Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas

We're going to the city today to pick up presents as well as our usual foods. I intend to get more of certain things than usual so that I can bake up a storm. Despite my last post, I have started to enjoy baking again (slowly but surely). As I become familiar with the different flours and such, it becomes easier and less of a science experiment, as I once described it.
Anyway, all that to say: look forward to some Christmas recipes coming soon! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

My hatred of Baking

If you have come to visit me today in hopes of a new recipe, I fear I will be turning you away empty-handed. This is not a food post but a musing. This is me exploring my inner being to shed light on a subject I find most distressing: my hatred of baking. You can thank Shauna over at Gluten-Free Girl for pushing this to the forefront of my mind by asking "Why do you love baking?"
How incredibly odd, I bet you say, for a food blogger to say they hate baking! After all, it's what they have chosen to write about in their spare time, is it not? I suppose there are food bloggers who concentrate on meals but I believe food is meant to feed more than our bodies. A good steak can only take you so far. Let's all just admit it: it's the baking which feeds our soul. Only baking wraps it's fluffy, sweet warmth around our jagged edges and fills our empty places with memories bought with the scent of vanilla.
I used to know people who hated baking. They baffled me. "How could you hate baking?!" I would cry in despair. In my mind, it is akin to sacrilege. I was the friend who put on an apron and whipped up cookies at 3am because the fancy struck me and a few years before our food allergy and intolerance diagnoses the chances I was using a cookbook while doing so plummeted. I knew what I wanted and no one else had it quite exactly so. Of course, I had my favourites still, don't get me wrong. No one can ever replace my Gran's vinnetarta nor my mom's Black Devil's food cake.
Which is exactly why I now hate baking. I feel out of my depth. Even 20 months into this journey, baking without gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts is far from instinctive for me and I feel I'm losing my knowledge of baking with gluten- though I suppose the latter doesn't matter a whole lot. I can't see myself viewing these foods quite the same ever again.
Then there's the loss of continuity. I had intended to hand down "family favourites" from the past three generations to my children. Baking connected me to my family, my ancestors, and gave me a sense of where I came from. Looking at our family favourites, you could see an evolution of sorts- a pulse- as old favourites came back into favour in successive generations. My gran's favourites were oft-repeated in my generation and my mom's favourites in my children's generation. I can only guess that my children's children may favour my gran's favourites once more and, in a way, she will continue on in the recipes she bequeathed to us.
Only now, she won't. Her recipes are put to rest in my family. My brothers' children may continue to cherish them but that will not be the case for us. The closest we may get is an adaptation, a taste-alike- a fraud. And my soul bleeds.
It's been just over three years since my grandmother passed. On December 8th of this year, she would have been ninety years old. She died on my grandfather's birthday, fifty years after he did. Our family sang happy birthday as we sprinkled her ashes onto his grave. And then we went home and ate the recipes she gave to us. Recipes which she tweaked and trialled and perfected in her own mind, to suit her palate.
Well, that's the crux of it then. The loss of "normal" baking was my last real connection to my gran. Rather than viewing it this way, I need to embrace what she taught me. I need to live with the spirit she had in the kitchen which my mother swears she handed down to me. I need to find joy in the process again- the experimentation. I had come to this conclusion already but the why of how I came to be where I am had escaped me until now.
Perhaps the scent of vanilla, and the adventurous spirit of my gran, will be enough to soothe my soul.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Convenience foods

Since we started this journey 20 months ago (has it really been that long? Wow.), I have had to redefine a few things in my life. One of these is "convenience food". I'm not sure how many of you see breakfast cereal as a convenience food, but it is in this house. Breakfast cereal is a luxury. Same with pre-made bread and cookies. Incredibly expensive luxuries. Sometimes it's hard to believe that these products really are very new to our society. For many of us, it's only 2 generations ago that these products would not have existed. Some fewer, some more.
There are some other things which are obviously convenience foods which are further down the list but still incredibly nice to have on hand. Take Shake'n'Bake, for example. Seems like such a simple thing, right? Just some flour, salt and herbs mixed up. However, when you're dealing with kids and allergies, nothing is EVER simple.
I bring to you my recipe for fried (or oven fried) chicken breading. I also use it to make our chicken fingers.

Jacqueline's Chicken Breading:
2 cups white rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon oregano
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon thyme

Place the first 3 ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Place all of the other ingredients in a blender or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Add the spice mixture to the flour mixture and whisk again. Stores well for up to 3 months.

To use for baked chicken:
Place 1 cup in a bag along with up to 8 pieces of chicken and shake well. Remove chicken from bag, place on a pan and bake at 180C (375 F) for 45 minutes or until juices run clear. Mmm mmm.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kitchen Disasters and Simple Food

I'm sorry I'm late in posting this. In case you hadn't noticed, I've been trying to post on the Monday of each new week. However, I really don't plan out what I'm going to write about from week to week and perhaps I should. The reason I don't do that (and there IS a reason) is because I, my dear readers, am a disaster waiting to happen.
I know that other people have accidents. They make mistakes sometimes, perhaps even often. I, however, am the Queen of Disasters. I don't know if I just don't think sometimes or what, but sometimes I am inclined to believe I am cursed.
Take this week, for instance. I was planning to post a few recipes based on turkey leftovers. I won't get into details, but due to a series of disasters (one involving a turkey taken out of the oven without the cook being informed), we actually ended up not having turkey at all this year. At first, I thought we might manage some turkey soup at least, but nope- I managed to burn turkey broth not once, but twice. It was just not meant to be. (And I feel it's necessary to mention here that I really truly don't normally burn things.)
Instead, I am bringing you one of my favourite last-minute-disaster-ruined-my-planned-meal recipes and I promise (hope, at least) to do better by you next week.

Garlic Oregano Pork Chops

4 pork chops
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
4 tablespoons leaf oregano (dried)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 190C (375F). Place pork chops on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and half of the granulated garlic, followed by half of the oregano. Turn over and repeat. Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, turning once.