Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Carrots

This Easter holiday was the first family gathering since I've had to go gluten-free with my diet. geekMan has been such a good sport through the saga of elimination diet diagnosis, but it was a new concept for the rest. We are an incredibly supportive bunch, and so many questions were asked about what I could eat. Pretty much everything at table, and I could avoid the dinner rolls and various breads (I miss my Aunt's date nut bread with dried apricots - yum!).

But then there's dessert. Apple pie. Sounds lovely, but not for me. And not wanting to make everyone else give up a favorite, I offered to bring another dessert. Something I could eat. Something they might want to.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
I adapted the following recipe from Ellie Krieger's, and tweaked the technique à la Ina Garten. Most of the adaptation was converting wheat flours by volume to GF flour by weight (the only way to bake - just ask Shauna at Gluten-free Girl and the Chef). The final result was unbelievably good. Moist, rich. A good semi-sticky crumb, perfect for a carrot cake. I also like that the cupcake to frosting proportions match: exactly 12, and exactly enough. 
Ingredients - Cupcakes
2 large eggs
165g (~5.8oz) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
154g (~5.4oz) Gluten-free flour mix*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (or so) finely shredded peeled carrots (I used 4, but I really need to list this in weight)

Ingredients - Frosting
4oz cream cheese, softened (half a standard package)
85g (3oz) confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 °F (325 °F convection). Place 12 paper liners in muffin cups (I used "Texas-sized" liners so they were tall enough to contain the frosting).

Combine eggs and sugar in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix well. Add oil, applesauce and vanilla. Mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, measure flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl; whisk to combine. Add half dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixer bowl. Combine carrots with remaining dry ingredients; stir to distribute the carrots. Add to mixer bowl, and stir to combine.

Distribute batter evenly among paper liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

To frost, combine cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest, stirring well to combine. Divide evenly onto the 12 cupcakes.

Cupcakes sprinkled for the occasion.

*Gluten-free flour mixes can be purchased pre-blended, but they are just as easy (and far cheaper) to do on your own. I've been using the proportions of 7 parts flour to 3 parts starch suggested on Gluten-free Girl and the Chef with some success depending on the exact blend I make (she also explains vegetable gums, which I'm trying to avoid although it's not clear I'm sensitive to them; the thought of eating mold in my cupcakes is not appetizing). The blend I used for this recipe was comprised of brown rice flour, GF oat flour, sorghum flour, and tapioca and corn starches.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I am part of the first great cause.

Last post: Thanksgiving. And now: Spring.

Although you might think it's November and not April. Snow is falling heavily outside; looks lake effect. Big, fluffy, walnut-sized globs of snow. At least it's not sticking. Much.

Some weeks ago, geekMan and I picked up a scrapbook at an antique mall. It's an old, paper-covered ledger book filled with newspaper clippings dating to the 1920s, '30s, and early '40s. Mostly OpEd pieces, words of wisdom, points of advice; some interesting essays about the lack of US involvement in European conflict prior to WWII. And a lot of poems, a good portion of which are in German. I've decided that the collector of these scraps is a woman. Clippings of "Meditations of a Married Woman" by Helen Rowland give that much away. It surprises me how modern the ideas are, and I'm not sure if that's reflective of the collector or the times she lived in; or maybe where she lived, here in Wisconsin.

I find kindred interest in many pieces. Most don't have author's bylines. One I liked does: Ella Wheeler Wilcox. She was prolific, and best known for the lines: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone" (Solitude). Turns out she's a Wisconsin poet. Maybe kindred after all.

I Am  by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I know not whence I came,
   I know not whither I go,
But the fact stands clear
That I am here
   In this world of pleasure and woe,
And out of the mist and murk
   Another truth shines plain-
It is in my power
Each day and hour
  To add to its joy or its pain.

I know that the earth exists,
   It is none of my business why.
I cannot find out
What it's all about-
   I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing,
   I am here for a little space,
And while I stay
I would like, if I may,
   To brighten and better the place.

The trouble, I think, with us all
   Is the lack of a high conceit:
If each man thought
He was sent to the spot
   To make it a bit more sweet,
How soon we could gladden the world,
   How easily right all wrong,
If nobody shirked
And each one worked
   To help his fellows along.

Cease wondering why you came;
   Stop looking for faults and flaws;
Rise up today
In your pride and say
   "I am part of the first great cause.
However full the world
   There is room for an earnest man;
It had need of me
Or I would not be-
   I am here to strengthen the plan."

poem a.k.a. Why and Wherefore
copyright 1896