Saturday, May 6, 2017

Branching Out

So, as you know I write YA fantasy novels, which is my dream job. I also do a lot of arting.  In recent years, I've tried putting the two together by doing a webcomic (which desperately needs updating) and I've considered doing children's picture books. Well, the latter is in the works. I created a character named Amelia, who is a sassy 4 year old. I have plenty of ideas for her. Her first story is in the rough draft stage and there will be at least 2 more done before I publish. I'm once again going to go the self publishing route at first. It hasn't been super successful so far with my novels, but that's mostly because I don't have the money for marketing. Anyway, I'm pretty excited about this and hope it goes well. I'll keep you in the loop as the stories progress.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Recipe Time: Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

The other day, I said to myself, "Self, I want some cake."
Self was like, "Me too."
So, naturally we had to make one. After browsing through some recipes online, I put together my own concoction and it turned out AMAZINGLY. It was soft and spongy, and the dreaded "moist" word. For something to be gluten free AND moist is not always easy. Here we go.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

1/2 c. Sugar, heaping
1/4 c. Brown sugar
1 c. Gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum
1/2 c. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Baking powder, heaping
1 tsp. Baking soda, heaping
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. Dairy free milk
1/4 c. Oil

Makes enough batter for a 9 in. round. Double it for a 9x13 pan or two rounds for a layer cake. I haven't attempted a layer cake with this recipe, so you'll have to proceed without guidance. I'm sure you'll do fine :)

Preheat oven to 350.

In one bowl, combine all dry ingredients, including the sugars. Mix thoroughly until all lumps are gone (the brown sugar will resist, but keep at it). In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, and oil. Mix well, then add to dry ingredient. Beat with electric mixer on medium for 2-3 minutes, or beat the heck out of it with a whisk. This is to incorporate some air, which helps with the final texture. Grease a 9 in. round pan (or prep with parchment paper if trying a layer cake). Pour batter in pan and bake for 25-28 minutes. (I made the mistake of opening the oven about half way, which caused the cake to sink a bit) Check doneness with a toothpick, which should come out fairly clean. Let cool completely. I used my own vanilla frosting, which doesn't involve measuring, so I don't dare share the recipe. It involves coconut oil, powdered sugar, vanilla, and dairy free milk. One of these days I may try writing it down. Go ahead and use whatever frosting you want for now. My hubby and I ate the whole  in three days, so I know it keeps that long at least. I wouldn't recommend refrigerating it, since that tends to dry gluten free stuff out. I imagine it can be frozen and defrosted, but only if you plan to eat the whole thing quickly. Enjoy!

If you have questions, I'll do my best to answer them. Sorry there aren't pictures. I forgot to take them. Too busy eating the goodness.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Recipe Time: Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Are you ready for the first of many gluten free, dairy free recipes? As someone who enjoys food, I knew I had to adjust certain favorites to fit my new diet. Early on, I had a hankering for something familiar and oh so delicious. Chocolate chip cookies. But first I had to find dairy free chocolate chips.  I headed to my local Good Earth (specialty foods market) and searched their shelves. Holy expensive, Batman! The dairy free stuff was at least twice the price of normal choc chips. I'm one of the most frugal people out there, so it is extremely difficult for me to fork over extra bucks for things like this. But, I also wanted cookies, so I bit the bullet and got a bag of Chocolate Dream semisweet chocolate chips. This chips are pretty darn good. Can't really tell a difference in taste.

After studying my go-to recipe, I started making adjustments. Here's what I've come up with:

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 18-20 cookies)

1/4 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Brown sugar
1/2 c. Shortening
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 egg
1 c. + 2 Tb. Gluten free flour blend (I use my own. Rough recipe at the bottom*)
1 Tb. Golden flax meal (or add extra Tb of flour blend)
1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2-3/4 c. Dairy free Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine sugars and shortening until lumps are mostly gone. Add egg and vanilla, mix until smooth. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl, whisk together to get lumps out or use sifter.
Dump dry ingredients into wet, mix well. Don't worry about overmixing. GF flours don't care. Add choc chips.

Grease cookie sheet or lay out parchment paper (I do the latter. Love parchment paper.) Drop spoonfuls of dough (about a tablespoonful), giving at least 1inch of space between. These cookies like to spread out. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Let rest on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Bake the rest or store leftover dough in fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the dough. Defrost in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

I make these fairly often and think they taste as good as, if not better than, regular choc chip cookies. Sorry there aren't any pictures. I'll try to have some for other recipe posts. Enjoy!

*Flour blend. I'm not known for exact measurements when I'm making up recipes. This is a rough guesstimate of my blend.

2 c. White rice flour
2 c. Brown rice flour
1/2 c. Tapioca starch
1/2 c. Potato starch (NOT flour)

Add all to a bowl, whisk well to blend. Keep leftovers in a lidded container.

For the cookie recipe, I've also used sorghum flour, coconut flour, and oat flour in place of some of the rice flour blend. Experiment, if you're brave.

If you have questions, I'll do my best to answer them. :)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Gluten-free, Dairy-free Life

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've radically changed my diet to help alleviate my digestive issues. It's been about 7 months since I took the first step and it hasn't been too difficult. I still love to cook and it's been interesting working with different kinds of flours and milks. I grind my own rice flour and make my own plant milk. (My favorite so far is a combo of almond, oat, coconut, and Brazil nut.) It can be time consuming, but I like knowing exactly what's in the food I eat. During the past couple of weeks, I've slowly been reintroducing some foods I've avoided, hoping a few of them will be okay for me to eat again. So far, I've been okay with small amounts of Parmesan cheese and garlic/onion, the latters being among the most common triggers for IBS sufferers. As long as I take certain supplements along with them, I've felt okay. I've also had success with wheat sourdough and spelt bread, which is a plus since most gluten-free breads are either expensive or not very good if homemade, at least in my experience so far. Foods I'm going to try again soon are butter, honey, and pistachios. If you're curious about my lists of good vs bad food, you can Google "low FODMAP diet". And the bad foods aren't necessarily bad in general, just bad for me and other digestion troubled folks. If any of you have similar issues, please feel free to share in the comments. I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Still Alive

Dang. It's been a while. Like, several months a while. I'm not dead, nor was I abducted by aliens. I've been around, doing pretty much the same ol' thing, except I've neglected my blog. One reason might be because I'm doing the SAME THING. I'm arguably the most boring person on the planet and I didn't really have much to write about, and then the weeks passed and I kinda forgot to check back in regardless. I guess there are a few things I can update you about.

1. Still haven't finished book 3 in my Vessel series. I know, I've been making all sorts of claims about working on it and getting it done, but... I claim here and now that I WILL get it done. Promise.

2. Food makes me sick. Not all food, just the most delicious kind. Seriously though, I have some moderate to severe digestion problems that have plagued me for years, but over the last year or so it's gotten worse. Pretty sure it's the blanket diagnosis of IBS, so I've been following the low FODMAP diet. Which means I avoid wheat and dairy, as well as a number of vegetables and fruits, and a bunch of other seemingly random things. It was difficult at first, but I've more or less gotten the hang of it, by which I mean I make pretty much everything I eat, haven't been to a restaurant in months, and try not the cry when my sandwich doesn't have cheese. I'll probably write more about this topic later on, since I have recipes and such I'd like to share.

3. My handsome hubby recently went back to school. He's getting his masters in architecture. His dad has a pool business and hubby has decided to join in on the fun. He's trudging along and I'm helping when I can.

4. I have another new nephew. His name is Raiden and he's a dream boat :)

5. My Etsy art shop is still active, though sales are few and far between. Please check it out :) :)

6. Super Mario Maker is a blast!

7. I loooooove the anime Haikyuu!! I'm seriously obsessed with it. (Geek!) Karasuno, fight!

8. I haven't been to Disneyland in 4+ years. There is a glimmer of a chance that will change this year, cross your fingers! (And, of course, they're raising their prices :,(

9. I'm now 35. Ugh.

Well, that's all for now. I'll try extra hard to be around more often. And like I said, I've got new recipes to share.