Happy Birthday the vegan & gluten free way!

October 26, 2009

We’ve been out of town travelling and in that time we’ve had two birthdays in the family.   Thought I’d share our vegan, gluten free birthday cakes with you.  This is how Mama makes yummy birthday cakes with no eggs, no milk, no sugar and no flour!  (Isn’t that a feat!)

Birthday cake #1 – Gluten Free Pineapple Upsidedown Cake.

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

I used the new Betty Crocker mix for gluten free white cake as a base for this Pineapple Upsidedown Cake.   I began by draining a can of crushed pineapple and reserving the pineapple juice from the can.  I followed the direction on the back of the box, except I substituted this pineapple juice for the water the directions call for and I also substituted 2 Tbsp honey for EACH egg required.  Then I spread the drained, crushed pineapple on the bottom of the pan, poured the cake batter over top and baked it according to the directions!  (We were visiting my mother in law at the time.  She lives at a high altitude and her oven is tempermental so you can see in the picture that the cake edges got a bit dark… but I think this wouldn’t have happened in most ovens. )  Next I made a pineapple topping by putting another can of pineapple (liquid and all) into the blender with 4 Tbsp corn startch.  I blended it all, then cooked that over the stove until it thickened and placed that on top the cake.  The “ice cream” beside the cake is simply frozen bananas run through a champion juicer!  Yummy!

Birthday cake #2 – Pina Colada Cheesecake

Pina Colada Cheesecake

Pina Colada Cheesecake

My pina colada cheesecake is still a work in progress…  Frankly, the crust wasn’t very good so I won’t post the recipe for it… The next time I do this I think I will just skip the crust altogether and make “cheesecake squares” since it’s the cheesecake and the topping that we all liked.

Here’s how to make it: In the blender whiz together 4 cups soft tofu, 2-3 tsp orange extract, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice.  Pour into an oiled casserole dish.  (Ok, you’re really supposed to pour it over a granola crust, but I don’t have a good gluten free recipe for one of those yet!).   Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Don’t be concerned if it doesn’t look finished after 20 minutes…  It will firm up as it cools.

For the topping, pour 1 can pineapple into the blender (juice and all) with 1/2 can coconut milk and 4 Tbsp corn starch.  Blend, then cook on the stove until thick.  Let it cool somewhat (just so it’s not piping hot when you spread it over the tofu).  Spread it over the tofu and chill the cheesecake!  Voila!

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Broccoli Seaweed Stroganoff

September 14, 2009

Broccoli StroganoffWhen I was growing up my mother used to make a vegetarian (not vegan) version of beef stroganoff that was so tasty!  I started craving it during my most recent pregnancy and got the recipe.  Tonight I made some changes to the recipe and we had delicious Broccoli Seaweed Stroganoff (Vegan and Gluten-Free, of course!).  This picture is a dish that’s headed over to a neighbour’s house.  And below is how I did it!

First make Mock Sour Cream:  In a blender, blend 1 cup soy milk, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp onion powder.  Slowly dribble in 1 cup vegetable or canola oil.  It is very important that you dribble the oil in or you will end up with mush rather than “sour cream”!  Blend for an additional full minute.  Stop blender and stir in 2 Tbsp lemon juice.  Set aside.  (But do stick your finger for a little taste, first!  Just make sure nobody is peeking!)  Make another batch of this to serve over baked potatoes sometime!  Mmmmm!

Next, add a little water to the bottom of a pan.  Saute one onion and 2 cloves garlic (both chopped) until onion is translucent.  Add 1 small head of broccoli (you can chop up the stalk and add it as well!) and continue to saute.  Add 3 Tablespoons Rice Flour, 1/2 of one of those tiny cans of tomato paste, one boullion cube (or just a mix of Italian-like spices and half a teaspoon of salt).  Stir in one and a half cups water and cook another minute or two until bubbly.  Add a handful or two of wakame seaweed (you know… the seaweed that is already cut into little pieces!), then add the sour cream made in step above.  Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice if desired.  Add salt to taste.  Serve over a bed of noodles or brown rice!

Yummy Breakfast!

September 8, 2009

Brown Rice & BananasSince our family has transitioned to a vegan-gluten-free lifestyle, the single food that I have probably missed the most is oatmeal.  There’s nothing like a big steamy bowl of oatmeal for breakfast on a cold wintery morning.  I cheated last winter and made oatmeal just for myself a couple of times (since I’m the one member of the family who is not gluten intolerant!), but I feel bad for the children who are stuck eating yucky old cream-of-brown-rice or corn-mush.  It’s just not the same.

But here’s a hot breakfast cereal that is almost as good as oatmeal and it’s cheap and easy to make, too!  (Bonus!)  An acquaintance in university taught me to make this many years ago.  She said it is a common dish in Guatamala.  Here it is, simply:  cook some brown rice thoroughly (even a little mushy is fine).  When done, slice some ripe, mushy bananas over it, drizzle it in olive oil and add salt to taste!  I know it sounds gross, but it’s actually really good!  The rice is a grain just like oats are a grain…

I Own 1000 Magnetic Letters

September 4, 2009

20090904_19

That’s right.  I think this officially makes me a homeschooling mother… and there’s no going back now!

After my last post, everyone caught colds.  We all caught colds one at a time.  How anybody catches a cold in 108 degree weather is beyond me, but we all managed it.

In my cyber absence, I have been figuring out what I am going to do for school this year.  Little Missey is begging me to learn how to read.  The magnetic letters are part of the learn-to-read plan.  We are going to have fun!

20090824_14In food related news, we’ve been having lots of picnics.  Now that everyone is vegan and gluten free, picnics 20090824_16are big deals that take a lot of planning!  Gone are the days of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.   One particularly rushed day I stumbled across a new picnic idea which turned out to be a big hit!  We had eaten baked potatoes the day before and so I grabbed the leftovers as we headed out the door.  We had to stop at the library just before going to the park and so I decided to harness energy from the 108 degree Texas sun…  Here are my baked potatoes warming up in our make-do home-away-from-home-oven.  Yes, that is my van dashboard!  Anybody passing by in the parking lot must have looked twice, but by the time we got out of the library our potatoes were nice and warm!  Yummy!  Then, I let the children peel the wrapper back and eat them as if they were ice cream cones!  Big Hit!

In other food related news, there is a man nearby who has been selling cantaloupe from his field for 20 cents each.  He gave me an even further discount and I bought 31 cantaloupes from him for $4!  Of course, I needed a place to put all that cantaloupe, and so my husband bought me an upright freezer!  (I guess it turned out to be expensive cantaloupe after all!  But we did get a deal, because we bought it at the scratch and dent store.)  I am excited to be able to preserve more of our garden harvest in our new freezer!  You know you’ve officially reached adulthood when somebody buys you a freezer and you are excited about it!

So this week I have officially become an adult and a homeschooling mother!  All in one week.

20090904_20

Birdies in the Bathroom

July 17, 2009

I named this blog “Little White House on the Hilltop” because in Texas it is so hard to find land that isn’t flat, flat, flat!  We spent two years looking for “THE” house before we bought this one, but it was worth the wait… When we saw this house with its hill and all its trees we knew we were home!

Our house is a simple little frame farmhouse that was built back in the early 1930’s.  By the mid 1990’s the house still didn’t have indoor plumbing!  There was just one bachelor living in the house and apparently indoor plumbing wasn’t important to him!  When he died, the house was sold and moved to the top of the hill where it currently sits.  Those owners stripped the house to the bare studs and moved the house to it’s current location on the hilltop.  They added plumbing, updated the electricity and rebuilt the walls with new drywall.  They also added an addition which is now a bedroom.  They did a lot of work on the house, but when we bought it a couple of years ago, the house still needed some work.  One of the most urgent home projects was the bathroom.   The floor was rotting, the shower leaked, there was no bathtub, etc, etc…  Home Depot came out to examine the bathroom and told us it would cost $24,000 to redo just the bathroom… and that was only if we supplied the bathtub, tile, toilet, shower and sink!  We just laughed and asked the guy, “Do you see the rest of our house?”  A simple little house like ours does not need a $24,000 fix-up job on a room that is essentially just a place to go to the toilet.

So my husband got busy and started doing the work himself in the evenings after work.  For a while my bathroom looked like this:

unfinished bathroom 1

But it was worth it, because we ended up with possibly the cheapest complete bathroom remodel of all time!  He re-did the floor with tile that the previous owners had left in a shed, replaced the toilet with one he bought for $20 on the classified boards at his workplace and installed a pedastol sink which he bought for $20 on Craigslist (including the faucet!).  He did purchase the shower new but my father in law was able to re-instunfinished bathroom 2all the shower base from the old shower.  We had always thought that a clawfoot tub would be perfect in an older home like this, but decided against installing one because clawfoot tubs are so expensive!  That is, we decided against it until one night when my husband was cleaning out the junk left behind in the sheds by the previous owners.  Guess what he found!  In one shed he found a clawfoot tub with no feet!  In another shed he found the feet!  The tub needed a good cleaning, but it didn’t need to be redone.  He just painted the feet and it looks great!

By the time he finished, the only thing that was missing was some kind of decoration on the wall.  I decided that I wanted to make a filet crochet hanging (you know… the crocheted lace made out of string that has a picture in it).  It would be so pretty and old fashioned!  But then I had a reality check:  When, with 3 children aged 4 and under, am I ever going to crochet a piece of art to be framed!  The answer is:  Never!

So I started looking around for an alternative idea.  A few months ago I stumbled across these cross stitch pictures at a flea market.  They were dingy and dirty but they had a certain appeal.  The lady wanted $10 for the set and I hesitated to spend that much on them, but when she voluntarily dropped the price down to $7 I bought them.  You can’t go wrong for $3.50 a piece:

birdie pictures

Today was “Birdie-Day!”  It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the cross stitch fabric itself was stained and discolored.  I pulled the frame apart and soaked the cross stitch in some water and oxy-clean.  Then I spray painted the frame white to match our bathroom.  Our neighbour stopped by for a visit this morning and she happens to be a professional painter who does special paint techniques and faux-finishes in people’s homes.  She told me to crumple up a plastic shopping bag in my hand, dip it into a bit of paint and just dab the paint onto the mat to brighten up the mat around the cross stitching.  I did it using paint leftover from when we painted the bathroom walls and it looks fantastic!

redone birdie picture

And now I unveil for you our finally-finished bathroom (which has been in process for about a year and a half now!).  Ta-Da!

Finished Bathroom

Japanese Squash

July 15, 2009

Ever seen those large, namesless squash in Asian or Mexican grocery stores that is sold by the pound?  Sometimes they have an orange rind, sometimes green, but they always come quartered and pre-wrapped in saran wrap.

Japanese Squash

Ever wondered what to do with it?  Here’s a trick I learned when I lived in Guyana:

Ingredients:  squash, 2-3 potatoes, 1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1 cup water, salt to taste, parsley as a garnish

1.  Saute one chopped onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic in a little oil or water until onion is transluscent.

2.  Cut rind off squash and chop squash into small pieces.  Also chop 2-3 medium sized potatoes.  (I didn’t bother peeling mine… as long as they are well scrubbed!)

3.  Add squash and potatoes to the sauteing onions.  Add 1 cup of water to cook the squash and potatoes in.  Allow to simmer over medium heat until squash and potatoes are soft and easily mashed.  When food is soft, mash with a potato masher.

4.  Add salt to taste.  Garnish as desired.

5.  Serve over a bed of brown rice.

Ta Da!

Squash Stew

In the photo above I made sushi rolls to place around the rice and squash because it looks nice and my children love seaweed!

Enjoy!

Hello world!

July 15, 2009

I can’t think of a better way to start a blog than with a picture like this…

Hungry Baby!

Bring me some real food! I want Breastmilk!

(Usually, our children are satisfied with the simplest of solutions!)