(The where and how of condiments)

            Wherever you are in the world it is easy to see that condiments become you. Every plate has a garnish, an extra, a special something that elevates and creates a wholly new flavor. This “something” is where condiments make a play on the plate, and in turn influence the way you experience the dish itself. Think of these examples: ketchup, mustard, chow-chow, pickles, relish, kim chee, hot sauces, soy, horseradish, Worcestershire. The scene is set for the plate by how we see fit to accompany the entrée (centerpiece). The recipes this month are sautéed chicken breast with black mustard seed-agave sweetened mustard; and iron skillet grilled firm tofu with blackberry-peach tamarind sauce.

In dining around the world there is always something that offers a sense of home. The way to understand these foods is to remember your history and experience the way in which food has relations around the globe. In turn, the way to find greatest pleasure in world cuisines is to forget your history and enjoy the food for what it is in and of itself. I particularly enjoy tasting something for the first time, something that is so indigenous and locked into a place that it is impossible to ever have this same experience any other scene in the world. The same theory applies to any set of experiences in travel, the Arts, relationships and dining.

Variations in world cuisines that were once scoffed at by stuffed shirts and xenophobes become avenues of exploration once prejudice is removed. The examples are legion. Condiments often pave the way for such culinary discovery. Chow-chow relish is a great example of confusion and discovery. It may historically be French, German, Hungarian, British, India, and Chinese. “Chou” is French for cabbage, and  “kouchumber” is a Chinese condiment. Hindi, Korean and Chinese cuisines have many hot condiments made with cabbage. A Hungarian Chef, Charles Thoth, that I trained under swore it was Polish-Hungarian in origin. This is a relish whose home may be the entire globe and not the property of any one culture. Lets look at sour cream, cucumber and onion which indicates Central Europe. Yogurt (unsweetened/plain/Greek/Indian), cucumber and onion indicates Punjab Province of India and of Greece. They taste almost the same. All “own” the dish as a signature of their cuisines. There is a lot of freedom in understanding our culinary history.

All of my food columns contain a condiment recipe, this is  how important condiments are to any dish. I try to make the unfamiliar, familiar. By doing so you are able to find ingredients and utensils that are close to home. The reason I developed a blackberry-peach Worcestershire was that I wanted to give the sauce flavors of Georgia. The mustard and Worcestershire is made so that it is friendly to all tastes and dietary requirements from gluten free to sugar free. Mustard is known the world over. Mustard is a member of the cabbage family.

In January I had a balsamic-lime mustard recipe. The reason I am reprising a mustard is to further explore just how easy it is build beyond classic yellow, brown and coarse mustards. Coarse mustards are the ones where the mustard seeds are dominant and often includes a wine or whiskey. Our black and blue mustard is all new just for you. If you start using the balsamic mustard and the black & blue mustard you will taste how versatile mustards really are in the modern kitchen. And yes, even on hot dogs and corn beef sandwiches these mustards will still have that sinus opening flavor that situates mustard in the pantheon of condiments.

Tamarind is essential to Worcestershire, as in no tamarind then no Worcestershire. Tamarind is a tree, we use the flavor from pulp of the tamarind seed. It has a slightly sour flavor and is also the source for many candies in Southeast Asia. Tamarind is one of the most versatile ingredients in world cuisines with uses from sauces to primary ingredient, to candy and hot weather drinks. Once you have tamarind extract in your kitchen start using it by the quarter teaspoon in dishes where lemon or lime are required. Using it in small amounts in Asian, South American and American recipes will get you used to how it interacts and creates new flavors. The sauce originated in Thailand and Burma.

Black & Blue Mustard

            This is a sugar free, gluten free and corn free all purpose mustard. It is good with stir fry, pork, duck, turkey, chicken and of course hot dogs, dips, hamburgers and corned beef sandwiches. You will notice that I always specify sea salt. The reason for this is because it is not bleached with any kind of chemicals to maintain white color. Salt is historically our primary method of preserving foods prior to pre 20th century refrigeration. It was not chemically enhanced. Chemical enhancing has repercussions upon the body. Remember the old commercials about how “It’s not good to fool Mother Nature”? Well, it’s not, so avoid foods that do.

4 tablespoons            Coleman’s Dry Mustard

1/2 teaspoon              black mustard seeds

1/3rd cup                    cold water

1/3rd cup                    sorghum vinegar (or cane vinegar)

2 tablespoons            lemon juice or tamarind extract

3 tablespoons            Blue agave syrup (amber)

½ teaspoon                paprika

½ teaspoon                cumin

1 teaspoon                   sea salt

Combine ingredients. Transfer to sauce pan and cook over low heat for five minutes. Gently stir for the entire time it cooks.


2, 7 ounce                    chicken breasts

1/4th teaspoon           ground white pepper

1/3rd teaspoon           kosher sea salt

1/3rd cup                     flour or tapioca starch

1 ounce                         corn oil

½ ounce                      olive oil

Season, flour and sauté the chicken on medium high heat for 3 minutes per side. Turn twice. Finish in 400 degree oven for 16 minutes. Set aside.

Cook Thai red rice the same way you would cook any brown rice. Red rice contains the same nutrients with a more intense flavor. It has become my favorite rice over the past few months. Just use a little salt, a star anise pod and two bay leaves when you cook this rice.


You will need to buy tamarind extract at any Asian or Latin grocer. A little goes a long way. The flavor is classic British occupation Worcestershire with the best of Georgia peaches and blackberries. In the winter it is fine to use frozen fruit. I cannot recommend canned. This is good on any foods where you would use Worcestershire.

5 tablespoons            tamarind extract

4 ounces                     blackberries

2 ounces                     peaches

2 cloves                       garlic

1/4th cup                    onion, minced

1 teaspoon                   sea salt

1/2 teaspoon               fine black pepper

1/4th teaspoon            ground allspice

1/4th teaspoon            ground cloves

1                                      bay leaf

1/3rd cup                       soda water

1/3rd cup                       brown rice vinegar

Combine. Cook on stove to boil for three minutes. Puree in food processor. Strain. Set aside. This will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. If you want a different flavor you can substitute Dr. Pepper or Coke for the liquids.

We are using extra firm tofu. To prepare tofu for cooking remove from water pack and drain. Place on plate between paper towels and gently press to remove all water from the tofu. Put in small container. Pour one cup of green salsa (salsa verde) over the tofu. Refrigerate over night.

Remove and cook either on the grill or in an iron skillet with raised grates for stove top grilling. Cook 2 minutes per side, turn twice, and finish in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

This is good with any greens or as a classic entrée with steamed vegetables and Red Mule grits.

Knowing these two sauces is a way of welcoming the world into your Southern kitchen. My peace be with you, spread the love and open your hearths to the fires and spices of the lands outside.

Mustard seeds and you to feed

With chicken tops and tofu bottoms

Hold the ketchup toss the bottle

I’ve things to say and yous to do

With a side of this and glop like a hat

We’ll find fine trees of tamarind

Set a corn oil boil in black iron vat

Battered birds, foody words, I’m not a nerd,

Soy blocks raging and fashion designer

Everything is finer with condiment beside her

Let loose the hounds of chow town

Pluck sweet cucumbers put the bottle down

Will you eat pickles on a train in the plain?

Will you fill a bowl of tickles on a moving car

That’s here before you’ve gone too far?

Powders and chowders and marshmallow stars?

So tell the man behind a bad plan

That tradition is one thing but stale is another.


Chocolate, Maple, Sweet Almond And You


Things about February: Celebrations of Saint Valentine and Love, Black History, Presidents Day, Cherry, Strawberry, Sweet Potato, the birth of James Joyce, Babe Ruth, Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, James Lowell, Winslow Homer, Victor Hugo, H W Longfellow are all part of this chilly little month, and then to top it off, February First is Baked Alaska Day. The Arts, Music, Food and Love, what can be better? Every month is a good month for food, but Love is the sole child of February. Let’s add maple syrup, pork loin and petite desserts to this Art filled month of challenge and change.
When our descriptions of favorite flavors and recipes goes beyond the senses of sight, smell, taste and feel there is only one thing left, and that thing is sound, the first Muse, Aiode: song and music. Why isn’t there a Muse of Food? Food is a long poem, a song of necessity and of romance. I’ve always seen my muse of food to be beloved friends.
A meal can be a symphony, an elaborate chocolate dessert is rhapsodic, when our table is beautiful it sets the tone. The Arts are present all around us. The Arts are what drives our minds to develop and grasp concepts and histories, the dasein of an age is seen in popular music, sculpture, philosophy, literature and paintings. This being there (dasein) is what states “I was and am here” and this is what makes things like Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Modern ages present to our understanding. A meal for one’s beloved must be a symphony of sight and flavors. This meal states that you are there for her.
Our recipes are pork with guajilla peppers, almonds, red wine vinegar and maple-tamarind glaze; and for dessert we have Date, fig and banana crepes with pomegranate molasses and honey. Make these two dishes as small bites so that you can have a fuller Valentine’s Night or soiree. There is a little bit of chocolate in each dish. Making several small tapas/bites/appetizers that can be prepared ahead and set out as part of a long night o f romance, conversation and pleasurable company gives you more time to simply be present to your companion(s).
Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives/olive oil, honey, lentils, & almonds are the nine major food characters highlighted in the Bible. Sadly our modern grain modifications have made wheat and barley almost inedible by a significant portion of the worlds population (gluten intolerance). Happily, I am using almonds, figs, pomegranate, olive oil and honey in today’s recipes.
Maple syrup is a perfect sweetener, others are honey, blackstrap molasses, date molasses, grape molasses, extracts from the stevia plant and agave syrup. Maple syrup is graded from the best, AA through B. AA is pure, mild, light amber, it gets darker the lesser the grade which is why most of what you see in the store is dark amber Grade B. A fine point about maple syrup is that it does not freeze, so if you want to keep it indefinitely then after opening store it in the freezer. Maple syrup lasts two years unopened on the shelf, one year opened in the refrigerator and forever in the freezer. How’s that for a fantastic natural sweet flavor? Maple acts as a complement not as a puddle of syrup for our pork. All too often an inexperienced cook will overuse maple syrup (four times sweeter than sugar) on salmon and wild game dishes and then it literally leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
If you do not have maple syrup and want to make your own pancake syrup then follow this recipe for one cup of syrup:

½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract

Caramelize the white sugar. Color will be tan. Heat the brown sugar water to a boil, do not stir. Add the caramelized sugar to the brown sugar water and stir/whisk until it thickens. Turn off the heat and stir in the extracts and butter.
The preferred way to cook this dish is in an iron skillet and to build the sauce with the pork as it cooks. Do not cook the pork over medium, after that it becomes dry, leathery, tasteless and inedible. Guajilla pepper is a mild, slightly fruity New Mexico pepper. We are using the dried version. Find them in any Mercado, Mexican and South Western section of the grocery store. Tamarind extract can also be found in any Mercado, Asian and Indian grocer. Tamarind is the central ingredient to all Worcestershire sauce and is widely used throughout one fourth of the worlds cuisines.
4, 2 ounce filets pork
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons potato starch, or cornstarch
2 tablespoons rice flour or wheat flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
10 slices white onion, thin
12 almond halves
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon tamarind
1 teaspoon Grade A or B maple syrup
Salt and pepper the 4 filets, these are also called tournedos in classic cuisine signifying thin center cuts from the tenderloin. Heat the oil and butter on medium high till it bubbles. Dust the pork in the starch/flours. Add the meat and cook one minute, turn and add the almonds, peppers and onions. Cook one minute. Turn and add the vinegar, tamarind and maple in that order. Cook one minute and then remove pork from the skillet. Swirl the sauce so that it combines and then pour over the meat.
Spinach and rose petal salad is a perfect complement to this classic dish.
Date, fig and banana crepes with pomegranate molasses and honey. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Even better is that our crepe recipe is gluten free. Learning to use alternate flours where once wheat/barley/malt were the primary sources not only lessens our use of intensely genetic modified foods it opens us up to a new set of flavors. Like any cook I love the taste of wheat and how easily it adapts to any form of cooking. But it does not mean everything must be wheat, it’s like the bacon thing, sure it’s good but this is not sufficient reason for them to be present in every meal.
The almond bark used in the recipe is also good for making coatings for cookies and fruits. You can find this in the bakery section of the grocery store right next to the white chocolate and chocolate bark.
Except for the banana use dried fruit for this recipe. If you have fresh cherries then by all means add them to the mix. This recipe will make 14 crepes. Freeze what you do not use. Place plastic wrap between each crepe to keep them from sticking together.
First, our gluten free flour base. The recipe is enough for four batches of crepes. This is also a base for cookies. I have found this combination to be the most versatile. To increase the wheat flavor add a tablespoon each of amaranth and sorghum flour.
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch (must be starch not flour)
1/3 cup tapioca starch
Combine and store in air tight plastic or ceramic containers.
½ cup flour mix
1 tablespoon sugar or 2 teaspoons Splenda
¼ teaspoon fine salt
½ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon rum extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Set aside:
2 tablespoons butter, melted for brushing on pan
Combine to smooth mixture in blender.
On medium, heat a 7 inch crepe pan or skillet. Brush with butter.
Pour 3 tablespoons batter into pan. Swirl so that the batter evenly coats the pan.
Do this until you have used all the batter. Put plastic wrap between each crepe as you stack them.
5 Dates, thin sliced
8 Figs, thin sliced
2 Bananas, chopped
2 tablespoons pistachios, crushed
2 tablespoons almond bark chocolate, grated
The syrup will be dark, sweet and sour. Pomegranate molasses is very thick and slightly bitter, hence the addition of honey.
5 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
5 tablespoons local honey
Stir together till smooth and fully blended.

Roll 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fruit mix in each crepe. Set on plates. Drizzle small amount of syrup over the crepes. Dust with powdered sugar.
Happy Valentine’s Day, share your love with all your heart.

Doors open to the world,
To the heart and soul.
Open to all,
With no flag
And no demand,
Food for us all,
A world alive,
Rich and never filling,
And as I set the flowers
You stood next to me.
By the table we kissed.
Scent of dawn and guava,
Ripening and rich,
There’s not much more
I could ask,
Just to stand here,
To be here
Next to you,
With you.
Too sweet?
I don’t care,
By the kitchen we kissed.
I held your hand
And knew that by loving
You I was drawn closer
To the perpetual banquet.



January rides in on icy rains and fog drenched midnights. January is a continuation of the parties, of giant meals and bottomless feasts of Football snacks and family meals. Planning is the key to easy times. Preparation is your best friend. “Thanks” and “More” is the response we always look for… so to the pepper patch and onion fields we go, to the seafood section and chix wing ranch. That’s right, baskets of chicken wings and shrimp rings. From Thanksgiving to Valentine’s it seems like every day is a holiday so avoiding repetition for the table is not as easy as it seems.
There are libraries full of recipes for Southern, Northern, Midwest, Rockies and West Coast winter easy foods. We have black eyed pea salsa, mustard greens and brussel sprout kimchee, Greek yogurt and peach milkshakes, pecan rice cooked with hog jowl bacon, pork ribs smoked with garam masala, lime and cayenne popcorn (in a pop corn popper or iron pot and never microwave), black bean and roasted pepper brushetta, Indian red chili spiced chocolate cookies, and the list goes on of all the wonderful worldly & creative bowls of holiday foods.
We are making jalapenos wings and seafood batter onion rings. Sometimes winter needs spicy and easy. How do we make the ordinary extraordinary? How do we resist the wings in a bag? We make the best that we can, that’s how. How do we move away from the elegance of a perfect fried onion ring without ruining the integrity of onion and the sea? By careful attention to detail, that’s how. The wings are baked and of course the rings are fried.

Normally, there is a recipe for every part of a dish but in favor to making things a bit easier we’ll skip blackening seasoning and tempura batter recipes. I apologize for the omission, yet I also trust you have favorites of both.

Sweet And Sour Pickled Peppers

These great Southern style pickles are perfect for adding to the bowls of rings and wings. The peppers used are fresh.
This recipe is more than you will need here but they are pickles and they will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
4 ounces banana peppers, cut in rings
2 ounces jalapeno peppers, cut in rings
1 ounce serrano peppers, cut in rings (or any favorite pepper)

Make sure you slice these as thinly as possible. You can use any kind of
fresh pepper.
Blanch the peppers in 1 quart of water. Cook 3 minutes. Drain. Put the peppers into the containers you will be using for the final mix. Set aside. I use mason jars or Ziploc plastic containers.

Pickle Juice
2 ounces yellow onion, minced
2 1/2 cups rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (yep, with the flat side of a knife)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Bring Pickle Juice to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Pour over the peppers, cover and seal tight. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature. Put into refrigerator and chill minimum 10 hours.

1 cup Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce (Thai bird peppers, sugar, vinegar)
1 teaspoon Cholula Hot Sauce or Tabasco Jalapeno Sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼th teaspoon salt

Combine and refrigerate overnight. It gets better over time.
1/2 cup Coleman’s Dry Mustard
½ teaspoon Curry powder
1 cup cold water
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients.
1 egg, extra large
Stir into the mix.
Heat in small pan on low heat. Stir constantly. If necessary use a double boiler to avoid lumping or scalding. Cook for five minutes. Remove and store in plastic container. Refrigerate overnight. This will keep for a month.
4 ounces bleu cheese crumbles or gorgonzola
2 ounces sour cream
3 ounces mayonnaise
6 ounces buttermilk
1 teaspoon truffle salt or truffle oil
¼ teaspoon each oregano and basil, chopped
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, smashed and minced
2 stalks green onions, chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, minced
Combine and refrigerate overnight. This will keep for a couple of weeks.


If you have calamari, crab meat or crawfish tails add small amounts to the batter for more complex flavors. We are using only shrimp for this recipe. Add beer for the liquid to the tempura when you are ready to fry the rings. Count on at least seven onion rings per person. If no beer then use carbonated/soda water.
A mix of peanut and corn oil will give you perfect balance. Peanut is high in cholesterol, but hey, it is the end of the party holiday season and why not use ingredients of the highest quality. If you don’t want to use peanut oil then use only corn oil. Vegetable oil blends are not so good for the taste or the health. Olive oil cannot handle the sustained high heat (fire hazard).
1 1/2 cups flour
½ cup cornstarch
6 ounces shrimp, coarse ground/chopped in food processor
1 tablespoon blacken seasoning, Bay or Tony Chechere.
Add to tempura batter. Stir.
GLUTEN FREE BATTER (preferred for flavor)
Gluten free is very easy once you get used to it and when you have the various flours in your kitchen. I prefer the gluten free flavor and texture over the flour based for this recipe. Remember than gluten intolerance is generally confined to the gluten in wheat, barley and malt. Not all glutens are alike.
½ cup potato starch
1 tablespoon sweet potato starch
½ cup white rice flour
1/4th teaspoon xanthan gum (xanthan is a bush)
½ teaspoon baking powder
Combine so that xanthan is evenly distributed.
1 extra large egg, beaten
1 cup beer, very cold
Whisk all ingredients together just until it has combined. If you over blend it will become too thick and act more like a pancake batter than tempura. If 2 cups of batter is not enough just double the batch. Do not save remainder.
28 onion rings, cut thick
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
Dust the onion rings in flour and shake off excess.

1 cup peanut oil
2 cups corn oil

Dust onion rings in flour, then into the batter. Use a deep iron fry pan or home fryer. Slowly add rings to 350 degree oil. Fry three minutes to crisp. Shake off grease. Dump rings on paper towels and then into bowls. Garnish with your home made sweet and sour pickles.
Serve rings and spicy ketchup in bowls or on large platter. Serve ketchup and mustard in a bowl for each guest.
This is a take on the late 20th century classic “buffalo chicken wings”. The advent of this product alone sent the once cheap drumettes and wings into a high cost snack. For wing lovers the world over, this increase was not a problem. If you want to be overwhelmed with recipes just type in “chicken wings” and see what happens! There is a recipe for every taste in Super Bowl or simply super bowls, so here is another for the record.
All hot wings seem to call for bleu cheese and celery so we are making a dip to accommodate this great garnish. If you do not have truffle salt that is OK. Buy an ounce dry mushrooms. Grate very fine with “Microplane” or basic box grater. Mix with teaspoon mushroom powder with teaspoon kosher salt. Kosher salt is for preparation and cooking, regular grind salt is for table seasoning. This is an important and necessary distinction often overlooked in recipes. If you do not have truffle oil you can use hazelnut oil which is readily available at most grocery stores.
Buy fresh wings at the grocery store. Separate drumette and wing joint with a knife. Wash in cold water. Pat dry. Keep wings cold during prep time.
You can substitute “chicken seasoning” for the thyme, oregano and coriander.
3 pounds wings, fresh
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
1 teaspoon roasted red chili paste

Thoroughly mix the seasonings and then coat the wings. Store in large Ziploc bag or plastic container overnight.
Remove from refrigerator and arrange on baking pan. Bake 450 degrees for 20 minutes, turn wings over and bake another 20 minutes.
Put in big bowl or on a platter with the dip in individual bowls for each person.
Super Bowls are a lot of fun. They tend to be easy to prepare and you can serve a lot of people from one big container.  You cannot go wrong as there is always an audience for big bowls and big love!

A new year speaks in smiles and hugs,
In the toasts, in the promises kept,
In the foods and open hearths
Where all our loves are all our lives,
And all our friends are all our loves.
I believe in the honesty implied,
In the trust not forsaken,
In the way we care for each other
And not in how some lie or slander.
Knives are best on cutting boards
And never used in the figurative back.
Being honest is not merely
Pretending so or as something
Twisted in business deals.
A world at war is born in ways
From the smallest detail
To governments and power,
To control and use force on the weakest.
What is done to one is done to the many.
We are here to honor and share,
To seek love, to bond friendships,
Trust between friends is to learn
Trust for the ones we do not know,
A cynic finds ways around all loves,
But for a beautiful, ideal reason,
For the world that is made real
We can choose who are our friends,
And by doing so we express love,
Expressing love is expressing God.
Hold this close for all in our lives,
Cherish the great truth
And say it again,
Expressing God is expressing Love.
Things feel better now, don’t they?
Hello 2012, an open hand
And an open heart is the best
Of all ways to say Happy New Year!



There’s a change in the weather and there’s a change in the way we eat today. Our column this month casts a sieve and a whisk into the world of gluten free dining. Celiac intolerance is an inability to digest wheat, barley or malt in any form. Our recipes today are small, intense portions. We will be making a sweet and tart mixed fruit “soda”, buttermilk biscuits and chocolate-almond cookies. This way we have delicious alcohol free and wheat free additions. It is the holiday season. You do want everyone to enjoy the feasts, including the delightful bites of sweet treats and beverages.
First, a few paragraphs on what is gluten and gluten intolerance. It is not an allergy, it is an intolerance. What is gluten? Think of gluten like this: GLUE-Ten, glue. Makes “sticks to your ribs” a truth rather than just a folk saying. Why one cannot eat wheat, barley or malt, i.e. celiac, or it is a choice is not the concern of the cook, the concern is that we meet expectations and rise to the occasion. The host(ess) is here to serve. Chefs of all degree have had to learn how to accommodate gluten intolerance. It is not an allergy. It is not a fad. It is not a super diet. It is not a choice. It is a reaction to the increased gluten, a protein, content of wheat, barley and malt since the mid 1960s. Some bodies just are not built to withstand the way that fats and other food particles simply cling to the intestines and are not digested.
The wheat of today is over 100% more gluten rich than the wheat of our grandparents. This is the result of genetically modified seeds (GMO) used to increase the weed and insect resistance, increase gluten protein and to be drought resistant. In many ways these are good things but on the other hand remember that you are what you eat eats. Extreme question: Are you really prepared to have a weed resistant body? Direct Question: Do you or do you know someone who is intolerant? Ask them about the symptoms and what their doctor had to say on the topic. Our bodies are not yet developed in ways to digest these certain things.
Many seeds have been FDA approved without proper long term testing. If we knew a significant number of our populace were gluten intolerant then these super seeds would not have been OK’d for use. A strong food regulation board would have thoroughly tested the results over time. One out of one hundred and thirty three people are gluten intolerant. It is not an allergy, it is intolerance to wheat, barley and malt in any degree. Even if something is fried in the same oil it can cause a severe reaction. Caveat Emptor! Wikipedia users as it does not always tell the full truth. Research Celiac and gluten free sites for exact discussions on what works.
I started working on gluten free recipes about six years ago when the situation began to regularly appear in my customer requests. I researched the topic. I wanted everyone to enjoy the “good stuff”, thus my foray into wheat free began. I was fortunate to cook with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a Celiac Awareness demonstration at CNN (He is as nice a person as he appears on screen.).
The alternate flours used are easy to find. The measurements must be exact. We do not roll out the biscuit or cookie dough, the gluten free pastry doughs are lightly kneaded, cook times and temperatures are different, the dough is often wetter than is common to White Lily or King Arthur flours. I wish White Lily and King Arthur would enter the gluten free market. Once you learn how to cook without wheat you learn that it is more the flavor rather than gluten of wheat that is hard to replicate. Admit it, the flavor is nice. It took me a while to stick to the exact recipes for basic flour mixes but once I did the results were delicious.
Walmart has brown rice flour, rice flour and xanthan, Publix has xanthan, Fooks (Asian Markets)has rice, sweet rice, potato, sweet potato and tapioca starches and Taj Mahal (Indian markets) has sorghum and many others like amaranth, lentil, rice and millet flour. For gluten free baking you will need to make master flour mixes. Add the xanthan at the time of baking, not as part of the mix. Keep moisture free as these fine flours will go Elmer’s Glue on you in a quick minute. The different flavors and textures are amazing. For those who know me they’ll get a laugh to find that there are 16 different flours and starches on my shelves!
Research requires thorough testing for best results. Anyone can read false reports on Wiki, but trust a Chef for trial and error. Subscribe to Cook’s magazine for complete discussions on anything food related. As an aside, I like regular soft winter wheat White Lily flour and King Arthur/Lancelot because the gluten content of their various flours work perfectly for mainstream baking. They are easy to work with and have guaranteed results. The gluten and the quality of the flavor is precise. Getting the gluten free flours to reach this stage of perfection is the task for us all. If you follow the recipes you will have this guarantee.
Yes, experiments are not always a big hurrah. You will benefit from our mistakes and successes. Chefs are here to pave the way for cooks to follow, let the pioneers get the arrows…Ouch! My big flop was a batch of biscuits when I mistakenly added twice the amount of xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is a powder made from a bush. It creates the elasticity same as gluten without gumming up your digestive tract. They were perfect outside and gummy inside. Lesson: Level off the measuring spoons and cups with a knife drawn across the top of the receptacle. When a cook speaks of the tip of the spoon it is both literal and metaphor. Xanthan, guar and modified tapioca starch are the natural wheat gluten replacements. If you are adverse to reading books, which seems a terrible malaise in itself, then here is a link to a valued and frequently fact checked site for Celiac Awareness: There are an amazing number of books on gluten free cooking. You have to read and find which ones speak directly to your own cooking skills and flavor preferences.
Now, about alcohol free drinks, it does not have to be super sugared sodas, fruit drinks or the sole domain of teas and coffees. We have learned that a little vinegar every day keeps you healthy in several ways, from respiratory to digestion it is a good thing. The Southern palate is drawn to sweet so my recipe here is sweeter than that in Japan or in Japanese sushi bars. I make a persimmon and apple cider vinegar with sugar for a tablespoon every day now. My deeply Southern Mother swears by a shot (1 ½ ounces) of apple cider vinegar every day for good health. She is healthy.
Making fruited vinegar drinks is millennia old for Japan and China. The sweet and sour in addition to the health benefits stand as reasons why it has been used for so long. After all, at the end of the season what do we do with the stone fruits and berries from the last harvest? We freeze, make pies or make drinks. My recipe here is comprised of three different fruits but you can use any single berry or stone fruit that you have in abundance. I make my own fig balsamic by adding dried figs to regular balsamic and letting it steep for a month. Food is this easy. For the best foods all you have to have is the information and the desire to make your own. If you are making it then you know for sure that it is pure and as local as possible. Remember that if you are cooking for someone who is gluten intolerant then your cooking area must be completely wheat free for the duration of the preparation. A mere puff of wheat dust can set off reactions from debilitating to extreme discomfort.
Also you will notice that corn starch is absent. Corn has seen dramatic changes in composition over the past 30 years and reactions are showing up more and more. Except for organic and small farms ALL corn, soy, peanuts in Georgia are GMO. Nationally, almost all wheat is GMO. If the pollen from GMO plants blow over into organic farms then the organic becomes infected with whatever is implanted into the genetic structure of the host plant. Round Up, the weed killer, is in ALL (Monsanto is “the” supplier) GMO wheat, peanut, barley, soy, corn and most other vegetable seeds. How did this happen? Shortcuts around long term testing is how it happened. India, Africa and Europe have shown that it is possible to farm without GMO seeds. GMO has to be marked as such in the grocery stores in Europe. There are restrictions on what produce can be imported from the US into Europe because of our forced use of GMO seeds. GMO seeds are infertile. Yes, every discussion of gluten and corn has a bit of preaching.

Note that I add sorghum, amaranth and millet flour depending on what I am baking. For example, I add 1/5th part sorghum to my cookies to increase the ability to balance the sugars. I add two tablespoons to amaranth to basic biscuit mix (2 cups flours) so that the wheat flavor is increased. Millet is used in savory pastry dough to help it stand up to salty and meat flavors. All of these flours are from wheat and peanut free processing plants.
You can use either Crisco (all Crisco is now nontrans fat) if they are vegan, or a balance of butter and cream cheese. Egg can be replaced by “Ener-G”; a mashed up half banana; ½ cup apple sauce; 1/4th cup whipped firm tofu; nutritional yeast and in some cases adding coconut powder with the banana, and apple or tofu increases the delicious factor.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two baking pans.
2 cups Brown rice flour, fine grind
2/3rd cup Potato starch (not flour)
1/3rd cup Tapioca starch
1 teaspoon Sweet rice flour

At time of baking add:
1/4th cup Amaranth flour (optional but tasty)
1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1/4th teaspoon Ground cloves
1/4th teaspoon Allspice
½ teaspoon Fresh ground cardamom, preferably black pods
Add to dry mix.
½ cup Semi Sweet Chocolate chips
½ cup Almonds
Crush chocolate and nuts together to coarse texture and set aside.
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Dark vanilla extract
6 ounces Butter
2 ounces Cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar or Splenda for baking
½ cup light brown sugar or Splenda Baking Brown Sugar

Whip fats and sugars together with electric whisk on medium until it is creamy. Add egg and vanilla, whip on medium until fluffy or 2 minutes.
Whip dry flour mix into the sugar. When it is combined add the chocolate and almond. It will be pretty thick so do not over mix. At this point mix so that it is pliable. Finish by squeezing the batter with your hands a couple of times.
Spoon dough onto pans and shape into small 1 ½ ounce rounds. Keep them 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on cookie racks.
You can add coconut or any dried fruits instead of chocolate or almonds. The master batter is reliable. Almond flour is a leap forward but is expensive. If using almond flour then make it 1 cup almond flour and 1 cup brown rice flour.
If your guests are vegan then you can use Ener-G or nutritional yeast.

1 cup Brown rice flour, fine grind
2 cups Tapioca starch
½ cup Sorghum flour
At time of baking add:
2 teaspoons Baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons Baking soda
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Xanthan gum
Thoroughly combine.
½ cup Butter, grated and frozen
2 cups Buttermilk, cold (can sub Almond, soy or rice milk)
1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar, cold
1 large Egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. By hand mix in the butter so that the batter resembles oatmeal in texture. Add buttermilk, vinegar and egg. Combine by hand or with sturdy spoon. It is a bit loose, right? That is the way it is supposed to look. Do not knead or roll out with rolling pin. You will spoon it onto the pan.
Lightly grease sheet pan. Cookie pan is too thin, use classic thicker style. Spoon the dough out into 16 t0 20 dough balls. If you want more circular form then wet your hands and gently shape them.
Bake 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
(optional: 2 tablespoons Amaranth Flour for whole wheat flavor)

This is definitely at the top of the list of easy and delicious. The only difficulty is letting it sit, tightly covered and air free in a plastic container or mason jar for 4 days. Since it is a fruit and vinegar concoction if you taste it before the cooking with sugars then you will pucker up same as any taste of vinegar. The beauty of this drink is that it is pure health wrapped in low cost and sweet carbonated glory. It is Japanese in origin. You can use any kind of sweetener for this drink, from white sugar to palm and jaggery, and if you are cutting out sugars then use Splenda, Stevia or unfiltered brown/amber Agave syrup.
Macerate and cure for 4 days:
2 ½ cups peaches, peeled and sliced
2 ½ cups blackberries
2 ½ cups blueberries
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger, finely minced
Combine and cook:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup distilled water
Bring everything to a boil. Turn down to simmer and let it cook for 30 minutes. If it is too thick add a little more water and sugar. Frequently stir.
Strain, mash the fruit as much as you can so that it releases all the good flavor. After straining you can certainly add a little more vinegar and cook the fruits until they are broken down as far as they can go.
At service you will fill a pint glass with ice and add 3 tablespoons of the berry vinegar. Finish by filling the glass with sparkling (carbonated, soda) water.
As you have learned grocery stores are always overcharging for things that are “free”. By adding a few important flour mixes and fruit drinks to your home cooking time you find that making it yourself is both economical and better for you. Fresh is always best. Local and fresh makes it perfect. Peace.
Filling clay urns,
Lighting candles to the night,
Standing on the roadside,
Fast, rocky creek splashing
over moss and fern,
A wind stirs up cloudbanks
on the other side,
Year long drought
giving up the silence,
The rains come.
Gauguin bright leaves
Flurry, stir, rush up
and then down the hills,
Deep orange full moon shines
hard on the carnival of color and shadow,
Illuminated, we turn to face the summit,
The smell of turned earth, the desire
Inside the heart of every season
Reveals itself as a charm of the senses,
And all my senses now sing praise
Of the Holy and our Love.