phoeautiful, faux pho, love me my pho

Well, I had some lunch plans today. We were going to go get sushi. They got canceled. I still have my sushi craving, so decided to make some pho for lunch. Not sure how that worked as a substitute for raw fish wrapped in rice and seaweed, but it did. It doesn’t matter that I am trying a new Vietnamese restaurant in Ann Arbor this eve and will likely have pho there too. I love pho. It is so fresh and tasty and it is healthy too.

I started to make pho and reached for my rice noodles – all out – how did that happen? Oh that last batch of Pad Thai. I reached for my can of broth and whoops, all out of that too. So I improvised. I had plenty of mint and Thai basil in the garden, plenty of cilantro in the fridge (I can’t grow enough to keep me happy, so I buy it) and plenty of little onions from my brother’s garden. I decided to use a combo of chicken and beef stock base – you know the paste stuff and throw in some fish sauce, red chile, green chile, a stick of cinnamon and one piece of star anise. Oh and some shredded carrot I had, just because I had it, it doesn’t go in pho. I completely forgot about bean sprouts, so at least the carrots had some crunch. I barely thawed a small piece of frozen sirloin steak that I had in the freezer (I keep some stocked just for pho emergencies) and sliced it wafer thin. Tossed into the bowl chopped green onion, raw white onion sliced paper thin, mint, cilantro and Thai basil and squeezed a big lime over it. Instead of noodles, I just made a small pot of rice, since they are rice noodles anyway. My Korean soups always come with noodles and a side of rice, so, I thought I would try it.

The result? Very tasty and didn’t require a trip to the store. Truth be known, I was hungry and should have let the rice cook just one more minute, other than that, a terrific substitute. I always add a dash of roasted sesame oil to give a nutty richness. The meat is super tender (freezing helps with that) and juicy and barely cooked. My nose is running from the green and red chiles. Just how I like it. Cold sweats from heat. I will post a pic, but with the rice, it is not as picturesque as it could be.

faux pho

Gluten free goodness.

I recently tried making a batch of pho broth. I bought pounds of meat bones and cooked them down for a day or two along with anise, onion and cinnamon and garlic. It turned out nice, but is a lot of work and still doesn’t have a big brothy flavor. Maybe a bit of, horror, MSG would help get that umame-ness.

Must pho-nish my pho now.

i’m out

KinniToos, oh my, oh yes

Ok, I bought some brand of chocolate cookie in the last year that looked to be Oreo-esque. It wasn’t. In fact I could barely bite into them with my teeth. Last week I was shopping at Foods For Living (which is more expensive than Whole Foods if you can believe that!) as they have a few GF items I can’t find any where else. To my delight and surprise, they had something new : Chocolate KinniToos, made by Kinnikinnick Foods (they make vanilla too, see comments below about those).

They are fabulous. You cannot tell the difference between these and Oreos, really. I had my boyfriend taste them to be certain. Only one though, as I am not giving these babies up! The package was $5.09 and was about the same size as a pack of Oreos. I am happy for two reasons: I can use these for cheesecake crusts and they make great snacks for the road when you just need a bite or two of something sweet. The other barely edible pack was about $6 for a package less than half the size of these.

Run out and get yourself some!

Since we are on the cookie topic, Pamela’s new Gingersnaps are wonderful too! They taste so similar to my mom’s Ginger Snaps (which of course, I have an affinity for being named Ginger) and have a nice chew and crisp bite – in the same cookie. I really like the resealable bag that comes with this one.

GF treats are getting tastier……

i’m out

beer beer beer beer, and Gluten free homebrew!

I have been a busy gardener lately. Lots of tomato canning, tomatillo canning and freezing beans. My eggplants still have a tinge of green around the purple, so to me that means not ripe. I am going to attempt to freeze those some how as they are always all ripe at once. I must have bought a different variety than last year.

I attempted to save some seeds from 5 different heirloom tomatoes for next year and was quite unsuccessful. I ending up creating a moldy fruit fly breeding habitat instead. Last year it worked. I planted the little seeds. They came up and then I fried them in their little green house containers. So I ended up buying plants. I guess I will just buy seeds instead and give it one more go next year. Eventually I want to have a little hoop house for lengthening my season.

I mowed the lawn for what I hope to be the last time of the year. We even had a fire in the wood stove. Now, it is 81F again. Tonight it is our Firkin beer club meeting and we are all meeting at a friend’s house on a lake – a bonfire will certainly be part of the evening as will my new Green’s beers. They are tasty and have a great, true Belgian flavor. The bottles are 16.9 oz and run about $7 in my area. You might think that is a lot, but my boyfriend – who is also a home brewer, buys bombers (22 oz) of specialty beer (I think Stone is his favorite) all the time when he has no home brew around. So, if you appreciated good beer, real ale, before becoming gluten intolerant or Celiac, then this might be the beer for you. If you appreciated Labatt before hand, then New Grist or Red Bridge is for you. I haven’t decided where to place Bard’s Tale. Probably with New Grist and Red Bridge. Ramapo (sorry guys) shouldn’t even be purchased. It was nothing like beer and nothing like what I want to drink. Maybe they were shooting to make a barley wine, but turned left at the wrong spot.

I did make a gluten free beer – actually two. They are still in my basement and still untasted. I will change that right now. I am going to march down there and pour a sample. Clear or not. Please pause for the cause and I will return.

Well, they are tasty if you can get past the bitterness. I used far too many hops for the sorghum to stand up to. The IPA has the right bitterness if it were to have the malt balance, but the balance is lacking. It has a sort of pineapple nose without the sweetness. I could tone it down and make a fine pale ale with some practice. New Grist, Bard’s Tale and Redbridge are all lagers. I am an ale girl.

The porter, well, it has a really nice roasted flavor that deepens the taste, but still no malt to balance the hops I used. It is not as hoppy as the IPA of course. I think I roasted whole GF oats that I shoveled out of my cousin’s storage barn. He raises oats for the chickens they have. I also roasted some rice and millet. I will need to look the recipe up, but we are on the way. Thank you for all the silent thoughts of “she said she was going to post about that beer and still hasn’t done it”. Actually, I think it was finally tasting a good GF beer that motivated me, gave me hope.

This post started out to be one about the perfecting of Vietnamese spring rolls and end of year gardening. It will have to wait. I have perfected them, you will be happy to know, using the dried rice wrappers. Patience and a good fryer are needed.

So, time to work on more beer. I eventually want to brew a spelt beer, since I can now. However I have had difficulty hunting down malted spelt – the key ingredient. I never liked wheat beers (wiessen or weizen or hefe) that much, so if my spelt beers taste like that, I will stick with sorghum.

We did take our mead and cider to Wheatland with us. The mead needs to mellow another year. The hard cider is a bit on the acidic side because I am a lazy brewer and let it sit on the yeast bed for too long. Once it is finished fermenting, ale and cider yeast falls to the bottom of the container. At this point, one should transfer (rack) the beverage to a new container, leaving the yeast behind so you don’t get off flavors (like I did) and to have better clarity (not from drinking said beverage, but to see through it).

Here are the pics from brewing(click through to see the photos):

a whole world awaits….
i’m out

Farm markets, goat cheese, knitting and finally Wheatland is here!

veggies at the market

Well this started out as a food, knitting and brewing blog and got a little side tracked by all things food. I just started a new knitting project. People all around me seem to be in baby having mode, so I have started a baby blanket for my good friends who think they are pregnant with a hairy squid. They are two people who have lots of hair and are worried about the end result – the baby. It will probably be bald for the first two years out of spite for it’s nickname. None the less, I have chosen a sex free color that is water themed (baby should be an Aquarius too). As soon as I have more than 2 inches I will post a pic, right now it just looks like the beginnings of anything.

Oh and I read Harry Potter. Finally it was my turn. I was number 523 on the library list and my turn finally arrived. It’s a good one folks, but most of you have already read it. Now we need a new series like that, one that is magical and can transport you away with a few words, even if it is a kids book.

We visited the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market and Zingerman’s Deli on Saturday and will post about my recent round of farm market trips soon. I have been doing some local research. We managed to spend way too much money on cheese, salted capers, cured sausages and smoked paprika. We did purchase wedges of about 10 goat or sheep cheeses (research again).

heirloom garlic at the farmer's market

Heirloom garlic

Tonight for dinner:

Homemade naan (with spelt)

Dal with garden tomatoes (the one pint out of 48 that didn’t seal this weekend while canning), red beans, curry leaves, fenugreek leaves, black mustard seeds, onion seeds, coriander, black cardamom, onion, ginger and garlic ( I just got it cooking so thought it best to write up the recipe right now)

Indonesian Beef Redang ( I know the rest of the meal is Indian, but I wanted to try it.)

Pakora’s with cilantro mint chutney – this time I really will post the recipe for the chutney. Mint, Cilantro, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, yogurt, salt, lime juice and a splash of oil to emulsify.

The naan turned out wonderfully, flaky, soft and tender with a bit of tang. Thank goodness for my little toaster oven as my gas oven heats the entire kitchen. The Saag was great too, best batch yet. Beef Rendang – tasty, a bit too spicy hot (and I like it hot) and a bit to heavy on the coconut oil. Dal – creamy, spicy and healthy to boot.

OK, we are off to Wheatland Music Festival this weekend – a nice long, well deserved weekend with many of our friends. There probably will be about 8 different homebrews on tap and one cider for me, so we may never leave the camp as from our site we can hear all the mainstage music. We volunteer so in turn receive early passes in for camping on Thursday. I might even play my mando. Certainly I will knit. On the menu, Carne adovada, chicken curry, hash browns and various snacks, including my white bean truffle spread – all our friends like to cook up a batch of something to bring.

Whappy heatland (happy wheatland for those of you unfamilar with the fest greeting)

i’m out and i’m festing….

Carnitas, gift of the pork

You may or may not have figured out by now that pork is really one of my favorite things to eat. Sorry vegetarian readers, this is all about the pig. I will think on a vegetarian version of this though.

Carnitas are crispy, flavorful bites of pork that have been cooked for hours and then are finally sauteed in their own rendered fat. I cook mine with loads of fresh squeezed orange juice – about three cups, orange zest several diced onions (See Gluten Free Girl’s post on onion dicing if you need a lesson), and a boat load of garlic. Eventually there is some brandy thrown in there too. I started out using this recipe from Bon Appetit, but since have morphed it into my own.



For this batch I made a red cabbage slaw. I found that in Mexico, or at least in the state of Jalisco, that lettuce is not used much, cabbage is used frequently. My slaw has shaved cabbage, shredded carrots, thinly sliced onions, loads of lime juice, salt and then some fresh chopped cilantro. Oh, a little tip I have discovered. Once you are done cooking the carnitas, they may not be really crispy, esp if you follow the recipe link above which says to add some water when reheating, then you have steamed carnitas. The whole point is to be crispy and I would have to add oil to do this and didn’t want more oil or fat in the dish as it is lush enough (plus all that stirring would make the chunks fall apart), so I put the carnitas on a baking pan and stick them under the broiler until they are golden brown. Then throw them on a warm corn tortilla. Add your slaw, top it off with a spoonful of sourcream and prepare to melt.

Most tortilla brands are GF, Mission has a separate corn line, but I like the brand I get from Grand Rapids as they are locally made and have only 3 ingredients, no preservatives. Carnitas freeze well too, just thaw and brown under the broiler. I haven’t yet mastered the making of my own tortillas, but that is coming soon. I do have a press.

Crispy, crunchy, tangy, creamy and porky.

i’m out