Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A New Favorite Gluten Free Snack & Review…Larabar Time!!!

Lara Bars
     I think I am in love with these little guys!  As you know I went on a trip this past week, and with it being my first gluten free trip I made sure to pack some yummy snacks.  Sometimes it is hard to find good gluten free snacks that travel well, but these fit the bill perfectly.  I was skeptical of them in the beginning, I am not a big protein bar, energy bar kind of gal.  Anything that tastes at all “chemically” does not usually settle well, and to me, most bars just seem off.  I never feel like I am doing my body any favors when I put food in my system that tastes of nothing but additives and chemicals.
     Larabars prides itself on creating “healthy energy bars from minimal ingredients”.  I looked at the ingredients on the various bars that I had, and yep, its definitely minimal.  The first flavor I tried was the chocolate chip cherry torte.  I thought it at least sounded good, so worth a shot right?  I read the label, and the ingredients were: dates, chocolate chips, almonds, unsweetened cherries, cashews and sea salt.  No chemicals, no additives, nothing fancy, nothing unrecognizable.  Actually the first thought I had when I read the ingredients was that if I liked the bars it probably would be easy to recreate at home for cheaper.

Travelling Gluten Free and Seeing NYC!!!

     It seems like sometimes you need a few days just to recover from a vacation.  At least that is always the case from me.  I think a lot of that reason is because Mr. Love From Scratch always loves to pack so much activity into each day that by the time we are done with the trip we are exhausted!  Last week we went to New York City for a couple days.  I was nervous about this trip because I was not sure if I was going to be able to find places to eat now that I am gluten free, so I was hopeful that we would be able to find something.
     We had several places that we wanted to see while we were in town, so there was definitely a lot of ground to cover in a very short amount of time.  The main purpose for our trip was that Mr. Love From Scratch wanted to see the 2013 NFL Draft.  (Yes I married a football fanatic.)  I wanted to see so many different things, unfortunately we were not able to do quite everything, so our next trip there we will have to do those leftover items.  However we were able to do much more in those few days than even I had anticipated.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What I have Been Reading Wednesday, The Apprentice:My Life in the Kitchen…

The Apprentice My Life in the Kitchen
     Another Wednesday has come, so of course that means What I Have been Reading Wednesday.  Right now I am reading a ton of different books, and researching so many different things.  I have been reading lots of different books on gluten free living and cooking, but I am not ready to do a review on any of them yet.  When I do reviews I try to actually read the book at least once completely, and then review any particular parts that stood out.  If it is a cookbook that I am reviewing then I make sure that I have used the cookbook for awhile at least, trying several of the recipes.  The book for this week is actually one of my favorite food memoirs.  It is The Apprentice: My Life in The Kitchen, by Jacques Pepin.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jacques Pepin and his work.  Actually Julia Child herself declared him “the best chef in America.”  I have watched Pepin on PBS numerous times, both on his own programs, and as a guest on on Julia Child’s programs.  I have several of his cookbooks, and have enjoyed them immensely so his memoir was of particular interest to me.
     This is an extremely interesting book, Pepin has lived through a very interesting time, in very interesting places.  He was born in France before World War II, after the war his parents opened their own restaurant.  At the age of 13 Pepin began to apprentice in various kitchens.  He writes of his first pair of long pants being his chef’s pants.  At a very young age he took complete head of a kitchen, then began to cook for French heads of state.  He actually was asked to be the White House Chef for the Kennedys, but declined the offer.  Howard Johnson of Howard Johnson Hotels, recruited him to develop menus for his restaurants.  Most of us recognize Pepin for his TV appearances and shows.  He has written several books, many of which are in my personal library.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Few Thoughts After Gluten Free Day One…

Keep Calm Gluten Free
     Yesterday was the day I went Gluten Free.  As I have mentioned, I HAVE to go gluten free for medical reasons.  I can not decide if that makes it easier or harder.  On one hand knowing that gluten indeed is damaging my whole body and wrecking havoc on my health make me take being gluten free seriously.  On the other hand knowing that I have to be completely gluten free for the rest of my life is frustrating.  I know I should be very glad that the doctors have found what has been making me sick, but I can’t help but wish they had said it was something else.  Hopefully my feelings of deprivation go away soon, I am trying to focus on all the wonderful things that I can eat, but sometimes that is far easier said than done. 
     Yesterday I was the first person awake in the house, then awoke our houseguests, my sister in law and cute nephew.  My cute nephew is almost two, he has just barely learned the word cookie.  I made cookies for his visit, yesterday I will have to admit I was jealous as I saw his grinning face eating cookies while I couldn’t have one.  Oh well, at least he enjoyed the cookies.  It is interesting that I have talked to several different people about having to go gluten free and I think the reactions are all very interesting.  Several people seem to see gluten-free as a fad, or a phase that people are going through, and can’t seem to take it seriously that yes it IS a medical condition for some.  Some people say that they used to be gluten free for medical reasons, don’t need to be anymore.  What does gluten intolerance change?  I think it comes down to whether I choose to take charge of my health, and whether I choose to fuel my body with what it needs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Monday, The Gluten Free Edition…

Tomato Radish Salad
     *Sigh*  I am so hungry!  It is Monday, and my gluten free life has begun.  Also with it being Monday it is a Meatless Monday.  *Double Sigh*  What on earth do I eat?  What doesn’t have animal products or gluten?  I have to admit thinking about it was a bit taxing on my brain so this week’s Meatless Monday is not going to be main dish like I usually try to feature, it is a delicious salad.  Vegetables and fruits are naturally gluten free (point in their favor).  Luckily, I have always loved fruits and veggies, so I am sure that love will only deepen from now on.  I looked through the fridge and found any vegetable that looked good, and came up with this recipe.  If I had portabella mushrooms I probably would have put this salad on top and broiled it for a “portabella pizza”.  Actually after making this I thought of so many different ways that I could have used it, topping for salmon, mixed with chicken and arugula as a salad.  I actually think it would make a great filling for a tart, maybe I will do that in the future.
     With this salad I actually diced a couple tomatoes, a cucumber, a green bell pepper, and a large handful of radishes.  Then I added some feta cheese, a few kalamata olives, and then a few tablespoons of rice vinegar.  I added some salt, ground pepper, and dill and fresh basil to taste.  Then I put in in the fridge to chill and for the flavors to meld.  Absolutely delicious and refreshing, next time I am definitely putting it on portabellas!  It was a super easy recipe, but I think that is what I needed today.  I needed something super flavorful and simple, yet gluten free today, and this definitely fits the bill.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Gluten Free Learning Curve…

Going Gluten Free Collage
     I am beginning the gluten free lifestyle, and in so many ways I feel completely clueless on all of this.  I feel like there is so much I need to be learning, but I am committed to taking charge of my health.    Thursday after my endoscopy and colonoscopy I was told that I needed to go gluten free.  I have the weekend to enjoy my gluten filled favorites, but sadly Monday morning begins my new gluten free life.  As silly as it sounds I am not quite sure how to take care of myself, I am learning,  I have gone to the library and checked out several cookbooks, and am busily reading to learn what to do and what NOT to do. 

Sunday Blessings…Thoughts and Attitudes

Thoughts Quote

     Lately I have been thinking a lot about attitudes, thoughts and focuses.  After all those three things really shape who we are.  One can focus on the negative weeds of like, or one can choose the positive flowers of life.  Sometimes its hard on a week such as this one, because there has been so much sadness in the world this week.  The Boston Marathon Bombing, the earthquake in China, the fertilizer explosion in Texas, just to name a few.  Sometimes in the midst of all of that it is hard to find a reason to rejoice.

     As you all know by now Grandma Love From Scratch is in a nursing home, I try to go and visit her every day.  I have learned a lot from some the residents in this nursing home, one in particular is my Grandma’s cute roommate.  She is 97 years old (impressive I know), and she has just the best outlook and attitude on life.  We’ve talked about some of the things that she has seen in her life, the Great Depression, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, a presidential assassination, the civil rights movement, and so much more.  She has seen a lot of great times and a lot of bad times in her lifetime.  Every day when I see her she always has such a good attitude, and I finally asked her why.  She told me that every day she has two choices, she can be happy and see the good, or focus on the negative and be brought down into darkness.  That isn’t to say that she isn’t completely aware of the things that are not going well for her, or the tragedies in the world, instead she chooses to see the good that happens in each tragedy, and the good that exists in each day.

     I am trying to be more like her, and stop being so caught up in the tragedies or what isn’t going my way, and instead focus on the good.  As I have read and listened to the news this week I have been struck by each new channel’s coverage of this weeks events.  The facts are clear, this was a tragedy at the marathon and lives were lost and others completely altered.  Obviously that was shown on each channel, however not every channel showed the goodness of the people rushing to help the wounded, or trying to help console them.  Yes, horrible things happened, but a lot of people showed their greatness in a moment of despair, reaching out and showing the best part of ourselves, the part that stops to help and serve another.  It is important to acknowledge the tragedies, but lets also remember the good as well.

Finding my Blogging “Voice”

     For the past several weeks I have been thinking a lot about why I have this blog, and what I hope to accomplish by having this blog.  I think at some point every blogger has some sort of dreams of grandeur.  I think we also have our phases where we obsessively track our viewers, followers etc., try to build traffic and readership.  I have definitely been in all of these stages at various times.  I’ll be honest, sometimes I’d love the idea of notoriety from the blog.  Sometimes I do think that a book deal would be amazing, who doesn’t?  Yet the real reason I have this blog is because quite simply I love to cook and I am passionate about people getting in the kitchen.  I do firmly believe that anyone can learn to cook healthy affordable meals for themselves and their families, and enjoy the process.  I am passionate about using fresh ingredients, and kicking the boxes and mixes and processed products to the curb!
     My amazing sister in law and darling nephew are in town this weekend visiting, and I am so excited to have them here.  My sister in law I know I have mentioned a few times, she is remarkably talented.  She actually has a couple blogs of her own with solid readership followings.  Last night at dinner, (Chinese food yummy!) we talked a bit about our blogs.  We have both gone through a lot of the same phases, wondering how to best present our respective blogs.  We both have came to the same conclusion, blogging should be fun, and we should be blogging about something that we are passionate about.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Going Gluten Free... My Breakup With Gluten

     Grr!  The day that I have been afraid of happened today.  To make a long story short, for the past several months I have not been feeling well at all and have been having horrible gasterointestinal issues (gross I know).  I have been getting sicker and sicker and it seems like everything I ate was making my body so unhappy, almost to the point where I started to feel that there wasn't any reason to eat, since it caused such havoc in my system.  I have seen doctor after doctor before about this issue, its actually been going on for years and just the past several months has the condition spun out of control.  Anyway, today I went to my local hospital to have an endoscopy and colonoscopy performed. (You are completely jealous I know)  I won't go into the detail of my colonoscopy preparation, because lets be honest, that is completely disgusting, but I will leave it as this, never, ever do the preparation without nice 2-ply toilet paper, trust me on this one.

     I will spare you with all of the clinical pathology and grossness of the details of the procedure, I will just leave it at this, with my diagnosis it became clear that my days of gluten consumption are gone. *Sigh*  While I am excited to finally know what the problem is, and I am thrilled at the prospect of getting better, a part of me can't help but think about my lost culinary delights.  No more crusty french bread, no more gravies, no more heaping piles of pasta, and no more tall fluffy cakes.  I am sure the next several months will be a learning period, where I will hopefully learn some of the intricacies of gluten free living.  So you can all expect to see lots more gluten free recipes on this blog, and I will share of my struggles and learning experiences as I try to come to terms with this.  Also if any of you are gluten free and have advice please share, I am sure I need all the help I can get.  Goodbye gluten, how I loved you, why did you have to hate me so?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hmm... A Curious Thing...

As most of you know Google Blog Reader is ending this summer so I will be on Bloglovin, so be sure to follow me there!  I have to claim my blog, so now consider Love From Scratch claimed at Bloglovin

Springtime Pasta Salad

     One of my favorite springtime recipes is a pasta salad, even though it is something that is so remarkably easy, but sometimes the easiest things are the most delicious and satisfying.  Over the past few years I have had numerous jobs, but one job in particular was working with a particular catering company here in SLC, for every event we had we always had a "staff meal"  which is always the meal/snack that the staff gets to eat before events, because let me tell you working those events can be really hard work, plus you get hungry watching everyone else eat!  Anyway, without fail on every staff lunch there was some sort of pasta salad, and every time I loved it.  I have always loved pasta salad, once I moved onto another job I missed having those pasta salads so frequently.  So I went straight away to making pasta routinely for myself, after all those pasta cravings can be intense.

What I Have Been Reading Wednesday...The Making of a Chef.

     It is still National Library Week, and it is Wednesday, so I thought I 'd share one of my favorite library books for What I Have Been Reading Wednesday.  Now for full disclosure the first time I read this book I borrowed it from the library, since then I have purchased it and added it to my own personal library.  I love libraries because I really do learn so much from the books I read, and those experiences and teachings help to shape my outlook on the world.  Part of the fun of stories is to live vicariously through it's characters.  I love to read books about things I would love to do, or places I would love to see, and I always appreciate it when the writer is sharing their own life experiences.  This week's featured book is, The Making of a Chef, by Michael Ruhlman.  This book is pretty much a memoir, or an accounting of his days at The Culinary Institute of America.  Ruhlman wanted to write what the experience was like to become a chef, and the rigors and triumphs of culinary school.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meatless Monday, Springtime Version

     I love the Springtime, I was discouraged that this morning we had snow, but sometimes that happens here in Utah.  It is yet another Meatless Monday, this time a springtime version.  I'll admit I tend to lean more towards carnivore tendencies than vegetarian tendencies, so when I have a vegetarian meal I want it to be packed with flavor and full of vibrant colors.  I love to make dishes that could be considered "pretty dishes"  and I think that this is definitely one of them, and it is so hearty that it doesn't feel like a vegetarian meal at all.  I love this meal because it feels fancy, but it  really an inexpensive and simple meal to make.  This is also a great dish to bring to the spring picnics and bridal and baby showers that we are always invited to.

A few thoughts on Boston Marathon Bombing 2013

      As everyone else in the world I am saddened and sickened at the days events in Boston.  I have never been able to make sense of acts of violence, or acts of terrorism.  This past Fall I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Boston, which I loved.  Boston is a great place, so many wonderful things to see, and the food was amazing.  Mr. Love From Scratch and I walked the Freedom Trail and saw some of the most important places in American history.  It was an amazing opportunity for me, to be able to walk the same path as so many great patriots. One of the things I loved the most about Boston was the pride that the locals had in their city and the history of their city.  I loved the patriotism that the people had with their fair city.  The attitude of the city felt electric.
     As I watch the news today, and I see the scenes from the tragedy, along the same places where I walked and marveled at the history and architecture, those same paths today are paths of tragedy and bloodshed.  I think of the history again of the area, the history of the "shot heard round the world", and how everyone had to unite together to move forward even stronger than before.  As Americans we do bond together, we unite together to become stronger and more resolved in the face of tragedy.  My prayers are with the good people of Boston, and with the families of all those affected.    I hope that we all hold the ones we love close together tonight and that we turn to each other and God for the strength we need to move forward together.   May God bless us all.

Happy National Library Week!

“To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
     Happy National Library Week!  I know I have mentioned many, MANY times my love for books, but to be honest, books are a huge part of who I am.  I love going to the library, it seems almost magical all of the books and teachings to be discovered therein.  I was a very lucky child, my parents took us frequently to the library, and we always had lots of books within our home.  Actually I guess more than the average family, because every time we would move the movers always commented how many more books we had than the average family.  My parents from a very early age instilled in us the importance of books and learning and reading.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Favorite Things Friday...What is in a memory??

     I can hardly believe its Friday already, and I thought today would be a great day to highlight a few of my favorite things.  I have always been one to attach memories to objects, I can remember what outfits I wore to my first date with my husband, I can remember what I bought with my first real paycheck from a job, I can remember my first start up stuff for when I was a freshman in college.  I remember all of those things.  When I moved out of my parents house and began college I took some of my parents old dishes with me, to help start up my college kitchen.  They were the same dishes that my parents had as newlyweds back in 1975.  Now nothing against the great year of 1975, but those dishes I had during college were U-G-L-Y!  There is not a nice way to sugar coat their appearance, they were just plain ugly.  However they were deeply practical, and it was great for college, because lets be honest, sometimes roommates mistreat your things, and apartment life can be awfully hard on nice things.  While I was in college I had several different roommates and it was always interesting to see the different approaches to things.  Most came with hand me down items from their parents, or some came with absolutely nothing and bought everything nice and new for the beginning of the school year.  By then end of the school year everything we had whether new or old showed the wear and tear of a school year.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What I have been reading Wednesday...The Bouchon Bakery

     Wednesday it is!  Which means its time for another What I have been reading Wednesday.  I know I have already reviewed a few of his books, but I love pretty much anything by Thomas Keller.  His recipes are always so amazing, and his books are flawless in every sense of the word.  I love that in his cookbooks the recipes are easy to follow, and there are always tips and techniques featured to help elevate the reader's cooking skills.  Bouchon Bakery features a wide variety of bakery treats, some are the traditional standbys such as OREOs or Ho Hos, just elevated to a new level, or traditional tarts and french pastries.  With all of Keller's cookbooks, I have a hard time knowing what recipe to try first.  I looked through the recipes, and they all looked so delicious, but the recipe that was calling to me this time was definitely the blueberry muffins, which I highly recommend. 

     In this book Keller features both sweet and savory recipes, which I love, lots of times it can be challenging to find true gourmet savory recipes in cookbooks, so this is a wonderful balance of sweet and savory cooking.  Someday I would love to make it to all of Keller's restaurants, but until I can make it there, I will have to settle for making due with cooking the recipes from the cookbooks.  Give this book a chance, you'll love both the content and  the artistry of the book, and your friends and family will love the delicious results.

Root Canals and Ice Cream Milkshakes...

     Well today is off to a fun start (hopefully you can hear the sarcasm in my voice.)  This morning I had a root canal, and  I have to admit I am terrified of dental work.  Luckily it wasn't too bad...yet, I am sure the pain is coming,  After the appointment,  Mr. Love from Scratch asked if there was anything he could do for me, and I told him I wanted a milkshake.  Mr Love from Scratch then reminded me that we had everything we needed to make a milkshake already at home, so buying one he found to be unnecessary and silly.  I also have to add that Mr Love From Scratch didn't get home from work untill 2 in the morning, and was needing to go to work after the appointment so a milkshake wasn't in the cards today unless I made it myself.  I'll admit I was a bit disgruntled (yes I know I need to be more understanding), but I did make myself a delicious milkshake and have put my feet up and am relaxing for the afternoon.  I know I am a complete baby when it comes to dental work, it just always freaks me out, I can handle pain far better than most until its some sort of toothache or such and then I become a big baby.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I have been reading Wednesday...The Flavor Bible

     It is time for another "What I have been reading Wednesday."  I have been reading lots of books lately, but especially food writing books and cookbooks as a part of Foodies Read 2013.  One of the books that I had a really hard time deciding whether I wanted to read or not, or add to my library for that matter was The Flavor Bible.  I had very mixed feelings on this one in the beginning,   In some ways I worried that this book would limit exploration and experimentation, and that the book would make me feel hampered.  However there were so many reviews for this book that sang of its praises, plus it did win the James Beard Award in 2009, so I figured it was at least worth a shot to check it out.  I have to confess this is one of my favorite food reference book to date it is amazing!  When reading this book, one can look up almost any ingredient and there are a list of suggested flavor combinations.  Or you could look up a certain ethnic cuisine and there will be a long list of suggested spices and flavors to combine to achieve international cuisine at home.  One of the ingredients that I decided I wanted to look up was clams.    I love clams, but I feel as though I don't know as many flavor combinations with them as I would like.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Back to Childhood Month, books and PB and J cupcakes

          It is Back to Childhood Month here at Love From Scratch, this month we will be featuring recipes that bring us back to our happy childhood memories.  As I have written numerous times I had a pretty great childhood, I'll admit I was completely blessed, probably far more than I ever deserve.  Today happens to be International Children's Book Day, so I thought I would combine my love of books and childhood treats in this post.  As I have mentioned Grandma Love From Scratch is a nursing home these days, I go and visit her everyday, and even being now 32, every time I visit I feel like a kid again, I don't know if its because we always get nostalgic about past memories or what, but after each visit I have to remind myself that I am indeed a grown-up now and that my carefree childhood is behind me. 
     When I was younger I spent a lot of my time in the kitchen with my mother, and a lot of time devouring books in my bedroom, even now most nights I fall asleep reading with a book in bed with me.  I have learned so much books, and I have so many happy memories of reading curled up with a good book.  It is so hard to pick a favorite, I love so many, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery all spoke to me though their books and characters so many times through out my life, but in the spirit of it being children's books we are focusing on today, I'd have to choose Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series.  I loved those books in grade school.  I remember how I read those books over and over and it was in those books I really learned the love of reading.