Thursday, March 31, 2011

Momma K's (Gluten Free) Banana Bread

My mom makes the best banana bread.  You might think your mom makes the best banana bread, but you are biased, and wrong.

My brother asked me to make some baked goods for a show opening he's having on Sunday.  I love baking so I said sure.  I'm also pretty selfish so I wanted to make something gluten free so I could eat it too.

I did a gluten free test run of my mom's banana bread tonight.  If it turned out awful, I planned to make it the regular way since I didn't want to deprive everyone else of this delicious bread.  Fortunately, it came out amazing and I'll be making it again for the show opening Sunday.

Updated Picture.  Same Recipe.

Momma K's Banana Bread - with Gluten Free adjustments:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter - I used 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup applesauce*
1 3/4 cups brown sugar**
4 eggs
4 cups flour - I used all purpose gluten free flour***
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. baking powder
2 cups mashed ripe banana (4-5 bananas)
1 cup strong black coffee
1 Tbs vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl beat together the butter, applesauce if using, and sugar

Beat in each egg one at a time

In a medium sized bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder

In another bowl stir together the mashed banana, coffee, and vanilla

Using a spoon, add the banana mixture and the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  My mom always reminds me not to over-mix, and then I do it anyway (but you shouldn't).

Pour the batter into a greased bundt pan and cook for 1 hour.  If you want to use a loaf or cupcake pan then the cooking times will be shorter.  I'm guessing 45 minutes for a loaf and 20ish minutes for cupcakes.  Don't take my word on that, though.  Google it.

* I used applesauce because of what Daniellan told me about butter in gluten free baking and also because I had it around and was trying to pretend I was being healthy
** I used 1 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup white sugar because I was low on brown sugar
*** I used a mixture I had bought at Risotteria a few months ago.  I'm not well versed enough in gluten free flours to tell you any mixture will work, but I plan on using Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour for my next batch and I'm hoping for the best.

This is my first recipe.  Questions?

UPDATE:  When I made this again, I used a different flour mixture and it needed more like an hour and 20 minutes to cook.  Don't question this.  Just cook it until a fork comes out clean.

Gluten Free Hot Cereal - 4 Product Reviews in 1!

You're probably sitting around wondering what I eat for breakfast.  Before this whole fiasco I ate Quaker oatmeal in the winter and Grape Nuts with fruit in the summer.  Well, that all went out the window.  Here's a fun fact about oatmeal: oatmeal is naturally gluten free, but because it is usually grown on the same fields as wheat in alternating seasons, it is considered too cross contaminated to safely eat.

But, don't worry, gluten free oatmeal does exist.  Some people grow it on special fields and then sell it for a ton of money.  I get mine from Bob's Red Mill.  Bob has a lot of products, gluten free and not, including some gluten free brownie mix that is good.  I've tried some of his other gluten free products and liked them too.  The problem with this oatmeal is that for some reason I have a hard time finding it, and when I do I'm often too cheap to buy it (most gluten free products are extremely expensive - more on this later).

One of the first gluten free things my mom bought me was a breakfast cereal from Arrowhead Mills that is basically cream of wheat except it's cream of brown rice.  It has a lame name, but I don't hold that against it.  While I like it, I can't really seem to find it in the city either.  Not that I've looked that hard.  If these people would like to send me some I'd eat it.  Just saying....

Once the gluten free oatmeal and brown rice cereal my mom sent me from Vermont were gone, I was at a loss.  I stumbled into Broadway Natural near my apartment in Astoria and was pleasantly surprised by all the gluten free products I found.  In fact, I spent almost half an hour in there just wandering around.  They started to give me weird looks, so I took some Cream of Buckwheat and got out of there.  Cream of Buckwheat?  Weird.  Yet surprisingly good!  The first day it kind of creeped me out because it has a different consistency and says it can be used as baby food on the box.  Once I got over that I rather enjoyed it.  If these people want to send me some I'd definitely eat it.  In fact, this is what I'll be having for breakfast tomorrow morning with a little maple syrup.

What I hope no one sends me are Quinoa Flakes.  Gross.  Sorry quinoa, but I don't like you.  Gluten free people seem to love quinoa.  They think it's the greatest thing ever.  It is really healthy, and I guess it's cheaper than other gluten free grains, but I just can't get used to the taste.  I attempted a few different recipes, this hot cereal, and the flour, but I haven't liked it anyway you shake it.  I'll try it again, but mostly because I still have some in my cupboard and I can't afford to throw it away.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gluten Free Baking Class

These are snickerdoodles.  Not gluten free.

Right before I left for Mexico I went to a private baking class at Ivy Bakery in Brooklyn.  My man friend had gotten me the class for my birthday last year.  I love baking so it was a great present but I kept having scheduling conflicts so I didn’t use it for a long time.  This turned out to be a good thing because months later when I found out I was gluten intolerant I was at a loss for how to bake without regular flour.  In fact, thinking I couldn’t bake anymore made me sad.  In high school Richie Fries said he’d marry me for my snickerdoodles.  He might not remember it, but I do.  So when I found out I couldn’t use regular flour anymore, I thought I couldn’t bake, and then who’d want to marry me?  Fortunately, I now know I can bake with or without gluten.

Daniellan Louie of Ivy Bakery is about my age and opened her own bakery when she was only 20.  That is pretty impressive.  Last Friday I took an hour and a half train ride from my home in Queens to her shop in the bottom of Brooklyn.  The kitchen of her small shop is tiny.  I was given a small workspace, sanitized utensils to prevent gluten cross contamination, a recipe, all the ingredients, and she told me to get to work.  With Daniellan’s guidance I made gluten free banana bread and gluten free carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  They were both extremely easy, much like the regular gluten recipes, and delicious.  I worked with an all purpose gluten free flour mixture, rice flour, and quinoa flour.  I don’t like quinoa and I learned that I don’t like quinoa flour either.  I’m sure I’ll post about quinoa soon.  Preview: I think it’s gross.

Daniellan uses oil instead of butter in her gluten free baking because she says that butter doesn’t mix as well with gluten free flours for some reason.  This was good to learn.  All that oil kind of creeped me out though, so I think next time I’ll use at least half applesauce instead (also so I can pretend I’m being healthy).  I’m not sure it’ll work, but I’ll give it a try.  I also used xantham gum for the first time.  This is supposed to make gluten free baked goods rise.  Or do something.  I’ve heard from some people you need it and some people you don’t.  I’m too cheap to buy it, and I can’t spell or pronounce it, so I pretty much refuse to buy it unless I determine I really need it.

The class was fun and I’m glad I finally went.  I now have the confidence that I can bake gluten free, which means I’m eligible for marriage again.  Phew.  And of course I can still bake with gluten, which I’ve done only once since going gluten free.

Daniellan does regular baking as well as allergy free baking.  If you are looking for an adventure, head to her store in Brooklyn.  She’s also opening a shop in Manhattan soon, or you can get your baked goods delivered.  Need a gift idea for your girlfriend/daughter/cousin/friend?  A baking class is a nice idea, unless that would offend her.  In that case, get your own idea.

Update: I now offer my own baking classes!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gluten Free Mexico

This is me reading on the beach.

I just got back from a week in Mexico.  It was pretty great.  I did nothing but lay on the beach, drink frozen drinks, snorkel, go on a cultural excursion, and eat - almost entirely gluten free.

It was an all inclusive trip so all the food and drinks were included and available in abundance.  They had a few restaurants open for dinner, a buffet, a 24 hour snack bar, and bars everywhere.  The drinks were gluten free so that wasn't a problem.  Phew.  The buffet had so many different options that I was fine.  I mostly ate veggies, fish, and rice and beans for lunch and dinner.  Breakfast was usually eggs, potatoes, and fruit.  I love Mexico for having watermelon in season in March.  I dislike Mexico for not jumping on the genetically modified food bandwagon and creating seedless watermelon.  That's a joke.  Sort of.  Not at all.

It was easy to avoid gluten most of the time, especially at the buffet.  I just walked past the large sections of breads, pastas, pizzas, and desserts.  Mac and cheese almost got me one day but I finally convinced myself it wasn't worth the stomach ache.  I only knowingly ate gluten twice: going out for hibachi I ate fried rice with lots of soy sauce, and also a chicken nugget that I couldn't resist.  I paid the price for the rice.

Ok ok, I also ate stuff that I'm pretty sure had gluten in it, but I couldn't confirm, and ignorance is bliss, right?  Potatoes au gratin, gravy for the filet mignon, soup?  Meh it's Mexico.

All in all I was fine.  And for those times I wasn't, who knows if it was gluten, or just the foreign food/water.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rat Poison

Sometimes people ask me if I can eat just a little bit of gluten.  And despite often wanting to, I say no.  It's not worth it.  My trick, which I learned from The Gluten Free Girl, is to think of gluten like rat poisoning.

A little rat poisoning in your muffin may or may not make you sick.  Do you eat it anyway?  Probably not.  Several rat poison muffins over a long period of time probably will make you sick.  Tummy aches are no fun.  Keep eating small (or large) amounts of rat poison and it'll most likely start to ruin your stomach and do other weird things to your health - just like gluten would do to me.  So no thanks, I'm good without it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dear Tu-Lu's, I love you.

From Tu-Lu's Site

I have been known to walk significantly out of my way to go to a bakery.  Many times I have gone on long walks with no real destination and somehow ended up at a bakery.  This hasn't changed much since going gluten free.

Before this whole celiac business, my favorite bakery in all of New York City was this tiny bakery on 1st Ave between 13th and 14th streets.  It's on the west side of the street.  It has cookies stacked in the window.  I don't know what it's called.  I do know they have amazing mixed berry scones.  They also have giant cookies that my dad and brother enjoy.  No more scones for me though.

But don't worry.  Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery is nearby on 11th street between 1st and 2nd.  I love Tu-Lu's.  I was never a huge cupcake fan, but the chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting make me not feel badly for myself about being gluten free.  I like the mini ones best.  Tu-Lu's is a small bakery with regular sized cupcakes, mini cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and brownies.  They even have paninis made on homemade bread.  Everything is gluten free.  I may or may not have stopped by here tonight after dinner (it was on the way to the train, I swear).  They were out of my favorite cupcake flavor, so I gave the chocolate chip cookie a try.  I like my cookies a little softer, but it was still delicious.

The other bakery famous for having gluten free options in NYC is Babycakes.  Babycakes is a vegan bakery that doesn't use refined (white) sugar and has lots of gluten free goods.  They are known for their cupcakes, but I'm not going to lie, I didn't enjoy my cupcake when I went (sorry Babycakes).  I've been back though, and I must say the banana bread and cinnamon roll I shared with my brother were pretty darn good.

On a similar note, I have a gluten free baking class this Friday with Daniellan of Ivy Bakery.  More on this later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Use Your Resources

Ok ok, sorry about yesterday's grumpy post.  In my first post I said the pity parties were getting less, not gone completely.

Today I want to mention a few useful resources.  I feel pretty dorky doing this, because it means admitting how into the whole gluten free thing I got, but that's ok.

Gluten Free Girl.  Read her blog, read her book.  Shauna helped me to realize life was going to be ok.

I joined the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group.  I've met some nice people and gone to some cool events like a grain tasting and a dance show with a gluten free reception.

Erin leads the Meetup Group and also writes this blog: Gluten Free Fun.  The blog has a map of gluten free restaurants in NYC as well as recipes and different activities going on in the gluten free community.

A surprising source of valuable information has been from people I know that I had no idea were gluten free.  Several acquaintances wrote me really long and thoughtful emails with information and tips on being gluten free.  My favorite comment was from a woman I went to college with:

"People will forget that you can't eat like them. Every day. All the time. Your brother, your friends, your family. They will keep forgetting. Even in the SAME CONVERSATION people forget. They will offer you cookies, crackers, muffins. And when you remind them they will apologize profusely."

This is true.  Six months after being diagnosed, my brother, who I see at least once a week, continues to offer me food with gluten.  Oh well.

My suggestion for getting this word of mouth information is to complain a lot about being gluten free.  Then everyone will know and people you had no idea were gluten free will tell you all sorts of useful information.  I got countless product tips from people.  This was helpful because I had no idea where to start.  And the sad truth is a lot of gluten free products suck, so having some pointers was great (although some of those products sucked too...).

I also subscribed to Gluten Free Living.  It's a quarterly magazine that has a lot of great articles and I like looking at all the different advertisements to get more product ideas.

There are lots of gluten free cookbooks.  My mom bought me three on Amazon the day I got diagnosed.  I'm not going to suggest any because I don't feel like it.

There are also hundreds of other gluten free blogs to read.  Hence the name "Another Gluten Free Blog".  I already mentioned my two favorite, but there are a lot of other good ones with recipes and useful information.  As well as a lot of useless information.

Ok I'm going to go drink some hot cocoa now - Swiss Miss is gluten free.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Sad Day On the Road

Today I had to go upstate to Maple Fest for work.  Tough job, I know.  But being gluten free I was a little nervous.  I assumed there would be some food there, but I didn't know if any of it would be "safe".  In an attempt to be prepared, I packed as many gluten free snacks as I could fit in my purse without looking conspicuous.

As soon as I got there I saw that there were several booths set up with fresh baked goods - cookies, muffins, doughnuts, brownies, scones, etc.  Scones happen to be my favorite.  Or used to be.  Most people got fat in college because they drank too much.  I got fat because I ate too many scones.  Anyway, I still get kind of sad when I see baked goods, especially when my gluten free snacks consisted of things like carrot sticks and bananas.  I was having a personal pity party but I kept it under control.  Then a guy I was working with asked me if I wanted anything.  The conversation went like this:

Guy: Hey, I'm going to get a snack.  You want something?
Me: No thanks.
Guy: Are you sure?  They have cookies, muffins, what do you want?
Me: Oh no, that's ok.  Thanks.
Guy: It's no problem.  You must want something.
Me: Yes, I do.  But I can't because I have a gluten allergy.
Guy:  Wow, that sucks.
Me: Yea, I know.

So he went to get a banana muffin and I ate some more carrot sticks.

A few hours later I went to check out the lunch provided for the workers.  Sandwiches and pasta salad - great.  There were also hamburgers and hot dogs for people attending the fair.  This didn't work either, but around 3 when I got really hungry I decided I'd go buy a burger without a bun, as sad as that sounds.  Even sadder is that they were closing and there was no food left.  When I got to the train station to head back to the city they had a food stand.  Various crackers, cookies, granola bars, packaged cakes and muffins, and a hundred other things containing gluten.  The only thing in the place that was safe to eat were some greasy potato chips.  So I ate greasy potato chips.

When I got back to the city I went to pick up some gluten free Chinese mixed vegetables.  It wasn't that good and cost $16 when the same thing from the Chinese place down the street would have cost $4.

It was pretty much a failure of a day in gluten free eating.  More positive posts to come....

Thursday, March 10, 2011

So I Started This Blog...

I used to hate blogs.  I thought they were dumb.   But recently, I've found myself reading them.  Some of them.  I don't subscribe to any, because that's too much of a commitment, but my dear friend Katherine has shown me a few I enjoy reading from time to time. My roommate has one that's fun to read, and my friend Mallory started one about food, and who doesn't like food?  I have recently started reading a lot of  blogs about celiac disease and gluten free food.  Not because I enjoy this topic, but because I have to live this topic.  Here's my story:

I'm a hypochondriac.  I always have been.  I'd like to thank my father for this trait.  As a result of this, whenever something is actually wrong with me I ignore it because I think I'm making it up.  Most of the time I'm sure I am making things up, but it turns out that sometimes I'm not.  For example, I was having stomach aches every day for about a year.  Some days it was just a little pain, and some days it was debilitating.  After about two months of this my boyfriend told me to go to the doctor.  I said "For a stomach ache?  Psh that's lame."  Well, ten months or so later I went to Toronto to visit my college roommates who I hadn't seen in years.  I spent almost the entire weekend doubled over in pain.  When I got back I decided to finally see a doctor.

A week later I sat with the doctor who looked at my test results from the week before and said "Well, no more beer for you."  I looked right back at that man and said "As long as I can still have pancakes, that's fine."  He gave me a sad smile and now here we are.  With a Celiac diagnosis and a serious lack of pancakes.

That was September 2010.  It's now March and I've come a long way.  Not to say I'm living a seamless gluten free life, but the pity parties have slowly gotten less and less.  I've decided to start this blog as a way to explore my gluten free life.  I'll be discussing different restaurants, products, recipes, events, resources, and my general feelings on gluten free life.  Since being diagnosed with celiac disease I've read countless blogs on the topic that have helped me to adjust and I'm hoping this blog will be able to help someone else, or at the very least entertain Katherine while she's bored at work.