Saturday, December 15, 2007

Potluck Christmas Parties, Cherry Cobbler

Remember I said last time that the corollary to check every label, every time, is if there is no label, you can't eat it? Nothing has a label at a potluck. Eventually you get used to not being able to partake of much at these parties. I went to one this week, and, besides a piece of the appetiser cheesecake I had brought, I ate raw vegetables. Nothing was labeled; they had even thrown out the bags to the chips. But I knew this would probably be the case, and had eaten a ham sandwich before I went.

I have another potluck this week. I will bring my own lunch again, and my contribution will be cherry cobbler from my mom's recipe. It's really more of a cherry square, but are ya gonna argue with my mom?

Cherry Cobbler

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (extra flour is for kneading)
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb cold butter (2 sticks)
2 eggs
2 cans cherry pie filling * [see note added below]

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
2.) Stir together 3 cups of flour, the baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients like you are making pie dough. Stir in the eggs. Reserve 3/4 cup of these crumbs for the topping.
3.) Knead the rest of the mixture well, using as much of the rest of the flour as you need. Spread into an 11"x15" jellyroll pan. Pat down. Pour the 2 cans of cherry pie filling over the dough, and spread evenly. Sprinkle with topping.
4.) Bake at 400 degrees (F) for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 325 degrees (F) and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

My variation: Replace up to 1 cup of the flour with ground almonds, and add 1/2 tsp almond extract to the dough.

I like the variation better, but it makes my brother complain, "Yeah, it's good, but it doesn't taste like mom's."

* note added 31 May 09: I made this yesterday for an office picnic, and I had to use 2 cans of cherry pie filling plus a third can with just the cherried (rinsed off the "goop" using a strainer). They seem to be putting fewer and fewer cherries in the pie filling.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Soy allergies and your friends. A chicken salad recipe.

One thing I didn't expect when I became allergic to soy was that it would prove to be a test of sorts for my friends (and family, more below.) Some people I barely know go out of their way to accomodate me, and some people I didn't expect don't try at all.

For example, there was one woman I worked with, and was work-friendly with (but nothing more), who would go out of her way to check in with me before office parties so I could eat what she made. She made a killer bean salad, and one time made a special trip to the store for olive oil so I could have some. (Thanks, Peggy!)

I am visiting a highschool friend for Christmas, and I got an email this week from her cousin (!) sending me a list of ingredients for some bruschetta she is making, so I could check them out. How wonderful is that?

However, someone related to me, who shall remain nameless, used to routinely "forget" what might have soy in it, which made eating with this person a minefield.

Another relative, who shall also remain nameless, used to buy things like bagels at the bakery with no ingredients label, tell me "oh, I'm sure they're all right," then get angry when I would pass on them to be safe. (BTW, I checked on those particular bagels later and they had soy flour AND soy oil.) The rule, check every label, every time means: if there is no label, you can't eat it.

One last story. One of my friends bought Hain's Safflower Mayonnaise so I could eat something at her house, and when she tried it, she decided she liked it better than the famous brand. So now that's what she buys.

Every once in a while, having a soy allergy has a positive effect on your life--or in this case, somebody else's. (The rest of the time, you strive to make it merely neutral.)

Here's what my friend was making with the Hain's mayo:

Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Grapes

Cut-up cooked chicken
Red seedless grapes, cut in half
Walnuts, broken or coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper

Amounts are all to your taste. Some people like more mayonnaise in this salad than others. Needless to say, this tastes better with Hain's mayo than with other kinds, but you can use the other kinds if that is all you have. I recommend a little lemon juice in it if that is the case.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fast-as-the-Boxed-Kind Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is generally not a problem for the soy allergic, because there are not a lot of places in it to sneak soy. I suppose somebody could use margarine instead of butter, and those pesky breadcrumbs on top could be made out of supermarket bread, but here we are talking about somebody else's homemade mac & cheese. If you make the kind in the box--and I admit I have--it is pretty straightforward, and non-allergenic if you use butter.

In any case, the following recipe is just as fast as the boxed kind, and tastes better:

Fast-as-the-Boxed-Kind Macaroni and Cheese

12 oz shell or elbow macaroni (3/4 of a 16-oz box)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp minced dried onion (optional)
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning or celery salt (optional)
1 tsp grainy mustard (optional)
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
2 cups milk
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese (can use the preshredded kind. it comes in 8-oz bags.)

1.) Cook the macaroni as the package directs, stopping at the least amount of time specified (for example, if it says 9-11 minutes, stop at 9 minutes). Drain. Put the macaroni back into the same pot, off the heat.
2.) Sprinkle the macaroni with the flour, onion flakes, and Old Bay Seasoning or celery salt. Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to coat the macaroni with the flour.
3.) Put the heat back on to medium, and slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture bubbles and turns thick.
4.) Add the cheese and stir until it melts.
5.) Serve.