Monday, February 8, 2016

Blogging Through the Alphabet - O



Welcome to Blogging Through the Alphabet! 

This is Week 15 of this series, so everyone is sharing posts themed about the letter "O".  We can't wait to see what everyone has written about!

Don't forget that any bloggers who link up for all 26 weeks will be eligible for a Mystery Gift Giveaway at the end of the series!


This is a few- rules link up!  Our requests?

1.  Follow your hosts.


Through the Calm and Through the Storm



Adventures with Jude


2.  Please link back to this page in your post, so others can find the party!

3.  Visit others linked up -- what's a party without mingling?





©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Mountains of Golden Brown Rings (O is for Onion)


Onion rings were a treat that we would enjoy in our before-allergies lives.  I used to be able to tell you who had really good ones (a particular burger joint that is named for a colorful bird) and ones that weren't worth the calories (a royal fast food chain).  However, restaurants that make gluten free, dairy free, non-cross-contaminated onion rings are pretty rare.  That means if we want them, it's a DIY project.

Deep frying them is messy, and a lot higher in calories than baking them.  However, I think that if you're going to go through the work, it's worth doing them right.  Make sure you use a large "sweet" onion (like a Vidalia or Maui type) and take the inner membrane/skin off.  It helps the coating stick to the onion, so you don't have onion sliding in your mouth and the coating still in your hand. You can cut a few calories by using club soda instead of lemon-lime soda, but I found that the finished rings are crisp but pale - more like a light blond color - than a deep "golden brown and delicious" hue.  The shortcut is using gluten free Bisquick for the "flour".  I've tried mixing my own flours, but I never seem to get the ratios right.  I've come to the conclusion that if you need self-raising flour, this mix is just magic.

You'd be surprised how many rings you get out of one onion.  I made a double batch, and we all ate ourselves silly and had some leftover! To reheat them, bake at 350°F for about 5-8 minutes until warm and crispy.

Gluten Free Onion Rings


1 large sweet onion
1 box gluten free Bisquick (approx 4 cups)
3 cans lemon-lime soda

oil for deep frying (we used canola)
kosher salt

Cut the ends off the onion.  Carefully peel the outer skin off.  Slice the onion crosswise (parallel to the root end) into 1/2 inch rounds.



Separate the rounds into individual onion rings.  Keep the big ones, and save the very small core pieces for something that needs chopped or sauteed onions - they're too difficult to "skin."


Use your fingernail to break/scrape up the inner membrane, and carefully pull it away from the onion.  Discard this skin, and put your ring to the side.

Yes, this is tedious.  But it makes the difference between the batter clinging and sliding off.


Place the Bisquick in a large container.  Gently toss the onion rings in the DRY mixture.  The flour will bond with any moisture from the onion, creating a "glue" to help the batter stick.


Remove the coated rings, shaking to get off any loose powder, and place to the side.  Add the first two cans of lemon-lime soda to the Bisquick, whisking quickly.  It will begin as a thick dough and slowly thin to a batter consistency.  If it's still more dough than batter, add the third can, a little at a time, while whisking gently to combine.  (You don't want to pop any leavening bubbles!)  Continue slowly adding soda until you have a batter that is similar to a thick pancake batter (you may not need the entire can).  It should support the weight of the onions but not be so thick as to be gloppy. 



Heat a deep pot filled halfway with canola oil to between 325-350°F.  (Below and they won't fry quickly enough and will become oil-logged, too high and the outside will burn before the onion cooks.)   

Dredge the onions in the batter, and slip them into the oil in small batches.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.


Remove the onions from the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place on paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt over them, and allow to cool slightly.  BE PATIENT... or you will burn your fingers and mouth!




Repeat until all of the onions are cooked. Make sure your oil returns to the correct temperature between batches.

Serve alongside hamburgers...or any other favorite meal.






©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Monday, February 1, 2016

Blogging Through the Alphabet - N



Welcome to Blogging Through the Alphabet! 

This is Week 14 of this series, so everyone is sharing posts themed about the letter "N".  We can't wait to see what everyone has written about!

Don't forget that any bloggers who link up for all 26 weeks will be eligible for a Mystery Gift Giveaway at the end of the series!


This is a few- rules link up!  Our requests?

1.  Follow your hosts.


Through the Calm and Through the Storm



Adventures with Jude


2.  Please link back to this page in your post, so others can find the party!

3.  Visit others linked up -- what's a party without mingling?





©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Gluten Free Flatbread (N is for Navajo Indians)


A few years ago, we reviewed the America the Beautiful curriculum from Notgrass Publications, and loved it. Since it's geared toward middle school students, we've used it as a spine and added on some extras to round it out for a high school program.  Luke is still using it (he's on the second volume of the program), and Matthew has just started the American History with it.  Among the earliest settlers were the Navajo, and they are featured in Matthew's current chapter.  One of the unit's hands-on activities is a recipe for Navajo flatbread.



Traditionally called "Fry Bread", this quick bread is leavened with baking powder and fried in about an inch of oil.  If you prefer not to deep fry it, you can also cook it in a lightly greased pan until it is charred on one side, and then flip it over.  We've adapted the original recipe to be gluten free, and it works beautifully.  I love that it is egg free - most gluten free breads need egg to hold together, but this one does not!   The Navajo used the bread much like a wrap, topping the center with honey for a sweet treat, or with chiles, vegetables, meat and/or beans for a savory meal. Matthew made this one night as a substitute for naan when Luke was making tandoori chicken, and we ate it with the curried chicken. I think this recipe is about to be come a staple in our home.

Gluten Free Navajo Flatbread

5 cups gluten-free flour mix (we used King Arthur) + dusting
2 Tbsp xanthan gum
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil + for frying
about 2 cups warm water

Mix the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt together.


And the oil and most of the water, and mix with your hands until it comes together into a dough.  If it is dry and not mixing into a ball, add more water, a little at a time.  (How much you will need depends on your flour choice and how dry the air is.)


Knead the dough for about three minutes.  After kneading, allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough (about 1" in diameter).  Place on a counter/cutting board dusted with flour.  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a circle (or something circle-ish!) about 1/8" thick.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.



Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) on the stove.  For traditional Navajo fry bread, add enough oil to the pan so it is about 1" deep.  If you're making a drier bread that will have more of a tortilla texture, add about 2 tbsp of oil so the pan bottom is completely greased.

Add a round to the pan, and fry on each side for 2-3 minutes, or until it puffs up and the underneath turns brown.  The fried bread will be evenly golden brown, while the dry bread will have scorch marks.  Flip and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove to a serving platter (drain the fried bread on paper towels first).



Top with honey or  taco fillings (meat, cheese, etc.)  The dry bread is really good with Indian chutneys and served with curry dishes.


We actually had leftover raw dough when we made this.  We doubled the recipe (because most recipes aren't enough for our big family), but after we had about 20 pieces of bread for dinner, I stopped cooking so we could eat.  I stuck the extra in a ziplock bag, pressed out the air, and stuck it in the fridge.  The next morning, the boys asked for more flatbread, so I rolled out the refrigerated dough and tried the deep-fried method.  Instead of honey, I topped it with cinnamon and sugar.  Matthew decided to call it churro-bread!  It was perfect for a sweet breakfast or as a treat with mid-morning coffee. It doesn't puff up quite as much as the dough gets older, but the bread dough will stay useable in the fridge for at least three days (perhaps more, but we ran out of dough by then!).




©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tap My Trees (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Small Batch Maple Sugaring with Tap My Trees

Tap My Trees  is a company started by Joe McHale.  He was interested in teaching his children the origins of their food -- and that it wasn't the local megamart!  However, he didn't want to just tell them about where their food comes from, he wanted to show them.  The problem he found was that most maple sugaring suppliers are large scale operations.  After all, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup, so tappers are purchasing supplies in large scale quantities. He still wanted to share the process with his children, even if they were only going to wind up with enough syrup for a few breakfasts.   He realized he couldn't be the only person wanting to try his hand at sugaring, and found himself the owner of an agricultural supply start-up!  His Maple Sugaring Starter Kit with Aluminum Buckets contains supplies for tapping up to three trees, and a book about identifying trees, tapping, and creating syrup, making it perfect for the family who wants a taste of sugaring.

Coincidentally, about three days before the Crew announced this review, the kids were asking if we could make our own syrup.  I am a child of the 80s, and in our house, pancake topping came from a bottle with a house or a lady with a kerchief on the front.  It was maple flavored,  we drowned pancakes and toaster waffles alike in it, and we called it good.  I can't complain.  Because of food allergies, we switched to "real" maple syrup when the big boys were young, and now only use that.  (Yes, we're spoiled now.)   Making our own seemed like it could be fun.   When we built our house, Neal knew he wanted lots of trees; as much as I love nature, I can't say I had a strong opinion.  When he decided he wanted to line our driveway with 20-some Fall Fiesta Sugar Maples, and put more in the yard, I just nodded and said, "Whatever you want!"


 So we had maple trees, and kids who wanted to tap them.  We just needed tapping supplies.

When this review came up for assignment, one requirement was that we live in a sugaring area.  Southern New Jersey is probably on the very edge -- though other maples are, sugar maples are not native to our area.

This is one of several "where to find this tree" maps in the guidebook.
Score one for Daddy, thinking ahead and planting sugar maples! We mapped out our trees and anxiously awaited our sugaring kit.  (Two notes: 1 -  it's much easier to map your trees before they lose their leaves in the fall, especially if you haven't planted them yourself, and 2 - while you can tap other species of maple,  birch and walnut trees will also run sap that can be made into syrup.)

Tap My Trees Review
We received our kit and dug in.  It contained three aluminum buckets, hooks, and lids, a drill bit, spiles, cheesecloth for filtering collected sap, and a paperback manual. You really don't need much more than these in terms of "special equipment" to get started, but you'll need "from home" a measuring tape, a drill to bore your tap holes, and pots to boil your collected sap in.  Step-by-step directions tell you how to prepare for the sugaring season, and then how to get underway and collect sap. Instructions are also included for how to remove your spiles and shut down after the sap finishes running for the year - very important if you don't want to harm your tree.

The manual also includes directions on how to tell when it's time to tap.  Generally speaking, tapping time is February or early March, but it all depends on the winter.  Ideal conditions are when the daytime temps are around 40°F and lows are in the 20s, but depending on the weather patterns, it might be a bit of a moving target.  You'll need to consult with an almanac or weather website for what's "average" for this pattern in your area.  In NJ, the average temperatures are in this range in January, but this this winter was pretty warm until about two weeks ago, with lows averaging in the 40s.  If you're farther north, your season might be a little later, but then again,  last year, we had highs in the single digits through February, so the season wouldn't have really started until closer to March here, either.   I like how it stresses you have to watch the weather, not the calendar.  If you're a little off, it's OK, but it doesn't tell you, "Start tapping on this day," and then your kids are disappointed nothing happens (especially if it's "too early" for the year).

If you're reading this and thinking, we have trees, but the temperatures are already in the right zone for this year, either use their store locator and hotfoot it to a brick-and-mortar store where Tap My Trees is a sugaring supplier, or go ahead and order it from their web store  (at the time of this writing, free shipping is standard!) and get started.  A late start means you may not get quite as much sap collected, but you should still be able to make some syrup. (If you're reading this and it's out of tapping season, purchase it anyway, and store it until the season begins for next year, knowing you can really "start" in the summer/fall with the mapping.)

I think that the most important thing you have to do to make this work is make sure your trees are big enough to tap. A tree needs to be at least twelve inches in diameter to safely tap.  Before you purchase this, go out and physically measure your trees.  Measure the circumference at about 54" from the ground and divide by 3.14 to find the diameter. If you don't have a tape measure but know approximately when they were planted, you can estimate your tree's size, using this table and the age of your trees. The diameter in inches x growth factor = tree age, so with a little algebra,  a 10 year old sugar maple tree = 5.5 x diameter, or approximately 2".  A mature, 12" tree will be in the vicinity of 60 years old, so if they're recently been planted (recently being "not by your grandparents"), odds are good the tree is going to be too small to safely tap. Unfortunately for us, that means we'll have to take to our woods with a tape measure in search of some mature trees, and leave Daddy's trees alone, even though the oldest ones are a still-respectable 15 to 20 years old.

The rest of the hardware in the kit is sturdy, and with proper care, will last through many seasons of sugaring.  The pails and lids (and spiles) are sturdy enough that they will last being outside for a month or two at a time, but are lightweight enough that you'll be able to carry one that's been filled with sap.


I think this is a great activity for families.  We will boil down some "homemade sap" (sugar and water) to mimic making syrup, but it would have been really neat to make our own maple syrup for breakfast.  It takes a lot of work to get food from its source to the table, and this kit would do a great job of demonstrating that the dreaded chore of slogging to the megamart really is the "easy" part!

To learn more about Tap My Trees and their sugaring kits, click the banner below to read other reviews, or follow Tap My Trees on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TapMyTrees/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tapmytrees

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tapmytrees/ 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tapmytrees0518/ 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB6yQre-XsOl6bo6dO-K5Xw
 

Tap My Trees Review



©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Monday, January 25, 2016

Blogging Through the Alphabet - M



Welcome to Blogging Through the Alphabet! 

This is Week 13 of this series, so everyone is sharing posts themed about the letter "M".  We can't wait to see what everyone has written about!

Don't forget that any bloggers who link up for all 26 weeks will be eligible for a Mystery Gift Giveaway at the end of the series!


This is a few- rules link up!  Our requests?

1.  Follow your hosts.


Through the Calm and Through the Storm



Adventures with Jude


2.  Please link back to this page in your post, so others can find the party!

3.  Visit others linked up -- what's a party without mingling?



©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Sauce (M is for Mocha)

Celia just began a new food trial last week - coffee! At first, we thought that maybe it seemed like a "waste" of a trial, because it's not like coffee is a nutritional powerhouse or anything. However, it is something that would give her a new flavor. I've seen lots of recipes for a coffee "spice rub" for pork, and it would be something nice to add to ice cream base.  Plus, it's something that is pretty ubiquitous -- every restaurant and gas station has it.  Obviously, creamer isn't an option for her (dairy or soy!), but black with sugar is definitely doable.  I mentioned that she could even get that as a treat at Starbucks with Daddy, and her eyes turned wide as saucers:  "You mean you can get a PLAIN COFEE at Starbucks?"  Hard to believe, but yep, you can!

So far, she's doing OK with it. Two more weeks with no reaction, and she gets to keep it "for good." Although she prefers it with a bit of coconut milk as well, she does like it with just a bit of sugar, and is enjoying sampling lots of coffee.



Her brother's favorite coffee drink is a mocha frappe, and she wanted to try one with "her" ingredients.  I made this chocolate fudge sauce for her to add to a blenderful of coffee and ice...and apparently on top of her ice cream, and strawberries...and to dunk her bacon in...  This week's Blogging through the Alphabet theme may be "M is for Mocha", but she's pretty much decided that fudge sauce is pretty good on nearly everything!

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Sauce

1 can (11.5 oz) sweetened condensed coconut milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt

Heat the coconut milk until it begins to steam, and add the cocoa powder.  Whisk briskly to combine. Add the salt and whisk again.

For a hot mocha, add 2 Tbsp of syrup to 8 oz of coffee.  It will be sweet and chocolatey, but not overpowering the coffee flavor.  For everything else, just spoon it on to taste.  (You can re-warm it to make it more syrupy for mixing into coffee, or leave it chillled for a more fudgy consistency.)


Store in a glass jar for up to a week, but it probably won't last that long.







 ©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover