Gluten, Dairy and Soy Free Pancakes

Last year, my son was diagnosed with a mild case of Autism, ever since we have been doing everything we could to help him develop and so he can carry on a normal life in the future. While no one knows exactly what causes Autism, there have been studies showing that in certain cases a Gluten Free diet can help the child reduce the symptoms along with various forms of therapy and proper stimuli. What is difficult about the Gluten Free diet is that there are so many products on the market that uses it, which leads to people trying this diet cook more. Because we can’t find a Gluten free breakfast place, I make Gluten free pancakes on the weekends for my son and wife. My son loves these things, I will make him a short stack and he will go to town on them; it’s one of my favorite times of the week.

Ingredients:

1 cup of Almond milk

1 1/4 cup of rice flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup extra as needed

2 teaspoons of salt

Instructions:

1. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and pour in almond milk and oil, then whisk in the eggs, allow to sit for 15 minutes.

2. In an oiled skillet on low-medium heat, pour in about 2/3 of a cup and wait for the bubbles to form(1min- 2min) then flip and allow other side to cook(30 sec).

3. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Just try to get this pancake without getting your fingers bit!

Additional Notes:

1. My son, just like any two-year old, will find a way to make a mess of anything. That being said, I like to add about 1/4 cup of agave nectar to the batter to avoid the use of messy syrup all over my couch later.

2. I particularly like the almond milk because of the strong nutty flavor it gives to the pancakes, but soy, rice and even coconut are fine substitutes.

3. Making simple meals like this is a great chance for you to bond with your child and make memories, I always like to let my son help me whisk, crack eggs (hand over hand) and we count the pancakes when we are done.

 

I feel like it is important as a parent of a child with Autism, to go through the same dietary changes that the child goes through so when he/she grows up they will have the habit developed and you won’t need to worry about them “cheating”. It is all a matter of practicing what you preach.

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Gadgets that No One will ever need……ever

Every once in a while, I find myself bored enough to go looking at kitchen gadget stores and see if there is anything worth buying, but more often than not I end up being baffled by the overwhelming stupidity of both the designer and consumer. WHO NEEDS THIS JUNK!!??!!

                                                      

The first thing I want to address is the Kuhn Rikon company, while they may make a quality product the methodology behind the marketing is nothing short of insulting. They have two knives out that are exactly the same but they repackage them differently: The Pumpkin Knife and The Watermelon Knife. They are both serrated knifes, the only difference is one has Jack-o-lanterns cut out of the side of the blade and the other has watermelon seeds cut out of the side and both are about $25. It is mind-boggling to think that someone can ba convinced to buy two identical knives for two different purposes for occasions that will probably happen less than 4 times a year total.  

                                                                                 

Moving on, there is standard of at least five cleaning implements that everyone should have in their home: paper towels, sponge, mop/mop bucket, broom/dustpan and steel wool. With these five, there shouldn’t be any mess that you cannot take care of unless you are slaughtering your own animals you should be fine. So when I see a tool that is called a Pan Scraper, I find myself taken aback. It is a pad with a nylon blade underneath and a handle sticking out the top the only thing that comes to mind is, “why?”. It shouldn’t be too difficult to grab the sponge or steel wool and clean a pan, save yourself the space the scraper would take up plus the $15 and change.

Another item I came across was the Egg Poacher Cup, I am going to say this once, “Get a slotted spoon!!”. There is NO reason for this gadget to exist, even if you have a medical condition that requires you to eat a poached egg every day, there is no logical purpose that explains why you would buy a $5 slotted lattle over a $1 slotted spoon.

Finally, quite possibly the most pointless of the pointless gadgets of all time, the Broom Cake Tester. It is a broom that you pull out the straws to dip in the cake to see if it is done. Why would anyone want a $14 mini  broom sitting on their counter top? I get that it is somehow meant to be festive but I cannot think of much conversation being brought up about the broom:

Guest: “Hey, what is that?”

You:” It is my Broom Cake Tester, I shove one of the straws into the cake to see if it is done”

Guest:”Why didn’t you just buy some long skewers at the dollar store?”

You:(shame sets in from realizing how stupid of an idea a Broom Cake Tester is and how you are probably one of the few people who actually bought one)

Medi-Mac

No doubt about it, 9 times out of 10 ladies, if your boyfriend/husband is mad at you, it can all be taken care with some Mac&Cheese. I would bet you could break his prized T.V. and set the carpet a blaze and you won’t hear a word because he’ll be too busy eating… Okay maybe not that extreme, but we are easy to please and an argument would definitely be resolved as soon as pasta and cheese come into the negotiations.

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

2 lb macaroni pasta, uncooked

½ lb Munster cheese, cubed

2 cups feta cheese

1 lb of grape tomatoes, quartered and broiled

1 bunch of fresh basil, thinly sliced

1 bunch of Parsley, chopped

½ gal Whole milk

½ lb unsalted butter

½ lb all purpose flour

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Salt to taste

2 Tbsp Olive oil

Instructions:

1. Cook macaroni pasta, strain, shock in ice water, strain again, toss with oil then chill in the refrigerator in a baking dish.

2. In a deep sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat, then add the onions and garlic to sweat for 4 min on low heat.

3. Stir in flour until well incorporated and continue to stir for another 5 min.

4. Quickly add in the milk and continue to stir until it reaches the consistency where it covers the back of a spoon, or known as “nape”.

5. Whisk in the Munster, and continue to stir until fully melted, taste and add salt if needed.

6. Add cheese sauce to pasta with the broiled tomatoes, feta, olives and sliced basil, then top with panko.

7. Broil in the oven on a low heat till the bread crumbs have toasted, remove from oven and top with parsley then serve.

 

Additional tips:

1. If you can get the cheese shredded or sliced thin, it would make it easier to melt.

2. It is important to shock the pasta, it stops the cooking process and prevents it from becoming mushy.

 

Steak: My anthem to an under appreciated luxury

There are tons of different things I can say that are my favorite food but a lot of the time it turns out to be a kind of puppy-love situation, something I can say in the heat of the moment but some time later when the fog has lifted and I look back I usually change my tune pretty quick.

Can I really eat sushi all the time? probably not.

Do I want nothing but pizza for all three meals? eh…

I would have to say that the only thing I will never get board with, use and abuse, is steak. It is something primal, biting into a juicy hunk of steak cooked to the perfect bloody medium rare that sends me into a shark like feeding frenzy; pupils dilated and rolling into the back of my head goodness. You know have found your favorite food when you can attribute all of your senses to eating it, The look of a Bone in Ribeye glistening with fat and yet having a thick crust from the right amount of course salt and pepper and the smell of the seared flesh from the perfect grill marks. AND THE SOUND!!!! It is something that all meat eaters know about but never really talk about, a crescendo of flesh being grind and cut by your teeth, like the “totems” in Inception, the sound lets you know this is real; it isn’t chicken or fish…but steak. There is no question in my mind, I could have a terrible day of endless failure but if I can come home to a sweaty rocks glass of Johnny Walker Black Label and a thick Porter House, that is a win in my book. Maybe I sound a bit dramatic to some, that’s okay, those who share my passion can agree that the “perfect steak experience” ranks up with all the other extreme moments of euphoria be it physical, emotional, religious or drug induced.

I weep for those who choose to deprive themselves of the pleasure like the vegetarians and vegans. I am reminded of passage from an article I read about a certain chef’s opinion on vegans, “there are thousands of cows being killed whether you like it or not, and you rather let them go to waste so you can feel better about yourself?”. When I went to Mexico for my grandfather’s funeral a few years back, I was lucky enough to go see an animal get butchered from life to death. I say lucky because it gave me a true perspective on what needs to be done to have that steak on the plate. I took no joy in watching the animal being destroyed but I felt much more appreciative of every meat I have had since. Some would think that eating meat is a form of senseless killing, when in actuality it is doing nothing with the animal afterwords aside from mounting it’s head on a wall that makes it senseless.

So I say again, I may sound a bit dramatic when I talk about how good steak can be, but I like to think of it as honoring the animal and treating it with respect by appreciating every last bite. While the act of picking up steaks at the grocery store may seem innocuous to some, when really it is a gift and luxury that should be praised accordingly.

Keeper’s Japanese Restaurant

I have mentioned in past reviews that the culinary scene in the Sugar Land area is fairly limited. The list of dining options consist of  one note chain-restaurants, over priced fine dining in town center and restaurants that just fall short of hitting their mark. I believe that there is hope for Sugar Land, and that hope can be found at the corner of Austin Pkwy and Highway 6 across the street from the H.E.B. Depending on how long someone has lived in the area might know the location as, ‘where Demassi’s used to be’ or ‘where The Original Pasta Co. used to be’. Now people will know it as where Keeper’s is.

For most people like myself, sushi is a serious addiction that cannot be done in moderation but indulged, and unfortunately this costs about $50 plus tip. I was aware of sushi happy hours but the time I had to enjoy sushi and sake from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. is gone and replaced with work and being a father. When I heard about the concept of a reverse happy hour,  Having access to low priced but high quality sushi and alcohol at an hour past my son’s bedtime made me feel like the first person to discover fire, it was amazing!!!

The reverse happy hour works just like any other only it is from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.; sushi pieces, rolls, and platters are laid out in groups of flat prices ranging from $1.50 to $8 which helps you keep track of what you are spending.

The sushi chefs are fast and efficient, and if you are sitting at the bar there is almost no wait from when you place the order to enjoying bite after bite of fresh seafood and vinegar rice. As a fan of sushi, nothing makes me happier than seeing a big piece of fresh tuna draped over rice. Though the prices may be reduced the quality and portions stay the same, showing that Keeper’s knows how to keep the customers happy.Though the high quality food is practically flying at you the bar tender is lacking in speed, with a dining room less than 1/4 full, we waited for a good 15 minutes for two orders of the same cocktail. That being said, the selection of drinks was very impressive especially with $2 domestic beers.

Sugar Land foodies should begin to keep an eye out for more of great places like these opening up that serve great food outside of the Town Center area that won’t break the bank before you order an appetizer. Though the only serious strike against Keeper’s is a bar tender with no sense of urgency, remember that a happy hour at a bar is for cocktails and a happy hour at a sushi bar is for sushi.

 

 

 

Star Pizza #2

This is probably the shortest review I will ever do, but the other day I was driving down Washington avenue looking for a place to eat lunch when the Star Pizza sign caught my eye.

I had no idea that they had opened another location, and it really blew my mind when I realized there was another location about two blocks away from the one on Washington.

Just to get it out of the way, the pizza was awesome, the same award winning pizza we have all come to know and love is alive and well in the Heights of Houston.

Not too saucy or greasy, just right with the ratio of absorbent bread to flavorful sauce and toppings which should be the standard for pizza around the world.

Now while the food was impeccable and flawless, the restaurant it self was another story.

The first thing I see, as I walk towards the building, is a waitress chain smoking and arguing with her ex-boyfriend over the phone about how she doesn’t care how much he still thinks about her every night it is just over…great first impression.

once I got inside it looked like a gutted out restaurant with decorations from a Houston tourist shop and a sports bar that exploded all over the walls, it seems like they trying to capture the unique feel and style of the original location in Shepard Plaza.

This just comes off as trying to hard and faking this slightly off-beat funk that patrons of the original have come to know.

It was the most surreal feeling I have ever had from a restaurant and normally don’t dwell on such things like decore but this was like realizing how weird a dream was as you describe it.

I was eating a Star pizza that I ordered off a Star Pizza menu sitting in a building that said it was Star Pizza but it was clearly anything but.

The bottom line is this, places like Star Pizza are like any great “buddy-cop” or action movie, the studios make sequels to get more money, but at the end of the day did you really need to watch “Lethal Weapon 4”?

Watermelon Cocktail

Ingredients:

1 large watermelon

2 large oranges, juiced and zested

2 liters lemon lime soda, as needed

2 cups Raspberry flavored Vodka

Instructions:

  1. Stand the watermelon upright, and lop off a small portion of the top to make a base, then flip the melon over so it can sit on its flat side.
  2. Cut a zigzag patter around the rounded top of the melon so it comes off as one piece.
  3. Begin to scoop out melon flesh and place in a separate container, make sure to leave at least three inches from the base as you get to the bottom, store empty melon shell in the fridge with the top.
  4. Blend the melon flesh in a blender and pass through a strainer saving the juice.
  5. Combine with orange juice, zest and vodka and allow sitting for at least 30 min in the fridge.
  6. Stir juice once and return to melon shell and fill up the remaining space with soda and, then serve.
Additional Thoughts:
* The longer you allow the juice to sit in the melon, the more concentrated the melon flavor becomes.
* Using a ice cream scoop is much more effective when you are scooping out the melon.