Eleven is Hogwarts. Also: The Best Ever Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pasty Recipe

27 04 2013

Oops I forgot to Instagram this yesterday.

My daughter has been really into Harry Potter lately. Which I approve of, of course. Except that, to be honest, I can feel my position as Family Expert on the Wizarding World slipping away as she gets nerdier about it. She keeps quizzing me on little details and while I do pretty well for the most part so far, I can tell it’s not long before she wins that game.


In any case, the traditional celebration for eleven is Harry Potter, of course. And even though I swore off any more birthday parties until she turns 18, I totally got sucked into another one this year. And it was really, really fun. This is the kind of party I could do over and over again. I did some sewing, I did some baking, we had the party at a park, I did nothing else. WIN! Money is very tight right now so my goal with this party was to make due with what resources I have on hand as much as possible. Not counting the food, I probably spent just over $30 on this party. WIN! WIN!

magic stones and wands by ollivander

The thing about inheriting rocks is that from now on all your kids’ birthday parties will be heavily infused with rocks. For a Wizarding World-themed birthday, the rocks become magic stones the kids can take home. A giant slab of quartz geode can become a perfect weight for keeping the handmade goodie bags from blowing away. Tapers can sit in a little glass bowl filled with garnets. Because what the hell else will you do with all these damn rocks? I don’t know if it’s ghetto as hell or just awesome to send my friends’ kids home with rocks, but it seemed to be well received.

what? you don't use fancy polished geodes as paperweights at your kids' parties?

My life is so weird.

I don’t know a lot about sewing. I’ve been playing around with it since I was a kid so I know the basicest basics. But I’m the kind of sewing person (sorry, I can’t call myself a sewer in writing) who needs to google how to thread a machine every time she uses it. But I knew people did sewy things for birthdays so I decided to give it a shot. AND I DID SUPER AWESOME. I made little bags for the favors in house colors without even using a pattern. For the flag banners I read a how-to post online, but no real pattern there, either. I am so stinking proud of myself.


But even more exciting than that is the fact that I’ve finally found a kickass gluten-free pasty recipe. (That’s pass-tee, not paste-y. Just to be clear.) I’ve been trying to find one ever since we went gluten free and I’ve tried various ideas, but none have really worked very well. It’s the gluten that makes dough so flexible, so it’s hard to replicate in this sort of recipe where flexibility is so important. But these are not only workable, but they are strong and flaky. I’ve honestly never had any gluten-free pastry taste so gluteny. The original recipe for the crust is here, but I had to tweak it a little bit because my kids are sensitive to waaaay more things than just gluten. We’ve made this recipe with various meat fillings, too, and it’s delicious savory or sweet. I’m dying to try it with scrambled eggs and bacon or nut butter and jelly. For the pumpkin filling I used a modified version of the pumpkin pie recipe from the La Leche League cookbook. Here’s the whole recipe, put together.

pumpkin pasties

For The Pastry
2 cups white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp xanthan gum
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
8-10 Tablespoons cold water
1 c water
1 c palm shortening
1 egg, for glazing

In a large bowl mix together the rice flour, tapioca, quinoa flour, xanthan gum, and salt. Cut the palm shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter. Continue mixing until the dough looks like small peas or a sand like texture.

In another bowl mix the apple cider vinegar, eggs, and cold water.

Slowly combine the liquid with the flour, kneading to incorporate all of the water.

Once all the liquid has been added knead for 1-2 minutes to ensure everything is combined well. The dough should be slightly sticky but not too wet.

Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I didn’t really do this step because I am lazy.)

For The Filling

1/2 can butternut squash (I KNOW. Even the “pumpkin” is a lie. But you can totally use pumpkin.) (You can freeze the rest of the squash or double the pastry part of the recipe.)
1 egg
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all that together.

Putting It All Together

Preheat the oven to 425. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Take a palm-sized ball of dough (that’s palm of your hand, not palm tree, to be clear) and roll it smooth before flattening it into a circle. Drop a small dollop of the pumpkin mixture in the center and carefully fold the pasty in half, pinching it closed into a half-circle.

Once all your pasties are ready to go, brush with beaten egg to give them that pretty, shiny glaze. Put them in the over for 15 minutes at 425, then lower the temperature to 350 until the pasties are beautifully golden.


Switchel: An Old Timey Drink Recipe

2 08 2012


I originally came across this recipe last summer but it took me this long to get around to making it. Probably because I lived on Starbucks Mochas last year, but this summer I can’t have coffee (more on those food allergies I probably won’t ever blog about) so I’m looking for other drinks to fill the void. I’m sure the fact that it took me a whole year has nothing whatsoever to do with my Lazy. *cough*

This drink has a lot of sugar in it, but I used raw honey and raw cider vinegar and those on top of the molasses make me feel like all the nutrition and raw-ness are worth the sugar. In other words, I practically HAVE to drink this. Like. For my HEALTH.

I had to cut the original recipe in half because I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. But I did! I still won’t make all that, though, because there just aren’t enough of us to drink that much. And since it’s really super easy to make (even for a Lazy like me), it’s not a problem to make it more often if I need to. I also had to cut out the ginger (because see above about the food allergies) and I bet ginger would have made it pop a little bit more, but in return I added a little extra vinegar and it’s really good.

1/4 cup + some extra raw apple cider vinegar (yes vinegar)
1/8 cup molasses
1/2 cup raw honey
water to fill a mason jar

I mixed all that up and put it in the fridge to cool. And then I let it sit there for while because, frankly, it doesn’t look appetizing. But I gathered my courage today and tried it and loved it. Margie did, too. I can’t wait to try it warm in the winter!


Avocado Fries – STAT

26 07 2012

avocado fries

I happened across a recipe tonight for avocado fries and thought to myself, “Self? YOU NEED TO EAT THOSE. RIGHT NOW.” Only the recipe called for breadcrumbs (gluten) and frying (too messy – I’m lazy as hell) so I decided to just make up my own recipe on the spot. I do this from time to time and usually the food is edible (and by “edible” I mean “I’ll eat pretty much anything you put in front of me”), but tonight’s experiment was AWESOME. It was simple, healthy, grain-free, and fast. This is a good recipe for anyone who’s lazy as hell (like me).

Almond flour (approximately 1/2 C per avocado? I don’t know, I don’t measure anything)
Onion powder & salt to taste

Mix those together. Slice the avocado and gently dredge each piece in the almond flour mixture. Lay on a silpat or parchment paper and spray with oil (I use sunflower in a mister because that’s the kind of oil we are allowed to eat what with our 150 food allergies*). Bake at 400 degrees for maybe 15 minutes (also, I don’t time anything), turn once during baking.

That’s it. Easy and super delicious.

*Which I haven’t blogged about yet. But I will. Probably. Maybe.

Golden Rotten Eggs

13 11 2011

golden rotten eggs

Originally they were called Goldenrod Eggs, but my aunt, as a little girl, misunderstood and her version stuck. Because it’s more awesome.

Last week we had a special night in my mom’s name. I can’t really say a funeral, and it didn’t feel like a memorial either, and it was just as much a chance for those who’ve worked so hard on her house to get together and relax as it was a chance to remember her. So I don’t know what to call it, really.

Let me back up a bit. Mom’s house is pretty much done. Wanna see before and afters? Of course you do!

Her bedroom:



The spare room:

the spare bedroom

master bedroom all shiny and gorgeous

You can see the whole set here.

And so we’re done.

I invited those friends (including my aunt) over for dinner last week during Dias de los Muertos. Er. Two weeks ago? This post has been in draft form for a looong time. Anyway, they came for a dinner in honor of my mother, and in honor of all the work we have done together.

Because Dia de los Muertos (and Samhain) is about family and ancestors, I chose to serve an old family recipe. I also chose to serve it because I rarely cook for people willing to eat it. For some reason, the people I’ve lived with since moving out of my mom’s home when I was 20 have not been big fans of eggs. This is sad for me, but I usually feast on Golden Rotten Eggs every year after Ostara since even kids who won’t eat them must dye hard boiled eggs. After-Ostara is one of the happiest food times of the year for me.

Golden Rotten Eggs, How To Make Them:
1. Make a white sauce. I’ll let you Google this because the fact of the matter is that I have a head cold and it’s simple enough to make, but complex enough that I don’t feel like trying to explain it. I will, however, say that I recommend actually measuring things out b/c I tried eyeballing the milk and made it too thin (I will never ever ever learn to follow my own advice. Never). Gluten-free people: Just sub your usual GF mix, it works just as well in my experience. In fact, I made the entire white sauce using all substituted ingredients since I can’t have the butter or cow milk.
2. Cut the hard boiled eggs, setting the yolks aside and chopping the whites up.
3. Mix the whites in the white sauce.
4. Pour the white sauce mixture over toast. You can dry-grill toast on the stove if your toaster oven gets broken and then stolen like mine did.
my toaster oven got broken and then stolen so I toasted bread on the stove
5. This is the fun bit: Put the hard boiled yolks in a strainer and mash them through onto the top of the rest of it. This part, apparently, looks like the goldenrod flower, but I never even knew this until I was 28 so it’s not necessary to know to enjoy the food. In any case, the food definitely does not resemble the Golden Rotten. I guess, unless you don’t like eggs, like all those people I live with.
and then you smash the yolks through the strainer


We set up an altar for our passed-away loved ones, and after dinner we sat around and talked. We talked about my mom, what to do with her ashes (sand art, perhaps?) (it’s a joke. mostly), other family members we’d lost, and sexy big bird costumes (naturally). At the end of the evening, my aunt asked if it had brought the closure I was seeking. And while she quickly retracted it, knowing it may be too early to know, I’m glad she asked because, funny enough, it did. Even though it wasn’t a true funeral, and wasn’t focused solely on my mother and her memory, it really did click something in my brain or heart that changed things, subtly but truly. The emotional work isn’t over, but since that night I’ve been working with a simpler, more pure form of grief than I had previously.

After everyone left, I neatly piled all the dishes in the sink to wait until the morning, and I climbed into bed, emotionally spent and happy. With loads of leftovers to feel me all week long.

Cold Brewed Coffee, a Tutorial

10 09 2011

For well over a year now, I’ve been trying with making cold brewed coffee. I’d heard it’s lower in acid, has a smoother flavor, and is an ancient method of making coffee. While those things appeal to me, it’s also just that I’m kind of slutty for any and all coffee. There’s a special coffee maker you can buy just for this process (since Seattle’s Best serves cold-brewed coffee, they sell the Toddy), but I didn’t like that it cost over $30 and that the coffee sat in plastic while it brewed. So I tried to think of a way I could do that at home with stuff I already had or could buy cheap, when a friend told me she just used a French press. Brilliant! And then I procrastinated it another several months. Because that’s how I roll.

you will need

It’s beyond easy to cold brew coffee. You need one part coffee grounds, and two parts water. Mix together very well, making sure all the grounds get wet.

coffee, unmixed

After a couple of minutes mix again. This is my favorite bit because the coffee grounds have made an almost crispy little cap over the water and tapping a spoon through it gives a satisfying sensation almost of of shattering sugar glass. Well, what I imagine that would be like, anyway.

thank god my spoons are ginormous enough for this coffee press

And this is still my favorite bit: once you’ve broken through the top and begin mixing it, all the gorgeous coffee-foam rises up above the grounds, as they sink to the bottom. It is glorious. It smells like absolute heaven.

Happy Thing: Foamy Coffeeness

Put the coffee press lid on, but don’t press it down! Let this sit overnight or for 8-15 hours, however you like it. Press down, pour into a glass container, and put it in the fridge. It will stay there happily for up to two weeks, but it’ll never last that long if you are anything like me.

Cold brewed coffee is not really ready to go as is, it’s a concentrate. Add hot or cold water to make it as strong as you like it (I think twice the water is a good place to start), and drink it like you’d drink any other coffee. Like with coconut creamer in a Muppet glass with a bendy straw? Yep.

Happy Thing: Cold Pressed Iced Coffee on a Stupid-Hot Morning

Two recipes for you! You’re welcome.

1 04 2011

Lavender Popcorn

lavender popcorn

Last weekend we went to Summer’s place to celebrate her birthday with a brunch. I wanted to bring something to share, but I could not figure out what was easy, cheap and quick (because I had about 45 minutes before we had to leave. What? I has mad procrastination skillz). Popcorn! But what kind of popcorn? Salt and pepper? Rosemary and garlic? It had to be something special and yet still brunchyish. Lavender. Yes. So I mixed up some lavender buds with some sugar (organic evaporated cane juice) and a little salt while the popcorn popped in coconut oil. Drizzled the popped corn with a little more oil and then tossed it in the sugar mixture. The general consensus was that it was a great idea. Even Margie, who declared she wouldn’t eat it (so I also prepared some simple EVOO and salt popcorn, too) loved it.

Good-For-You Magic Shell

Happy Thing: Homemade GOOD FOR YOU Magic Shell

A couple of years ago I made magic shell on my own and it was, indeed, magic. It was pretty much exactly like the stuff you buy in the store. But it was made with chocolate chips (or any other chocolate you want) and therefore refined sugar. I’d always wondered if I could make a more whole version with maybe raw honey and cocoa powder. So I found a recipe that called for equal parts coconut oil, raw honey and cocoa powder and mixed that up and tried it out. The flavor was delicious, but the consistency was not like the store bought kind. The honey made it much chewier than refined sugar is. So will I make it again? You bet! But I’ll also sometimes make the regular kind.

magic shell on a spoon

Cauliflower Pizza

14 02 2011

cauli 'za

For the record, this is not a substitute for regular bread pizza crust* (well, maybe it would be if you cooked the cauli first, but I’m dubious). But it is delicious. And it does make for an extra vegetable in the meal, and fewer pesky grains. And it is most certainly gluten-free. That’s win-win-win if I counted right.

Most recipes seem to follow the formula of 1 Cup riced cauliflower to 1 C shredded cheese to one egg. I think the first time I made it with slightly less cheese and it was still really yummy. If you can’t do dairy Daiya cheese would work very well.

To rice the cauli, all you do is pulse it through the food processor until it is about the size of rice. I hear you can also use this in stir-fry and I can’t wait to try that next time my CSA box is blessed with cauliflower.

romanesco cauliflower

riced cauliflower

Once that’s accomplished, mix your ingredients together and add whatever seasonings you like. I’d recommend garlic, rosemary, garlic, salt & pepper and possibly more garlic (if you are trying to keep Edward Cullen away or just like the flavor as much as I do). Drop onto cookie sheets greased or lined with parchment and form into pizza crust shapes.

formed into crust, ready to bake

Throw in the oven and bake at 350 or maybe 400 if that floats your boat until they are beginning to look golden. Then you top them like a normal pizza and bake again until the cheese is golden. I also made some “bread” sticks and put some dipping sauces (dandelion pesto and pizza sauce) on the table to go with.

cauliflower 'za

*For gluten-free bread pizza crust, we love Udi’s.