Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When biologists play with their food...

...It looks a bit like this.

Kale, 40x

 I was eating some salad earlier as I thought about curriculum for teaching high school students microscopy. Then I wondered what my salad greens looked like up close. This resulted in me looking at salad under my microscope for some thirty minutes. It was fun!

Yes I do have a microscope at my apartment, we don't try to hide our geekiness at my abode.

Kale, 100x

This was the underside of a leaf of Italian kale. If you look closely, I think the little dark spots are stomata.

A piece of kale under the microscope. 

Kale isn't the best plant for observation without any sort of special treatment, though, because the leaves are very bumpy and I had a heck of a time trying to get the leaves in focus at 100x.

Radicchio, 40x 

 I had never actually looked at a non-green leaf under the microscope before. I was struck by how pretty the radicchio is, almost like stained glass.

Radicchio, 100x

Dandelion greens, 40x

I tried again with a much flatter leaf, some dandelion greens.

Dandelion greens, 40x

Dandelion greens, 100x

The 100x view reminds me a bit of a jigsaw puzzle.

I'll post an actual recipe sometime later this week; I just could not help posting pictures of salad up close.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quinoa Tabouli

Here is a dish which can be the main part of a meal or a side dish, and it is friendly to most of the special diets. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan, can be made nut-free by skipping the garnish, and it has lots of vegetables. Basically, it is awesome. And good for you.

Quinoa Tabouli 

Adapted from this recipe

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or broth
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 half of a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano or basil
salt and pepper to taste

chopped almonds to garnish, if desired

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve for a minute. This gets rid of the bitter taste from the quinoa. Put the quinoa and water or broth in a pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the quinoa is done, about twenty minutes. 

Meanwhile, chop and peel vegetables as required. If you do not like the flavor of raw onion, sautee it in olive oil over medium heat for ~5 minutes, I did. 

When the quinoa is done, mix in the vegetables, oil, lemon juice and spices. Garnish with nuts if you so desire.

Serves four.

If I'd had fresh mint or basil and tomatoes I totally would have added them! It is good warm or cold. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Basic Gluten-Free Scones

I don't have a pithy anecdote for this week's post. I've been spending the last couple weeks writing and editing personal statement essays for grad school. Using a day to write "I am an awesome candidate and here is why you should pick me!" is rather draining. All I want to do now is sit in a window seat and eat scones and drink tea. I don't have a window seat, but I did make some scones. nice, simple scones that can be customized however you like. They don't even need xanthan gum.

They are very tasty.

Here is the recipe.

Basic Gluten-Free Scones 

Adapted from King Arthur Flour (recipe here)

Dry ingredients
¼ cup brown rice flour (30 g)
¼ cup potato flour (40 g)
½ cup sorghum flour (65 g)
1/8 cup brown sugar (20 g)
edit: 1 tsp baking powder (can't believe I forgot that!)
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger

4 Tbs butter (½ stick)

up to ½ cup of add-ins (dried fruit, nuts, oats, chocolate chips, coconut etc.)

1 egg
¼ cup milk of choice (I used coconut, use whatever you like and aren't allergic to)
½ tsp vanilla

sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl to incorporate flours. Add the butter; use a pastry blender until the pieces of butter in the dough are the size of peas or a little smaller. Stir in your add-ins at this point, if desired.

In another bowl, mix together the egg, milk, and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the dough, and stir until the mixture forms a slightly wet dough that holds together.

For smaller scones (as in the photographs) take about a quarter cup of dough and shape it into a ball, flattening it slightly onto the cookie sheet. If desired, sprinkle some sugar of top of each scone.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Yields six small scones, perfect for two people.

I have made this with dried mango and some coconut flakes and that was tasty. I also made it with oats as the add-inn. I plan on subbing out brown rice for oat flour, and using currants or raisins in the next batch. The nice thing about this recipe is that it can be adapted to other flours or customized with pretty much any add-in you want.

Prior to baking

Very tasty scones

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gluten-free Goddess Brownies

So I have made the Gluten-Free Goddess' recipe for brownies four different times since I went gluten-free. It is a perfect recipe, and it gets raves every time I make it. Everyone thinks it is great, from little kids to college students to my family. I brought them to a research group meeting one time, and didn't tell anyone they were GF. People still thought they were amazing.

Here is her recipe. Seriously, make this even if you aren't gluten-free. I normally use butter instead of coconut oil, and sorghum flour instead of brown rice flour, but I want to make it exactly as written sometime.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Toasted squash seeds

On the left are acorn squash seeds. On the right are pumpkin seeds. Both are amazing.

I made some squash for dinner the other night, and pondered at the seeds as I cleaned it out.

“Gosh” you must be thinking, “Is this the gluten-free radical or the squash-radical?” I have been posting about squash a lot. But, dear reader, squash is wonderful. And good for you. It is like some sort of miracle food.

So are the seeds. Pepitas, or roasted pumpkin seeds, have lots of fiber and vegan protein. When I made a jack-o-lantern of sorts on Halloween, I made pepitas following this tutorial, so as to not waste the deliciousness. I tossed them in olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning. They were amazing.

So when I was cutting open an acorn squash that same night I wondered, why don't we eat seeds from other squash besides pumpkin?

That is why I ended up roasting squash seeds.

I started followed the pepita tutorial from Pioneer Woman (basically how to clean and dry the seeds), but made changes. With the squash, I tossed the seeds in melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little salt. I roasted them for about 8 minutes at 400, which was a little too hot, but I didn't want to wait to remove dinner from the oven. You can make these at the same time you are making the actual squash!

These were really good. I don't plan on wasting squash seeds again.

 Pumpkin innards

Italian-seasoned pepitas

 With the squash seeds, I dumped a couple spoonfuls of brown sugar, a little salt, and some cinnamon on top of the cleaned and dried seeds.

Then pour on about two melted tablespoons of butter. To make it vegan, use coconut oil or vegan "butter."

I mixed everything together on the parchment paper with my hands.

After baking.

So tasty!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Product review: nut butter

Good heavens did I used to love Nutella. It is delicious, sweet chocolaty goodness. It also is made with milk, and I can't have it.

I have found a substitute that, in some ways, I actually like better!

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (website here) is really good. It isn't as sweet as Nutella, and is a bit coarser, and these are things that I like. It tastes distinctly like chocolate and hazelnuts. It is a little pricey, but for a tasty GF/DF/vegan product, that's ok. I will most definitely be buying a jar of this soon.

Disclaimer: neither Nutella or Justin's knows who I am. I just like to eat their products.