We just got back from a short trip to southwest Florida. We visited Grandma and Great-Grandma, and we spent a few days exploring Naples and the surrounding areas. We visited the Naples Zoo and Carribean Gardens, where there were several opportunities to take silly photos such as the one above. Also, the zoo offered a short boat trip around a lake with small islands that are home to all the zoo’s primates. We saw a snake and reptile show, which Ayden loved. When the zookeeper asked if we wanted to see some scary snakes, Ayden yelled “YEAH!” louder than any other kid or adult at the show. The kids got to see the lion feeding too, though Zoe was a bit put off by the fact that the lions eat raw meat.
In other news, Zoe was “glutened” on this trip–at least, we’re pretty sure she was. She was okay on the drive home, although she was oddly quiet. She had a horrendous night went we arrived home, and unfortunately threw up in our car the next morning. Yesterday she was a total wreck with stomach problems, shakiness, and lots of uncontrollable stimming. Thank God she is much better today, though she is quite exhausted from the lack of sleep.
I’ve been a bit lax in my posting the last few days. I have not been feeling well; in fact, I had to see a doctor for what turned out to be dehydration! The moral of the story? Drink lots of liquids, kiddies. Apparently I haven’t been drinking enough. After Thursday evening’s flamenco class (which was very challenging), I had been feeling run down and it finally caught up to me. Note to self: bring water AND Gatorade to class next time.
Today I received a copy of a soon-to-be-released gluten free cookbook, Gluten-Free Quick & Easy by Carol Fenster, PhD. I got an e-mail last week from someone at Penguin Group offering me a chance to review the book, and I could not pass it up! So far it’s a great read and I am anxious to try some of the recipes. I’ll share my thoughts on the book very soon. Also I’ll be forwarding some questions to the author, which I hope to post here as well. Carol’s website is www.glutenfreequickandeasy.com.
In addition, I’m looking forward to receiving some samples of gluten-free goodies from a place called Grindstone Bakery. They offer a variety of wonderfully delicious-sounding bread and cookies. I can’t wait to try these products! Visit their website, http://www.grindstonebakery.com/ for more details about their products.
Finally, my buddy Lynn over at Free to Eat reworked the recipe I posted last week for sesame candy–and morphed it into a cocoa and coconut candy that sounds absolutely divine! I’m going to make a batch asap. Lynn’s blog is at http://www.freetoeat.blogspot.com/. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit her blog, Lynn is an uber-creative lady who has had to reinvent the way she cooks and eats due to multiple food sensitivities. And her family likes to rock-out just like my family does! One day her clan and mine are going to have to get together for one big jam session. Rock on!
Sesame candy (or brittle) is a treat in many cultures around the world. In Greece, it’s called pasteli; in India, it’s called til gajak. And it goes by a variety of other names all over the world. While there are subtle variations in how it’s prepared in each country, one thing is true for all of them; it’s delicious! When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, my brother and I would walk to the bodega on the corner and buy them for about ten cents apiece. In Puerto Rico, we’d visit my great-aunt’s store and grab as many of these and other penny candies as we could fit in our pockets; then we’d eat them as we walked through the plaza and as we rode back to my grandparents’ house.
This recipe came from Epicurious.com; it is for the Greek version of the candy, pasteli. I made it last night, and Flamenco Dad and I loved the results. It stores well, so you can make a batch and store them in an airtight container. It will keep for about a week–thought in my house it won’t last that long.
Makes about 42 to 56 candies
Vegetable oil for oiling pan
1 cup mild honey
1 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Special equipment: a nonstick bakeware liner such as Silpat*; an 8- to 9-inch springform pan; a candy thermometer
Put bakeware liner in a large shallow baking pan (1 inch deep). Remove bottom of springform pan and set aside. Oil inside of springform ring with vegetable oil and put ring, upside down, in center of bakeware liner.
Bring honey, sesame seeds, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, then boil undisturbed until mixture registers 280 to 290°F on thermometer, about 15 minutes.
Holding ring in place, quickly pour mixture into ring, then cool on a rack until candy is set but still warm, about 40 minutes. Unmold by peeling ring with candy off bakeware liner. Transfer candy to a cutting board, then run a paring knife around edge of springform ring and lift ring off candy. Cut candy into 1-inch pieces with an oiled large knife.
Some of you may recall my fondness for cooking in a pressure cooker (see “Under Pressure”). I’ve had it for close to six months now, and I find I like it more the more often I use it. Mind you I’m still afraid the thing’s going to explode someday–and leave remnants of food on my ceiling–but hey, I like the danger element of it. I’m such a rebel, LOL.
Last week we had some oven-cooked pork chops that were about as tough as my husband’s cowboy boots. Cooked to within an inch of their lives, and not seasoned well enough; it was such a pity that good pork chops were wasted. But this week I decided to try cooking the chops in my pressure cooker and the results were terrific. I seasoned the pork chops with salt and pepper, and in two batches, I browned them in the pressure cooker (which had been preheated with some olive oil added to the pot). After cooking the last three chops I removed them to a plate and added julienned onions, minced garlic, two red potatoes cut in sections, and some leftover fresh herbs. I put the chops back in the pot, added some diced tomatoes and their juice and some white wine. I clamped the lid on the pot, and thirty minutes later it was ready. The pork was wonderfully tender, the meat falling off the bone. It was a meal savored by all in the house.