Yes, I have taken some time off from blogging for the holidays. Things got kinda crazy, and quickly. I'll be back next week with some new recipes and observations. Meanwhile, enjoy this very addictive game.
Bet you thought the taste of Suzy-Q's and HoHos was lost forever on a gluten- and casein-free diet. Well, it doesn't have to be. I know, I know. I'll bet you're saying, but ... I can't use eggs, or soy or even chocolate! You don't have to. This is the allergy-friendly version -- all allergies. And, it's easy. Here's how:
1 cup powdered sugar (Domino sugar is GF. Miss Robens sells corn-free powdered sugar. Or, make your own.) 1/4 tsp xanthan gum 1 tsp unflavored gelatin powder (I use Knox) 1 tbsp water
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake recipe, splitting the recipe between two cake pans. I grease them with Spectrum organic shortening. The cakes bake together in about 15 mins. Use a toothpick to be sure.
When done, let cool 5 mins. Carefully pull the sides away from the pan and ease them onto cooling racks. Let cool thoroughly.
When cool, mix the powdered sugar, xanthan gum and gelatin in a bowl and stir. Add the water. Use a hand mixer on slow speed to blend until a creamy, icing texture is reached. Don't let this sit long. Use a knife to spread the icing onto one layer of the cake. Wet the knife is necessary to help spread. Immediately place second cake layer on top and gently push down.
Now, you can serve this cake style. Or you can cut it into any shape you want. I trimmed the edges to form a squarish shape and then cut into 16 "bars."
You can play around with this now. Next time, try chocolate or carob icing by adding some of that powder into the sugar mix. Try a Twinkie type cake by making a white cake and white filling. Try getting some of this stuff into a syringe and squirting it into a cupcake. Or, make the Suzy-Q even better by doubling the icing recipe -- it'll make the center filling thicker.
I've found that several of my entries have started with the phrase, "This is silly..." Well, this is another one of those entries. Yet, I felt I had to share.
I've been baking gingersnaps and gingerbread cookies lately and using molasses and thick cane syrup. It's kinda tough getting that stuff to pour entirely out of a measuring cup. However, I've stumbled upon a little trick that helps that situation (no laughing from the expert chef section, please). If you coat the measuring cup with oil beforehand, the molasses will slide right out.
Actually, many of these recipes called for oil anyway. So, I measure the oil first, then the molasses. No waste.
I recently switched shampoos for my kids and the new product works so well that I thought I'd mention it here. I bought the Shikai brand shampoo, which really lathers well and leaves a very healthy looking and feeling hair. We do use conditioner also, which helps with brushing -- they have very fine hair. You can research the product online at http://www.shikai.com/.
Yesterday's news, but worth reposting anyway. I've experienced this with my kids. I thought it was pretty freaky when it happened. I remember the last time they were both fairly ill, vomiting, fever, etc. We pulled them off their supplements for the week, but instead of tanking, they were pretty well-behaved and "normal" in their speech and actions. Very odd. Now, it makes sense. Read on....
Study: Fever lessens autism symptoms BY DELTHIA RICKS December 4, 2007
Key behavior ranging from better concentration to improved word use tends to occur when a child with autism has a fever, scientists report in an unusual investigation published yesterday.
Exactly how a fever changes the brain remains a matter of speculation. But scientists at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore have found that even though the effects are temporary, the discovery opens a new window to understanding autism.
Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, director of medical research at the institute's autism and related disorders center, said the study was inspired by anecdotal reports from parents and clinicians who found that when a child with autism developed a fever, many classic signs of the condition seem to subside. The effect, however, is fleeting.
Zimmerman and collaborator Laura Curran studied 30 children with autism between the ages of 2 and 18 during and after an episode of fever to determine if there was any truth to the rumors about behavioral changes. The team defined a fever as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and asked parents to document their child's behavior throughout the episode.
"The patients we took measurements on all returned to baseline after a week," Zimmerman said, referring to a reversal to previous behavior.Despite the reversal, Zimmerman said the change was eye-opening because children not only spoke more and made better eye contact, some experienced better overall relationships with parents and peers.
Zimmerman, who reports the transformation in the journal Pediatrics, told Newsday the discovery provides a better understanding of the brain. The organ has tremendous plasticity, he said of its ability to adapt to stress, which in this case was a fever. He also said the new data sheds more light on why autism occurs. Fever causes a change in how the brain sends messages between cells.
During a fever, the body produces a flood of infinitesimal proteins called cytokines that may facilitate messages between brain cells. When the fever subsides, this enhanced activity diminishes as well.
"In the science of autism a lot of people are looking at the synapse as the area where the problems are," Zimmerman said. A synapse is the tiny gap between the ends of nerve fibers across which messages are fired.
Edward Carr, a professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, said that though the research is interesting, children with autism experience improvements without fevers. "His point shows there's a certain plasticity, but I don't think improvement depends on a fever.
Dr. Eric Gould, a pediatrician in Great Neck, said he believes the study was published prematurely and provides nothing useful for parents and their children. "Revealing this information at this juncture is purposeless," he said.
Gould added that "observational studies are not worth anything. They're so patently absurd on the surface. You can't compare apples to apples because each of those kids was different. It's not like each of them had strep throat."
Oh, a programming note here ... Don Imus is back on the radio at WABC, New York. That's 770 on the AM dial in the New York area. Or, listen online -- click here. I'm certainly not suggesting anyone excuse his on-air remarks that got him in so much trouble, but I will point out that he and his wife have been tremendous advocates of the autism community. Imus was talking about the ins and outs of autism issues, including vaccines and thimerosal, before it hit the mainstream media. Like I said - just pointing his return out.
This was a hit this week in my house. I thought I'd try this cookie recipe out before Christmas arrived to see if it worked. It does, and it's versatile. With a few changes, I made this rice free too. The source is the Special Diets for Special Kids cookbook, by Lisa Lewis. This was a contribution by Karen Seroussi. I made some changes to the original recipe and I'll note those along the way.
Ingredients: 2/3 cup brown rice flour (I used sorghum) 1/3 cup sweet rice flour (I used tapioca here) 1/3 cup tapioca starch (I also kept this 1/3 cup tapioca) 1 TBL cinnamon 1 tsp ginger (use more for a cookie with a real ginger bite) 2 tsp xanthan gum 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup oil 1/4 cup molasses (I used Steens Cane Syrup) 2 TBL water
Recipe Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. So, my flour mixture was 2/3 cup sorghum and 2/3 cup tapioca. Then, add the liquids.
Mix well. Add tapioca if necessary to get a dough that you can knead.
Roll the dough out on a floured board or surface, using the tapioca, to about a quarter-inch thickness. Cut out gingerbread person shapes, flouring the cutter with tapioca.
Bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 14 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a rack. This gave me a nice, crunchy cookie. Bake for less time to make more chewy and less crunchy.