Affairs of Living

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods recipes

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Friday
Aug122011

Low-Sugar Gingery Plum-Apple Jam (cane sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan)

Gingery Apple Plum Jam

While reading through the Ball® Complete Book of Home Preservation recently, I came upon a variety of pectin-free jam recipes. Instead of pectin for thickening, these recipes used homemade applesauce made from whole, uncored, unpeeled apples and whole unpeeled lemons. The high amount of natural pectin in these two fruits thickens the jam naturally. Additionally, using the homemade applesauce as a base helps to extend your other fruit - be it plums, cherries, berries, peaches, or the like - much further, allowing you to make more jam with less of this other fruit. I was totally intrigued, and liked the idea of not needing pectin to thicken the jam. Sure, I love my Pamona's Pectin dearly, but wouldn't it be nice to take a break?

The recipes looked easy to adapt to include unrefined sweetener instead of cane sugar, and I had all the ingredients on hand. So, I whipped up a batch of jam with apples, plums and a bit of ginger, sweetened with agave nectar. It turned out marvelously. The jam is soft and spreadable, but still thick enough to mound on the end of a spoon. The color is fantastic, and the flavor is sweet and bright. I knew immediately I had to share it with you!

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Tuesday
Aug092011

Really Good Banana Bread (gluten-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free, xanthan gum-free)

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One evening last week I dropped by my friend B's house. I found my barefoot and pregnant friend the kitchen, whipping up a loaf of banana bread adapted from the Joy of Cooking. She was substituting gluten-free flours and honey for wheat flour and sugar, and success seemed inevitable - the Joy of Cooking is so reliable and B is a fantastic baker. I had high hopes for this loaf and marveled at my excellently timed visit. As it baked, the house filled with the intoxicating smell of honey and banana and my quick bread-loving heart swooned.  

Finally, the timer beeped and B removed the loaf from the oven. Oh my, was it gorgeous! We could hardly wait for it to cool and sunk a knife into its golden, crisp crust. The bread had light and lofty crumb, and our first taste revealed a marvelously sweet and nutty flavor. Even her banana-leery husband devoured it. We polished off half the loaf, and they finished it the next day.  

Since then, I have made the bread a few times and have landed on a reliable and inarguably delicious recipe. After it cools, the bread can be sliced very thin and it holds up well to being spread with butter or nut butter. And the best part? It stays moist for days, even when simply stored on the counter wrapped in parchment. While at a picnic this past weekend, my friend April's daughter ate three thick slices, using two of them to make a strawberry and butter sandwich. That's my kind of kid.

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Tuesday
Jul262011

The MPLS Swappers are featured in Minnesota Monthly!

lovely jars of lemon confit at the July 2011 MPLS Swappers food swap

I've been busy lately with the MPLS Swappers.  What's that, you ask? The MPLS Swappers gathers once per month to trade food we made, foraged, and grew ourselves, share knowledge with like-minded foodies, and build a community and culture of home food production in an urban environment.

Inspired by the BK Swappers and ATX Swappers (founded in part by the fairy swapmother Kate Payne), I decided to start a food swap up here in Minneapolis. And thus, late last year, the MPLS Swappers were born. We had our first food swap in March and the new of swaps has been spreading like wildfire across the Twin Cities. I've since gathered two friends to help plan the swaps, Swell Vegan blogger A-K Thordin and grassroots organizer Mandy Ellerton. We now throw monthly food swaps for 40 participants, and are excited about the many ways we can grow as an organization and as a community of like-minded individuals. 

Local press in Minneapolis has been eating up news of the swap as fast as we're eating up our jams and cookies, and we're getting featured all over the place. Most recently, Minnesota Monthly featured us on the glossy pages of our magazine in a great article entitled “Ready, Set, Swap”. Writer Gregory Scott did a great job of describing his experiences at a swap, the motivations of participants and the larger cultural interest in food swapping, as well as profiling me and my interest in starting the organization. And it even features a great photo of me (see below)!

The August issue is now available online and at newstands around Minnesota. Click here to read the article online! 

 

To top it off, we are also featured in a short video by swapper and Minnesota Monthly intern Morgan Mercer. She attended the July food swap with her video camera, interviewing people between swapping her homemade cheese. It really captures the energy and spirit of the swaps, and features me narrating the whole thing, so you get to witness my overly enthusiastic personality. Thanks to the wonder of YouTube, I'm able to share it right here on the blog.  So, check it out!

Pretty awesome, right? I love our food swap and our swappers! 

Mandy, A-K, and I are giddy to see how all this publicity increases the awareness and interest in our swap. We're hoping to facilitate the creation of additional food swaps in the Twin Cities area and larger Minnesota. We'll see what happens! And next month we're going to appear in another prominent Twin Cities magazine, so stay tuned.

Just wanted to let you all know what else I've been up to lately, and why I've been a bit distant on the blog here. But don't worry! The MPLS Swappers will not keep me from sharing tasty recipes here at my Affairs of Living home. 

 

Keep up-to-date with the latest news from the MPLS Swappers...

 


Tuesday
Jul192011

Minted Papaya Avocado Salad (gluten-free, vegan, raw)

Minted Papaya Avocado Salad

It is so hot in Minneapolis. We have a heat index of 115º F and a dewpoint that is higher than the Amazon. I'm not kidding. Our dewpoint was 86 on Sunday. The only other place in the Western Hemisphere with a dewpoint over 80 at the time was the Amazon, and that was in the low 80s. Take that, Brazil, ha!

Why do I live in a place that tortures residents with windchills of -30º F in the winter and then does this in the summer? Am I insane?

To add insult to injury, the power went out on my street last night. I was out picking up an air conditioner from my friend, and returned home about 10:30 pm to find my block powerless. So, I left the air conditioner in my car, and I spent the evening sweating my brains out. The air was still, heavy, and hot, and had it not been 11:30 by the time I was ready to get to bed, I would have sought refuge at someone else's house! It was awful. I kept waking through the night, only to find myself drenched in sweat and feeling faint. At 5 am I gave up, took another shower, gathered my stuff, and went to work, which is where I sit now, basking in the air conditioning. The power on my street may not be fixed until 6 pm tonight, and I'm imagining that all the food in my fridge is going bad as I write this. Ugh. Being without electricity is fine when you are living in a situation that doesn't require it, like when you're camping or at a cabin. But when everything you need to live your daily life is dependent on electricity, it sure is a pain to not have it.

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Tuesday
Jun282011

Maple-Sweetened Blueberry Rhubarb Jam (gluten-free, vegan, cane sugar-free)

IMG_2419.jpg 

I love making low-sugar jams that with unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, evaporated palm sugar, or coconut sugar. These low-sugar jams aren't at all hard to make, thanks to the thickening power of pectin. There are a few brands of pectin available, and you can even make your own out of apple scraps, but I always go for Pamona's Pectin. Eventually I'll try making my own pectin, but right now the cheery blue box of Pamona's is a reliable and easy choice.

Pamona's Pectin can be a little tricky to find in stores. In the Twin Cities area, I know for sure that the Wedge Community Co-op and Whole Foods both carry it (the price is better at Whole Foods). I would recommend calling your local co-ops or natural foods stores to see if they have it before making the trip. If they don't stock it, they may be able to order it for you, so be sure to ask. And if you can't find at any of your local grocers, you can find it online very easily, either by the box or in bulk. I'd love to order a bulk bag of it, since it is much cheaper and pectin lasts forever. Every box of Pamona's has very detailed instructions and basic recipe frameworks, so if you've never canned before, they make it very easy to start.

I'm on a bit of a canning kick this summer and had a bevy of blueberries and rhubarb, so I thought it a good idea to combine them and make a delightful jam. I chose maple syrup for the sweetener, thinking that it would play very well with the blueberries, almost reminiscent of pancakes. For a little twist, I added freshly grated ginger, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg.

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