Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Jam

As the holidays are quickly approaching, I wanted to share a great tip with you. For years I have set aside one day to make fresh jam. I know it is hard to believe, but it actually makes the holidays much easier. Let me explain why... I am prepared with a great hostess gift for a last minute dinner party. I can make a quick and thoughtful gift by adding a fresh basket of muffins for a neighbor or teacher. I am prepared with a quick and easy appetizer by pouring jam over cream cheese and serving with crackers. Unexpected guests are no problem, just warm up a little jam to pour over vanilla ice cream or even cheesecake. Homemade jam is something everyone loves and truly appreciates.

Not only is this gift for our friends and families, but this gift has really become a gift to me and my children. Traditions often happen without even realizing it, which is what happened when I began making jam. My children were always underfoot in the kitchen, so I would give them a little job they could do while watching me cook. Making jam was no different. They loved to make labels and decorations for the jars. We would spend the entire day together in the kitchen laughing and singing, making our gifts together. Today my kids could make jam all on their own, but they still look forward to this time together.

I have always felt that the kitchen is the heart of our home. The best gift we can give is one from our heart! Happy Holidays from our home to yours!

Cranberry~Peach Jam

7 Cups chopped Peaches
3 Cups fresh Cranberries, whole or chopped
1 Cup Jalapenos (optional)
6 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice

In large stockpot, bring fruit to simmer on high heat, stirring often. Constantly stirring, add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time and bring liguid back up to a simmer.Add lemon juice. Continue stirring constantly and boil on high until liguid reaches 210 degrees. Remove from heat and quickly ladle into sterile jam jars. Once new sterile lids are tightly in place, turn jars upside down for 15-20 minutes to seal. Place jars right side up and cool completely before storing.

*Frozen peaches and cranberries may be used. Thaw fruit before cooking.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Delectable Peaches

I am lucky enough to have a great big beautiful peach tree in my back yard. It was an unexpected gift, since we had purchased our house in January and no one had mentioned anything about a peach tree. Coincidentally, we spent most of that summer in California for my husband's job. We came home in the fall to find each branch bent to the ground covered with golden peaches. It was amazing that the branches didn't break. The kids were so excited that they ate peaches until they couldn't move.

That was ten years ago, and I can't tell you how much this tree means to me. It sits right outside my office window. I watch it change day by day through the seasons. It sparkles with winters snow, shimmy's with springs leaves, shades from the hot summer sun, and shares it's golden fall harvest. The anticipation almost becomes too much, but it is so worth the wait. This week I watched, as softball size peaches dropped one by one onto the grassy bed below. Then as if hunting Easter eggs, my children gathered the delicate fruit. Of course, it isn't long before the sticky juice is running to the tips of their elbows. Grinning from ear to ear, they are savoring the moment knowing it will be a long year until next years harvest. I know too, that I don't have long before they have grown and moved away, so I am savoring the moment with them.

We often aren't even aware of when our food creates a tradition and when our traditions create food. So many people feel that their traditions will be lost when becoming gluten-free, but the truth is that new traditions will be found. We just have to embrace the gift and watch it change day by day, season by season, savoring the unexpected!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gluten-Free Fair

Come join me for a great opportunity to check out many new gluten-free products. The Denver Celiac Sprue Association will be hosting a wonderful Gluten-Free Fair this Sunday August 29th. The Fair will be held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, Colorado from 1-4 pm. You will be able to sample your way through many new gluten-free items. It is a fun afternoon to share with friends and family. Of course I will be there with my cookbook, so I am looking forward to seeing all of you!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back To School Snacks

Well, it is that time again, time to head back to school. Most parents find it difficult to be creative with school lunches and snacks, but it can be especially challenging when you have a gluten-free child. Try not to look at this as one more chore on your list, but more of an adventure you can go on with your child. I think it is a great idea to take your kids to the store and let them really explore the options. Try not to rush them. There are new gluten-free products available all of the time, so let them search for new options. Most kids are far more likely to actually eat the food they pack for school if they get to choose their food. I find this even more important when you have children who are restricted with their diet in one way or another.

This can be the perfect time to invite your kids into the kitchen and let them get creative with their food, no matter how young they are. Kids of all ages can help make a fruit salad, which can be much more interesting to eat than apple slices. The fruit choices are endless at this time of year, with vibrant colors and different textures. It is easy to make a large fruit salad and divide it up into single serving containers for the week. A quick splash of lemon juice will keep your fruit bright and fresh.

Yogurt is great, but can get expensive to buy in individual containers. An easy solution is to buy a large container of vanilla yogurt and divide it up. Fresh or frozen fruit can be added to make any flavor of yogurt desired. To make this snack even more fun, include a small container of gluten-free granola to add just before eating.

Wraps can be very fun and very individual. Start with a gluten-free tortilla and add anything from thinly sliced veggies (carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, avacodos, etc.), a protein (left over chicken, turkey, beef, sliced hard boiled egg, cheese, etc.), and a spread (hummus, quacamole, mustard, mayo). You get the idea, let your kids have fun with it.

I have always found that my kids need a little protein in their afternoon snack. They seem to function far better as they start their homework if they have had a little protein. So, I will leave you with one more great option. Buckwheat is high in protein along with many other valuable nutrients to help the mind and body function well. My cookbook offers many wonderful muffins, breads as well as granola bars, that make great snacks.

I wish you all a great school year, full of fun, laughter, learning and Delicious food!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Starting the New Year

The new year brings opportunities for cleaning out the cobwebs and starting fresh. I have often thought that my mind felt like it was filled with cobwebs before living a gluten-free life. I felt like I couldn't think clearly or see the world as clear as I now can. It was as if I lived in a hazy fog. Everyday took so much energy to just get through the day, let alone enjoy it.

I have once again been reminded of that feeling as I spent the holidays with a family member. She was diagnosed with a gluten allergy just after Thanksgiving. I had already given her my cookbook, so she at least had somewhere to start. She immediately took on the challenge during such a difficult time of year. Her body has completely transformed in just these few weeks. Her headaches and rashes are gone. Her skin is shiny,clear and glowing. She wakes up so much happier and excited about her day. She doesn't have any of the food cravings that she used to. She has even started to loose weight, which she has struggled with for years. She said it was so much easier than she thought it would be. She is so happy that she was almost giddy as we talked about the changes that have happened. The cobwebs have definitely been swept out! She is a completely different person and is going to have a fantastic new year!

Wether you have just learned that you have a gluten intollerance or had a hard time following a gluten-free diet during the holidays, this is your time to clear out the cobwebs. I wish you all a fresh, clean and healthy start to the new year.

Now go get busy sweeping out those cobwebs!