just a drop of simple sunshine


Leave a comment

ANNOUNCEMENT!

This blog is no longer being updated, but because people do still use the recipes here, it will remain as an archive as the past. I just needed a fresh start, as so many of the ideas & recipes here refer to past self that I no longer feel a connection to.

If you like to follow my current project, head on over here:

http://aboutsaffron.wordpress.com.

Thanks for your support over the years!


3 Comments

For the love of apples.

It’s no secret that fall is my favorite time of year. From the chilly days to the changing leaves, I just find the entire season so peaceful, & I grow to love it more & more each year. For me, fall officially begins after the last full week of August, when the Lorain County Fair is over & as a child I’d head back to school; another summer’s worth of 4-H meetings done with & the marching band season just beginning.

The elementary & high schools of the small district I attended are at the bottom of Apple Hill, an orchard & bulk food store I still head to every visit home. Every member of my family has worked there for at least some amount of time – my mom worked the store & did the Johnny Appleseed talk to visiting children for a few years, my dad helped out with the U-Pick apple stand on the weekends for a bit & my sister worked there throughout high school. I think I probably worked the least; only a six month stint before I gave it up for a job working foodservice at a local retirement center (I learned so much about food at that job; I’ll probably talk about it later), but something about that place – & the humble apple – has rooted itself firmly in my heart.

I cannot stand grocery store apples – they don’t taste like anything! Whenever I read about or hear someone say “it tastes like an apple,” I know they’ve never really had good ones. & there is NOTHING like a good northeast Ohio apple. I can personally never keep straight which apples are good for what (I really ought to have my mom write it down for me), but I love the names: Gala, Cortland, Macintosh, Braeburn, Jonathon, Jonagold, Winesap, Melrose, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith… I’m a mac & golden delicious girl myself, but I think if one more person tries to get me to try a honeycrisp I’ll throw it at them. I did try one once, after hearing all the hype, & realized that it was BORING.

In my completely biased opinion, people who like the honeycrisp have never had an apple from their local Apple Hill equivalent. Give me an old school apple ripened to perfection from an old orchard on a chilly October day over available-year-round flavorless junk any time. I’ll wait it out. & last Friday, I did just that. I stood in the chilly October sunshine on Apple Hill with a gigantic smile on my face while I bit into a (not-washed! the horror!) fresh-from-the-orchard yellow delicious confection & enjoyed every bit, the nostalgia as good as the flavor.

I might have even headed across the street to the football stadium if it hadn’t been an away game.

If you eat seasonal for no other reason, do it because there’s always some delicious fruit about to hit its peak. & eating it at its peak is really the only way to do it. After the apples, we’ll have pomegranates, then clementines & Florida citrus & fuzzy kiwis to look forward to for the long winter. Yeah, I purchase the odd container of strawberries, but there really is nothing like the surprise of seeing the first cherries of spring show up at the farm market & knowing it’s going to be delicious.

But anyway! Back to apples – my favorite way of eating them, besides raw or in cider, is as apple crisp. As with so many things in the culinary part of my life, this too had to be re-thought. Although oats can be gluten-free, they can still be problematic & I just don’t really want to tempt fate, you know? So I’ve whipped up a few batches here & there, & I think I’ve got a winner!

One of the beautiful bits of apple crisp is that you can make it with a lot of apples, or with only a few. I used almost an entire half-peck of apples (I honestly couldn’t tell you how many that is), but the apples were on the smaller side (not being the scary GMO apples found in grocery store aisles), so my guess is that there were a lot. I also used a variety, which is what I recommend as well. Use some sweet, some sweet, a few crisp & a few soft – it makes for a better flavor palate. As for which varieties to use, well, that’s up to where you’re located in the country & what’s available. Talk to the farmers at your local orchard, or call up my mom! It’s what I do.

I used a lot of almonds, but feel free to try other nuts & nut meal! I think this might be heavenly with hazelnut meal. You could also try using coconut oil to make it vegan, or lessen the sugar content. But this is what I did, & received the seal of approval for!

Apple Crisp

gluten-free, grain-free

What you need:
Apples:

  • 1/2 peck apples; cored, peeled, & diced
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Topping:

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

How to do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° & grease a large pan.
  2. Combine apples with all ingredients, tossing to coat. Add to pan.
  3. Stir together all topping ingredients thoroughly. Using fingers, sprinkle mixture evenly over apples.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour; serve warm with sharp cheddar cheese or vanilla ice cream!

 

As always, enjoy!


1 Comment

Eggplant Lasagna

I don’t honestly remember eating lasagna all that much growing up, but somewhere along the line, I decided that I really liked it. I had never made it prior to my gluten-free existence, but over the summer, I had the thought that eggplant would probably make a very good pasta substitute in a true veggie lasagna. A quick Google search proved that I wasn’t alone, & I soon had a pretty easy recipe!

It seems that for some people, lasagna is a pretty involved, hours-long process, but I whipped this up pretty quickly. I’m not going to include exact amounts, mainly because how much you make depends a lot on the size of your pan! I used a rather small square glass pan (it’s 22cm by 22cm – yay for Canadian merchandise from Big Lots!), & just used what I had until it was gone.

Eggplant Lasagna

Makes six servings; gluten-free, grain-free

What you need:

  • Fresh eggplant
  • salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tub ricotta cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • meat sauce
  • fresh herbs & spices as desired

 

How to do it:

  1. Prepare eggplant by cutting into thin slices, about a half inch thick. Lay slices flat & sprinkle with a bit of salt. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes or so – this draws some of the liquid out.
  2. While this is happening, prepare your meat sauce!
  3. Blot up the moisture from the eggplant, then drizzle a pan with some olive oil & roast the eggplant at 400° for about 15 minutes.
  4. Combine ricotta with the egg, & any other herbs & spices you’d like to include.
  5. Once eggplant is done, you can begin the layering process! Grease your pan with some olive oil, then begin with a layer of eggplant. Although I tried to keep the pieces whole, I did cut a few in half so the bottom would have a nice continuous layer of eggplant. Then I slathered on about half of the ricotta, some sauce, then repeated. I only had room in my pan for two layers of eggplant, but the end result was deliciously hearty, so I think it worked great!
  6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top, then bake at 350° for about an hour or until completely heated through. I’d suggest placing your lasagna on a baking sheet while it bakes, as some juice may bubble up to the surface & over the side. Messy ovens make people sad.

 

Serve with some salad & enjoy!


2 Comments

Multi-Seed Bread

There’s a recipe floating out there for a coconut flax bread, which I believe originated from Tropical Traditions. It is indeed delicious, but my tummy? Cannot handle that much flax seed. I feel uncomfortably full for most of the day afterwards, & that’s just not a fun state to be in. But, it being a rather delicious bread made with 100% Real Food ingredients, I really wanted to turn this into a bread I could enjoy.

Enter: the Chia seed.

Chia seeds are, believe it or not, the same thing from the “Chi-chi-chi-CHIA!” commercials! They’re completely edible & rather interesting – they form a sort of gel & are chock full of protein, fiber, & good fats.

Multi-Seed Bread

gluten-free, high-fiber

What you need:

  • 1 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup chia seed + 1/4 cup water, set aside to gel
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

How to do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Mix together dry ingredients, adding chia gel.
  3. Add wet ingredients, mixing well.
  4. Grease a baking pan (I use a standard bread pan; it’s what I have!) with a bit more butter & gently place batter inside. It’s a very dense, heavy batter than doesn’t rise all that much, so be sure to not squish it firmly into the pan.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean!
  6. Serve warm smothered in butter, or after it’s cooled, with peanut butter & jelly. Enjoy!


4 Comments

Bringing the sandwich back.

“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.”
James Beard

I’m a lover of sandwiches – I’m absolutely unashamed to say so. During the five years it took to complete my undergrad (in my defense, music ed is a pretty intense major, but to make up for it, I completed my master’s in only three semesters, a feat I absolutely do NOT recommend to anyone), I also worked at the infamous Mirror Lake Cafe, a dining option for the on-campus population that served subs, smoothies, & pizza. It was popular, & pretty yummy, & I think I ate every combination of meat-cheese-bread that was available. It’s possible that my love affair with the sandwich was cemented during this time.

I’ll be honest – prior to my gluten-free existence, I never really did like all that supposedly healthy “multi-grain” bread. I much preferred sourdough or soft oatmeal bread – a consistency that I never thought I’d enjoy again. If I’m in the mood for a sandwich, I usually make my own multi-seed bread, or pick up a loaf of Udi’s White Sandwich Bread. It’s good, but not the fluffy stuff of my gluten-filled dreams.

Then my good friend Lauren took me to the most magical of places: Gluuteny Bakery, where I’m rather certain they must use kittens or baby bunnies or something equally sinister, simply because I never imagined I’d eat real bread ever again. This bread is absolute perfection: soft, fluffy, & full of everything I’ve missed. Quite a bit of money was spent there on everything from chocolate chip cookies to pumpkin loaf, but I have to say, I’m ready to go back & buy ten loaves of their flax bread. I don’t know what flours they use, but I don’t particularly care – it was that good. I re-created my favorite sandwich from Panera, the Turkey Bacon Bravo.

Turkey, Bacon, & Gouda Sandwich

  • Roasted turkey breast
  • Crisp bacon
  • Smoked gouda slices
  • Mayonnaise
  • Romaine
  • 2 slices soft bread

 

Smear mayo on both slices of bread, then place other ingredients in-between. Enjoy, then repeat. :)

It was absolutely heavenly. I’ll definitely be doing this again.

Next week I’ll be sharing my recipe for multi-seed bread with you, that, while not being quite so magical as this bread, is really quite yummy smothered in peanut butter & jelly. I can assure you that no kittens or bunnies were harmed in the making of that recipe.


Leave a comment

Late Summer Salads

Over the summer, I’ve really tried to take advantage of the local in-season produce, which around here is just fantastic. There’s really nothing like a perfectly ripe tomato eaten within 30 minutes of it being on the vine! I’ve eaten quite a lot of pickle cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, basil, cilantro, candy onions, tomatoes, nectarines… the list goes on, & it’s been fabulous. I even had some adventures with truly fresh garlic & cute little patty pan squash! I’d post recipes, but to be honest, I haven’t really been cooking all that much – just throwing yummy things together with a dash of olive oil & enjoying.

Here in northeast Ohio, we’re headed into the last few weeks of really good produce, & my last trip to the farm market was pretty epic. I don’t have enough space in my kitchen to undertake preserving the harvest, so I’m going to savor every last bit that I can. Early in the summer I enjoyed my salads with lettuce, but lately I’ve been eating it sans greens, simply throwing sliced & diced veggies into a bowl & tossing with olive oil & balsamic & a bit of salt & pepper. Summer will be over before we know it – savor it while you can!

Late Summer Salad

local, seasonal

  • tomato
  • pickle cucumber
  • carrot
  • onion
  • green pepper
  • black olives
  • fresh basil & cilantro
  • dash of sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil & balsamic

 

Mix everything together, adding seasonings to taste. Add crumbled goat cheese & roasted chicken breast, as desired. Enjoy!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.