Eat Write Retreat 2012

I know, I haven’t posted in a really long time. But if I was going to take forever to get up a new post, isn’t gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie a nice one to leave up there? 🙂

Things have been crazy busy and I promise I’m going to get back to posting regularly. I just participated in an amazing weekend of food, new friends, and inspiration at Eat Write Retreat 2012.

There were so many wonderful things about the conference, and I left energized (if exhausted). Here are a few of the highlights:

We square danced. Yes, even Ms. Two Left Feet (me–photographic evidence below!). Although there was a collective gasp of fear when we saw it, within a few minutes we were all having a blast making fools of ourselves together. This was one of the highlights of the whole conference for me–it broke down walls in a way that never happened last year. Once you sweat, laugh, and fall over each other for a couple of hours, who can’t be friends?

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That's me in the middle!

I got to meet Michael Natkin. Michael blogs at www.herbivoracious.com, and I’m a huge fan. He was incredibly nice and down-to-earth, and I was so happy he could be with us as part of his new cookbook tour (can’t wait to cook from it!).

The people. Last year, we had some “famous” bloggers attend and speak on panels. I have to say, I was disappointed with how cliquey they were, and how they failed to interact much with the rest of the attendees. This year, I have to say there was not a single person who wasn’t kind, friendly, and open. We didn’t have any panels this year, but rather individual speakers who I felt were able to really connect personally with everyone. Kudos to Robyn and Casey for putting together an outstanding group of speakers–and for inviting back all of us volunteers!

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Nikki, Shannon, and me (and our square dancing instructor in the back!)

The sponsors. Mike from Calphalon, Arianna from OXO, and Ronnie & Aja from Jarlsberg were all return sponsors and it was so nice to see them have as much fun as last year. They even got into the square dancing with us!

The food. Aside from the general deliciousness of food, I discovered that Dogfish Head makes a gluten-free beer! I snagged a 4-pack to take home and will definitely be purchasing more. It’s a sorghum and buckwheat beer (brewed with strawberries), great for the summer.

The swag. Anyone who attended last year knew to leave significant extra room so they could fit all of the swag we’d get throughout the weekend. And oh, did it keep on coming. Still working on where to fit my Calphalon slow cooker, but luckily my OXO swag was not nearly as big as my mandoline from last year!

The inspiration. Food blogging is a hobby of mine–I have a day job that I love. But it’s pretty amazing to meet so many folks who blog as their business, and to see how they pour their passion for food into their blogs. Something to aspire to.

That’s all for now–but I’ve got cinnamon apricot pistachio oatmeal cookies and spicy lentil & fish curry recipes on the way, so stay tuned!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie, but haven’t made it since I went gluten-free, mostly because gluten-free pie dough scares me. But I received a food processor as one of our wedding gifts (I had to completely rearranged the kitchen to find space for it, but it was worth it!), and it came with a dough blade. Continue reading “Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie”

Sweet & Spicy Red Pepper Jam

For the Super Bowl this year, AK really wanted a hot dog bar. We made some of the usual hot dog toppings (caramelized onions, pickled cabbage), but I was at Shoppers and red peppers were on sale 4 for $5, which is amazingly cheap at least in my area, so I wanted to do some kind of red pepper condiment for the hot dogs too. I perused through some of the canning and pickling cookbooks we received as wedding gifts and came across a recipe for Sweet Red Pepper Relish in Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. Continue reading “Sweet & Spicy Red Pepper Jam”

Blueberry & Meyer Lemon Refrigerator Jam

I started experimenting with jam last winter when I started reading an awesome blog called Food in Jars. If you have any interest in canning, or just want to see some cool recipes, definitely check it out. Unfortunately I don’t really have space to actually can and store anything, so I stick with refrigerator jams. Continue reading “Blueberry & Meyer Lemon Refrigerator Jam”

Whole Grain Blueberry Breakfast Scones

I have tried a number of scone recipe recently, but I’ve been looking for something that’s similar in texture, but with less fat and less sugar. Something more like a breakfast bar than a dessert. So when I stumbled across this recipe, I was really happy. Continue reading “Whole Grain Blueberry Breakfast Scones”

Peach-Mango-Ginger Soup

I’m a big fan of cold fruit soups, but good fresh fruit isn’t really available in the winter. While frozen fruit will never be as good as fresh, flash frozen fruit is actually a pretty good substitute. I’ve done a lot of cold berry soups, so this time I opted for peach and mango, with hints of ginger and cardamom, topped with a little bit of fresh mint. Continue reading “Peach-Mango-Ginger Soup”

Thai BBQ Chicken

I’ve been making a lot of pad thai recently (yes, I’ll share the recipe soon, still perfecting it), and the sauce is definitely the best part of pad thai (although AK would argue the mung beans are…I digress). Classic pad thai sauce is a combination of tamarind, palm sugar, and fish sauce (or soy sauce). If you’ve never had it before, it’s this great combination of sour, sweet, and salty. I took those base ingredients and made them into a BBQ sauce, which I then slathered on a whole chicken and roasted low and slow in the oven. The result: Succulent oven-roasted BBQ chicken.

If you don’t eat meat, this sauce also works great with tofu–just brush on tofu slices and bake in the oven. You can also double or triple this recipe and store extra sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

A note about tamarind pulp: You can buy tamarind paste or tamarind sauce in most stores, but if you are feeling adventurous I highly recommend making your own; it’s time intensive but tastes a lot fresher (check out this post for lots of information about tamarind, and how to make your own pulp). If you are using a store-bought tamarind sauce, make sure the ingredients don’t include sugar; if they do, add palm sugar in this recipe to taste so you don’t end up with overly sweet BBQ sauce.

Thai BBQ Chicken

Ingredients:

1/4 cup tamarind pulp
1/8 cup gluten free soy sauce
1/8 cup palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp sriracha
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 large onion sliced into rings
1 whole 3 lb chicken

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees (or set up your crockpot).
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients but the onion and chicken.
  3. Place the onions in the bottom of a baking dish that just fits the chicken. Smear the BBQ sauce all over the chicken, inside the cavity, and under the skin. Place chicken in baking dish.
  4. Cover the chicken with a foil tent so that the foil covers the baking dish but doesn’t actually touch the chicken.
  5. Bake the chicken for 4.5-5 hours at 250 degrees, or 6 hours on low in your crockpot. If your chicken is larger than 3 lbs, bake until it’s cooked through.

Cupcake Failure

I haven’t posted in a while, which doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking–in fact, I’ve been cooking a lot! Just haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and write. But this post was worth it.

A bunch of food bloggers I follow have recently shared some of their kitchen disasters. It’s funny–as a food blogger, I share a lot of my recipes and the stories but go with them, but never the things I make that aren’t good. Like the chickpea curry I made last week that I loved and AK hated. Or the chocolate chip cookies a few weeks ago that only half rose. Tonight I had a total baking failure. And I’ve decided to share it with you.

I don’t hide my food failures because I’m embarrassed. I don’t share them because I honestly don’t think that my readers care. But you guys are home cooks too–and I’m sure you’ve had your share of kitchen disasters! Part of cooking and baking is experimenting, and sometimes the experiments (or mistakes…) are great (like when I forgot to add sugar to my chocolate chip banana nut muffins that still came out awesome). But sometimes they look like this.

He’s leering at me. Two eyes and a smirky little mouth.

I’m not quite sure what happened. I was anticipating light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes, but these really came out more like corn muffins (nothing corn in them though…). The tops look like lace cookies–they over-rose and spread out.

Well, onto the next recipe. At least they taste good even if they are pretty ugly 🙂

Tofu & Vegetable Hot Pot

The weather has turned cold here, and earlier than usual–we had snow on Saturday! It was freezing in the office today so I came home craving something hot and soothing. I’ve been meaning to replicate the vegetable hot pot at a favorite restaurant of mine, and I just happened to have some leftover cabbage and mushrooms in my fridge. Continue reading “Tofu & Vegetable Hot Pot”