Friday, September 1, 2017

The skinny...

...on gluten

homemade gluten free cookies

It's more than a buzz word now. It is a real thing. It's not a fad or a craze and it's here to stay. I'm not even really sure how we as a society got to this point that has changed millions of people's dietary habits to live a gluten free life...although I have my theory. 
In any case, a gluten free diet is a committed life style change and it's very different for every person that decides to at the very least try it. 
Now, there is huge difference between Celiac disease, wheat allergies & gluten sensitivity and you can read all about those here at
 The site is a wealth of information from getting started, tips to recipes.
 **Disclaimer**A visit with your Dr. is always a good idea if you're planning on making big dietary changes. 

homemade gf peach crisp
Truth be told, I am by no means an expert in this field & my reasons for a gf lifestyle will be very different from yours. I get asked a lot of questions about why I'm gf and friends shudder at the thought of not eating bread-But here's a question for you...if you eat something that causes pain and makes you feel miserable, why would you still want to eat it? (insert curious thinking emoji)

It was after eating at an Israeli restaurant, where all I ate were their salads and laffa bread. Within an hour I was miserable in my own skin & in quite some discomfort. I kept thinking I didn't eat that much & couldn't understand why I hurt. The next morning, still feeling uncomfortable, ate a bowl of Total cereal. Completely healthy right? But 100% whole grain wheat. Almost immediately, the symptoms I felt from the night before made themselves apparent. For me, that was a light bulb moment some 4+ years ago. In hind site, I had been gluten sensitive years before it was a household word.

 I decided to stop eating anything wheat related for three days to see what would change-if anything. 
By the 3rd day, my belly bloat disappeared and the nagging headache that plagued me morning till night disappeared. It was a no brainer at that point and decided that matter what bread, cookies and brownies weren't worth it. In time, other symptoms faded. The hypoglycemia that I was diagnosed with some 25 yrs ago...gone. I started having more energy and I've just never looked back.
That brings me to present day.
 I'm constantly trying new products, I scour Pinterest looking for recipes and I've been tossing the idea around of adding gluten free posts for some time now. A comment that my blogging friend Nicki made on my last post lit a fire under me to just jump in and do it.
Thank you Nicki!
I'm still feeling my way but it's like any other dietary's for life so yeah, I'm constantly looking for more dishes to add into my world.  I can certainly take some guess work out for you to boot.
So, that's my story-
I've got some things on the back burner that I'm excited to be sharing soon.
Of course,
questions and comments are always welcomed. If I don't know, we'll find out together!

Happy (September) shooting!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Summer Peach Crisp...

...with Whiskey Butterscotch Sauce

About a month ago, the aroma of peaches grabbed a hold of me at the grocery story and I knew immediately I was hungry for a peach crisp. Of course the cold storage peaches we get here are nothing like what I remember as a kid, spending time vacationing in Pennsylvania with my grandparents and picking peaches right off the tree. Nothing beats a fresh picked peach and I'm lucky enough to have eaten the difference!

But, one does what she can with what she's got.
 I scoured Pinterest for a basic crisp recipe and found it 
here at Lollyjane ...
...and while I'm sure this recipe can stand on it's own, baking is about being expressive and creative and I wanted to play with some flavors that were swirling around in my head. 

I chose to add ginger and fresh nutmeg. Before I put the crumble on I give a few twists of cracked pepper to the peaches. Crazy I know-but I swear it works. I always keep a tube of Ginger paste from Gourmet Garden in my fridge along with fresh whole nutmeg. I always use Saigon cinnamon because it contains essential oil and has a more distinct flavor.
I can eat tiny, tiny, teenny amounts of gluten but this crisp is not that tiny amount I can eat. I paid for my foolishness for two days so I tweaked the crisp part for us gluten peeps!

gluten free 

I got up early this morning to bake the gf crisp before the sun came up and 150 degrees outside!
** I added another 1/2 peach to the recipe amount to fit my 8" cast iron.

gluten free

Lets talk about this sauce!

from HERE at Serious Eats. 
Austin told me to add 2 more TBSPs of whisky without changing the ratio of anything else and I really wish I would have listened him!

It just takes the crisp to a whole new dimension!

gluten free

Hopefully you can still find peaches to try this. If you make it, I'd love to hear about it.

Summer Peach Crisp 
Serves 4

For the Fruit
2 heaping cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
 2 TBSP cornstarch
3/4 tsp fresh ginger
fresh nutmeg, to taste
a couple of turns of cracked black pepper

For the Topping
4 TBSP butter, melted
3/4 cup all purpose flour  
(1/2 c gf oats, ground, 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP gf all purpose flour)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
scant 3 TBSP granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*
In a medium bowl mix together ingredients for the fruit. 
Spoon fruit into four standard ramekins that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. 
(or 8" cast iron skillet see ** above)
In the same bowl mix together flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Add in melted butter and mix with a fork. Mixture will not be completely wet but more sandy in texture. (It should clump together if you squeeze it) (The gluten free topping will be completely wet)
Sprinkle mixture over the fruit. Leave some larger clumps so it stays crisper while baking.
Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is lightly golden brown and fruit is bubbling. Cool for a bout 15 minutes before serving.

Hope this crisp hits the spot as summer sends down. Shoot me an email if you have any questions!

Happy (summer days) shooting!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017



I sat with my coffee at the kitchen table this morning, staring out the window, waiting for the sun to come out, quickly realizing that it most likely would not make her predictable appearance. There was an odd shift in the weather, gray, overcast skies. Thick, warm air that makes you work for a breath seemed stale and still. Whatever it was seemed to matched my mood. My usually quiet insides were screaming (and still are although better) to make time slow down and not let summer end. 

It happens every August 1, when I flip the calendar and see "1st day of instruction." This year, it's worse only it shouldn't because once I get going it's 180 days of "lasts." My last first day, my last group of kids, my last winter and spring break, my last last day of school. This past school year was tulmultuious at best and things haven't quite settled yet so I know that's part of it. Rotten & underserving things have happened to co-workers that have completely unnerved me and I know that's part of it too. 

It's the shift from laissez-faire days to waking up to an alarm clock that has me feeling like a kicking and screaming child that wants her way to play a little longer. The littlest, quiet part of me is telling me that this too is a "last", take a breath and count my blessings.

I need to trust the process and tell myself over and over and over again, that everything is happening exactly the way it is suppose to. 
Honest to goodness...right now...looking out that same window as this morning, a rainbow has appeared over the valley. 
So, this is where I stand on this first day of August...shifting with the weather, a belly full of butterflies waiting for optimism that I expect of myself to return, looking for balance through it all.

How do you take shifts in your life? Do you journal, paint, clean, exercise? 
Please share, I'd love to hear.

Happy (August) shooting!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Little Things...


The Storrier-Stearns garden is a sweet little 2-acre hidden oasis in Pasadena that I discovered through Group-on. Between my work/summer schedule and it's select open days, it seemed timing wasn't on my side until last week. 

I learned that during the 19th Century, Americans had a fascination with Japanese culture. The garden was built for the wealthy couple, Charles & Ellamae Storrier-Stearns by craftsman and landscape designer, Kinzuchi Fuji. The land was actually flat but Mr. Fuji began the construction of the tranquil multi-level garden that it is today after a year of planning. It took 7 years to build. 

The original tea house burned down in the early 80's but was rebuilt by another accomplished landscape architect, Dr. Takeo Uesugi using Mr Fuji's original plans he took with him to an interment camp where he spent the duration of the war. The garden has several alcoves with seating so the visitor can enjoy quiet reflection and contemplation. 

The highlight of the day was attending a tea ceremony where I learned the fascinating history of tea houses by a sweet docent, Yumi, dressed in a traditional kimono.

Not part of the gardens, but across the street was a little park that I wandered through before my drive home. I came upon a Wish Tree which later found out was inspired in part from an art series by Yoko Ono where a wish is written and tied to a tree. 
I found it to be a beautiful and moving sentiment and didn't dare read the hopes of others.

Summer is quickly coming to an end for me with only a few more weeks to play, discover and just be...but what a summer it's been!
I'm sharing over at Tamar's today.

Happy (summer) Snapping!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Little Things...


Hello July and hello to you!
I probably don't have to tell you how fast this summer is zipping' by. 
It struck me this morning how my best-laid-plans to be here, in this space over the break, haven't gone the way I first envisioned. I've learned though, to go with the flow~and I'm never far away really. Things actually started way back at the end of May when I flew up to North Dakota to visit my oldest son, Justin, who's stationed at Minot.
My big girl camera, Matilda, has been in overdrive ever since.

Justin was stationed in Korea for several years and we just needed some face time...REAL face time.
It was a hoot and quite a different experience. 

It's a different world than either of us were expecting as were out and about exploring.

Gol Stave Church-a replica of the original that was built in Gol, Hallingdal, Norway

The original was built in 1157-1216
Soon after, the Mr and I took a quick cruise to Havana, Cuba.

The view from a hilltop overlooking the bay of Havana

Cuba has been on my bucket list way before I even knew what a bucket list was...I was like 7. I remember very hush hush conversations between my parents about Cuba. I'm sure they weren't pleasant conversations. It was the 70's & we didn't have the news sources we do today.

Cristo de La Habana on top of the hill overlooking the bay of Havana
is 66 ft. tall and made of Carrara marble brought from Italy.
Their music is electric.

Years before my dad got Alzheimers, he use to tell me that when he was on his death bed, he'd tell me how close we were to a full scale nuclear war. But that's not a secret anymore.  I just never imagined that as an American I'd ever be able to visit.

So imagine my excitement when restrictions were eased and U.S. citizens could actually go.
 (Thank you President Obama!)
Cuba has been demystified and I hope to go back. Going on a cruise is great to get feet your wet, but I  wanna get soaked in the culture. 
It's totally true about the cars there 
(big puffy heart)

We no sooner got home, and 3 days later, the Mr. and I were off to Kauai.

Waimea Canyon...

...known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

3,000 feet deep with AMAZING views and great hiking

Spouting Horn in Poipu
waves are forced under a lava shelf and the forced through an opening 

Wailua Falls
This waterfall was featured on the opening credits of Fantasy Island.

Roosters are EVERYWHERE after Hurricane INIKI hit the Island in '92. It destroyed chicken coops and released domesticated hens and as well as roosters that were bread for fighting. 
Other happenings...
*This is my last year of work! YUP...I'm retiring at the end of the 2017-18 school year. I can't even say that without grinning from ear to ear & a butterfly or two in my stomach!
*The Mr. only has about 2 1/2 years until he's done, so we're planning our retirement and getting ready to look at our forever house that's NOT in CA. We just got in touch with a there local realtor who'll be showing us homes. I've been on Zillow every-single-day. Stay tuned!
*Austin leaves for Navy boot Camp Feb. 2, so this 4th of July was extra special and a little bitter sweet because it will be the last time all the cousins will be together for a long time. I'm savoring every Mom moment I can.
*If you follow me on IG, you'll know I've been participating in a summer "index card a day" art project. The host gives out weekly prompts and it's up to you to interpret them and create. It's less daunting working on a 3x5 card then a BIG OLE blank sheet of paper. It's been A LOT of fun for me carving out time to just play.

Crazy I tell ya!
I bet this is what retirement is like!

What's the summer like for you?
Please share.

Happy (vacation) shooting!

I'm sharing over at Tamar's today.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Soft, Chewy...

...Chocolate Chip Cookie

There are very few things I miss when I chose to become gluten free. Donuts being one and
Chocolate chip cookies with a glass of milk is another. I mean 

I stumbled across these cookies on IG May 4th, Star Wars Day. One thing led to another and I ended up on
for the recipe. I've since made them twice. Ku'uipo was kind enough to let me repost the recipe because I think they are THAT good. You NEED these in your life, and so do the people you love. In fact, I think there could be world peace if everyone had this cookie to love and adore...just sayin!

Now, I'm known to bastardizing most recipes I use. I've been cooking long enough to know if ingredients go well together, and how my brood likes their food~(cheeky smile) When it comes to baking though, except for a few exceptions, I pretty much stick to the recipe. I guess maybe because baking is more like a science, I kinda suck at science and sometimes most times the results can be disastrous. I followed Ku'uipo's recipe to the letter the first time I baked these. Austin and his girlfriend, Amanda, loved them but they both voiced they'd liked more salt...hmmph kids. We went back and forth on the best way to do this & keep the integrity of the cookie. I won-since I was doing the baking and besides, I already knew what I wanted. It gave me the perfect excuse to go buy finishing salt. 
I splurged on Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.
  I was even able to pick them up at my local grocery store. The flakes add that extra visual, textural and flavor that I envisioned. The kids thought so too. 
I've even seen the Mr. grab a cookie and he's not big on sweets.

I do not have Celiac but eating wheat products of any kind makes me miserable so I just stopped eating it. The only gluten I do eat is a small portion of challah on Shabbat, I'll cut and eat 1/4 of a donut if someone is kind enough to bring them to work, and 1/2 of one of these cookies. Man was it good-and I needed some major self control to not eat the whole thing. Watching friends and loved ones enjoy these makes up for not being able fully enjoy these with a tall glass of ice cold milk.

Seriously, this is everything you need in a cookie. Trust me! I kept the recipe as originally posted. I just sprinkled the sea salt flakes immediately after taking the cookies out of the oven.
And thank you Ku'uipo  for letting me share your recipe. She's got lots of other delicious meals and treats if you want to go and check it out.
Share the wealth I always say~
Happy (cookie baking) snapping!

Soft, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
These soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies with a subtle caramel flavor make you want more. Warm from the oven they will melt in your mouth. 
 large cookies
  1. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place the melted butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Whisk until well combined. Whisk in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Do not overmix. 
  3. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  4. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Line pans with parchment paper.
  6. If the cookie dough is hard to handle, leave it on the counter for a few minutes.
  7. Drop rounded balls of dough onto prepared baking sheet, the size of 3 tablespoons each. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies just begin to brown at the edges and center is still soft. Cookies will appear undone but will continue to bake on the warm baking sheet. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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