2595372368_efe9635a6f

Okay, okay, you asked for it, so here is what I cooked: I adapted Karina’s recipe. She is the Gluten Free Goddess. In 2005 she launched her popular food blog Karina’s Kitchen- Recipes from a gluten-free goddess, you can read on her site that she was “featured in Newsweek magazine as the go-to on-line source for “creative recipes and cooking tips from an experienced gluten-free chef” and chosen as one of Delish.com’s “Best of the food blogs- top 50”.”

My only problem is that although she has eliminated the gluten in very creative ways, we still have sugar in the guise of brown, white and confectioner’s. So, with gratitude to Karina, here is Karina’s Mexican Chocolate Cake with my humble adaptations (in bold type). It is yummy served with Rice Dream or Coconut Milk Ice Cream!!!!

Karina’s Kitchen Recipes

Karina’s Kitchen recipes to save and print- all are gluten-free, with many vegan, vegetarian and allergy-free recipes. Autism diet friendly.

Mexican Chocolate Cake

 The sweet potato in this cake brings a silky tenderness to the crumb (and no, you don’t really taste it- the chocolate, vanilla, coffee and cinnamon flavors dominate). Using your food processor makes this as easy as uno, dos, tres.

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and dust a 9-inch cake pan or Springform pan with gluten-free flour.

 Measure your dry ingredients into the food processor bowl (use standard blade).

 Dry ingredients:

 1 cup buckwheat flour- or a mix of buckwheat, sorghum and rice flour/I used all purpose gluten free flour

3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or arrowroot, or potato starch)

1/2 cup organic brown sugar/ I skipped this and the cake was still sweet!

1 tablespoon dry Ener-G Egg Replacer/I used a real egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Scant 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder (decaf is fine)/I didn’t have any in the house ,so skipped it

 Pulse on and off to distribute.

 Add in the wet ingredients:

 1/2 cup sweet potato puree (canned organic sweet potato is what I used)

4 oz. melted Belgian dark chocolate (use unsweetened for less sweet) I used unsweetened

2 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening You can also try coconut oil

1/2 cup honey- or use raw agave nectar to keep it strictly vegan

3/4 cup chocolate hemp milk- or non-dairy chocolate milk of choice/I used regular soymilk

2 teaspoons vinegar-; lemon or orange juice will work/I used rice vinegar….

3 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract

 Cover and process the ingredients until a smooth batter forms.

 Scrape and spoon the batter into the cake pan. Bake in the center of a preheated oven till firm- about 30 to 35 minutes. Please keep an eye on the cake and check it for doneness- I bake at high altitude; your mileage may vary. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill. Slice and serve with powdered sugar, fruit or chocolate sauce. I served Rice Dream

 

Makes 8 to 10 generous servings.

 

Karina’s Notes: This isn’t a super sweet cake- though I used unsweetened Belgian baking chocolate from Trader Joe’s. If you prefer a sweeter cake, use sweetened dark chocolate and up the sugar a bit, to taste. This recipe pairs chocolate, cinnamon, coffee and vanilla for a Mexican chocolate taste. If you’d rather go a more straight-up-chocolate route, eliminate the cinnamon. 

499016970_25390bb9a0

I am not a baker. Not much for following recipes. I have some recipes which I pull out for birthdays. Simple, memorable- nothing fancy. My failsafe recipe for corncake:

Combine a bit more than 2 cups finely ground corn flour with 1 tbs. baking powder, 1 egg (optional), 1/2 cup corn oil, 1/2 cup soy milk, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla, add some blueberries if you like. Cook for 15-20 minutes at 350ºF.  Can be a cake or muffins.

Next: a great gluten-free recipe I just tried (amazing, right?) for Mexican Chocolate Cake. Of course, I didn’t have all the ingredients and didn’t want to use some that were in the recipe anyway. I want to try it a few more times, then I’ll pass it on!

“Green” Paint

January 25, 2009

256314155_8f6b356d38-1

This post is courtesy of Micah who sent me the link through Inhabit.com, a hip and smart design and technology blog that looks at sustainability in the field about yet another new “green” paint on the market. 

The EPA tells us the quality of indoor air is often worse than ourdoor air, particularly in the winter when the windows are closed. Smoke, radon, mold and cleaning products provide some of the bad air. One of the worst offenders is the out-gassing of the VOC’s from our paint. Some other obvious toxic out-gassers are mothballs and nail polish- anything with a label reading use ventilated area. However, there are many hidden and more subtle toxins that are in our air, as well.

But this post is about paint.  Sherwin-Williams has launched several lines of paint that claim to offer eco-friendly alternatives to standard VOC-laden paints. There is a no-VOC and a low-VOC line now available. I don’t really understand why they would go halfway- why not just make the change? Newly trademarked names like “Harmony, Duration and Greensure” are alluring, aren’t they? I go for names like that, but the question is do they do the job? I know that many painters still turn their noses up at the spreadability and drying time as well as quality and consistency of coverage of the lower VOC paints. I am not so fussy. I would rather live in a healthy home. Even though we use healthy paint in our house, we still do use air filters all year round- in summer for allergens coming in, and of course in the colder seasons as well.

I am also very interested if the company walks their talk and Sherman-Williams seems to be going in that direction. Using biodiesel  in their trucks and recycling and choosing a non-discharge and re-use policy for solvents that are used in their not-green paints. But why not just go green, Sherwin-Williams?

But to really understand the green-ness of a company you can always check with DegreeofGreen.com a company that does product reviews and licensing for the “green” distinction. They point out three key questions and provides answers to: What are the health, sustainable and environmental qualities of the products? 

Hats off to all the companies who have chosen to re-create non-toxic paints and feature them, hopefully phasing out the toxic paints in the near future.

Basic Human Needs: Water

January 23, 2009

2623852294_a875b4ef77

 

This is hard work and this family does it every day. What if you had to carry your water? We would be more actively in tune with our needs. This is a sobering issue. How little water can we live with? 

David Wilk, on his blog,turntotap.com has been following the progress of grad school blogger, Abigail (waterfortheages.org) who challenged herself to limit her water use to 13 gallons or less/day of water for one week. She writes: “I had two goals at the beginning of the challenge: 1) to better understand my daily water use habits, and 2) to understand how it feels to live on a human right allocation of 50 liters (13 gallons app.) of water each day. For the most part, I achieved these goals.”

She goes on to say: “Yet, living with indoor plumbing in an 1100 square-foot house, it would be difficult for me to ever approximate the life of someone in a developing country through this 13-Gallon Challenge. The water challenges that many people throughout the world face are much greater – think carrying water for eight-hours each day…”

Abigail’s typical daily use looked like this: 

 day-7-pdf-pages-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It looks pretty basic. Like camping? What else could she eliminate? Not much. Simply turning the tap off while brushing teeth, not flushing every time there is some yellow liquid in the toilet and shorter showers can account for many gallons in a day. I am a bath lover and it is a difficult habit to break. I am very blessed to live in New England with a productive well. If I had to haul water from a nearby pond I would make do with just a quart of hot water in my hot water bottle!

This is very thought provoking for me. What are your thoughts?

Phantom Energy Loss

January 22, 2009

3166420059_11d8bd5b03

 

Great tip from greentips.com today about vampire energy devices in our homes that use power just because they are plugged in, even if they are not being used! England has a good system where you can just turn the current off at the source without unplugging. Why didn’t we think of that?

Phone, camera, power tool chargers, tv’s computers and printers and appliances with built-in clocks are among the culprits! Don’t be a energy parasite, unplug and do this thing right…I am running out to the barn to unplug my music studio.

Patriotism

January 20, 2009

44615717

Today Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President. I am feeling very patriotic and it is a powerful and strong feeling for me. Growing up as a teen in the ’60’s there was a strong sentiment of disagreement with the policies and procedures of the government. Today I feel that something new, wonderful, exciting, and inspiring is here at last. It is our time to walk our talk and be the change. I have never been so moved by our national anthem, by “My Country ’tis of Thee”. I feel very proud. Click here to hear Aretha. Get the tissues ready!

Why I Blog

January 19, 2009

3036997998_b20fbd713d

Last week, Josh gave a talk to an advertising group in Ohio. He mentioned to the group that “even my mom has a blog”. Hmm… Does that means if my mom can do it anyone can? Or, maybe he means that he is proud that he impressed me with his blog and so I wanted one, too? Not sure which way he meant it, however, I am most definitely a blogger and proud of it. 

Why do I blog? Because I, like most of us, have a need to be heard and seen. I have a strong urge to make a difference in our world. I am committed to bringing peace to our planet by helping people become healthy. If I reinforce all my efforts by also working from my computer and sharing the information that I already know and that which crosses my path and things that I am curious about and research, then I feel I am fulfilling even more of my commitment.

You can blog, too. Do you have something to say? Are you shy and don’t speak out about what you care about? A blog can be an introvert’s safe passage into the world to communication. Are you a poet or songwriter? Do you have great recipes?

You can start a blog. Try www.wordpress.com. They will teach you how, with a free blog and tutorials and the rest is up to you. As I write (at this moment) there are: 188,414 BLOGGERS writing 156,787 NEW POSTS= 43,310,359 WORDS TODAY. And those are the bloggers who are working at just this moment in time…..

I encourage you to be seen and heard.

picture-21

picture-1

Spacious rooms, high ceilings, beautiful and unusual decor, great hosts and a non-allergenic miniature schnauzer, named Alice, welcomed me to the award-winning greenRocks Inn in Ridgefield, CT. This is the place to stay for that special weekend in Connecticut. Kim Wanamaker and her partner, Barbara Simkins are certainly walking their talk. They offer three unigue guest rooms, fully equipped with not only the expected amenities but also organic bedding and towels, filtered water in each bathroom, shower filter, and air filters are part of your experience of their natural inn. They serve organic and natural foods for your breakfast. Your  vaccinated and house-trained pet (under 15 pounds) is also welcome and you can arrange for pet-sitting, walking and feeding! The inn is just up the street from the town of Ridgefield- good shopping, great restaurants, hiking, golf and outdoor activities. 

I stayed in the largest room called the Dance Suite. King size bed, beautiful linens, asian decor, quiet and removed from the rest of the house. 

Check out the special and rates. And if you are considering a wedding, Kim is a Justice of the Peace!

Giving Up Plastic Bags

January 13, 2009

recycling-plastic-bags-plastic-waste-photo

A million plastic bags are used every minute. That’s an inconceivable amount. Plastic bags take 1000 years to degrade in our landfills and though they don’t take up much space one by one, in the millions they certainly do.  There is a cute company making chairs out of plastic bags- they claim that one smart way to keep plastic bags out of the landfill is to sit on them. So what about paper? Some people make the case that paper is a renewable resource, why not use paper bags?The process to get our bags takes a toll on the environment even before the bag gets to you. Even though you can compost your bags, or recycle them- which is a huge chemical process, the damage is already done. But,  you can give them up, right?

Is it difficult to carry our own shopping bags? It really isn’t. I always have a god feeling when I reach into the back seat and tuck my bags under my arm. I also like that I get $.05 back for each bag I use at checkout at the grocery store…You can use cloth bags or reused paper bags until they fall apart. Carrying your food in a box will work, too. If you’ve made the switch to carrying your own bags have you ever gotten to the checkout line and realize…oh, no, my bags are in the car- and said, “hang on a sec and I’ll run out to get them”?  Sustainable Dave has his video on not using plastic bags. He says, ‘You don’t forget your wallet when you go to the store, right?” You just train yourself to take cloth bags with you. Also suggestion for making your own original bags by sewing up t-shirts. Whatever…

Here is a great site to buy reusable gear called reusablebags.com with “products that help people consume less” and where you can:

  • Learn – newsfacts and images showing how consumption has gotten out of control and what to do about it.
  • Take Action – Sensible ideas and tools to take action and spread the word about the reusables movement.
  • Shop – More than 700 high-quality, reusable products made from truly sustainable materials and supporting Fair Labor/Fair Trade practices.

This morning we realized we had no plastic bags in our bag collection. that was a bummer because we needed one, but also was a triumph because clearly we have cut down on our use. All except the big black garbage bags. My personal goal is to get our trash down to less than a bag a week. I’ll post about trash soon. Interesting subject.

picture-2-11

I’ve been away at Kripalu for the weekend. For the first time probably ever, in all the 20 some-odd years that I’ve been going up there for R&R or a workshop, the food was fabulous! Great variety and flavors, desserts that were gluten free, macro bar, everything organic. And now, I’m home, I want someone to cook for me! I am not really in the mood to cook, but I will.

Here is the fast and easy dinner (30 minutes) I prepared for my family tonight with whatever was in the ‘fridge:

Polenta with seaweed, sauerkraut and pesto, tempeh and veggies, and steamed kale

Start with the tempeh, since it takes longest to cook.

Slice one package of tempeh into triangles- cut the triangles, then stand them on the side and carefully cut in half, to make thin triangles. Place in oiled pressure cooker, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons or so of wheat free, low sodium tamari soy sauce, add 1-inch filtered water, bring up to pressure and cook 15 minutes, bring down pressure, layer 1/2 inch slices of celery and butter cup squash (any veggies will do) and cook 5 more minutes, or until squash is cooked.

For the polenta: 3 cups boiling water, add in 1 tablespoon crushed dried wakame, pinch of sea salt, 1 cup polenta (corn meal, corn flour). Turn the flame down, add the polenta slowly to the water stirring all the while, and be very careful because  it becomes thick and bubbles and can pop up. You can stir in a tablespoon of olive oil at this point or skip it. I skipped it tonight. Stir on low to medium heat until it thickens. When it pulls away from the sides it is about done. You can serve it from the pot or press it into an oiled pie plate and then slice. To serve, cut a wedge and then place a dollop of pesto on the top, and then a tangle of yummy raw, fermented sauerkraut.

I have a favorite brand of  organic Argentinian polenta flour called de la Estancia. It cooks in a minute, it is not pre-cooked- it is higher is protein and lower in starch than most corn because if where it is grown and it can be milled to a very fine consistency. 

The steamed kale is easy and fast, too. Wash the leaves in a bowl of water, then strip off the greens from the stem, tear or cut into smaller pieces and place into pan with about 1 inch boiling water. Cover for a few minutes and check to see if done. You are looking for the bright, vibrant green. Taste- is it too chewy? let cook a minute more. You do not want to leave the room when cooking greens. Stay present to the amazing process of transformation!

I know this blog took longer to write than it did for me to cook dinner. What was I whining about again?