A tightly focused photo of a small piece of fudge sitting on a plane of fudge in a Pyrex baking dish. It is rich, brown chocolate.

Easy Vegan, Allergy-friendly Chocolate Fudge

I haven’t done fudge in years because it’s a sugar bomb, but it occurred to me that my eldest, who is dairy/soy/egg/peanut/wheat allergic, might never have had actual fudge in 24 years and that’s just wrong.  Fudge is one of the simplest things to make, and with the advent of canned sweetened condensed coconut milk, it’s now possible to make this traditionally dairy-laden dessert completely vegan, without compromise.

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Cheap Cooking Basics: Chicken Dinner

Super short instructions here. Long explanation below.

You’re going to chop up a bunch of veggies and put them in a pan and put a raw, seasoned chicken on top, breast-side up. That goes in the oven with a bunch of oiled potatoes on the top rack above it, and baked for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the bird. It takes us about 5 minutes to get this meal in the oven, maybe 10 if we chop celery. The leftovers are going to get used in a variety of tasty meals.

If you don’t know how to cook, you should keep reading. This may seem overwhelming (or too basic) but this is written with an assumption that you don’t really have a lot of experience or background in the kitchen.

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Turkey Day Menu 2017: GF and allergy friendly

Courtesy of my sister, who is willing to adapt menus for other allergy issues. Comment here if your needs are different. 

First off, we have multiple allergies and food issues. In short:

Me; Militantly gluten free and no strawberries or sulfites due to allergies. Also allergic to crustaceans (lobster, crab, possibly shrimp?), peanuts, hazelnuts, lima beans, oats, banana, and weird issues around standard commercial dairy and eggs, but I do fine with certain local products on eggs and dairy. I also randomly have issues with tomatoes, garlic, onions, some veggies,  peppers, but there are meds I can take that help reduce inflammation to tolerate those. Some forms of garlic are better than others. I avoid most soy, refined sugar and mold-type cheeses due to inflammation issues.

My eldest: Allergic to soy, egg, dairy, peanuts and wheat.

My middle: No citric acid or citrates, reacts to wheat in weird ways, same for natamycin

Hubby has texture/taste issues (goes beyond dislike, not an allergy) with visible egg, set gelatin, and most cheese (except pizza.)

Youngest is Intensely picky.

A turkey dinner is actually one of the easiest meals to adapt.

So, within those parameters, here is our menu, according to Sis, with bullet commentary by me.

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Feel-better Chai Pudding

An experiment worth repeating….

In a jar:
1/4 cup chia seed
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon “power tea” (Power Tea is a mixture of organic spices including: Ceylon Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Turmeric, Black Pepper and Cayenne Pepper., very chai-ish, LOTS of anti-inflammatory action.)
1 tablespoon elderberry syrup
1 cup almond milk or coconut water or raw milk or coconut milk or whatever.  I used a blend of almond milk and coconut water.

I actually tripled this recipe though had to short the milk a tiny bit to fit in a quart jar.
Stir well and let sit in the fridge for a couple hours.

It makes a spicy chocolate pudding that unlike refined-sugar-based desserts, actually leaves one feeling better. I’ve been fighting off the flu for a couple days, and I feel almost 100% after a bowl of this.

The cocoa, spices and elderberry all have good evidence for being medicinal. Also very tasty.

Chicken for meal trains

So I’m taking part in a couple meal trains, and my default meal for such things is a roast chicken with potatoes and veggies.

My recipe for roast chicken is pretty simple…preheat oven to 450, rub spices and salt on bird, put in oven, clean potatoes, rub oil on potatoes, stick in oven above chicken, 60 minutes after the chicken went in everything should be perfect.  Add a salad and voila.

This is super flexible for easy meals. If someone lives close by, I can cook the birds myself and take them over the minute they come out of the oven–they will “rest” in the car on the way over and be perfectly timed to be carved when they get there.

If they live farther away, or need food dropped off well in advance of the meal, it is still simple. I rub the birds and clean the taters and oil them up and put everything in a foil roaster pan… The instructions for the family will be simply “Preheat to 450. Put pan in oven. Set timer for 60 minutes. Take chicken out and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.”

This results in a bird with crisp skin, juicy white meat, crunchy wing tips (my fave) and tender leg and thigh meat. I use antibiotic free chicken from Trader Joe’s, at about $7-8 per bird, organic red potatoes, and whatever greens happen to be convenient. I might toss in some fruit if I’m long on it. Simple, allergy friendly, fast, and less work than going out to fast food.

The secret is the oven temperature… setting the oven even 25 degrees lower results in less crispy skin, longer cooking time, drier white meat.

Salt is VITAL to a crisp skin–it helps dry the skin out.

With cheap chicken like this, it’s not so vital to use every bit of it the way I would with an organic free range roaster, but we often throw the carcass in a pot, boil it, separate the meat, then add leftover veggies, potatoes and spices for a delicious chicken soup.

Homemade Marshmallows, updated for 2012

People think marshmallows are complex, difficult things to make. “Jet puffed!” implies some magical thing that “marshmallows” sugar and gelatin into fluffy goodness.

Not so. Marshmallows are candy, and they require a strong mixer, but your average stand mixer will do the job just fine.  The only way you could “jet” marshmallows would be to use the engine as a mixer, I suppose. Really, like meringue or whipped cream, marshmallows depend on the incorporation of air into a matrix, in this case sugar and gelatin, beaten at high speed for about 11 minutes. Science is important with candy, and temperature is critical.

Work fast, work smart, and be prepared for things to be very, very sticky. Continue reading

Cocoa water and cherry juice for coughs

Basic recipe (the TL:DR version!)

2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
Honey to taste (preferably raw!)
1 cup tart cherry juice (must be pure cherry, should be tart, use black cherry juice if you can’t find tart)
Water, seltzer or almond/rice/coconut milk to taste. NOT dairy milk (and I don’t ever recommend soy for anyone but that’s another post.)

Mix cocoa and honey into a paste.
Add a tiny bit of hot water and stir
Add a little more and stir.
Once it is thin enough to mix well, add the rest of whatever liquids you want. They can be hot liquids if you prefer. The cherry juice is not just for flavor, it helps pain.
Drink up to half right away. Sip the rest as needed.

For more discussion, look behind the cut.

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