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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Savory Hoecakes and Garlic Rosemary Potatoes

This weekend, we had my mom, brothers, and nephew come over for dinner. I try to have them all over at least once a month. Owen (nephew) has some serious food allergies, and he's getting to that age when he is noticing what other people are eating and he wants the same food! It's amazing how young people are when they start to feel the need to fit in and be like others. I love providing a large meal that is entirely Owen friendly.

Enjoying some savory hoecakes and straight up ketchup. Blech.

We had a large spread of fruit, veggies, savory hoecakes, garlic rosemary potatoes, non-vegan friendly items for the family members who partake, and cupcakes for dessert. The favorites were the hoecakes and the cupcakes. The hoecakes nearly didn't make it to the table, and the few leftovers we had were packed up for Owen.

Savory Hoecakes
1 pear, pureed
1/4-1/3 cup (loose packed) garlic spears, sliced
3.5 oz ground quinoa
1 Tb ground chia
3.5 sorghum flour
1 oz tapioca flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 T safflower oil
4 oz hemp milk
1 tsp vinegar

The batter responds best when the frying pan is hot and the batter is formed to pancakes no bigger than 2 1/2 inches across. Plenty of oil is needed as well - not to deep fry, but the pan should be amply coated.

Substitutions: Garlic spears are something I recommend folks try if they can. They are in season now, and should be available at farmer's markets. If they are not available in your area, green onions are a perfectly acceptable substitute. Apple (preferably varieties meant for cooking) can replace the pear, but Owen is allergic.

I use a coffee grinder to grind up my quinoa flour, which leaves some texture, like corn meal. I combine the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients, folding in the garlic spears last. They cook much like a pancake, and are ready to flip when bubbles form at the top and they appear cooked partially on the sides.

Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary, minced
3 Tb olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. I dice the potatoes in 1/2" or smaller squares, depending on how long I have to cook them. After dicing, the potatoes go in a bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper. That all gets thrown into a baking dish and into the oven for about 45 minutes.

It was a tasty meal, and I could tell other folks liked their food because it was pretty quiet. Owen is still at an age where he picks at his food and doesn't seem to eat a whole lot, but he will eat quite a bit of dessert. I made "red" velvet cupcakes with cream "cheese" frosting. I say "red" because I'm having a hard time finding the right natural ingredients to get that amazing red color. I'm beginning to become convinced that red velvet color is only possible with gross artificial coloring, but I'm still toying around with beets.

He may have been imitating a dinosaur here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Quinoa Pear Hoecakes

A friend of a friend sent me an intimidating list of allergens her son has to avoid. Fortunately, I've had either personal experience with them or I have had to feed my husband or nephew while avoiding those foods. The challenge is usually coming up with pancakes, waffles, or some kind of grain based breakfast item that has a good texture and holds together well without using corn, rice, or potato starch. These pancakes remind me much more of hoecakes, which are traditionally made with cornmeal, giving it a more interesting texture. They are also straddling the line between savory and sweet. Quinoa is very savory, and the only sweetener in this batter is pear puree. This could easily be converted into a versatile flat bread that would go well with savory beans or a bean puree and al dente vegetables.

Pear Quinoa Hoecakes
Makes over 10 small hoecakes (1 1/2" diameter)
1 Pear, pureed
1 Pear, julienned
3.5 oz Quinoa, ground
3.5 oz Sorghum flour
1 oz Tapioca flour
1 Tb Chia seeds, ground
1/2 tsp Baking Powder*
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
3 T Safflower Oil
4 oz Hemp Milk
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

* Baking powder is something that should be purchased with some research and caution. Many mainstream baking powders have either corn or gluten in them. Hain Baking Powder is the brand I usually use, but it has potato starch in it. You could alter the recipe to 1 3/4 tsp baking soda and add a little more vinegar instead of using Baking Powder.

I used pear in this recipe as a binder, sweetener, and to add some texture and moisture. If you do not like the texture, feel free to skip julienned pear and puree it instead. Another option is to substitute with baking apples like McIntosh. McIntosh are soft apples that tend to lose their structure a bit during cooking, which is what you actually want here, as opposed to eating apples like Fuji. To julienne the pear, I halved and cored the pear, then cut into fine "sticks."

Quinoa flour can be quite expensive, so I buy my quinoa in bulk and use a cheap coffee grinder to make my flour. The flour is a bit course compared to store bought quinoa flour, but this isn't a bad thing for most dishes. The course grind is what gives this the texture of a hoecake.

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add in the pear puree, julienned pear, safflower oil, hemp milk, and apple cider vinegar once your skillet is up to temperature. Gently fold in the wet ingredients if you want to find some pear in your hoecake, otherwise mix away! I put in enough oil to keep an ample coating in the pan - on the verge of pan frying the bottom of the cake a bit. Flip the cakes when they begin to bubble and appear cooked around the edges. You may have to work around the bottom of the cake gingerly before flipping them to keep their slightly crispy exterior intact. I use a ceramic pan instead of teflon, and have noticed things tend to stick more as my pan ages. I feel it's worth having a non-teflon pan.

The amount of oil I recommend along with keeping the hoe cakes small will keep you from cursing my recipe and your frying pan. I learned this the hard way and was about ready to give up on the recipe. I'm very glad I kept at it because Lance and I really enjoyed them!

At first I thought this recipe was a failure.

Once I adjusted the oil and made smaller cakes, they turned out great!
These cakes can be served several ways. Because they are a bit savory, I added a little powdered sugar. I enjoyed mine with a drizzle of molasses, which is a great source of potassium, calcium, and iron. Lance enjoyed his with powdered sugar and strawberries, although they'd be fine with maple syrup.

Molasses has a very distinct flavor, but it's rich in Iron

If you want a savory cake, I would use one pureed pear or apple, skip the julienned addition and add chopped scallions to the batter.

Are there breakfast items you miss because of a diet change or allergy?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Road Trip!

It's been a fun couple of months. We've been on a trip to Arizona for a friend's wedding, a road trip to Colorado to visit family, and fun filled weekends with wedding events, nieces, nephews, and puppy fun time!

Lance with sister Sabrina, Niece "A", and Annie

First, traveling through states that aren't vegan friendly is a challenge, but totally doable. On the way to Colorado, we drove through Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Packed Food Items:
  • Lydia's Organics Kale Krunchies
  • Lydia's Organics Sunflower Bread
  • Lydia's Organics Cereal
  • Larabars
  • rice milk
  • Chick (pea) salad
  • salad greens
  • macadamia dressing (recipe below)
  • cacao
  • Warrior Protein
  • vitamin E supplement
  • maca

I made the decision to pack store bought rice milk instead of making my own nut or seed milk to pack because of convenience and the packaging enables things to stay fresh without refrigerating (until opened). Unlike many of the dairy free milks, Rice Dream in particular does not contain Carageenan. Certain strains of carageenan are used with lab animals to induce IBS and inflammation in wounds. Carageenan is made from Irish Moss, so you'll notice that my raw vegan desserts do not use this ingredient.

Food Implements Packed:
  • sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • Vitamix!
  • plates
  • bowls
  • forks
  • spoons
  • large cooler

Flying is a little more difficult than driving, in my humble opinion. When I do fly, I usually pack a big suitcase that can fit a small cooler full of chickpea or other bean and vegetable salad. I pack dishes and silverware and make sure my room has a mini-fridge. I map out the health food stores and ask around on message boards like and for restaurants in the area. Most of my business travel is to major cities, which makes things easier. I love traveling to San Francisco because it gives me an excuse to go to Cafe Gratitude!

Going through several states meant days full of driving, but it was kind of fun in our new Hyundai Elantra. So far, with upgraded tires, I've gotten around 37+ mpg driving in areas that require 55 mph, so it's capable of very decent mileage. With the speed we were going (especially through Montana), we weren't getting the optimal mileage.

Options are few and far between when it comes to finding decent selections of organic produce and vegan/raw vegan packaged foods without preservatives or soy, especially in Wyoming. I will point out that larger cities or anywhere with a college in the town will have more options. If you're planning a road trip, I would recommend finding the larger colleges along your route and looking for health centric grocery stores in those towns. Bozeman, MT has a really cute little health food shop that has some decent options. Fortunately, the food I packed was more than enough to get me to Colorado.

We spent some time in Boulder, CO, but I didn't get to try out Leaf, a restaurant I was hoping we'd have time for. We did go to a few grocery stores to pick up "Cami Friendly" supplies. The family is very meat and potatoes, but I had free range of the kitchen and was able to make whatever I wanted for my own meals. They even let me use my Vitamix to make some rockin' smoothies (LOVE my Vitamix but it does sound like a plane taking off).

Annie is fabulous with the nieces. She loved the girls, and was really good watching out for the little fingers reaching for her beloved squeaky toy. "A" and Annie had fun racing around the back yard, and Annie even got to catch bubbles! OK, she wasn't really into the bubbles, but she loved chasing the squirrels and birds!

Don't you wish you could be surrounded by a cloud of bubbles?
Annie will trade places with you.
Zoos are a little hard for me, but I imagine they are much harder for the animals stuck in those really tiny places. I do have to say it was fun watching my niece run from place to place, staring at all those critters with awe.

Annie was a awesome traveler. She traveled in her crate for safety sake, and was snug as a bug in her cushy bed. We took rest stops and were happy with the dog friendly hotels.

She's not used to sleeping on the bed. What would give you that impression?
We are happy to be back in Washington! I've done a little baking so far. Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, and my first run at red velvet cake!