Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gluten- Free Lemon Bars and Rock Climbing

Many years ago, "my favorite mistake" (Doesn't everyone have one of those? An ex that was good but terribly wrong for you?) took me rock climbing.  I am fairly athletic and playing sports comes naturally to me.  I enjoy a good soccer match or ultimate frisbee game, so I thought after a few sessions at the rock climbing gym I would be ready to tackle rock outdoors. Not so much.
Outcrop near Lunch Rock
This time around, a different boy (... mind you I had a crush on this boy in high school. He had a crush on me but never asked me out.  Thanks to FB we've reconnected after 20 years and finally went on that first date).  Anyhow, this boy is addicted to climbing.  It is his life.  I'm curious.  What is the draw to rock climbing?

One of my health coaching clients and I met at a local rock climbing gym for a belay lesson and a 3-hour clinic.  I was not hooked yet, but thought I would meet up with some folks at Mission Trails to see how climbing outdoors differs from the gym.  There were eight of us that met up at Lunch Rock for Rock Climbing 101. Paul and his lovely wife, Raquel, set up the top ropes, offered helpful suggestions and were incredibly patient as I worked my way up a 5.4 route.  Success.
Dave contemplating his next move.
In my early 30's, I developed an intolerance to gluten.  Some of my favorite foods - like Pizza Port - would cause me such gastrointestinal distress, I would feel bloated, crampy, and well ... be a little gaseous.  Ok, ok, Tane, alot gassy.  I was tested for allergies and while I not *allergic* to gluten, I am sensitive to it.

What does that mean?  Well, I lack the enzymes to properly digest the gluten composite proteins but luckily for me, gluten free products are popping up in major grocery chains, so I can make my own gluten-free pizza at home!

Everyone loves lemon bars.  The smell of lemons always reminds me of early summer.  I made these for a potluck party and they were a huge hit!
Gluten-Free Lemon Bars
from Annalise Roberts, Gluten-Free Baking Classics

Gluten-free Flour Mixture for Cakes, Pies, Muffins and Cookies
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 cup gluten-free flour mixture
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack in center of oven.  Grease bottom of 8-inch baking pan (I used 9-inch because I needed more bars) with cooking spray or butter and dust with rice flour.
2.  Put flour, sugar, xanthan gum in mixing bowl and whisk to blend.  Cube butter into small pieces and add to mixture in small batches and mix on low speed until crumbly (I found that using my hands worked much better). Pour dough into baking pan and press down to cover the bottom.
3. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown.  Remove from oven.

Lemon Filling:
3 large room temperature eggs
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour mixture
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (I used two lemons ... which is probably more than 2 teaspoons, but I love a strong lemon flavor)
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
powdered sugar

1. Beat eggs in large mixing bowl until foamy, then add the remaining ingredients through lemon extract and beat until well blended.  Pour onto partially baked crust.
2.  Bake in oven on center rack for 20 minutes or until set.  Cool on wire rack and cut into 16 squares. Remove squares and place on serving plate.  Sift powdered sugar over the top.  Serve at room temperature.  Store in refrigerator.
Samples. :) 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Camping and Good Eats

My family's camping trips to Bow Willow exposed me to the joys of campfire, Smores, and sleeping under the stars.  The adults would host frisbee golf tournaments while the kids hiked up the river ravine at dusk looking for gourds or played hide and seek among the desert landscape.  My favorite memory of those trips is of me introducing myself to a lantern.  I burned the shit out my palm and had a nasty blister for days.  I was definitely not friends with the lantern.  Back then, the campgrounds were primitive. Since my childhood, the area been designated for dune buggy and 4-wheel use and the campgrounds have been developed but I would like to think that I would find my way to the rock formations that I explored in my youth.

Later on in my childhood, Mother Mary, Mother Jean, Mother Patty (because you could never just yell "Mom", you had to say their first name too to get their attention) and all us kids - me, my two sisters, Linda, Steph, John V., John R., Susie, Karen and various childhood friends - would pack up the vans and motorhome and take off for exotic places like Lake Mead, Picacho State Park, Martinez Lake and Fisherman's Landing.  These places became known as "The River" and provided me with life lessons like how to swear, how to apply Sun-In to lighten my hair, how to moon the Coast Guard chopper, and how the ratio is always one beer to one water to one aspirin.
Steph, Jani, me and Linda on our way to the "Jungle Cruise"
Every morning, we would wake up in the "Hilton" (a gigantic green Coleman tent) to Mother Jean saying, "Who wants to ski?"  The lucky first one got to ski when the water was at its best - glass.  There are certain foods that I equate with these childhood camping trips. Captain Crunch cereal.  Grape Crush soda.  Doritos with ranch dip.  Maybe because Mom only allowed us to eat that crap while camping because at home it was Cheerios, milk and grapes.

Fast forward to many years later and we're camping for the Doctor Professor's birthday at Big Sycamore Canyon (which is a great little spot north of Malibu) and as the sun hits our tents in the morning, it was Emma calling out "Aunt Allie" that happily forced me out of my cozy tent.  Now as a grown-up, my camping food has become more gourmet - ostrich egg scramble and good strong Kona coffee, a firm distinction between day beer and night beer, and a Friday night dinner that is fit to serve at a dinner party ... under the stars of course.

Doctor Professor prepping the breakfast egg

Best damn bloody mary mix!
Spiced Rubbed Salmon, Rice and Lentil Pilaf, Mixed Green Salad with Berries and Maple Leaf Cookies

2 1/2 lbs. wild salmon, fillet with skin on
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1.  Make several 1/2 inch scores on the skin side of the salmon to ensure even cooking.  Flip salmon over and drizzle with EVOO.  Rub 2 or more tablespoons of spice rub on salmon.
2.  Grill 10-12 minutes depending on temperature of the grill, amount of salmon and desired doneness.

Spiced Rub Salmon

Rice and Lentil Pilaf:
1 package of Trader Joe's Jasmine Brown Rice (Green box in the freezer section), cooked (4 minutes in microwave)
1 pint of organic cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of dry roasted, unsalted pine nuts
Sprinkle of goat cheese crumbles
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
Dash of sea salt and pepper
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dried green lentils

1. Before camping trip, combine first 8 ingredients through EVOO, in a tupperware container and pack in cooler.
2. Night of dinner, boil 2 cups of water and add 1 cup of lentils, cook 10 minutes and drain.  Add cooked lentils to rice mixture, stir to combine and reheat the other ingredients.

Mixed Green Salad with Berries for Rome (Rome calls this my special salad):
2 packages of Trader Joe's Organic Spinach
1/2 small red onion, sliced
Sprinkle of dry roasted, unsalted slivered almonds
1 cup organic strawberries, sliced
Balsamic vinaigrette

Maple Leaf Cookies from Trader Joe's (these are so addicting)

Friday Night Dinner a la Allie