Thursday, June 28, 2007

Love/Hate Relationship

Quinoa. I want to love it. It's good for you. It seems so exotic. It's on the upswing in the food world for its nutritional value and because it's a nice alternative to other side-dishes. But the truth is...I don't love it.

It's like that boyfriend you had in high school who you were really into, but who let you down. Alot. Even with other perfectly good guys around, you always thought that guy was the one for you. The one who on paper seemed like a great guy; handsome and funny, with a hint of mystery. But then he left you waiting for a phone call one Friday night too many, and you finally said "no more."

After the somewhat disappointing results I got after my first foray into the world of quinoa (see my post, "You Gotta Believe"), I promised myself that I would give quinoa another try. I figured, maybe it was my fault it didn't turn out right the last time. I believe in second chances. So yesterday I gave quinoa another shot at getting into my good graces. I bought a box of Inca Red quinoa and prepared it using a recipe from the Food Network's Robin Miller. She cooked the quinoa, then mixed in some roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Sounds good, right? Heck I even saw her make it on her tv show; it looked great. Why couldn't I have that?, I asked myself.

I cooked the quinoa per the package instructions, and roasted some garlic as it cooked. I prepped the basil, the red peppers, and gathered up my salt and pepper. Once the quinoa and garlic were ready, I combined all the ingredients, served myself a bit, and sat down to give it a try. The results?

Meh. Not what I thought it would be. I was let down--again. It tasted flat to me, even with all the tasty things I put into it. And the quinoa itself had kind of an odd aftertaste. Don't get me wrong, there were several things about this attempt that were better than the last. For one, I now know that I prefer the flavor of Inca Red over the plain white quinoa. Also, the texture was much improved over the last go-around. But I'm left wondering if I should give it another try. My husband, ever the optimist, said I should press on and maybe do some research on how the indigenous cultures of South America prepared it and try it their way. I'm not sure. Remember the whole "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" thing? Maybe it's time for me to just let the quinoa go and stick with rice, the grain that reliable, delicious, and has always been good to me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cooking? What's That?

There has been little home cooking going on here at Casa de Flamenco over the past few days. It's been sooo hot and humid, the last place I want to be is laboring in my kitchen. Last week I made some gfcf bread for Zoe (courtesy of one Gluten-Free Pantry French Bread and Pizza Mix) and some waffles, but other than that it's been leftover stuff from my freezer, fresh fruits and veggies, salads, and takeout dinner from some our local restaurants. Of course the good news is that the kids and I have been loading up on lots of fruits and veggies (always a plus), but I know my babies are missing the aroma of dinner cooking on the stove. Frankly, the thought of eating from a restaurant again tomorrow is not appealing to me at all. Even if it is from the yummy Indian restaurant near the beach.

I feel guilty.

Zoe asked me when I was going to make her some more gfcf treats--she's jonesin' for something, ANYTHING, baked from scratched with her mama's loving hands. I picked up some cookies, Pamela's Chocolate Chunk to be exact, but that did nothing for Miss Z. I'm thinking if it's not ridiculously warm this evening that maybe I'll make some peanut butter cookies for her and Ayden to enjoy. We're going on a field trip tomorrow to the children's museum, so we can take some cookies for the road.

Update: I have made the peanut butter cookies. And there was much rejoicing at Casa de Flamenco.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Kids Rock

This is what summer looks like at the rockin'est house on our block.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Who Wants a Beer Here?

I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I had to give this a try. Anheuser-Busch had gluten free folks doing cartwheels when Redbridge hit the market. It is the first sorghum beer, and I was curious about the flavor; I thought that wheat and barley were what made beer taste like beer. On Father's Day, Flamenco Dad and I took a drive to Total Wine & Liquor Warehouse. FD picked up some new Belgian beers he wanted to try, I got some Spanish wines and my bottle of Redbridge (oh, and some rum too. Hee-hee).

I gotta say...this beer actually TASTED. LIKE. BEER. Shocking, I know. Again, I'm no expert in beers, so I'll leave the specifics like flavor profiles and such to the pros. But to me, the Redbridge had a flavor and aroma reminiscent of American beers like Budweiser or Miller. I have tasted some of the brews that Flamenco Dad bought, and while I'm not ready to buy case upon case of Redbridge (I did like the Belgian beers more), this gluten-free beer is a great alternative. We've got a buddy who is allergic to wheat and barley (and he used to love beer), so I'm going to recommend that he try Redbridge. Who knows, maybe his beer drinking days aren't quite over yet.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What Does She Eat, Anyway?

I got an e-mail a few days ago from a friend who is looking for some helpful hints on what to feed her son. Mara is starting her son on the GFCF diet, and thought a primer on what to look for when meal planning/shopping would be beneficial. So, I looked in my cupboards to see what's on hand, thought about what my shopping cart usually looks like, and shared my findings. Since there are other folks out there who are currently wondering what Zoe typically eats, I thought I'd post this info online.

Since I am a bit on the OCD side, I prepared a nifty little spreadsheet for Flamenco Dad to refer to while I was on vacation. As some of you are aware I am not tech savvy--the mere fact that I was able to create a spreadsheet is something of a miracle. But what should surprise no one is the fact that I can't get a screen shot of the darn thing to appear on my blog.

GFCF Pancakes
GFCF Cereal, cold or hot
GFCF Waffles
Hard Boiled Eggs
Fried Eggs, prepared without butter

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Soy Cheese Sandwich
Thai Noodle Soup

Hot Dogs
Toast with Jelly
Ham Sandwich
Turkey Sandwich

GFCF Pizza
Any Meat + one or more of the following:
Frozen or Fresh Veggies
White Rice
GFCF Pasta

Peanut Butter & Apples
Ice Pops
GFCF Cookies
Maya Bars
Soy Yogurt
Carrot Sticks

Note that any sandwiches are made with GFCF bread, hotdogs are served w/o bun, cereals are served with soy milk, eggs are prepared w/o butter, the Thai Noodle Soup is a variety that is without milk. Please check labels--they are extremely important.

I'm compiling a list of favorite GFCF products by category to list on my sidebar . If there is a product anybody would like to nominate for the list of favorites, please feel free to email me. I welcome input from all foodies out there, so if you've got a favorite, make your voice heard and share with the group!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Nature is a Wonderful Thing

Thought I'd post a few more photos from my trip to the mountains. As you can see, there were many beautiful views to photograph. The first two are from our visit to Blowing Rock. It's funny because the rock actually looked much larger when we saw the photos on the brochure. We kept searching for it while standing on the observation deck...
Blowing Rock, NC
The view from the observation deck was lovely, as evidenced by this photo. What we didn't realize, however, was that while we were walking towards the deck...

Blowing Rock, NC
We actually walked passed the rock, which is in the photo above. It was small enough that we could have climbed it (even me with my limited climbing abilities).
Linville Falls, NC
We also hiked at Linville Falls, which has three trails of varying levels of difficulty. Last year I was here with Flamenco Dad and the kids, and it was lovely. It was also autumn, which meant it was cooler outside. This time, I looked like a drowned rat by the time I reached the end of the trail, that's how much I was sweating. Ick. But the reward for making it to the end was so worth it.
Linville Falls, NC
Even though I was a big old sweaty mess by the time we made it to the falls, I was pretty proud of myself for not giving up. After being sick and not able to breathe this past winter, it was good to feel like I was able to push myself to get to the end.

We spent lots of time enjoying just being in the outdoors, in the company of people we love and respect. I've known my friends for almost half my life now, and I really look at these women as sisters, as well as close friends. The girls and I spent tons of time gabbing away about everything. In fact, on Saturday morning we had plans to visit another mountain, but those plans got sidetracked due to the gabfest. We sat down to breakfast and started talking, but before we realized what had happened it was already 3 p.m.! And the three of us ended up looking like prunes after more than one lengthy chat in the hot tub. Did I mention this cabin had a hot tub?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wish You Were Here

I'm almost fully recovered from my weekend getaway with the girls. We had a fantastic time! It was the first time my girlfriends and I had gone away for a weekend in...well, ever. We're already talking about when we can schedule another getaway. There's much ground to cover, so the recap and photos will be broken up into two (or three) separate posts. On with the photos!
Blue Ridge Mountains; Blowing Rock, NC
The Blowing Rock was one of the stops on our visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Everywhere you looked, there was something beautiful to see. And considering that I live at sea level, the scenery at the higher elevation was a most welcome sight. There were miles upon miles of what appeared to be untouched mountains and trees. It took my breath away, literally and figuratively--it's tough to breath up there!
Duke University Campus
I toured the campus at Duke University for a bit while L stopped in to check on a few of her patients (although I think I would have made a darn good candy striper). Duke reminded me of what I used to imagine a college campus looked like. Love the stone buildings and the tree-lined walkways.
Stained Glass Window; Duke Univ. Chapel
Duke is home to a beautiful English Gothic inspired chapel. It has 77 stained glass windows like this one. The photo doesn't do it justice. I loved looking at the stained glass windows at church when I was a kid instead of paying attention to Father DiLorenzo(okay, I know I'm not the only kid who wasn't paying attention). Oh, and that reminds me--I'm supposed to go to confession.
Duke University Chapel
Here is the exterior of the Chapel. The portal features sculptures of some well known Christian reformers like Martin Luther, as well as Southern leaders like Thomas Jefferson. I was really blown away by how beautiful the campus at Duke was. Unfortunately I didn't have time to see more of it--we had to hit the road. It was a three hour drive up to the cabin, and we were hoping to make it before it got too dark. Well that didn't happen, but we got there just the same. More to follow...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

My vacation starts at o'dark thirty tomorrow morning. I'll be gone before my babies wake up, so we had our good-byes this evening. Sniff, sniff--even though I know a good time is awaiting me, I'm going to miss my kids and, of course, Flamenco Dad. I'll be back here on Monday with a recap and pics. See ya!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Product Review: Sorella Bakery Biscottines

Every now and then a gluten free treat comes along that miraculously appeals to everybody in Casa de Flamenco. I think this week we hit paydirt. I visited Nature's Harvest, one of my favorite shops for gfcf food, and I stumbled upon these cookies. They're Sorella Bakery Gluten Free Biscottines (Vanilla). The company makes several varieties of these cookies, though I must be honest--I did not check the ingredients of the other flavors to confirm if the other varieties (like the chocolate ones) are casein-free as well.

I will say this; these are among the best gluten free cookies I've eaten. Ever. They have a light, airy texture. They're just crumbly enough to make them comparable to traditional biscotti. Oh, and they're fantastic with a cuppa joe. Zoe reluctantly agreed to share them with us; I'm so happy she did. Like most other premade gluten free treats, they are pricier than their traditional counterparts. But they are so worth it for a special treat every now and then. I'll be picking up more of these soon. Delizioso!

Visit, or check them out at your local natural foods store.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What Inspires YOU?

I'll be the first to admit that there are days when the motivation to experiment in the kitchen just escapes me. I've done very little gfcf baking this week, which has me feeling guilty--and my daughter hankering for some treats.

Today I thought I'd experiment with some muffins. It was a different recipe than I was accustomed to using (maybe not the smartest idea given my brief culinary hiatus), but I thought I'd give it a shot. I had some frozen cranberries and pecans laying around, so I put them to use with these muffins. I used a combo of sorghum, brown rice, and tapioca flours. The results? Well, they were not very sweet, but they were tasty. They reminded me of a hearty date and nut loaf I tried a while back at the health food store. Once I've finished tinkering with the ingredients a bit more I'll post the recipe. They are pretty though, and Zoe enjoyed them, as did Dad and Ayden.

I'll be cooking quite a bit over the next few days; I'm leaving Thursday for my girls' weekend, so I need to leave Flamenco Dad ready with a full arsenal of gfcf meals and goodies. That means I've got to shake off this funk I'm in and get cracking in the kitchen. When days seem long, and you don't feel like working in the kitchen, what motivates YOU?