Monday, May 25, 2009

Sweet and Sour Lentils

When Riley and I started dating, this one was her favourite. It was the Red Lentil soup that first got her attention, but this one kept her coming back.

It has the familiar sweet & sour flavor that is a hit with our kids, but lentils instead of meat, of course. This makes it a good choice for Lentil day, especially since lentils are one of the few legumes we can rotate at the moment.

2 c. water

1 c. brown/green lentils

2 buillion cubes

1 bay leaf

½ tsp salt

¼ c. (pine)apple juice

¼ c. cider vinegar (plain vinegar is not as good, but will do in a pinch)

¼ c. brown sugar, packed

1 can pineapple tidbits , drained (optional)

1 T. corn starch or tapioca starch

½ c. cold water

1 med onion, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

½ green pepper, chopped

Olive Oil (as necessary )

Appx. 3 cups cooked rice (1 ½ cups uncooked)

1. Rinse lentils in running water until they stop foaming.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes.

3. Combine last 5 ingredients in a deep pan. Saute in just enough oil to lubricate the pan, until the vegetables are as crunchy or tender as you like them.

4. When the vegetables are done, add the juice, vinegar and brown sugar. If your lentils are done, you may add them at this point, or after step 5.

5. Simmer the vegetable/juice/vinegar mix for 10 minutes.

6. Mix 1 T. cornstarch (ir Tapioca) and ½ c cold water in a jar. Shake well and add to mixture. Cook at medium heat until the mixture thickens.

7. Serve over hot rice.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flegg, the DIY vegi egg

How do you make Flegg?

You take flax seeds, about 1/4 cup, and boil them in a cup of water until the water starts to resemble egg white. About the time that it foams and boils all over the stove, you know it is done. (If you are paying attention, you can skip the boiling over part.) You quick filter it, before it cools too much, and voila! You have vegi egg white. One TBSP replaces about one egg.

It is a pain to work with. I've been making mine about half strength, and doubling the amount I use, and it is still a pain. It is a non-Newtonian fluid, which means that if you try to spoon it out, you get nothing, and if you try to pour it, you get everything. I need to get some ice cube trays so that I can freeze it in one egg portions instead of measuring it every time. I recommend that when you go to the store to buy whole flax seed, you also buy a metal strainer and some ice cube trays.

If you don't pour it into single serving portions while still hot, the best way I have found of measuring it is to dip in a measuring spoon and scoop out a blob. Quickly scrape the top of the spoon with a knife, like you do when measuring out flour. This cuts off the flegg in the spoon from the flegg outside of the spoon.

You have to cut it because flegg is composed of soluble fiber; it is long carbohydrate strands that hold onto water and hold things together. It isn't going to replace your xanthan gum or your gluten. It kind of replaces the structural properties of the egg protein. You will know that you have used too much if your end product feels gooey, like when you use too much xanthan gum.

Flegg is NOT an emulsifier, meaning it won't hold your oil and your water together. I still haven't found a good non-egg-non-soy emulsifier. Mustard does the same job, but I don't' think mustard would help my brownies any. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

I have used flegg successfully in GF:
Carrot Cake

It has done a passable job in pancakes (you have to use a metal spatula to flip them, because they are going to stick).

It has failed me spectacularly in:
Waffles (since a metal spatula isn't going to help you here)
Brownies (you REALLY need an emulsifier to keep all the fat in)

When my Dad taught me to make pancakes he told me that if your pancakes are sticking, the solution is to put more oil IN the pancake, not ON the pan. I think the sticking that happens with pancakes and waffles is the emulsification issue again. I don't know the microstructure of waffle batter, but it seems like the oil isn't where it needs to be to allow the waffle to come off.

So, we're back to toast most mornings. Rice with Teff, sorghum and uncontaminated oat, in a rotation, at least until we're ready to try millet again.

Flegg in the rotation.

Flegg, not Frack, though that was kind of what I thought when I first had to try it. Flegg is a do-it-yourself Flax-based egg replacer.

You see, this past year, the Maestro started Kindergarten at a French Immersion school nearby, partly because the gifted school we wanted to get him into was full, and partly because we hoped that having him learn French would keep his brain busy enough that he would enjoy school. It turns out that they spent weeks learning the names of the colours and he was just bored in another language.

By Christmas break things were going so poorly that he was staying in the coat room for most of the morning, and something desperately had to change. I called the gifted school and through the judicious manipulation of conversational pause length, we got him a spot replacing someone who moved. We also started seeing a psychologist, who told us that he is an INTJ, which means, among other things, that he has "an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority...for its own sake." This is not generally an appreciated trait within a Kindergarten classroom.

We also found out that he has some pretty serious ADHD, which is also not a generally appreciated trait within a Kindergarten classroom. We knew that he was H, but were actually surprised at the AD part. He focuses so intensely on things that he likes. He got the nom de plume of the Maestro because he knew all the instruments of the orchestra by the time he was three, by sight AND by sound. An english horn and an oboe are pretty tough to distinguish. He has since moved on to submarines, whaling, space, pirates, and now Star Wars. It turns out that that is part of the profile of ADD: intense attention on interesting things. It is the not interesting things that are hard to pay attention to.

The psychologist we have been going to is really good at finding alternative ways to treat ADHD, including changes in diet. The Maestro has been developing food sensitivities other than Gluten and Casein so we have been on a rotation diet the past few months. This is partly to help identify foods that are a problem, and partly to keep other foods from becoming a problem. Scientific studies on rotation diets are generally inconclusive; they tend to find that research subjects are unable to stay on a rotation diet.

I don't disagree. We haven't been nearly precise enough to satisfy control group issues. We've done the best we can, and statistical significance aside, it seems to make a huge difference. Here is a list of foods that have had to leave the rotation.

Beans (especially soy)
Corn, in any form.

Other things we are sceptical of, but haven't been banned completely.

Citrus Fruit

So, Eggs. What do you do without eggs? You don't do much baking if the second thing on the banned list is beans. The thing is, the best egg replacer I have come across is 1 tsp of soy powder and 2 TBSP of water. It works as a great emulsifier, keeping everything together, and it has protein that helps hold your stuff together. But if you can't have soy, then what?

You use Flegg.