Cookbookery

For more than a year, I’ve secretly dreamed of finding a secondhand copy of a gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, or Specific Carbohydrate Diet cookbook. At every thrift store I visited, I’d scour the paint-chipped nonfiction shelves, hoping to find something I could use sandwiched between In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes and Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. Seriously, if you’ve ever browsed a Goodwill’s bookshelves, you know there are more than enough copies to go around.

in the kitchen with rosie

Once I found a copy of The Maker’s Diet, the gateway book that sparked my interest in alternative healing methods and ultimately led me to Breaking the Vicious Cycle and my SCD revolution. I hefted the volume and considered picking it up for my sister (who also suffers from Crohn’s), then set it back down when I realized I could give her my neglected copy. I continued to scan the shelves with each trip, despite my failure to find anything remotely usable in my kitchen. You know…just in case.

A few weeks ago, my patient search was rewarded with a dog-eared, food-stained copy of one of the most quintessential SCD tomes.

SCD cookbook

Could I have purchased this book online? Certainly. But where’s the fun in that? I was happy to rescue this unwanted book from the purgatory of a thrift store bookshelf. I can only hope that the book’s previous owner healed her body enough that she no longer needed her copy. Or else she memorized her favorite recipes and decided to pass along the wealth of knowledge and deliciousness to someone else. What does it matter? I am eternally grateful to whomever donated it, and will think of this unknown donor fondly with every helping of Thai Chicken Wraps or Sesame-Dijon Crackers.

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Cornless Cornbread

I don’t know what came over me last night, but I had a hankering for cornbread like nothing else. I used to get the ready-made pans of it at the grocery store, back in the day, back in my life before the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I figured there had to be some grain-free recipe kicking around, just waiting for my eager paws to land on.

This recipe for almond flour “cornbread” turned out to be just the thing. A mere five ingredients are all that’s needed to bake up a delectable, golden side.

almond flour cornbread

I like to use a buttered glass pie plate rather than an 8-by-8 square pan (fewer burnt bottoms, more tasty noms).

The recipe is surprisingly similar to the one for Deanna’s Midas Gold Pancakes featured in Breaking the Vicious Cycle. This is my go-to pancake recipe and it never disappoints, especially when you throw in some blueberries, ah, mah, gah. A few recipe tweaks, a preheated oven, and blammo—you’ve got yourself “cornbread.”

SCD Blinis

What exactly is a blini? Similar to a blintz, a blini is a kind of thin pancake that typically includes a leavening agent (i.e., baking soda) to make it light and fluffy. A blintz does not have a leavening agent, which gives it a more crepe-like consistency. Both are normally made with flour, and since this recipe has no flour and is completely gluten-free, it kind of lands somewhere in between blinis and blintzes. Does that make it a blitz? A blinitz?

I’m calling these blinis because that’s what they most resemble to me. It also just sounds extra fancy and $20-a-plate brunch-worthy compared to the farmhousey “pancake.” I love a good pancake, but the texture of these is somewhat spongy, less cakey, so it’s hard to consider them in the same family as the muffin-like pancakes I prefer. At best, these blinis and your homestyle pancakes are distant cousins.

As with most Slavic-influenced foods, your standard blini is served with sour cream on top. Sour cream is an “illegal” on the SCD, so I made mine with SCD yogurt sweetened with just a bit of honey to give the dish that quintessential bit of tang.

This is a very standard recipe for Specific Carbohydrate Dieters and paleo adherents, and there are versions of it everywhere. It’s super simple and can be made quickly, making it a great weekday breakfast. I cooked up this puppy on Monday morning before heading in to work.

Here’s the entire recipe for these absurdly simple blinis:

1 egg 1 mashed banana = BLINI TIME

two-ingredient pancakes

Okay, so obviously there’s a little more than that involved, but this is seriously one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever seen in my life. Two ingredients! (Plus whatever you want for toppings.)

SCD Blinis

Serves: 1

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 ripe banana
  • butter for frying
  • optional toppings: SCD yogurt, SCD caramel sauce, honey, sliced fruit, SCD jam

Directions

  1. Peel the banana and mash it in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg and mix until smooth with minimal banana chunks. (A hand mixer would be good here, but if you don’t have time, just mash the banana up small enough that you won’t bite into any large banana pieces. Unless you’re into that.)
  3. Coat the bottom and sides of a frying pan with butter, then heat the pan over medium-low heat until the butter starts to foam.
  4. Pour the banana-egg mixture onto the pan in about 3 equally-sized circles. (It’s OK if they touch, but better for flipping if they don’t. If you have time, or if your pan is small, make the blinis thinner and cook just 2 blinis at a time to make a total of 4 blinis.)
  5. After 2-3 minutes, once the edges of the blinis start to set, flip each one with a turner.
  6. Cook for about 1 minute, until golden brown. If you flipped the blinis too soon and want a deeper brown, flip again and cook for another 30 seconds on each side until done to your liking.
  7. Serve with toppings of your choice. (Honey-sweetened SCD yogurt goes great with these.)

Enjoy these blinis and serve up something a little different for breakfast. Eat like a Slav!

SCD Caramel Sauce

The leaves are starting to flame up into brilliant phoenix-like scarlets, pumpkins are getting plunked on doorsteps, and apples are in season; fall is officially here. Lately I’ve been taking full advantage of the autumn harvest and have been snacking on an apple (or two) a day. I’ve already plowed through the half peck I bought just two weeks ago. It’s been a great season for apples here in Maine and these toteable snacks are a tasty, convenient way to get dietary fiber into your diet. (Not to mention all these other awesome benefits of eating apples.)

Since I was a kid, one of my favorite fall treats has been apples dipped in caramel. My parents would come home from the grocery store mid-day on Sundays, shuttling back and forth from the car to the kitchen table as they unloaded the haul. I’d start unpacking the tall brown paper bags, surveying the goods. Perhaps once or twice a year, I’d reach into the crinkling bag, pull out T. Marzetti’s caramel dip, and squeal, already envisioning myself dunking apple slices in, submerging all but a tiny corner of the slice so I could pull it back out, dripping with gooey goodness. Many an episode of The Cosby Show was passed with sticky caramel fingers.

Now, though, I don’t even have to look at the ingredients list to know that all that sugary sauce spells a horror show for my body. What’s a caramel-apple-lovin’ gal to do?

Enter: homemade SCD caramel sauce. 

homemade caramel sauce

What’s incredible about this caramel sauce is just how simple it is to make. It sounds like a complicated confection brought down from the gods on Olympus, an ambrosial sauce unfit for mere mortals. This dip tastes like heaven, but it’s as easy as pie.

Thanks to the instructive photos and step-by-step directions, this recipe was a huge success. Boiling honey can be a little tricky, as it can quickly reach the wrong temperature/stage and not set up properly or else become scorched. (For the most part, burnt honey is still usable, but the flavors are off.) Mad props to Mrs. Ed for putting this recipe on the web with helpful accompanying photos and easy-to-follow directions.

I used a milder wildflower honey and salted butter to make my batch. My butter wasn’t exactly “room temperature” (I pulled it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before starting), but everything still turned out perfectly. I stored my cooled dip in the fridge, and have read that most caramel sauce recipes keep for a few weeks.

My pro tip for making this recipe? Once you’re ready to serve it, sprinkle some sea salt on top. This added salty bite pushes this recipe over the top into gourmet territory. And who doesn’t want to brag about their homemade salted caramel sauce?

Portland Farmers’ Market

This morning after breakfast at the always fabulous Bayou Kitchen, I stopped by the Portland Farmers’ Market. This time of year, the farmers set up in Deering Oaks Park, and with today’s 64-degree, cloudless weather, it was a glorious day to be browsing the local produce. I came back with quite the tidy haul.

Fruit and veggies

I picked up some Bartlett pears, Jonagold apples (the two red ones), Crispin AKA Mutsu apples (the huge green ones), and a sugar dumpling squash. I am looking forward to trying the sugar dumpling. We are big fans of delicata squash in this house and the sugar dumpling looks similar, if squattier.

I also scooped up some other fine gems.

pint of husk cherries

I bought a pint of husk cherries AKA ground cherries. I LOVE these and they’re only available for a few weeks in the fall. I unwrap the papery shell and pop the itty bitty yellow fruit into my mouth like Reese’s Pieces.

tiny husk cherry

See how tiny? I have already devoured half the pint and have a neat pile of tissue-light carcasses to my right.

Fresh ginger grown in Maine

One of the farm stands was selling Maine-grown ginger. It was so lovely and pink, such a creamy negligee-inspired combo of blush and ecru that I couldn’t resist. It was sold by the bag, so I see lots of ginger tea in my future, and perhaps a few new gingeriffic recipes.

free range eggs

There were some free range eggs for sale, so I bought some of those, too. I’m doing a little pseudo experiment with my taste buds to see if I can detect any difference between eggs/organic eggs/farm fresh eggs/free range eggs/vegetarian fed eggs/you-name-it eggs. There is certainly a large price difference among the various kinds of eggs out there, and I eat a lot of eggs (two per day, minimum). Because of my high consumption rate, generally I go for quantity and buy the value pack of 18 of the grocery store brand, no organic or free range frills. However, if there’s a significant taste difference between brands/types of eggs—can I literally taste the chicken’s stress in the eggs?—then I will consider making a switch. So far, I’ve found I prefer the taste of the store brand eggs to the organic, free range eggs I recently picked up at the grocery store; maybe the farm fresh eggs will be a good middle ground.

I also picked up a huge 64-oz jar of honey so my fall baking could continue unimpeded. I finished off my previous jar this afternoon cooking up an especially wonderful fall treat that I am excited to share with you in my next post.

If you would like to support the farmers in your area, you can find your local farmers’ market here by typing in your ZIP code or state. This is a fantastic time of year to take advantage of the local foods your community is producing, and find some new ingredients to put on the table.