Affairs of Living

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods recipes

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in DIY (19)

Friday
Sep032010

Honey-Sweetened Spicy Raspberry Lime Jam (gluten-free, sugar-free)

IMG_3941

I've been on a jam making kick lately, using honey instead of sugar.  My first batch of jam was an absolutely delicious Vanilla Plum Jam using Italian prune plums from Michigan and freshly scraped vanilla bean seeds. It was a beautiful shade of purple, and had a marvelously sweet, aromatic, alluring flavor that tempted me to lick off nearly every spoon, bowl, spatula, and pot it came in contact with.

I have a mountain of homegrown raspberries and black raspberries  in my freezer, so I naturally gravitated to the idea of making raspberry jam.  But instead of your standard plain jam, I kicked it up with some lime juice, lime zest, and cayenne pepper. It's darn good.  Grounded by the warm flavor of honey, the jam starts off sweet and tart, the freshness of berries and the brightness of lime shining through, then finishes with a subtle heat that slowly warms your mouth from back to front. I saved a little bit to chill in the fridge and eat later, and as soon as it set (which it did very well, thank you very much), I ate it plain with a spoon.  Yum.

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Wednesday
Sep012010

How to Collect Dill and Coriander Seeds

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It is now the time of year when your dill and cilantro plants are going crazy and are flowering and forming seeds.  Rather than letting all those good seeds go waste, you can harvest them, dry them, and use them.  It is easy, and you end up with wonderful, fresh, aromatic and flavorful seeds to use for cooking, baking, and pickling projects.

I most frequently harvest coriander seeds (from cilantro plants) and dill seeds (from dill plants, duh), but this same technique can be used with any seed forming plant that you want to collect.  In fact, harvesting fresh coriander seeds is the only reason I grow cilantro. I really, really dislike cilantro - the smell of fresh cilantro  makes me want to gag, the flavor is appalling, and it makes me feel like my throat is closing up.  I can deal with it once it has been cooked or dried, but fresh? Blech!!!! I wish I liked it, because in theory, it is such a kick ass herb. But I just can't go there.  On the other hand, I absolutely adore coriander.  Same plant, different part, totally different responses. Weird, right?

Anyway, here is how to collect seeds, broken down into 1-2-3-4 easy steps.

Step 1

Seeds are ready for harvest when they are fully ripened and turn brown. While they can be harvested earlier, it requires longer drying time, and the flavor may not be as intense. When the seeds are fully ripe and ready, snip off the seed head of the plant along with a few inches of the stem. Handle the seed heads carefully, as seeds tend to fall off and the seed heads are brittle and fragile. 

coriander seeds. i hate cilantro but love coriander. go figure.

dill seeds

Step 2

Put the seed heads in a big paper bag.  You have two options. The easiest way is to just toss them in the bag, like I've done here in the photo.  You can also bundle the stem ends together and create a bouquet, then tie the bag around the bouquet and hang it from the stem so the bouquet is hanging upsidedown inside the bag.  It sounds complicated in writing, but really, it isn't. I swear.

Either way, if harvesting more than one type of seed, use a different bag for each type, unless you want a mix of seeds. Poke a couple small holes near the top of the bag, and fold over the top.

yummy, a bag full of dill seeds!

Step 3

Ignore the bag for a while. This is the easiest part. Seriously, just let the seed heads dry in the bag for a week or so in a dry environment, or more or less time depending on how dry the seeds were when you harvested them and the humidity in your house. 

Step 4

Once seeds heads are totally dry, they should be brown and easily fall off the seed heads. Shake the bag to release seeds from stems. Then open the bag, remove the stems, and pour the seeds out into a container. They are ready to use! Keep in a well-sealed container and use within 6 months for most intense, fresh flavor.

 

Oh, nature. You and all your bounty, you gorgeous thing you, I'll just never stop loving you.

 

Tuesday
Aug312010

Toast & Jam: Gluten-Free Coconut Flour Bread and Honey-Sweetened Vanilla Plum Jam 

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Hey friends!

I've been busy lately. Two weddings, a trip to Iowa, a camping trip to Lake Superior and hanging out at Traditional Ways Gathering, nighttime walks around the Minneapolis lakes, gardening, lots and lots of crocheting in an attempt to get an Etsy site set up... I really haven't been cooking much, honestly. Or blogging. Maybe you've noticed (I'd like to think I have readers that miss me when I'm gone...)?  Well, I finally got my act together last night.  I cooked and blogged and now today I publish.  Holy smokes!

I recently came into a lot of honey. I bartered some handmade jar cozies for some honey at the Traditional Ways Gathering, and a friend blessed me with three jars of honey as he was packing his kitchen to move across the country to Berkeley, CA for a new job.  What's a girl to do with all this honey? Especially a girl that really doesn't eat much in the way of sweetener.  Yikes.  I've been eyeing up honey jam recipes for a while, and given my abundance of honey, decided it was finally time to give it a go.  Homemade jam makes an excellent currency in bartering circles, is the perfect last-minute gift, and is so darn tasty!  I especially love plum jam, and grabbed some of the last Michigan plums from the co-op, some lovely little Italian prune plums. 

Canning adventures, here we come!  I had never made honey jam before or used Pamona's pectin, so I was a little nervous. But I set forth with determination, and embarked on my third canning project.

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Sunday
Aug012010

Homemade Salt & Sugar Body Scrub with Lavender

This is another one of my favorite body scrubs.  It uses a blend of organic sugar and sea salt, spiked with crushed lavender flowers and lavender essential oil. Lavender has a great number of healing qualities.  It is naturally antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant, and has been valued for centuries as a powerful herbal remedy.  Lavender flowers can be used whole in sachets or potpourris, can be eaten, and can be brewed in teas, toners, and rinses.  The essential oil is very safe for external use, and can be used internally in very small, regulated doses (this should only be done with proper research and dosage).

I find lavender to be a soothing, relaxing herb and often use it at home.  It is one of the few scents I tolerate, and therefore, I take advantage of it! I like to add a few drops to bath water, make natural air fresheners, and sometimes add it to homemade lotions and creams. I also rub it on insect bites to reduce inflammation and itchiness - it takes away the irritation of mosquito bites in a flash! I also enjoy lavender flowers mixed in teas, and like using it in cooking as well. 

My favorite way to use lavender, however, it definitely in the bath, and this scrub is no exception. I love this scrub because it makes my skin feel oh-so-soft and is wonderfully easy to make.   That said, it is contains a substantial amount of skin-nourishing oil, so it makes your tub a little bit slippery.  Be careful while you're standing up in the tub or shower, and make sure to give it a good rinsing out afterward with hot, soapy water.  Don't be surprised if your bathtub drain rebels a little bit.

This is the perfect way to get great looking summer skin, and it works well to clean the dirt off hard-working garden hands.  You'll love how smooth it makes you feel - and so will anyone enough to touch that beautiful skin of yours!  ;)

Want another great homemade body scrub?  Check this one out: Good Morning Homemade Body Scrub.

 lavender is lovely

Salt & Sugar Body Scrub with Lavender

Yield: approx 1 cup

This scrub is gentle enough to use everyday on your body, but is too coarse for use on sensitive facial skin.  If you don't like or tolerate lavender, omit the lavender flowers and essential oil, and use plain or substitute with your favorite essential oil.  Be careful when using it in the tub; the oil makes the tub a little slippery, so watch your step and rinse it out very well with hot soapy water afterward! I don't want you to fall down.  xoxo

1/2 cup sea salt
1/2 cup organic sugar
2 Tbsp dried lavender flowers, lightly crushed
1/4 cup olive, coconut, apricot, almond, jojoba, or grapeseed oil (coconut makes it smell yummy)
10-15 drops lavender essential oil 

Lightly crush lavender flowers with a mortar and pestle.  Add to a bowl with salt and sugar, and stir to combine.  Mix in oil and essential oil and stir until evenly moistened.  Store in a well-sealed jar.  

To use, rub a small amount on damp skin in circular motions. Rinse well and pat skin dry.

Tuesday
Jul272010

How to Make Ghee 

I've been meaning to write this post for almost 2 years. Why so long? Writing the how-to with step-by-step photos is significantly more time consuming and complicated than making ghee!  The pieces just never really came together. Finally, I remembered to grab a camera while making my most recent batch, so I set to work.

Now, without further adieu, here is the skinny on ghee and a complete set of instructions on how to make it from scratch, with photos to help you along the way.  Enjoy!

 

What is Ghee?

Also known as butter oil (or in my house, liquid gold), ghee is pure butter fat that has been separated from the milk proteins through heating.  To clarify (ba-dum-ching!), clarified butter and ghee are not the same, despite popular opinion. Ghee is clarified butter that has been cooked longer to remove all the moisture, and the milk solids are browned (caramelized) in the fat and then strained out. This gives a rich nutty taste and fragrance, with hints of caramel, and a smooth, rich, velvety texture.  It can be used 1:1 for butter, shortening, or oil in any recipe, and has a high smoking point, making it perfect for high heat sauteing or roasting. Ghee has a long shelf life, both refrigerated and at room temperature. In cold temperatures, it will become solid, and it will remain liquid at warmer temperatures.

Because dairy proteins and lactose have been removed, many dairy intolerant and allergic people are able to tolerate ghee.  It is traditionally used in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine, and is treasured as a digestive stimulant. It can also be used topically for massage or dry skin.  

If you want to purchase pre-made ghee, Pure Indian Foods and Purity Farms are both excellent.  However, these will put a dent in your wallet - a 14 oz jar will cost you between $10 - $15.  If you want to save some major dollar, you can make the same amount of homemade ghee for the cost of a pound of good butter and a little time, and save yourself half the cost.  Okay, let's get cooking!

 good butter is the perfect place to start

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