Tag Archives: Food allergies

Chocolate On My Mind

Chocolate, chocolate,
The whole day through.
Just an old sweet song,
Keeps chocolate on my mind.

Oh! Am I on? Is this microphone on?! I hate when I lapse into my Ray Charles impersonation accidentally.

I have had chocolate on my mind lately, mostly because I’ve been eating a fair amount, okay a lot, of it. I had the serious pleasure of feeling Food Normal in a downtown setting over the weekend for ten delicious minutes. It went like this:

  1. Go to the crazy chocolate store with The Man.
  2. Chat up the lady behind the counter about how I can’t have gluten, dairy, almonds, or eggs with my chocolate because, you know, everyone is as fascinated as I am by my new food allergies.
  3. Look utterly stunned as this lady says: “You know, we’ve been experimenting lately with hemp milk and we may still have some in the back. Would you like a hot chocolate made with hemp milk?”
  4. Barely manage something like: Is the Pope Catholic?

Let me see if I can describe the sensation of sitting in the shoppe (it’s that kind of place) window with The Man, watching the rain (the only weather we have here), and sipping the most amazing cup of hot chocolate ever: well, I can’t. The closest I can come is Ray Charles singing Chocolate, chocolate…


Filed under food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, Restaurants


Back in the olden days, we used to have this thing called Neopolitan ice cream. It was a half gallon of ice cream divided into three flavors: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate (the best flavors I would say). Seems like I haven’t seen Neopolitan ice cream in the store since I was about eight years old. For you young folks, it looked like this.

I made a little ditty recently that reminded me of Neopolitan ice cream. Basically, I took my panna cotta recipe and my chocolate pot de creme recipe and mixed them with strawberry sauce (easy: mix frozen strawberries and a load of sugar together in a sauce pot over medium heat; blend together with a stick blender et voila). You could easily use strawberry jam, too. In fact, I think that would look and taste better. Mr. Man did not like that the strawberry sauce was warm on top of cold custard (go figure).

Anyway, this is a fairly easy and cute little parfait presentation that looks like this in my granny’s antique glasses:



  1. Make the chocolate pot de creme recipe and pour into your glass. Let set up in the fridge.
  2. Either put the strawberry sauce on top next or make the panna cotta mixture and pour that over. You get the idea. If you use panna cotta next (as I did in the photo), you’ll have to wait overnight for it to set up before you put on the strawberry layer. The strawberry layer can be nice for hiding unsightly blemishes in the panna cotta.
  3. Pig out.


Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, ice cream, Recipes

You Gotta Panna Cotta

I think I have expressed my affection for custards several times before on this blog. And as the custard-making foods like eggs and cow dairy go AWOL from my diet and join the Allergy-Bad-They-Want-to-Kill-Me camp, it’s really nice to find some custards that I can actually eat.

Panna cotta is truly dreamy. I don’t think my recipe is dreamy, but I think it’s as close as I’m likely to get for a while. My next attempts with panna cotta will probably be in the savory category and include chevre and bacon, something along these lines. I think the chevre would give it the richness and mouth feel I’m craving.

For now, this works pretty darn good. I’m sorry it’s not vegan. I worked on this for a while, so I kind of ran out of steam to go that extra mile. However, I’m sure now that it could be done by a determined vegan using arrowroot powder, nut or rice milk, and coconut milk. If you come up with something, do let me know. I can no longer experiment with this recipe because I’ve eaten twice my body weight in coconut milk this month.

Panna Cotta for the Cow-Allergic

1/2 c goat milk

all but 3/4 tsp of a gelatin packet

1 can of coconut milk

1/4 c agave syrup

pinch of salt

1 tsp coconut or vanilla extract (depending on your end flavor goal)

1/4 c sheep yogurt

Put the goat milk in a bowl and gently sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let that stand for about 10 minutes or so to soften the gelatin, like so:

Gelatin in Goat Milk

In a saucepan, heat one can of coconut milk with a pinch of salt over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1/4 c agave syrup and 1 tsp of extract. Whisk in the goat milk-gelatin mixture.

When the mixture is warm-ish, add 1/4 c of sheep yogurt (I find it’s less tangy than goat, and here you want less tangy; otherwise, this just ends up tasting like stiff yogurt). Pour this mixture into ramekins and refrigerate overnight.

Important Note: You really need to let it sit if not overnight, then several hours or it won’t gel correctly. You don’t want it stiff. You want it to just hold together and be lovely.

To serve, either eat it straight from the ramekin, like so:

Panna Cotta in Ramekin

Or add some fruit on the side or a quince glaze, thusly:

Panna Cotta with Quince Glaze

Or, my favorite, add some chocolate sauce for a little Mounds bar theme. If you can eat almonds, sprinkle some of those around and call it Almond Joy Panna Cotta.

If you’re going to eat it out of the ramekins, dislodging it can be tricky. First, hold a warm cloth to the ramekin for a few seconds. Next, run a sharp knife around the edge. Then put a plate face down on top of the ramekin. You see where we’re going with this right? Now turn the whole thing upside down to plop the panna cotta onto the plate. Your goal is something like this:

Mounds Panna Cotta



Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, goat/sheep cheese, Recipes

How to Make Really Bad Marmalade

  1. Start with beautiful Seville oranges and a few lemons. Place them on your fabulous new bamboo countertop.
  2. Follow the recipe from one of your favorite cookbooks, Mary Anne Dragan’s Well Preserved.
  3. Cut the oranges into the tiniest darn slivers you can possibly manage. These? These are way too big. Don’t do it like this.
    Oranges Slivered for Marmalade
  4. Spend all of your Saturday night sweating over the stove happily jamming away. You’re making marmalade after all, and you know how much you love marmalade.
  5. In your excitement, give two jars of the stuff to your brother-in-law who happens to be visiting so that he can take them home to your sisters-in-law (note: he is not married to two women, but your sisters-in-law do live in the same town). Do this without first tasting the marmalade to make sure it’s good. Say to yourself: “Wow, these look awesome! They’re going to be fantastic. My sisters-in-law are going to be so very impressed!”Orange Marmalade in Jars
  6. Wake up the next day and make gluten-free scones. Pour (uh-oh, why is it pouring out of the jar–it didn’t gel?!) copious amounts of the liquid orange stuff onto your beautiful scones.
  7. Watch your husband’s face as he tries to hide his displeasure.
  8. Take a bite.
  9. Die a little inside as you realize your marmalade totally sucks–it’s bitter and soupy–and you actually gave away two jars of it to your poor, unsuspecting female relations.
  10. Learn these hard lessons about making marmalade:
    • Cut the orange slices thin, microscopically thin.
    • Don’t trust the recipe for cooking time nor your thermometer for Jelly temperature.
    • Use the thermometer and the plate test to test for gelling consistency before you put the marmalade in the cute little jars and process them.
    • Always, always, always taste things before you serve them to people, or god forbid, send them to your sisters-in-law. (You thought you had learned this lesson a long time ago, but alas, you are a bad student.)
  11. Console yourself with how pretty it looked on the scones.

Scones with Marmalade

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      Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan

      Reader Recipes: Chocolate Pudding

      A while back, Allergy Mom sent me a recipe for chocolate pudding. It came at a great time as I had begun to wonder if I’d ever eat chocolate again. It had been on my list of suspects. I’m happy to report that for now, anyway, it doesn’t seem to bother me. Hallelujah choir sing!

      When I looked at the recipe, I said to myself, “Self, last time you made something with cocoa powder you thought it sucked. So let’s experiment, shall we?” We did.

      Here’s what my Self and I came up with. It’s Allergy Mom’s recipe on chocolate crack.

      (Vegan) Chocolate Pot de Creme

      2 C coconut milk (one can)

      1/4 C agave syrup

      5 T arrowroot powder

      1/2 C chocolate chips

      2 t vanilla

      Run the coconut milk through a fine sieve. This removes any stray coconut chunks–maybe mine was old, who knows. In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk and arrowroot powder. To prevent nasty arrowroot powder chunks, either put a small amount in with a small amount of coconut milk and stir out all the chunks as you would corn starch; or, when adding the arrowroot to the coconut milk mixture, sift it through a fine sieve while whisking the coconut milk. Does that make sense?

      Heat that up until it gets a little thick. Allergy Mom said to boil, but I’m not sure that was really necessary. You can have fun experimenting. Just get it hot. Then add the agave and vanilla and remove from the heat.

      While that’s heating up, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. When those are melted and smooth, add the mixture to your coconut milk mixture. Then, pour into ramekins and serve, or chill and serve. I think it was best chilled because it was more like pot de creme that way, which I never thought I’d have again. Also, to make it look a little nicer, you can top it with some kind of glaze (since, if you’re me, you can’t top it with whipped cream).

      Chocolate Pot de Creme

      Without a glaze or sauce, you can see these little pock marks. Doesn’t bother me, but you could dress it up a bit if you’re serving them to VIPs. Here’s a pic with a basic strawberry sauce, but my favorite was a quince glaze that I made from some quince jelly I made last fall. (FYI, quince has to appear in italics anytime it appears on this blog due to its very special place in my heart.)

      Chocolate Pot de Creme with Strawberry Sauce

      I really, really, really enjoyed this treat. I’m also happy that it’s vegan for my very special vegan friend, RCMB. Hope you like it, too!


      Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, Recipes

      Reader Recipes, Part One: Falafels

      As regular readers will recall, I had some unfortunate encounters with falafels a couple of months ago. Thankfully, a reader was gracious enough to send a new falafel recipe to me to try (look at the Comments in that link). I had imagined this post would be my triumphant report of beautiful falafels. Alas, the cooking muse had other plans for me.

      One thing I have learned: it’s not the recipe, it’s me. I am clearly doing something wrong, very wrong. I made two batches last night and both sets turned out the same: big fat oily soup messes.

      Falafel Mess

      Batch number 2

      So I call on readers once again to help me out here! What the heck am I doing wrong?

      Here’s what I did:

      1. I followed the recipe religiously.
      2. I gently stuffed the falafel mixture into a tablespoon and dropped the little nuggets into hot oil (the pan was on med-high heat). In this batch, I used a lot of oil…enough that it came up the side of the falafels but did not cover them.
      3. When that resulted in a disintegrated soupy bean mess, I got a new pan and started over. In this batch, I used about 1/3 of the amount of oil as in the first batch.
      4. Then I packed the falafel mixture tightly into the tablespoon, thinking it was my technique that was off. The results, however, were the same.

      So, what is going on here? Would making them bigger help?

      It’s one thing to fail miserably the first time, but the second time? Come on!


      Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, Recipes

      Gluten-free Pancakes, Oh My!

      Not sure why I’ve been so into breakfast lately. Maybe it’s because breakfast is the first meal I cook on weekends so I’m really paying attention and into it. Also, I’m trying to add grains back into my diet and breakfast is a great way to do that.

      There is a local restaurant that makes awesome corn pancakes with ground toasted hazelnuts. I was thinking about those this morning and decided to try it for myself. Here’s what I came up with.

      GF Banana-Walnut Corn Pancakes

      1/2 c. corn meal

      1/4 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

      1 small mushy banana, mushed

      1 tsp. cinnamon

      1 Tbs. agave syrup

      pinch of salt

      1/2 c. hazelnut milk

      oil for frying

      (serves 2; makes 6 silver dollars)

      If you have a warming drawer, turn it on and put your serving plates inside. Dig the maple syrup out of the back of the fridge and get that warmed up as well.

      Next, put all your dry stuff in a bowl, like so:

      Corn Cakes Dry Ingredients

      Heat up your nonstick skillet pretty high and put a little oil in there. I used canola today, but any ol’ oil would do, and/or butter.

      Then, add the hazelnut milk to your dry stuff and mix together gently and loosely (don’t beat it to death). Drop pancakes as silver dollars into your skillet like so:

      Corn Cakes Frying in Skillet

      Note that there is way too much oil in this pan. Add less than I did!

      Fry on both sides until they’re slightly browned. Add maple syrup and goat butter or margarine. Then, enjoy these little corn bombs!

      If I were to make this recipe again, I’d probably add some tapioca flour to see if that would lighten up the batter a bit, or Wonderslim’s Egg and Fat Substitute (I avoid Egg Replacer due to the potato starch = sulfites). These weren’t overly heavy, but it’s definitely a lot of corn. I’d also spread my batter thinner next time.

      Banana-Walnut Corn Cakes

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      Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, Recipes

      Adventures in Panna Cotta

      I really love custards. But what’s not to love about cream, eggs, and sugar? Now that those three basic food groups are off my personal menu, I’ve struggled to come up with a good replacement.

      I turn now to a favorite subject: panna cotta. Sally Schneider has a truly knockout recipe which I’m sure I’ve mentioned at least a thousand times on this blog already for panna cotta made with sour cream. It’s really divine.

      But how can I have panna cotta without cow dairy? Strangely, not a whole lot is out there on the Internet about how to make panna cotta with goat milk. I have found one recipe that I am going to try very soon.

      The basic problem is that panna cotta is cooked cream. The fat globules in goat milk are smaller than cow’s milk. I’m thinking that all those little fat globules you’d normally get with cream just don’t gel, literally.

      So what about coconut milk? I’ve been experimenting and so far I have made a very tasty coconut-something-or-other that is more the consistency of yogurt, not panna cotta. But I’m almost there! Just a little more tweaking…and I shall have the recipe for you.


      Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, goat/sheep cheese, Recipes

      My Hands Are Plastic

      For those readers who simply can’t wait until I update My Health Project page, here’s a photo of my new plastic hand. It’s fake, not actually real.

      Just kidding. It’s real. But it might as well be fake because my hands haven’t looked this good since I was about twenty-five. I bow down to the almighty steroid and cortisone creams, for which I am truly grateful.

      Those little black Frankenstein stitches are from the biopsies. I should get the results next Friday. Until then, I’ll see if my new plastic hands can cook any better than my old hands.

      Hand as of March 4 2008

      My new plastic hand

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      Filed under Food allergies

      Can Food Allergies be Temporary?

      When I first got tested for food allergies a few months ago, my doctor said, “Let’s test again in six months because these things can come and go.” Hmm. What did that mean? I have looked all over the Web and can’t find much on this topic, besides the fact that children often outgrow their food allergies and I’m way past childhood.

      I hate to have this flower of hope bloom so passionately inside me. Just the idea of eating real panna cotta again someday is a unique kind of torture.

      To clarify without getting into jargon, I’m actually talking about food “intolerance,” not “allergy,” like a peanut allergy. So, can food intolerances be temporary?

      My skin is finally clearing. I just realized I had a staph infection for months (maybe years, who knows). I sound like a broken record around the house: “When my skin is clear, I want to see how much <eggs, garlic, almonds, cow dairy> I can tolerate.” Anecdotal evidence suggests that people have intolerance thresholds. I’d like to find out what mine are. Always gotta find the loophole!

      I’d also like to know if having a staph infection makes one more sensitive to foods. For example, if I clear up this infection, will I be less sensitive to <eggs, garlic, almonds, cow dairy>? Does that have anything at all to do with this? Does anyone know the answers to these questions?

      I’d also like to have my own private doctor, someone who could answer all my questions whenever I ask them. Because I’m curious and afflicted, and inquiring minds wanna know.


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