Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chestnuts a'Roasting

The season/month/year continues to speed past - where does the time go?

Today I played my last Holiday Harp Gig in a local insurance company lunch room - & am not ready to put away the Christmas music. Hmm, family, beware!

I'm enjoying the treats of the season - huge pomegranates - I brought one to a Solstice Circle last night, appropriate for the longest night.
At Saturday's brunch,
our hostess had mixed pomegranate seeds into melted chocolate - what a lovely treat!

I'd noticed a basket of local chestnuts at Harvest Fresh, & then this bit on Suzie the Foodie's blog about roasting chestnuts!
Sold! Over the years, I occasionally get a few handfuls of the nuts (though the blight wiped out many of our N American Chestnut trees, there remain pockets of trees which survived)

Fresh chestnuts are ~ 1/2 the price of imported Italian Chestnut flour - & I can whir them in my mini processor to use in a recipe or two - perhaps some pumpkin scones? Or Chocolate brownies??

Susie recommends getting out the rolling pin to smush the nuts & begin to extract the meat.

So I scored, turned the oven to 375* & roasted for ~ 20 minutes. Hmm - I'd forgotten how similar to sweet potatoes or squash roast chestnuts taste! & you need to peel the inner skin as well as the outer - I'm glad I only roasted ~ 20, lol! I roasted the second large blue squash a day or so ago, so think I should try the pumpkin scones (egg free!)

We're going to my daughter's in-laws for a Christmas brunch, these would be fun to take along - & my granddaugters are always interested in grammie's concoctions. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a perenial favorite - it will be fun to see what they think of chestnuts!

I found a suggestion not to use xanthan gum in quick bread recipes over on gluten free gourmand after
making the scones - will try leaving it out next batch!

Vegan Pumpkin Chestnut Scones

combine coconut milk & vinegar before mixing flours to make 'buttermilk'

1 1/3 cup brown rice flour blend (brown rice flour, potatoe starch, tapioca flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup chestnut flour (fresh roasted & ground)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground cardamom (seeds from 3 pods)

-- sift dry ingredients together
-- cut in 6 tablespoons of coconut oil

-- puree:
¼ cup agave nectar or honey or brown rice syrup
1/2 cup pure pumpkin (I rough chopped & pureed with other ingredients

1/3 cup of coconut milk (or your favorite milk) combined with
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (& a splash of raspberry vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Puree wet ingredients till smoothe, then mix into dry, adding more coconut milk if needed. I bake on a pizza stone, so I don't preheat the oven! Flatten dough on stone, cut into 8 wedges, bake at 425* for 10-15 minutes (till toothpick comes out clean)

What a simple vegan recipe! While I've been using a mix of coconut oil & butter, it came out great with just the coconut oil - & no eggs - my daughter will be happy!
Chestnuts have been called 'the grain that grows on a tree' - fortunatly, gluten free! They are a very low fat nut (54 calories per oz, hazelnuts have 180)
Here's a table with some of the nutrients from this website.
There's a more complete breakdown here - note the high level of potassium, there are only a couple mg. of sodium! Since they have a high water content (1/3-1/2 water) they are best stored in the fridge or frozen.

Chestnuts, cooked/4 ounces

Calories 149
Total fat (g) 1.6
Saturated fat (g) 0.3
Monounsaturated fat (g) 0.5
Polyunsaturated fat (g) 0.6
Dietary fiber (g) 5.7
Protein (g) 2
Carbohydrate (g) 32
Cholesterol (mg) 0
Sodium (mg) 31
Vitamin C (mg) 30
Potassium (mg) 811
Magnesium (mg) ----------------------------- 53
Calcium (mg) ------------------------------- 46

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gifties & give-away(s)

The countdown continues! How are you doing 'getting ready' for the holidays?

The gal friends & I have a holiday 'brunch' & present exchange over at Martha's on Saturday - I'm bringing the lovely gluten free scones, & found this latkas (potato pancake) recipe over @ Suzi's - I may make a couple for myself before I head over, (or take along my mini processor n the 'fixings') as one gal is bringing a potato dish & using 'regular' flour - boo!!

I made a 'sample' batch this PM, using sorgham flour, a potato, 1/2 onion & clove of garlic from my CSA, & a free range egg - delicious!!

I finished my gifties for our exchange; sweet half round napkins that you can fold into a 'Christmas tree' shape! I found the holiday angels & skating girls in the discount area of a local fabric store. These are two sided, I used 1/2 a 'fat quarter' for the reverse. I'll take along the Nisse I made last year, with his bag stuffed full of the (wrapped) napkins.

I made one for myself that includes a little pocket for the wooden chopsticks, spoon & knife which I carry in my purse (for times other folks might use plastic utensils.) It rolls up & tucks away quite neatly.

Check out the give away over at Two Thousand things - a $50- gift certificat from Bamboosa - wow, what a neat company!! Organic bamboo, & US made products! Check them out - & enter the give away! I have several bamboo shirts that I LOVE! These look especially nice.
& there's a note to go check out the other blog - Tigerlily's Book - & there's a wonderful give-away there as well, for non-toxic nail polish!! So check out Piggy Paint 'natural as mud' - I WANT SOME!!

I invited my almost 5 yr old grand daughter over for awhile this evening - it's always fun to have her visit & get to be an 'only child' for a few hours. She typed a bit (is picking out her name!) & had a foot bath (with epsom salts) before heading home.
On the weekend as we walked through the back yard, she told me that I was "probably lonley, since you're not married to that guy - I forget his name - any more, & you live all alone!"
She'd just seen 'Papa Michael' - 'that guy I was married to' - earlier that day! But he has a teen son with health problems, & he works out of town, so isn't very 'involved' as a grandparent!
Still . . . . out of the mouths of babes!!

Tomorrow it's time for my Bodaceous Babes to meet for tea - this time at 'Tea's Me' in Sleighbells - a wonderful year round Christmas shop! I invited my friend Donna, & she's coming to check out the group. I called the owner a few weeks ago to discuss gluten free choices - she suggested the Curry Chicken salad (Fowl Greens), I'll have that, minus the scone, with a pot of the White Christmas tea. (Mutan White Tea, Vanilla, Almond and Cardamon). It's interesting to see how different places approach gluten free. At favorite local restaurant, the host said 'we'll bring a bowl of fruit!' to replace the bread . . . no problem, not an issue.
At another (VERY well known 'nice') restaurant the waiter said 'the soup only has a tiny bit of wheat in it - it won't hurt you!' thanks but no thanks! I had a chicken 'pannini' without the bread - came very nicely presented, with extra meat & cranberry sauce. No minestroni soup, sigh.

I am still working on legwarmers & the fingerless gloves. I've been reading knitting novels (Chicks with Sticks & a murder mystery series, beginning with 'Knit one, kill two') & knitting - fun combo - except . . . all those descriptions of the lovely yarns in the fictional yarn shops entice me to stop in 'next door' (the yarn shop is 1/4 block from my office!) & pick up a yummy skein of this or that. Sigh . . . today it was some lovely red silk! & NOT on sale -

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Daze

Does the season seem to be racing by to you, too?? I think my mind is still in November. It's grey & rainy (was COLD last week, with my first frozen pipes in this 100 yr old farm house!) Threats of bad weather kept my group of galfriends in town on the weekend, rather than our planned Holiday trip to the big city (Portland). We had coffee at our regular watering hole, & dinner at a lovely restaurant where I've played several times - to the delight of all! The food was delicious & well prepared, & blissfully gluten free (yes, there was bread on the table, but not in the sauces! & since the others chose 'cakey' deserts, I got a poached pear with house ice cream & chocolate sauce all to myself!)
My grandkids, as well as my son & his wife are all in 'Nutcracker' last weekend & this, so I went along to help backstage (& watch from the wings) for Sunday's performance. I began dancing with the senior teacher 30 years ago, after seeing this show, so there's always a bit of magic! Emily, almost 6, was a little sister of 'Marie' (often 'Clara') & had a duet on the front of the stage during party scene! She loves ballet - took classes in the summer up in their area, & seems to thrive with all the dance. The 9 year old is a clown & an ice princess, so again has some extra bits.

I'll be playing over the lunch hour at a local ins. office, You can head over to my Ladyharp blog for my post on the season's Holiday Music.

I've been working on more fingerless gloves, & somehow yesterday misplaced (lost??) my bag of knitting - sigh!! Where?? Had it (I thought) when I went to the car, didn't have it when I reached my office!! Was distracted by texting back & forth with my dau-in law about something she's making for a friend (she created the pattern for me, so I was sending her measurements, etc)
& I'm working on the presents for my 'Mom's Group' gals for our brunch next weekend. For several years our group has been a steady 6 or 7, several have joined so 10 - 12 could be present next week!! It's a simple item, & I'll make 12! My 'treat' for the Brunch will be the yummy Gluten Free Scones - no nuts, as one of the gals is sensitive to tree nuts. & head over to Hanlie's blog for a great re-cap of the info on coconut oil!!
The year I joined the group, I knew there was a holiday 'brunch' - but not that it included presents! So sat in amazement as gals with full bags made their way around the table, placing a small bundle in front of each plate! I've made ornaments, blessing stars, & etc, & recieved similar gifties. Last year, one of the gals had gone to France in the summer, & brought back a cutwork placemat, another year, we had a glass 'candy' from Italy from another adventurer!

Off to work on the presents!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Whew - seems like 'forever' since I've written!

GF Thanksgiving went very well - was at my son's & they'd gotten a GF baking mix, so Angie made a GF pie crust, & I mixed up the pumpkin filling, using coconut milk so my lactose intollerant former hubby could have some (& reminded them to save some mashed potatoes before adding the 'fixings') . . . my daughter made stove top stuffing, & just used veggies in the bird, & we had both wheat & GF rolls - delightful!
Over on 'Grain Damaged, there's a great post on gluten sensitivity,Several of my friends seem irritated that I'm avoiding gluten, tho I 'don't have celiac disease' - I tell them I'd rather not 'find out' by becoming seriously ill! This article really explains it well!

I've been divorced ~ 20 years, (& married ~ 18) & my 'X' & I were always friends, so it's pretty easy to spend family holidays together. His 93 yr old mom & ~ 15 year old son both came as well.

Since then it's been work n dance & reading & . . . Knitting!
It's kind of 'if you give a mouse a cookie.' (if you start knitting a project, you're going to want to visit the yarn shop, if you visit the yarn shop, . . .)

My mom, majorally 'crafty,' taught me to knit when I was a kid, & then again several times. Over the years, I've knit various things - socks (usually in the round), leg warmers, dolls (basically like a gloves), shells - but I can't recall ever knitting a 'grown up' sweater! My mom made her own sweaters, using pretty sport weight yarn - usually synthetic, as the crutches wore holes in wool pretty quickly. I've made doll sweaters, & sweaters for kids . . .

So a few weeks ago I was at the library, looking for a book in the Young Adult area & kind of browsing the shelves, when I came upon Elizabeth Lennard's 'Chicks with Sticks' - a series about teens in Chicago who take up knitting, & form friendships & a S & B group 'don't mind the Frogs' (ripping out 'mistakes')

A few weeks before that , I'd paid a visit to our local yarn shop & picked up a couple of skeins of varigated yarn for leg warmers (for me) & some pink to begin ones for the little ballerina granddaughters. I'd run out of one of the pinks (all gathered from the 'sale' boxes :) so ventured back, hoping to find one more ball of that pink 'superwash' wool. YES! Mmm mmmm mmm

One of the 30% off boxes held a pile of soft & cushy'Merino Frappe' & I got a handful of skeins in pink, then looked through the sale books. Like cookbooks, folks probably only knit (or crochet or . . .) a couple of patterns from any one book, so I often just get a few from the library. But this one had a cute ballet sweater, & I thought it would knit up nicely in the 'frape' . . .

So I also got 'Speed Knitting' (Kris Percival) & began the sweater with a delightful raspberry pink yarn. The ties turned out way long (I followed the instructions!) So I think I'll trim them back, & maybe felt the leftover ends! My mom had a sweater in almost the same raspberry, so it reminds me of her. Lois had a great 'eye' for matching colours, & would knit afgans in sport yarn, slippers, & for awhile, cotton bandage 'strips' for soldiers!

Today the project is some fingerless gloves - it's COLD outside (OK, so it is December!) I chatted on the phone to a crafty friend who lives in Portland & also knit as we talked - our own little crafty session!

I need to begin making my 'Mom's group' gifts for our Brunch next weekend! (I've knit cute little neckwarmers, this year I'm sewing something) . . . but also need to finish that glove . . .
What are you working on??