Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gluten-Free Review: Breakfast

This is a post I've been wanting to do for a long time. Breakfast is truly the lost meal for me, and I know I'm not the only one. Aside from being allergic to wheat, I'm also massively allergic to bananas and cinnamon. I'm also mildly allergic to apples, so that biting into them usually makes my mouth itch. A lot of gluten-free breakfast items have cinnamon in them for flavour; I swear, it's like a minefield. 

Then there's always the fact that the overwhelming majority of gluten-free baked goods are better used as a paperweight anyway. There's nothing more disappointing than wanting to frisbee the fuck out of something rather than eat it even when you're starving.

And remember, I don't eat meat (or fish). I started eating eggs a year ago, so at least I have that now. I beat them with milk for a cloud-like level of fluffiness when scrambled, and put all kinds of veggies and cheese in them when I make an omelette, every once in a blue moon. 

There are also a number of gluten-free cereals: Rice/Cocoa Krispies, Rice Chex, Corn Pops, Fruity/Cocoa/Cupcake Pebbles (the latter leaves a weird coating in my mouth), etc., but I need more variety than that. So, onward!

1. Pancakes




First up, Maple Grove Farms of Vermont. I found that this one is similar to the Bob's Red Mill mix. The pancakes are super dense, slightly grainy and contain so many carbs that I feel like I'm actually going to die after eating them. Anticipating their slightly off texture and flavour, I added (red) white chocolate chips and blueberries, half hoping the pancakes would turn purple. They didn't. A stray green white chocolate chip (they were Christmas chips) got in, hence the evil diseased zombie pancake. I've thought about watering down this mix and making crepes with it. I'll let you know if those turn out better, but don't hold your breath.


Finally, someone got it right - that's also exactly what I said when I tried Betty Crocker's mixes. I've given so many Mom & Pop Whatever Farms companies a chance and nearly choked to death every time (after paying way more than I needed to), so I'm going with the long-established trusted brand names now. I made these pancakes with chocolate chips, hoping it would soften the blow if they turned out horrible like the other ones. They're no miraculously fluffy homemade or restaurant pancakes, but this is just like regular pancake mix, which is a big deal.
2. Fruit Bars




I came across these at Target while scouring the breakfast aisle one day. They're $3.29 (I think) for 5 bars and are gluten-free. However, these Pomegranate Raspberry ones suck. Don't get these ones, they don't look anything like the picture on the box, and I have the colour swatches to prove it. I opened one up and it was dark green. I hesitated, sniffed it, and ate it, but it didn't really taste like anything. That's because they're really made of apples and pears. Cheap.
Get these ones instead. They're way better, actually taste like fruit and are even a bit tangy.
3. Oatmeal


I've never been a big fan of the texture of oatmeal, but I really like this. It's quick and easy and just the right serving size. Peach is my favourite by far, followed by strawberry. The dehydrated blueberries don't rehydrate all the way, it's kind of sad. And obviously I'll try the banana one day when I no longer feel like living.
4. Kuko Bites




I know "Kuko Bites" isn't a standard category of breakfast comestible, but it probably should be. These things are good. Borders of all places sells them, in their cafe. I'm not sure who else has them. They're kind of like a trail mix cookie. They've got millet and other grains, goji berries and other dried fruits, seeds and cacao nibs. You can feel the nutrition as you're chewing. Nom.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Craft(y) Project: Toy Accessories

So you have some stuff lying around that you don't want to get rid of, but you also don't know what to do with it. Trinkets, baubles, souvenirs, broken jewelry... In this case, arcade prize-type toys.

The first question you should always ask yourself is, "Can I wear this on my head?", followed immediately by, "Can I make it into a necklace or earrings?". 





The hairband above has a bright blue zipper and three little plastic jumping frogs on it.


A broken toy, or wearable storage space?

Screw eyes - those little things with a ring on one side and a tiny screw on the other - are always useful to have around. Don't rule out making holes with nails or drills, glue or tying little bows to things to make them cuter.



For those who aren't into neon-coloured kitsch, vintage dollhouse accessories can also be very wearable. I made this necklace out of a lovely, vintage metal cuckoo clock.

It's surprisingly easy to make something out of nothing, so if you find yourself bored and cooped up in the house one day with only your glue gun and cat to keep you company, clean out some nooks and crannies to find bits and pieces and get constructive!

(a)Musings: Machine Gun Baby

When Born This Way came out a friend directed my attention to some hokey entertainment reviewer's article that erroneously compared it to Madonna's Express Yourself. The guy has clearly never listened to the latter; the sound and the message are completely different.

However, I noticed this and the image stuck with me:


Isn't that funny? I know Madonna's is a hand wrap for boxing, but they're almost mirror images. I have to wonder if Gaga internalised it a few years ago when she more than likely bought a physical copy of Hard Candy and flipped it over to look at the track listing.

Of course I'll happily admit along with everyone else that Gaga has shamelessly ripped off Madonna a number of times: Alejandro recalled La Isla Bonita, until the post-apocalyptic cybergoth video full of homoerotic Nazi imagery came out and made a statement about Don't Ask Don't Tell. My personal favourite is the spoken list of classic Hollywood celebrities in Dance in the Dark, exactly like the one in Vogue.

And yes, of course, an oversexed Madonna was walking around in bras and bustiers with bleach-blonde hair and ridiculous accessories practically before Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was ever birthed. Every time Gaga pulls a blatantly Madonna-inspired stunt, I imagine Madonna sitting on a colossal throne in a dark room somewhere and crushing a chalice with rage, stubbornly refusing to accede said throne.

The thing is, though, aside from the fact that Gaga can actually sing, that she's a pop culture juggernaut. I think she's become so huge not only because she brought more electronic dance music back into the Top 40, but because she rolls everything everyone liked about the 20th century into one raunchy little New York Italian girl with stars in her eyes and a song in her lobster hat. She brings back disco, the 70's and 80's, that good dance music, high fashion, and fearless experimentation while inspiring countless people every day in any given realm.

Bad Romance has a couple of really good examples of what I'm talking about in it. 
I'm pretty bad about keeping up with popular new music releases, but I watched that video 17 times in a row when it came out. It brought tears to my eyes not only because it was truly epic in aesthetics and theme, but because I knew then that she would be around for a long time to come. She and her Haus are so Warholian, like the Factory for my generation but the opposite of underground, which was the whole intention to begin with. 

So anyway, everyone knows that "Psycho", "Vertigo" stick, and "Rear Window" are Hitchcock references, but the white latex skeleton bodysuit at the beginning of the video is a nod to an earlier work, too: Elsa Schiaparelli's skeleton dress. It was part of a 1938 collection she and Salvador Dali collaborated on that also included Dali's famous lobster dress. 



The big eyes that everyone thought were so weird and wonky are Margaret Keane's, recalling a creepy lost child:



Waiting to see what Gaga is going to allude to or reinvent next is probably the best thing about keeping up with her, seeing as how the quality of her music and production fluctuate pretty violently, but as long as she doesn't completely run off the deep end or anything, her aesthetic value should stand.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Recipe: Cheap, Easy Pad Thai

If anyone is reading this, I've been neglecting you big time. Sorry about that. I really have no excuse; I just convalesced, cleaned, went to the movies and the aquarium and found myself only twice in a state of inebriation of one sort or another over spring break. I could tell you about salvia and my Lego friend trying to pull me out of the floor of a moving, laughing room made of jelly beans, but I'll post a recipe instead. 

No, it's not for special brownies.

You will need:

1 package of Nasoya extra firm organic tofu
1 Thai Kitchen microwaveable rice noodle bowl (Spring Onion flavour)
1 egg
Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste & Glaze
Soy sauce (gluten-free)
Additional veggies, spices, etc. to taste.

Slice the package of tofu in half and drain it very thoroughly. Then, slice one half into approx. 1" cubes and drain it a little more. Spray a baking sheet or small, shallow pan with a just a little baking spray and place the cubes so that they're not touching. Drip - and I mean drip - two or three drops of GF soy sauce onto each cube. Do not overdo this unless you like over 9000mg of sodium punching you in the face and ruining your dinner. The equivalent of one of those little soy sauce packets they give you with takeout at Chinese restaurants is the perfect amount. Pop the pan into the oven at 350.

Follow the instructions for the noodle bowl, but save the oil packet. Be sure to microwave the bowl on the highest end of the time suggestion and leave it sitting with the cover still on until the noodles are no longer hard in places. Also, it's better to add just enough water to cover the noodles.

When the tofu cubes start turning brown on the edges, flip them all over and continue baking. When they're almost done on both sides, heat the oil from the packet in a sauce pan (with steep sides, not slopey ones) on medium-low. Mix up an egg in a small bowl or other container and pour it in when the pan is hot enough. When it's not completely done cooking but looks scrambled, pour in the noodle bowl and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the tofu from the pan and just a few tablespoons of the teriyaki glaze; it's very sweet. Stir it all together and you'll notice the sauce thicken immediately.

When you feel it's done, pour it into a bowl and eat it. Garnish it with more green onions or sprouts or something so it doesn't look quite as bland as mine, and you'll swear you just paid $10 for it at a restaurant.



Please note that I am aware that regular soy sauce contains gluten. For this simple recipe to be 100% gluten-free, you should check all of your ingredients and substitute those that you aren't sure about or that don't make the grade.