[Start playing your hee-haw music]

Turkeys live on my street. And around my street. And on the next street over – and let me tell you,  the dang things have not figured out that if a car is approaching, they should run off the street, not into it. I digress.

[Cue end of hee-haw, begin playing theme from unsolved mysteries]

But there is a mysterious aura surrounding these turkeys.

Why, you ask?

Every year around the summer they appear, and get larger/fatter accordingly. And then, around the end of every November, they disappear. Surreptitiously.

There are several possibilities here:

1. (Being the most biological reason) They migrate. Because it’s cold. And they only have feathers, unlike their neighbors the woolly sheep. (Do turkey’s even migrate? They’re not very aerodynamic.)

And you thought going home for Thanksgiving was hard...

2. They disappear into the bushes for all of winter. Again, it’s cold. (But the chickens seem to handle it ok…)

3. They hide from me. Seeing how many times I’ve very nearly hit them with my car, I don’t blame them.

Really, dude?

4. [The final and most morbid of all the possibilities] We eat them. Thanksgiving + chubby “free range” turkeys has very few outcomes, most of which don’t really end well for said turkeys. But would you want to eat turkeys that ran around all day? Would they be gamy? And I’ve seen some turkeys that are huge; these, not so much.And I like the idea that they aren’t all, you know, stuffed.

It’s a mystery.

Suggestions?

In other news,  instead of making a complete Thanksgiving dinner a la last year, I will this year be making: pies. Gluten and dairy-free pie recipes to be posted soon, featuring pumpkin pie and healthy(er) pecan pie! (I’m also thinking of making mini mandarin orange curd tarts. We’ll see.)

UPDATE: See the NEWER version of this recipe on my Gluten-Free site, Gluten-Free Dreaming, HERE!

 

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One of my favorite parts of summer is the time when all the blackberry bushes start to ripen, around the end of July. When I was younger we had several bushes in our backyard, and they would always be ready for picking right when we got home from yearly camping trips. Last year I of course had to make a pie with the fresh berries, and it was super-easy because I could use pre-made pie crusts. But this year, being gluten-free and all, things were a little more difficult. I tried searching the internet for a simple gluten-free recipe, but everything either had odd ingredients or was endlessly complicated. I basically try to make everything the same, but just minus a few certain ingredients, like flour and dairy.

Therefore I used my tried and true The Cook Book Berry Pie recipe, with a few changes. *

Gluten-Free Blackberry Pie

Ingredients:

For the bottom crust:41F3Y1ZK9XL._SS500_

– 1 1/8 cups all purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s mixture of several flours)

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/3 cup Earth balance buttery spread (vegan, gluten-free sticks)

3-4 tablespoons cold water

For the crumb topping:

– 1/2 cup all earth_balance_sticks_vegan_store_vivagranolapurpose gluten-free flour

– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

– 3 tablespoons buttery spread

– 1/2 cup GF oatmeal

For the fruit filling:

– 5 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)

– 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (I used half sugar, half Splenda)

– 1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour

– 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel/zest

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. To prepare crust (double recipe for two crusts, though gluten-free dough can be difficult and hard to get a perfect top crust with, hence the crumb topping): Using a food processor (or pasty blender) add flour, butter, and salt, pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal with a few big pieces. With processor running, quickly add the 3 tbsp cold water through feed tube, stop processor when all water in added; scrape sides. Process with two pulses, remove  and shape into a ball. Place in fridge until filling is ready. ** You may need to add extra water with gluten free dough, when I made it I accidentally used 6 tbsp and it came out good.

3. For crumb topping: Stir or use food processor to combine flour, oatmeal, and sugar, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Set aside.

4. For the filling: In large bowl stir together berries (if just washed try to soak up excess water with paper towel), sugar, and thickener (flour). Add lemon peel. GENTLY toss berries until coated.

5. Roll out bottom crust on a well-floured board and transfer to pie-pan; gluten-free dough can be hard to work with, you may have to press it into the pan with a floured hand.  Pour filling into pie shell, cover top with crumb topping.

6. Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil at 375, remove foil and cook for another 25-30 min, until filling bubbles and crust is golden. Filling may be not very firm, but will set up. Cool on a wire rack or in fridge before cutting/eating.

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Ta-Da!

This pie turned out pretty perfect, and I meant to take a picture of the full product, but as you can see, it didn’t last very long….

This pie can also be made with 5 cups of any other berry, with slightly different quantities for the filling:

 

 

Berry Filling      berries     sugar   thickener (flour)
Blueberries       5 cups 2/3 to 3/4 c     3 tbsp
Raspberries       5    3/4 to 1 c     1/3 cup
Mixed Berries       5 1/2 to 2/3 c     1/3 c
2 c blueberries, 2 c halved strawberries,
1 c black/raspberries

 

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If you have leftover berries, freeze them for later by first washing, laying them out on paper towels to dry, patting dry with paper towels, and then storing in an air-tight container.

There’s not too much crust in this recipe, so I’m going to pretend that’s it’s pretty healthy…and I think it is regardless, with all those antioxidants. Enjoy!

* Basic recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens The Cook Book, Limited Edition.

“Pssssst: I’m gluten-free!”

While some might think that everything is being commercialized these days, (which I agree is not always the best thing) the mass marketing of products can sometimes be good!

Case in point: my local Target (what? it’s not like I said Walmart – that’s gross) is in the process of converting to a fresh-market store, and has greatly expanded their food section; basically it’s like a regular grocery store now. I was today very happy to see that, in their baking aisle, they now carry more specialized products, specifically Gluten and Dairy-free baking mixes! So with only ingredients from Target I can actually make Easter cupcakes that my mom and I can, you know, eat. And since I didn’t have to make it all from scratch, it was quite quick and easy.

These may be the cutest cupcakes I have ever made by the way (though I stole the idea from my aunt, who makes them every year, only with carrot cake. Sorry for the not so great photo.)

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So, for all you gluten-and-dairy-avoiding folks out there, here’s the recipe I used.  (to make 12 cupcakes)

For the cake:

Betty Crocker Gluten Free yellow cake mix. Now you might be thinking that since this is a regular supermarket brand that it might be less tasty and healthy than the organic or health-store versions. Not so. So far this is the best (for consistency, taste, and texture) that I’ve come across; Bob’s vanilla mix, for example, was not good – it had a very strange taste and a too-airy texture. The ingredient list is very short for BC, and there’s nothing that you won’t find it any other gluten-free mix.

To prepare the mix, you simply need eggs, gluten-free vanilla (available in many stores these days), and butter. Of course, I used Earth Balance spread, which is everything-free and works great in baking, to make it without dairy. And as I’m always looking for a way to cut fat out of recipes, I used half-butter and half-applesauce (organic, Trader Joe’s with no added sugar; it has an amazing apple smell). I also added a handful or so of sweetened coconut.

– For the icing, I used Betty Crocker whipped Butter-cream, which, surprisingly has no dairy and is labeled gluten-free. (of course, it’s not the healthiest, but it’s better than many of the other icings out there. Though Target does carry a brand of natural vanilla icing I’ve also seen at Whole Foods if that’s more your style.)

– The decoration is made using coconut (dyed green with a couple drops of food coloring) to make the “nest/grass” and jelly beans (with spots) to make the “eggs.” I also threw in a couple marshmallow bunnies, cause they’re darn cute!

The result? The best gluten-free dessert I’ve made yet! Usually I can always tell the difference but these are just as good as any wheaty-milky thing.  The applesauce and coconut don’t stand out as strong flavors, but they kept the cake moist and chewy – it didn’t have the weird-light texture of normal cake mixes.

So, to everyone out there with dietary restrictions, don’t lose hope; just because you can’t eat the original, doesn’t mean you can’t still have some version of your favorite holiday food! (Maybe one day scientists will find out that gluten is actually really bad for people, and we’ll be saved because we already don’t eat it…or something like that.) And it even Target can provide options for those with limitations, who knows what will happen!

Therefore, since Easter is a time of rebirth and renewal; have faith in whatever seems fitting, and Happy Easter! 

P.S. Go for the ears.