Food is important. I am not kidding. It is so important that I have made it a big part of my life - to cook, to share, to EAT. And to EAT more. I really have no desire to cook professionally or for hordes of people on a regular basis, but I sure do appreciate those who do it well! I have been told I could open up my own restaurant with my cooking, but I honestly have no desire to be in the restaurant business. I like good, real food, homegrown and glorious cooking, in my own kitchen.
So FOOOOOOOD... And I invite you to check out my recipe postings in "Cooking" section!
My 17 year old Eli has been gluten-free and refined-sugar-free for over two years now. He is an inspiration in so many ways and his determination in being healthy HIS WAY is another special quality about him. His lifestyle choice is a very familiar journey to me (Familiar Journey is another post in the works). Some have criticized his vigilance. Others have worried if he was even eating at all. He is very lean and svelte, but I am here to tell you that this guy can EAT. Even I have been critical of his choice, but mainly in the beginning of his lifestyle change when I felt put-upon as the mom and cook of the family. Now I go with the flow a bit more and feel confident enough in my cooking that I can face any challenge. Gluten-free and sugar-free?! Hell, why not?
So last night, Christmas Eve, I rose to the challenge big time. I hadn't made a homemade mac-n-cheese in years, and most certainly not one containing lobster. Lobster is to be steamed and eaten the traditional ways in my household by spending exorbitant amounts of time extracting the juicy clumps of meat from sharp shells. Don't forget to have at least one person exclaim disgustingly over the green stuff, or eggs, or whatever else you might find that your lobster has digested before hitting your boiling pot of water and meeting its end. My husband Ron doesn't like lobster because of all the time it takes to eat it. I usually have to prepare something else for him when Eli and I get in the mood to crack something open. But this time, this special time, I sent Ron to The Net Result to buy just the lobster MEAT. What a luxury! It came home all delicious looking, already cooked and ready to go in a bag marked $74.00. Okay. It's Christmas. Besides, I challenge any restaurant to create the amount of lobster mac-n-cheese I did with plenty left over for another dinner tonight! (and the little bit we all had to sneak in for breakfast...)
Gluten-free pasta is readily available so that was no biggie... We do have our favorites, but the one organic brand that actually comes out with the best texture contains soy which is not my favorite ingredient. I made an exception for Christmas Eve because I wasn't going to fuck up my recipe. Add the cheeses and - oh wait! The FLOUR. This almost stopped me in my tracks. I knew that what I was reading in the recipe was basically a bechamel sauce and I HAD to use flour to get the right consistency and flavor. Well, I also had some Pamela's Baking Mix in my pantry and after checking online, realized I could just substitute the same amount of Pamela's for the flour in the recipe. To my surprise (and relief), it was amazing. I was also very glad to remember the millet and flax pizza crust from Sami's Bakery on the bottom of my chest freezer. I defrosted one of those, cut it into pieces and spread the pieces on a pan. I stuck that in the oven at 300 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. I let them cool and then put them in the food processor and made gluten-free breadcrumbs for the topping.
Dessert was something that happened by accident. I had made my coconut macaroons for Eli. I had doubled the recipe and realized: That's gonna be A LOT of macaroons... So I decided to take some and make a pre-baked pie shell. I've done this before so it wasn't a big deal. The shell was ready before the macaroons and of course I decided I MUST fill it with some delicious homemade chocolate pudding! Then it was obvious that I was almost there... I already had a gluten-free crust, now I only needed a refined-sugar-free chocolate pudding.
>>>>> Organic Coconut Sugar To the Rescue
I switched over to using coconut sugar a few months ago. It is what I use in my coffee every morning now. It is what I will sprinkle on an unsweetened bowl of cereal if I want some 'sweet'. I also have used it in baking with success. I have been getting my coconut sugar in 5 pound increments locally from Not Your Sugar Mamas. It was not difficult to just switch out the white sugar in the recipe and use my coconut sugar instead. Usually, I'll use just a smidgen more of coconut sugar because it is not quite as sweet as white cane sugar. For my chocolate pudding recipe, I decided to use the same amount of coconut sugar as the white sugar the recipe called for . My reasoning was that the pudding was going into the coconut macaroon crust that was already pretty sweet (sweetened with honey). This was definitely the right choice. My husband proclaimed it was the best pie he had ever eaten. And Eli, well, he and I split a second piece later in the evening and enjoyed it immensely guilt-free!
I do have to say that I ate a fair amount of mac-n-cheese and my piece and half of pie and did not, at all, feel bloated or overly full. Whether that is due to the lack of gluten or just to my lucky digestive countenance, I don't really know. I'd like to think the elimination of the gluten had something to do with it. I know that the inherent goodness in all my selected ingredients had something to do with it too.
It should come as no surprise that this post's "Special Something" is the recipes for both the Lobster Mac-n-Cheese and the Chocolate Pudding Pie in Macaroon Crust. I hope you can share these special somethings with your special someones sometime soon.
An aside: As I was writing this, lost in my world and zone of typing, I was interrupted by Ron. "Do you want me to go and put it in the oven?" he asked. He was talking about the leftover mac-n-cheese. It was about 2 hours from our normal dinner time. I said it was a little early for dinner. Eli chimed in "not when that's in the house!". Needless to say, we had an early dinner...
Photo Credit: Eli Dagostino Photographer (using my iPhone)