Monday, November 21, 2011

Gluten Free Love near Sugarloaf, Maine- The Rack and the Stratton Diner

First off a big kudos to my sister for last week's guest post  A Mightly Fine GF Option from Austin, Texas and a bit of her gluten free trial. She's not the first family member to try out a gluten free lifestyle and I'm looking forward to see how this trial goes for her and my niece. Since moving back to Maine I've had a lot of people ask me about my gluten free life- it's been great to share and hear about others challenges with food and health.

Last fall I was pumped to visit the Rack at Sugarloaf and have gluten free pizza and a Woodchuck. This year they've added two gluten free beers to the lineup as well with Bard's and Daura. While I'm not a Daura fan I am a Bard's fan and have been enjoying having a beer on our weekly visit to the bar along with a gluten free pie and my once a week slip into dairy.

I'm kinda shocked to report that it's not the only gluten free pizza I've had in Carrabassett Valley since our move east. Tufulio's which is 7 miles south of the mountain also offers gluten free pizza. It's not as good as the Rack's but it much closer to our place and good in a pinch. They served baked wings- which have great potential to be gluten free but I haven't gotten a clear answer yet so no gambling for me!
We've also been hitting the Stratton Diner for breakfast. They have occasional gluten free sweets but since we go for breakfast I haven't tried any out- plus I've been working on my own sweet baking.

It's a great and safe breakfast and they even tuck some sweet potatoes among the normal home fries for a bit of extra flavor. I've safely eaten there 3 times now and enjoyed each breakfast as well as the vibe inside this renovated old diner. Plus they have old school trivia cards on the table for pre-breakfast fun with friends.

Moving back to a familiar place with a whole new way of eating was scary and a bit intimidating but I've been lucky to find options for dining out and have had the added bonus of connecting with others who have had to change the way they think about food for one reason or another. I'm working on some of my old favorites with a new twist to my gluten free classic sweets so I can share with friends.  Thus far I've had success with gluten free, egg free and dairy free baking for whoopie pies, brownies and banana bread. It's a good ego boost as I've been struggling through 4 attempts at gluten free Anadama Bricks Bread.

Tomorrow marks the first day of the 2011-12 ski season at Sugarloaf and I'm looking forward to finding other gluten free options at my favorite Maine mountain.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a Mighty Fine g.f. option

This is my first g.f. post.  Kind of appropriate that I get to do it here, on my sister's blog, instead of over where I usually blog.  Asiaramblin is about a lot of things, but so far, gluten-free cuisine hasn't been one of them.

Moyer & Keturah excited about their Mighty Fine meals
On Monday, we were in the market for a quick lunch, not too far from my sister-in-law's place of work, that would be kid-friendly.  So, due largely to the recent g.f. status that my daughter Keturah and I have been experimenting with, we decided to skip the Chick-fil-A, and try out an Austin burger joint.

My thought: the gluten-consumers of our group would enjoy the burgers, and Keturah and I could just skip the buns.  I'm not traditionally a burger fan, but I was willing to take one for the team, since Patrick, my husband, most certainly is.

I approached the counter at Mighty Fine, to ask whether or not they'd be willing to serve up two of our burgers without the buns.

I kind of felt like Kate when I heard the service-person's response.

(I've known that my g.f. sister favors establishments that understand gluten issues, but I guess I didn't realize just how "taken care of" one can feel when there's no need to explain yourself--or your quirky eating habits--just to place an order.)

The gal on duty, not only assured us that this could easily be done, but let me know that she'd be happy to wash her hands and change her gloves before handling our orders.

She also knew exactly how their fries were handled, so we could enjoy these yummy, crinkled traditional burger sides without worrying about any gluten being served up on them.

Talk about a full-service burger joint!  Keturah and I get to continue our gluten free experiment, and the rest of our party gets traditional hamburgers.  What a win.
Keturah spies daddy bringing over our Mighty Fine bags

And then it got better.

Have I mentioned yet that these were Mighty Fine hamburgers?  I loved my bun-less version . . . even though I've never really been that big on hamburgers!  Turns out that the folks at Mighty Fine only serve up super-fresh, all-natural, hormone-free chuck, and all of the embellishments offered are fresh and cut on-site.  I can't speak for the bun-eaters of our group, but my burger was delicious.

Moyer, waiting for his meal; my bun-less burger; table-top condiments

I do think it's safe to say that Keturah enjoyed her gluten-free lunch too.

every g.f. morsel, eaten

For now, this Austin-born chain is only available in our neck of the woods, but you can visit Mighty Fine's menu from anywhere.

gluten free breakfast of champions

I took inspiration this week from Marlow over at Gluten Hates Me and ventured back to Oatmeal for breakfast. It's warm, hearty and filling which makes for a great meal after a morning walk in the Maine woods with my favorite dogs in their blaze orange vests.

I added brown sugar and a bit of real maple syrup to sweeten my oat. Did you know that not only does Bob's Red Mill make Old Fashioned Gluten Free Oats but also Quick Cooking Gluten Free Oats as well? These aren't your average Oats as Bob's takes special precautions with the growing and use dedicated Oat fields and test the oats during the process to ensure the gluten free status. 
I'm headed away for the weekend and these oats even made it into my glutarded snack and food bag for my travels for a quick breakfast away from home.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - gluten free and vegan

My obsession with whoopie pies has taken a new turn and today I pulled out my Whoopie Pies book and tried my hand at the classic Fall flavor- Pumpkin. I made my typical conversions to gluten free but then took it one step further and went egg free as well. Why? Well, I'm intrigued by vegan baking as I'm working on cutting out dairy 100% (damn you, pizza from The Rack- why must you call to me?) and wanted to go the extra mile with egg-less baking.

Pumpkin Whoopie (gluten free and vegan)
adapted from Whoopie Pies

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and blend flax seeds with water
Blend in a bowl:
2 and 1/4 cup Gluten free flour (Artisan Blend)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

In mixer:
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 cup brown sugar

Blend above then Add 
1 1/2 Cups Pumpkin (Libby's is gluten free)
1 egg or Flax seed *
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* mix 1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds with 3 Tablespoons warm water- stir then let rest for 5 minutes- stir aging before adding

Combine Dry with Wet and mix until just stirred in 
Drop 2 tablespoon sized piles onto baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove- cool and enjoy with a cream cheese frosting but don't tell Dave that it's a cream cheese frosting- even if it's Tofutti and Earth Balance he still doesn't want to know this but will enjoy it anyhow.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

baking bread at 900 feet above sea level

Moving from 9,000 feet above sea level to 900 feet above sea level has inspired me to dust the counter with flour and proof some yeast. I thought that baking bread at sea level was going to be easy... I hadn't considered the fact that I'm still experimenting with gluten free flours on "normal gluten bread" recipes.

Two very dense loaves into it and I'm ready for the third try to be the charm. However just like life there are no guarantees with baking bread. Each loaf teaches me a bit more- ahh, yes let the yeast proof in peace and kneading can be therapy but it shouldn't hurt the dough.
Any tips for a novice bread baker? I found these gluten-free bread tips and am going to test a few out.
Yes, my flour blend has been cold... and my dough hasn't been rising.