Friday, December 2, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
1/2 teaspoon salt
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Back to School has been more of a new year to me than the first of January since I was a little girl. It marks the end of a usually long and rather lazy summer with a return to schedules, and bedtimes, and yes, homework too. It means my house stays a whole lot cleaner...but also that I do a lot more driving around town...especially between the hours of 3 and 8 p.m. And it means, for me, more time to spend in the kitchen--planning, creating, baking and cooking for the ones I love.
I won't lie to you, they take quite awhile to prepare. But if you are lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom left with nothing but a cup of coffee and a quiet house after you usher your offspring out the door on their way to school, it's not a bad way to spend the morning. Use the time between steps to get your Tracy Anderson on..or catch up on your book club book...or clean out a closet...or make your list of all you'd like to accomplish during the fresh new (school) year. And when your kids get home in the afternoon all sweaty and tired and hungry, give them a kiss, and a cookie, and they will sing your praises. I promise.
Blueberry Granola Cookie Bars
These delicious bars, adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies are layered with shortbread crust, jam and homemade oatmeal. You can save time by using packaged granola, but the small effort to make your own from scratch is well worth it. Plus, you will have some left over to sprinkle on yogurt for breakfast.
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 1/2 hours (includes chilling time)
Yield: 2 dozen bars
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces (1 1/2 sticks)
1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberry jam
Almond Coconut Granola
(makes about 5 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1. Make granola. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter with honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the water. Stir together the oats, almonds, and coconut in a large bowl. Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the oats and stir to coat evenly. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden and brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
2. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
3. Process 1/2 cup slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Lightly beat egg, yolk and vanilla in a Small bowl. Add egg mixture to the processor through the chute while the processor is running. Pulse just until clumps form. Pat dough into the prepared dish, evenly covering the bottom. Refrigerate until firm and cold, about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
6. Spread jam over crust and top with about 2 cups of granola. Bake until jam is bubbling and the granola is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Lift from the pan and cut into 2-inch squares. Bars should be eaten within a few days, or frozen for up to a month.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
My doctor told me she would call early this week if there was something really crazy in my blood work, otherwise, I'd get the results in the mail. So when I received a voicemail on my phone Tuesday afternoon, telling me to call the office immediately, my heart began to race, more than a little bit. My issues this summer had prompted me to go in and see a new doctor (new insurance) for what I fondly dubbed as "the works." It had been way too long.
When I described the symptoms I suffered throughout this summer, as well as the intermittent digestive issues I've experienced for more than a decade, the first thing the doctor wanted to know was if I had been tested for Celiac Disease. No, never. I had been "diagnosed," for lack of a better term, with Irritable Bowel Syndrome eleven years ago when I had diarrhea every day for the year following my parents' divorce. It was stress related, I was told, and during those times I was a faithful adherent to the BRAT diet-bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. It is a diet I've come to know very well and the diet I subsisted on this summer, accented with peppermint oil capsules, heavy duty acidophilous, and a hefty dose of loperamide.
My doctor ran a thorough blood panel, testing me for food allergies (due to my recent reactions to shellfish), gluten intolerance, inflammation, and essential vitamin and nutrient levels. When the nurse called me to advise me that I had an extensive gluten allergy and needed to call the GI doctor immediately, I was too shocked to ask questions. I hung up the phone, a stunned look on my face.
At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I knew that this would change everything.
At the market, I pulled my sunglasses down over my red-rimmed eyes and carried on with my shopping, mentally noting the things that would soon be forbidden to me--cereals and grains, flour tortillas and crackers, pastas and cookies. Sure there are gluten-free versions of all of those things, but I've tried several different kinds and...was underwhelmed, to put it mildly. Frankly, I'd rather do without than suffer through a poor substitution of the real deal.
I am not the person with the food issues. Food issues are for other people--I am the one who will happily eat most everything. And though I'm not a bread girl...I do enjoy my artisan loaves of bread, and the occasional pastry. I am the person who gets star struck when Nancy Silverton pulls my pizza out of the oven and personally finishes it with a drizzle of olive oil. All that glutenous, carbtastic love was over with a single diagnosis...extensive gluten allergy.
Truth be told, I'm gorging myself on gluten now, devouring slices of homemade bread and cookies....fresh pasta and my favorite cereals. I'm not giving it up until I'm told to--and actually, I have read that going gluten free before testing can skew the results. Matt made reservations at Pizzeria Mozza for a last supper of Nancy's glorious, perfectly chewy and crisp pizza dough topped with a little bit of heaven. My stomach is protesting (heartily) and my head is throbbing (mightily), but I don't even care. If I'm going out, I'll do it with a bang!
I see the GI doctor on Tuesday. I suspect she will order an upper GI scope and sample of my small intestine to determine if I have full-blown Celiac Disease. I am so not looking forward to this procedure, but am secretly excited that this may be the answer to all the vague symptoms that have plagued me for so long--headaches, diarrhea, bloating and gas, mental fog and fatigue, strange blood test results, and irritability. All these things were caused by the stress of being a mother of three young children....or so I thought. Or so I had been told.
I'm standing here at the port, not quite ready to embark on this journey. I feel like I'm going through Elizabeth Kubler Ross' stages of death and dying, which is ridiculous--nobody's dying, forgodsakes. But I'm in mourning anyway. It's not easy to fathom a life without gluten, and yet so many live this life fully, and deliciously too. As usual, I feel like I'm late to the party. Like gluten allergy is so 2005. Like everyone who's anyone has been there, done that. I guess the plus side of that is that cookbooks abound and new flours and products are coming out every day to make my future life in the kitchen easier.
I still don't know what all this will entail, but there is some small comfort in the fact that I'm not alone, and that many have gone before me (and huge comfort in the fact that maybe soon I will begin to feel so. much. better.)
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Under these conditions it is very difficult to blog...so I thank you for your patience. As of this week, I have resumed normal digestion of my food (you have no idea), unpacked all our boxes of clothes shipped home, attended to our garden, and resurrected my old (but still mostly functional camera)..
We've also adopted a stray kitten (whom we've named Bandit...but that's a story for another time).
So thankfully, I'm back in business--as long as my husband doesn't mind me using his desktop once in a while.
About dinner...How are your tomatoes doing? Mine are so-so and admittedly the Early Girls and Better Boys are outperforming my heirlooms about 10-1. But the farmers' market was bursting with incredible variety, and we've been eating them up until our mouths blister.
I firmly believe that summer meals should be simple and require as little cooking as possible, so as to not heat up an already hot kitchen. Tonight's meal, angel hair alla checca, fit that bill perfectly as I only needed to boil a pot of water and cook the pasta for 3 minutes and dinner was served. The sauce, if you want to call it that, is simply chopped tomatoes, marinated in a bit of garlic, olive oil, basil and balsamic vinegar. It's summer served on a platter.
This pasta is a perfect showcase for the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes available right now. As a bonus, this meal is equally good warm, at room temperature or cold. (And the chopped tomato mixture makes a killer bruschetta too.)
Angel Hair alla Checca
Prep time: 10 minutes
2 cups chopped mixed tomatoes (heirloom is nice), cut into 1 inch cubes
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
2. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients, except the pasta in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature so the flavors will meld.
3. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Toss the pasta with the tomatoes in the bowl. Serve immediately, garnishing with additional basil leaves if desired.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Please hang tight until I figure things out.
In the meantime, I do hope you are having a beautiful summer.