Thanksgiving: Now in Gluten-Free!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get more specific…. Thanksgiving has gone from vegetarian to vegan to vegan and gluten-free, at least as far as our family goes!  Everything we made this year fit that category, because we wanted to make sure there would be things we could eat.  It’s always been vegetarian with this group of friends – for over 30 years! – but to our great surprise, this year everyone brought things that were gluten-free.  Not everything, but lots.  Of the three families who represented, all the moms have given up wheat products.  Also, two of the young people are gluten-free now.  That made for some very interesting signage on the platters… and lots for us all to eat! Our own family’s offerings included two kinds of hummus (sooooo wonderful!), cranberry upside-down cake (trying to recapture the magic of the pineapple cake I made 2 weeks ago – didn’t look so good but was tasty), corn bread, Shepherd’s Pie with butternut squash topping, and bean salad.  The biggest hit besides the hummus was the bean salad.  It’s really just my everyday one to make, and my husband made it, but it was definitely delicious. 

Here is the paper we received on Thanksgiving Day. On the left, the news. On the right, just the ads!

A whole lot of squash, ready to cook for Shepherd’s Pie.

Shepherd’s Pie filling.

I even had some gluten free beer!

Bean Salad

Spinach hummus, olive/artichoke hummus, and some kind of Mexican pecan cookie – vegan and gluten free – in the background.

Signs on food….

Many casseroles including the shepherd’s pie, and traditional cheesey potatoes and spanikopita for those who still eat them!

Doesn’t this plate look wonderful! I was truly thankful!








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Changes in the Hood

You might think nothing ever happens in a small town, but you would be wrong.  Why, just last week someone came and cut down that fallen tree that’s been down since July.  The leaves have fallen off my favorite tree.  The corn has been harvested all over the neighborhood.  (And now, from far away, you can see the yellow house which will soon have another landmark – the shed the neighbors want to build – standing glaringly across the valley.)  The old building is all the way down, and much of the roof and timbers has been carted away.   In little old Mount Horeb, the Chinese restaurant has been torn down and someone is building a new fitness center, as if we needed another (this will be the third one).  What we NEED is a Chinese restaurant, but nobody asked us about that.  Did we say change is good?  It’s only good if we say it is. The old Kwik Trip is gone and the new one is open in the next-door lot; where the old store stood they are digging holes for new gas pumps.  Meal-wise, I improvised a curried squash stew that was good over coconut rice.  We will be using squash in our Thanksgiving cooking this week as well.  Last night, I made some of Isa’s “Punk Rock” chickpea sauce over mashed potatoes, gluten-free and onion-free (I substituted mushrooms and it was delicious).  At least we eat well….   …. and at least one thing doesn’t change: a hawk screaming overhead on my weekend walk down the road.  Last weekend, that is, as this weekend and next are reserved for people in orange blasting from dawn to dusk.  I wear orange to get the newspaper and I still don’t feel safe.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Keeping up with the neighborhood…

Yesterday morning, with the first snowflakes kicking around, I walked up the hill to our neighbor’s field, where they want to build a machine shed for their farm equipment.  As neighbors with contiguous land here in ye olde town of Perry, we have to agree – or at least not object.  Although I have no problem with them storing all their stuff somewhere, I won’t be happy when another building looms on the horizon.  In the top photo, the crowd of people standing by the grain bin is the proposed site.  On the top right, you can see the roofline of their house over the corn.  In the bottom photo, you see how the building is going to block the view as we’re coming down the road as well.  (The little orange flags mark the spot.)  *sigh*  I’m still not going to block it, though, because someday I might want to build something…. get it?  And we’ve had conflicts before, with other neighbors, and it could get ugly.  So we’re just going to grin and bear it, or whatever the opposite of “grin” is.   It’s getting colder, and tonight it was dark long before dinner, thanks to the time change.  But I made a warm soup, inspired by Claudia’s facebook post, with the last of our greens.  No photo, but for dessert I did take one.  My partner had given me a pineapple and it was getting more and more overripe…. I had to do something with it, so I decided on pineapple upside-down cake.  Don’t ask me why.  I couldn’t find a recipe I liked so I just gluten-free-ized good old Aunt Zelda’s Fruitcake recipe, using part coconut flour and some coconut milk, and made it upside down!  It was, if I do say so myself, amazing.  AND we had leftover ice cream from last week when I tested a recipe, so it was really a special treat.   Finally, my Jack O’Lantern is still grinning, although at some point it will probably freeze and turn to mush.  Goodbye October!

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Demolition Man

It’s fall, and the frosts have left our yard looking wintry.  Except for the lawn, which still continues to grow!  It’s like the end of the drought woke up the grass and it had to make up for lost time.  Amazingly, everyone keeps mowing their lawns.  The asparagus has died back; the lovely leaves (photographed last weekend) all blew off in the impressive storm we had during the week.  Seriously, one day it was 70 and I was in a t-shirt.  The next day, an enormous wind brought us rain and Novembry weather. This weekend it is bright, clear and cold.  Just the weather that makes someone in my family want to go and do stuff outdoors, and ripping down an old building (I think it was the original garage) was just the thing.  Over the years, he had stripped off the siding, taken the roof down a floor, and generally began the process.  Yesterday was the big day.   Spotty watches, but the event seems to have no impact on her at all.In food news, more kale and squash, and a recipe we tested…. stay tuned!



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Killing Frost Approacheth

And the guy with the scythe was at it in the garden.  Anyone want some parsley? 

This evening for dinner we had a lot of greens (hauled from the garden), squash (ditto) and one of my favorite dishes.  I don’t normally gush about much of what I make; it’s usually fine and sometimes delicious.  But every once in awhile something tastes seriously awesome, and tonight’s dinner was.  That’s because I made Mark Bittman’s Chickpea Flatbread in a slightly deeper dish, which makes it more quiche-like.  

Here is how to make it, which is not a secret as he published it in the NY Times years ago:

1 cup Besan (chickpea flour), 1 tsp. salt.  Whisk with 1 1/2 cups water and set aside for awhile (not that long). 

Meanwhile, chop some onions.  Heat the oven to 450F.  Place the onions in a cast-iron pan (I just used a tart pan) with oil and herbs (don’t skimp on the oil – use a few tablespoons).  Heat the onion/oil/herbs in the oven until you really smell them.  Then pour in the besan mixture and bake 40 minutes or so.  I baked this longer because I had some add-ins – peppers and tomatoes.  This is so easy to make, and so scrumptious! 

And tonight it’s going to be very cold!!!

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October has been funny.  (And: not in a funny way.) One minute it’s warm and sunny, and the next it’s sleeting.   When we had the freeze warnings over the weekend, we knew it was time to cover up some items and haul in the rest.  Who knew that under all the jungle canopy of the butternut squash plants, there would be over 30 of these things??? (You should see the pile of bok choy!)

It’s a good thing we love squash, although they definitely won’t stay good long enough to eat them.  We’ve been giving some away, and also eating it.  Here, for example, is a version of the shepherd’s pie I made last Thanksgiving, only with tempeh.  Topped, of course, with squash. 

This evening we had roasted squash cubes, although there is more explanation to this dinner than meets the eye.  Someone in this house besides me is on an elimination diet.  At the moment it’s curtailing even the rice intake around here, not to mention some other common foods we’ve been consuming on the vegan and gluten-free diet.  Onions are off the list, for example, as well as some fruits.  Tonight’s meal was roasted squash, millet pilaf with vegetables, and tofu with gluten-free hoisin sauce.  Absolutely delicious, of course!

This is the Vegan Month of Food, where vegans blog uncontrollably and share zillions of recipes.  I’ve participated in the past, but now I’m just reading blogs to my heart’s content.  I feel busy… wait… I AM busy.  But still cooking!

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Hey, Who Said Summer Was Over?

Um, the calendar did.  School has started and I am now scurrying back and forth to work, with pit stops at the library, gym and friends’ homes.  But always, homework is at the back of my mind.  This evening I’ve been creating lessons for my students – math, science – for my absence tomorrow for Rosh Hashanah.  But with all the busy-ness, we are still eating royally.   That’s because someone here cares about cooking.  We’ll let you guess who that would be. 

Our garden doesn’t have everything, but it does have kale.  I made something with this pepper, which I didn’t think was too hot…. until my fingers started burning….

Our neighbors harvested as much corn as they could before the raccoons could get to it, and gave some to us. It is now all in the freezer.

Gluten-free and vegan zucchini muffins, served with kale salad (hand-massaged!) with a topping of gourmet homemade spinach hummous.


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I know it’s a cliche, but: It Never Rains But It Pours

On Wednesday, when we had been dry for weeks, rain was predicted.  We had heard that before.  Just the previous day, it had rained in Madison, but not at home.  And then on Wednesday morning, rain happened again in Madison.  We got the ominous/promising clouds, but as they approached our house they parted and left us dry.  (My son said, “Kind of like a reverse Charles Addams house.”)  So when it actually did begin to rain lightly late that afternoon, I was so excited I took a picture of it raining on the grill (for contrast).  THEN  the weather radio began going off.  As it merely rained here, neighboring counties reported severe weather.  The sky became darker and darker, and then suddenly the severe weather was in our little quadrant of Dane County, and we (well, the cat and I) were heading for the basement.  For over half an hour, the storm raged and the lights flickered. Water flowed through the cracks in the 100+year-old foundation.  When it was all over the air was cool and our house was spared from the destruction of buildings we only heard about later. 

When the storm hit, dinner was in the oven.  I had decided to use the only things that we were actually getting in the garden – zucchini, basil and spinach – to make some lasagna a la my favorite recipe from Fat-Free Vegan.  I replaced the lasagna noodles with grilled zucchini, and the frozen, chopped spinach for lots and lots of steamed fresh stuff (with some chard and beet greens thrown in). By the time we got out of the basement, it was done! No photos, but very delicious. 

The next day, we went out for a walk.  Wow!  We had heard of some very heavy winds, and they did a number on the already suffering corn.

 A tree on the corner of our property had been knocked right off the bluff.  (Look in the top left corner to see where it broke off.)  A tree down the road, always interesting because it was growing right through the fence, also suffered.  But the worst on our own road was the damage to a clump of aspens I’ve always called the Three Sisters.  One had been snapped off right at the base!  With the damage to the root system, I don’t know how the other two will survive. It’s very sad. 

In other, happier news, we made some delicious biscuits using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Biscuit Mix.  It is sooooo easy….

This morning it is raining gently.  Who knows whether the drought is over, but the damage has been done.  I guess we’ll just have to see. 

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My Family is a Venn Diagram

I’m a vegan, and currently gluten-free.  (Maybe forever, who can tell?  So far it’s working pretty well.)  My son, who had gone over to the dark side (eating meat although raised vegetarian) is gluten-free.  Husband, with no allergies to anything, is an ovo-lacto vegetarian.  But we are all eating gluten-free-vegan meals most of the time, because guess who does the cooking?  Mwa-ha-ha, resistance is futile…..

First you grill them….

For example, here are some recent successful meals:  The first is the most delicious of all.  I subscribe to some Vegetarian Times recipes, and the other day one popped into my inbox that couldn’t have been more timely – the rabbits and raccoons have been leaving the zucchini, parsley and basil alone, so we had most of the ingredients.  It was only in the 80’s that day, so not a burden to grill the vegetables. 

…then you chop them and tossed with a balsamic vinegar reduction…

Sometimes I look at many versions of the same recipe.  So it was with Pad Thai.  This is a dish that can be gluten-free but isn’t vegetarian because of the fish sauce, so not a good candidate for restaurant fare.  I studied many recipes and used what I had around the house to make something we liked very much.  (And a good thing, too, because it made a LOT!)

Finally, it was hot again today.  REALLY hot, as in over 100F.  I’d been wanting to bake bread, but didn’t want to heat up the kitchen.  Therefore, I amalgamated several bread-machine recipes for yeasted gluten-free bread.  IT WORKED!  I was so excited, I made us grilled cheese sandwiches (with Daiya), something I hadn’t had in a very long time.


 On the side: sauteed Bok Choy.  The stalks are fine, but the leaves ultra-lacy as they’ve been attacked by something winged – not all our varmints have four legs!

In other news, Chinese is hard.  But fun.  

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Drought, and varmints

This weather is really taking its toll on the yard and garden.  The lawn is dead (upside = not having to mow).  

Somehow these are blooming….

Theses asters should not have opened until August.

The weeping willow does NOT like this drought.

The asparagus was done anyway.

The black-caps are mainly small and seedy, if there are any at all.  Most days, there are only a few good ones surrounded by stunted coulda-been berries. 

The garden is suffering, and not just from the heat (106 last week, and definitely in the 80’s and 90’s F since).  We are also the target of raccoons and rabbits.  Although we were happy to harvest a few heads of broccoli, and the zucchini seems rabbit-proof, we can’t say the same for the kale (all gone) and the rest of the broccoli – so far!  I’m worried about the sweet corn, because we (and by we, I mean my husband) caught a raccoon in the rabbit trap yesterday.  I know how raccoons love sweet corn!  And despite the Elmer Fudd attitude we immediately adopt when we see the garden damage, the trapped animals are LET GO, ok?  We’re vegetarians, after all!

For some reason, Spotty LOVES it when it’s hot out.  She goes to sleep under the grill, which has to be super hot (like a black tent!) down there.  Here I have forced her to drink a little water…..

I KNOW I shouldn’t complain too much – Wisconsin’s farmers are experiencing total crop loss.  For example, the feed-corn is completely stunted.  Have you ever seen such pathetic plants?

Totally deformed.

Welcome to our new quote: Shhhh!  I’m hunting wabbits!

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