So I got to wondering what else I've changed in the last few years.
( Turns out, quite a lot. )
( Cooked )
Note: the audiobook is read by the author, who does a terrific job. And there's a story in it about a pig named Kosher. Kosher: The Porcine Prometheus.
It's a really good book.
Meanwhile, the small and really astonishingly expensive chicken I bought at the farmers' market today is in the stock pot on the stovetop. I may need to re-think my flesh-eating strategies at these prices.
There's a beautiful array of green and leafy vegetables, also from the farmers' market, on the cutting board, waiting to become...soup, I think. Or part of a stir-fry. Maybe some of them will go into a green tart à la general_jinjur.
There is one unifying trick to a) staying gluten-free, b) avoiding junk food, c) eating nutritiously, d) not breaking the bank eating out, and e) regulating my caloric intake: bringing my own food to work with me.
And the trick to bringing my food all week long is to do a lot of cooking on Sunday.
And speaking of the shower scene music from Psycho, is anyone else loving Scott Caan in Hawaii 5-0? He's just such a banty rooster. I like the show way better than I thought I would, mostly because of him. Which is strange because little stocky blond cock-of-the-walk attitude guys usually aren't at all to my taste.
And speaking of taste, I made a gluten-free lime pound cake yesterday, mostly while listening (again) to pandarus' fabulous The Student Prince. (Really, some of the most stand-up-and-cheer fiction I've ever read, fan- or otherwise! Highly, highly recommended.) The cake came out yum, and now the limey deliciousness reminds me of the terrific payoff scene where Arthur grants the interview, which I was listening to while applying lime glaze.
And speaking of payoffs: I just watched episode 12 of Rubicon. Wow. Just, wow. That show! I've never encountered that kind of slow-building, totally controlled long-arc story on television before, and holy crap, did it ever pay off in this latest ep! It was a brilliant, dark climax to the arc, and will be the starting point for a scary and exciting new arc. Amazing writing and acting.
And speaking of writing, Restraint chapter 39 is almost done at last.
An NPR article cites some research into the divide. After ruling out taste factors in the leaf, the research found that there's a smell component that cilantro lovers can detect, but which cilantro haters can't. Without that component, the stuff smells like soap. Or bugs.
This interested me because I've been on both sides of the cilantro divide. For most of my life I hated the stuff. It ruined anything it was in, and removed vast swaths of Mexican and Indian cuisine from my enjoyment.
Then a few weeks ago, thanks to a cilantro-centric dish offered by kis when she was visiting, I discovered that I now like it. I suspect my gluten-freedom has something to do with it: a number of my tastes and cravings have undergone such remarkable changes in the last eight months that I hardly know myself. Sinus-clearing alone could account for the shift in olfactory perception.
So, a poll.
- My sis has a cool interview on Carfree American today
- Got to see roseambr
- Had lunch at New Cascadia Bakery, a gluten-free bakery and café that let roseambr and me eat pizza and a brownie and a little strawberry galette, all delicious, with no unfortunate side effects--AND I brought home a half-loaf of a seedy bread that is actually breadlike \o/
- We bought one-dollar annuals at the nursery
- I picked out my new front door (a little home improvement project that's coming up)
- I rode to the lovely and gracious home of serenity_valley and str8ontilmornin for a delightful home made dinner of potato soup and a gorgeous salad, and conversation about transportation, fandom, and the strange phenomenon of Twilight (complete with four-volume synopsis highlighting the story's many...inexplicable plot elements) plus orange-essence cheesecake by str8ontilmornin (so, so delicious)
- On the ride home, after dark, just as I was feeling a little exposed out in the busy streets, I caught up with the Bowie vs Prince bike ride (loud stereos, colored lights, lots of hooting) and rode almost all the way home with them
- Chapter 33 of Restraint is almost done.
I have conquered gluten-free puff pastry, you see. I had half a batch in the fridge (the first half having gone to make little test crackers), and I wanted to use it up before it went off. So I told my nephew, who's getting to that always-hungry age, that I was going to make Napoleons, and would he like to help out and then eat them?
"They are delicious stacks of puff pastry layered with rich vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate-striped fondant."
Nephew, being a sensible boy who has been raised on good food, a) actually knew what I was talking about in that description and b) instantly perceived its appeal.
We ran to the store for a few things, then came back and he read me the recipe and measured stuff (in between playing with his iPhone and talking to me about Halo Reach), and by and by we had these sort-of Napoleons.
The pastry cream was too thin--more of a crème anglaise, really. We could not be bothered with fondant, so settled for powdered-sugar icing. The chocolate stripes were more like little blobs ("polka dots," we decided), and the result was incredibly messy and the portion had to be served in a bowl, with more custard spooned over the top to make up for what smooshed out upon cutting.
It was not photogenic, so I didn't photograph it.
But oh sweet mother of Jesus, it was delicious. The puff pastry (made from rice and tapioca flours, mostly) was absolutely perfectly croustillant--it crackled between the teeth with the most delicious crunch, and stayed crisp even in the face of the too-thin pastry cream. The pastry cream was rich and sweet and vanilla and cold. Eating this thing was dessert heaven.
Nephew and I each had a portion, then my 17 year old niece came over and she and I split what was left. She agreed that this was one of the greater family pâtisserie achievements ever.
Then I went to bed, and oh the dreams I had. The tossing and turning. The noise of my brain. I awoke this morning with a genuine, honest-to-badness hangover from the sugar. It took me two quarts of water, two ibuprofen, and two large cups of black coffee to begin to feel like a real girl again.
It's been a long time since I sugared out like that. Makes me realize how far I've come, because I used to be in that state, like, most of the time.
So will I be making gluten free Napoleons again? Oh hell yes. But I'll make them presentable, so that I can present them to others before they kill me.
The training schedule from hell last week took a larger chunk out of me than I anticipated: it was like jet lag without the jet, for five days in a row. Even though I went to bed early and got as many hours' sleep as I generally get, they were the wrong hours, and I was all out of whack.
I'm rested up now and doing some wonderful writing (I mean, I'm feeling wonderful about it--haven't read it yet to know whether it's crap), and in the breaks, I've made little gluten-free chicken pies.
( Pie! Warning: SO not vegetarian. )
I'm doing a little reforming of my eating which, under the ægis of learning to be gluten-free, I've let get a little out of hand in respect to non-wheat things like butter, sugar and dairy. In this pursuit, I did three things today: I put my five-dollar garage-sale espresso machine away and got a French press (this will vastly cut down on the amount of milk I drink, because I always make lattes); I put my heavy KitchenAid stand mixer away in a low cabinet (this will prevent impulse baking); and I made soup: Black-bean-chard-leek-potato-garlic-beef soup.
( In other words, sneaking in more vegetables. )
Pretty tasty. Warming and nutritious.
Oh, and fueled by soup, Chapter 31 is almost done!
This evening I decided to make a chocolate one, more or less based on the GF pound cake recipe I've been testing. It's fairly dense (but by no means a Tempur-Pedic mattress like the last one), fairly moist, sturdy enough to slice without falling apart, and it's good and chocolatey with no need for frosting.
( It's a simple cake. )
In honor of Eleanor's--or maybe Odette's--first ride to work, I wore a skirt and high heels this morning, and felt like a million bucks cruising along in the chilly sunshine.
( A high-heel kind of day. )
So my mind is clearing, and Chapter 31 is brewing in the background. I can feel it! And meanwhile this not-writing is doing me a world of good.
What should I name my new Dutch bike?
Eleanor - because she's dignified and graceful and has gravitas and is queenly
Odette - because she's kind of French-Resistancy looking and should be wearing a beret and smoking a Gauloise
Something else that I'll suggest in a comment
I got no writing done. Only writing exercises. I am well and truly B-L-O-C-K-E-D on chapter 31, which a few people are waiting for. I've tried what I know to bust through the block. I read articles. I played writing games. I went outside and worked in the yard (pruning--seemed appropriate). In an unexpected place, I found a useful quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
Value traps are the ones where your thinking is not as clear as it should be. Value rigidity is the first one. It is a refusal to value anything other than a certain thing just because it “has” to be that way. A lot of times a solution will be staring you in the face, but you’re in too much of a hurry to notice it. Slow down — stare at it for a while! It’s very much like a fisherman sitting and waiting for a nibble. Value rigidity is usually an ego problem. Lose the ego and be humble. Let yourself be surprised, and solutions will show themselves.
I might have made a little progress late today. I think I've started to see a path. Stay tuned...
Meanwhile, I baked a gluten-free cake using agave instead of sugar, and it's pretty tasty. It's a variation on the pound cake I've been trying to perfect for several weeks now. Agave, for the record, tastes quite a bit like golden syrup.
The muse really can't be coerced, but if anyone has any more suggestions, tips, or tricks for enticing her back, let me know.
I can be incredibly resistant to the obvious sometimes. It was, not surprisingly, the lovely Dutch woman at Clever Cycles who sold me the basket. Instead of some fancy weather-proof material, it is made out of wicker. Instead of some high-tech attach-and-release system, it has these two fat metal hooks on the back. "I just took pliers and bent mine to fit my bike," said Lovely Dutch Woman.
Seriously, I have agonized over the purchase of the correct basket. I'm nutty that way. This one purchase has revolutionized my use of my bike. It's there, on the handlebars. It comes right off to go into the store with me. My lunch fits in it. It looks nice. It makes Clyde look even cuter. What the heck was I waiting for???
In other news: too much xanthan gum in your gluten-free baking is icky. I made a cake that, while delicious and actually edible, has the texture of a Tempur-Pedic mattress. Note to self: half a teaspoon next time.
My original recipe calls for whole wheat flour and wheat bran--I subbed teff flour and oat bran--and makes a dozen rather heavy, hearty, filling breakfast muffins.
( Recipe! Picture of food! )
I rode Clyde out to the big Asian supermarket FuBonn Shopping Center today to see what kind of fabulous non-wheat flours I could find. When they say "conveniently located on busy SE 82nd between Division and Powell," emphasize the "busy" and de-emphasize the "conveniently" when you're going by bike. That's one nasty urban suburb out there.
But it was a nice ride through a bunch of neighborhoods, and I found, let's see, teff flour, sweet rice flour, white rice flour, soy flour, and tapioca flour. Plus some sea salt from Hawaii and some vegetables.
On the way back, I stopped at Trader Joe's and spent the money I've saved by not driving to work for two days on tulips.
( The view from here )
Now to figure out what to make with the weird and wonderful new flours. I'm thinkin' pancakes.
Hah! I just realized that I could have called this post Flours and Flowers.
- toasted white sesame seeds
- brown rice flour
- toasted black sesame seeds
- poppy seeds (caraway seeds would be good too)
- almond flour
- coconut flour
- potato starch
- parmesan cheese
- a little butter (coconut oil next time, I think)
- a little flaxseed oil (maybe some flaxseeds next time?)
- an egg
- a little curry powder
- a spoonful of Marmite
- baking soda
- black pepper
- xanthan gum
Rolled out thin, cut into circles, and baked slowly till dry, they're pretty tasty, and they have a nice crunch. The texture is a bit sandy, but I'm beginning to realize that that's just a hazard of GF baking, because the flours that have any body at all are highly fibrous. I don't love the distinctly beany flavor of the bean-based flours, but I don't hate it, and using the much tastier coconut and almond flours would be too expensive.
I'd post a picture of them but they're just beige circles with black speckles. They taste good with sharp cheddar cheese on 'em, and I bet they'll be good with tuna, too.
(Riding Clyde has turned into a great deal more than that, of course, but riding a bike around town is, in fact, a very low-impact, non-weight bearing activity that's easy on most of body's joints.)
( It's much easier than I expected! )
"Gluten-free," like "no wheat", has always evoked for me such a dismal and joyless foodscape that I've tried for years to pretend that wheat is just fine and not a problem for me, when it seems clearly to be. I don't meet the symptom profile for celiac disease, or even for wheat intolerance, and yet, being wheat-free for the past week or so has left me feeling so much better that I might as well just keep doing it.
( But to face an indefinite wheat-free future, I will need pound cake. )