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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Well Hello There, Pork Pie

Sorry it’s been so long; I’m back once again like a renegade master (or something like that). If you’re not part of my soi-disant “real life”, I can both explain the break and catch you up like this: starting in mid-March of last year, I was having rather irritating pain in my abdomen. Then it started spreading and getting more pervasive, and more intense, and altogether just MORE of everything. Staring April 1, I had a period of a couple months of intense pain and not-fun-ness that can best be described by this list: 3 ER visits, 1 hernia, 1 ulcer, and 7 kidney stones. I was on opioids the whole time, so my memories of last Spring are cloudy to say the least. Then in May, I got a job. About the time I started feeling competent there, I got promoted, and had functionally two part-time jobs, both in retail, just in time for Fall and the start of the holiday sales push.

I feel like I’m now coming up for air, a bit…so it’s time to start cooking again! Hopefully I won’t celebrate the Solstice with another season of WTAF IS HAPPENING TO MY BODY.

My eating habits are largely informed by what I’m watching on TV; when I’m obsessed with medieval history (this happens often – for example, Wolf Hall is on pretty much endless repeat over here. Or any of the “Farm” shows from the BBC, and Tudor Farm and Green Valley are two favorites.), I want to eat what’s in the TV shows. I tend to pick up handicrafts that go with the period (blackwork embroidery and weaving). When I’m watching Regency shows, the same applies. Recently, I’ve been binge-watching “Escape To The Country”, a show about people from British cities escaping to the countryside and buying rural homes, all with lovely budgets. The landscapes are to die for, and the shows include a bit of local history and color, so that also hooks my interest. Last week, I watched one where they went to Melton Mowbray and tried the pork pies, which are a historical regional specialty. Pork Pie action here.

If you can’t see where this is going, I’ll be quite surprised.

I could say I made pork pies in honor of Pi Day, but I didn’t. I made them in honor of my utter lack of ability to resist food in TV shows.

The first pie, the tester, was – well, it wasn’t bad, but it lacked flavor. So tonight I made another, and I think this shows a lot of promise.

Here’s a loose recipe. I never really do a very good job of measuring until the third of fourth time I make something, and this is still Tester Town, so expect some inaccuracy.

PORK PIES (gluten free, of course)

1 lb pork (use a cut you like. I found pork roast on sale and used that)
bacon, lots (I used uncured, about 1/2 a package)
sweet onion
shredded cheddar cheese
mashed potatoes
apples, sliced and peeled
salt/pepper
garam masala
whatever other spices rock your boat

METHOD

I start by chopping up the raw bacon and pork (I cube the pork). Also, chop the onion (I like a rough, uneven chop). I sliced and peeled red apples (can’t remember what variety, use one you like; mine are fairly sweet but still crisp and a little tart).

I fried up the bacon and the pork until they were fairly well cooked, while preheating the oven to 425F. Last time, I sauteed the apples and onions until they were soft, but I felt the pie lacked definition and was kind of a mushy soft whatever, so this time I left the apples and onions raw. Will let you know if that was a good idea. 😀 I like to add my spices to the pan, so I threw garam masala (sweet/spicy mix that has cinnamon and lots of other goodies in it), salt, and pepper in while I was cooking the pork.

I didn’t want to use a pie dish a) because I didn’t want a pie crust and b), I had waaaay too much stuff inside for a pie pan. So I started layering the items in my beanpot (normally used for applesauce and baked beans). Pork, apples, bacon, cheese, some onions. Repeat.

On top, I spread the mashed potatoes like a lid (well – last time. This time, I didn’t have enough mashed potatoes and I made them too runny; so I kind of poured them into the pie. Hey, it’s still potatoes. lol) and then put cheddar cheese on top of that.

Put the lid on, then put the whole shabang into the oven for about 20 minutes, and after turning the oven off, removed the pot lid so the top could brown up. When I brought it out, it was bubbling and gorgeous. Be warned, there will be lots of juices in this pie as the inside cooks down. I like it, it firms up into a gorgeous sort of jelly in the pie. You might not be a fan.

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looking FAB despite its lack of lid

It smells amazing. I’ll let you know what it tastes like after it cools and sits for a while.

Snaps!

my assistant is eagerly waiting to try our creation

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Breaded Pork Chop and Fries

This may be a bit of a repeat, but I’ve not done this meal exactly this way before, so I thought I’d blog it (possibly) again.

NOTE: this is not a low-calorie meal. So, you know, take a walk afterwards; or if you must nap, make sure it’s an active sort of nap. 😉

I defrosted one pork chop from the freezer (my mom and I bought a big cut of pork back in November and my dad cut it up into pork chops, then we put them in freezer bags as singles or doubles. Now I can defrost one or two chops whenever I need, and the unit cost of each chop is slightly less than $1) this morning, so I had that ready to go.

I love breading my chops, but I’m (of course) gluten-free, and I felt more than usually lazy tonight, so I poured out enough Potato Pearls* dessicated mashed potatoes to cover the bottom of a smallish glass bowl (btw, I get the potatoes with the butter in them because I can have butter and I lurve it). I added salt and pepper and smooshed the chop down into the pearls, then flipped and smooshed, then flipped and smooshed, then repeated. I had to push the pearls into the chop because they’re so big that they don’t stick on their own; so it was a case of pressing them into the pork, to a certain extent.

I put the “breaded” pork into a pan with hot olive oil in it and browned it on both sides, then transferred it to a tin-foil covered pan in a 350F toaster over for about 25/30 minutes (until it was cooked through). You can kind of see in this photo where the pearls have somewhat “foamed” into mashed potatoes when they made contact with the hot oil, although some of them stayed in their crunchy pearl shape. As someone who hasn’t had anything “properly” breaded since 2004, this tasted like a dang good alternative to me!!

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Looks like something from outer space… o.O

Meanwhile, I had a potato I’d cooked earlier handy, so I sliced that into wedges and then fried them in more hot olive oil with garlic salt, rosemary, and thyme. Once everything was done, I put it on the plate with ketchup, salted/peppered, and devoured. YUM.

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mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmfries

If you’re Celiac and truly avoiding gluten religiously, then you probably don’t have french fries more than once or twice a year (unless you have a really good restaurant near you with a dedicated frier)… this is a simple and quick way to make some fries any time you like. (There are hints I’ve read about cooking the potato first, then freezing the fries before frying, so that the sugars in the potato slices will develop more completely; I hear that’s what makes McDonald’s fries SO amazing. Well, that and that they sugar them a little before frying. Myths and legends abound!! But that will be an experiment for another day.)

Enjoy!

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Slightly better, although not much, in the photo department. lol

*Potato Pearls can be bought at Gordon’s Food Service – they’re pretty much the best thing ever as far as instant mashed potatoes go, imho. If you don’t know where you could get some, http://www.amazon.com/Potato-Pearls-Natural-Mashed-Potatoes/dp/B00CCTDNV0/ref=pd_sbs_gro_4 – this will also give you an idea of what the bag looks like, or a listing of contents if you’d like.)