Saturday, March 5, 2011

Learning to Adapt Recipes of your Own

Learning to adapt recipes of your own:


-Attitude boost: as you practice adapting recipes of your own, you see more clearly the poosibilities you have- all the things you can create and eat!

When I first tried to bake without wheat, dairy, eggs, or nuts, I felt very restricted, bound, and easily frustrated. Even many allergy-friendly recipe books I checked out from the library still used ingredients my daughter couldn't have. Learning the concepts behind ingredients and alternate substitution rule-of-thumbs freed me considerably. I became passionate at learning how to adapt the recipes I already had- many of my mother's sister's, Better Homes and Gardens, etc. To look at a recipe book loaded with allergens and say with my daughter-hey, we can make that! a rewarding and freeing feeling.

-Self-reliance: do you want to be tied to baking only with highly specialized cookbooks in front of you? Or with having to look online for specialized recipes every time you want to bake or cook? Do you want to be restricted to using only particular specialized ingredients, or have flexibility for using whatever basics you have on hand?

-Life-time learning opportunity: We feel good and are more richly blessed when we are life-time learners. What an opportunity it is to learn to adapt recipes to fit your needs!

Helpful tips for adapting recipes:

-Do not expect perfection

Maybe your muffins aren’t as fluffy as you’d like. But they have a nice flavor and texture. Isn’t that great you can make your muffins so differently than the norm and have them turn out yummy? You can experiment to try to make them fluffier. But meanwhile, enjoy what you have!
-Learn basic concepts of how ingredients work together, and learn substitution possibilities.

-Be willing to experiment

Small batches may be desirable while experimenting

Notebook. Keep a plain college-ruled spiral notebook in your cupboard or somewhere handy, with a pen. After baking with a recipe you’ve altered, record the recipe and how you change it. Rate results. I use √-, √ +, and √++. If desired,write a couple details of what you liked: flavor-wise, texture-wise, etc. Jot down what you may do differently next time(if desired). At times I have tried a recipe three different ways, in small batches, and compared results.

-Turn “flops” into successes

I used to be quite stressed and fearful about changing a recipe on my own. One reason is because I was afraid of failure. Something that eased this fear considerably was my effort to turn “flops” into successes. Most of the things that haven’t worked out so well I’ve found an alternate use for. For example: a rice-flour based pancake batter stuck to my waffle iron and came off in crumbles. I whirred it in a food processor and made fine crumbs for chicken tenders. (stored this in the freezer until I was ready to use it). Another example: I made some bread that had much stronger of a flavor than I liked. I tore it into crumbs and made meatloaf. It was actually really good meatloaf!

If something doesn’t turn out satisfactory, challenge yourself to find another use for it. This feels rewarding when you find a good use for something you first thought had failed. And then you don’t waste! : )

Friday, March 4, 2011

Strawberry Pineapple Sorbet

I've recently experimented a bit with fruit sorbets. My grandparents treated my family to a non-dairy pina colada sorbet at the Polynesian Cultural Center that was soooo good! My daughter loved it! Great flavor, and creamy. I was inspired to try to figure out how to make something just as nice. Here's one attempt of a sorbet that we enjoyed. It was smooth and creamy and tasted like the strawberry sorbet that went by the side of the pina colada.

Strawberry sorbet with taste of pineapple

Estimated amounts- I didn't measure. You get the concept and can experiment. : ) If I had fresh/frozen peaches on hand, I would add some of them, too.

@1/2 cup coconut cream(liquid not frozen)
@2 cups frozen strawberries
1 T. Orange Juice Concentrate
3-4 cubes ripe fresh pineapple, frozen
1 1/4 c. sugar

Strawberry kiwi is a yummy sorbet flavor. I didn't record what I did last, but it was really good except the kiwis weren't thoroughly ripe, so it had a bite to it. I estimate I used about 2 cups frozen strawberries to 2 kiwis. Then added sugar.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies I rate check ++ . (My highest rating). I and the girls really enjoy them! They are really good even when they are room temperature.

As a side note, I made these cookies for my daughter to have for her church class, as the other kids were going to have cookies that day. They were wrapped, as were the other kids cookies, by my friend who was in charge of the activity. My friend wrote a little note on my daughter's cookies, saying she had made the cookies especially for the girls to be able to have them. My daughter's teacher afterward came to me and said, "there was a note saying Emily could have this, but I told her she needed to wait until I checked with her mom. They look so wheat!" Yay! That's a compliment. They look normal and taste normal! It's also a blessing that Emily has teachers who are so careful about her allergies. : )

I used a recipe from a container of Quick Oats, Ralston Foods brand. The recipe is called Family Favorite Oatmeal Cookies. The only adaptations I needed to make were to substitute the wheat flour with half oat/half rice flour, and to substitute the eggs. Shortening was called for in the original recipe, so no substitution for dairy was needed.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar*
Substitute for 2 eggs- I used 4 T. applesauce and 1 T. flaxmeal mixed with 3 T. cool water,then added 1 tsp. baking powder to the dry ingredients.
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup oat flour**
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups Quick or Old Fashioned Oats
raisins(or dairy-free chocolate chips)

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add egg substitute and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder(if substituting for egg), and salt. Then add to the sugar mixer. Add oats, then raisins or chocolate chips last. Bake 350 10-12 minutes. Let stand until firm enough to move to racks; maybe 5 min.

Note: You can first cook a single cookie onto a sheet to check for consistency. Then you can add more liquid or more flour as needed. (Careful-small amounts make a big difference)

* I actually don't have brown sugar in stock in my house right now, I've just been adding a bit of molasses to the recipe when I want brown sugar. I added probably 1 tsp. molasses to this recipe, and just used 2 cups sugar.

**grind old fashioned rolled oats or quick oats in a blender (not instant oatmeal)

Our family's Thanksgiving Meal

Ok, this is a funny time for posting about Thanksgiving, but I thought I ought to follow up the last post with what I ended up fixing for the holiday. It turned out very well- relatively simple, filling, and good.

I prepared the day before a coconut chocolate pie(see another post) and also tried a sweet potato pie, using my mom's pumpkin pie recipe and just substituting coconut milk for evaporated milk, sweet potato puree for pumpkin(just cause I had a bunch of sweet potatoes in the house I had gotten on a really good sale), and I'm thinking I may have substituted gelatin for the eggs(see egg substitution). The crust was a pat-in-the pan experiment, where I substituted oat flour for wheat flour. You can look for a pat in the pan pie crust recipe and then substitute the things you need to. I think my recipe was basically just oat flour and shortening. It turned out, though it is much more rich than I'm used to (I grew up on low-fat, whole wheat pie crusts). The pies were good, but after the yummy and filling meal, I was thinking, why do we even have dessert? Of course, some may not ever wonder that : )

The meal ended up including: a turkey, which I just rubbed some seasonings on and let bake while we were out hiking. Mashed potatoes, which, instead of adding butter/milk/ and that sort of thing, I added some coconut cream(I keep little ice cubes of it in the freezer). I used some of the potato water the potatoes cooked in when I whipped the potatoes, too- just to get a good consistency.

The gravy turned out really flavorful- really, it was the best dairy-free gravy I had made before. My sister was impressed at how good it could be. It was made from some of the turkey drippings, some drippings from a steak my husband had recently cooked with onions and soy sauce/and/or worcestershire sauce), and some vegetable water I had saved in the freezer. (Sorry I have no recipe, but you can get the hang of the concepts. Vegetable water makes more flavorful gravy than plain water. So when you boil potatoes, or steam or blanch broccoli, or boil drumsticks, save the water and freeze in containers. You can also make chicken/beef/or vegetable broth/stock in large batches and freeze that. I think I've done that once; I just find it convenient to save vegetable water or meat drippings when I have them as a part of my cooking meals. When I have flavorful meat drippings, I sometimes pour them into a glass jar in the fridge, scrape off the fat when it's solidified, and then freeze the drippings for later use.

Back to the meal- so, turkey, gravy, potatoes, green beans, I think I had, and that's all I remember. I may have add apple slices or something. But, we all really enjoyed it and filled ourselves, so that we had to wait until later for dessert.

This was my first Thanksgiving meal that was made without any of my girls' allergens in it. It was neat to see how we could have a meal that everyone really enjoyed, without using dairy, wheat, eggs, or nuts! Of course, at the times our family joins with many other family members, we expect to just bring separate food for the girls. But when we have our own small family gatherings, we know we can prepare the food so we all can enjoy it all!