Josh and I have been doing a lot of home cooking this summer. The above is a delicious gluten free pie we made with strawberries, local rhubarb and local blackberries. It was delicious and blackberry season is one of my favorite times of year.
We planted arugula in our garden plot and got so much of it. My friend Helen turned me onto this green back in our NM days and it’s one of my faves. She also taught me how to make pesto and arugula gives this appetizer quite the zing.
We got into a pizza making kick and have been using garden greens as part of the toppings. So yummy!
I treated myself to a new gluten free baking cookbook and the results have been phenomenal. These dinner rolls were tasty and strong. How well did they hold their shape?
Strong enough to be a bread bowl! I haven’t had a bread bowl in years. This was such a delight I almost cried. The soup is split pea with pork belly, one of Josh’s signature dishes.
My new cookbook (review forthcoming!) also has a fantastic scone recipe.
These were cherry almond scones and they did not last long. Scones are one of those baked goods I missed most when I had to give up gluten. It’s such a delight to have them back in my life.
I like to eat a scone with a cup of coffee. It’s a perfect snack.
Back in April, the world seemed pretty scary. Not like today right? Right?!? :/ Erm…anyway. I decided to make extracts as a way to put some positivity into my future. I made vanilla extract by slicing six vanilla pods and adding them to a bottle of rum. (Some people use vodka but I think rum makes it taste better.)
I’ve made vanilla extract before but also wanted to try something new. Almond extract is a bit more work but worth the effort. I blanched a cup of almonds to make the skin slide off. After chopping them up, I added them to a bottle of grain alcohol. Then I put them in our fermentation closet, giving them a shake whenever I bottled up some kombucha.
Three months later the extracts were ready. I strained out the pods and nuts using two filters. They taste great and will be perfect for baking. Josh added some vanilla to our morning coffee and it was delicious.
Ursula is being as cute as always.
I brought home another dud from my last shopping trip. There was no dressing room but this tank tank looked pretty cool on the hanger.
But when I put it on at home these poofs at the bottom made me look lumpy. They were not flattering at all so I cut them out. The inner black tank top fit wonderfully and was super soft so I left it as is.
There was almost enough for sleeves but not quite. I cut off fabric from the bottom tapering down to the front sides. The tank top had a tie at the back that I removed and reused as trim for the front opening.
With the tapered front ties the fabric flow was kept intact.
The sleeves had to be patched together but since the fabric is so thin the seams aren’t really noticeable when wearing.
The tapered front makes a really great tie.
I’m so happy how this top transformation turned out!
A sewing success.
In other news, Josh wrote up two great blog posts for My Taiwan Tour about traveling in Taiwan while gluten free.
Gluten Free Eating in Taiwan Part One: Restaurant Dining
Gluten Free Eating in Taiwan (Part Two): Wheat Free Snacks and Gluten Free Night Market Fare
We learned a lot of this while traveling around the island for our upcoming book Formosa Moon. If you have a gluten allergy fear not-there’s still plenty for you to eat in Taiwan. As for the book, stuff is happening behind the scenes. I’ll post news as soon as I can!
On of my favorite restaurants in Taipei, Oh Cha Cha recently opened up a new venue called Pantree, which boasted a completely gluten free menu. A gluten free restaurant in Taiwan?! I was cautiously hopeful. Josh and I met our friend Carrie, who took this cute pic of us, for lunch on opening day.
The menu is bilingual and indeed completely gluten free. Their kombucha, which is rare to find for sale in Taiwan, was flavorful and slightly fizzy. I jumped at the chance to try GF pizza and was very happy with the doughy crust. So tasty and I didn’t have to cook it myself.
Yummy snickerdoodle cookies for dessert! Pantree was giving out free mini GF muffins for opening day but we ate ours too quickly for a pic.
It is such a luxury to eat at a restaurant where I can safely eat everything on the menu. An allergy to gluten is not very common in Taiwan and is often misunderstood. I have gotten sick a handful of times eating out so am hesitant to try new places without Josh to translate my diet restrictions. Finding a restaurant that both understands and caters to GF eating is gratifying.
Thank you Pantree! Everything was scrumptious and I’ll definitely be back.
Life is getting busy now that grad school has started. But despite my full days I’ve managed to squeeze in some home cooking. The above pic is my latest batch of kombucha. I left this one in for a full two weeks and it turned out delicious. I think my scoby mothers have fully matured as these last few batches have turned out very well.
I have an early morning class so these biscottis were great breakfast meals. They are made with almond flour so are naturally gluten free. I definitely need to make more. Our friend Li Chun brought us some homemade coconut chocolate as a housewarming present and it made a great topping.
Josh and I were hanging in Dihua, one of my fave neighborhoods, when we found a vendor selling black garlic. Black garlic! I’ve been meaning to try this for months but hadn’t found any.
At first I thought it was fermented but some sources say it’s carmalized. Black garlic is incredibly distinct and has a taste reminiscent of figs. There was a moment when I thought “I should make my own” but my pile of reading for school tells me otherwise. It pairs well with so many foods I definitely recommend trying some.
There’s a lot of clothing stores in Taiwan and while shopping here is fun there are some challenges. A lot of the stores don’t have dressing rooms so I can’t try on items before buying and many of the clothes are too small for me. I now take a measuring tape which helps tremendously. These pants had a nice stretch waist and cool pleated legs but when I tried them on at home I realized the pants were too tapered for a comfortable fit.
What to do? My trusty seam ripper saved the day! I took out the inner seams, laid out the open pants and realized I now had an excellent skirt.
The open seams make excellent side splits which give the skirt an excellent drape. Plus it gives some extra ventilation, much needed in this hot Taiwan weather. Drapey scarves are easy to find here and I bought one in a soft lavender. Rebuilding my wardrobe feels so good.
Josh and I love the new apartment and the abundance of nearby restaurants. We still cook at home too. The other day I made an easy lunch by frying up tofu and veggies with kimchi. So spicy and delicious!
My flower petals are coming along. This is a long term art piece that will take months to complete. I hope to have it finished by the end of the year.
My internship at the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theater Museum is enjoyable. I’m currently making pillows to protect the puppet heads.
This marionette puppet now has a protective cushion in case of an earthquake. As I put the pillows in place I get to see the gorgeous collection up close which is a real treat.
Speaking of treats, there’s an abundance of delicious food in Taiwan but there’s one thing I’ve been missing-pizza. I’ve only had gluten free pizza here once, back when we were visiting Taitung. I haven’t found a place in Taipei selling it so Josh and I experimented in the kitchen. Behold the gluten free goodness!
The crust was a mixture of white rice, potato starch and corn starch. We added enough wet ingredients until the dough was actually stretchy. It was scrumptious and completely satisfied my pizza cravings.
My petals are coming along. I’m thinking of going with five petals per flower. Toying with the idea of making bigger petals as well. The pattern is easy which let’s me listen to podcasts while knitting.
I made my first coconut macaroons in Taiwan. Our little oven has the option of just turning the top or bottom heat on so I was able to get the tops crispy. It’s starting to get hot here so these will make a great summer treat.
These Knucks are my first completed knitting project in Taiwan. Made out of Alpaca they will be toasty warm in winter months. I started these when it was so chilly in our apartment that I was wearing a sweater and long underwear. It’s April now and the days are only getting warmer so they will have to wait awhile to get worn.
I’m super happy with them. This is an excellent pattern and the yarn is super soft.
In gluten free news I found a delicious bread I can eat.
Heitong Gao ie Black Sugar Cake is made with rice flour and brown sugar and can be found around Taipei. Super delicious and check out this texture:
So yummy. Plus it’s great to take a break from cooking and just buy some bread from a street vendor.
Exciting news! I’ve started my International Internship at the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum. Right now I’m helping to prep puppets for an upcoming exhibition in South Africa. I got to assist sewing these beautiful puppets to be displayed.
These lovelies are both Taiwanese shadow puppets.
Josh and I recently returned from Tainan. We saw a spectacular puppet show by the talented Goodoo Theater. Their show Heart Sea Fantasy was phenomenal and we will be featuring them in Formosa Moon.
Great progress on the knucks last night. I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off so the cuffs easily stretch over my hands. Every time I do this BO I forget how so Cat Bordhi’s tutorial was quite helpful.
When I first became gluten intolerant I was getting sick almost every time I ate. My naturopath doctor said my body was in crisis mode and overreacting to grains, processed foods and sugar. He put me on the GAPS Diet for two years. Now I am thankfully able to eat other grains but find I still like making GAPS Diet food. This apple walnut dessert is simple yet delicious.
I was able to find all the ingredients and my small bread pans worked great. This is one of my favorite breakfast dishes.
In other news, our puppet Floyd has some new roommates. Our friend C.S. was clearing out his studio and knowing I loved Taiwan puppet theater offered to give us two remarkable puppets.
Guan Yu and Floyd getting acquainted.
The Monkey King also moved in. We will be making videos ostensibly for Formosa Moon promotion but really I don’t need an excuse to play with puppets.