Join Me: One Month Gluten Free Challenge

Exactly one month ago, I wrote about the tipping point in my life with my health that got me to start eating gluten free. It also caused me to make a major pivot in my career. As I have written about here, I became an entrepreneur this year. Like many, that opened a flood gate of creativity in my brain. I have so many ideas for new businesses.

Like a river running through my subconscious, all of my ideas have an underlying theme – community. I like to connect with people. I like to help people.

So, where better to start than with eating gluten free? If you are interested in knowing more, come on over to my blog at Gluten Vrije Vrouw. Don’t be scared by the Dutch name. I am blogging in English. Or find me on Facebook at the same name. I am trying my hand at videos so it gets pretty interesting on my Facebook page.

My first endeavour is to launch a One Month Gluten Free Challenge for The Netherlands. I will provide all you need – recipes, meal plans and even do all of the shopping for you to try eating gluten free for one month. And that’s not all. We will have a private Facebook page and weekly video calls with special guest experts joining in to answer your questions.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Gluten Free 30 Opt in

Cake Diary Update: Devil Ate Victoria Cake

So here are pictures of the cake I made today. I ended up spelling “Older than Dirt” with gummy worms. The marshmellow fluff icing turned out great. To make the dirt along the bottom, I added chocolate cookies to the cake scraps. 





Here are the recipes I used:

Marshmellow Fluff Icing

Devils Food Pudding Cake

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Cake Diary: Devil Ate Victoria

I love to bake. I would bake everyday if I could. I truly enjoy any chance I get to bake. Cakes, like writing, and I have a love-hate relationship. I love planning them out and making th components, but by the end of it I am so over it that I have to force myself to eat the finished product. Okay, force is an exaggeration.

I love chocolate. I love it so much that I am learning how to balance it out. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing after all. I have been known to put so much chocolate into a cake that it hurts your teeth or leaves you slightly ill. Wimps. I’m working on it.

Our neighbour turned 50 yesterday and he likes baking almost as much as he likes eating chocolate desserts. So my present to him is a birthday cake. I have limited time, but I want to do something memorable. It is a special birthday so go big or go home, I say.

I have a four layer cake in mind, but as I baked the layers today, two of them are very fluffy so it might be six layers in the end. Gravity has me concerned slightly. Ah well, I will go for it. It will taste great. 

I am calling it a Devil Ate Victoria cake. It will be a Victoria Sponge cake sandwiched inside of a devil’s food pudding cake. I am hoping to alternate the layers with dark chocolate ganache and marshmellow fluff icing. I have not used marshmellow fluff before, but I have a jar of it that needs to get used. And the butter and powdered sugar icing I made this afternoon looks like curdeled egg whites so I struck out in that. 

Now, how to decorate it? I think I will make a ’50’ on top out of foil wrapped chocolate eggs. That is very typically Dutch for this time of year so I want to give a nod to the fact that he (a Canadian) is celebrating his 5-0 here. And I am thinking of decorating the base of the cake in crumbled chocolate cake that I will have from levelling off the layers. Then, I will have gummy worms crawling up the sides of this very tall cake. I want to temper some white chocolate spelling out “Older than dirt” and place that along the cakes sides, but that will be a first as well so we will see if it pans outs.

I took some short cuts this time around. I used box mixes for both the Victoria Sponge and Devil’s Food cakes. Yes, I admit it. I am not above box mixes. They are basically fail proof which is really important to me when making a cake for a special occasion limited time. I also added a packet of instant chocolate pudding to the Devil’s Food cake. And I will be using store bought marshmellow fluff. I have some great baking cookbooks and I even picked out recipes from them and bought the ingredients then shelved them and went for Betty (Crocker).

So…stay tuned. Pictures tomorrow.

WWII Daydreams

I typically am both listening to an audiobook while also reading something on my IPad. Not simultaneously, of course, but melding the two books oftentimes makes for some crazy daydreams. All set against the Peppa Pig cartoon theme song that I enjoy more than I will admit to my three year old. See if you can keep up.

I have been listening to Ken Follet’s trilogy and just finished his WWII book, “Winter of the World”. I also just finished reading Ruth Reichl’s book, “Delicious: A Novel”. Reichl’s book is about a fictitious culinary magazine in which a young employee finds wartime correspondence letters between a young girl in Ohio and the famous James Beard whom supposedly wrote for the magazine during WWII. Unconsciously, I managed to pick two great books that overlap in topics.

Like never before, I have come away with awe at how much people sacrificed in those austere, uncertain and violent times. It has also given me an appreciation for how far freedom has come in some ways. And it has made me curious about my roots. So my mother is sharing with me stories about her parents. I had always known my grandfather fought in WWII, but this puts it all in a new light. For instance, as I was standing at a tram stop in the middle of a Dutch city with my Dutch American daughter, I could not help but wonder what my grandfather would think about us going across town to visit our German Chinese friends. I choose to think he was proud to fight for a world in which I have such easy freedoms.

The austerity of those times strikes me too. I am trying, in my own weird way, to waste less these holidays. And, let’s be honest, with a three year old and with nursing a five month old, I am looking for any excuse to cut a few corners this holiday season. Case in point, my recipe of the week.

I did not want to waste two apples or the ridiculously expensive imported creamy Skippy peanut butter I just had to buy to use in recipes. Sounds weird I know, but I found a recipe for apple peanut butter muffins. My husband was horrified by the thought so I get them all to myself. Yippee!

Triple Threat

This weekend I tried three different recipes – muffins, scones and waffles.

Last weekend I made banana peanut butter muffins. They turned out perfectly – except my husband and daughter hated them. My husband lives by a tenant that peanut butter belongs only on bread and he seems to have passed it along to our daughter. Oh well, more for me.

So this weekend I went back to flavors passed success. I tried a carrot, zucchini and banana muffin. They did not rise as much as I wanted, but they were a big hit with my panel of two judges.

Periodically, I slip down the rabbit hole of buying new cookbooks. Amazon and the Kindle app for my Ipad make it far to easy (and relatively cheap, thank goodness). I watch tv and search through Amazon. Before I knew it, I’d bought two new cookbooks and sampled several more. I bought. “Baking: From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan and “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook”.

So far, I am really enjoying Greenspan’s book the most. I found it inspiring that she bakes something nearly everyday. I thought I had begun to go overboard lately on baking, but clearly there is a whole other echelon of home bakers out there. And as strange as it sounds, I like the writing in the book. Her explanations seem clear and friendly.

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That said, the first recipe I tried out did not turn out as I expected. I tried Toasted Almond Scones. They just did not rise like the ones I have eaten in the past. I think it must go back to the difference in what she refers to as all-purpose flour and what the Dutch call self-rising flour. I (obviously) have not figured out the difference completely yet, but I think I need to substitute one tablespoon of cornstarch into every cup of flour. That means I take one tablespoon of flour out of a cup of flour and replace it with a tablespoon of cornstarch. Does anyone else have any ideas?

For lunch today, we christened our new waffle iron. My husband’s Holiday bonus this year from his employer was a choice from a huge online catalog of gadgets and experiences. We chose a waffle iron (that we are going to try to multiple purpose as a panini maker). It was between that or a chocolate fountain. I could use a chocolate fountain every day, but SHOULD I?

For our first try, I found a Sour Cream Waffle recipe. I know it sounds weird, but it was the winner because it used up some spare sour cream and whole milk I had left over from other recipes. You do not actually taste the sour cream at all which is a great thing. The cinnamon and flavoring (it calls for vanilla, but we used almond). Since the iron is heart shaped, I am already searching Pinterest for waffle dessert recipe for Valentine’s Day.

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Baking This Weekend

The weather turned colder today. It is the perfect day to sink into some warm oatmeal. It is a great comfort food. Today, I tried Shutterbean’s Banana Walnut Baked Oatmeal

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I nearly doubled all of the spices and served mine with maple syrup & butter. Thank you Tracy Shutterbean!

This weekend, on my path of baking therapy, I made After Dinner Mint Brownies from the Domestic Sluttery website. I love the name of that website, but cannot keep from giggling when I think it.

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I had to borrow her picture because I took these to a Girls’ Night In and there was not much left of them to afterwards. I adjusted the recipe by putting them in a smaller, round spring form pan so I could put in a double layer of mint chocolates. It was gooier and yummy in the middle.