Friday, September 6, 2013

GF Mug Cake

Last night, I was overcome with a sweet attack.  But, as is usually the case I didn't have any kind of chocolate or sweets handy, something I do on p.  What I did have handy was some of my GF flour mix and a few other basic baking ingredients.  However, I didn't have the time or desire to bake a whole batch of brownies, not to mention that I didn't have any eggs.  Then I remembered how last year on Mother's day we helped the kids make mug cakes.  The phenomenon of mug cakes was something that I honestly had not been introduced to until that moment.  But last night I thought to myself, "Why can't I make a GF version of that?"

For all those who have eaten a mug cake you know that they aren't by any stretch of the imagination a gourmet option, but the point of mug cakes is to satiate a sweets craving in five minutes or less using just what you have around the house.  And, that is exactly what this new recipe I created did for me.

So here is the recipe for all my GFers out there who like me have the occasional sweet tooth that just has to be fed.

4 Tbsp of GF Flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Packet of Instant Hot Chocolate
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup milk or Almond Milk

Combine all ingredients in a large microwavable mug and microwave on high power for 2-3 minutes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Days off = Cooking Days

I love my days off. As much as I enjoy my job, and I truly do, the beauty of a day off is that I have the time to do what I really love... COOK!

Today's menu started with GF waffles. My roommate and I awoke to the sound of thunderstorms outside our window--which was a great way to wake up because thunderstorms are one of my favorite displays in all creation, not to mention that my little porch garden desperately was waiting for that rain.

At any rate, nothing says comfort food more than a great rainy morning on your day off. So, I determined that some super strong coffee and waffles with a peach compote seemed to be the perfect recipe. (Yes--cheesy pun fully intended!)

After breakfast, the culinary bar was set pretty high, and I had some catching up to do on my day that was supposed to be rather productive. I got lost in a project, as is usually the case, before I knew it I was famished and the clock tolled one.  I, of course, decided all but too late that I wanted to make some "real food" for lunch. This limited my options to something that is able to be cooked from frozen.  Meaning on thing--fish!

As some one who randomly makes a peach compote to accompany he spur of the moment waffles, I clearly do not like to leave my culinary adventures to be half-assed.  So, you can imagine that f I was going to bake fish then I had to roast some vegetables along with it. Having the ingredients for ratatouille provided by my lovely mother (this is a little foreshadowing for my next episode of Big World, Tiny Kitchen). I realized that I needed to use some of these veggies up.  The mother of invention (at least when it comes to inventing in the kitchen) is utilizing your current resources, there are several things that I would perhaps have done differently had I different ingredients on hand, however I did not have those ingredients in my kitchen today. So without further adieu, my recipe which came forth from my utilitarian mentality. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Broiled Veggies with Lemon Basil Tuna Steaks:

2 frozen white albacore tuna steaks
1 bag of TJs frozen pearl onions
1 large Zucchini (thinly sliced)
1 large yellow summer squash (thinly sliced)
2 small white eggplants (thinly sliced)
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp Pampered Chef Citrus Basil Rub
1 Tbsp TJs 21-season salute
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp olive oil
and 1/2 tsp my secret ingredient

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Place frozen tuna steaks and frozen onions on a cooking sheet. Add pampered chef rub on fish then add salt, red pepper flakes, 21-season salute, and half of the olive oil on fish and onions. Bake for 15 minutes (cooking time may vary based on size of fish steaks.

Then pull out baking sheet and add veggies in top. Then pour remaining olive oil on top and sprinkle secret ingredient-finely ground black lava salt (optional). Broil to finish cooking fish and to cook veggies.

Enjoy with chilled white wine of your choice!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Big World Tiny Kitchen-Pilot

It's finally HERE! The Pilot is live!

I hope you enjoy it!

YouTube Description:
There is something about how food tells a story about the people who eat and/or prepare it that I love.  
After discovering the way food can teach you about the people and places unique to those flavors. I really started to delve into the concept of terroir--basically the idea that food takes on characteristics of the area it comes from.  And the more I learned, the more I wanted to know.  But seeing as I still couldn’t afford to travel to all these wonderful exotic places, I realized that I had to find a different way to experience them.  That’s when I discovered that I could start bringing these places home to me, through my cooking.    
About this same time, I started batting around the idea of starting an online cooking show.  That is where the concept for Big World, Tiny Kitchen was born.  I came to the realization that many of you out there share my same penchant for travel, and my same fiscal predicaments. Hence, why I am here today sharing my experiences with you all through this show.  My hope is that through this show you will find cooking as culturally and personally enriching as I do.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cooking Show status update

For a long time now I have been promising to make a cooking show.  I am proud to say that it is finally here, I am actually doing it! It is hard to believe that it was nearly a year ago that this concept was born, and I know that there is still a very long journey before me and this show. (Especially before it becomes anything close to the category of professional.)  But, that's the beauty of life we're always on a journey and always growing.  So it is with the invention of Big World, Tiny Kitchen.

My first episode is finally filmed and in the process of being edited. My hope is that I can finally get it posted tomorrow...

Fair warning... this first episode shows every bit of nervous energy I was feeling.  That aside, I feel that with more practice this show will evolve into something not just fun to do, but also something truly interesting to watch.  My hope is that you all learn something and enjoy it, and even though I'm slightly embarrassed by my amateur quality and presentation I am also truly excited to share this with you all.  And, excited to continue to grow along with this new cooking show.  I hope you like it and will come back to watch it this week, after I have posted it to the blog.

For now here's a little intro/background on how the show was born:

There is something about how food tells a story about the people who eat and/or prepare it that I love.  
After discovering the way food can teach you about the people and places unique to those flavors. I really started to delve into the concept of terroir--basically the idea that food takes on characteristics of the area it comes from.  And the more I learned, the more I wanted to know.  But seeing as I still couldn’t afford to travel to all these wonderful exotic places, I realized that I had to find a different way to experience them.  That’s when I discovered that I could start bringing these places home to me, through my cooking.    
About this same time, I started batting around the idea of starting an online cooking show.  That is where the concept for Big World, Tiny Kitchen was born.  I came to the realization that many of you out there share my same penchant for travel, and my same fiscal predicaments. Hence, why I am here today sharing my experiences with you all through this show.  My hope is that through this show you will find cooking as culturally and personally enriching as I do.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Veganism... not for me

So, I know many of you will be disappointed to learn that I've decided going vegan is not for me.  I love my cheese just a little too much.  Now, that said there are plenty of things to consider adopting from the vegan lifestyle.  Here are three common practices of eating vegan, that I can get behind.

1) Less Meat.  I know that is seems obvious, but though I'm not completely reducing my intake of meat to nil, there is something to be said for the fact that our bodies do much better without being on a meat-based diet.   (Not to mention that our being a meat-obsessed society is much of the reason our farming industry suffers from vast over production and non-sustainable practices.)  One does not need to cut meat out altogether, but reducing the amount of meat you eat can make an impact not only on your body's health but also on the health of your budget.  With all the extra cash you will save by switching to a lot more plant-based proteins, you can invest that into sustainably raised meats that you can purchase from local farms and butchers.  Or, just treat yourself with a night out once in a while at a responsibly sourced restaurant.  Either way you look at it... eat more green = keeping more green.

2) Less Dairy.  Okay, so I know I mentioned that the reason I have decided not to go completely vegan is because I can't seem to give up my cheese.  However, in the process of attempting veganism (a process that lasted an embarrassingly short time I will admit), I did realize that my body doesn't like it when I over administer lactose into my diet.  I have known for sometime that I can't over do it on dairy if I want to keep my body happy, but I was amazed to find out that I am easily able to substitute several things that used to be daily dairy staples for me, and I don't miss them.  The occasional sour cream, milk, cheese are just fine, but again I am speaking of products where the cows, sheep, or goats are raised humanely and sustainably... and no I don't mean they have to be grass-fed or even organic (more on this another time).

3) Education.  Sure, there are plenty of vegans out there that have just "drank the kool-aid" so to speak.  But, by and large vegans have to educate themselves about brands, ingredients, and sources of their food in a way that most of the grocery shopping world is happy to remain sublimely ignorant about.  There is a thought process that changes whenever you make a conscious effort to avoid a certain kind of food, I can attest to this because of my gluten-intolerance.  However, the thought process of buying food needs to be one that challenges all of us on a daily basis.  The way we eat in our American culture is one characterized by gluttony and irresponsibility.  Educating ourselves about our food is the key to changing this mentality to become a culture that is more aware and conscientious in our decision-making.

So, I'm not a vegan, but I do support those who have educated themselves and feel it is their best option for living a principled life.  I myself, don't feel the need to do away with all the animal based foods in my life, but I have appreciated this exercise to help me think of the small ways I need to continue to transform my daily eating habits.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gluten-free, Vegan Scones

Preparing for my transition to becoming vegan I have been gradually eating through all my dairy, and the eggs are all gone.  So, now learning to bake without eggs or butter is the difficulty I face.  Here is my first experiment, and I think it worked out rather well.

Lingon Berry Chocolate Chip Scones
yield: 12 scones

2 Cups GF bread flour (see my recipe)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp. Baking powder
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Almond Milk (warmed)
1/4 cup Lingon Berry Preserves
1/2 cup Trader Joe's Chocolate chips (both gluten free and dairy free)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Make a well.

Quickly pour olive oil and vanilla into dry ingredients mix with a fork quickly until ingredients form small clumps.

Gently mix all other ingredients until they come together to form a dough.  Do not over mix.

Using a spoon scoop 6 evenly-spaced, large mounds of dough onto an un-greased baking scone or baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Eating out... Gluten-free Pizza pt.1

Great news for my gluten-free audience.  If you, like myself, just have a gluten intolerance, but are not highly allergic or celiac.  Prepared GF pizza just became more accessible.  In the past you had to search for a very specific pizzeria that would also make GF pizzas, now one of the largest pizza chains in the U.S. has created a GF option.

Dominos Pizzerias all over the world are offering a GF pizza crust at the 10" size, and the best things about this offer is that it's not insanely expensive.  Whereas GF pizzas can cost at times up to $20 for a personal size, the 10" small GF cheese pizza from Dominos is just about $10.

Here's a link to find out more:

I will be reviewing this pizza for taste and quality in the near future, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tetra Pak... amended

So, upon a little more research prompted by the side of two almond milk cartons that specifically stated they are recyclable in certain areas.  I decided to look into recycling cartons again. I apologize that I have given information that was only partially true.  Tetra Paks are actually recyclable in part.

Here are the facts:
Tetra Pak makes their cartons on average from 70%-80% of paper.  Metals and plastics are combined with the paper to make the cartons aseptic.  You can see a diagram here. The recycling of these cartons removes the non-paper products then recycles the paper into tissue products.

While these packages are still recyclable it does seem that there is some waste.  It is seen in the two ways.  First, the Tetra Paks themselves do not use recycled paper, so any paper going into the production of these cartons does come from freshly processed trees in order to make a clean food-safe product.   Second, the non-paper products (that is 20%-30% of the packaging) get siphoned off, and don't seem to get recycled from what I can tell from the carton recycling process.

In fairness, while the production of these cartons is not completely waste free, Tetra Pak does work to reduce waste as much as possible, through forestry guidelines, reduction of carbon footprint at the factories, and recycling programs that turn their product into new paper products that don't need to be food ready.

There are other rumors about tetra paks that I feel need to be addressed.  I have heard and read that these cartons are neglected by most city/county recycling programs.  This could not be further from the truth.  As I looked into it more, I found that not only are these packages recyclable, but recycling programs that include them are more readily available than one would think.  In fact, there is even more information out there for recycling cartons and/or making cartons recyclable in your community than most people even have time to read.

So, in conclusion I would like to apologize for my lack of investigative journalism on this matter and provide you with some resources.

First, I would encourage you to check out these three websites for general information about recycling:

All these websites above provide some helpful information so you can make informed choices about what kinds of packaging you purchase your food in, to reduce waste.  For example, though I will now with ease of conscience purchase Tetra Pak cartons knowing that I have facilities available to me that do recycle them, I also found out that glass is the only recycled product that is 100% reused, in other words it is not wasted at all. So, I will still try to purchase as much as I can in glass.

Second, if you are still concerned about Tetra Paks and want to know more about the packaging that is so prevalent at your local supermarkets, then I recommend going to their website:

The Green Room
Our Commitment
Forestry Guidelines

I found these pages on their site to be extremely helpful and informative.

Finally, and possibly most important, find out if you can recycle tetra paks in your community by visiting:

If your city or county does not currently recycle cartons check out this tool kit:

You can use this information to petition to get your city recycling program to include cartons.  The best way to do this is to get 100 or more signatures of citizens in your town who want this recycling program in their community.  Then get on the agenda for an upcoming city council meeting (which is usually not difficult), then take a friend or two and present the petition to the city council.  The thing about politics is that changing processes take both time and money, so if nothing comes of this right away you just have to keep strong and continue to bug your city aldermen and your mayor, until they do something about it.

Anyhow, I hope that this clears the record for Tetra Pak cartons and I hope that you have found this blog post informative and helpful to your own sustainably culinary life style.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Going green... and the Tetra Pak

As you know, I am trying to change my lifestyle to become more green this year.  As a result, I have been looking into buying only humanely raised meats and eggs.  Yes, not only can this be expensive but it can even be difficult to find.  That said, on a daily basis I have been eating a lot more plant-based proteins.  In fact, this has become so normal to me that I have recently been considering going mostly vegan.

I started by picking out one daily thing that I consume and changing it to a vegan alternative.  Lately, I had been using cow's milk much more than I even used to, so I am starting there.  I am heartily against consciously adding any soy into my diet because soy is in just about everything, and since I already drink almond milk on a semi-regular basis I chose almond milk as my main milk alternative.

The only problem is the more closely I looked at what I was purchasing this week, I realized that I am now purchasing my milk exclusively in tetra paks, and when I was buying locally sourced milk it came in returnable glass jugs.  Now, I wouldn't be completely against making this switch permanent if tetra paks were recyclable.  Problem is though many people are under the assumption that this kind of packaging is made from paper therefore mistakenly throwing these containers in their recycle bins every day, they ultimately are a hybrid of paper, plastic, and in some cases even metal and are currently not able to be recycled.

So, I started to try to solve the wasteful packaging issue by possibly making almond milk myself. As I researched how to make almond milk from scratch I saw that it requires a high-quality food processor or blender and that it only lasts for about 3 days, unlike the store purchased almond milk which allows me 7-10 days to use it. Being a single gal that honestly doesn't always use a lot of milk shelf-stable almond milk has become a kind staple for me. Until now.

So, here I am at my first sustainable-living impasse of the year.  Do I continue to purchase cow's milk though it is sometimes expensive and ultimately I don't actually know if the cow's from that local farm are pasture-raised, or do I keep throwing tetra paks into the landfills?  Obviously, that is hyperbole, my intention is to do neither but that is why I need your help.

Today, I am not posing solutions or recipes as much as I am asking for your input.  I am still thinking about how to transition myself into a mostly vegan lifestyle (i.e. I may still eat eggs occasionally since I can buy those directly from the farmer, and I will on occasion eat meat that I know has been humanely raised, and I am never strict about what I eat when at another person's house).  But, I can't continue to use almond milk in good conscience knowing the packaging is simply going to the bottom of a landfill, and frankly I just don't have the high quality blender I would need nor do I have time every three days to make fresh almond milk. So, I need your help figuring out a solution.  Here are my questions for you, is there a way to can homemade almond milk in mason jars?  Do you know of any inexpensive sources for pasture-raised cow's milk?  Or are there uses for empty tetra paks, so that I can reuse them on my own?  I am open to any and all suggestions. Thanks for your help.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Getting produce home plastic free

Now that I am trying to buy produce and dry goods more locally, I am purchasing a lot more products that are not pre-packaged.  Therefore getting these items home without spilling all over can pose a bit of a challenge. Sure there are plenty of plastic bags at the grocery store, but if I am buying products that don't have packaging then taking them home in plastic feels slightly self-defeating. I first toyed with the idea of taking my mason jars to the store with me, but that can be rather cumbersome. So, I purchased some produce bags online from chico to get me started.

When I received these bags in the mail I realized that they couldn't have been too difficult to make.  And even though they are nice bags and come in an adorable little easy-to-cary apple pouch,  honestly, for the price I wouldn't buy them again.  In my research this past week about ways to go green, I found countless DIY bag projects that recycle old t-shirts into cloth market bags.  Finally, I realized that I could likely do the same to make more produce/bulk bags.  I found a few DIY produce bag projects online, but many of them required a great deal of sewing.  So, since I'm not the best seamstress and I currently do not have a sewing machine (both facts that I hope to remedy this year), I decided to try amending these projects.

As a result, I created my own DIY produce bag project.  This is a much easier project, and I was able to complete it by hand (taking pictures included) in less than an hour.  Anyway, here it is.

And, seriously if I can do this, then truly anyone can!

DIY Recycled Produce Bag (aka Cotton Cinch Bag)

For this project you need only a few things and you probably have them all lying around.  First, you'll need an old undershirt, men's or women's doesn't matter.  The only qualification is that it must have a hem at the bottom.  Certainly if you don't mind the extra work of sewing a hem yourself you can use anything you want, but I purposely chose the hemmed undershirt for this project to avoid extemporaneous sewing.  Another reason I chose undershirts for this project is that almost all of these shirts are 100% cotton, the benefits of which include:

  • they are washable making them versatile in the variety of products they can hold
  • they are stretchy allowing you a lot of room 
  • they are absorbent allowing you to carry veggies that are frequently watered
  • they are a completely renewable resource

Here's a list of everything else you'll need:
  • Needle and Thread (or sewing machine if preferred)
  • Scissors
  • 1 safety pin
  • String of some kind-I used 100% natural cooking twine (A shoelace would also work nicely if you have some old shoes you're getting rid of.)

Step 1. Turn the shirt inside-out then fold in half.

Step 2. Cut off the top of shirt to make a curved bag shape. (this will become the bottom of the bag)

Step 3. Sew the bottom of the bag together along the curved line (be sure that you still have the fabric turned inside out or you will have an ugly seam on the outside of your bag.

After, completing the sewing. Turn right side out.  You should now have a loose bag 

Step 4. Cut a small slit in the hem of the shirt but do not go below the seam. (This will be the top of the bag)

 Step 5. Take the twine/string and tie a knot at one end. Insert the safety pin through the knot. (do not shorten or cut the other side yet.

Step 6. Feed the twine through the hem of the shirt until it comes out the other opening.

 Step 7. Cut the string/twine so that it is long enough to hang out fully extended.  Tie the two ends together to form a cohesive round string.

 Step 8: Test it!  Pull the cinch tight to see if it works.  There you have it you're very own 100% recycled all natural reusable produce bag.

Step 9: Remember to take it with you to the market!

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's not easy being green

As many of you I am sure did, I too set new goals for myself in 2013.  One of my main goals has been to rid my life of the unnecessary waste so common to the American consumer.  In a word I'm trying to live... GREEN!  It is a hot issue in our society right now, but to be honest it is simply for me that I have realized, holding to the theology I hold to (I will say more on these issues as we go), my life should reflect it in large ways and small ways.  Thus, I was convicted to make some changes and learn to live a sustainable lifestyle.

This new mentality has been changing the way I shop, clean, and most importantly eat.  Eating green on a budget can be very difficult, but I am learning what is important and what things I can live without.  And, more importantly I am taking each step one at a time.

I am finding that when you take your time, plan well, and to be frank just don't eat a lot of meat, it is quite manageable.  There are plenty of ways to get all the proper nutrition you need, support local farmers, and live in a sustainable way.  This new adventure has already begun to transform my attitude toward food and life.   Not to mention that after some initial investing, I am starting to now save money.

I know that I usually post recipes and in the last year this blog has been very piecemeal, but I hope that this new focus in my life will offer a new focus for my blog.  I truly look forward to sharing this journey with you and hope to offer some great tips and recipes that I discover while I gradually change my habits and attitude.  In the meantime, please just allow me to encourage you to go green in some small way... here is a website I have found helpful:

Even though I must admit that I am making rapid major changes to my lifestyle, you don't have to do the same.  I have the luxury of living in a town that is very environmentally conscious and I am also single (in other words it's only my habits that need to be changed not the habits of my entire family).  And, you can start your journey to sustainable living today.  Just pick one small task on the Practically Green website that you don't already do and challenge yourself to make that one small change.  The site is even set up for you to be able to make baby steps or take leaps, you're choice.  If you set one new goal for yourself a month, I think you'll be amazed at how much your lifestyle has changed in a year.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

GF Bread Flour Recipe

It is finally here!

I have been working for a year now on Gluten Free flour mixes, and I have been promising for almost as long that as soon as I found a GF bread flour blend that worked I would post it.  Well, I've finally done it!

This GF bread flour mix is one that I have created after much trial and error, and it has most consistently produced the result that I wanted.  I was even able to make bread in a bread machine with this GF flour.  I am excited to share this recipe with you all because it was the final step in now being able to put together a GF cookbook.  I am working on some more recipes and will post some of those as I work on them, but now having a GF All-purpose flour recipe and a GF bread flour recipe I will be able to complete my dream of writing a GF cookbook that makes gluten-free cooking both delicious and easy for everyone!

Please let me know what you think as you use this recipe and tell me how you have used it.  The greatest resource at our disposal is community and the GF community is growing daily, so share your thoughts and recipes so we can learn and create together!

And now without further ado...

GF Bread Flour Recipe 
(c) Kristen Arnold 2013.

Yield 8 cups.
*Note: Make sure when measuring individual ingredients for blending sift all ingredients before measuring if using volume, but the best results are produced by measuring by weight on a kitchen scale.

1 cup (8oz.) Quinoa Flour
1 cup (8oz.) Oat Flour (be sure the producer specifies that the oat flour is GF)*
1 cup (8oz.) Arrowroot Powder
1 cup (8oz.) Potato Starch
2 cups (16oz.) Sorguhm Flour
2 cups (16oz.) Tapioca Flour (sometimes called Tapioca Starch)
1 Tbsp  Xanthan or Guar Gum

Blend all ingredients together well.  I recommend stirring in a large bowl with a fork for a first blend then sifting all ingredients together.

*A note about GF Oat Flour: Oats are one of the most cross contaminated products for people such as myself who don't struggle with a wheat allergy but merely have a gluten/wheat intolerance this is less of a concern.  However, I recognize that there are others with a more severe allergy to wheat and even in some cases oats because the biological make up of  oats and wheat are very similar.  I recommend GF oat flour because I think it provides an airiness to the breads it produces, however if you would like to stay away from oats altogether than I recommend substituting millet flour, this will make your breads slightly more dense, but it will still provide a great flavor.