A Season to Relish

My father flew the (formerly) friendly skies back south to the warmer climate this morning and so it’s back to life and reality.
This year, unlike former years, I made the concerted effort to tune out the worldly noise and demands over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I think I just might have to make this a tradition! I (painfully at times) sat and watched hours of football with him, we sat and chatted in the evening, did some daytime exploration of the cities and generally spent some real quality time as a family. Wow, what a novelty in this day and age.

I hope that everyone else had as tranquil a holiday as we did. I have never participated in that nightmare called ‘Black Friday’. I watched some of the reporting on it and it was appalling how people now behave in public. My lil’ bro and dad went off to the camera store (my brother is a photographer) but came home empty handed. So instead, we had great talks about life, culture, history, family and the future. It truly was a season to relish.

So now we enter the Christmas season. I love the holidays with their traditions, gatherings, and the decorations. But I LOVE Christmas and celebrating the reason for this season.  I love to bring up the tree. Yes, it’s a fake, but I like my tree up for the full month and I don’t want to have to worry about it burning the house down. It’s a lovely fake tree, one I have to put together and put the lights on. I love getting out the box of ornaments and reminiscing the years as I lovingly put each one up.
I love hanging the wreaths. I buy them plain and decorate them myself. I love putting out my nativity scenes. It may not be ‘correct’, but our baby Jesus is out all season long. I like being reminded why I am celebrating. I love burning my pine scented candles. I love baking, the heat of the oven warming me as I churn out baked goods. I love the excuse to gather together with people, like cookie exchanges. I love the things our little family doest to make the holiday special, such as driving around Christmas eve with a mug of steaming Hot Chocolate, while looking at Christmas light displays.

I love all these things, but after such a wonderful technology ‘time out’ over Thanksgiving, I am contemplating how I will balance peace and contemplation with the chaos that defines the Christmas season.

While I muddle on that, I’ll post a photo of my Gluten Free Gingerbread Trifle that was a major hit for Thanksgiving dessert. I’ll be figuring out gluten free alternatives for my traditional treats and meals this year. Cooking chaos or no cooking chaos, that is the dilemma!

Gluten Free Enchilada “Pie”

I do a LOT of cooking from my pantry. What do you do when you get the creative inspiration to make enchiladas, but you only have 4 GF tortillas in your fridge?
Well, you make a pie instead! A smear of enchilada sauce on the bottom to keep it from sticking, then start layering. This is a ground beef , yes, using the beef from my cow. I added frozen corn, rice, black beans, lots of cilantro, onion, spices, hot sauce and salsa, and alternating pepper jack cheese with a mexican cheese mix. Pour a bottle of GF enchilada sauce over the top, bake and voila, dinner in a pinch!

Gluten Free Scones- part 2.

In my never ending quest to replicate my traditional baked goods while remaining Gluten Free (GF), I am constantly searching the web, reading, and tinkering with new products. I stumbled on to Pamela’s flour mixes while in a funk that yet another GF pizza crust had failed miserably. (That is yet a challenge to be tackled, I’ll keep you posted when I achieve success) After watching her video on ‘How To’ make her pizza dough, I decided to click around and read reviews. There seemed to be a general positive consensus that her flours worked pretty darn well as cup for cup replacements, with a bit of tweeking. The result of that research was the previous post on making scones with her GF “Pancake and Baking Mix”. Because it has rising agents in it already, as well as salt, I had to tweak it a bit. As previously mentioned, it was very loose and I figured I’d need a mold to get the traditional shape. They were tasty right out of the oven, but the next day became almost ‘spongey’…more like a…well, pancake. Yeah no, not what I was going for. Try again.

My oldest, offspring #1, came home last night from college for the holidays. She is my cooking buddy, and ironically, NOT the one who is gluten intolerant. So, I asked her to whip up some cinnamon rolls using the Pamela’s bread mix. While she was doing that, I thought I’d give Pam’s Artisian Flour a whirl with my traditional scone recipe. I was reading the back and there are no rising agents, flour or dairy to mess with, or have to tweak my recipe with. Just an extra bit of butter and a little more liquid, that was it.

What you see above are the results. Beautiful, craggy, well-browned, traditionally shaped, tender and tasty scones. I took a bite (these were cherry-chocolate chunk) and WOW. Even BETTER than the previous batch! They tasted like regular flour scones and the texture was darn near identical. I don’t think there will ever be an identical replacement for flour, but holy cow, these are as close as I’ve gotten.

I’m very impressed with that flour. It handled nearly identical to real flour. Having structure and not getting overly loose, nor being rock hard. I’ve looked online and while the price is staggering, the next best reviewed compatible flour is C4C which is nearly $20/3 lb bag. OUCH.

My next adventure, with Thanksgiving close at hand, might be King Arthur flours recipe for coffee cake. It’s amazing and feeds a crowd. If I do it, and if it’s successful, I’ll let you all know. Right now, it’s about time to put the cinnamon rolls into the oven.

I can hardly wait to taste them when they come out. Don’t you all wish there was smell-a-vision?