Monday, October 25, 2010

Lamb Kabobs

After a hard day of fence building David and I made some delicious lamb kabobs. I could eat kabobs every day. They are beautiful to look at, smell great and are a perfect food combination (protein/neutral veggies).

We used lamb meat from US Wellness Meats. We order a selection of meat about once a month. The prices, even with the $7.50 handling fee (no additional postage or fees), beat that of the prices in our market for grass fed beef and lamb and compassionate certified pork. We have only purchased drum sticks from the chicken selection as our market does have better prices on range free chicken. David has been able to eat their products with no problem including the plain beef franks - impossible to find with out soy else where.

1 pound lamb meat, chopped in cube chunks
1/2 a red onion, chopped in fat chunks
1 Bell pepper, chopped in thick wedges (we had 3 colors so I used about a 1/3 of each pepper)
1 zucchini
Italian seasoning mix
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Basil
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Thread the meat and veggies onto skewers. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the loaded skewers - this helps the seasoning to "stick". Sprinkle season onto meat/veggies.
Grill about 15 mins turning to evenly brown the meat and veggies.

Unfortunately we didn't get pictures of the grilled product. We were 1/2 way through eating when I realized we hadn't taken a picture.... David and I decided we'd take pictures next time. So the picture is of the raw veggies and meat. It still looks delicious to me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Review by David

Fresh bread is the best and you know it is fresh when the butter melts instantly. The sweetness of the bread balances the tart cranberries. The pumpkin is not too strong but provides a good base flavor. I highly recommend this bread. I am sorry for all of you with gluten allergies as you may not be able to taste these flavors as described. However for those of us with corn allergy....bake on!

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread (corn free)

I haven't baked in a while. Baking is something that prior to David's allergy I took for granted. I could purchase whatever flour was on sale and same for all the other ingredients out there....

I love pumpkin. It signals fall and pies and comfort foods galore. Pumpkin pie, however, was about the extent of previous pumpkin baking in my repertoire. I decided today to search on and see what else was out there for my recently obtained organic pumpkin in a can. I chose to make Pumpkin Cranberry Bread because it sounded good. Also I just opened a container of cranberry juice. Just the cranberry juice, nothing added and NOT from concentrate. That'll put your teeth on edge. We purchase juice like this all the time. And then we typically drink about 1/2 water with the juice. For the cranberry, we needed only about a 1/4 glass of juice to the water. Also we don't have juice every day. We'd rather have high quality real JUICE occasionally than concentrated with who knows what juice every day. That said I figured what the heck cranberry and pumpkin - bring it on.

Adapted from

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I mixed my own)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 cups granulated organic sugar
  • 15 oz of organic pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Dump everything except cranberries into large mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid stand mixer to the rescue!) and combine.
  • Add berries and fold in.
  • Pour into two greased loaf pans.
  • Bake 350 for 60-65 mins or until toothpick comes out clean

(my 2 loaves baking away as I post)

It's not personal....

I think something that is really difficult for David and I to remember is that for the general population food allergies are something of an abstract idea - never mind moving into the idea that corn isn't JUST a "food" allergy. The rude deli worker, the less than helpful waitress, the lack of response from a company when inquired.... It's not personal - for THEM. For the allergy afflicted, however, it's VERY personal.

Thankfully with both the peanut and soy allergy the problem shoots through David - literally. Uncomfortable for him, miserable if out in public and nothing he can do/take to slow it down (because again, corn isn't just a food allergy - it's in every OTC medication we have ever tried).

Corn however sits in his system and wrecks havoc for WEEKS.

Unless a person has a food allergy themselves or has PREPARED food for someone with a food allergy on a regular basis, they just won't get it. Period. Yes, eating gluten free is all the rage - but many people do it by choice so if they stumble into something contaminated they are fine. Again, it's not personal - for THEM.

We do run into the occasional really friendly, helpful waitress or manager. The occasional extra sweet deli worker that is willing to let me read the labels on the packages. And sometimes we are lucky enough to contact someone at a company that is sensitive to our situation. But again, it's the exception not the rule.

When I start getting defensive -

(Hey this is MY husband we are talking about here - I work REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hard to make sure that our home, our "stuff", our food, our cleaning products and on and on are safe. So when someone else screws it up because of carelessness it's aggravating beyond words.)

- I remind myself that it's not a personal attack. Sometimes it "feels" that way but it's not. And my getting irate with a restaurant worker or store manager isn't going to help anything. Thankfully, I have never lost my cool but I have watched other people. (Let's just say that NO one looks attractive having a melt down in public - even if for a good reason.) Rather, I attempt to educate as best I can. Some are very receptive while others, have no interest. Again, it's not personal for THEM.

We are blessed to have family and friends that try really hard - and we are thankful. When people want to have us over for dinner I often bring the food and cook myself. Occasionally I will recommend a simple meat and veggie meal with no breads and no spices please. If fat is needed, please use olive oil. (This is David's food allergy but because I do the bulk of the shopping and cooking/baking I am the most familiar with ingredients. He is learning out of necessity and can even make a mean brownie.)

We have to be our own advocates. No one else will. No one else understands. Even with family and close friends. And hey while it is personal for the allergic person, it's not personal against the well intended.

*Sadly the most recent picture I could find of this "corn free" family is nearly 3 years old.*

Thursday, October 21, 2010


It's impossible for us to purchase store bought meatballs. I don't ever remember my mother using store bought meatballs while growing up and I don't actually think I have ever done it myself but now that home made meatballs are a necessity rather than just fun....


Makes About 48 meatballs
*Approximately 2.5 pounds of ground meat (I used about 1/2 ground certified humane pork and 1/2 grass fed ground beef)
*2 eggs
*Ground Oats (amount needed will vary depending on how "wet" the meat is, I grind my own with my handy Magic Bullet knock off)
*A few tablespoons of fresh ground Parmesan
*Garlic powder
*Onion powder
*Italian blend seasoning: (I am able to purchase a blend at Cost Plus World Market that contains only the following so I use it - something I don't have to make/mix from scratch, sign me up.)
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Basil

One large dog under foot (Oh wait that's not necessary AT ALL but Scratch loves meatball making day. Never know what kinds of bits of meat will drop.)

Dump ever
ything EXCEPT the ground oats into a large bowl and mix well. Prior to receiving the gift of a Kitchen Aide stand mixer (Thank you again Aunt Barb) I mixed this by hand. It's gooey and takes a while. If you have a stand mixer use the flat paddle. Let it mix well for a few minutes. It should be sticky. Start adding the ground oats until the meat stays in one large chunk on the paddle and the meat is "mold-able".

Once everything is mixed well, I use a medium size cookie scoop to drop the meat onto cookie sheets as it keeps them uniform in size and shape but prior to the scoop (Thank y
ou again mom) I used my hands and made fist sized meatballs. A broiler pan works well too if you want the fat to drip down. I like my meatballs cooked on a sheet so the fat will ooze out but still add flavor... yummy. A little healthier than just frying 'em in a skillet, which also works.

The meat balls cook about 15-20 mins at 350 but I usually start checking on them at about the 10 min point. If I'm dropping them right into sauce I usually just lightly brown them so they stay together in the sauce. If they aren't lightly browned in the oven they run the risk of falling apart in the sauce. Typically however, I make a bunch at once and freeze most of them.

Grass fe
d beef and high quality pork have very little fat so as you can see in the last picture the edges around the meat balls brown a little but they are by no means swimming in grease.

They are ready to eat RIGHT NOW. Literally. I took pictures while I made them this morning. David is coming home for lunch in a while so we will eat some soon. The rest will go in the freezer.

I typically put the meatballs right into the freezer as is on the pans (AFTER THEY ARE COOL!!) Once they are frozen solid (about 2 hours or so) I put them in Zipperlock Freezer bag. If they are frozen in this manner they don't stick together in a clump and I can take out a few at a time.

  • Meatball grinders
  • Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Pizza topping
  • Appetizer

If sauce is involved I typically put them right in the sauce. If I remember I let them thaw an hour or so in the fridge on a plate but if it's a last minute thing I drop them in the sauce from the freezer. For pizza it's best thawed in the fridge first. Otherwise I stick 'em in the oven or toaster oven for 5-10 mins until warmed through. They are cooked so
it doesn't take much. We don't use the microwave much but I suppose they could go in there for a re-heat.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rookie Error

I spent this weekend in Galveston with two of my favorite girl friends. One of them was one of the main reasons David and I sought allergy testing and discovered his corn allergy. While we were away I brought items to make chili. My friend is allergic to wheat and several other things such as cayenne pepper. I brought along my handy "chili powder" seasoning to add when we made chili. I have been using this repeatedly without reading the label. I assumed it was, literally, powdered chili pepper. My friend casually pointed out the back of the container.



I constantly say "read everything" and work so hard to make sure that our home and our food is corn-free and here I hadn't even THOUGHT to read something I use profusely. My friend was so gracious - I wanted to smack myself upside the head.

Two things are wrong with this label:
1. The ubiquitous "spices" a generic term that is often used and typically hides additional things within that term. When I see "spices" on any label on any food, I drop the item and find something else.
2. While I can't verify it, nearly always free flowing agents include corn products. This product specifically says "silicon dioxide" which should be just an oxide of silicon with a chemical formula SiO2. However, I never purchase items with the words "free flowing agent" of any kind and in any context.

Technically this might be a safe product but had I read the label I wouldn't have continued using it when cooking for Hubs. I left that "spice" at the beach house for future guests. Thanks for the reminder my friend not to become complacent in food purchases and prep!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Simple Syrup

Light Corn Syrup Substitute:


2 cups sugar
1 cup water

1. Combine ingredients.
2. Over medium heat, bring to full boil.
3. Boil for one minute, or until all sugar particles are dissolved.
4. Transfer mixture into airtight refrigerator container.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Yum. I had never made marshmallows before. Hadn't even thought about it. Picking up a bag at the market on the occasions we "needed" them was so simple. Enter corn allergy. Not so simple. Marshmallows are LOADED with corn: corn syrup, corn starch, powdered sugar.....

Hubs and I went camping last weekend for the first time since March. We love camping and cooking over the fire and sleeping in a tent for a couple of days. Hiking and lazing around a campfire... s'mor

Thus began my thoughts of home made marshmallows... I'd already conquered the art of graham crackers and we can purchase corn free, soy free chocolate bars soooo...

e toasted them over the fire - they aren't flammable!!! How exciting for me - she who always ignites her marshmallows. I stuck one right in the flame and it just browned up. That's it. What is in those goofy store bought that makes them burst into flames I wonder... They smooshed well with graham cracker and chocolate squares and were soooo tasty. They don't tend to hold the heat the same way store bought does so we ate them straight off the fire and into the s'more with no burned tongue! Yea.

The first evening we went camping we dropped a marshmallow into a cup of hot chocolate too. They melted perfectly and added such gre
at flavor to the home made hot chocolate mix.

When we got home from camping I made rice krispy treats with the 10oz of marshmallow I left behind for just such a thing. I made the traditional recipe from Kellogg's but of course with organic puffed brown rice cereal because Kellogg's is made with loads of corn. They were so delicious Hubs couldn't keep out of them long enough to "set". I caught him with a spoon going after the warm gooey treats. Several days later he's still taking them to work (I had them in a covered container in the fridge) and they are still delicious. I should know, I ate one with a piece of chocolate and a graham cracker two days ago.

I didn't take pictures of the process because it is SUPER sticky and very messy. It's fun too don't worry but I didn't want to try and mess around with my camera while managing the gooey treats. The website I adapted the recipe from (linked below) has loads of pictures and my experience is basically what she has pictured.

Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows
(adapted from: Smitten Kitchen)

Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar~~~~
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin####
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup simple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon home made vanilla

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar. (Don't be stingy w/the powdered sugar it's what is going to help get those buggers out later! I used a glass pan because that's all I have.)

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, simple syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer.

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined.

Pour mixture into baking pan.

Sift 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar evenly over top.

Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (I used an oiled pizza cutter).

(I had a glass pan so I used my thin metal spatula and slid it around the side of the pan and then under the edges and worked the marshmallow out in a big sheet. It's quite pliable and plopped out as intended. I trimmed the edges and stuck them along with other "rough" cut pieces into a glass container until I had the 10oz I needed for Krispy Treats.)

Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

~~~~Organic powdered sugar is often made corn free but be sure to LOOK! Powdered sugar often is made with corn starch.~~~~

####I used Knox original gelatin unflavored 4 envelopes 1 oz pack. I called Knox and they assured me that this product was made with beef and pork products only. NO CORN####