Product Review: POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice

POM Wonderful Pomegranate JuiceThe folks at POM Wonderful generously sent us some pomegranate juice for us to review along with some literature about the health benefits of pomegranate juice. If you like cranberry juice, you’ll definitely enjoy pomegranate juice. It has the same sort of astringent berry kind of flavor, but unlike cranberry juice, you don’t have to add tons of sugar to make the stuff palatable. I like it straight out of the bottle. Strangely, they also sell supplements, POM Wonderful’s 90ct Pomx Pills – Natural Pomegranate Antioxidant Supplement (1000mg).

First we decided to make a Pomegranate Lamb Kabob dish from the POM Wonderful website (unfortunately, the recipe is gone from their site). The recipe is easy as pie. Basically, you take kabob-sized chunks of lamb, pomegranate syrup, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and let them marinate for at least eight hours. Because of a scheduling mistake, we left the lamb to marinate for two days! Two days!

To make your pomegranate juice into syrup, you combine 1 cup of pomegranate juice with 3/4 cup sugar, bring it to a boil, and them simmer it down until it loses about half of its volume (about 20 minutes.) I actually decided that was too much sugar and doubled the juice. Despite my amendment, the syrup still ended up really sweet.

Lamb marinating in pomegranate syrup

Here’s what our marinade ended up looking like before shaking.

Pomegranate Lamb Kabob

And here are the finished kabobs. Mmmmmmm. One thing I have to mention about this recipe is that they say to leave your lamb kabobs on the grill for 10-15 minutes, which is only advisable if you want to turn your lamb into charcoal. That’s way too much time. Especially for something covered with sugary syrup. Mine were ready to go in five minutes. We did it up fancy and ate these with corn and artichokes.

Salmon in Pomegranate Marinade

A couple days later we also tried salmon in the same marinade. While we enjoyed both the dishes, I have to say that we were surprised to find that the salmon was better than the lamb. We also found that you can’t be shy with the pomegranate syrup when you’re cooking. You should put a lot of it on, because somehow the flavor got lost with the lamb and the salmon both. I also went crazy and tried the pomegranate syrup with tahini sauce on a hunk of leftover Trader Joe’s buffalo burger on a bed of Polenta. The pomegranate syrup and tahini was a killer combo and I think further investigation is warranted. However, while it was nice on the Polenta, it didn’t go so hot with the buffalo burger.

Our number one favorite thing to do with the POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice was to add it to our homemade limeade. That is simply heaven.

What more can we say about pomegranate juice? We’re planning on making ourselves some pomegranate Cosmos sometime soon. No doubt they will be awesome. We both really loved cooking with (and drinking) the pomegranate juice and would like to thank the folks at POM Wonderful again for sending it our way.

We want to know: Have you tried POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice? We’d love to hear about your cooking adventures with it. Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 3 (So we feel good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger: Vegan Lemon Coconut Cream Scones

This post is part of a gluten-free blog event that Sea over at the Book of Yum put together. For this month’s Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event, I’ve adopted Gina at Gluten Free Gourmand. I was intrigued by her Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cream Scones. Like us, Gina lives in Portland, Oregon. She also sells photography on Etsy.

I have to admit that I was more intrigued by this recipe because it used coconut cream than I was by the fact that it’s vegan. The scones are very easy to make. Once you get your flour mix together, it’s just a matter of five other ingredients and getting the moisture content right. Gina’s recipe just specifies that you use your favorite gluten-free flour mix. I emailed her and asked if a bread mix would work. She said that just about any mix would work, but said that it’s better if the flour mix doesn’t have xanthan gum.

We have a bread mix we like, but I decided that it would be interesting to try this with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour. Here are the ingredients: Garbanzo Bean Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, White Sorghum Flour, and Fava Bean Flour. A quarter cup of the mix has 100 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of dietary fiber, and 3 grams of protein. On the plus side, it doesn’t have any xanthan gum. On the minus side, I figured that the Garbanzo and Fava beans were going to impart a lot of flavor into the mix. I debated trying Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix instead, but decided to stick with the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mix.

Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix

(I bought a beautiful artichoke today.) Gina’s recipe calls for coconut cream. Specifically, you get a can of coconut milk and scoop the fatty cream off the top. By the time you get to the bottom of the cream, you’ll have about as much as the recipe calls for. Mmmmmm. Coconut. Here I’ve added the orange zest.

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Did I also mention that I decided to make half of the batch with Gina’s Kumquat Glaze? Here are some kumquats and lemon juice in an orange bowl.

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We ran into trouble with the amount of flour needed. The first time I made the dough disk to cut into scones, the disk literally sagged out of shape. I had to fold in a whole cup more flour to get the right consistency, which Gina specifies as “barely holding together.” I was panicking too, because I think with scones you’re supposed to mix as little as possible. I was actually kind of careful measuring the coconut cream out, so I’m thinking that the unexpected wetness of the dough was due to using a different flour mix.

We got it together, though.

Gluten Free Scone Pile

Here they are fresh out of the oven, eight minutes later.

Gluten Free Coconut Creme Scones

Lucky for us, the scones still turned out wonderfully light, flaky, and crumbly. They are really awesome broken into pieces with jam. As I expected, they do have a slight beany aftertaste, which does go OK with jam, but isn’t so hot when you’re eating the scones by themselves. (For the record, Sienna doesn’t notice the bean aftertaste, and between the two of us, she usually has the more discerning palate.) I think that the Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour would be a lot more appropriate for use with savory foods. So something like a dinner biscuit or a crust for a meat pie. Maybe I’ll try them again with the Trader Joe’s mix. As for the recipe, I think it’s very clever to come up with the substitution of coconut cream for butter and cream. We’ll be enjoying these scones all week.

We’ll definitely try more recipes from Gluten Free Gourmand in the future. Gina just posted a pancake recipe. Everybody here should know how much I love gluten free pancakes. I would definitely recommend both her site and Book of Yum to anybody on a gluten free diet. Thanks to Sea at the Book of Yum for putting this blog event together!

Gluten Free Recipe: Fried Rice

This is not exactly a case where it’s hard to make the recipe gluten-free, but I do have a good Fried Rice recipe and I thought that I would share it for this week’s What’s For Dinner? Wednesday.

The thing that’s really excellent about Fried Rice is that you can start with the basics and add about anything that you have the time and patience to cut into small pieces. Likewise, you can make excellent fried rice with a bare minimum of ingredients.

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Here are the basics:

2 cups old cooked rice, refrigerated
2 eggs
pinch salt
3 Tbs peanut or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
thumb sized piece of ginger, diced
1 medium sized green or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into short strips
1/4 pound mushrooms chopped or quartered
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts
2 Tbs gluten free soy sauce or tamari

Here are excellent optional extras to add if you have them around and want to add them:

2 green onions chopped
1/2 pound cooked chicken, ham, shrimp, or pork, diced
head of broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
dash or two of Chinese hot chili oil
splash rice vinegar
few slices of cucumber for garnish
few tomato wedges for garnish

Take the rice and rub it between your hands to break it up. Set aside. Heat up your wok on medium.

When wok is hot, add 1 Tbsp of oil. Let oil get hot and then add eggs. Scramble them the way you like them. Remove eggs from wok.

Turn up the heat on the wok to medium-high. Add another Tbsp of oil. Let oil get hot and add onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry until soft. Add all the veggies, any meat or shrimp, and peanuts. Stir fry about another two minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add remaining oil to wok and let heat up. Add rice and stir fry until heated – about 2 minutes. Stir in the veggie mix and add soy sauce. Mix it up gently and taste it to make sure you have a good flavor. Add more ginger or soy sauce if desired. Add sprinkle of rice vinegar and/or Chinese hot pepper oil. Finally, add toasted sesame oil (if you have it.) The reason you add the sesame oil at the end is that it loses its flavor when cooked.

Gluten Free Fried Rice, Coming Up!

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Hipcooks Healthy, Fresh and Zingy 1 Class

Last month we reviewed the Persian Immersian cooking class at Hipcooks. Hipcooks is a new place in Portland Oregon to take cooking classes and they have several gluten-free cooking classes available. We enjoyed the Persian Immersion class so much that we were excited when an opportunity to take another class came up. This time we took the Healthy, Fresh and Zingy 1 class (see full list of classes here and note the handy drop-down menu at the top for “Wheat Free, Dairy Free” classes). This is the first class in a series of three. The focus of the Healthy, Fresh and Zingy classes is to present healthy meals that aren’t going to slow you down and make you feel like it’s nap time.

Here’s what we made: Yin-yang roast red and yellow pepper soup with a pesto garnish; Seared sesame seed crusted ahi tuna (or sesame-crusted marinated tofu can be substituted); Mango-ginger salsa for the tuna; A very simple salad; and mini strawberry gelato ice cream sandwiches. We also had sauvignon blanc to wash it all down with.

To start, we made the gelato first so that it would have time to freeze while we made the rest of the dishes. With a VitaMix, we blended together a little water, some sugar, a lot of frozen strawberries, with basil, and some vanilla. I would never have thought to put basil into a dessert, but it really put some zing into those strawberries, and everybody loved it.

After the gelato, our teacher for the night, Alison, taught us some basic knife skills, and then we made the ying/yang roasted pepper soup. The soup was delicious, but we ended up thinking that it needed something. I think it needed either curry or a lot of black pepper. I could see adding zing with some leek too.

Gluten Free Yin and Yang Roasted Pepper Soup

After eating our soup, we seared some tuna. I personally was in disbelief because every time I’ve seared tuna in a pan on a stove, the results were awful. This tuna ended up amazing, however. It looks like maybe the secret is to use lots of oil, cook it very hot, don’t cook it too long, and make sure you start with really good quality fish. The tuna we cooked looked like it was sushi grade.

Seared Tuna at Hipcooks

As with our last class, we had a blast. The people were friendly. Everyone participated in the cooking. The enthusiasm of our teacher was contagious. The cooking was fun. The food was delightful. The instructor was sensitive to our one vegetarian member. The wine was great. I ended up with absolutely no complaints. It also occurred to me that a class at Hipcooks would be the perfect third date.

Hipcooks emails you the recipes at midnight after the class. Classes can be found at the Hipcooks website. Not all the classes are gluten-free, so make sure you look for that. Hipcooks is located on North Williams just across the street from Pix Patisserie North (see our review of gluten-free desserts at Pix Patisserie.) Did I also mention that the classes are very affordable? We’re used to seeing classes cost twice this much.

We want to know: So are there more secrets to searing tuna? Have you taken a class at Hipcooks? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 2 (So we feel pretty good about our score.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same and very reasonable.

Hipcooks Portland
portland.hipcooks.com
3808 N Williams Suite 120, Portland, Oregon 97227

News: Gluten Free Baking Class

This in from Try Vegan PDX: Chelsea, the author of the flavorvegan blog, will be teaching a gluten free baking class (which will also be vegan, natch.) The class is scheduled for next Thursday the 16th of April. The class is an introduction to gluten free baking and will cover the basics of gluten free cooking, different gluten-free flours, and how to make pancakes, cupcakes, and biscuits. The fee is $10 for supplies.

The class will be held at:

Sunnyside United Methodist Church
3250 SE Yamhill St
Portland OR, 97214

You can sign up for the Gluten Free Baking Class online here.

Try Vegan PDX is a vegan outreach group in Portland Oregon.

Incidentally, Chelsea has some good looking baked goods up at her flavorvegan blog.

Recipe: Gluten Free Zuchini Pasta

Saying this zucchini pasta is “gluten-free” is cheating a little bit. Sometimes Sienna and I get a little exasperated by packaging or stores where they will say something ridiculous like “100% GLUTEN FREE mandarin oranges!!!!” as if there are any sort of oranges in the world that contain gluten. On packages of processed foods where gluten-content might be uncertain, a gluten-free label is a great thing. Also, in cases where it’s an item like a pancake or some bread where it would normally be made with wheat, we think it’s a wonderful idea.

One of the things that becomes bothersome living gluten-free is that there are a lot of products out there which are replacements for wheat products that don’t really taste very good or don’t stack up very well. In such cases it’s almost better to just get a “real” thing and use that to substitute. So for example, despite the fact that there are pretty good gluten-free cookies out there, a person who can’t get their hands on a good cookie might just want to switch to eating macaroons (which are supposed to be gluten-free.) Or a person who can’t get good gluten-free pasta might want to serve their marinara sauce on polenta instead. I don’t know if I’m making any sense here, but hopefully I am.

Anyhow, here’s a way to substitute for pasta with something “real,” and that is julienned zucchini. To make this you’ll need a mandoline with a julienne blade (or a sharp knife and A LOT of patience.) You’ll want to use two smallish or one medium zucchini per serving. Wash the zucchini and then put them through the mandoline lengthwise, so you are getting the longest “noodles” you can get. As you cut them, put the finished julienned zucchini in a colander with a little salt. For each medium zucchini you julienne, add 1/2 tsp of salt to the colander. That sounds like a lot of salt, but the purpose is to draw the moisture out of the zucchini and then rinse the salt off and towel dry the zucchini when its ready to go. It is possible to use too much salt, however, and you might find that you have to make adjustments to suit how salty you like your pasta.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Pasta

Once you’ve got your zucchinis julienned and they’re sitting in your colander, give them a stir and let them drain for a half hour. While they drain you should start your pasta sauce. Also, a few times during the half hour, stir them up and gently press on them to help them drain.

Liquid from the julienned zucchini

You can let them sit longer if you like. After the half hour, give them a quick rinse and then dry them gently with a towel to remove most of the salt.

Did I mention that most people agree that zucchini pasta is really only good with red sauces? At this point, hopefully your red sauce should pretty much be ready to go. Next you’ll want to fry the zucchini up in a pan. You’re only going to want to fry the zucchini up enough to heat it through and make it bend a little more like pasta. You definitely do not want to cook it to the point where it becomes transparent. If it gets that far then you’ve overcooked it.

Frying the zucchini pasta

We used a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. If you’re using a regular pan, you want the heat higher. One the pan is hot, throw the julienned zucchini in there and toss it until it is barely tender. You probably won’t want to cook it more than five minutes.

Once the zucchini pasta is done, put it on some plates and add your pasta sauce of choice. Here we used some delicious tomato sauce (made by our friend Mike – Hi Mike and Sonia!) with lots of garlic. We added mushrooms, ground beef, and some of our homemade pesto to the tomato sauce to give it an extra kick. We topped the sauce with cheese and BAM! It’s time to eat.

We love zucchini pasta and not just because it’s gluten free.

Zucchini Pasta for a Gluten Free Diet

Besides being naturally gluten-free, the zucchini pasta is crunchy, which is really nice. You’d never really think of pasta being crunchy but in this case it’s quite delicious. It’s also a good way to eat zucchini for people who don’t really like zucchini. In addition to being great for a gluten free diet, zucchini is also a healthy low-carb alternative to wheat pasta. You’re getting your vegetables and your gluten-free pasta!

Product Review: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Bread Mix

This isn’t going to be the fairest of reviews because I used this mix for something it wasn’t designed for, and it didn’t do the greatest job. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of pancakes and lately I’ve been working on finding the best gluten free pancakes. Recently I reviewed Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix. Before that I had reviewed Trader Joe’s packaged Gluten-Free Pancakes. I also tried the gluten free oatmeal pancakes at Francis Restaurant on Alberta Street here in Portland Oregon.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

I started with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix. Here are the ingredients: Whole Grain Cornmeal, Potato Starch, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour, Evaporated Cane Juice, Whole Grain Corn Flour, Tapioca Flour, Baking Powder, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum. To make gluten-free cornbread with this mix, you need: 1 1/2 Cups milk (rice, soy, dairy); 1/3 Cup oil or melted butter; and 2 Eggs.

I figured this mix would make good pancakes. I don’t know if anybody reading this has been to Vita on Alberta, but they make these amazing corn pancakes that I used to love back when we ate there a lot. I heard recently that they’ve made these corn pancakes gluten-free, but haven’t confirmed it. They are one of the places in town you would expect to be gluten-free friendly and do appear on our gluten-free restaurant list. At one point I was making my own corn pancakes with oat flour and spelt, but eventually I had to stop eating spelt and haven’t come up with a good gluten free recipe for them.

The problem with the Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix is that it contains too much xanthan gum to make pancakes. Xanthan gum is an ingredient used in gluten-free cooking which is good for replacing gluten. It helps make things stick together like gluten does. Unfortunately, it can end up making batter too thick for certain purposes, and when making pancakes, you want the batter to be thin enough to pour. I ended up having to add four times the amount of liquid specified by the menu just to get a batter that was kind of OK. I actually stopped because it seemed like I was pouring liquid down a black hole instead of into some batter.

I also added some vanilla, which goes really well in corn pancakes. Here are some pancakes from when I finally got the batter so it would pour, even though it was still too elastic.

Concakes for a gluten free diet

The good news is that my pancakes turned out nice and fluffy, which is how I like them. Also, the flavor of the mix is really wonderful. The cornbread mix ends up tasting rich and satisfying. I especially love corncakes with some butter and honey, and these are great served that way as well. But for corn pancakes, I’m going to keep looking. This mix would be perfect if it weren’t for the xanthan gum, which I’m sure is necessary for making the corn bread properly, but isn’t great when you’re making pancakes. Maybe next time I’ll try to come up with my own gluten free corn pancake recipe.

We want to know: If you have a favorite gluten-free pancake recipe, let us know in the comments. Also we’d love to hear from anybody who has used this mix for its intended use: cornbread.

Times we have visited: once (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars (for making pancakes)
Price compared to “regular”: Around same price.

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Bread Mix
Here’s the mix on Amazon.

Gluten-Free Millet Oatmeal Bread

I just got introduced to millet recently and really love it. We eat it in a bunch of different ways. Millet can be cooked up and served with a red pasta sauce like polenta. You can also serve millet like a hot cereal. You can substitute millet for rice when eating a curry. Millet is full of protein. Strangely enough, it can also be popped like popcorn. If I had to say what millet tastes like, it’s nutty and is something like short-grain white rice but with a very mellow corn-like taste.

This recipe also has gluten-free oats in it. Actually, we took some gluten free oats and ground them up into flour. I’ve been cooking with oat flour for a while. It imparts extra heartiness and a nice sweetness to whatever you add it to. I really love adding oat flour to a pancake mix, and as regular readers here should know, I love gluten-free pancakes.

This gluten free millet oatmeal bread recipe came from Gluten Free Mommy. It is made with molasses, which informs its flavor. Sienna made a bunch of changes to the recipe, so we’re going to list it as she made it, below.

Gluten Free Millet Oatmeal Bread (made with Bread Machine)

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup gluten free oat flour (or quinoa flour)
3/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup + 2 Tbps tapioca flour
1/3 cup arrowroot starch (or corn starch)
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp whole millet
2 Tbsp whole flax seeds
2 eggs + egg replacer to replace 1 more egg
1 packet active dry yeast
1 Tbsp molasses
3 Tbsp date sugar
4 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup plus 1 cup heated water

We made it with our bread maker. For a bread maker follow the manufacturer’s instructions. (Shameless plug: We have a list of excellent bread machines for gluten-free bread making.) If you’re going to make this bread by hand, see the original instructions. Either way you go, make sure that the dough has the consistency of very stiff cake batter. To get it there, we had to add some water when the bread maker was done with its initial mixing cycle.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Millet Bread

We both love this bread! It has enough flavor that you don’t feel like you’re eating wonder bread, but not so much flavor that it would get in the way if you want to make a sandwich out of it. It tastes especially wonderful with some butter, or you can add some honey too. The added raw millet gives the texture some character.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite bread recipe? Do you have a favorite way to serve millet? What do you add to your breads to give them character?

This has been another Gluten Free Portland Oregon feature.

Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger: Sorghum Cauliflower Curry

This post is part of a gluten-free blog event that Sea over at the Book of Yum put together. For this month’s Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event, I’ve adopted Catherine at A Gluten Free Guide. We decided to cook her Sorghum Cauliflower Curry. Catherine was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004, and has been doing her best to get back to “normal” life since. She started A Gluten Free Guide to share her experiences and be a resource for people who are diagnosed with celiac disease. I’m especially enamored of a recent post of hers titled, A Gluten Free Diet – Sometimes it Sucks.

Sienna and I are huge fans of curries, and so the Sorghum Cauliflower Curry stood out as a great recipe for us to try. Also, the photo on Catherine’s site makes it look really amazing. We weren’t actually able to find anywhere in town to buy sorghum, so we ended up settling on millet as a substitute.

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We chopped up a ton of cauliflower. Put together the curry mix. Cooked the millet. Cooked the veggies.

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Mixed everything up.

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Chopped cilantro up for the garnish and BAM!

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I guess I should note here that we also added some golden raisins to the mix. With curries we like to add some raisins, dried cranberries, or a chutney. There’s something magical about adding some sweet bites to a curry. Alternatively, a person can also add some yogurt on the side.

The one problem that came up when we made the recipe was that our cauliflower was done cooking way before we were ready to mix everything up. That kind of made us have to choose between over-cooking it, or cooling it down and then heating it up again. If we had it all to do over again, we would try to time everything to be ready when the cauliflower was ready to go.

Being huge curry fans, it was a natural that we would really like this recipe. Having a grain mixed in makes the dish especially hearty. We also like getting our veggies in such a delicious way. As another bonus, it kept really well so I was able to have the leftovers for lunches during the week.

We’ll definitely try more recipes from A Gluten Free Guide in the future. I would definitely recommend both her site and Book of Yum to anybody on a gluten free diet. Thanks to Sea at the Book of Yum for putting this blog event together!

News Bites: Last Week for Blog for Food

The Blog for Food campaign for the Oregon Food Bank is winding up this week. Here is the latest news from Tami at the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project who is one of the organizers.

As of last Friday, $1210 has been donated to the OFB directly as a result of our efforts. Every $12 is enough for the OFB to collect and distribute an Emergency Food Box, which feeds a family of four for 3-5 days. $1210 represents over 100 food boxes. Thank you everyone!

Here’s another incentive to offer readers during the last week of the campaign: Gilt Club is offering a free appetizer to people who bring a can of food in to the restaurant. They ask that we use their wording below:

…….Just to sweeten the deal, through Feb. 28th, Gilt Club is offering a free appetizer to anyone who brings in a donation to the Oregon Food Bank. All they ask is that you keep it to “one per party per visit” and don’t abuse the offer, since it is for charity…….

If you’ve donated already, thank you. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to do so.

35th GIG Annual Education Conference

This via Grain Damaged, the 35th Annual Gluten-Intolerance Group Education Conference will be happening in Seattle Washington this year on June 4-6. More details about the conference are available on Grain Damaged.

How to Make Butter

In the “Gee! You can do this at home?” category, Aleta over at Omnomicon.com has posted instructions on how to make home-made butter. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with gluten, but we thought it was interesting and we love her photography.