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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 Kitchen Experiments (7)

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

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr202011

Rutabaga raab and other fresh food finds in Washington

IMG_1362

I just returned from 6 days visiting friends in Washington state. It was the perfect vacation - a balance of town and country, old friends and new, sun and rain, and lots of delicious food. I ate my way through Seattle, Port Townsend, and Woodinville, and enjoyed every last bite. One of my favorite things about traveling is food. Trying local specialties, checking out farmer's markets, cruising through co-ops, eating at independently owned restaurants - these are my favorite ways to see the heart of a community and satisfy my never-ending food curiosity. Washington is perfect for this. In addition to amazing restaurants and natural grocers and co-ops, the prevalence of road side produce stands and wild edibles makes this state like a big buffet. I saw slews of blackberry bushes and wild fennel growing along a sidewalk in Seattle for goodness sake.  And unlike the gardens here in Minnesota (which were covered in snow this morning), the gardens around Seattle are already yielding beautiful produce. 

I am resuming the planning process for moving to the Pacific Northwest.

IMG_1253IMG_1372IMG_1365IMG_1367

One of the most interesting food items I saw for sale were bunches of rutabaga raab for sale at the Port Townsend Food Co-op. Rutabaga raab is nothing more than the flowering tops and tender leaves of the rutabaga plant. I laughed when I saw the bunches being sold for $1.99 each, because I generally pick the tender leafy flowering tops from my kale and mustard plants and use them right along with the greens. But you never see these in stores, and I never thought of using rutabaga greens! Rutabaga greens are not often used, or even available, and when you do find them, they never have the tender flowering tops. Because the rutabaga is better stored without the leaves, they usually get discarded before the rutabaga even gets to market. So, rutabaga raab is really something you'd only have access to if you were growing rutabaga yourself or, apparently, if you live in Port Townsend.  

Click to read more ...

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!

Wednesday
Feb092011

Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Kefir Ice Cream with Mixed Berries, No Ice Cream-Maker Required

Perfectly pink and full of probiotics.

My housemate Mary has been making coconut milk kefir lately, and our refrigerator was rather full of the stuff. She is using these kefir grains from Cultures for Health, and process couldn't be easier. I'm not going to go into details about how to make the kefir in this post, because you can read about it on Cultures for Health's website. She uses cans of organic coconut milk, not the coconut milk beverage, adds the grains, and lets it sit. After a day or two, it's ready to go! Every so often she needs to divide the grains and innoculate them in goat's milk, just so they stay active. Her grains are mulitplying like crazy, so I am going to take some from her and get my own batch started.  

The cultured coconut milk kefir is quite lovely. As the coconut milk cultures, it thickens considerably, resulting in a rich, very thick, very creamy and tart kefir that is much thicker than any dairy kefir I have ever eaten. In fact, it is so thick that in order to strain out the kefir grains, we have to thin out the kefir considerably with water! Mary has been eating it like yogurt and adding a dollop to soups, and I've enjoyed adding it to smoothies and spreading it on muffins and bread like cream cheese.

I thought it might be fun to try making it into a frozen yogurt/ice cream type thing.  It was a breeze to make - no ice cream maker required - and tasted delicious. It tastes a lot like a strawberry malt, is very coconutty, and has just a hint of that cultured tartness on the finish. A mixture of berries, a bit of agave nectar, and some stevia liquid add just the right amount of sweetness. And let's not forget the best part - it is filled with beneficial probiotic bacteria! Could there be a better dessert to show your special someone how much you care this Valentine's Day? I think not. Nothing says I love you like happy bacteria.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan292011

Food Porn: Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake, v. 1.0


gluten-free and vegan Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake, v. 1.0

Yes, you read that correctly: chocolate sauerkraut cake. Think about it - sweet + salty + bitter + sour. Four of the five essential flavors. Actually, as I think about it, sauerkraut is pretty pungent, so can we add that fifth flavor to the list too?  If so, this cake may just have the potential to satisfy all our flavor needs.

Both the cake and frosting are gluten-free, vegan, and made without refined sugars and gums. And as a bonus, I didn't use tree nuts or coconut either!  I just licked out the frosting bowl and ate a piece two pieces of cake.  It needs a bit of tweaking, and when I'm done,  I'll share the recipe with you.  I think you'll love it.

Want to come over for a slice? I have a whole pan, and one of my housemates doesn't like cake. (!!!)

gluten-free and vegan Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake, v. 1.0gluten-free and vegan Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake, v. 1.0