Friday, May 27, 2011

Great gluten-free alternative to bread crumbs

For those of you who follow my blog to read my writing updates, I hope you will indulge me now and then as I share some baking and cooking tips along the way. I will spare you the gory, medical details, but eating gluten-free has become a new way of life for me. After feeling lousy and having all sorts of weird medical anomalies happen to me, I grew tired of going to the doctor. All my tests checked out "normal" or "abnormal but not dangerous," and my gastro-intestinal doctor told me that I should just take stronger acid reflux medication and call it a day.

I was not OK with resigning myself to being on strong medication daily for life with no explanation. I asked for a celiac blood screen, and the result was negative. A family member had gone gluten free and had great success with it even though she also tested negative for celiac. After doing some research, I discovered that many gluten-intolerant people test negative on the blood screen. So, I decided I would cut wheat for a day and see what happened to me. Imagine my surprise (and relief!) when the very next day my heartburn was almost gone! I have days where I still ache, but I'm so much better than I was a few months ago. I'm hopeful that at some point in the future I might even be able to gain a pound or two! What an amazing thing that would be since I've barely weighed 100 pounds since high school!

Anyway, I'm getting into this far more than I intended to. Let me share what led to this blog post. I was in the kitchen this evening preparing dinner - salmon patties with remoulade sauce, sweet potato fries (well, actually they are made from garnet yams), and green beans - when I decided my gluten-free "bread crumb" idea was too easy not to share.

I love food, and I refuse to let eating gluten-free mean that I lose out on all the foods that make my heart sing. One of those foods (for me) is salmon patties. I read over the recipe on the Chicken of the Sea salmon packet and realized that the only ingredient I couldn't use was bread crumbs. I don't even know what made me think of it, but it works great. Instead of bread crumbs, I crush up Rice Chex! The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups bread crumbs. I take 4 cups Rice Chex, put them in a gallon Ziploc bag, seal the bag, and then work out all my frustrations by crushing the cereal in the bag. (If you are environmentally conscientious, you can save the Ziploc bag to use again. Just make sure you don't get any ingredients that could spoil on or in the bag). Voila - instant GF bread crumbs! No baking. No looking for GF ingredients at specialty stores. Perfect for this rural-living girl! :)

Thanks for indulging me! I hope this post helps at least one other person!

Salmon Patties (adapted from the recipe on the Chicken of the Sea packet)
1 - 6 oz. packet skinless, boneless salmon
1/4 cup chopped green onions (I do about 3)
1/4 cup mayo
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
dash cayenne pepper (if you are adventurous)
1/4 cup red bell pepper (I leave this out)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs - (crush 4 cups Rice Chex in a bag - use one cup of the crumbs, and reserve the rest)

3 Tbsp. butter for cooking

Combine everything in a bow (except butter). Mix well. Form mixture into 4 balls. Rolls balls in remaining bread crumbs. Flatten into cakes about 1/2-inch thick. In skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook patties until golden brown on each side.

When they are finished cooking, I put them on a plate with a paper towel under the patties, and one over the patties to drain off the excess butter.

Remoulade Sauce (for dipping)
1/2 cup mayo
3 green onions, chopped finely
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, or brown spicy mustard (for kick)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, or stir in dried parsley flakes

Mix all ingredients together. Goes well with salmon patties and other fish. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oh, the Mystery of it All!

For writers group this month, we were asked to write a mystery. We were also asked to keep it brief - something that will add to the difficulty of this writers challenge. I suppose that is why we call it a "challenge!" :) Here goes...

"Where's your brother?" my mom called out.

"I don't know," I said, my little voice wavering with worry. "We were playing hide and seek, and I still haven't found him."

I tried to think back to all of the places he liked to hide. I had checked under his bed. That was the most obvious place for him to hide. I remember looking in the bathroom, in a few lower kitchen cupboards, and behind the couch. My brother Zach was always good at hiding, but it was unusual for it to take so long to find him. We were beginning to get worried. By this point I was prepared to concede defeat. He had won; he was the grand champion hide-and-seek hider. I had gone to find my mother because by this point I knew I was not going to find him by myself.

My mother joined me in looking underneath all of our beds. We opened the cabinets again. We even looked outside. When we still found no sign of him, we began to look for clues. Surely, he had left something to help us find where he was hidden. Maybe he had eaten a snack on the way to his hiding spot and we would be able to find a trail of crumbs. Maybe he had taken off his shoes, and we would spot them along the way. Everything in the house became a possible clue to help us locate my missing, little brother.

At first the mystery was fun. It was fun to play detective and hunt for him. But after a while, I started getting really worried, and so did my mom. We abandoned only looking and we started shouting for him. He was not responding, even though I was yelling out, "You won! You can come out!" Either he was being very stubborn, or something was wrong. Just as we were about to call the police and report him missing, we found him. Where do you think he was?

In a closet, curled up and sleeping in a pile of shoes! Congratulations to my little brother (not-so-little anymore) on being a stealthy hider, and having to wait so long for me to find you that you fell asleep on the shoes!