Perfect fall-weather hearty lentil soup

Sunday, September 26, 2010

On a cold day, particularly when my little girl has the sniffles, I really crave a warm hearty soup. Here's what I concocted and with two bowls of it still warm in my belly, I wanted to share the recipe:

Dropsie's hearty lentil soup

1/2 large sweet onion
1/2 TB grape seed oil (or whatever oil you have on hand- coconut oil, olive oil, etc)
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic
1/2 TB turmeric
1/2 TB ground cumin
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
organic stock cube (whatever amount goes in 1 cup water)
1 cup small red lentils

Finely chop onion and dump it into your warmed soup pot with the oil on medium heat. You may want to add a teeny bit of water as you're looking to sweat the onions- not brown them. Add in the garlic after 3-4 minutes.
Add turmeric and cumin to the onions.
Stir the onion mix often and while that's "sweating",  chop your peppers into tiny cubes.
Add the peppers to the pot and stir it all up for a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes, water and stock.
Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 30 minutes.

You can use whatever veggies you have on hand, incidentally. This is how most of my soups are made- by looking at what ingredients I have, then making something out of them, rather than the other way around. :)

Don't underestimate your server

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I had two INCREDIBLY positive restaurant experiences lately. Seriously. Mind blowing.

Most times if I go out to a restaurant, I have to choose between a very "north American" type chain, in which I will have almost nothing to eat (because of the crazy amounts of wheat in everything) but they will likely have a chart listing all the allergens- including dairy and gluten. This is helpful, but meh- boring.

On the other hand, I LOVE a good curry, or an awesome bowl of Tom Kha Gai (sp?) soup or something else of that nature. LOVE it. However, in the past I've found that the servers either looked at me with disdain when I asked questions about wheat, or simply didn't know. I'd say that at least 50% of the time, soy sauce has wheat in it. The reason for the "only half" part, is that there would be the 1% gluten free tamari, and the 49% soy sauce like this one, which is essentially made of water, salt, sugar and MSG. No wheat, but certainly NOT good for you.

So although I love going to Asian, Indian, Thai restaurants, I am constantly fearing the soy sauce angle (among other contamination issues). I ate somewhere about a week ago at one place and ended up feeling like I was drunk for about 18 hours after I left...I am guessing it may have been something wheat based, or completely unrelated, but let's just say I have no desire to go back to that. Anyways, I also visited two Thai restaurants over the last week (unusual for me, but a welcome change from bringing my own lunch) and here's what the conversation looked like:

Me: Um, uh, I have a wheat allergy [this is the easiest way to describe it- otherwise people take you about as seriously as if you just said "mushrooms give me gas"] and...
Server: Oh, no problem. So any of the soups are fine, you just choose the rice noodles rather than x or y noodle.
Me: Um, but usually the soy sauce has wheat...
Server: Yes, but we have a gluten free one for your use, and those dishes are safe. We have someone with Celiac who works here so she makes sure....

Me: Dumbfounded. No speech.

Second restaurant experience:

Me: [thinking hey- why not] Um, I have a wheat allergy...
Server: Oh, okay, let me just check with the kitchen...
After pause - Server: Yes, that's fine. Totally safe.
Me: Wow, that's amazing, thank you!!!! What about the soup that comes with the lunch special?
Server: Hmm...not entirely sure. You might be best not to choose it.
Server 2 (emerging from kitchen): You Celiac?
Me: [again, simplifying] Yes! Yes I am. Do you know if I can have the soup?
Server 2: Soup is okay. No fish sauce, no oyster sauce, no soy sauce. It okay for you.

Mother of pearl. Honestly. This woman knew all the hidden sources of wheat. Bless her buttons!!!!
Later, after I receive my pad thai:
Me: Um, I noticed there were no peanuts on my dish.
Server 2: No, I afraid.
Me: [smiling] That's totally fine. Thank you so much.

As much as I hate to always be the one asking, sometimes it REALLY pays off. Some servers are conscientious, good workers and really know their stuff. Others have just been at the right place at the right time, and still others may have had similar gluten-free folks tread that path before. Moral of the story: stop assuming the server will a)be annoyed, b)spit in your food, and c)have no clue how to produce gluten free food. They just might surprise you, but it's certainly worth it to ask. :)

The Fruit Fly Solution

Saturday, September 18, 2010

With all the lovely fresh fruit coming into our house, it seems there is no end to the fruit flies. I am not an outdoorsy girl, that's for sure, so having a way to rid our house of what I call "the infestation" is a welcome relief. Our friends Pierre and Ashley gave is the ultimate solution to the Fruit Fly Problem. Here's how it works:

1 bowl
1 sheet plastic wrap
1 splash of apple cider vinegar

Pour the vinegar into the bowl, cover it with the plastic wrap so the surface is tight, then puncture several times with a fork. That's it. Within minutes the fruit flies have found it (ps- apple cider vinegar smells a little like stinky feet) and they walk on the surface of the plastic, find a hole, crawl in, and cannot escape. You can either be merciful and squash them against the lip of the bowl or eventually you'll find them floating in the vinegar.
Notice this is positioned right beside the bananas which are currently attracting them. Must make muffins...


Review: Redbridge gluten free beer (and Spunky peach cobbler) ;-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh sheer, unadulterated delight. I have once again benefited from the sheer generosity of my mom and her husband who travelled south of the border and returned with an entire case of Redbridge gluten free beer. I cannot begin to describe to you how fantastic it is. It is really, REALLY good. I've previously reviewed a number of beers including La Messagère (terrible), New Grist (beyond terrible), Bard's (good) and now Redbridge- the BEST of the bunch! This beer is so fantastic, it's almost- ALMOST- like regular beer. That means a lot, really. The first two above both left this terrible slimy feeling in my mouth; they were absolutely repulsive. Bards's was good, and if someone handed me a bottle, I'd definitely drink it, but in the end, this beer is not only just a notch above Bard's, but it is also apparently WAY less expensive (so say the parental units). It was apparently 35$ US for the case. Again, I am cursed with not being able to get this beer in Canada (Anheuser-Busch makes it) so I will continue to enjoy my yearly case when the 'rents head south of the border. But hey- it's a treat, and it's well worth it. For my American visitors: you guys are sooooo lucky. :)

Oh, and sorry it's been a scant period of updates lately, I'm doin' my best! I would like to also give a shout out to Kelly at the Spunky Coconut for the FANTASTIC peach cobbler recipe. I thoroughly enjoyed it for dessert, then for breakfast...then for dessert...then for breakfast again...


Free cookbook is HERE!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

After all of Alisa's hard work, the cookbook is ready and waiting for you and yours. Pass it on- anyone can download it!

Great job Alisa!


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