My First Year in New Jersey

This post is very similar in content to the “Holiday Newsletter” I sent out this year to folks for whom I have snail mail addresses.  The rest of my friends/family/Facebook acquaintences are being directed here.  I hope 2018 allows me to get back to posting about my adventures in gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free baking and cooking!

Me standing in front of my new home in Whiting NJ. It is one story, slate blue and white, with an attached garage.My New Home in Whiting NJ

2016 and 2017 have been extremely busy, exciting, and exhausting years for me. In 2016 I moved from my 100-year-old house in snowy Minneapolis, MN to live nearer to my family in New Jersey.  On September 26, 2016, after a three-day drive (1200 miles) with my old cat Marvel, I arrived at my parents’ house in Manahawkin, NJ where we stayed for six months while I looked for a house nearby.  On February 14, 2017 I finally closed on a house in Whiting, NJ, 20 minutes away.  Marvel and I moved in at the end of March.

The house (built in 1980) needed a new refrigerator, roof, garage door, and hot water heater as well as all new carpet, a fresh coat of paint inside, and many other minor repairs. There are still many projects to complete and quite a few boxes waiting to be unpacked (once I figure out where to put all that is in them), but it’s starting to feel more like “home”.

Besides moving into and working on the house, the year has meant reconnecting with family and getting to know my new surroundings including:

  • October 2016  Aunt Irene and Cousin Amy came to visit to celebrate mom’s birthday. (Sadly, this is the last picture we have of my Aunt Irene.  She died on November 11, 2017 after a brief fight with an aggressive cancer.) Pictured: My sister Nancy, cousin Amy, Mom, Dad, Aunt Irene, and me.
  • December 2016  My sister Nancy and I went up to the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City for an exhibit about the Brontës and some bead shopping in the fashion district.
  • January 21, 2017  I participated in the Women’s March on Washington with childhood friend Karin Howells Kelleher, her three daughters, and other friends.
  • April 2017  A trip to the African American Museum in Philadelphia for the “Wage Peace” exhibit
  • May 2017  Another trip to the Morgan Museum in NYC.  This time for an exhibit about Emily Dickinson.  Also went to several exhibits at the New York Public Library.
  • Father’s Day 2017 Mom & Dad & I attended a Lakewood Blueclaws Baseball Game where we met several other veterans (all identifiable by their military caps)
  • July 2017 Janet visited from Illinois. Picture below: Nancy, me, Dad, Janet, Courtney the Cat, Mom
  • August 2017 My good friend Linnea visited.  We installed a new closet organizer in my bedroom, watched baseball, and went to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, an incredible series of buildings and courtyard filled with mosaics.
  • Labor Day Weekend 2017 Stand Against Hate Rally in Asbury Park; and visit from nephew Matthew
  • October 15, 2017 Rally with Al Gore and Phil Murphy
  • October 21, 2017  Beach Cleanup at Island Beach State Park
  • Christmas 2017  Thought I would add these pics to round out the year.

A Few Gratitudes

  • Despite MANY doctor’s and dentist’s appointments with mom and dad (and lots of “daily emergencies,” there have been no new serious illnesses.
  • Marvel survived both the long drive and six months living in one little room.  She still has kidney disease, cataracts, arthritis and a bit of “kitty dementia”, but she still loves to snuggle and purr.  In fact, she would prefer I do nothing but hold her all day.
  • Several trips to the beach.  I had hoped to get myself to the beach at least once a week, but that hasn’t happened.  Still, every walk along the ocean and every moment spent listening to the waves gives me some peace. We even managed to get Dad down to the beach late in the Fall 2016.  That’s Barnegat Lighthouse behind them in the slideshow below.
  •  Of course I have to mention my joy when the CHICAGO CUBS WON THE 2016 WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!  (We don’t mention anything else that happened in November 2016.)

The year also included lots of gluten-free, dairy-free, baking and cooking . . . but I’ll summarize that in a separate post.

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Condiments: Black Bean Sauce and Chili Garlic Paste

Last night I made my favorite Thai dishes: Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken and Eggplant & Bok Choy with Bean Sauce.  United Noodle (my local Asian grocery) was out of the japanese/chinese eggplants (the long skinny purple ones) so I used Thai eggplants (round and green) instead.  They don’t hold together as well in the dish, but it tasted just as marvelous as ever.

I used to be able to buy jars of Chili Garlic Paste and Yellow Bean Sauce that I liked.  But my preferred brand of Chili Garlic Paste is no longer available and the “starch” included in the Yellow Bean Sauce became suspect.  So now I make my own.

Many of the recipes for these condiments that appear online seem to be trying to imitate BAD additive- and preservative-filled versions that you might find in a jar at the grocery store.  They add thickeners like cornstarch and/or gums.  I decided to just stick to the essential flavors and make these sauces as simply as possible.  Here’s what I do:

Chili Garlic Paste

adapted from Sriracha-style hot sauce (latimes.com) and Mark Bittman’s recipe at nytimes.com

Chili Garlic Paste

I combine the ideas from the two recipes cited above and use a combination of dry and fresh chilies, soaked in boiling water with a few cloves of garlic and then pureed in food processor with salt, sugar, and some oil.  If I’m going to use the paste within a day, I just store it in a glass bowl until I need it.  If I’m going to store any of it, I heat it first (in an attempt to kill off any bacteria from the fresh garlic and chilies) and then store in the freezer.

Here are the proportions I used most recently:

  • 3 large mild dry chiles (e.g. Guajillo), stems removed
  • 6 small hot dry chiles (e.g. Szechuan), stems removed
  • 4 fresh chiles (Thai, serrano, or jalapeño), stems removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2-3 Tablespoons oil (sesame, canola)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Put the chiles and garlic in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Soak for about 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving some of the water and seeds.
  2. Cut the larger chiles into smaller pieces.
  3. Put all the ingredients into a food processor, blender, or mini-chopper.  Purée until smooth, adding oil or water if needed.
  4. Heat in small saucepan over medium heat until bubbly.  Will keep for several days in the refrigerator or longer in the freezer.

Black Bean Sauce

adapted from recipes from Closet Cooking and Mastercook II

I haven’t found a good explanation of the difference between Thai Yellow Bean Sauce and the more familiar Black Bean Sauce.  I do enjoy Black Bean Sauce, so even though it probably makes my Thai dish more “fusion,” I decided to use Black Bean Sauce in the Eggplant & Bok Choy dish instead of Yellow Bean Sauce that contains “starch” of undefined origin.

The most difficult part of making your own Black Bean Sauce is finding Salted Black Beans.  I get mine at a local Asian market in a bag that looks like this:

SaltedBlackBeans

Note that these are not the same as the black beans you would use for mexican food.  They are fermented in salt.  I store mine in the freezer.

  • 1/2 cup fermented/salted black beans
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon gluten-free Tamari
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  1. Place fermented/salted black beans in a small saucepan and add water.  Leave to sit to rehydrate the beans (approx. 30 minutes, can be done earlier in the day).
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients.
  3. Heat over medium heat until bubbly and thickened.  Stir occasionally.

 

 

 

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I’m BAAACCKKK!!

Yes, I’m still here.  Still cooking.  Still living with CFS and multiple food sensitivities.

I just haven’t been working so hard at modifying recipes or creating new recipes.

I’ve settled into a collection of recipes that I make fairly frequently.  (Some folks might say I’m in a rut, but I’m just relieved that cooking and eating isn’t quite so time consuming as it was when I first gave up gluten, dairy, and corn.) Most of the recipes I make now came to me from other cooks or cookbooks (so are copyrighted) and didn’t need much modification to make them gluten-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.

Still, I’ve had some requests (mostly from friends seeing pics of the food on Facebook) to share the recipes, so I will make an attempt to put some of the recipes up here or to point to their original sources for reference.

Another change in my cooking/eating came after last April when I attended a workshop on Ayurvedic Cooking at Health Through Ayurveda.  This course led me to incorporate several recipes and principles into my regular routine.  More on all that in a future post.

So here’s a list of what I eat most frequently these days.  As I add recipes (or locate them online) I’ll include links, but for now here’s my “food routine.”  Let me know in the comments if you are particularly interested in hearing more about a specific item.

Breakfast rotates between:

Lunch is almost always a “cooked salad.”  I was eating so many greens (because I love them) but sometimes having trouble digesting them.  I’d heard of pre-wilting the greens in the microwave, but the Ayurvedic Cooking workshop actually suggested that I cook them.  It really helps.  So I chop up everything I want in my salad: tomatoes, carrots, avocado, mushrooms, bok choy (for crunch), chicken, onion (not always all of these).  Toss it in a frying pan with some oil and some herbs.  While the veggies are cooking (stirring occasionally), I measure out a big salad bowl full of greens.  Once the veggies are cooked, I toss the greens in the fry pan and pop on a lid.   Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the greens are thoroughly wilted.  Turn off the heat.  Drizzle on some vinegar or a basic vinaigrette.  Let sit for a few minutes to cool down.  Pour into a salad bowl and enjoy!  Same great veggies, just easier to digest.

My most frequent dinner meals are:

Kichari with Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard

Roasted Chicken (from the Seward Coop) with Potatoes (or Sweet Potatoes) and Kale/Chard or Green Beans or Beets

The following dishes have also made multiple appearances:

So, a routine, but a routine with lots of variety.

Speaking of food . . . I need to go eat some dinner (tonight: leftover Green Curry with Tofu, Green Beans, and Chard).

Next post: Indian Porridges (Kichari and Savory Hot Farina)

©2015 Highly Sensitive Girl

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Extended Thanksgiving

DSCN3900

Today I did the last of my “Thanksgiving” cooking, a Turkey, Mushroom, and Rice Casserole using leftover turkey and stuffing.  (This time I even used some leftover gravy and stock!)  But before we get to that recipe, I made myself a list of everything Thanksgiving-related that I cooked since November 23nd (which is when I started the whole process; pacing required due to CFS).  Almost all of these dishes were minor variations of recipes from cookbooks, so the links below are to the cookbooks (unless the recipe was posted online by the author).  Most of the recipes are already gluten-free, but feel free to message me if you want to know the details of how I made them gluten-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.  All were quite delicious (if I do say so myself). 🙂

WHEW!!

 Turkey, Mushroom, and Rice Casserole

Okay, here are the details on adapting my original Turkey, Mushroom, and Rice Casserole to be gluten-free and dairy-free:

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups cooked turkey, cubed
  • 4-6 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups cooked long-grain white rice (about 1-1/2 cups raw)
  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 3 Tablespoons GF Flour Blend
  • 3-4 cups coconut milk and/or stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup leftover stuffing (made with gluten-free bread; or 1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs toasted in 2 Tbls oil)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Saute the chopped mushrooms in oil until they lose their liquid and start to brown lightly. Add the turkey and saute a few more minutes to warm it up. Add thyme and mix thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, make a thin white sauce. Melt/heat 3 Tablespoons oil/shortening in a medium sauce pan over low to medium heat. Sprinkle in the GF flour blend 1 Tbls at a time, whisking to combine with the oil and avoid lumps. Cook this roux for 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the coconut milk/stock (about 1/2 cup at a time), stirring/whisking to avoid lumps. Once all the liquid is added, heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the white sauce coats the back of your spoon. Stir in salt & pepper.
  4. Layer the rice, turkey and mushrooms in a greased casserole dish (2-3 quart size should do it). Pour the white sauce over everything and stir gently to combine.
  5. Top with leftover stuffing or toasted bread crumbs.
  6. Bake in 350°F oven for 30 minutes (covered) then remove the cover for 10-15 minutes to brown the topping.

Enjoy!

Note

  • Today I took the white sauce up a notch by including a big spoon of leftover turkey gravy, mixed in with the roux before adding the coconut milk and stock.  YUMMO!

Copyright © 2014, Lucinda DeWitt

 

 

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