GOOD, NUTRITIOUS, GLUTEN FREE FOOD

This is a post that finally came down to the result of a whole lot of frustration.  I would like to show case wonderful, delicious, food that is GLUTEN FREE.  Most of it, GLUTEN FREE NATURALLY.
There is so much negative hype/nastiness out there these days about Gluten Free this, Gluten Free that, Gluten Free being a Fad, Gluten Free Nonsense, Gluten Free to loose weight, and the list goes on and on.
Well, I have had enough of the negative hype.  Hopefully through this post, people will gain some understanding.  Being a Celiac or Gluten sensitive in today's world is so much easier than it used to be - finally!  Twenty years ago there was nothing available or virtually nothing available for a Celiac.  One could certainly never go out to a Restaurant to eat that is for sure.
When one has lived a life - 30 plus years miss-diagnosed only to discover they are in fact a Celiac - let me tell you, the world opens up once you become Gluten Free.
How does this happen?  Well here we go:
- once going gluten free, eventually your guts will heal.  Each person is different so it may take time.  My body took 3 years to fully heal.
- eventually the pain, lethargy, brain fog will disappear.  Yes you will actually be able to think clearly once again, because your brain is no longer sending signals that the body has been poisoned.
- eventually your stomach, large intestine, and small intestine will physically heal.
- you will gradually put on the many pounds you have lost, and the mall absorption will disappear and turn your body into a healthy, vital, strong body.
- and guess what?  Because there are so many people out there that are finally diagnosed correctly:  whether a Celiac or Gluten Sensitive:  Restaurants have finally learned - yes learned and their chefs and staff have been educated on serving REAL, HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE FOOD NATURALLY.
- But best of all?  There is much more information available now for people that need to eat Gluten Free.  With all this information, awareness, plus great food blogs, you will be able to find beautiful, delicious, nutritious food that once you were terrified to eat.
Here are just a few dishes that are healthy, nutritious, and delicious:
Italian Meatballs served over gluten free pasta...what is not to love.
How about fresh, wild Baked Salmon:
Here is a lovely Roasted Tomato Vegan/Vegetarian Soup:
Here is a good one:  Remember Rice A Roni?  Loaded in Gluten.  Well, here is a gluten free version of Rice a Roni....and it is damn tasty!
Here is a delicious Chicken dish...can't do without chicken for dinner, can we?  Chicken and Leeks recipe:
How about Gluten Free Beef Bourguignon?
Need more convincing that Gluten Free food can be delicious?
How about Gluten Free French Bread?  Yes you did read it correctly...delicious Gluten Free French Bread that tastes like the yesteryear French Bread I remember:
Now for a few Pasta dishes....lord have mercy we soooo can not forget gluten free pasta dishes.  Here are a few to tempt your taste buds:
Gluten Free Butternut Squash Skillet Lasagna:
Then we have:  Shrimp and Scallop Pasta:
Can't forget about the nourishing, health giving nutrients of bone broth:  Chicken Bone Broth and Wild Rice Vegetable Soup:
Lets move on to baking/deserts.  (By the way if you want more healthy delicious meals - check out my side bar - there are almost 600 recipes - so lots to choose from.
Here is a great breakfast muffin or snack:  Rhubarb Walnut Muffins:
Or a delicious and nutritious cookie:  West Coast Trail Cookies - these pack a punch of wholesome goodness.
How about something decadent?  Yes, we all need a few of these recipes in our world once in a while:
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake With Sticky Toffee Date Sauce:
Or how about good old fashioned  great tasting Chocolate Cake - yes Gluten Free.
At the side bar on this blog under desserts you will see gluten free puddings, pies and more cakes and muffins - as a Celiac in today's world - the world is your oyster - please help yourselves!
And finally - people - please do not negate other people for eating gluten free....sometimes it truly is a matter of life or death.  Do your research to help support your friends and family that are dealing with Celiac Disease....they will love you for it!

Every January we take a 1 week vacation to our lovely West Coast Gulf Island - Salt Spring Island, B.C. at a cabin on the lake. (next year we are planning 10 days!)
We arrived to a frozen tundra of 7 degrees below Celsius (very cold for our West Coast) This is a picture of the frozen lake with a fresh layer of snow.
We came prepared....oh yes we knew it would be cold, so we brought extra layers of warm clothing and were kept warm by the fireside each nite.
This was off of the deck of the cabin:
Despite the cold we had a wonderful time.  Each year, we end up in a different cabin.  Nothing fancy by any means, but cozy, warm, and as usual with the bare bones essentials.  As a result we always pack kitchen necessities from home:
I can not survive without a few of my favorite utensils and favorite pots too.  My sister bought me the "Copper Chef Pot" for Christmas.  Wow do I love this pot.  It is non stick, does not harm the environment, and you do not need any oil or butter in the pan for any cooking.  It can go from the stove top right into the oven - so handy.  Then, miraculously I found a Paderno Pot  (my favorite cook ware) - the perfect size for 2 at a second hand store for six bucks!  They both came with us to Salt Spring.
Now onto the food:
The first night on arrival we are always too hungry and end up forgetting to take any pictures.  We had lovely strip loin steaks, risotto, steamed veggies and had very happy tummies.
Can you believe we actually had Risotto from a box??  I can't...and it was delicious, gluten free, all natural with no preservatives or any other junk.  No sponsorship here, just sharing something we luv.
I also brought a small crock pot with me to make Katie's crock pot pork chops in a mushroom sauce. Please check out  Katie's blog Thyme For Cooking for the original recipe. I have made a number of Katie's recipes now...they never disappoint. It was delicious - again served with steamed vegetables and potatoes:
Day 3 was French Night.  Oh yes, we so indulge when it comes to food, wine and dessert when on vacation.  After all it is only once a year.  Plus there were enough leftovers on day 3 for the next days dinner - so good.
Next up:  Beef Bourguignon.  Now if you read my blog you will know I am a freak about vegetables of any kind in soup or stew and this meal was no exception.  Yes it began with shallots, mushrooms and of course red wine....this lovely French Wine:
Oh my goodness.  I always make a beef stew the same way:  brown the beef in small batches, add in sliced shallots, mushrooms sauteing until golden.  Then a good splash of wine.  For some reason, this was the best beef stew/bourguignon we have ever had.  Was it the wine?  Maybe.  I think if was my new Copper Chef Pot.  We will try this again once home to compare.
Here is the dessert we had many a night:  Organic English Toffee - the best ever and locally made on Salt Spring Island:
Day 5 we went out for dinner to our favorite local restaurant....and again forgot to take pictures - dang!  I had a lovely pesto prawn gluten free pasta dish with a most delicious Caesar Salad with Lemon Supreme (recipe for down the road...it was seriously good - you will think you have died and gone to heaven)  Dh had the gluten free Fettuccine with a garden salad....we were stuffed.
Day 6 A simple roast organic chicken breast with more of the same Risotto and steamed vegetables.  We also had a salad as well, however, all we had was mixed greens with tomatoes.  Having roasted some yellow beets, they went on top of the salad - it was perfect.
Day 7, on our last day,  we headed out for gluten free pizza - such a treat.  DH had the Hawaiian, mine was the artichoke sun dried tomato - Yummmm!
Although this picture does not do justice, the full moon this night was amazing shining on the frozen lake: (now minus 9 degrees Celsius - brrrrr)
Now for a little confession.  At Christmas time I very naively bought my dear husband a puzzle.  The thought behind this so called brilliant idea was that we might have some fun putting together a lovely puzzle while on vacation.  Three of our favorite things:  a library, a black cat, sitting on a Persian rug (we recently bought a large Persian rug for the living room)
Ahhh haaaa...painful....just downright painful.  Not only was this a 1000 piece puzzle ( you so need the room to put this together ) but the pieces are really small - this is a very advanced puzzle.  We are novices here...yes simple novices.  So...I have made the decision we either:
1)  quietly pack this puzzle away and give it to someone who has the skill we so lack, or
2)  we painfully spend the next 10 years trying to put it together.  The vote is still out - it has yet to be decided.
Dear Salt Spring Island:  We loved our week away and can't wait to come back next year.  Maybe we will be brave enough to bring the cat in the library puzzle with us once again.  Wait...did I just say that?  Mercy, think I need to give my head a good shake!

This cake was a delightful festive dessert.  If you love the flavors of gingerbread this is a cake for you.  It would be lovely for Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas and your house will smell divine while it is baking.  Apples would work nicely here too. We have just come into pear harvest in our area so this was the perfect recipe to make.
The inspiration for this gingerbread cake came from the blog Dinner With Julie - you can find the original recipe here. This is a recipe that easily converts to gluten free.  I have made a few of Julie's recipes now and they never disappoint.  Thank you Julie, your recipe is a gluten free winner in this household!
Usually I always make my own gluten free flour blends for any baking.  This time, I decided to try Cloud 9 Cup for Cup All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour.  (we found it at Costco - no paid advertisement here...just sharing something new!)
It worked great in this recipe with a good "cake" texture and nice and moist too. (although it did not work so well for pancakes, but that could have been my own error with the dry to wet ingredient ratio - hence more experimenting with this flour down the road)
TOPPING:
2 Tblsp. butter
2 Tblsp. honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 ripe but firm pears -peeled, cored, quartered then slice into sections
GINGERBREAD:
1/4 cup butter - room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark molasses (I used organic black strap molasses)
1 Tblsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Cloud 9 Gluten Free Flour (or your own blend)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup buttermilk (add a good splash of vinegar then top up with milk to make a 3/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 or 9 inch round pan or deep pie plate with oil.  For the topping add the butter, honey, brown sugar to a small sauce pan and melt stirring to combine on low heat.  Pour into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly.  Place the peeled sliced pears in a circular pattern on top of the melted sugar butter topping.
FOR THE CAKE:
Beat the butter, brown sugar in a medium bowl till well blended.  Add the egg, vanilla, ginger, molasses and beat thoroughly.  (it may look separated)
In a smaller bowl, sift the dry ingredients.  Add 1/2 to the molasses mixture stir by hand until just combined.  Add buttermilk, then remaining dry ingredients and stir again until just combined.  Pour over the pears.  It will be slightly thick so spread the batter evenly over the pears.

Bake for 40 minutes until the top is springy.  Let stand 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a plate to cool.  Serve with whipped cream...sooo yummy!

We recently had a week vacation - a lovely cabin on the lake at one of our Gulf Islands.  We love the cabin with its rustic charm, a cozy big fireplace, a kitchen (most important!) and beautiful lake views.

Over the years, I have learned what to bring as usually the kitchens are quite small, and just stocked with the very bare bones essentials.  These are the must-haves that I pack with us each year:
In terms of the kitchen supplies stocked in the cabin, the knives are sadly very dull, with an even duller vegetable peeler in the the utensil drawer. And (yikes!) a glass cutting board on the counter.  I would not dream of using my beautiful knives on a glass cutting board - they should all be recycled into something else more useful.  What that might be is food for thought...no pun intended.
A good quality non-stick frying pan is definitely a must-have to bring along as well. Usually the cupboards contain a various assortment and size of pots and frying pans from yesteryear.  Ideally, I would prefer to bring my cast iron frying pan but the size and weight alone stops that idea right there.
Although the stove, fridge, and counter space was small it is surprising what one can create in the kitchen. While at times it did feel challenging, it was also fun and creative.   During our time away, we had steaks with risotto and steamed vegetables, oven baked chicken breasts with pan fried potatoes and steamed vegetables, gourmet sausages with yellow roasted beets, garlic mashed potatoes and salad.
We also had the pleasure of visiting a cheese farm where we purchased beautiful goat cheese and organic eggs. Plus, real homemade organic English Toffee - my huge weakness! Finding a good restaurant for dinner out is always a lovely treat...ask the locals - they will tell you the best places to eat out. In my case, restaurants that can safely create gluten free meals. (we research the net as well)
My kitchen at home is not that large by some standards, although considerably bigger than the one at the cabin.  If I could have my "dream" kitchen it would be large enough to comfortably fit a farm style table and seating for 8 - I have never been keen on "dining rooms".  The kitchen for me is the heart of the home where family and friends can come together to share great food. A special bonus in my "dream" kitchen would be to have a gas stove/oven.  Ohhh heaven.  My mom's favorite way to cook was with a gas-fired stove. She always said that it was the best way to cook as you have a greater range of control with the heat.
How about this stove/oven from BlueStar?  That would definitely be on my wish list.

Wouldn't it be amazing to have a built in grill?  Especially on those cold winter nights when the BBQ is not an option and you have a crowd to feed.  Or what about a stove with 6 burners and a double oven?  Yayyy I could cook to my hearts content with a stove like that.
Whether I am cooking in a small kitchen with the bare bones minimum for supplies, or back at home in my fully stocked kitchen, it is all about great tasting food.  Still, that BlueStar stove is a beauty...and it is always fun to dream right?

We have had the most glorious summer.  Hot sunny weather - the best we have had in 8 years living on our West Coast of British Columbia.
The nite I wrote this post  it poured down with rain. I can't believe I have actually missed the sound of rain falling. (we get a ton of rain each winter)  It brings back memories of our beloved dog Tara.  It has now been 3 months since we said goodbye to our lovely girl.
It feels like yesterday, that we walked in the rain. I would take her for long walks rain or shine.  Initially, she did not like the rain, but would soon seem to forget about it, and get the pure love and enjoyment out of a daily walk.
DH has recovered...well, as best as he can.  He is doing much better.  He can talk about Tara with a smile on his face remembering happy memories.  (For a while there, I was getting worried.)
It seems so strange how it will "hit" me and the sadness that engulfs me . There is no "rhyme or reason" as to how this happens.  It is out of the blue.  I miss her...I miss our walks...especially in the rain.

It is with much sadness in my heart to say that our beloved dog Tara has left us for a better world.  One where she is free from illness, free from any restriction or discomfort.
I have been debating these past few days whether or not to do this post...but then DH dug up these gorgeous pictures...pictures that needed words.
Tara was a beautiful spirit full of life, that filled our lives with immense joy.
Our Tara girl would have been 13 this September.  A mere 3 months away.  According to the Vet she is considered geriatric...95-97? years old in human years.  She said most pure bred labs do not live well past 10 or 11, so we were lucky to have her as long as we did.
In hindsight, we came to understand that Tara had actually been sick for much longer than we realized.  Luckily she was in no pain...thank GOD!
She had been sick on and off since Dec./12 to date.  Slowly, she stopped eating, because each time she did, she threw everything up.  We changed her food, then for a few days she would be great..playing, running, catching her frizby or ball.
Slowly things got worse.  We took her to the vets on a Thurs.  They did tests and determined that she has Cushing's Disease. By then she had lost 12-15 lbs.  She was skin and bones.
With Cushing's Disease, the adrenals overproduce the hormone cortisol.  As a result it makes her nauseous and then she vomits.  The upside is that extra cortisol in the body of a dog eliminates pain.  She also had an enlarged liver...they suspected cancer.
We went home that afternoon.  I made her a steamed chicken breast with mashed carrot and rice.  She hoovered the food...only hours later to throw it back up.  On top of that she had huge clumps of fur falling out.
I looked at her....and I saw in her eyes, that she has had enough. I could not bear her suffering any longer.  I said to DH..it is her time, it is time we let her go.  The next day was Friday....the next day we said goodbye.
The Vets said she maybe had 2-4 weeks left, that this was the most humane way of passing.  Although she could not eat, at least she was not in any pain.
Tara was a beloved member of our family.  We all loved her....but for my DH...this was his baby.  He is in serious grieving mode.  I know one day he will feel better and move through this...but until then, for us, life is feeling very sad.
I leave you with some of our fondest memories:
Here she is in "puppy mode".  She looks to be one or two...in fact she was eight years old.  Her "puppiness" never left her, even in older age.
Tara loved the snow...she used to run with her nose in the snow...she was wanting to swim!

Next to eating...swimming was Tara's favorite past time.  Here she is leaping off of some rocks to chase a frisbee into the water at our local Sooke Pot Holes.
Here she is...somewhat older, cozy in her bed.  Ohhh how we will miss her.  Be in Bliss Sweet Tara Girl....your love and memories will live in our hearts.  We are so grateful to your loving spirit to have shared your world with ours.  We will love you always and forever!

Happy Christmas everyone!  This year we will be having a quiet Christmas.
We will be having the traditional Turkey Dinner with all the fixin's on Christmas Eve....or more commonly known in our household as "Danish Christmas".  Family will arrive for the day and evening - one of my favorite times of the year.
I wanted to recap some recipes for the Holiday Season - a few of our favorites.
Here is how I make a Roast Turkey (with stuffing which turns out amazing each time) plus exquisite gravy:
Then here we have a few side dishes:
A festive Vegetable Medley:
This divine dish of mashed Yam Potato Garlic Herb Mash is a true winner at any dinner table:
Plus there will be pickled beets, and my now all time favorite homemade Cranberry Sauce:
Then for dessert:  Lactose Free Sinful Creme Brulee:
Happy Holidays to you all...and may 2013 fill you with much delight, happiness, abundant health and full bellies! xoxo Ina

Wow.  Have I ever been missing my kitchen.  After these past few months of working hard with my new company....I needed desperately needed to get back into the kitchen.
The above photo is 14 cups of nourishing, vitamin packed, healthy Turkey broth.  Thanksgiving in Canada was Oct. 8/12. The turkey had been sitting in my freezer.  I hated to freeze a beautiful fresh turkey, but there was just no time.   So happily three days after Thanksgiving we had our Turkey.  Then life got busy again...hence, the bones went into the freezer.
Finally, a couple of days off.  I  love creating in my kitchen.  Today was a "god send".  Just being in the kitchen for 5 hours was bliss in itself.  Stirring, smelling, and skimming...yes, skimming.
For any kind of stock I use the standard:  Onion, garlic, celery, carrot, fresh parsley, bay leaf, the bones, and water, just to cover.  Last year I read on the internet...(can't remember where) that to achieve the most delicious, vitamin/nutrient packed stock, you need to simmer on a low low heat.  Like a "glug, glug" kind of heat, lid off.  While that is happening, every so often, skim the surface of the broth of any white foam and bubbles.  Five hours or so later, once strained, you will have the most delicious stock you have ever tasted.  And it will be a clear deep color, that once refrigerated, completely gels.
Friends....I promise you - don't use a crock pot, don't boil the "daylights" out of your stock.  If you follow this method, you would not believe the difference in flavor.  It is unbelievable.
Then after all is said and done, you can turn around and reduce this lovely stock to a "concentrate".  Simmer fairly hard until reduced by half.  (do not add salt until you taste it, as it will be very concentrated) Pour into ice cube trays to freeze, to add to stews, soups, gravies.
It was a great day in the kitchen, and seeing all this wonderful stock makes me a very happy girl!
p.s.  if you try this method...let me know what you think.  🙂

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