Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook

The majority of my posts have some reference to waves, ocean, water, etc. but, just like a surfer who needs to take a break from the waves, this post will be taking a break from that theme.  We'll  be chilling out on the beach so to speak. What do you do when you chill out on the beach?  I like to read a book.

I'm so excited to share this book review with you! This month, I was honored to be chosen to test two recipes from the now-released (early!) "Everything-Gluten-Free-Slow-Cooker-Cookbook" written by Carrie S. Forbes - aka Gingerlemongirl.
I had a few delays in getting started.  First delay - I had loaned my large slow cooker to a friend in June and had to wait to get it back from her.  Next delay was realizing that during the summer, I don’t eat much canned food, and both recipes I was testing required the use of empty 15-oz cans.  After jotting a message to Carrie, I decided to try wide-mouth canning jars.  Off to Wal-Mart to buy some canning jars, get home, and realize the pint-sized canning jars really are not as wide-mouthed as I needed.  But, since I was running “behind” I proceeded with the recipes anyway…
The first recipe was the Millet Bread on page 45 of the cookbook.  I greased three pint-sized mason jars and divided the batter evenly among the jars, and voila - 3 ½ hours later, I had delicious millet bread!  I loved how the house smelled as this was cooking! 
Since my jar was not truly “wide-mouth”, I had to cut the bread into fourths, like pickle spears, and the sections came out of the jar easily.  This is not what Carrie intended for her recipe, so please do use the cans as she suggests.  Plus, it’s cheaper to buy a bunch of canned beans or vegetables and make a soup with the contents, than it is to buy the canning jars that don’t yield the shape loaf you’re wanting here.

However, the shape does not affect the taste and texture.  My millet bread “spears” had a great texture and crumb factor.  The flavor reminded me a little bit of sweet cornbread, like the Jiffy brand in my pre-gluten-free days, but it was not overpowering.  I will definitely be making this again!

The second recipe was the Easy Chocolate Cake on page 269.  Anything with “chocolate” in the title gets my attention, so I was really glad Carrie gave me this recipe to try.
I again used a pint-sized canning jar for part of this recipe, and I used my 1-quart slow cooker for the remainder, which made this cute “personal size” cake. 

This size slow cooker makes two very generous servings of cake or four regular size -a perfect sized cake for those celebrations where the celebrant does not want a lot of cake left over.
I added the mini chocolate chips per Carrie’s “tip box”. After all, you can never have too much chocolate, right? I also love Carrie’s suggestion at the top of the page about using this mix as a “gift in a jar”.
This cake was definitely easy, and oh-so-moist!! Not runny like some “moist” gluten-free cakes.  It held up to the frosting.  It was delicious and satisfied that cupcake craving and chocolate craving at the same time.  How exciting to think you can mix this up before you leave for work, and when you get home, dessert is ready!

BOTH of these recipes "travel well" - I threw them in "ziploc" bags and took them to various functions over the weekend, and they held up nicely.  They did not fall apart or turn into crumbs, and they only "protection" they had was the bag.

A few days after testing the recipes, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that cookbook orders were shipping early from Amazon.  I started tracking my order, and then anxiously looking out the window all day long on the day of delivery.  It felt like Christmas!  As soon as it arrived I started leafing through the recipes.  My first thought was - “so many recipes - where to start?” and my second thought was “I need to buy more slow cookers!”

I love everything about this cookbook!  I love that Carrie uses easy-to-find ingredients and gives dairy-free ingredient substitutions.  I love the trivia, tips and suggestions she peppers throughout the book.  I LOVE that the nutrition information is included at the bottom of the page for each recipe - so helpful for those who are on diets where they need to know that information.  I even love the index of this book! You can find recipes very easily. For example, the “Easy Chocolate Cake” is found under “chocolate”, “desserts” and “easy chocolate cake” sections in the back.  This may sound trivial, but believe me, there are some cookbooks that make it very difficult to use their index.

Even if you don’t have to eat gluten-free, you’d enjoy this cookbook.  As of today’s blog post, this cookbook is available at Amazon for an unbelievable price - less than $10!  So hurry on over to Amazon or your local bookstore and buy this cookbook for yourself and several to give as gifts!
As for me, I’m off to buy or borrow more slow cookers so I can try more recipes!
"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." Psalm 34:8

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Surfer wannabe

Have you ever surfed a wave - or at least body surfed on a boogie board? I'm a surfer wannabe!  

Yesterday as I was gliding through my swimming pool, cherishing one last swim before closing the pool for the winter, I thought about surfers.  How awesome it must feel to ride along the top of a wave, to "carve" (turning on a wave)  or - the ultimate - to be in the barrel or "tube"!  According to Surfer's Dictionary, "a barrel is where the wave is hollow when it is breaking. For some surfers, it's the 'be all and end all' of surfing." 

Some of my favorite surfing pictures are of those taken of a surfer inside the tube.  That spot can be exhilarating and frightening at the same time. That's the spot I find myself today.  As I ride this unemployment wave, I've been baking gluten-free goodies and selling them at the local farmer's market.  I knew I couldn't pay the bills with the income from the farmer's market, but I thought it would give me a good "feel" for the supply/demand of my local gluten-free community.  As the has summer progressed, I've also contacted local stores and restaurants to request that they carry my gluten-free bread and cookies, and I've dreamed of riding even bigger waves.

Just like the churning and swirling energy and activity that takes place during the the swelling of a "bomb" wave (a really big wave), the anticipation of this new venture has my mind swirling.  Some days I'm focused and staying on my "board", staying inside that tube, and other days my mind is going in so many directions, I crash into the wall of that tube and I wipe out.  Some days the ride is exhilarating.  Other days it is frightening... and other days it is frustrating and depressing.

But, like that dedicated surfer who wipes out and gets back on the surfboard, I, too, will get back on the board and ride the next wave... and I'll try to avoid low tide. LOL  In the meantime, I'll continue to coordinate our gluten-free support group, CEGIS and help educate others about gluten - and of course bake some delicious gluten-free goodies...

Here's a picture of the delicious, fluffy hamburger buns I've been marketing to the stores: 

Want a teaser about what my next post is about? It's about whitewater rafting and slow cooker cooking.  What a contrast right?   I'm honored to be chosen to test two recipes from GingerLemonGirl's cookbook that will be released in October. Go ahead and preorder several copies of this book - they make great gifts and you can't beat the pre-order price! 
Until the crest of the next wave rises...