Gluten-Free Coconut Layer Cake

Gluten free coconut layer cake from Karina

Let Us Eat Cake.


Earlier this spring- before the Coronavirus knocked us all sideways- my husband's birthday marked another spin around the wheel of time. And yes, I baked a cake. And as I stirred the batter and scooped it into cake pans, I thought about the other cakes I have baked for him. The chocolate cake in our first year of marriage. Children beneath our roof. Blue balloons and candles. The newness of each others' dreams. The shine of our ideas. The belief in what was possible.

We've shared twenty-five birthdays now. And the single constant through these twenty-five years is change. Change has woven its intricate design deep inside our marriage, our thirteen different living spaces in seven different states, our evolving work as artists and writers, our sons' own changing lives.

There isn't a piece of our life together that has not been burnished by change.

I asked my husband what he felt about this birthday, if anything. He said at first he didn't feel anything about it. That is was just another day. Another number. But later he turned to me and said he'd been thinking about his early years. The stuff he assumed was important. The choices he made. Or rather, didn't make. The times he stuck with things out of a sense of duty. Or a bone bred stoicism, believing in the virtue of sticking it out. Trying to make the unworkable work.

Looking back, he said, I don't understand it. When people say they wouldn't change a thing? I'd change ten thousand things, he said.

And that's why I love you, I told him.

And it got me thinking. Would I change ten thousand things? Or would I choose the devil I know?

The thing is this. The devil I know?

It's change.

So let's eat cake.


Gluten-Free Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia - Rustic Bread


Gluten-Free Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia Rustic Bread


A Focaccia To Love

The Summer Solstice is inching toward us, and rotary fans are humming 24/7 here in our humble casa. Mercury has been climbing past 90ยบ all week. The Covid-19 virus is stubbornly on the rise in our state. It's month number 4 for us, hunkered down in isolation (we both fall in the higher risk category).

This is not a good time to be insanely hungry for bread.

And I don't mean store bought home-delivered gluten-free bread. I mean freshly baked, warm from the oven, fragrant, tender, rustic bread. The kind of nubby, crusty loaf that conjures the word hearth (such an old school word) and home (now a literal refuge). Food that is just plain good for the soul.

And you just don't get that in a plastic package.

So we baked.

As we listen, and learn, and support, and donate to the changes that MUST come... long overdue.

Be safe, be cool, support anti-racism however you can. Be an advocate.

Peace + Love + Justice,

Karina
xox


Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetables

Gorgeous gluten-free quinoa with grilled vegetables- perfect summer fare.



Beautiful Quinoa Salad with Grilled Veggies

But first a note--- 

The times they are a'changin' sang Bob Dylan. The whole wide world is rising up, clamoring for change, for justice, for respect and compassion for all human beings- black, brown, indigenous, (and yes, white), young and old, fragile and strong, quiet and fierce, timid and brave, burdened and free. Let us take a breath and listen, learn, empathize, grow, support, love and take care of one another. 

History can teach us how we got here. Truth has the power to enlighten us, if we face it, honestly, with humility and empathy. Understanding another person's experience and perspective, their challenges and their pain, is a first step toward healing, toward a better, shared future. 

So let's come together and make the world kinder, less cynical, more equitable, just, and safe- not just for some, but for everyone (as the song goes). Let's ask Why? instead of assuming we know. Let's listen instead of defending our own position. Let's do our homework and uncover the history, the causes and effects, the inherited fears and systemic biases, the assumptions we all make each and every day- that may not even be true.

Being human means we have a head and a heart. With every new day we can learn, we can change, change our mind, choose The Good, shun The Toxic, do the right thing, take a stand for The Righteous. We can uplift, we can share, we can teach. And we can respect one another. And from that mutual respect, we all benefit.

Black Lives Matter. 

Love + Peace + Justice,

Karina
xox


Gluten-Free Blueberry Crisp

Gluten-Free Goddess- New Blueberry Crisp Recipe


A Summer Classic: Blueberry Crisp.

We had a sudden hankering. You know how it is. A craving hits that will not be denied. Insistent. Growling. Desire with an uppercase D. So I'm digging into the archives.

June is here. And you start imagining fresh, juicy blueberries, nestled beneath a perfectly golden crumble of a crust, warm, the deepest purple, bubbling as you slide it- ever so gently- out of the oven and onto a cooling rack to rest and settle until you can't stand it a minute longer, breathing in the cinnamon laced aroma of a summer dessert classic.

The forever glorious blueberry crisp.

And this one's gluten-free. And dairy-free. No xanthan gum either- a bonus.

So, Babycakes.

Don't wait.

Blueberry season is short and sweet.

Peace + Love + Justice,

Karina xox



Gluten-Free Whole Grain Strawberry Muffins

Gluten-free Goddess Whole Grain Strawberry Muffins

Whole Grain Gluten-Free Muffins- with Love


I've been thinking about muffins. And not just any ordinary, ho-hum, run-of-the-mill, starchy, gluten-free muffins. Nope. A tender, whole grain, lower sugar, vanilla scented muffin that bursts with fresh strawberry flavor. Warm from the oven, these pleasantly grainy breakfast treats are pull-apart soft with juicy bites of strawberry. Sweet- but not too sweet.

I used pure maple syrup for the primary sweetener, and a mere two tablespoons of organic brown sugar. And now for the interesting part. I also experimented with no xanthan gum. I used to rely on xanthan gum to give my gluten-free batter and dough the stretchability factor- a trait removed when I booted gluten from my kitchen and wished it vaya con dios. But inspired by Lauren, the Celiac Teen, I decided to try baking without it.

But here's the thing.

Shunning gluten is a complicated issue. Gluten imparts a flexibility to batter and dough, and baking without it can lead you to crumbly, gritty ruin if you're not careful. You're giving up protein. And you're giving up elasticity. And not only that, you're saying buh-bye to the toothsome texture you are accustomed to.

Reaching for xanthan gum was a quick fix, an immediate solution to this lack of flexibility problem. But many of you now report you don't want to use it. For some it's a price issue (xanthan gum ain't cheap, Darling). For others it's a digestive issue (xanthan gum or its alternative, guar gum, can be hard on sensitive digestion). And for some, it's an allergy issue (to mold or the growth medium, most often cornstarch).

Gluten-free baking without gums is tricky. This, I know. So my first foray into this venture is not vegan. I used two free-range organic eggs. Egg whites help give gluten-free batter that precious stretchability factor. And the protein factor. They bind, and they leaven.

My choice of flours reflects two things- what I had on hand this morning, and my desire to use whole grains (I am liking starches less and less). I picked hazelnut flour for the delightful nutty flavor and protein; millet, brown rice, and sorghum flour because they are whole grain and higher protein than white rice flour or potato starch; and I used coconut flour because it attracts moisture and adds a lovely texture to gluten-free baked goods (not to mention, for its high fiber status).

The result? A tasty, blog worthy success. I absolutely love these strawberry muffins.

And I hope you do, too!

Stay safe- be vigilant- choose love,

Karina
xox


Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins- No Xanthan Gum


Deliciously gluten-free blueberry muffins without xanthan gum. From Karina, Gluten-Free Goddess.

Baking Without Xanthan Gum, I Am.

When I first set foot on this lonely gluten-free road (it was 2001, remember, pre-gluten-free boon; there was nary a gluten-free bagel or wheat-free blueberry muffin in sight), I wrestled with converting my beloved tried and true wheat flour recipes, gamely baking and tossing too many gluten-free hockey pucks and brick loaves to count. Until I discovered xanthan gum- the weirdo secret ingredient that gave gluten-free batter and dough a hint of that elusive stretchy tenderness that gluten once gifted. Xanthan gum was a find.

And it has been a nifty little problem solver for many years.

Until it wasn't.

After a decade or so of cooking, baking, and eating strictly gluten-free I began to feel- shall we say- less than wonderful after eating something with xanthan gum (or guar gum, or locust bean gum, or carrageenan).

Ingredients my grandmother never heard of. Ingredients I never used to eat. Or bake with.

I had a gluten-free shakabuku.

I was seeing gums and emulsifiers added to everything. From coconut milk to olives, from gluten-free gingersnaps to vegan ice cream.

Then I read this.

And I decided to go back to the way I used to eat- still gluten-free, of course- but- no xanthan gum. No guar gum. No carrageenan.

Guess what?

My tummy is (WAY) happier. My digestion is normal (translation- no pain, no bloat, no kill me now existential ennui).

I've been experimenting with baking without xanthan gum. And I'm here to share my blueberry muffin success. I'm using flax seed meal to help the batter a bit. And so far?

So good.

Karina's Side Note: I baked these tasty little gems in my new Cuisinart Deluxe Convection Toaster Oven Broiler (our new apartment has no oven, so after researching counter top toaster ovens, we ordered one of these from Amazon.com). I love it- it keeps the kitchen cool (gives off very little heat) and the convection baking is super efficient for baking gluten-free goodies. So far we've made my xanthan gum free Dark Chocolate Brownies, and the new Blueberry Muffins in it, using the convection method.


Gluten-Free Lasagna In a Casserole Style Slow Cooker

A fabulous gluten-free lasagna- made easy with the new CrockPot Slow Cooker Casserole. From Karina.



Slow Cooker Lasagna As it Should Be. Delicious! And perfect for old fashioned family comfort food.


It's been a long time since I flirted with a new kitchen appliance. Truthfully? I barely have room for the few gems I still have, after all these moves. Though I've got more room these days, post apartment living. We're finally in a house. And the days of a kitchen without an oven are in the rearview mirror. 

You remember those rental days, right? 

In Rental World they don't always give you a full size, actual oven. They might just give you a four burner cooktop. And a rickety microwave. 

So what's a gluten-free lasagna craving girl gonna do?

Make a mug of chai. 

Cruise Amazon. 


Brilliant.


A fabulous gluten-free lasagna- made easy with the new CrockPot Slow Cooker Casserole. #glutenfree #crockpot #slowcooker #lasagna

My first lasagna in this new Crock Pot Casserole Slow Cooker

Please note: This is NOT a sponsored post. 


I assembled this classic family style lasagna at noon today- using UNCOOKED gluten-free lasagna noodles, browned ground turkey, three Italian cheeses, and our favorite pasta sauce. And by 3:15 we were gathered around the Crock Pot, inhaling the aroma of bubbling, garlicky tomato sauce and melting mozzarella cheese, grabbing our forks in gratitude.

An easier homemade lasagna I have never made.

And honestly?

It was perfect. The rice lasagna noodles were tender. The filling hot and creamy, the melted cheeses velvety soft.


Karina
xox

Gluten-Free Zucchini Breakfast Cake

Gluten-Free Goddess Zucchini Quinoa Breakfast Cake


Breakfast! Let's Eat Cake.

I may not live in LA these days but I do remember some of my favorite SoCal inspired recipes. Here's one of my absolute faves, from the archives.

Remember those maple sweetened almond zucchini mini-muffins? I do. They've become one of our favorite grab-and-go gluten-free treats. I tuck a bag of them- fresh out of the freezer- into my bulging purse knapsack beach bag tote whenever we venture far afield. Like. The Valley. Because, well. You never know. It can get crazy. In L.A. you might end up jammed on the 405. Stuck as in four lanes = a parking lot stuck. Stuck as in, Dude that's my hunger growling louder than Kurt Cobain's rasp on the rattling radio speaker pleading...

What else could I be? All apologies.

I know this from experience. I learned the hard way (the way I learn most things in life). Driving in L.A. can lead to stop-n-go squatting in the baking sun. And a where is my nail file and why did I leave the apartment without food and water and ice in a cooler panic. Because the thirty-three minutes it took yesterday to get to Studio City is seventy-five minutes today.

That's when I started imagining a zucchini cake.

For breakfast.

On the 405.

Karina
xox


Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp-Crumble

Gluten free strawberry rhubarb crumble


Cheer yourself up with this beautiful strawberry rhubarb crisp.

During these dark and surreal times, we need all the beauty we can get. And Spring herself is cooperating (aside from the snow squalls and wind storms, that is). There are cherry blossoms snowing pink. House finches and morning doves singing. Magnolias unfolding their velvet petals. Trees budding pale lacy greens and soft sun-yellows. And love. There is a lot of that going around, too. If you seek it out- it's literally all around us. Everywhere you look. On Instagram and social media folks around the world are lifting spirits sharing their dance moves, voices, and sweet, kind gestures of appreciation, faith, creativity, and camaraderie.

So in spite of the awful, horrible, no good, very bad virus, the human spirit remains strong. And Spring has launched her magic to remind us that the world still holds such beauty.

In light of our shared collective predicament, I thought you might be craving something different this week- something less typical than my Banana Nut Bread or Coconut Almond Raspberry Jam Bars (though, thank Goddess for those tried and true mainstays!). Something like a comforting, old school crisp and crumble dessert- the easiest of baked fresh fruit sweets. Lovely for a springtime picnic on your back porch steps, or a virtual weekend get-together on FaceTime.

I decided to play around with an alternative topping to the classic pairing of tart rhubarb and sweet ripe strawberries. And I grabbed a secret ingredient from my baking pantry.

Can you guess what it is?

The secret ingredient in this old fashioned crumble dessert is an ingredient your grandmother probably never heard of.

Quinoa flakes. Gluten-free quinoa cereal flakes add a distinct, toasty and delicate flavor to this fruit crumble's topping. The texture is light and lovely.

We thought it was spectacular.

And as a bonus?

This gluten-free dessert is xanthan gum free, by the way.

If you have only oats- or oatmeal cereal flakes- you can use those, too, Darling. Crisps are born for improvisation.

Stay safe, stay strong, and bake up something delicious.

Karina
xox