Gluten-Free Cooking For One

Celiac And The Single Girl, Or: How To Make Food That Does Not Suck For One Person {Although I Suppose You Could Feed Other People, Too}


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The Morning Of “Oh!”

Please bear with me, dear readers, for this is not a description of delicious food I have made, nor is it a recipe for such; this is the story of my morning, in which most of my sentences seem to be starting with the exclamation, “Oh!” as I realize I’ve forgotten or botched something.

First, there was the fish oil gel capsule that I tried to squeeze into the dog’s food. I made the requisite tiny slice at one end, picked up the capsule and squeezed — and a lively stream of fish oil leapt from the capsule, squirted down the length of the kitchen floor, ending on the refrigerator. Apparently I had the hole on the side, instead of pointing at the dog dish.

Then, while cleaning it up, I stepped in it and slid — coating my foot in intensely-smelly fish oil, and spreading the invisible oil further. (Side note: the fish oil regime is a new one, and my dog *hates* fish, it seems… except when the oil is on my foot. He’s laying across my ankles and licking my foot assiduously. I’ve given up even trying to get away. If I want to administer fish oil to the dog, I guess I’ll have to start squirting the capsules onto my feet. And if I miss, hey, maybe I’ll hit the dog dish. Win/win!)

What time did you say breakfast would be served? I'm ready any time. Now is a good time.

What time did you say breakfast would be served? I’m ready any time. Now is a good time.

Then I sliced open a beautiful avocado for putting into my morning smoothie. It was gorgeous! Creamy, the perfect color, luxuriantly soft… I finished making my smoothie, turned around and – “oh!” – there was the avocado, sitting on the counter, looking innocent. I know it must have wiggled away while I was getting the quinoa out of the fridge. There’s no other explanation. (sigh)

I hard-boiled some eggs, put out a bowl of ice water to chill them as soon as the timer went off, and then absent-mindedly moved the pan of boiling water and eggs off the burner, turning it off… and wandering off without putting the eggs in the ice water.

Mind, this is all I know about. I haven’t tasted my tea yet, I might have put salt in it instead of sugar… lol I think I need to go back to bed. :}


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More Beefy Stir-Fry Goodness

This post is actually a twofer!! Lunch and dinner, and both were beefy. πŸ˜€
This afternoon I got a 3 lb. rump roast on sale – half of it went in the freezer, and the rest I divided: about 4 or 5 oz went into the fridge for dinner, and the rest I ground up to make more food for the dog and some hamburgers for me.

LUNCH: Parmesan/Worcestershire Burgers and Rice
(It occurs to me as I type this that the dog and I are on a very similar diet. In his case, it’s because he’s just getting back to normal after a bout of tummy troubles, and in mine, it’s due to laziness. Already made a bunch of rice for the dog? Grinding beef for the dog? Sure, I’d love some burgers and rice, thanks. :D)

Anyway, I boiled the ground beef for Snaps, as before – had to do it in two batches as the pan isn’t very large and I had a good bit of beef – and then put that away for the next couple of days.

For me, I took enough beef to make a couple of small patties (I like my burgers more done than not, so the smaller and looser the patty, the better – within reason), then added garlic salt, ground black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce (a fair amount, it’s yummy). Mixed that all together with my fingers without smooshing the beef, then formed it into loose patties. Fried those in olive oil until done and nicely brown on both sides, then took out the burgers and tossed rice in the pan with the juices, so I could heat up the rice and infuse it with that beefy flavor. While the burgers were still hot, I put a little piece of butter on top of each to melt, because butter is divinity. Put the rice next to the burgers, then a little bit of my favorite garlic/olive oil/parmesan/romano sauce on top and stirred it in. Then, because life is short and I love parmesan cheese, I sprinkled a bit more shredded parmesan on top, added a bit of salt, and then devoured it. Soooo good.

DINNER: Vaguely Asian Beef Stir Fry… Thing
And when I say “vaguely”, I mean vaguely. My ex used to make amazing international meals, and I’ve been hankering for a bit of Korean or Thai. I didn’t have most of the ingredients, but I tried for something with a similar feeling, and it was delicious. I sliced the beef thin, then marinated it for a little while in rice vinegar while I sliced up part of a sweet onion two ways: a coarse chop, for in the pan, and some thin-sliced onions, for sprinkling raw over the top. (I like the difference in the taste and texture between uncooked, cold onions with a little bit of crunch versus soft, sweet, warm, fried onions.) Melted about a Tbsp of coconut oil in the pan, then fried the meat until it was cooked, adding a little garlic powder and LOTS of black pepper (one of my favorite Thai meals is basically just meat in lots of black pepper and a sauce). Took that out while leaving the oil and beef juices in the pan, then softened the coarse-chopped onion in the juices. Wanted a bit of rice with this as well, so I tossed in a little into the pan to heat up while the onions finished cooking. Why use the microwave when I already have a hot pan?

Put the meat over the rice and cooked onions, then put a few pieces of the chopped raw sweet onion on top to finish. Delicious!!

Vaguely Korean-Thai beef stir-fry thing.  :}

Vaguely Korean-Thai beef stir-fry thing. :}

Two single-portion, gluten and corn-free meals from the same chunk of beef, and there’s more beef in the freezer. And each meal was a one-pan, one-knife endeavor, so I didn’t have much to clean up. In fact, I washed the same pan from lunch and just put it on the stovetop to dry, because I knew I was going to use it for dinner. I love when eating is simple. πŸ˜€


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Today’s Adventure: Home-made ground beef (for me and the pooch)

My dog’s digestion has been a bit sensitive lately, and I’ve had him on rice as I try to get it calmed down. The vet did tests and just thinks his tum is out of whack and needs soothing, so I’ve been staying the course and trying to restrict his diet. Today, I thought — it’s been forever since he’s had much other than dry rice, and I’m worried he’s not getting protein — so I researched adding boiled beef to his diet. The consensus was, generally, that it’s best if you grind your own, you’re sure what cuts he (and you!) are getting, how fresh it is, how sanitary its preparation, etc.

So I went and picked up a lb of round, brought it home, and got out the meat grinder. Woohoo!! I almost always try to research before I do something like this, so I read this article: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/06/how-to-buy-use-clean-and-maintain-a-meat-grinder-attachment-recommendations.html

In it, the author talks about the different kinds of grinders and how to use them, benefits and drawbacks of each, and even gives some cleanup tips (very useful). He also stresses the fact that the temperature of the meat and the grinder both have an effect on the quality of grind you get, and recommends putting the actual grindey bits in the freezer for at least an hour before cutting. I would never in a million years have thought of this. Ever. Oh, Internet, I love you.

It also recommends feeding through a wadded-up paper towel or two after you’ve finished all the meat; it won’t come out the grindey bits, but it will feed through the rotor, pushing out all the meat and helping do a preliminary clean on the inside of the grinder apparatus. Genius!

There was also this article, that compared meat after it was ground by different methods and using different cooking techniques:
http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/04/the-burger-lab-whats-the-best-way-to-grind-beef.html

In it, the author again stressed the need to chill the grinder. I dutifully plonked the Kitchen Aid’s grinding apparatus into the freezer for an hour, and even though much of it’s plastic, it got pretty cold. I think that did help with the grinding, as I didn’t have any smear or other unpleasantness.

I cut the beef into small (about 1-inch) cubes and fed it into the grinder at a pretty good speed (the article recommends between 6 and 8), pressing down with the wooden pusher thing, until it was all done. Then I wadded up a paper towel and fed it through, being careful to listen and make sure the motor wasn’t straining. It did push out more ground beef, and when I stopped the machine and took out the towel, it brought a lot of the waste out with it, so the cleanup was a snap! (snapping)

Then I boiled the beef for the dog and shaped the remainder into patties for me.
The boiled beef followed this method:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/470764-how-to-boil-ground-beef/
–although it recommends to cook the beef until it browns thoroughly, and I would use the word “gray” instead… lol. In any case, I made sure it was thoroughly cooked through, then dumped it into a colander, then rinsed it. Let it cool, then put it in Snaps’ dish on a bit of rice, and happy dogness ensued. Hooray!! We’ll see how this, em, goes through and then I’ll know if it was a good idea. :}

The patties for myself (I got three small ones out of the remainder) were inspired by this method, again by the same guy. (He sounded like he knew what he was talking about) I did the loose pack, but waited to salt and pepper until later. Fried all three at once, contrary to his instructions, and ended up with perfectly cooked, very crispy patties. It was luscious.

Topped two with a sauce made using olive oil, garlic, parmesan, red pepper flakes, and let that warm and melt a bit into the surface as I prepared the third patty: this one was traditional, just ketchup and chopped dill pickles. Yum.

The burgers were amazingly flavorful, and grinding meat is surprisingly fun. In short, I give this experiment two thumbs up and will likely repeat it before too long. πŸ˜€ From cutting open the package of beef to finishing cleanup after the meal was a little over an hour, in total. Well worth it!


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Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

So, Snaps has been a little under-the-weather due to some commercial snacks that didn’t agree with his tummy… and having had to buy new snacks after investing in the old ones and then having to get rid of them right away, consumed (har!) the last of the snacks budget for this month. Plus, with his tummy being sensitive, I want to know what’s in the treats he’s getting right now. So I came looking for my peanut-butter treats recipe…

…and failed utterly to find it. Dangit! This is supposed to be my recipe repository and reference area! Well. So I looked up, and used, another PB treat recipe, and it worked great. Here’s the link:
PB treats recipe

And I made it almost exactly as ordered, except I substituted rice flour for the wheat flour, and I didn’t roll out/cut cute shapes. That’s waaaay too fussy for something that’s just going straight into his belly. :} So I just pressed out small balls into “coins” for baking, and ended up with a nice batch of treats.

"Did you say treats?!"

“Did you say treats?!”

Oh! And I froze half the dough, as I had plenty of cookies when I was only half done, and I still had bread to bake that day. So we’ll see how the dough thaws!

Here’s the recipe, copied over. Thank you to Becky, the Cookie Rookie, for this recipe. πŸ˜€

PEANUT BUTTER DOG TREATS
make great homemade dog treats for your favorite pup, or favorite dog lover.
Author: the cookie rookie
Recipe type: pet treat

INGREDIENTS
2Β½ cups whole wheat flour (I used rice instead, as I’ve a strictly GF kitchen – see Becky’s note below about substitution)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg
***NOTE: some dogs are allergic to flour/wheat. if you want to make these wheat free, you can use rice flour of coconut flour as a replacement. they will work, but might change the consistency a bit. thanks so much to the readers who wrote it about this!

INSTRUCTIONS
1) preheat oven to 350F
2) In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and the egg. Add peanut butter, water, honey and stir until you have stiff dough. the dough becomes very firm and sticky. you may need to use your hands, or the paddle attachment on your mixer.
3) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about Β½ inch thick and use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes. the treats barely spread and rise, so get creative with your shapes.
4) Bake for 20 minutes, until golden.
5) Keep in an airtight container or give as gifts!

There was a slight change in the cookie, I think, with the rice flour; her cookies look crunchy, whereas mine are mostly soft. But – I gave out a bag of these to a neighbor lady, whose dog really liked them, Snaps is very happy with them, and so am I. πŸ˜€ And I have more to give to other folks as well. I’d call this a success!


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More Dog Cookies :D

So I remade the dog cookies again (original recipe is here), this time with cheddar cheese as well as parmesan. 1.5 c oat flour (I grind my own, because then I know it’s less gluteny), 1.5 c rice flour, 1.5 c cheddar, .5 c parmesan, 1 egg, 1 cup of water (plus some more because the dough was SO dry. Then I added too much, so it was gooey. Oh well!!). Mix, bake at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes, done!

No photos this time, as they looked quite similar to last time. So far, I’ve got 58 cookies, and one last sheet just went into the oven. They’ve been tested by Snaps, and he approves. πŸ˜€

Hooray!!


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Super-Posh Pill Pocket For A Super-Fussy Pooch

I didn’t take any photos as this was an on-the-fly affair; my apologies. But I think you can kind of imagine what this would look like, pretty utilitarian and ugly. To the dog’s nose, however, with its jillions of scent receptors, I think it was probably the Sexiest Thing Ever. It certainly went down in one big “glorp”. :}

So today is the day for SeΓ±or Snaps’ monthly flea pill, which I usually put in a glop of peanut butter, and he usually chomps it down with joy and his tail wags and all is well. Not so this morning.

Yesterday for the first time ever, he turned his nose up delicately at peanut butter, and I am mystified. No clue why, after 6 months of a passionate love affair, he would have decided that PB is not “for him”; however, many and mystifying are the Ways Of Dog, so I just shrugged my shoulders and moved on. I meant to remember it this morning when I went to give him his pill, but forgot until I’d already put the pill in the PB with his dry food and set it down in front of him. He sniffed it, lifted one lip apologetically, and then backed away with a nervous tail wag… uh-oh, I thought. I added some carrot shavings. No luck, he picked out the carrot but left the rest with surgical precision. Dangit.

So, I thought, it’s time for a pill pocket. Went and fished the pill out of the peanut butter, then thought about my options. The pill pockets are, of course, made of rice flour and peanut butter. DOH!! So I needed another fat for the pockets. As I was thinking, my eye fell… on the jar of bacon fat. Oh, I thought, you lucky dog. lol

So I took a small dollop of bacon fat, mixed it with rice flour, and formed a small ball, which I then pressed the (gooey, disgusting) pill into. Put that into the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden, so Snaps would have a harder time simply licking off the good stuff and spitting out the pill. Also, hoping he’d “forget” (yeah, chance is a fine thing) that I was trying to give him a pill. As a final propitiating touch, I pulled out a piece of pre-cooked bacon from the freezer, tore off the end, and formed it around the now-hard pill pocket, using the warmth of my fingers to press it gently into the ball without melting the ball too much. Hey, it’s bacon. It didn’t have to look good, just tempt him enough so he’d eat it fast.

I put it in his bowl, which I’d washed to get the PB taint out, and moved back. He investigated gingerly, much of his brain thinking “pill pill pill pill pill” but it was a beautiful thing to watch as the scent receptors in his nose took over one by one and flooded his brain with “pill pill bacon? bacon bacon baconbaconbaconBACON BACON” gulp!!

Pill be gone!

And now his pill is down the hatch for another month, and my little boy is soooo happy because he thinks he banished the hated PB and the pill, and pulled one over on Mama besides.

And we both got to eat a little bit of bacon, so win-win there. πŸ˜‰

Alternate Pooch Pill Pocket (1)

Dab of bacon fat (I store mine in an unromantic jar)
Enough rice flour to make a dough
Small piece of pre-cooked bacon (optional)

Form it into a ball – it will still be quite soft, and greasy, and a bit gross. Press the pill in, and put into the freezer for several minutes to harden. If you want to sexy this up at all, take a pre-cooked piece of bacon and form it around the ball once you’ve had it in the freezer to harden; the bacon may not adhere to the outside of the pocket very well, but it doesn’t have to be beautiful. It’s all about smell, not presentation, in dog feeding land. Or at least in Snaps feeding land. :}

**note: you could probably make a whole batch, but there would probably be health concerns with feeding your dog bacon-fat pill pockets every day, so be aware. For one, there’s the weight gain concern, and for another, you might cause excessive… um… “regularity”. Intestinally. With that much grease. But his or her coat would probably be really shiny, I’d imagine!! Erm. I’m not a vet, so just, yeah. I’d say probably not every day, any more than you would feed a human a huge piece of grease every day. lololol

Bon Appetit!! ❀


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“Cheese, Please” Dog Treats!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, sorry – my mom has had serious health issues and that’s had all my attention for some time – but things seem to be turning around for her, fingers crossed, so here I am!! Am hoping I can catch you up on some of the cooking I did during my hiatus, although a lot of it was depressing / Depression cooking. I was broke and sad and the weather was terrible (I didn’t want to go out and buy groceries), so I was eating an awful lot of microwaved baked potatoes and baked potato soup (exactly what it sounds like) and slow cooker oatmeal (for several meals in a row).

So it is with great relief that I can report that I made beef stew in the crockpot today, opened a bottle of really good Port that I’ve been saving for a couple of years (in celebration of my mom’s surgery going well), and baked myself what I have lovingly dubbed “Frankencake”. Frankencake will be a later entry, possibly tomorrow. πŸ˜€

Tonight I want to tell you about the dog treats I also baked today, since I’m running out of my commercially produced, expensive dog treats and I’m (did I mention this?) skint. A kind friend who is also my dogsitter loaned me a super-cool book named “The Organic Dog Biscuit CookBook from the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company”, in which all the recipes are, yes, organic; but more importantly for the purposes of this blog, they are gluten-free.

Why? I don’t know. They described it somewhere in the book, and I read it, but then blah blah blah yadda yadda oooooh recipes!! So that’s how well that stuck. :}

I chose, for my first trick, to make the recipe on p 54, entitled “cheese, please”. Mostly because I had all the ingredients, but also because I’ve recently discovered I’m also lactose- and soy-intolerant. Hooray? So I have a lot of cheese to use up. Unfortunately, as I discovered when I went to grate the cheddar cheese, all my cheddar cheese was still in the freezer. Bad mama. Also, all my grated Parmesan was moldy (because I haven’t been able to eat it in so long). Bad mama. Sigh.

So my big modification on these was that they’re made completely using Swiss cheese… fortunately, my dog loves Swiss. I also didn’t have brown rice flour, so I used white rice flour. (shrug) There ya go. They’re a bit on the Casper the Friendly Ghost side, but they apparently taste great. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So instead of using my Bob’s Red Mill expensive Celiac-approved gluten-free flour for these, I bought the Meijer brand cheap oats, which aren’t gluten-free, and ground those up into oat flour in the food processor. So my outlay on these dog biscuits was $2.19 for a big tub of oats, of which I used about 1/6. Waaaaay cheaper than treats at the store! And more fun!! So here we go.

Cheese, Please!
p 54 of “The Organic Dog Biscuit CookBook from the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company”, Jessica Disbrow Talley and Eric Talley

1.5 c oat flour
1.5 c brown rice flour (I used white)
1 c shredded low-fat cheddar cheese (I used Swiss, still waiting for Cheddar to defrost, lol)
.5 c grated Parmesan cheese (I used Swiss, alien life had grown in the Parm)
1 egg
1 c water (I added extra, the dough was too dry)
**I added a pinch of rosemary to apologize for the lack of cheddar, and some salt because Swiss cheese isn’t as salty as cheddar and Parmesan.

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly until a dough forms. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface etc etc — or, because I *hate* rolling dough and using cookie cutters, you can do what I did and roll the dough into small balls and then press the small balls out into “coins” and then bake them that way. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (they can be close together as they don’t spread much while cooking).

Dough on the right, cookies on the left. I put tin foil down on the cookie sheet to help keep cleanup easy.

Dough on the right, cookies on the left. I put tin foil down on the cookie sheet to help keep cleanup easy.

By the way, I really hate rolling dough. If I ever give you anything I baked that required me to roll it with a rolling pin, then honey: that’s love. But I digress.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (this probably won’t happen if you use white rice flour and white cheese, snort). Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Here are the cookies, waiting to go in the oven – they were ready for their closeup, so I obliged. BEFORE cooking:

You can just see the rosemary I added. Oh!! I forgot to put the rosemary in the list of ingredients...

You can just see the rosemary I added. Oh!! I forgot to put the rosemary in the list of ingredients…

And here they are, out of the oven and not really looking “golden brown” AT ALL. However, the dog seems entranced with them and is spending a lot of time hanging around the canister hopefully, so I’m satisfied. Hooray!! AFTER cooking:

IMG_20140207_203910_444