Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rock Candy

We took a trip to the East Coast this summer.  At almost every boardwalk store there was salt water taffy, fudge and rock candy.  We had always talked about making rock candy and this summer we did.

Super easy. All you need is

1 cup of water
3 cups of sugar
small cups
clothes pins
food coloring (optional)

Heat the cup of water over the stove and start adding the sugar.  Add small amounts at a time and keep stirring.  Eventually you will get it all dissolved.

Next dip the sticks in the sugar solution, dip in some sugar and let dry.  This will help the crystallization process.

Pour the sugar solution into small cups and all food coloring if you want to add some color.  I was thinking about adding some extracts next time for flavor - vanilla, orange, mint.

Let it cool.  Clip the sticks to clothes pins so the stick is hanging freely in the cup (not touching the sides or the bottom).

Then wait.  We kept our on the counter for two weeks.  Try not to disturb them, but occasionally my kids would take them out to look and taste them.

Super easy, naturally gluten free and the kids loved them.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, July 15, 2013

Health Valley Cafe Soup

So I like soup.  And I enjoy cooking soup.  Homemade soup is just good, filling, nutritious and delicious.

But sometimes I don't have time to make soup.  I actually have a river trip coming up and I was thinking about things to pack that I could easily heat up for lunch or a snack - and soup came to mind.

I looked around and did not find a ton of gluten free options.  At my local supermarket I found Gluten Free Cafe Soups.  This is a division of the Hain Celestial Group and their products are GF Certified.

I picked up the Chicken Noodle.  Opened the can and dumped it into a pot. Heated it up then poured it into a bowl.

How was it?  Not too bad and actually quite good.  A bit salty, but you sort of expect that from a canned soup.  The noodles were of good texture, not mushy.  The chicken was a bit chewy.  The vegetables still had a good textural bite to them.

I'll pack it on my trip as it will be easy to heat up over the fire or a camp stove.  Think about keeping a can around for a rainy day or when you are feeling under the weather.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rudi's Gluten Free Tortillas

I was walking through our local Whole Foods in Del Mar and saw Rudi's GF Tortillas.  I decided to pick them up and try them out.

We used to love taco night and I have yet to find a place that makes GF corn tortilla or taco shells.  Every place that makes corn tortillas makes flour tortillas and the risk of cross contamination is too great for me.  Usually we make our own corn tortillas with Bob's Red Mill GF Masa Harina.  Although they are good it does take some time.

I had high hopes for a GF "flour" tortilla.  Let me say that Rudi's Tortillas won the test.

We like to heat them over the burner.  Be careful but it warms it nicely and adds a little char.

For starters we had some left over taco meat (you can see my recipe here).  So we heated up some tortillas (I place them right over the gas burner for 5 seconds each side) and filled with meat, cheese, lettuce and salsa.  It was great.  And my little guy agreed - he ate two.

For starters they look like flour tortillas.  More importantly they roll like flour tortillas.  When I have experimented with homemade tortillas or when I used some other brands they tend to break when you try to roll them into a soft taco/burrito shape.  Rudi's tortilla have the suppleness to roll without breaking.  And they taste great.

They include the following:  sorghum flour, brown rice flour, corn flour, amaranth flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, teff flour, corn starch, tapioca flour, rice flour, water, canola oil, xanthan gum, cane juice, dextrose and maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, baking powder, malic acid, active dry yeast, apple cider vinegar.

We also make chicken/shrimp enchilladas with a homemade green enchillada sauce - delicious.

Need a lighter version, top with salsa verde, onions and queso fresco.

I also made a taco pizza.  I heated the tortilla flat in the toaster oven until it started to brown.  Then added cheese and meat and cooked until the cheese melted.  Topped with fresh lettuce and salsa.  This was a hit.

How about our quesadillas.  I add 3 cheeses (cheddar, monterey and asiago), diced red onion, diced mango and cilantro. Heat on a skillet to sear both sides and melt the cheese inside.

What would San Diego be without fish tacos.  For these we coat some fish with smoked paprika, cumin, onion powder and chili powder (or use your favorite taco seasoning).  Sear over high heat to blacken but not burn the fish.  Serve with salsa verde, sliced onions, cabbage and queso fresco.

So pick up some Rudi's tortillas.  We found them at Whole Foods and Von's.  They now have a permanent place in our kitchen.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mono Hot Springs

A friend of mine kept telling me about a place he has visited since he was a kid.  He told me of how much fun it was and it is in the middle of no where.  They have fishing, natural hot springs, swimming and hiking.  So we planned a trip for this year after the kids got out of school.

The place is called Mono Hot Springs.  It is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains between Yosemite and Sequoia National Park.  The last hour of the eight hour drive from San Diego is on a single lane somewhat paved road.  A car or truck with clearance is recommended and if you drive to some of the far out placed a 4 wheel drive vehicle is needed, but you could get to the campground in any car.

You can stay at a campsite or one of their cabins.  We choose a cabin.  They have one or two bedroom and with or without a kitchen.  Our cabin had two rooms, one with a full and one with two twins.  The cabin had its own toilet and a kitchen with a four burner stove, a refriderator and a sink.  On site is a bathhouse with showers and a hot spring.

As for the hot springs - they are everywhere.  Old Pedro is the first one you come to.  Above Old Pedro are two more on the hill.  If you walk north you'll run into more hot springs.  We even found Little Eden which is the biggest by far but you'll have to find that one yourself.

We packed our food and prepared a pretty decent menu.  They have a restaurant on site that serves lunch and dinner.  The kids ate lunch there one day and liked the pasta and burgers.

Dinner on Arrival we had fish packets.  I foil wrapped some tilapia with sliced peppers, onions and lemon and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Seal the packet by folding the tin foil and throw on the grill.  We also had some corn on the cob that we cooked on the grill - my son calls it the small version grill.

Breakfast each morning consisted of pancakes (Pamela's pancake mix) or cereal.  We also cooked up some sausage links and toasted Udi's.

Lunch was either hot dog on Udi's buns, cold cuts (Applegate salami, pepparoni and cheese) or leftovers.

Our other dinner options included ribs, yes, ribs.  I pressure cooked them the night before we left.  On the second night I heated them back up on the grill and finished off with our favorite - Bone suckin sauce.  We served more corn and Heinz baked beans.  My kids got a kick out of me heating the beans up in the can. [The Zevia is not mine - it's what I call my wife's crack in a can]

Tuesday night was Taco night.  We served Rudi's tortillas.  I brought up lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese and salsa.  I cooked up the meat and seasoned with Spicely Taco Seasoning.

I had baked a pumpkin pie (yes, I bake too) in Whole Foods GF pie crust before we left and made a batch of my brownies.  And if that wasn't enough for dessert we made smores each night.  I got to kick back with a New Planet by the fire and watch the stars.

The kids had a blast, my wife had fun, and I relaxed and enjoyed the time with the family away from work.  We'll definitely be back in the future.

The Un-Gluten Guy