Thursday, January 06, 2011

This Blog is Changing and moving.

Gluten-Free Greenie is changing names and moving host.  In a way I really hate to see her go, she has been a good friend to me, but I want to spread my wings a bit.

My new blog is titled Wendy Cooks and will be hosted at WordPress.

There are many reasons I've decided to make this change.
1. If I host a giveaway on WordPress my readers can give their email address without the whole world seeing it.  I never liked the fact that people had to leave their email address on an open comment when I sponsored a giveaway on Gluten-Free Greenie.  I never want to be the reason that any of my readers get spam.
2. I have another blog on WordPress that I started in October.   People seem to be able to find me there much easier than they did on Blogger.  If you would like to visit my blog all about me living with chronic illnesses, and simply my life in general; please come by Picnic with Ants.
3. Wendy Cooks will be all about my life in the kitchen.  I may mention small little things that are going on in my life, but mainly only if they change the way I'll be cooking and eating.  All of my other interest and life happenings will be covered on Picnic with Ants.
4. Don't worry all the recipes on this blog will still be here, and there is a Recipe Page on Wendy Cooks that will give you a link to each recipe, even if I post a recipe in Picnic with Ants I will still have a link to it on Wendy Cooks Recipe page.
5. The New Recipes on Wendy Cooks will still be Gluten Free!

Asian Vegetable Soup

Yesterday I had an Endoscope done and found out that I have to follow a diet for Acid Reflux.  (He also took some biopsies so I should find out about that in about a week.)
There's going to be quite a few changes to my diet.  The biggest ones are No Onions, and No Tomatoes.  That is going to be so hard.  I love a good tomato sauce, and I cook almost everything with onion.  Some things I've read have said that people with Acid Reflux, can eat onions in small amounts as long as they are cooked.  I guess if they happen to be in something I don't have to freak out.  : )
Here's a link to the diet: Acid Reflux Diet
The highlights of the diet are, NO: Caffeinated drinks, carbonated drinks, greasy or fatty foods, spicy food, citrus fruits and juices,tomatoes or anything tomato based, onions, peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, nicotine.
I'm having a hard time getting in the swing of things with this diet so far because we simply have too much good cheese in the house.  : )  I don't eat a lot of fat, but I do eat some things that are higher in fat because I don't like all the junk they put in low-fat foods as fillers.  I just eat less of the higher fat food.  But I guess that will have to change.  I do wish they would be more specific in the diet and say how much fat I should have at each serving.  I guess I will be doing more research.
The first recipe I'm making with all my new requirements is a nice comforting soup.

This is an extremely easy soup to make.  You don't have to give it an Asian flavor, I just wanted it, you could switch up the seasoning and vegetables to your taste.  Just use what ever vegetables you have on hand.  Leftovers in the fridge, or you can use frozen veggies like I did.
Asian Vegetable Soup
  • 1 12 oz Bag Kroger Brand Frozen Asian Vegetables  (or vegetables of choice, I had a bag of these in the freezer.  They do have onions, but not a lot, hopefully it won't be enough to bother me.)
  • about 3 cups Vegetable Stock (I used Kitchen Basics Unsalted Vegetable Stock, I just poured in enough to cover the veggies, it took about 3/4 of the box.)
  • 1 teaspoon of Molasses
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
The last 4 ingredients could be substituted with low sodium Tamari sauce (but I was out and this is a pretty good substitute, with no sodium)  See this Soy Sauce Substitute Recipe if you are interested: Soy Sauce Sub. Recipe from
Combine all the above ingredients in a slow cooker (or you could cook it on the stove).  I cooked mine in the slow cooker on high for about 2 hours.  I thought it would take longer, but the veggies were starting to look over cooked.  You could cook it on low for about 4 hours probably.)
Serve with rice or noodles of choice.  I had some left over brown rice so I just poured some of the soup over the rice.  This would also be good with grilled chicken, or grilled tofu added.
These new restrictions are going to be hard, but if it helps, I'll give it a try.  I am hoping that some day I'll be able to eat onions and tomatoes again, at least in small amounts.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Another Year

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
- Neil Gaiman

I could not have said it better myself.  I wish these things for you, and also for me.  May we all live a life in 2011 where we constantly surprise ourselves (in a very good way).

Today I am making Black Eyed Peas, and Rice with Collard Greens for the New Year.  Yes, I am a Southern Girl.

This is traditionally a West African dish, brought to the Southern US by slavery.  It is thought to bring prosperity.
The Peas represent coins, and the Greens represent the color of money.  (I'm not sure if the rice represents anything or not.)
This dish is often refereed to as Hoppin' Johns, but why is not known.  One possibility is that the name is that is comes from the Haitian Creole term for black-eyed peas: pois pigeons (pronounced:[pwapiˈʒɔ̃]).

Traditionally Hoppin' John is made with bacon or some kind of salty pork.  I wanted to make mine Vegan this year, and with much less sodium, so I could use them in other recipes and not just this one.  I omitted the pork and added liquid smoke, and Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning.  It seemed to work very well.

Vegan Black Eyed Peas with Rice (Hoppin' John)

  • 1 lb Dried Black Eyed Peas  
  • 4 cups (1 container) Vegetable Stock (I use Kitchen Stock's Unsalted Vegetable Stock)
  • about 2 Tablespoons of oil (I used Toasted Sesame Oil to give this an even smokier flavor, but you can use olive oil, or whatever.)
  • 1 medium to large onion diced small
  • 4 large cloves of garlic minced.  (probably about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin (yes, I know I really like this spice.)
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
  • Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning to taste.
I soaked my peas over night, but I've read that you do not have to do this with Black-Eyed Peas because they are so small.  I'm cooking mine in the slow cooker.  I have a 3.5 quart cooker.
Add the soaked beans to the cooker.  Add the vegetable stock.  
In a pan on the stove heat the oil over a medium high heat cook the onions and garlic until the onions are transparent.  (always be careful not to burn your garlic, I always start the onions cooking while I'm preparing the garlic, you want the garlic tender, but burnt garlic is not tasty.)
Add the onion and garlic mixture to the peas.
Add seasonings.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  (I bought mine from a bulk bin and I think they may have been a little old because after 5 hours on high they were still a little crunchy.  I know if beans are old they take much longer to cook.  These beans shouldn't have taken this long.)

Fried Collard Greens

  • 1 Bunch of Collard Greens (my bunch was about 8 HUGE leaves.)  Wash and remove the steams, then cut or tear into pieces about an inch square.)
  • 4 slices of Bacon (I used Boar's Head thick sliced bacon, it was all I could find at Kroger that was uncured with no Nitrates with less sodium.)  *Note: All Boar's Head Meat is Gluten Free.
I just chopped up the bacon into pieces about 1/2 inch wide, then put it in my wok and cooked it until done.
I added the Collards and tossed to cover with the bacon and the bacon grease (I was amazed that this bacon really didn't make that much grease).  I cooked the greens until they were wilted and bright green. I turned off the heat and covered the pan so they would steam a little more.

We used left over rice.

Stuart said this was very good.  I was disappointed that the beans were still a little crunchy, but the flavor was great.

I hope everyone is having the start of a wonderful New Year!

I'm happy that I got a lot accomplished today:
Cooked up a typical Southern New Year's Day dinner.
Cleaned out our Pantry of all expired items and things we just won't eat.
Put up most of the Christmas decorations.

A great start to 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spinach and Cheese Scramble - Dark Days S.O.L.E. food

This is just a simple scramble I made this morning, but I used all S.O.L.E. (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) ingredients.  As you probably know by now (unless this is the first post of mine that you are reading), I'm unofficially following the (not so) Urban Hennery's Dark Days Challenge to create a meal a week during the winter using as many S.O.L.E. ingredients as possible.

I guess the following isn't really a whole meal for many, but it was for me.

Spinach and Cheese Scramble

  • Olive Oil Spray (I use a sprayer that you can fill with your own oil, the oil I used is organic but not local).
  • A huge handful of spinach, washed with the ends trimmed off (the Spinach is organic and local from Tiny Farms in Hillsborough, NC.)
  • 2 eggs (I had local and organic eggs from cage free chickens).
  • 1/4 cup or less of grated cheese (I used local cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery called Hickory Grove.  Chapel Hill Creamery's owners have the philosophy of raising "cows that are healthy and happy and improving the quality of the land").
Spray your pan with the Olive Oil and heat to medium.  Throw on the spinach and let it wilt.  I just cracked the eggs and put them straight on the spinach and pan scrambled, but you could whisk them up in a bowl first and then add it to the spinach.
Place the scramble on a plate and cover with cheese.

That's it.  I've made this before with cheddar cheese, and I've added a few more spices before, even a little sauteed onion is good.  However, this time, I really wasn't crazy about the cheese.  The cheese guy at Earth Fare said it was buttery with a little bit of a nutty flavor.  I asked him if it would be good in a quiche, and he assured me it would.  Well, when I think of buttery with a little bit of a nutty flavor, I think of something like Gouda.  This was very stinky cheese.  I didn't taste the buttery, nutty flavor.  It was way too strong for me to taste much but an over powering stinky cheese taste.  I know a lot of people like strong stinky cheese, but I'm not really one of them.  I like some of it, with some things; like a good sampling of cheese with good wine.  But not with my breakfast.  I'm sure this is a great cheese for some things, but not for my eggs.

I often make a scramble with left over veggies like broccoli and asparagus too.  It's a great way to get in a serving of veggies.  I often just use the egg whites because I really need to watch my cholesterol.  (My triglycerides are too high.)  I like Egg Beaters, but they have sodium in them, and I'm on a low sodium diet.  I choose where I have my sodium carefully, and in my eggs is not one of those choices.

We used to just buy regular eggs.  What ever was cheaper was ok.  Now, that we've been buying Cage Free eggs for a few years, I was really surprised to taste the difference when we visited my father and made eggs there.  He just had the normal white eggs.  The first think I noticed was that the yoke wasn't as yellow.  Then we started eating, and I was shocked by how little flavor they had compared to the Cage Free eggs we normally buy.  (We also try to buy local eggs as much as possible.  We can find them at the Farmer's Market for about $4.00 a dozen, but I can get them at Earth Fare for about $1.99 a dozen, and at Weaver Street Market for about $2.00 for 18.)  Yes, I try to buy local, and organic, but I do shop around and try to get the best deal for the money.

One great thing I've found buying produce at the Farmer's Market is that is seems to last so much longer.  I could buy the same thing at the grocery store and it would be bad in less than a week.  I've had the spinach I ate today in the refrigerator from my last trip to the Farmer's Market on December 18th.  That was 12 days ago, and it still looks great.

Next up.  Hop'N Johns.  Well, Black Eyed Peas cooked with bacon, Collard Greens, and Rice 
What else would a Southerner eat on New Year's Day?

Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bean Burgers, Greens, and Baby Turnips

After I made the pot full of Field Peas for one of the Dark Days Challenge meals I've been making, I had a lot of beans left over and decided to try and make Bean Burgers.  (I actually made this on December 22nd, I just forgot to post it.)

I actually got started a little late with the Dark Days Challenge, so this can be my make up recipe.  : )

This meal is also made primarily of S.O.L.E. (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) ingredients.

This is a very rough recipe because I just kept adding things until it smelled really good and it would hold together while cooking.  Here's pretty much what I did:

Bean Burgers

  • 3 cups cooked beans of your choice (I used the field pea mixture I made on Dec. 20th, because that's what I had on hand.  My beans happened to have some sausage in them, but you could easily make this vegan by leaving it out.  I really didn't see where it enhanced the flavor of the beans much anyway.)
  • 3 slices of frozen GF bread (I used the stray pieces of bread that were in the freezer, mostly end pieces.)
  • a hand full of Greens.  (I'm not sure what kind of greens I used, I think I used Broccoli Greens.)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Cumin (I just love Cumin, but you can use your favorite flavor.  After I added some of the other ingredients, I'm really not sure I needed it.)
  • About a Tablespoon of Chipotle Seasoning Mix (I used Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Mix.  I've heard some GF people have had reactions to Mrs. Dash seasonings, but I never have.)
  • Liquid Smoke to taste (I probably used a tablespoon or so.)
  • GF Worcestershire Sauce (again I probably used about a tablespoon, I just kind of dribbled it in there.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of GF flour  (I put this in when the above ingredients simply wouldn't hold together and form and burger that wasn't smushy.  I'm not sure it did any good.  I tried to make another burger after adding this and it still didn't stay together very well.)
  • 1 egg (when I added this the burgers started to hold together.)
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal (let this sit in 1/2 cup of warm water for a while - if your mixture is thick you can use more water, mine was too runny.  I used the flax seed meal like this to try and get more adhesiveness without adding more egg.  I think it worked, they really started to form into burgers then.)
As you can see this was a trial and error recipe.  If you eat eggs, you can probably add 2 eggs and leave out the flax, if you don't eat eggs I'm not sure if just the flax will do it, you may have to use an egg replacer.

Simply put everything in your food processor and make it into a thick mixture.  It will not form into burgers in your hands like meat does.  You will have to spoon it out onto a griddle.  (or you can bake them, I did both.)

They take a long time to cook on the griddle, and this recipe makes a lot of burgers.  So I put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked them at 375F for about 15mins, or until they were a little firm.  Do not try to remove them from the parchment paper until they are cooled, they will just come apart.  I pulled the paper off on a cooling rack and let them sit.  When they were cooled they came right off of the parchment paper and they were much firmer than when I first took them out of the oven.  I froze most of these and when I use them I put them on my griddle to warm them and brown them on the outside.  The baked ones don't really look very appetizing.  You really need to either grill them or cook them on a griddle or something like that right before you serve them.

Stuart and I both liked these burgers, (he's convinced I'll never be able to make them the same again, and he's probably right, but I bet I can make some that are just as tasty.)  The Chipotle seasoning really came through. Stuart said they tasted like they were barbecued.  He's really a meat man, so this was a great complement coming from him.  He also said, this recipe was a keeper....that is if I can do it again.  : )

Here's a picture of the first one I made, I ate it simply with a little mustard, and some Homemade Sauerkraut that I made.

In the first picture we had the burgers with Stir Fried Greens and Turnips.

I'm not sure what kind of greens I used.  I think it was the rest of the Broccoli Greens.
I didn't cut them into small pieces like I usually do and they came out a little tough, actually a lot tough, but they had a good flavor.

I made the turnips first.

Baby Turnips in Butter and seasoning

  • Butter - enough to cover the bottom of your pan.  I think I used almost 2 tablespoons.
  • Baby turnips washed and cut into thin rounds.  (Baby turnips do not need to be peeled simply wash them and trim off the ends.)
  • Garlic and Herb seasoning.  (I used a mixture I made up, Mrs. Dash makes a good Garlic and Herb seasoning, or you can just use your favorite herbs and spices.
Heat the butter in a flat sautee pan.  Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the turnips in a single layer.  Sprinkle with seasoning.  After about 2 minutes flip all the turnips over.  You can add some more seasoning if you like.  Cook until the turnips are tender, this will depend on how thin you sliced your turnips.

Both Stuart and I loved this.  I rarely ever cook with butter but found a few recipes that used turnips and butter together and decided to give it a try.  I will probably use Earth Balance Buttery Spread next time.

Stir Fired Greens

I cooked these in the same pan I made the turnips in.  So first, remove the turnips and place aside.

  • 1 bunch of greens (I used a small bunch of Broccoli Greens, at least I think they were broccoli greens, because there is just the 2 of us, and it was all I had left.)
  • a little bit of wine (a couple of splashes)
  • a couple of tablespoons (I didn't measure.) of Mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine, you can usually find it in the oriental cooking section.  You could use any sweet wine, or Rice Vinegar with a little bit of sugar.)
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic (to make this much easier, I keep a big jar of minced garlic in my refrigerator.  If I've run out of fresh garlic, or I'm simply in a hurry, I use the jarred stuff.)
Heat the pan over a medium high heat, add the garlic and start it cooking.  When the pan starts turning brown, this will probably be pretty fast, put a couple of splashes of wine in the pan and deglaze it.  (that means to scrape all the yummy good brown stuff off into your sauce.)
After deglazing the pan, add the greens.  I found there was not enough liquid so I added some Mirin.  This was a great idea because it really cut the bitterness of the greens.  (just like in the Stir Fried Collard recipe I posted a couple of days ago.  See a link to it under the recipe tab at the top.)
Mix all of this up so the greens are completely covered with the sauce.  (I used my silicone tongs for this and just keep grabbing and twisting.)  Cook until the greens are wilted and a pretty green color.  You may need to cover and let them steam a little.  I usually turn off the burner at this point.

With this recipe, I pushed all the greens to one side and added the turnips back to the pan, then covered and turned the heat off.  This warmed the turnips back up.

We were very pleased with the flavor of this whole meal.  However, I suggest cutting the greens up into small pieces before cooking.  (and always remove the stems.  If they have thin stems just cut off the bottom part, but if you are making Kale or Collards remove the stem all the way up through the leaf.  This can be a very bitter piece, and when stir frying it will not get done as fast as the leaves.)

What ingredients that I used were S.O.L.E. ingredients?
The Field Pea mixture.
The Organic Greens in the Bean Burgers and the Stir Fry (they were in my Box from Tiny Farm, located in Hillsborough, NC.  Just a few miles from where we live in Durham.)
The Organic Baby Turnips (also from my Tiny Farm box)
The egg I used in the Bean Burgers (Organic and Cage Free Eggs from Latta Farms in Hillsborough, NC)

I hope you are enjoying these S.O.L.E. food recipes as much as I'm enjoying making them.