We have a rotation of meals that we tend to stick to pretty regularly. One of my faves is Sauteed Black Beans & Onions, Tomato Salsa, Guacamole, and Rice – all homemade. If it sounds like I’m boasting about the homemade part, please pardon me. It’s just that, not too long ago, pre-Celiac diagnosis, while I loved to cook, I rarely would have prepared a meal that consisted of so many homemade elements.
I’ve gotten used to it, to tell you the truth. In fact, it’s one of my most favorite parts of the day. I love putting my computer to sleep or coming home from a gig and retreating into the kitchen. It’s my time to relax and enjoy the process of feeding and nourishing my family (at this point, that consists of me and DH – doesn’t seem that long ago that I was feeding the kids as well – where does the time go?!?!?).
About 2 hours before making dinner, I put up the rice in our Sanyo rice cooker. I used 1 cup short grain brown rice, water as indicated in rice cooker, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt. Voila. Love my rice cooker. Perfect rice each and every time.
Run to library to pick up some books, return others. Stop at Living Earth health food store to pick up a few things. Return home.
Walk into the kitchen. Turn the lights on. Rice is finished. Turn on the radio to NPR. Gather ingredients. Pull out recipes as needed. Begin to cook. Love it.
If you’re new to cooking gluten free, you might be overwhelmed by the task of figuring out what you can and can’t eat. I was there. Believe me, I understand. After awhile, though, once you learn the ropes, you find answers to all of those questions coming at you a lightning speed. And then it becomes second nature.
One of the things you realize is that if you want to be sure that your meal is gluten free (or dairy free, or soy free or whatever your “free” is), it’s simpler and safer to cook from scratch. This way, you know exactly what goes into the food you’re eating.
So, while it might seem like an overwhelming task, if you break it down into manageable chunks – and make sure you have all the ingredients you need, it can actually be an enjoyable and rewarding activity.
The first thing I did was prepare the beans. I used organic canned black beans which I rinsed in a strainer. I didn’t follow a recipe – you heat a couple of teaspoons of oil (I used olive oil, as it’s all I had, but I usually use a milder oil like canola) in a saute pan, throw in some diced onions, brown them for about five minutes, throw in the beans, some fresh garlic (one small clove) and some water (maybe 1/8 cup). And let them simmer until you’re ready. Keep the flame really low, as the water tends to evaporate quickly – in fact, I had to add more water (just a little at a time) at least two more times before we sat down to eat. I also added some of the salsa I made to the beans. Plus S&P. And I added chile powder to taste.
Next, I made the salsa. I used a recipe from Kripalu Cookbook, with some modifications.
from Kripalu cookbook
1 28 oz can Muir Glen diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced green pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp diced jalapeno pepper
3/4 tsp minced garlic
1 – 2 small limes, juiced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
Few turns of freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
Dash Tabasco sauce
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix together well. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. Stores well for about 5 – 7 days in frig.
Next – make the guacamole. I use a recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook – a must for every aspiring cook, don’t you think?!?!? I mean, Mollie Katzen was a mentor for me. Was she for you?
from Moosewood Cookbook
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (or lemon)
2 medium ripe avocados
1 – 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
1/2 tsp. cumin or to taste
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Black pepper, to taste
Cayenne, to taste
Place the lime or lemon juice in a medium-sized shallow bowl. Add the avocado and mash. I used a potato masher. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover tightly and chill. To help the guacamole retain its’ color, I take the avocado pit and stick it in the guacamole – remove before serving!
And now, for the WONDERFUL corn tortillas. This is Peter’s job and he is very willing and happy to do it. And every single time I take the first bite of a warm, just-off-the-griddle tortilla, I go into spasms of delight. There is something about it – don’t know what the difference is – I used to use another kind of Masa Harina, but the kind we’ve been using (Pan) makes superior tortillas. They’re soft and tasty and delicious and yummy. Some day, I will post about how to make the tortillas. If you’re really eager to learn, please let me know by emailing me at birdwoman5151 at yahoo dot com. That will goose me into blogging about it sooner than later:).
Ok, so you’re thinking to yourself, no way. I’m not making all of this from scratch. But it sure looks good. Ok, don’t fret. You can use premade corn tortillas, you can use jarred salsa, you can even use frozen brown rice (I think Trader Joe’s sells it). I think you can even buy premade guacamole. Or perhaps you can make one of the things from scratch (the salsa or the guacamole are both pretty easy) and use prepared items for the rest of the meal. You’ve got to build up to making everything from scratch – it doesn’t have to happen all at once.
No matter if it’s completely homemade or semi-homemade (thank you Sandra for helping us be ok about partially homemade!), sitting down to a delicious meal at home is heavenly. Bon Appetit!