AND IMPATIENT!

I have had one of the busiest weeks of the last 10 years. I have been put into a full time position this week due to the fact that some where in about a week worth of time the restaurant I work for has lost all but 1 other of their paid employees not including myself. I do not mind this in general except that also means I have closed every day since last Tuesday by myself when normally at least the ending days of the week there is 1 or 2 others to help with closing which means about 20 to 30 minutes after the store closes, we should be heading home with the store clean.

When a restaurant is under staffed and you want your order taken/served, please take into account different things before you go complaining to any one that your server was slow.

1. How many servers are there? *BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT* If there is 1 server when there should be as many as 3, my god, have the MOST patience, come back another day or at another time or just go some where else that day/night! That poor server is doing or at least trying to do the service of that many people ON THEIR OWN!

2. How much is going on around the area? Are there fairs/markets happening, is it really nice weather, what day of the week is it, what time of the day is it, how many people are actually in the restaurant wanting to order?

3. Is the lobby closed or do you simply believe that the restaurant is just really quiet and your server doesn't know how to work fast enough to fill their lobby? Most restaurants close parts of their lobby some time before actual closing hours. It isn't empty because your server can't do her job, he or she would *NOT* be working there if that were the case. They close the lobby so when it is a bit quiet, they can go about getting it cleaned and ready for another day of business.

4. How many people are before you? How much are they ordering? Do you really expect to be served within 5 minutes if you are in a line of 10 other people that have large orders?

5. If you are visiting a fresh made to order restaurant like the one I work at, are all of the ingredients ready for your server to use or does he/she have to restock? I know that I have to restock if I'm busy, do you?? This means more time to run to where the stock is, get it and come back to fill it. THIS TAKES TIME!

6. Does your server have to do other things while making an order? Does he/she have to do extra things have to keep an eye on people who walk in and out just to use the bathroom which is *NOT* free to his/her business to use and should be paid for if the person is not a customer, does he/she have to do stuff like reset their computer because it crashes out in the middle of business and takes 2 or 3 minutes to reload, does he/she have to explain what sauces they have 100 times a day due to people not knowing what is what in their restaurant? This ALL TAKES TIME!

Ok people do I need to spell this out for you? Your server is *NOT* slow... you are IMPATIENT! You take into NO consideration of your server as to why he/she might be slower in serving you because all you want is to be waited on and have your food. You are selfish and just make yourself look like an idiot while making your server feel like a fool when you go complaining about 'slow service' to their boss. Can you tell the boss why your server was slow? Does it chalk up to any of the reasons above that I listed? Have you even thought about what all it takes to keep a line running smooth? Have you ever considered that your server might be on her 5th or 6th straight day of full time hours? You'd be bloody tired and a bit slower then normal too if you did the kind of job he/she does and after that many days straight.

Ok Thank you for reading this. Please, especially if you live a gluten free life, HAVE PATIENCE! If you need something special please remember those requirements mean your server has to make sure it can happen and in a way that is not going to be a problem to any one else. And please by all means, if you are requiring a service that you *THINK* should be free but the restaurant you are visiting says it is not, it is *NOT* your place to demand and abuse what *THEY* have for their rules. If you do not like the rules a place has set up, go some where else that has rules you prefer. I say that last one with all respect to every one but just because you are with a young child that you are trying to toilet train and insist that you use the bathroom for free, remember it takes money for the business (restaurant or other wise) to run that bathroom whether it be for an adult or a child. You are *NOT* special because you have a child or are elderly or any thing else. If you have no intentions of buying any thing from the business you need something other then what they offer from, at least be kind enough to buy a soda or pay the small fee they place on non-paying customers... a child costs just as much as an adult when they use a bathroom... a toilet doesn't just magically change it's tank size for a child, a child still uses toilet paper to wipe with, they still use water and paper towels to clean their hands and you both still use the same amount of electric to run the lights that are in that bathroom... and most likely even more so because you have to be slower due to the child then you would be on your own.

End of vent... please think about your server before you go complaining at all about slowness or other minor problems you *THINK* are a problem. It pains them :(

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Let's Talk Fruit - Belgian Strawberries

Strawberries... yes it's becoming that time of year. The first batches of these wonderful little pieces of naturally gluten free sweetness have hit the selves of our local fruit stands and supermarkets!

I think already I've bought at least a dozen containers and I know I'll buy at least another 50 before the season is done. They are not at their peek yet but they are pretty damn good considering for the last weeks we have hardly seen the sun and the temps don't hardly go above 60f.

Now why do I have a post specially on 'Belgian' strawberries? That is simple! I'm american, I have always grown up with these ultra dark large strawberries. You know the kind... the 'bigger the better' types that typically look as dark as a brick house and you can only guess if they will be a bit sweet or sour. And dare they have any parts of green on them, most Americans would shun away from them because that tells them it's going to be even a bit sour. Yes those... those are the strawberries most Americans know.

Now if you have ever had a chance to have Belgian strawberries, you will NEVER want to turn back to those horrid little almost pre-coloured looking things you were use to. These little treasures are going to be 99% sweet if you know how to pick them out. Picking them out is not rocket science as it is with the ones sold in America. As long as these beauties have a roundish look to them, a medium size (very rarely are these ever 'large' like you might find in the American versions) and do not have green bottoms, you are almost sure you will have a good batch.

These strawberries will be and almost always are a pale red but can be a bright red when they are in their perfect peek season. Then they are the best you can get and are sold at under 2 euro a package.

Remember, all fruits are naturally gluten free and I promise if done right, will freeze VERY well if you want to save these for cooking and baking later in the year when the season is done and the cold nip is back in the year.

Strawberries are easy to freeze... I would suggest though that you do not freeze them for just eating plain as you might from a fresh bought container. Once frozen they change texture a bit and although they are just as good for eating, they won't give you the satisfaction that the fresh unfrozen version will. Instead freeze them for uses in such things as fresh smoothies and other desserts what will meld the strawberries into it. You'll get the wonderful sweetness and taste without noticing the texture change.

Freezing can be done in 2 ways. You can of course pre-cut them, removing the hauls and stems or you can just place the whole berry in there but I personally like to take the time to at least remove the hauls. I would suggest not doing more then a half cut strawberry if you choose to cut them before freezing and whole is even better. You can leave them unwashed for much easier freezing or if you wish to wash them first, simply lay them out in a single layer on paper towels and let completely dry. Place them in FREEZER BAGS first and if you want to have an extra layer of protection, then place them in a container meant for the freezer. This will ensure they will not get frost bitten before one wants to use them. These will keep nicely if done right and not rushed in the beginning for any where from 6 months to a year in the freezer. Perfect to make something wonderfully fruity such as warm strawberry compote for ice cream on some windy/rainy fall evening or cutting up after thawed to add to some home-made apple sauce!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recipe - Blueberry Pancakes

I'm sitting here watching Castle on the TV with dear hubby while using my new toy... my Samsung Tab 10.1... it's so perfect for blogging with and on top of it sooooooo quiet! On that small note, if you have a tablet pc or phone that can handle blogger in browser mode, do that instead as the Blogger app doesn't have the editing abilites as the full site does.

I figured I'd make my first entry from it tonight and share my wonderful American Style Blueberry Pancakes but I was only able to start it with the tab and had finish it with my computer because I still haven't figured out how to highlight, copy and paste with the tablet. I need to be able to do that to keep this blog looking it's best and didn't want to take more time trying to figure it out before posting this.

I made these on my husband's last long weekend and they came out soooo good for a first try... light, fluffy and I have to admit to having added almost too many blueberries but I'm a bit biased, is there really such a thing as 'too much' when it comes to adding fruit or veggies to dishes?? Oh and a warning now, I took LOTS of pictures of these! I just couldn't help myself, every thing looked so good and so fresh! I mean how can you pass up the lovelies below without snapping at least a few photos??

 2 eggs, separated
 ♥ 2 cups flour
 2 tsp baking powder
 2 tsp vanilla
 ♥ 3 tbs sugar
 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
 ♥ 1 cup milk
 ♥ 3 tbs butter, melted
 ♥ 1 cup fresh blueberries (give or take 1/2 cup)

picture does not include the melted butter

Directions - Batter Preparation
First thing you will want to do is separate your eggs and whip the egg whites into soft peaks.

 Aren't they just perfectly separated?? (proud moment)

first stage - light foaming

 second stage - egg whites start to keep shape with soft peaks

third stage - egg whites hold shape in stiff peaks and have turned shiny

Set the now whipped egg whites aside for a bit. In a larger bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar and ground cinnamon. Then either in a large 2 cup measuring cup combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla and butter lightly. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and combine using a whisk and not a mixer. You do not want to over beat the mixture, you just want to combine it well but while trying to avoid adding a bunch of un-wanted air to the batter. I cheated a bit in my photos as I was working so quickly on these that my dry ingredients never had a chance to stick to the bowl, the reason why you want to separate them in the first place.

Once dry pluse wet ingredients are combine well and you don't have any lumps you will want to fold in the whipped egg whites. Do this softly and gently. The purpose of whipping the egg whites in the first place to give the batter lightness and fluff that you lose when you remove the gluten from these types of recipes. Use a jar scraping style spatchula for this. Gently turn the bowl as you scrape the sides of it, bringing the batter into the egg whites and in turn mixing the egg whites into the batter. At this stage of mixing, you can choose to either add the blueberries to the batter before adding the egg whites or after. I did it before in order to try to better retain the fluffiness of the egg whites that I was adding but it didn't make too much of a difference either way when I did it the second time around in which I added them after the egg whites.

Directions - Frying
As usual, I usually end up at least making my first couple of pancakes quite darker then I wish to but after a couple of them, I get them nice and light golden. They key to this is to be patient. I know a lot of people swear by a high heat griddle but I have learned at least with my stove (electric btw) works best on a medium heat, sometimes even more toward the high low to low medium setting. Then let it warm slowly, use liquid margarine or coat the pan with vegetable oil but use a paper towel to rub it onto the pan and to remove the excess. You want to fry these not deep fry them.
I also suggest that you use 2 pans or a large griddle that will cook more then one pancakes at a time for this process, at least if you are like me where making a half dozen pancakes can seem like it takes forever when doing them one at a time and in actuality it most likely will take about 40minutes if done this way where as you can cut this in half using two.

So with that out of the way, I find it easy to do this one of 2 ways. Either pour your batter into a large measuring cup (I have a beloved 2 cup glass one for this if I choose) or do as I do most of the time and use a smaller sauce ladle. It looks kind of like a full soup ladle but it about half the measure and has a larger pour spout which is perfect for the pancake batter.

Pour about 1/4 to 1/3rd of a cup worth of batter on your greased pan and be patient. What you will want to see is the batter start to bubble a bit and then to see those bubble pop. They will leave tiny holes in the pancake and you will see the top start to become dry.

Flip and leave for a minute longer. Your best 'serving' side will be the one that you started with as this has hit the pan while in batter form and gotten most of the time to fry compared to the mostly dried out top part.

Serve these beauties with maple syrup or just with a pat of butter. Pancakes can be made into SOOOO many different kinds that the possibilities are almost endless. I've already redone this recipe in raspberry and just plain ol' pancake batter recipes but I also have on hand to make apple/cinnamon with icing rather then syrup (more meant to be a dessert then a breakfast item though) and even cinnamon swirl ones that use a cinnamon sauce to squeeze into the wet batter and has a cream cheese icing to use on them. Is it another long weekend yet?!

Enjoy! And remember they go very nicely with breakfast sausages and eggs, specially loosely scrambled (recipe/directions to come in order to finish off the photos). Just remember when buying breakfast sausages, you check the ingredients very carefully as a lot of sausages add wheat or bread to their mixture to bulk it out. If you have a butcher nearby, he might even be able to prepare you some that are gluten free, like mine did.