quinoa salad

Let’s talk about quinoa.

Quinoa is a gluten free miracle “grain” and nutritional superfood that has garnered much attention lately – recently society has pretty much moved on from asking how to pronounce it (keen-wa or keen-oh-a?) to instead asking how to actually cook it.  Everywhere I look I see people singing its praises as we happily pay for a box of the pseudocereal’s protein packed seeds to use in place of more traditional grains that are off limits to gluten free folk.  Personally, I’ve never been a total convert.  I don’t mind quinoa, and think it’s very well suited to certain types of dishes, but I don’t jump up and down shouting from the rooftops about how amazing it is.  All the acclaim for its health benefits keep me buying it (just like I buy carrots and kale even though I despise them), hoping one day I’ll find that dish that lets me truly fall in love.

But quinoa’s story is more complex than it may at first seem.  Quinoa, a plant more closely related to beets and spinach than wheat, originates in the Andes mountains of South America – Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile.  Due to its long history as an integral part of the Andean food culture, deemed the “mother grain” by the Inca, today it is considered one of the “ancient grains” (other gluten free ancient grains include amaranth, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, chia and teff, even though not all these are technically grains, but some are also seeds like quinoa).  Quinoa outlived the Incan empire and survived the Spanish conquistadors, and today is an important crop for several populations in the Andes, where it stayed relatively unknown to the rest of the world until quite recently.

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hot chocolate

I had a post all ready in my mind for the past couple weeks on this quinoa salad I made, our relationship with quinoa, and the effects of its globalization.  It’s a complex issue especially for us gluten free folk who often laud quinoa as the “miracle ‘grain'” for its nutritive value and just the fact that it’s one of the few starches that is naturally ok for GF people to eat.  But that will have to wait a bit.  Actually I’ve had (and still have!) a lot to say the past few weeks that I haven’t been able to type in this space, and I hope you can muster a little more patience for me.  Julia Child once said that no matter what happens in the kitchen, one should never apologize and this blog is a virtual extension of my kitchen, so I am doing my best to refrain from actually apologizing for not posting.  So why the all the pleas and protestations for time?

You see, last month I learned first-hand the perils of baby fingernails.  Babies don’t have the same sense of the “bubble of space” as adults do, and even though we do our best to keep baby girl’s nails short and trim, one evening as I had just picked her up from a nap, she turned quickly and promptly poked her finger in my eye, scratching my cornea. After various hospital trips, etc. I got to be a pirate for a few days with the ever attractive gauze patch taped over my face, and slowly things improved and by about a week later I wasn’t in pain anymore.  We decided to commence with our Christmas plans, and enjoyed a lovely week up in the mountains watching for Santa.


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Coconut Cream Pie

by Jenn on January 8, 2013

in Dairy Free,Desserts,Gluten Free

Coconut Cream Pie

This post was years in the making.  YEARS.  You see, once a long time ago, when my husband first figured out that I could make food he liked (this was before we were engaged), I had asked him what he wanted me to make him.  “A coconut cream pie,” he said, “it’s my favorite type of pie.” And yet, as simple as it would be to just bake one pie, whenever I thought of making a coconut cream pie, I just couldn’t muster the motivation to do it. Opportunity after opportunity went by, and I just could not get in the mood to make this pie.  In fact, after enough time had passed it became a running joke between us, the pie that never would be.

And now here we are, a good five years later, halfway across the world, parents, and I still had yet to make him his coconut cream pie.  I don’t know what struck me over the holiday but out of the blue, I just decided I would do it.  Why not? What was I holding on to by not making this?  The fear that I would disappoint him in his favorite type of pie ever? No, he’s pretty amenable to most everything I cook.  Maybe it was just the finality of it, that after all this time there’s now been so much expectation that it will seem a bit anticlimactic if it’s not the absolute awesomest coconut cream pie in the world.

Last weekend I decided  that I might as well give it a go at this point – I mean it’s been five years, it’s about time I finally give the man his dessert :)

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Twelve of 2012

by Jenn on December 30, 2012

in Gluten Free,Photography

I love doing year end roundups – this year, how about one for each month? Here is my favorite post for each month of 2012 – the recipes I have loved the most, and those that I loved writing the most – Hope it’s been a great 2012 for you and wish you all the best for 2013!


Creamy Cauliflower Soup – because I love hearty soups that celebrate otherwise mundane veggies :)


Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke and Celeriac Soup – my foray into root vegetables found their delight with jerusalem artichokes!

Cauliflower Jerusalem Artichoke Soup


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Bonnes Fêtes!

by Jenn on December 29, 2012

in Beverages,Gluten Free

Christmas Cheer - Kir Royale


I hope everyone had a very merry holiday, filled with fantastic glorious food to eat!  We spent ours in a cozy chalet high in the Swiss Alps, remote and cut off from the world (not even cell signal or internet) – a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.  We went snowshoeing, sledding down mountains, drank homemade hot chocolates, played silly games of Uno, and had a roast duck feast for our Christmas dinner with friends :)

Swiss chalet

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Fire and Ice

by Jenn on December 21, 2012

in Photography

View from Jungfraujoch

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. — Robert Frost