Category Archives: gluten free

How to cut a squash

No chainsaw required.

I love squash, but I have always disliked cooking any but a soft-skinned zucchini or yellow crook-neck.  The starchy, potato-like texture of Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) is one of my very favorites, along with Delicata, a long, striped, impossibly sweet squash I only discovered this year.  Squash, including butternut, acorn, pumpkin and other varieties, have the additional benefits of being extremely cheap for the bounty they provide, low in calories, and rich in carotenoids and vitamins.

But you probably already know this. It’s likely that you’ve arrived here after standing over a squash pondering the lie you were told when you witnessed a disembodied hand effortlessly wielding a 10” chef’s knife cutting through the stem of a squash, followed by peeling or halving it for roasting.  Perhaps after that you did battle with a squash, wielding the sharp end of the knife toward the stem and ending up trying to prove your worth by extracting the Excalibur, now firmly stuck in the stony gourd.  And then, panting, you Googled.

Me too. Then I searched for solutions. It’s tempting, but I don’t like the microwave for this.  Microwaving squash can lead to mushy, oddly textured squash, because a microwave cooks from the center.  Pressure cooking will give you an even worse result.  I wanted to soften the hard exterior of the squash while preserving the interior texture for roasting (which can deliciously caramelize it).

Here is the easy solution:

  • Put the whole squash in the center of the oven on a baking sheet (I have cheap, dedicated baking sheets for roasting, as it will kill your nice cookie pans.  At a Target, these pans are $4.)
  • Set the oven to 400 degrees (204° C, gas mark 6)
  • Set a timer for 20 minutes and walk away. This is for a small squash, approximately 6 inches (15 cm) across.  For a larger squash, wait an additional 5 minutes.

Yes, you can set the oven once the squash is in and not the other way around, because why would you want to stand around waiting for it to heat up? 

A chef’s knife, a pair of tongs for hot squash, ice cream scoop, and a delicata, freshly seeded.

Once you remove the squash, which will now be quite hot on the outside, let it cool for about five minutes.  NOW try inserting the tip of your knife near the stem and bear down.  I don’t even take off the stem, I just cut the squash in half, preserving curvature at the top so the oven doesn’t dry it out during the roasting process. 

Oof, look at that clean line! Now the squash will like flat on the pan.

At this point, if you are cubing, you can peel, take of the stem, etc.  For spaghetti squash, roasting is a must for the correct texture. Still too difficult?  Put it back for five more minutes. 

I prefer to roast squash:

  • Cut in half
  • Scoop out the seeds with an ice-cream scoop
  • Lightly oil the pan and the insides of each half
  • Roast face-down for 45 more minutes (same temperatures as above)
Before roasting
After roasting. See that nice caramelization at the bottom right? Sweetness!

While I was at it, I remember the peppers and onions I wanted to roast for fajitas the following day.  So on they all went.  (if you roast peppers, just halve them, roast away, let them cool and peel away the outer skin).  The resulting squash can be easily scraped from the skin.

For Kabocha, we eat it as-is, or I like to mash it with a little butter and milk like mashed potatoes (or butter-replacement and soy milk – just as good).  Add butternut or Delicata to pasta, or eat as a side.  You can even make Kabocha fries. Spaghetti squash, which is itself a little miracle, goes really well with marinara sauce and other mixed vegetables.

Our child would like you to know that no one should eat squash under any circumstances.  This is also the kid who will have extra hot sauce, those roasted onions and peppers, but can be chased down with a sweet potato like it’s a weapon. More for me!

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Erin McKenna’s Bakery

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Erin McKenna’s Bakery

A splurge, but delicious.  Ask for ingredient list if you have FODMAP issues, because there is a lot of agave syrup in some items.  The good news is that you can look up the ingredients beforehand.  I wish this place had a public bathroom or we would have stayed for the coffee or tea.  They also have vegan soft serve with optional gluten free cone.  The atmosphere is very friendly (a discussion about Wow Airlines eventually involved the lady behind the counter, the gent talking about it, us, and a couple of bystanders) and there is a lot of foot traffic.  Refrigerate within 1.5 hours of leaving and keep the stuff there to retain the freshness.  (Unlike other baked goods, which tend to stale from being tossed into the fridge).  Also in New York and Orlando.

https://www.erinmckennasbakery.com/

  • Gluten Free, Vegan & Kosher
  • 236 North Larchmont Blvd,
  • Los Angeles, CA 90004
  • 855-GO-BABYCAKES
    855.462.2292
  • larchmont@erinmckennasbakery.com
  • Hours of Operation
  • Sunday-Thursday: 9am-9pm
  • Friday-Saturday: 9am-10pm
  • Kosher Certificate

Three places to visit in Highland Park

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Order first while pondering the beauty (and I’m not just talking about that mustache). Also, get the baked goods for later first. You’ll see later why (spoiler: long lines!)

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Buckwheat pancakes with coconut! Blackberries! You won’t need to eat for the rest of the day! Seriously.

Kitchen Mouse (gluten free)

Monday – Friday  •  8am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday  •  7am – 4pm
5904 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90042  •  MAP
323.259.9555

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Mr. Holmes. Looks too fancy for you and me, but they’re NICE NICE NICE inside!!

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (not gluten free)

101 S AVE 59
LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES

HOURS

7AM – 2:30PM WEEKDAYS / 8AM – 3:00PM WEEKENDS

Shorthand

HOURS

Everyday – 11am – 7pm

5028 York Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90042 USA

 

 

Gluten free IKEA

Gluten free cake with tea? Yes please. Really good creamy with chocolate gluten free cake? Thanks very much indeed. I’m sure they have food too, like I think the vegetarian meatballs are gluten free… But I was a bit preoccupied.

Because:

Gluten Free Bakery in Los Angeles

Well, it wouldn’t have been a week off without some deliciousness.  So while we were out…

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Karma Baker is out in Westlake Village, but I think they are also carried at markets like Erehwon. Gluten free AND Vegan, they are a favorite of some of the Kardashians. So if you want to see one of their assistants (or them, who knows), drop on by and try this excellent peanut butter and chocolate brownie. This is just half. Because we like to share. Silly, that’s not why. It’s just so we could have half of something else!

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What? Karma Baker makes DONUTS?! Yep. That one in the back is a Unicorn donut. They’re vanilla underneath, but you can also get chocolate. My favorite, and only if fresh, is the cinnamon sugar. My boss brought me these, because she is extraordinary and thoughtful. We returned for more. Because we are little piggies.

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Flower Child in Santa Monica has BOSS brownies (not vegan, but gluten free), and really excellent chocolate chip cookies. They’re about $3 each, and huge, which is a pretty good deal. They also have $5 coconut chocolate pudding with optional coconut and almonds. You might think it’s too expensive to try but don’t be a cheapskate, because it’s excellent. Then take a trip upstairs to sit, or get up there and see the awesome bathroom whether you need to go or not. You need to go. They have other stuff here, but, uh, we didn’t look. If you go on Wed. or Sat. there is a swell farmer’s market and you can eat something on the shore like we did. Or just come here. It’s always good to have choices…

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20170612_151310~2 Winner of the Gluten Free doughnut category: FONUTS on 3rd and Crescent Heights near the Farmer’s Market (You can walk.  Really.). They’re DEEELICIOUS.  Try the lemon.  We are massive chocolate lovers, and we recommend the lemon.  It’s THAT good.

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Fonuts are delicious but here’s some guidance from them: All Gluten Free and Vegan Fonuts contain Almond flour and are made on premises which contain nuts, dairy, flour and other products containing gluten. We are not Gluten Free Certified, however we take the utmost care in preventing cross contamination.

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Littlejohn’s is in the Farmer’s Market, and has been there since…forever, roughly.  Know why?  Fresh fudge, that’s why.  That 1/2 lb. hunk of Rocky Road is for my mother, who informed me upon hearing that I secured some for her: “Ooh, that felt like a big hug.”  Right.  Now you know where I get it from.  Because the other slab of peanut butter and chocolate is for us.  Duh!  Not dairy free, but gluten free, thank heavens.

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The last breakfast hurrah (eggs on toast with cheddar, white potatoes, easy homemade stuff to avoid Sunday Funday lines at..anywhere in L.A.) before the inevitable week-long sugar restriction to recover from this week.  But remember, I did this for you!

Improving on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

cornbreadplateI make cornbread for us about once a month. A 12″ cast-iron skillet and one bag of mix yields a giant skillet of cornbread. We use ¼ to 1/3, and I freeze the rest for later (which can be mighty convenient on a 100-degree day when I’m only up for tossing a salad). I’ve made a few amendments to the mix, and I think they really help. First, and I know sugar is a villain so feared that, like Voldemort, we dare not to speak its name, I add it anyway (I really like to live on the edge). Second, I add more milk – ¼ cup more. Third, the way you mix the batter matters. Continue reading

How to make brown rice — UPDATE

I’m always messing about with cooking — who knows, tweaking a bit might make it better, right?

This version makes rice that is fluffy and less starchy, which brings out the nutty flavor of the rice.

  • 1 cup of brown rice, rinsed and drained (removes excess starch)*
  • Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil in a covered pot before adding the rice.*  Set a kitchen timer for five minutes and head off to open mail or tidy up.
  • Once the water boils, add the rice and give the pot a shake to distribute the rice evenly.*
  • Leave the lid almost closed, but with a little space to vent (or the rice will foam and create a mess)
  • Set the timer for 25 minutes and go live a little.
  • When the water is at the same level as the top of the rice, turn off the heat, close the lid and walk away for another 15 minutes.
  • Fluff and enjoy.  Makes about 3 cups.

*These are the only steps that differ from my original post, but oh, they make a difference.  In the first post, the rice goes from the bag to the pot of water before heating it all to a boil.  The result is more starchy, sticky rice (which is nice if you prefer it that way, or are making sushi).

 

Emergency food

This building fell on the cars below.  A nice new building has replaced it, but it took years.  Luckily, no one died here.

This building in nearby Sherman Oaks fell on the cars below. A nice new building has replaced it, but it took years. Luckily, no one died here.

We’re just around the corner from the 20th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake.  During the horrible jolt and subsequent shaking, my husband threw himself over me while saying over and over, “It’s okay.” When the second round of violent shaking  began, he changed his tune to, “We’re going to die!”

We made it, though everything in our kitchen except one dish didn’t.  Even the bread maker and the microwave took it in the shorts.

Now we have a little stash of earthquake supplies, including backpacks we bought on sale after the school-time crush was over, bits of medicine and gauze, an emergency bucket-toilet that the kid thought was the greatest purchase we ever made, and emergency food and water.

Yesterday I made a trip to S.O.S. Survival Products — a great place for this stuff — and discovered something odd: There are NO emergency bars without gluten.  For the past three years, our emergency food has included only food I cannot eat. (For the rest of you, I heartily recommend the 2400 calorie bars and other smaller bars they sell.  They have a 5-year shelf life and taste great).

The solution for us will be food with a long shelf life that we will change out more often.  Costco has nut bars, peanut butter, and other grain-based cereals and bars that we can store for up to a year.  They also have gluten-free soups by the case that are inexpensive.  However, here are some links with more options:

Be sure to check ingredients and expiration dates.  Program your phone to let you know when it’s time to buy new supplies.

If you do nothing else, put together a few cans of food, a gallon of water or more per person, a small first aid kit and a plan.  What you really want is to get out alive, shut off the gas and have something to eat on hand — for three days or more.  Don’t forget medications, and don’t forget your pets too (we even had a fish bowl for our aquarium fish!).  Just in case, here is my most popular post: it’s about how long refrigerated/frozen food stays at a safe temperature without electricity.

I hope it never happens, but we’re told we’re in for a big earthquake at some point, and while I’m not an Armageddon-level prepper, I’m inclined to believe it.  If it does, for a good bit of time we’ll have no one around to help us except each other.  Plan accordingly.

Japanese cooking shows are BOSS!

By the time 6:30 am rolls around, I’m tiring of both working out and all of the morning news shows.  The news generally runs out within ten minutes of the start of the broadcast, and the broadcast never covers world news.  Channel surfing landed me on NHK World, where there is both world news and the weather everywhere — everywhere! — in Celsius.  I know 37 degrees = 98 degrees F, but for the rest, I have to guess.

Then at 6:30 am, NHK airs cooking shows.  I absolutely love Lunch ON!, which features not only lunch, but the lives of the people making and eating it.  Top it off with a overly eager narrator who really piles on the flourishes and you’ve got the beginnings of a great day.  Not that I wouldn’t watch it ALL day, because I would.

This morning the listing for NHK said, Viewers’ Choice, so I saw Seasoning the Seasons instead.  This episode showed Ekiben — bento boxes one eats while traveling — from around Japan.  The cuisines differ based on region and history within the prefectures.  In the process, the show also visited artisans making koji, cooking sake, and the bento boxes themselves.

Koji is the base for soy sauce and miso, made by fermenting soy beans and cracked wheat in a place where the air is rich with wild yeasts and microbes, or by inoculating the mixture with them.  I never forget koji because I missed a question about it on a test once.  Cooking sake is fermented sushi rice.

This had me wondering about avoiding gluten in Japan, and I came across an interesting post about how deceptively difficult it can be to avoid it here and here.  Though I really wish I could enjoy more of the food, and would search long and hard for a good mochi, I would endure rice and SoyJoy bars for a long while if I could visit Japan.

How to cook beans

See those shriveled little guys in the cup? They’re cheap, and they turn into those plump, delicious beans still steaming in the glass container.

This is so easy you’ll be amazed you never thought of it before.  After that you’ll taste freshly made beans and only keep canned for the times you forget to soak some in advance (which, shamefully, is quite often for me).

All you need to cook beans is a pot, a mixing bowl, beans of choice, water and a dash of oil.  Some beans, like black eyed peas (beans) and adzuki beans, don’t need soaking.  Today I made garbanzos, so I’m going to use those as the example.

Start by scooping out about a cup of beans into a mixing bowl.  Check for any discolored beans and toss those.  Fill the bowl with water until it’s about 3 inches above the beans.  I cover mine with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight.  Beans should soak 6-8 hours before cooking — there are other ways to accomplish this, but the results are just not as good. One cup of dry beans yields 2.5 to 3 cups cooked and is the equivalent of roughly 8 oz at the market (I usually buy just over a pound to be sure I’ve got at least 2 cups). Continue reading