Thursday, June 30, 2011


Did your mom ever do this? You know--roll out the pie crust scraps, brush them with butter, dust them with sugar (cinnamon or vanilla), bake them while the pie bubbles in the oven, then munch them with you while you both watch the oven impatiently?

My mom did.

I'm attending the Pie Party on July 5, and today I made my pie. I won't tell you what it is until Tuesday, but I will tell you I used Gluten-Free Girl's pie crust recipe this time. Wow, it's good. Especially when it's cut into strips, brushed with butter, dusted with sugar, baked, and munched on while watching the oven impatiently.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cucumber Summer

Seattle’s weather finally caught up with the rest of the country! Summer is streaming through the trees outside our apartment, bouncing all shades of green and gold down to the street. The snap peas birthed plump 3-inch pods overnight, the jalapeno has tiny nubs of sets, and the fennel is mimicking the trees across the way.

It’s time to taste the green.

This drink can be made as either a cocktail or a refreshing afternoon soda. The frozen blueberries will keep it colder longer, adding their sweetness gradually to the drink as they thaw. They make a fun crunch to nibble when you're finished! I prefer this more savory, with club soda, but ginger ale adds a nice sweetness.

Cucumber-Fennel Fizz
Cucumber-Fennel Fizz
Makes 2 tall glasses

1 English cucumber
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce unfiltered apple cider vinegar
4 ice cubes
1 inch fresh fennel (more as desired)
2 ounces gin (optional)
1 can club soda or ginger ale
2 short stalks fresh fennel for garnish
10 frozen blueberries

Skin cucumber, cut into 4 chunks, and toss into blender. Add lime juice, apple cider vinegar, ice, and 1-inch stalk fresh fennel. Add gin if desired. Blend until smooth and foamy, about 2 minutes. Don't be tempted to add more liquid unless your cucumber is exceptionally dry and it refuses to blend. (In which case add a dash of soda.)

Share the cucumber mix between two glasses, adding either club soda or ginger ale in a 1:1 ratio. Add 5 frozen blueberries to each glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh fennel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Vancouver, B.C.: my husband and I were all ready to drive up for the weekend when I discovered, to my utter astonishment, that my passport had recently expired. I felt stupid. All our plans, from visiting a gluten-free bakery to him showing me his old university campus (peppered with pointed hints about a certain nude beach), suddenly stopped.

I don't do well with plans that stop.

Though I was all ready to stay home and "save money" (pout), my excellent husband announced we'd go to Portland instead. I have nothing against Portland, but it's not Out of the Country. Still: we went to Portland.

This story has a predictable ending. Of course we had an incredible time! We love to travel together because once we get on the road, anything goes. We don't have to have a plan--just excellent smart phones. (But this isn't a phone commercial.)
At Bushwhacker Cider
Our trips usually focus on one or both of two things: gaming and food. In Portland, we ate. We started at Bushwhacker Cider, which housed more varieties of hard cider than I've ever seen in a single shop. They had a number of ciders on tap as well, so we shared a sampler between us while sitting in the sun discussing which bottles to buy. These three were the highlights of our tasting:

Blue Mountain's Dry Creek: So dry, it's almost champagne; but this champagne twinkles with apples.

Blue Mountain's Cherry: Bright red and juicy, this cider's only sweetness comes from the fruit; it isn't syrupy by any means. I bought a bottle that has a dark chocolate torte in its pairing future.

Tieton's Apricot Cider: My favorite, this is utterly refreshing with a perfect balance between sweet and dry. When this is available in the bottle, I'll be hard-pressed to avoid buying a case.

After wandering around the old town area, drifting through Powell's for a quick graphic novel, and ducking under the eaves from a Spontaneous Northwest Shower, we got a table at Deschutes Brewery. Normally at a brewery, I expect to dine on French fries and--if I'm lucky--not feel the effects of gluten cross-contamination. This brewery got me in the door by promising a gluten-free menu, which they delivered along with the announcement that they now make gluten-free beer. I didn't stop smiling the entire evening.
Deshutes' Gluten-free Menu

Deschutes' gluten-free menu is one of the best I've seen (if a mite unhealthy). They didn't force me to eat salad while hungrily eyeing my husband's plate. I had an excellent gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries, which they happily made low-dairy at my request. Delicious!

Their gluten-free beer is also the best I've tasted. It actually tastes like beer--even my husband agreed and he's the first one to look at me askance when I insist on trying some new gluten-free product I didn't make myself. But the best part? I didn't feel even slightly ill later.

We went back for lunch the next day. Portland may not be Out of the Country, but it knows good gluten-free food when it has it. We'll be back soon, I hope.

I'm still getting my passport renewed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sunflower Cakes

Usually I love Seattle’s weather. Cold, grey, rainy days are perfect for baking and listening to Bon Iver or the Fleet Foxes, sipping a hot cup of coffee as I turn the pages of my recipes. But it’s June: I want the sun’s heat to ripen the little buds on my tomatoes, to kiss my jalapeño plant hello, and to tell my cilantro, “It’s okay, don’t fret, I’m here now.”

It’s been a long cold spring.

After work today, all I really wanted was to bake up something warm and sunny—to turn on the oven and cozy up my apartment with Concentrated Summer. It had to be yellow, edible, and new. Cornmeal is the right color and my latest favorite ingredient is sunflower seeds… et voilà! Sunflower Cakes.

They just happen to go perfectly alongside my Asparagus Sunflower Soup. And as I write, the evening sun has poked out and turned my tomatoes and snap peas a summery shade of chartreuse. The weather here really is perfect for baking.

Sunflower Cakes, hanging out in the garden
Sunflower Cakes
Makes 8-12 muffins, depending on size

1 cup (145g) yellow cornmeal
1 Tbls baking powder
½ cup (75g) sweet rice flour
¼ cup (30g) amaranth flour
2 Tbls (15g) tapioca starch
¼ cup (35g) brown sugar
¼ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds, shelled and ground
½ tsp sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup vegetable broth or soymilk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tin or crumpet rings. If using crumpet rings, arrange on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together cornmeal and baking powder so there are no lump of baking powder. Add the other flours, tapioca starch, and brown sugar. Stir in ground sunflower seeds and salt.

In a separate bowl, measure out oil, vinegar, and broth or soymilk. Beat in egg. Pour this wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix quickly but well. Spoon batter into muffin tin or crumpet rings. Sprinkle over with more roasted salted sunflower seeds.

Bake about 15-20 minutes, until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool about 5 minutes before removing from rings.