Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gluten-Free, Corn-Free "Cornbread"

I didn't intend to come up with a recipe to post here. I'm really not a food blogger. Extenuating circumstances, in the form of some impulsively purchased produce, intervened.

There were collard greens starting to wilt in my kitchen. Greens mean beans, and beans mean cornbread. Yes, I am aware that beans and cornbread are not compulsory companions to greens. At least, I am vaguely aware in a hand waving, maybe where you come from, kind of way. Last night, I wanted sauteed greens, pinto beans swimming in thick juice, and some cornbread with which to sop it up.

 Unfortunately, corn and I aren't getting along these days. That popcorn I had about a week and a half ago is more than a distant memory, it has caused a breakout that might last forever. (You thought food allergies and intolerances were glamorous?)

I knew there was a cornbread recipe at Gluten Free Goddess, and the goddess never lets me down, so I decided to start there and work my way to cornlessness. My first choice for replacing the cornmeal was almond flour, but I used that up in a failed kiwi muffin experiment. (They were really quite terrible. And deep, dark, swampy green. I don't want to talk about it. ) So, I turned to my new favorite grain, teff. I added a bit of sorghum to mimic the sweetness of corn, and quinoa flakes to assist the texture once I removed the starches. (I'm trying to eliminate them from most of my baking. I'm not sure what I'll do about pudding.) I also subbed in a bit of my favorite hot pepper paste as I didn't have chiles, and I prefer a bit of a kick to my cornbread.

The other major substitution, or rather deletion, is the sugar. I don't know if this is a southern thing, or maybe just a my family thing, but we don't do sweet cornbread. This, of course, makes creating a refined sugar free recipe a bit easier, as I always omit the sugar anyway. I will admit to drizzling a piece with a bit of honey on the second day. Which brings me to the fact that this quick bread freezes quite well. In fact, the photo at the top of the page is of a previously frozen wedge of bread.

The result was better than any gluten-free cornbread I've turned out. It is a finer crumb, as the grains are finely milled. A more coarsely ground flour or meal could be substituted, but it might require a bit of fine tuning. Overall this works as a perfect stand in, though was never intended to replicate cornbread. In other words, it doesn't taste like corn.

UPDATE - There is an adaptation to this recipe here that makes it much tastier, but no longer nut-free. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mango Mini Muffins - In Which I Play an Unconvincing Food Blogger

gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free mango (mini) muffins

I'm not much of a recipe writer (or food photographer), probably because I'm not much of a recipe follower. As with knitting patterns, I'm compelled to tinker, to substitute, to not have to run to the store for that thing I just don't have. But, tonight I made some muffins, and they were good. Good enough to entice an elderly cat to climb up onto a rather high table to have a wee taste. And, good enough to encourage a recluse to peek out from behind the curtains.

As I eat fewer and fewer things, my life has become increasingly about procuring the next meal, worrying about what will be available should I be stranded somewhere, and how to approach social eating. My life has become less about blogging (ahem) and about being social in general.

I have escaped from my weirdness by enclosing myself in a protective layer of comfortable aloneness. I can't be accidentally "glutened" if I don't allow gluten in my house, or myself out. I can't mistakenly ingest some allergy inducing dairy, or migraine inducing sugar if I am vigilant enough, if I am safe enough. Except that sometimes I slip, sometimes I don't read a label carefully enough, or learn that vitamin E should make me suspicious, or that corn makes me ill. The dangerous world seeps in.

I know it's an excuse, but it really doesn't feel like one. I don't feel like I have an option; I know, intellectually, that I do. But, this is the story of fear, the one that must come before the story of courage. This is the part where I admit that I have allowed semi-legitimate fears to validate absurd ones, thus creating an overwhelming ecosystem of anxieties.

With nowhere left to cower, my instinctual urge to seek shelter thwarted, I am left to be squeezed into near nonexistence, or to change. I hope I can do it, because being invisible isn't nearly as fun as we've been led to believe.