Saturday, July 27, 2013

Going Gluten Free?

My husband gave up gluten about 2 months ago.  He has been battling reflux and some digestive issues for years and though I don't think he's full out celiac, I was curious if he had gluten sensitivity.  He rolled his eyes a bit but decided to give it a go.  Remarkably his reflux symptoms started to go away.  He heard about the book Wheat Belly and ordered it (and the accompanying cookbook).  He had doubts about reading the actual book after learning the gist of it in the cookbook introduction, but became hooked on the book.  Many of my quiet evening became interrupted by, "Kris, you gotta hear this..." I was curious and started to do a little wheat free research myself. 
We drove to Halifax a couple of weeks ago and I brought along the Wheat Belly book for myself.  Somewhere between my bagel at Salisbury at noon and pulling into the hotel parking lot at 3 I decided to go for it, like right then and there.  I find if I think about it too much and plan for a diet change I take too long to actually do it.  I didn't want to think about my last bagel or my last pasta.  Fortunately my introduction to gluten free eating was a fantastic one.  My husband found this fabulous restaurant in Dartmouth called The Wooden Monkey which specialized in whole foods type of eating.  It was delicious.  Two weeks later I haven't looked back.  I don't find it particularly difficult to eat without wheat.  The thing that surprises me most is that I'm simply not hungry.  I'm not always wanting to reach for a snack to tide me over until the next meal.  I'm still on the fence about if I'm going gluten free or just wheat free (there is a difference).  I'm also trying to not eat any gluten-free products that are full of processed fillers.  It is a very different way of looking at food.  Fortunately, there is a resurgence of popularity of eating "real" food.  More and more I want to cut out processed foods and sugars too.  I hope as this next phase of our cooking life enfolds that I can find some really great recipes to share with you.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Movie Popcorn Birthday Cake!

My son had a movie themed birthday for his 9th birthday party.  What better to accompany a movie party than a bowl of popcorn looking cake?  This turned out to be super easy and the kids just loved it.  This cake was 3 layers tall.  The bottom two layers I made in 9 inch round cake pans and the top layer was baked in a pie plate, a little shallower, but slightly wider to give it a bit of a bowl effect.
I frosted the layers with a little chocolate icing to stick them together.
Using a serrated knife to cut the rounded top off the layers.

Frosting the cake with vanilla frosting.  I did two layers of frosting.  The first layer gets a little crummy.  I let it set in the fridge before adding a second vanilla frosting layer.
Letting the first layer set in the fridge.
Meanwhile, my kids and I started to work on the popcorn top.  We took mini marshmallows and squished them together with our fingers in 3s to make it look like popcorn.
I mixed a little sugar with a few drops of yellow food coloring (mixing well) to make the "butter".
We then mixed the marshmallows and yellow sugar together.
The cake with its second layer of frosting on.
I unrolled Strawberry Fruit by the Foot and used my pizza cutter to cut the right size strips to make the striped bowl sides.
We then took Nibs and circled them around the top.  We placed the "popcorn" marshmallows all over the top of the cake until it looked full.  I sprinkled a bit more of the yellow sugar on top to give it that real buttery look.  Yes, you can see I used Betty Crocker's pre-made icing for my cake.  I often do as it just makes it easier. 
I then kept the cake in the fridge to keep it nice and firm until it was time for the party.  I usually make my cake a day ahead of time to give me plenty of time to set up for the party, not worrying about the cake too.
My son (in the middle) with a couple of friends at the party.  They thought the cake was pretty cool, and tasty too.