Gluten Free Cooking

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.

Bake on!

Lotus Flowers

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Now that we’re back in the States I have time to knit again. My long term lotus flowers project reached a milestone. I’ve completed knitting the petals and have 149. Next up will be finding a lotus leaf pattern. I may tweak an existing pattern, much like I did with the petals.

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Eventually I’ll sew these all together in various groupings and they’ll float on a blue knit afghan. But first I’m working through my knitting stash. The yarn I currently have traveled with me to and back from Taiwan! This lotus project was inspired by the beautiful lotus ponds I frequently saw there.

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One thing I missed while overseas was having a full sized oven. I’m back to gluten free baking. The above chocolate chip cherry biscottis were delicious.

Australia!

Our Australia vacation was phenomenal. I’d wanted to go since childhood when I found out that there were different stars in the Southern Hemisphere. And it definitely lived up to the hype. On the way over, Josh and I had a short layover in Singapore so we just hung out in the airport and enjoyed the stellar food options. Then after a much longer flight we landed in Melbourne to start our vacation officially.

Melbourne is a groovy city. Lots of street graffiti, great museums and little penguins in St. Kilda. The Tolarno Hotel was so arty and unique we made a short review video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdNQWmLj5DU?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

A highlight for me were all the gluten free options. Gluten free avocado toast, GF pizza, GF fish and chips-it was all delicious.

This was breakfast from a restaurant named The Banff in St. Kilda. They had incredible pizza and I ate one every day we were in Melbourne.

After our city stay we headed out to Nimbin to go off the grid. We stayed at the Nimbin Waterfall Retreat for a week of social media detox and communing with nature. Theresa and Rob have a beautiful retreat with horses, fuzzy headed chickens, Ringo the wild duck with a domesticated past, and a cute little dog. One morning we even saw a python!

After living in Taipei for a year and a half with its population of 2.5 million, the quiet countryside was wonderful. Even better were the wallabies. We saw some every day and even got to see a little baby in its mama’s pouch.

They were so fun to watch when they were hopping.

After Nimbin it was back to city life. Brisbane was full of visits with friends, nature and thrift shopping.

Josh didn’t buy the mullet but that book is currently sitting on his desk.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary made me feel like a kid again.

Especially when we got to feed the kangaroos.

This one was quite a sweetie, eating gently right out of my hand. The kangaroos at the sanctuary are very used to hanging with humans.

After Brisbane it was on to Newcastle, a charming city that served me my last GF pizza of the trip.

Then the flu hit me hard. Sydney was only one quick night which was a blur for me. After that it was on to Singapore and hotel isolation. The flu and lingering cough finally vanished in time for me to gear up for fall term.

Australia was full of great food, art and friends. We can’t wait to go back!

Top transformation

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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.

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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.

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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.

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With the tapered front ties the fabric flow was kept intact.

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The sleeves had to be patched together but since the fabric is so thin the seams aren’t really noticeable when wearing.

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The tapered front makes a really great tie.

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I’m so happy how this top transformation turned out!

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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!

Pantree Restaurant

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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.

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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.

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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.

Home cooking

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Pants Transformation

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Petals, Pillows and Pizza

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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.

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My internship at the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theater Museum is enjoyable. I’m currently making pillows to protect the puppet heads.

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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!

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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.

Silky petals, Coconut macaroons

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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.

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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.

Just in time for summer-Alpaca Knucks!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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These lovelies are both Taiwanese shadow puppets.

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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.