Monday, October 31, 2011

GAPS Pie Crust

Baked good are a little tricky on GAPS. You are not supposed to have too many, which is good because they are expensive. Almond flour is the typical grain replacer and runs ten times the price of my old spelt flour. Making my own is not very time effective; soaking and removing skins, dehydrating and grinding without making it into butter… I admit to stretching it when I can.

I have found that white navy bean flour is really handy to have on hand. You do need to soak and dehydrate, but there is no tedious picking off the skins and grinding is a breeze as they can go through a regular wheat grinder. Beware that the end product has a strong bean flavor, but cooking seems to dampen that somewhat. Besides using it to stretch out my almond flour, I have found that it works great to thicken sauces and stews.

This crust is great for pies like pumpkin and apple. It would also work for many bars like lemon, pudding or other layered bars. Lining the dish with parchment paper is the safest way to go to get nice slices, but I have gone without and it wasn't too problematic.

1/2 cup soaked and dehydrated navy bean flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons water

Combine flours and salt. Cut in butter with a fork until evenly distributed. Add water and mix thoroughly. Press into glass, deep dish, pie plate. It helps to dampen your hands a bit as the dough starts to stick. Try to get it as thin and even as possible. I don’t do any fancy edges; just work the dough about half way up the dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until bottom and top begin to brown a bit.

links; Menu Plan Monday, Monday Mania

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

GAPS Moroccan-Spiced Stuffed Acorn Squash

Squash has been taboo around our house.  Only myself and the baby eat it with pleasure.  When you ask my eldest two what food they dislike the most, squash was sure to be their answer for four years running.  In fact, it is the only food that they have ever shown consistent distaste for. I had to be careful to call summer squash zucchini, not to taint it for the kids. If I ever used squash for anything, it had to be completely unrecognizable and called “pumpkin.”  A short while into the GAPS diet, I started using more and more squash.  They saw me buying it and cutting it all the time, but when it got to the table it was “sweet potato fries” or “sweet potato pudding” or “mashed sweet potatoes” or “pumpkin bars” or “pumpkin muffins” or “pumpkin crunch” or “vegetable noodles.” Yeah, I use a lot of squash.

This recipe laid it all to rest.  There was no hiding that they were being served squash for dinner, the one thing they detested the most.  They grit it and bore it and ended up admitting, that squash was no longer something they disliked.  Still, when I scraped out the last bit of squash from the skin and brought it to his lips he said “no, thanks.”  It still felt like a win, and this recipe is definitely a keeper!

I have been trying to make large portions of our tried and true recipe to reheat for another meal, or freeze for later.  I was able to put away a weekend’s worth of food for my kids that I gave my mother in-law to feed them while I was away.  It made things easy for her and kept me from worrying about what they were eating.

This makes a large amount, 8 servings.  But it is so good that it doesn’t go as far as planned.  I ate 2 servings for dinner tonight, probably could go for a third after typing this out.

4 acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 banana pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pound ground meat, browned
1 cup meat stock
1/2 cup raisins or chopped apples
½ cup butter
4 cloves garlic, minced

Place squash, cut-side down on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, until flesh is tender. I cook these earlier in the day, turning off the oven after 15 minutes and leaving in the oven until dinner to keep warm.  Heat oil in large fry pan on medium high heat and add onions, brown slightly before adding celery, carrots and peppers.  I used the banana pepper for a little heat, any pepper would do here, you could also use cayenne.  Salt the vegetables well and let the pan come back up to heat before adding spices.  After about one minute, when the spices are nice and toasted and fragrant, add the cooked meat of choice (or even lentils) and broth.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Leave the lid off to reduce the liquid.  Once the pan is nearly dry, add the apples and melt a whole stick of butter (yeah, baby!) in the pan. When the butter has melted, place the minced garlic in the pool and stir to coat the entire mixture.  Turn off the heat.  Salt the cut side of the squash, plate and fill with meat and vegetable mixture.
Links; Real Food Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sprouted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last month, my son got baptized and we hosted a large group of family to celebrate.  I made my crowd pleasing Sourdough Spelt Pizza, GAPS Meatzza, these cookies and GAPS Coconut Macaroons, so we had option.  I talked with the kids about what would be available and what would be their choices.  It ended in our first meal of cheats, but it was not too bad as it was real food and very modest amounts.

At the event, the cookies were a big hit and I was reminded that I needed to get these delicious confections posted.  I can't keep this from you any longer.  I worked and work on this recipe, and perfected it before we started GAPS.  Then, it got buried in a stack of more current recipes. So here it is with all of my quirky, cookie-developing processes.

 I am hard to please in the cookie department.  I like them slightly brown and crisp around the edges and nice and chewy in the center.  Never cakey, crumbly, hard or cracker like.  I like a lot of flavor too, which means natural sugars, whole grains and butterJ.  I am mighty proud about this recipe; The farm fresh eggs, pastured butter, extra virgin coconut oil and sprouted flour are super healthy!  Still, I can’t get away from the high amount of sugar, the carmelization of which adds THE BEST flavor.  Then there are the chocolate chips, where I just do what I can to get a nice quality with more real chocolate than sugar.

I started experimenting with sprouted flour cookie recipes when I learned that whole grains have anti nutrients and need to be properly prepared for maximum benefit.  Soaked and sour dough recipes always yielded cakey, again, not my thing.  But I found sprouted flour so hard to work with because it crumbles and doesn’t absorb the fats and liquids easily.  My biggest problem was figuring out the right amount of flour to use in the dough.  I have baked too many cookies with my old, delicious recipe with instant pudding and was always trying to get the same texture in the dough.

I found the balance; 2 eggs, less one white and ¾ cup butter or 1 stick plus ¼ cup coconut oil (the oil makes a little thinner cookie, which is pictured).  Coconut sugar has a much better texture in these than sucanat and a less over powering flavor and maple syrup add a more complex flavor while giving the sprouted flour the liquid it needs to hydrate.  My most life altering discovery was the refrigeration time, which is nothing new to cookies, but not common for the chip kind.  The dough is almost batter like after mixing, letting it spend time in the fridge gives the flour time to absorb the moisture it needs and sets up the melted coconut oil and butter, thus, a beautiful cookie dough is born!

1/2 cup pastured butter, melted but not hot
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups sprouted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Place butter, oil, sugar and syrup in a mixing bowl and beat on high until smooth and lightens in color.  Add egg, salt and vanilla and mix well. Dump in all flour and sprinkle baking soda on top, take care to break up any clumps. Pulse until flour is moistened, add chips and mix until evenly distributed.  Place in a covered bowl and place in the fridge for 2 -6 hours. You may refrigerate longer, but dough will need to warm up for an hour before it can be easily scooped out again.

The exact baking makes or breaks this cookie.  For medium sized cookies (2 tablespoons of dough) I bake at 325 degrees on convection for 8 minutes.  When I remove them from the oven they are puffed up and fall as they cool.  The edges are barely golden and the middle is entirely doughy.  Let cool completely on pan before serving or storing.  This is when they set up, otherwise they will fall apart.  If you don't have convection, I would bake at 350 degrees and check them at 8 minutes, but they may not be ready until 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet Potato Slips

I know they are not on our diet, but I planted these sweet potatoes back in April and they are still currently taking up real estate in my garden. Sweet potatoes have a very long growing season and love the heat, so they are one of the few things that make it through the summer unscathed. (As I have mentioned, the others that I know of are purslane and basil.  If you have discovered any others that do well in 110+ degrees, please share.)

The first time I planted sweet potatoes I cut pieces with eyes and planted them, like you would a white potato.  Sweet potatoes don't really get the pronounced eyes like white potatoes do, so I pretty much guessed and ended up with very few plants.  I also guessed when it was time to harvest and all I found was an intricate system of orange roots.

The next year, I read up on growing my own starts and being patient.  The starts are simple.  There are two ends to a sweet potato, the end that was attached to the root and the end that grows eyes.  Fill a jar with water 3/4 of the way.  Insert three toothpick spokes around the middle of the potato and stick the root end in the water. After a while, the eyes will grow into leaves.  Using older, untreated sweet potatoes and keeping them in a warm place will speed up the process.

After the leaves have grown, you break the stem right at the base where it is coming out of the potato and place it in a small bowl of water to encourage roots to grow.  Once you have a few roots about one inch in length, the slips are ready to plant.  Dig small holes about 12 inches apart, place a slip in each hole and gently cover the roots with soil, then water lightly.

Sweet potatoes are supposed to take 120 to 160 days from this point, but like I said; mine are still in the ground.  The most reliable way to know when they are ready is to wait for them to flower.  They get really pretty purple flowers, at which point you will have small, tender sweet potato.  Leave them in longer to swell to larger sizes.

When you do harvest, you will still find an intricate system of orange roots.  If you don't get these out, they will come up again next year.  I haven't found it to be a problem to have sweet potatoes in the same place year after year.  They are not susceptible to the plethora of bugs and diseases white potatoes are, but they do attract peacocks :)

What has your experience been with growing sweet potatoes?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Garden Journal {Summer}

Just over a month ago I visited a local community garden.  It is the type where you rent a (15x15) plot each season.  Some of the growers are just experimenting with this and that, but most have quite a bit of knowledge, time and means to create a productive and aesthetically appealing area.  

At this time (early September) I was pretty down about my own garden area that was full of fried plants, lots of debris and extremely low production.  It was so hard to get out there and get things cleaned up because it was still so hot.  Seriously, the sweat would drip to the point that my eyes would burn.  I ended up getting one row cleared, tilled formed, composted and planted mid August.  I planted everything really close together to later transplant when the weather starts to cool.

After seeing how terrible everyone's plots looked in the community garden.  I was less distraught about  my wasteland.  But a little tip to all the fellow AZ Valley dwellers; Save sweet potatoes, purslane and basil, nothing grows in August.  It is a full month or more of heavy watering just to keep your plants barely surviving.

Now we have turned a corner.  I have cleaned up the other four beds, composted, then did some transplanting and seeding.  The weather is perfect and everything is shooting up! Viola, back on track and enjoying a productive space once again.  I can see that I went a little crazy with the zucchini this season, luckily it is one of my favorite vegetables.
links; Simple Lives Thursday, Things I Love Thursday, Creative Juice
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