Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Seriously, this whole cooking thing sometimes is just overrated. Coming from me, a foodie, someone who really loves to cook and create... it's a little weird. But recently, I could really just care less what I eat.

But I have to pull through, onward and upward. My kids don't get that luxury, they demand food. Sure they always want a grilled cheese or pizza or some other 'kid-friendly' food that just sounds about as appetizing to me as a piece of cardboard, but of course they know better. So I'm searching around now for something that will inspire. Tomorrow my hubs is off doing guy things with a friend, so we are going to have chicken. My husband rarely eats chicken (it's a bit of a long story), but it's the one protein the kids will usually chow down on.

If I come up with something magical, I'll be sure to share. ;) Till then, suggestions are welcome. Or just well wishes. I'm good with either.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

why does it matter?

There's a lot of talk about GMO's these days. With each side equally as vocal as to why they are right, it's sometimes hard to know what to believe. So I decided to do some research of my own. I have to admit, the whole idea of GMO just sounds slimy, but I can't base something on my gut reaction alone.

I have done some light reading on GMOs in the past. As presented by proponents, it sounds great. I mean, genetically figuring out a way to preserve crops, pretty impressive. To have the potential to keep from losing so much sounds awesome to me, and I'm sure it sounds even better to the farmer whose livelihood depends on it. But at what cost do we splice fish genes in with a plant?

So, I went to the source of GMOs, or at least the most common known name when dealing with genetically engineered seeds: Monsanto. A brief glance of their website could easily convince someone that what they were doing was truly in the farmers benefit. Creating a crop that was resistant to various pests, weeds, etc., thereby reducing the amount of pesticides/herbicides needed, increasing the yields... Sounds good, less impact on the environment, less loss to the farmer. In fact, their motto, if you will, at the about page is: Monsanto Company: Committed to Sustainable Agriculture, Committed to Farmers. And by now, everyone knows the importance I place on sustainable agriculture.

But then I kept poking around on their site, and I looked into their products. Did you know they brand their seed traits? Uh-oh, here comes that slimy feeling again. But then it starts to get complicated... to prevent resistance to their frankenseeds, you have to also plant non-frankenseeds in certain ratios. And to be completely honest, my eyes started crossing at that point. I'm not a farmer and don't want to be. I kill things. But I have complete respect for the people who work hard to grow our food. What it came down to in the end of the ratios of GMO to non-GMO, essentially Monsanto had figured out a way to allow the farmer to plant more of their seeds. Interesting.

So I decided to leave Monsanto's page and surf the internet for GMOs. Most of what pops up is negative, though you still must be judicious in what you decide to believe. I have to say, though, this page caught my eye: The Human Genome Project. This particularly freaked me out: On the horizon are bananas that produce human vaccines against infectious disease such as hepatitis B. Thanks, but no thanks. Also on the list of cons from this page were the potential health impacts, specifically an increase in allergies and/or the ingestion of antibiotic resistance markers. Hmmmm, seems like food allergies are remarkably higher than when I was a kid. I can't think of a single kid I was friends with who had a food allergy. Think this could be a risk when you put animal traits in plant traits or vice versa? Or when you significantly beef up the protein (which is generally what people are allergic or intolerant to) in wheat, corn and soy? Then these foods become cheap fillers so if you are eating a standard American diet (SAD), your are virtually inundated with them.  Oh wait, aren't 2 of those in the top 8 allergens? And not to mention our vegan friends... wonder how they would feel about eating corn with animal genes? It's a bit unethical and at the very least unnatural. I wonder how nourishing food can truly be when it's not as it was intended. Two more cons raised on this page.

But what about the environment? Aren't these crops supposed to require less pesticides/herbicides? Yes. But according to a report published by The Organic Center in 2009, "GE crops have increased overall pesticide use by 318.4 million pounds over the first 13 years of commercial use, compared to the amount of pesticide likely to have been applied in the absence of HT and Bt seeds."  So much for needing less toxic treatments and trying to lessen the strain on the environment. The report also goes on to discuss the resistant weeds resulting from the increased levels of herbicides being used. Some of these weeds can grow big enough to damage farm equipment. But the larger issue is really the long-term effect this increased use of pesticide is going to have on our health. It doesn't simply rinse off of your vegetables. The run-off from these farms goes somewhere. Another report stated that chemicals from a corn farm were found in a nearby stream 6 months after harvest.

GMOs are banned in many foreign countries, and in my opinion, should be banned all together. Honestly, I could write many, many pages on why I think GMOs are going to do far more harm than good. I encourage you to do your own research and decide for yourself whether this is an issue of importance to you. But for me, I'll pass on the frankenfood.

For more info, check out these links:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

dinner rolls

A few weeks ago I got a call from someone requesting, among other things, dinner rolls.Or something that could be used to make ham biscuits, specifically. Now, my husband has been bugging me to make rolls for about 3 years now. But for some reason, the idea of making rolls was daunting. It kind of scared me, in fact. I thought no way! I can make bread and cupcakes and countless other items, but the skill level to produce a roll, I do not possess.

That was until that call a few weeks ago. I have a really hard time telling people I can't do something. It goes against every fiber of my being, in fact. I doubt myself on a daily basis, but to actually admit that I can't do something makes my chest hurt a little. So, I told her I was sure it could be done. I mean, other people are doing it, so surely I could, too. I told her I would need to experiment, but that it most definitely could be done.

So I had one day to work out this roll. ONE day to get it right! I didn't have any other days in which I would have the time to experiment, so there was a lot of pressure riding on this one day. Lesson learned: sometimes we all need a little kick in the pants to do what we think we can't.

Yesterday, I had just short of 8 dozen of these little rolls, and today if I had to guess how many were left I'd say, maybe 10. Success? I measure it by whether my kids will eat it. They did.

So I'm sharing the recipe with you today. Hope you and whomever you make it for enjoy it as much as we did! Please keep in mind I am sharing this with you as I would make them... writing recipes for others is not exactly my specialty. :)

Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca starch
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt

So, I do not proof my yeast. EVER. I haven't proofed yeast in at least a year. But if this step is important to you, then start by proofing your yeast. Heat the milk to between 100-110 degrees F, then mix with the yeast and sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes.

While the yeast is proofing, in a large mixing bowl combine the sorghum, tapioca, xanthan, salt and eggs. Mix in the yeast mixture and let this mix for about 4 or 5 minutes. I am a big fan of my stand mixer-- if you are using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment.

Here's the tricky part with gluten free bread; getting the right water level. Start with 2 tablespoons of warm water (whatever the hottest that comes out of your tap is fine) and watch the dough from there. When the water level is right, it should look something like this:
It sort of resembles a really thick cake batter. The dough shouldn't be sliding off of the paddle, but it might fall off in a glop or two. (sounds delicious! lol) If you feel like it needs more water, add 1 teaspoon at a time. When you get a consistency that looks similar to this, it's time to make the rolls!

The easiest way to do it is to use some sort of scoop: I used my little spring action cookie scoop, it's about a tablespoon in volume. First, line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Then scoop the dough into whatever size roll you want to make. At this point, you can wet your hands and even shape the dough if you want, ie more square, round, whatever. My batch made between 36-38 rolls.

After you have all the dough on the pan, cover them and let them rise. If I'm not using my oven, I will set it to slightly above warm and let them rise in the oven. If you don't want to do that, just make sure they are somewhere warm.

Let them rise for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they are close to double. Brush with a little melted butter, and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, a little longer if you are making bigger rolls. Make sure to rotate your trays half way through the cooking process or you might end up with some that are burned on the bottom.  After you take them from the oven, brush with more butter, if desired. Seriously, is there ever too much butter?

But if all goes well, you should have something that resembles these.
And as every foodie knows, someone reading this will make substitutions. I would love to hear what you did differently and how it worked! So please feel free to leave comments.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A few thoughts

I suppose I've been fairly contemplative recently. I just turned 30, and I think any time you begin a new decade, it's easy to take time to reflect on your accomplishments; the things you wanted to accomplish, the things you didn't even know you wanted to accomplish, and the things you forgot about.

So I write this tonight sort of as a laying bare of my soul. As I look back on the past 10 years, I begin by looking at someone that is really only a slight resemblance of who I am today. But that person, going through those experiences, has shaped who I am today almost more than I can comprehend. It's amazing how much can change in just 1 year, and 10 years really almost seems like a lifetime to me.

In the past 10 years I have gone from abundance to poverty. Twice. I have lost my health and regained it. I saw the first glimpses of my beautiful daughter via ultrasound, only to have the doctor say in the next breath that something could be seriously wrong with her. I've come to personally realize the value of hard work and determination. But most importantly, I've come to realize how rich I am when I see my children, with their larger than life personalities;  when I spend a lazy weekend with my 84 year old grandmother;  when I laugh so hard I can't breathe with my mom; and when I remember that my husband is still absolutely my best friend.

Over the past few years, life has sure thrown me some curve balls. Sometimes I thought I was totally going to crack, and other times, it was just another day. Ten years ago I wanted to be a doctor, and  I was going through Duke to accomplish this. Today, the thought of that makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. Five years ago I just wanted to not be sick anymore. One year ago I was wondering if what I was doing was worth it.

As I keep reflecting, I realize that today I am very content with who I am and where we are heading. I have a great sense of accomplishment as I look around at my life. Ten years from now, who knows. Really, who even knows what the next year will bring! But I'm ready for it. I kinda like growing and changing ever so slightly. It's what keeps life interesting.