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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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Entries in DIY (19)

Tuesday
Oct182011

Homemade Vanilla Salt, Two Ways

Vanilla Salt

There are all kinds of fancy salts out there for you to blow your paycheck on. Confession: I own many of them

Thankfully, one of my favorite salts is one that I make at home. Vanilla salt couldn't be easier to prepare, and the end result is lovely. I have two methods for creating vanilla salt, yielding different yet equally delightful results. I am sharing both methods with you; try each one and see which fits you best. I use my vanilla salt in baked goods, with fruit, over roasted sweet potatoes or squash, sprinkled over chocolaty desserts, or with roasted or grilled meats (helloooooo pork and chicken). I think you'll like it too. If you decorate the jar with a cute label and a bit of ribbon, you have a wonderful homemade gift. 

Vanilla beans are über-expensive if you buy them one-by-one or in small quantities. The trick is to buy a big bag and split the cost with a friend. A fellow foodie and I split the cost of this 1/2 pound bag of vanilla beans. We each ended up with about 30 beans for only about $13 per person. Sweet deal, right? 

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Wednesday
May252011

Gluten-Free Birthday Party Ideas: making "potions" at a Harry Potter party

a happy child with his "potion"

A few weekends ago, I traveled to Northern Iowa to participate in a cob oven-building workshop. My friends were hosting the workshop at their home and I took advantage of the opportunity to stay the weekend with them and their three kids. One of the highlights of the weekend was participating in their 9-year-old son's Harry Potter-themed birthday party. 

The minute I arrived, my friend told me I was going to be the Potions Master and lead the kids in an activity to make their own smoothies (a.k.a. "potions") from fresh fruits. Awesome! We prepared the fruits before the party and displayed them in trays and bowls. To label each magic ingredient, I drew out the names of each on paper with a water insoluble pen, tore it around the edges, and lightly singed each torn edge to make it look old. We grownups came up with some fun ideas for the "magic" equivalents of common ingredients: 

After the kids finished a rousing game of quidditch, it was time for potions. Each child was given a goblet and instructed to fill it up with their choice of fruit and juice. I put the ingredients the Vitamix with a handful of ice, asking them (in a terrible British accent) to tell me what their magical "potion" will do, then flipped the switch. As it blended, I waved my wand (oh yeah, I had a wand) and made crazy sounds for dramatic effect. Then I poured their "potion" it right back in their goblet. A quick rinse of the blender container, and I was ready for the next one!

dragon hearts and eyes of giant newt

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Friday
Apr152011

Charcutepalooza: smoking, pudding, and porkgasms

IMG_1238

Q: What do you call the feeling of intense euphoria brought on by the consumption of well-prepared pork?

A: A porkgasm!

 

I proudly take full credit for that dirty food joke.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow  and The Yummy Mummy, in partnership with Food52, are hosting a year-long blog event called Charcutepalooza: A Year of Meat. Using Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie as a guide, this challenge encourages bloggers to explore the world of salting, smoking, and curing their own meats. There is a big grand prize at the end that involves a trip to France and personal charcuterie lessons, but I jumped on the Charcutepalooza boat a bit too late to be eligible. A sad but true fact I can't escape. C'est la vie!

My corned beef post from last month was featured by Food52 as one of the ten best blog posts for the March brining challenge. I'm honored! I adore Food52 and admire the work of the other bloggers featured in their round up, so I was thrilled to be mentioned. Be sure to check out Food52's recap of the challenge, as well as my post about making corned beef. 

This month's challenge is hot smoking. I became giddy at the prospect of trying a new recipe in a smoker. My housemates have a Camerons stovetop smoker, and since moving in I've gotten into the habit of using it at least once per week. Smoked salmon paté, smoked hamburgers, smoked locally-made sausages, smoked marinated chicken breasts, the list goes on. I'm totally addicted to the food that comes out of it. So, I went right for the gold and took on the Charcuterie Challenge of making Spicy Smoked Pork Loin from Charcuterie.

 

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Monday
Mar282011

Recycled Brownie Smoothies and Puddings: The best way to use old baked goods!

Old brownies ready for the blender. When they become too dry to enjoy, freeze them in cubes and use in smoothies and puddings!

My housemate Mary just recently turned me on to using past-prime brownies in smoothies and puddings. I know that sounds weird, but seriously, it is the best way to eat up those slightly dry baked goods! Combined with a little non-dairy milk and a slew of other ingredients, those old dry brownies transform into a rich, chocolatey, creamy smoothie or pudding. I hate throwing away food, so discovering a way to reuse baked goods in a new way is totally up my alley.

How do you do it? Simple. Just put chunks of dry, leftover brownie in your blender, with a bunch of other ingredients (hints below, keep reading). If you have a lot of leftover brownie pieces, cut them into small cubes and put them in the freezer to use later on.  These frozen chunks are like ice cubes, but better because they are full of chocolate goodness! 

As for what you combine with your brownies, the world is your chocolate-covered oyster.  How about banana and nut butter? Or maybe frozen cherries and hemp seed? Or coconut milk, maca, and cacao? Or maybe chocolate with carob powder, protein powder, and a handful of spinach (seriously)? Anything goes, the options are endless.  If you want a thick, creamy pudding, I"d recommend adding only enough liquid to blend, as well as a tablespoon or two of chia seeds.

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to mix-n-match with leftover brownies: 

  • your favorite "milk" or coconut milk
  • stevia or another natural sweetener
  • cacao nibs
  • carob or cacao powder
  • maca
  • cinnamon or other spices
  • nut/seed butter or nuts/seeds
  • maca
  • hemp or flax seeds
  • protein powder
  • plain or frozen banana
  • spinach or kale leaves (if you're wacky like me)
  • frozen cherries or raspberries
  • anything else your heart desires

Brilliant. Totally brilliant!

Saturday
Jan152011

How to Make Sauerkraut in Gallon-Size Plastic Bags: A Follow-Up

Updated on Saturday, January 15, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

IMG_0092

Back in October, I posted an entry called How to Make Sauerkraut - or - Four Women have a Cabbage-Laden Sausagefest.  I described one method for making sauerkraut, as demonstrated in photos of a party that three friends and I had where we shredded 50 pounds of cabbage and ate lots of sausages. After letting the cabbage ferment away for about 6 weeks, we got together back in December to sample our krauts, pack them into jars, and eat more sausages (and locally-made haggis). I wanted to let you know how it all turned out!

As you may recall from that post (found HERE), we fermented in gallon-size plastic bags, and made 9 different flavors.

  • plain with one with Canning Salt (3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • plain with RealSalt (3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • juniper berries (1 Tbsp berries, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • seaweed extravaganza (a half cup each of crushed nori, laver, dulse, and wakame, 3 1/2 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • caraway (1 Tbsp caraway sees, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • garlic, onions, and red pepper flakes (1-2 garlic cloves, 1 onion, 1/2-1 Tbsp red pepper flakes, 3 1/2 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • dill seeds (1 Tbsp dill seeds, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • "Kim's Mix" - fennel and coriander (1 Tbsp fennel seeds, 1 Tbsp coriander seeds, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage) - I sliced by thumb open while making this one, so I got to pick the spices. We joked that blood was one of the key secret ingredients.  Although I didn't actually bleed in the kraut, I did get to keep the batch.
  • "Terre Vivant" - a mix of juniper, clove, bay leaf, sage, and cumin, inspired by a recipe in the marvelous  book Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing. I don't recall the exact measurements, nor did we write them down! But it was around 2 Tbsp total spices, 3 Tbsp salt, and 5 lbs cabbage.

IMG_0091Homemade haggis and sausages from the Seward Co-op in Minneapolis, MNSampling three varieties of our kraut with dinner: seaweed, garlic and onion, and Terre Vivant

 

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