Monday, March 30, 2009

Banana Cherry Muffins


Oh my, these are good. Seriously. I don't want people to get the impression that I'm always mad and bitter. Au contraire, I think one of the things about being forced to eat the old fashioned way, by actually cooking everything, is you really appreciate your food. And these babies are good! 

One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog about gluten free cooking is I've come to realize that I almost never use mixes anymore, and the stuff that I make not only isn't that much more effort than with a mix, but it tastes better. I also almost never slavishly follow recipes. I consider them more guidelines, especially when it comes to what sort of flours to use (and always use a mix of flours—only one kind of flour, especially rice flour, makes for the grainy, miserable celiac cooking from the days of yore. No thanks.)

At any rate, this is my recipe, adapted from a banana bread recipe in  Healthy Gluten-Free Cooking by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney. Their version calls for fine rice flour. I find that if you add a mix of other flours instead, especially something with a little millet flour, you get something far moister and non-crumbly, and.... get this! It's still edible a day or two after baking!

I do this in my KitchenAid stand mixer, which makes it easier, but you don't need it.

1/8 - 1/4 C. cherries (I usually use frozen — blueberries or other fruit work too)
1/4 C. raisins
4 T. butter (or, if you're like me and can't do that, margarine, or palm oil shortening, and or coconut oil. I always include at least 1 T. coconut oil.)
1/4 C. sugar, maple sugar, and/or brown sugar
1 egg (you could probably do it with egg substitute, which I haven't tried.)
1 1/2 - 2 ripe bananas
1/2 C. + 2 T. gluten free flours of choice (my favorite is 2 T. sorghum, 2 T. millet, 2 T.  rice, 2 T. C. amaranth, plus 2 T. extra of one of the above)
2 1/2 T. arrowroot starch, tapioca starch OR cornstarch
1 t. gluten free baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F

Wash, dry and pit cherries (if fresh), and cut into halves and quarters. Mix this with the raisins and set aside.

Cream shortening or butter with the sugar(s) until light and soft. Add the egg. 

Mash the bananas and add to the creamed mixture (if using the mixer, just adding in hunks is sufficient). Whisk the flours, starch(es), and baking powder together and fold into the banana mixture. Gently stir in the cherries and raisins so they're evenly distributed. 

Fill six parchment muffin cups in a muffin pan and bake 20 -25 min until golden and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack.

Pour a mug of your favorite hot beverage, peel open your warm muffin, and pretend you're in a bakery.


Seven Years

I've been gluten free for seven years. The other day my husband, who'd just been eating out with a colleague at a new sushi place, proudly brought me home some sushi (some kinds of sushi rolls are pretty much the only restaurant food I can eat). I opened the box, salivating. It's so rare I get to eat something I didn't have to make myself.

I stared at these fancy rolls, dread setting in. One of them, a large one, had a coating on it that I swear looked like... bread crumbs? And these crumbs were scattered around the box. The others had what looked to be soy sauce-based sauces. My heart sank. I called the restaurant to find out what was in the rolls. One had a wheat-based sauce, and that big one was... a breaded katsu roll. He didn't seem to quite understand what the problem was. "Yeah...it has some kind of coating on it..." I knew if I said anything it would be perceived as unwarranted criticism, after he'd tried so hard, after all, to do something nice for me. And there I go again, rejecting a gift with my neuroticism. 

I remember reading something written by a gastroenterologist when I was first diagnosed. In it, this doctor pondered why it is that some of his patients--and almost exclusively male patients--cannot (or rather, will not) understand that gluten free means absolutely none at all, not even a crumb. I guess it applies to patients' families as well. Seven years, I felt like wailing, and I'm being gifted with a breaded katsu roll? 

But I could see disappointment in his face. He'd actually been trying to be nice. He doesn't get it. It's frustrating for him too. I try to understand.