Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Granola Gluten Free

I made granola years ago. I made it using a recipe from Make-A-Mix Cookery by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward & Madeline Westover. They authored another book, More Make-A-Mix Cookery; it was equally as good. Those two books helped me so much during the hectic time of teaching, going to school to complete a masters and feeding a family. If I was late for dinner, my husband or the children always knew there was something in the freezer to put together quickly.

The Quick Mixes the Family Liked

There was always a mix for meat, vegetables or fruit, ready to quickly make a meal. Every few weeks, I would spend an entire weekend filling the freezer and cabinets with mixes such as Quick (baking) Mix, Braised Beef Cube Mix, Ready Hamburger Mix, Meat Sauce Mix, Meatball Mix, Chicken Mix, Garden Vegetable Mix, Granola Mix, Hot Chocolate Mix, and the children's favorite, Marie's Fruit Cocktail Mix. Those books are still available on Amazon.

The baked granola.

Back to Making the Granola

There have been changes in the way I make granola; all the ingredients have to be gluten free. It isn't always possible to find gluten free ingredients I want for the granola. Gluten free rolled oats are more easily found today. I use Bob's Red Mill gluten free rolled oats. But sometimes the seeds are processed in a facility that processes wheat. I no longer use wheat germ but gluten free oat bran can substitute. When I can't find the ingredients in the grocery store for the granola, I order them online. Expensive? Yes, but so is the commercially made gluten free granola. Also, the majority of packaged granolas contain some form of rice which is not good for my diabetes and kidneys. Also, I now try to to lower the sugar content of the granola.

I really like granola on my homemake yogurt. I make yogurt using this method. So, I promised myself that I would start making my granola again.

Recipes for Granola

There are hundreds of recipes for granola in books and on the internet.  My daughter made a granola using pumpkin puree and it was fantastic. I decided to give it a try. I had some sweet potato puree left over and used that rather than pumpkin puree. Worked out fantastically!

I used some ingredients that I never used in the 80's. They were pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, oat bran, sugar free maple syrup, Truvia brown sugar blend, and coconut oil. Could have used molasses, as in the former recipe, but chose to use the sugar free maple syrup and Stevia brown sugar this time. I used flaxseed meal and oat bran, which is optional, but they add more nutritional value to the granola.

Making the granola is a morning project for me. I had to rinse and dry the pepitas because I could not find them gluten free -- not processed in a facility that processes wheat. I put them in a colander, rinsed them with running water and put them in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes to dry. When they are dry, they start popping. If I am not in a hurry and can plan ahead, I dry them in the dehydrater. They may not have had gluten on them but I no longer take chances. The rinsing seems to work.

Then I started on the recipe. (Oh, I threw in the gluten-free Cheerios to see what would happen. They work out great!)

Granola Gluten Free

3 cups gluten free rolled oats, quinoa flakes or combination
1/2-1 cup coconut chips
1 cup raw or roasted nuts, such as pecans, sliced almonds, walnuts or combination
1/2 cup raw seeds, such as sesame, chia, sunflower, pepita or combination
2 to 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal (optional)
2 tablespoons oat bran (optional)
1/2 cup or more gluten free Cheerios (or any flavor of Chex gluten free cereal)
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or 1 tbsp Truvia Brown Sugar Blend or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
1/4 cup coconut or olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup (for less sugar, use sugar free maple syrup)
3 tablespoons honey*
1/3 cup pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree or butternut squash puree

* Rather than use the maple syrup and honey, can use 1/3 cup honey or 1/3 cup maple syrup 
   Remember all ingredients should be gluten free, including spices.

1. Preheat oven to 250℉ or 300℉. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix the oats, quinoa flakes, flaxseed meal, oat bran, nuts, seed, coconut chips, Cheerios (if using),     and spices in a large bowl.

3. In a microwavable container, combine salt, sugar, oil, maple syrup, honey and pumpkin puree. Stir with fork or whisk for a second or two. (It will not combine completely until heated). Microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk or stir with fork. Repeat until the mixture is warm and will almost combine. The melted coconut oil will, most likely, continue to float on top.

4.  Pour the puree mixture over the dry ingredients and toss with a spoon until everything is coated.

5. Spread the granola evenly into the baking sheets (or bake in 2 or three batches) and bake 30-40 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes, carefully bringing the back granola to front or turn pan. The granola should turn golden brown in about 30 minutes. It may not be crisp; it will become crisp as it cools. Cool in pan on a cooling rack. Continue process until all granola is baked.

6. If the chopped fruit is sticky, dry in the oven for 10 minutes at 300℉. It should be drier but if still a little sticky, toss in 2 teaspoons Stevia in the Raw or 2 teaspoons powdered sugar. Then toss with the granola. Store in airtight container. The granola should keep about 2 weeks.

If this granola doesn't appeal to you, there are many recipes for granola in the resources below. Some of those recipes are very simple, with fewer ingredients. Find one you like and make granola. Homemade granola is great!


Eliason, Karine, Nevada Harward, and Madeline Westover. Make-a-mix Cookery: How to Make Your Own Mixes. Tucson, AZ: H.P., 1978. Print.

Eliason, Karine, Nevada Harward, and Madeline Westover. More Make-A-Mix Cookery; Tucon, AZ: H.P., 1978. Print

Fenster, Carol Lee. Gluten-free 101: Easy, Basic Dishes without Wheat. Centennial, CO: Savory Palate, 2003. Print.

Green, Amy. SS & GF: Simply Sugar and Gluten-free: 180 Easy and Delicious Repices You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses, 2011. Print.

"Healthy Pumpkin Granola | Minimalist Baker Recipes." Minimalist Baker. N.p., 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <>.

"How To Make The Best Granola Ever." BuzzFeed. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <>.

"Let's Make Granola." Mother Earth News. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <>.

McLay, Brooke. Almonds Every Which Way: More than 150 Healthy & Delicious Almond Milk, Almond Flour, and Almond Butter Recipes. Boston, MA: Da Capo, 2014. Print.

Shepard, Jules E. Dowler. Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-free, Allergy-friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy. Cambridge: Da Capo Lifelong, 2010. Print.

"Which Rice Has the Least Arsenic? - Consumer Reports." Which Rice Has the Least Arsenic? - Consumer Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <>.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rag Dolls

Several years ago I made a few dolls for Rag Dolls 2 Love, Inc. This non-profit company is run by several women who are in Wyoming and Vermont. The company was started so that children who are orphaned, infected by diseases, have lived through natural disasters  or who live in war ravaged countries have this doll for love and comfort.

Specifications for the Dolls

So that all the dolls are somewhat similar, the dolls must be constructed with the exact smile. They must be made of fabric that would yield neutral ethnicity. With neutral ethnicity, they can be shipped to any country or region. Originality is not required nor wanted to make this doll. It is essential that the pattern given on the website not be changed and all directions are followed. It can be made with a solid color fabric or patterned fabric that hints of no ethnicity.

Though you can notice the various sizes of the dolls on their website, they should not vary in size. If the pattern is downloaded from the Rag Dolls 2 Love website correctly to 100%, the doll will be about 20" in length. They speak about this problem on the website.

Partial Shipment for Fall 2015

Why Rag Dolls 2 Love?

When I was researching charity organizations with which to make contributions, I not only chose Project Linus, Warm Up America, Toys for Tots, and Coats for the Children. I also chose Rag Dolls 2 Love. I'm not sure how I found the non-profit organization but it must have shown up when I Googled non-profit organizations.

There were so many big scraps of fabric in Mama's sewing room that needed to be cycled into something meaningful, as well as the many huge  bags of polyester stuffing.  This project fit the cause with the supplies.

First shippment of dolls sent in 2012

Beginning the Project

For several years before and after my retirement I took care of my mother who had COPD and Alzhiemer's. She didn't scream and wail as much if I was in the same room with her.  So I needed to devise a plan which could keep me busy within her eyesight. During this time of the dementia, she lost all patience and knowledge to complete any type of task. She couldn't remember words and lost the ability to knit and crochet. Keeping her occupied was very difficult. Later her doctor said to keep her television on because it might help keep her focused and not yell. Later, that didn't help either.

I devised a plan. I cut out about 25 dolls, using the gigantic hoard of fabric from the sewing room. I didn't have my light box with me, so I used the front glass door to trace the face pattern on the face-body cutouts. I found a small embroidery hoop in the sewing room, along with black and red embroidery thread. While sitting with Mama, I embroidered about 20 of the faces onto the front face-body cutouts. I also have to admit that it helped me stay focused and calm through the yelling, wailing and screaming. It was a diffcult time for everyone involved in her caregiving.

Giving the Rag Doll a Face

The face details do not have to be embroidered. They can be painted on with fabric paint. Charisse Eaves shows how to use paints to make doll faces. Her techniques can be used, but the face on the Rag Doll 2 Love must be the face given on the website Rag Dolls 2 Love. I wouldn't suggest using permanent markers because they may bleed into the fabric and leave fuzzy edges. Be sure to test the markers on fabric before you use them. There are many kinds and brands of fabric markers that can be used. I have used these fabric markers on other projects. Crafting the faces with fabric markers is quick and easy.

First eye finished using the back stitch, then the satin stitch
Eyes finished and the nose being done with the back stitch

The mouth is being completed using red thread and the back stitch.

Finished face -- I like the face design that Rag Dolls 2 Love chose.
You just have to smile when you see it -- each and every time.

 Assembling the Jointed Legs and Arms

The leg and arm cutouts must be sewn together first using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.  I usually do several at one time. They are then turned right side out. I mark where the first joint is and stuff to that point and pin. Since these are for children, I backstitch all seams and joints to keep the stitches from unraveling.

You notice that I don't mark the joint with sewing marking pens. (When quilting and smocking, I like this pen.) I have learned to mark with straight pens and sew through the pens. Using the marking pens is a good option if you can't do the straight pins.

The first three legs have the first joint stitched. The leg on the right is stuffed, pinned
and read to stitch the first joint.

A closer look at the pinned first leg joint.

The hands are stuffed and the hand on the left is pinned for wrist joint.
The hand on the right has the wrist joint sewn.

Using the pattern for location, the wrist and knee joints are stuffed and pinned.

Stuff the last joint and seam the top of each arm and leg.

Arms and legs for two dolls are finished.

Next the arms and legs need to be attached to the inside (right side) of the body on the face side. Using a basting stitch would be ok. Remember that the seam allowance is 1/4-inch. The thumbs point UP -- very important that they get the thumbs up!

The next step is more difficult but not impossible. The body must be assemblied with the arms inside the body. I find it easier to sew one half the body and then stuff the other arm inside and stitch. I find it easier to do a few inches of sewing, put the machine needle down, the arm up and maneuver the dolls body so that I can make the next inch or so of sewing the body.

Seaming the body together with arms inside the body.
When the body is stitched with the arms inside, restitch the neck so that there is a double seam reinforcement. With sharp scissors, carefully clip into the neck, without cutting into the stitches. If you do not cut into the v-stitching close enough, the neck will be puckered.

Clip the loose threads and turn right side out. Notice, you have not yet enclosed the legs to the body. I find it extremely awkward to stuff a leg in the body and stitch. Two arms and a leg inside the body make it almost impossible to stitch the bottom seamWhen I first did that, I spend too much time ripping out. I found another way to do it.

Turn the doll right side out, checking that the arms are inside the seam properly. Many times I have had to rip out the arms if they are puckered. Another way to prevent this is to hand baste the body together but if you are making 10 or more dolls, its going to take a longer time making the dolls.

One important thing to do, though, is to stitch 1/4-inch around the entire bottom of the body, so that you have a vision of where the seam will be.

Stuffing the body though the leg/body opening on right

Notice that the leg and body on the left side have been stitched . Using the stitch line along the body bottom, the fabric edge is folded inside and basted to assure that the leg is properly stitched in. The seam on that leg is machine topstitched, reinforced with backstitching at the beginning and end of stitching. The other leg is not stitched in at this time but is used as the hole for stuffing the body. Once the body is stuffed, baste the body closed, assuring that the leg is properly stitched in. Top stitch as with the first leg. Remove basting.

The rag doll is finished!

Alternate Construction Methods

The photos of the dolls on the website show other methods of construction. Some of the dolls are made completely with exposed seams. I'm not sure how Ral Dolls 2 Love feels about but that must be OK because the "exposed seam dolls" photo is on the home page of the website.

The doll can be made with both arms and legs in the body with part of one of the side seams left open to stuff. This way takes a lot of patience because it is more difficult to do it.

Charity Rag Dolls

If you have a desire to make these dolls for charity, just get started. Another non-profit organization that makes dolls is Dolls for Africa. The rules for making that doll is completely different from the Rag Doll 2 Love but the doll for that project seems to be more simple and easier to make because the legs, arms, head and body are one inclusive complete pattern. Older children are helping to make them. There are patterns for the doll and clothes for the doll at the Dolls for Africa site.

Other non-profit organizations making dolls are The Giving Doll and Feel Better Friends. These organizations seem to want monetary donations or donations of materials for the construction their dolls. I'm sure there are several other important non-profit organizations providing comfort for children.

There are so many ways to help the world be a better place. The calls to help are in your heart. Listen to your heart. Everyone has been given a special talent that should be shared and there are so many opportunities to share those talents.

Disclosure statement: I have not received compensation for any products mentioned or used in this post.

"Annals of Long-Term Care." The American Geriatrics Society, 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. <>.

"DMC Creative World." Embroidery Stitches. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. <>.

"Dolls for Africa." Dolls for Africa. Sri Chinmoy, 2006. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. <>.

"Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen, Blue." N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. <>.

Eaves, Charisse. "Painting Whimsical Cloth Doll Faces Using Paints." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. <>.

"Rag Dolls 2 Love, Inc." Rag Dolls 2 Love, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. <>.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Story of A Feral Cat

This is about the life of a feral cat.  She was rescued from the campus of Louisburg High School. She lived in the storm drain in the teachers' parking lot. (Some non-caring individuals would drop cats off at the school on nights and weekends.) She was a typical feral cat -- until she was rescued. From that point she was neither feral nor completely domesticated.

Hands-on Education of Feral Cats

She showed up at the school during the construction and renovation of the school. She lived under the construction office, which was near the cafeteria. The students and construction workers would throw food to her. She wouldn't let anyone near her -- very feral -- though, I don't think she had always been feral. She was very independent and didn't want anyone touching her. The students sometimes talked about a pretty cat under the trailer. I saw her once in this location.

When the construction ended, she lost her "home". She started living in the storm drain in the parking lot.

I'm not sure when I gave her a name. I named her Callie. She was an absolutely beautiful calico, with. long-hair and short legs. She had a short tail because she lost half of it. One Friday, she showed up dragging half her tail. It was at that point I felt she needed to see a vet but catching her was going to be a problem. In a few days, the dragged part of the tail fell off. She appeared to be healthy.

I started feeding her and kept cat food in my car. I would feed her every morning before anyone else got to school. She knew the sound of my car and most every day, she was waiting for me when I got there in the morning. Other cats challenged her ownership of the cat food, so she would gobbled it up before I could get in my classroom. I often left the school late and she sometimes waited for more food. My friend, Janet, would feed her on the holidays. Sometimes, I would drive to school and feed her myself.

The Capture

Another teacher, Jane, became interested in her. Jane also trapped, neutered, and returned (TNR) feral cats. We tried to capture this cat for about a month, but were not successful. She was one smart cat. Jane soon became retired and left me to try to continue the capture of Callie. Jane was going to take her to the vet and then release her on her farm if I ever caught her.

It took another two weeks. I gradually placed her food closer and closer to the trap. I put the food in the trap several days without tripping the latch because I wanted her to get use to climbing into the cage. The first day I placed the food in the back, I caught her. When the latch shut, she screamed, yowled, hissed and growled furiously. (It felt bad because I had deceived her and I wondered if she knew me by smell). I didn't want her to know who trapped her, so I approached the cage holding a blanket in front of me. I threw the blanket over the cage and picked it up. I called Jane to tell her I had her. Jane drove to Louisburg to pick her up.

Jane took Callie to the vet, had her spayed, and got her necessary shots. She provided a space in her house for Callie's healing.

And There is Trouble With the Plans

I got an email from Jane in a couple of weeks stating that there was a problem. She asked me if I would be willing to take Callie. She had done some more reading about feral cats and talked to an expert on feral cats. It seems that if they are released in a unfamiliar area, other feral cats will chase them away. Feral cats are very territorial. It is not safe to relocate them unless they are in a dangerous area. There are several other reasons for not relocating feral cats.

I told Jane I would take her but that I needed time to get ready for her. I purchased a very large crate for cats and place it in the small bedroom. At the time, I had two other cats. Callie needed to be isolated from them in the beginning.

Bringing Callie Home

I went to get Callie. If you have seen cartoons of cats flying threw the air with the claws out, you may think they are a jokes. NOPE! Callie could fly through the air with her nails out. She jumped high from wall to the wall and scraped her way down. It was frightening for Callie and us. We had a very difficult time corralling her into a cat travel carrier. Another upsetting experience for her.

I took her home. I lowered the cat carrier to the cat crate; into the crate she went. There was food, water and a a small litter box. (Jane said Callie used the litter box with no problems). I left Callie alone several hours so that she could get used to her surroundings. During the next few days I would visit her, reach my hand to touch her, change the litter box and water and feed her. I also would take a book into the room and read aloud to her.

A few days later, I opened the bedroom door to let the two other cats in to visit. At first she didn't like it and would hiss and spit. It eventually worked because she and Dupont became lasting buddies.

In a week, it was time for the next step. Once she no longer hissed at me and let me touch her, I opened the door of the crate and left the room.


Coming Out of Hiding

At some point she came out and hid behind the futon.

She would come out to eat and drink and use the litter box. I always talked to her and always said the phrase, "You come out to see your Mama."After waiting several days, I folded down the mattress of the futon so I could see her. I didn't touch her for a couple days. Then, I started laying across the mattress and touching her and rubbing her. The second day I heard her purr and felt her relaxed. Finally I was getting somewhere. She loved being petted!

In about the third week,  I went in and peeped at her from under the futon and said"You come out to see your Mama" and she stretched to touch me. I touched her and she put her head down for me to touch her. It was a long stretch. I sat on the floor by the futon and read to her.

She Comes Out to Greet Me

In another few weeks, she peeked out from under the futon to see me when I entered the room. I sat further from the futon and repeated"You come out to see your Mama". One day, miraculously, she did come out to be petted; from then out she always came to greet me when I repeated the phrase.

From that point in the domestication, she gradually became one of the house cats. I could never leave her out when I left the house because sometimes she wouldn't go upstairs to use her litter box. (I had three litter boxes to clean and didn't want another -- besides, Dupont would use it). Though Dupont was sometimes irritated with Callie's neediness, he would cry for me to to upstairs to let Callie out. Callie never, ever liked to be picked up but she loved to sit in my lap or on my chest if I was lying on the sofa.

Why am I using the Past Tense?

Callie died, this week, of renal failure June 18, 2015. I miss you, baby, and you taught me so much about caring for feral cats. You were so loyal to me and loved being with me. Thanks for being so patient and loving. You always followed me around the house like puppy dog. Though it was irritating at times, I miss it.


If you read one of the articles, you know that it said to return the feral cats to their environment. So why didn't Jane and I put the cat back on the Louisburg campus? Callie's home was a storm drain and a parking lot. We felt it to be a dangerous environment.


"Feral Cat Relocation." Louisiana SPCA, n.d. Web. 19 June 2015. <>.

"Relocation." Neighborhood Cats /. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2015. <>.

"Why Trap-Neuter-Return Feral Cats: The Case for TNR." Why Trap-Neuter-Return Feral Cats? The Case for TNR. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2015. <>.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Gluten Free Oat/Sorghum Mini Cake Donuts

The Trial and Error

I have been making mini gluten free donuts for several months. But, all my attempts went in the trash. They were not terrible but they were not great either. I needed to work on the taste and texture for that is the promise of a good cake donut.

The first time I tried this particular recipe, they tasted very good but the texture was not there. They didn't have enough body because when picked up, the donut crumbled, even when cold. So, for the next trial, the amount of flour was increased. Bingo -- the texture much improved. They weren't as sweet as before but I didn't add more sugar; the sugar topping would remedy that.  

What To Do With Left Over Sugar/Cinnamon Topping

When I made the low-sugar topping, dipped the donuts in the melted butter, and then dipped them in the topping, I thought they were good enough to post. As I started cleaning up, there was a small amount of sugar/cinnamon topping and butter left. I was going to throw it out and the bell in my head rang. I got a couple tablespoons of cream cheese out, put it in a small bowl with the sugar topping and butter and beat it. I didn't think I could pipe it so I added about a teaspoon of half & half and beat it until it was very smooth. I piped it on top of the sugar topping. Oh, my gosh, that cinnamon cream cheese was a perfect final topping. Next time I will try to be a little more artistic when piping.

Gluten Free Oat/Sorghum Mini Cake Donuts

Dry ingredients:
1/3 cup (40g) oat flour  
1/3 cup (40 g) sorghum flour   
2 tablespoons (7 g) almond flour/meal 
1 tablespoon powdered buttermilk, powdered whey or powdered milk of choice
1 tablespoon seed dust*
1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute or combination of both
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
2 tablespoons milk of choice or water
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon granular sugar
1 tablespoon Stevia in the raw, granular sugar or any dry sweetener of choice.
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Cream Cheese Piping:
1 teaspoon of leftover sugar topping
1/2 - 1 teaspoon left over dipping butter
1-2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon milk or half & half

Whisk all the dry ingredients together. Stir the wet ingredients together. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes to help the gluten free flour hydrate.

Spoon the batter into a plastic zipper bag. Cut a small corner off the bag. Gently squeeze the batter evenly into 12 mini indentions of the mini donut pan. Bake at 325℉ for 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick or a very light touch. There should be only a few to no dry crumbs on the toothpick. The donuts should bounce back when lightly touched. Do not press too hard or the donuts might no longer rise if you have to put them back in the oven.

When the donuts are done, remove from oven and let them cool in the pan about 5 minutes. (They are very delicate when hot and will break apart.) Place on a cooling rack. When the donuts seem sturdy (in about 5-10 minutes), dip the top of a donut in the melted butter and then dip in the sugar topping. Place back on the cooking rack and dip the remaining donuts.

The donuts can be eaten with only the sugar topping, but the cream cheese adds a great flavor. To make the cream cheese piping, cream the cream cheese with the leftover sugar topping, melted butter and milk or half & half. Whip until perfectly combined with no lumps. Place in a plastic zippered bag, cut a small hole in a corner. (You can also using a pastry bag). Pipe the cream cheese in a design you like.

If you choose, you can skip the sugar topping and use only the cream cheese piping as a glaze or any frosting of choice. For the cinnamon cream cheese,  mix 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar substitute (or only sugar can be used), 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons cream cheese and 1 teaspoon or more of milk or half & half. Gently dip the donuts in the glaze or spoon the glaze over the top of the donuts.

As you can see from the first photo, these donuts weren't actually this dark.

Other variations to the recipe:
1. Add 1/4 cup or more mini chocolate chips to the batter before baking. Finely chopped nuts can be added with the mini chocolate chips.
2. Add 2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa.
3. Make a vanilla or chocolate cream cheese glaze using the recipe at this site or use your own recipes for any flavor you like.
4. Skip adding the cinnamon to batter and add small or dried blueberries or other fruit.
5. Use the batter to make mini muffins. Using a pastry bag, fill the muffins with the cinnamon cream cheese glaze or any other filling wanted. Frost with chocolate, vanilla or the same cinnamon cream cheese glaze.
6. These will make 6 regular sized donuts. Bake 12-15 minutes.
7. Sprinkles are always in order but be sure they are gluten free.

*The seed dust is 1 tablespoon from ground seeds (20 grams flaxseed, 10 grams chia seeds, and 5 grams of psyllium husk powder).


"Cream Filled Cupcakes." N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2015. <>.

"Filling a Cupcake." N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2015. <>.

Pellegrinelli, Carroll. "Cream Cheese Glaze (Frosting) Recipe." N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2015. <>.

"Pixie Dust Xanthan Gum Replacer." GlutenFree Doctor. N.p., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 07 June 2015. <>.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Linda's Pimento Cheese Gluten Free

Isn't Pimento Cheese Naturally Gluten Free?

What? Why make pimento cheese gluten free? Isn't is already gluten free. If you read the labels, they might say gluten free, but before the labeling laws, I have been painfully glutened with "gluten free" pimento cheese. The label might say gluten free or not mention any type of gluten in the ingredients but it may have been manufactured on a line where a product with gluten has been produced. Some of the companies making pimento cheese state that some of their suppliers for their company cannot meet the gluten free standards. I always do some research on a product before I buy it, especially if there is no mention of gluten. Same with pimento cheese.

Origin of Pimento Cheese

I found it a surprise when I read that pimento cheese wasn't orginally a southern "thing" -- connect to that website to read about it. That might explain why Mama's pimento cheese wasn't -- southern. She didn't live here in the south until she was in her late 20's. She used Miracle Whip rather than mayonnaise in her pimento cheese. Isn't that considered a sin in the south? I think most southerners who want an outstanding product use Duke's or Hellmann's mayonnaise. If they don't, they may lie about not using it. And even though homemade might be great, many sourthern cooks would say "it ain't southern made with Miracle Whip".

There are many different recipes for pimento cheese connoisseurs. Some like only sharp cheddar cheese; others, like a blend of several cheeses. Some like to use the chunky pimento and some like it diced or shredded. Some like their finished pimento cheese chunky and others like theirs really creamy.

Wright Bryan from NPR has this recipe. It seems to be slightly chunky. Bobby Deen's pimento cheese recipe lists several cheeses and is combined with an electric mixer; so, I'm assuming it is very creamy.

You might find Wallace's thesis on Pimento Cheese interesting. She had done, what I consider, a nice history on Pimento Cheese in North Carolina.

An article by Robert Moss on the website "Serious Eats" states that pimento cheese has its origin in the state of New York and gradually migrated to the South. It may have been because most of the cherry peppers were grown in South Carolina and Georgia. In the northern states, pimento cheese was made using cream cheese. After World War II, pimento cheese became less popular in the north. The South took the production to heart and began making it. Because it was cheaper to make with hoop cheese, the southern states used hoop cheese rather than cream cheese.

Kraft still makes pimento cheese using their Philadelphia brand of cream cheese. It can be found in a 5oz glass jar and is between $1.79 to almost $4, depending on where you buy it. I so remember Mama buying it as a treat in the 40's and 50's. We drank orange juice out of Kraft pimento cheese glasses.

Some Southern Pimento Cheese Brands

Palmetto Cheese, is a wonderful gluten free pimento cheese made in South Carolina but isn't always easy to find. It is gluten free and comes in a couple of flavors. It is shipped to many states. Some of the other  companies in North Carolina have a great taste but have gluten.

I still have not found the reason for gluten being in pimento cheese, unless to thicken it. The Star's company (made in Burlington, NC) makes macaroni salad and chicken & dumplings so there may be a contamination issue. Ruth's Pimento Cheese (made in Charlotte, NC) states, on the container, that it is processed where there is wheat.

Stan's Pimento Cheese (made in Burlington, NC) is reviewed as being very good. I do not know whether it is gluten free. Research did not lead me to any information about having gluten or being gluten free.

When I was shopping in the winter for pimento cheese at Trader Joe's, I couldn't find it. I was told by the "sign person" that it was a seasonal product and they didn't carry it this season. Trader Joe's -- you are in the South. Pimento cheese is not a seasonal item in The South. On a cold day, soup and a pimento cheese sandwich are comforting.

What to do with Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is good on bacon burgers, on celery sticks, on crackers and in deviled eggs.  It is great on toasted bread. There is a recipe that my children liked. They probably haven't had that open-faced pimento cheese sandwich in 20 years. A beaten egg is combined with pimento cheese made with 8oz of cheddar cheese. The pimento cheese is spread thickly on slices of bread. Add uncooked chopped bacon on top of the pimento cheese and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until the bacon is cooked. The egg makes the pimento cheese puff up. Delicious!

Ever had pimento cheese on a baked potato? There are several more ideas for using pimento cheese on this Southern Living website.

If you haven't seen The Pimento Cheese Cake from Our State Magazine, then you might want to check out the recipe. The same magazine has a wonderful pimento cheese sandwich recipe.

Linda's Gluten Free Pimento Cheese

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 4oz jar diced pimento, drained
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 8oz block extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 8oz block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • hot sauce, to taste (optional)

  • Directions:

  • 1. Whisk or mix the mayonnaise and cream cheese until thoroughly blended.
  • 2. Grate one block of cheese with regular size holes. Grate the other block finely. (The cheeses can be cut into cubes and processored in a processor until the size of small peas.)
  • 3. Mix together the mayonnaise mixture and cheese.
  • 4. Add remaining ingredients to the cheese mixture and combine thoroughly.
  • 5. Taste and adjust as you see fit. Chill in refrigerator.

Other cheeses that can be used or substituted are mild cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, Colby cheese or any other cheese you like.

Pimentos are roasted cherry peppers. You can roast and chop your own peppers, if wanted.

Rather than use hot sauce, paprika and/or cayenne pepper can be used.


"Comments ::" N.p., 05 Oct. 2007. Web. 12 May 2015. <>.

"From Scientific Cuisine to Southern Icon: The Real History of Pimento Cheese." From Scientific Cuisine to Southern Icon: The Real History of Pimento Cheese. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015. <>.

"Have Questions About the Pimento Cheese with Soul?" Have Questions About Palmetto Cheese Pimento Cheese with Soul? N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015. <>.

"Made In The Triad: "The Original Stan's Pimento Cheese" |" N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015. <>.

"Pimento Cheese." Our State Magazine. N.p., 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 May 2015. <>.

"Taste of the South: Pimiento Cheese." Southern Living. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015. <>.

"13 Ways with Pimiento Cheese." Southern Living. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015. <>.

Wallace, Emily E. "It Was There for Work: Pimento Cheese in the Carolina Piedmont." Thesis. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010. Print. <>

Disclosure statement: I have not received compensation for any products mentioned or used in this post.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Make It Sourdough - Gluten Free Sourdough Clementine Muffins

Using Clementines

 Clementines don't last long once you buy them. They have to be eaten within a few days.  I was looking for recipes that included clementines and then there was this recipe --- for Clementine Cake. It has bombed the internet and there are many, many versions of the cake.

If the recipes for Clementine Cake are checked out, many of the recipes seem to originate from Nigella Lawson on Food Network cake recipe.  The cake recipe can be gluten free because it calls for  ground almonds for the flour. I could have made it with almond flour, but I thought I might be able to use the clementine puree in sourdough quick bread.

Can the clementines be substituted for tangerines or oranges? Clementines, mandarins or tangerines are all in the same family. Several sources state that tangerines, mandarins, and oranges can be substituted for clementines. Make sure to check for seeds and if the oranges are larger than clementines,  use only 1/2 to 3/4 of the whole orange when making the puree.

Nigella boils her clementines before she uses them in a recipe. I was wondering how she knew to do that and why she did that. I searched why the clementines are boiled first. Seems that boiling several times removes the bitter flavor from the rind. Supposedly, cooking them creates a wonderful smell in the kitchen but I didn't notice it that much. It does soften them. When I cut them in half to put them in the processor, they were very soft. The clementines form a puree very quickly and it smells wonderfully.

Boiling the Clementines
Checking for seeds in the boiled clementines

Clementine Puree

Making the Muffins

I made the muffins the same way I make all the sourdough muffins. I add the dry ingredients to the sponge.  The liquid ingredients, including the clementine puree, are combined in another bowl. The dry and wet ingredients are then thoroughly combined.

The modifications for this recipe are the same as for the sourdough morning glory muffins. Seed dust is used rather than xanthan gum. If you would rather use

Applesauce is substituted for half the oil or butter. If a lower sugar content is wanted, Stevia in the Raw can be substituted for half the sugar and Splenda brown sugar blend can be substituted for brown sugar. If you have no applesauce, use 1/4 cup butter or oil of choice.

Other additions can be used in this recipe. Besides cinnamon, other spices could be ginger, nutmeg, mint, cilantro, and basil. I'm not a cilantro nor mint fan, but some people would love it. Other additions to the batter could be chocolate chips, chopped figs, pineapple or berries.

A sugar/cinnamon mixture can be added to the top. Brush with butter and sprinkle on top.
The mini muffins are baked about 15 minutes.

Sourdough Clementine Muffins

Sourdough Sponge:
1 cup (~200 grams) active sourdough starter
1 1/2 cup (183 grams) gluten free flour blend
1 tablespoon (21.25 grams) honey
1/3 cup(118 g) water, milk (122g) or whey

3 clementines puree  (see directions below)
2 tablespoons (20 grams) seed dust with psyllium
1 teaspoon (4 grams) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon (8 grams) baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup seedless raisins or currents
1/4 cup shredded coconut


Combine sourdough starter, gluten free flour blend, water and honey. Mix with whisk for 1-2 minutes. Place in a warm place for 7-12 hours to bubble, rise and form a sponge. (I usually put it over a bowl of warm water in the microwave (and heat the water, not the sponge, every couple of hours).

Cover the clementines in water in a saucepan. (They will float.) Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the hot water (carefully). Cover the clementines again and simmer for another 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Cut the clementines in half in a bowl (they are soft and juicy) and remove all seeds, if any. Puree the clementines in a food processor. Do not process to the stage of a juice. Very small pieces of peel should be seen in the puree.

When the batter has bubbled and formed a sourdough sponge, preheat the oven to 350℉. Place paper cups in a muffin pan and spray bottoms of cups with non-stick spray. If using only the muffin tin, spray only the bottom of the muffins cups.

Sprinkle the seed dust, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder on the sponge. Whisk in the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, beat egg, melted butter, clementine puree and honey together. Combine the wet ingredients and dry ingredients, forming a thick batter.

Fold in raisins, coconut and/or any other ingredients wanted.

With ice cream scoop, scoop batter into each cup. Fill each cup 3/4 to almost full. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Before 25 minutes are up, test with toothpick. Muffins are done when the toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Move the muffins to a cooling rack so that the muffins do not sweat. Cool for a few minutes. Serve warm with butter or cream cheese, if you like. Serve within a couple days, for gluten free muffins dry out quickly.

The muffins freeze well in a plastic zip bag. Cool completely before freezing. Warm 15 seconds in microwave.

Makes 12 large muffins or 15 medium. (Time above is for medium size. Large size will require longer time.)


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"5 Ways to Cook with Oranges, Tangerines, and Clementines." Rodale News. N.p., 14 Dec. 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <>.

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"How to Sliver and Remove Bitterness from Orange Peel." My Persian Kitchen. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <>.

"Is There a Good Substitute for Clementines in a Recipe? |" N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <>.