Thursday, October 27, 2011


Don't forget to catch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" tonight on ABC.  I'll be flying to Fresno, CA for a quick two day conference and will miss it.  Maybe the airline will have TV? 

Speaking of spooky things, here's a few lenticular (lens) clouds from a few weeks ago.  People sometimes mistake these for UFOs when they are in their best form. 
Lenticular Clouds

Gold Nugget Squash

Another fun find from my weekly CSA veggies this fall was a gold nugget squash.  I just followed the directions on the sticker that said to fill it with applesauce and honey and bake it for an hour.  I didn't have applesauce, so I put in some apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and honey.  I made some honey-water and wiped it around the edges so it didn't dry out.  We each ate a half for dessert with a spoon.  It was quite tasty!
Gold Nugget Squash

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies

I made pumpkin pie smoothies last weekend.  I took the recipe from here.  It actually tasted like a pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Three Ways

We got lots of interesting fall veggies from our CSA (community supported agriculture), including a cute pie pumpkin, a Yugoslavian finger squash, and a spaghetti squash.  Just last weekend my good friend and I were wandering the farmers market and she suggested I get one of these spaghetti squashes.  Good thing I waited until they came to me in my weekly box of veggies! 

Baked spaghetti squash
A spaghetti squash is shaped like a watermelon, but is much smaller.  When you bake it, the squash's meaty part becomes the texture of spaghetti noodles!  I cut mine in half, baked it face down in 1/2 inch of water in a casserole pan at 375 for 45 minutes, then flipped them face up for another 15 minutes of baking.  Then I  spooned out the seedy part.  With a fork, I scraped away at the inside of the squash.  It will be like spaghetti!

I threw mine in a frying pan with some butter.  I did mine three ways, one with butter and garlic, one with pesto I had in my freezer from our garden basil, and one with red sauce, which I had just made fresh using almost the last of the tomatoes from the garden (and the garden of a friend).
Spaghetti squash three ways:  butter and garlic, tomato sauce, and pesto.

Blanching garden tomatoes for my red sauce.
Pasta sauce is so much better made at home, from scratch.  It smells amazing
We both liked it!  It reminded me of the texture of thin rice noodles.  Surprisingly, it had very little squash flavor, which I am not a huge fan of anyway.  If I'd do anything different, I'd just salt it a bit more.  I wonder if you could use it in desert dishes?  This was a fun, new, gluten free find for me. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eggplant Parm Gluten Free

Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) gave us a cute little eggplant.  It was actually a little different in color than the standard deep purple eggplants at the grocery store, same on the inside, though.  I made eggplant parm two nights in a row, so I thought I'd share the recipe, since it is eggplant season in Colorado at least.  This little guy made enough for Dave and I, then the next night I used a regular sized one for three people and we were overly full by the end of the meal.

CSA eggplant
My Eggplant Parm Recipe:
Lots of olive oil
1 eggplant
1/2 cup gluten free flour
2 cans stewed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
dash leaf oregano
dash salt
mozzarella (buffalo or regular)

In a pot, heat a small amount of olive oil.  Add three cloves garlic, diced.  Just before the garlic turns brown, add stewed tomatoes.  I used one small jar of tomatoes that I had canned from my garden, plus one fat can of petite diced tomatoes from the grocery store. Add a dash of oregano and salt.  Let this simmer. 

In a frying pan, begin warming a thick layer of olive oil for frying your eggplant.  Preheat your oven to 400. 

Cut your eggplant into 1/2 inch slices (thinner=better).  In a small bowl, pour 1/2 cup of jules gluten free flour and a dash of salt.  Push each eggplant slice into the flour, coating both sides.  Once the oil in your frying pan is hot and ready to fry, place your eggplant slices in the oil.  I let it fry about five minutes on both sides, or until brown.  If your pan is small, you might have to do a few batches to get all of your eggplant fried.  As you take them out, you can put them on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.  I usually have to add olive oil a few times because the eggplant really likes to soak it up. 

Take out your favorite casserole or cake pan.  I used a 9X9 for the small batch.  Ladle a layer of your tomato sauce into the bottom of the pan.  Add a layer of fried eggplant, cover with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, then more red sauce, then more eggplant, sauce, and top with cheese.  I like to create eggplant stacks, so it comes out as four, two-high stacks of eggplant. (About four slices total per person.)  Bake for 20 minutes, or until your top cheese has browned. 
Serve with garlic bread!  Dave made an amazing gluten-filled chiabata bread for himself.  I usually take a slice of Udi's, butter it, garlic salt it, put a little bit of mozzarella cheese on it and throw it in the toaster oven so it is ready with dinner.  Yum!

We also broke out a bottle of home-made mead, which is honey wine we made a year ago.  It was a fantastic combination!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Green Bean Casserole Gluten Free

I was reading Jules Gluten Free's Thanksgiving cookbook, which she gave away for free last week, and it got me thinking that I should start practicing for Thanksgiving.  Really, it means that rather than waiting until Turkey Day to enjoy the goodies, I can start now so I can perfect my recipes.  One challenging dish is the classic French's Green Bean Casserole.  A few years ago, I tried a recipe from the Food Network and not only was it a time consuming recipe, I burned the onions and over salted the whole thing.  Classic green bean casserole uses cream of mushroom soup, which usually has flour (gluten) in it.  The French's Fried Onions are also gluten filled.  

I went to Sprouts, who have 25% off all  packaged gluten free products right now and found Gluten Free Cafe Cream of Mushroom Soup.

I grabbed some French cut green beans to go with it and I was all set.

At home I threw some olive and canola oil in a frying pan so the bottom was covered.  I cut up some sweet yellow onions that came from my organic community supported agriculture farm.  I threw the onions in some milk to wet them, then tossed them in Jules Gluten Free Flour and some salt.  I put them in the frying pan and fried them until they were golden brown.

In my casserole pan, I mixed a can of cream of mushroom with two cans of green beans and threw it in the microwave because I was too hungry to wait an hour for the stuff to warm up in the oven.  When the onions were crispy, I tossed them ontop of the warm casserole and put it in the oven for 15 minutes at 350.

Sorry for the bad lighting, I couldn't find my camera, and apparently Dave's is too smart for me. 
Yum!  The properly made fried onions and authentic cream of mushroom soup really made this dish just how I remember it in my pre-gluten free days.  Eight years without proper green bean casserole made this experience positively heavenly.  I'm hungry just talking about it.  I think I will need to "practice" again soon!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Need advice on using a blog for class

As I go through the semester, I have all of these great ideas on how to improve my course for NEXT semester.  However, it's still possible I could try a few of these things this semester if I act quickly.  I'm throwing this out there in case any of you have ideas or experience with this sort of thing.
I'd like to use a wiki or a blog for my climate change course.  The wiki or blog would serve a few purposes.
  1. A place to link to readings and have a place for students to comment on the readings.
  2. A place to post summaries of class lectures/discussions
  3. A blog roll of climate change blogs
  4. A twitter feed of a few good climate change tweeters
  5. A place for student generated content.  
Let me expand on #5.  I have 30 students and they each were assigned a country, which belongs in a group with three other countries.  For example, the European Union, East Africa, the Middle East, Coastal South Asia, Large Asian Countries, Developed Countries, West Africa, and Latin America.  Each group then has four countries under its heading.  Each student is responsible for writing four papers throughout the semester on their country and then joining with their sub-group to decide on main talking points they can bring to the table for class discussions.  First, before we can get to discussions, they were assigned to write a paper and give a two minute presentation (2 slides) on the climate of the country and how it shapes that country's culture and society. 

I also want students to get a feel for other students' regions, not just their own, so I need a place where they can check out the other regions beyond our two minutes in class for each country and be able to add their comments or suggestions for peer review.

After the climate and culture assignment, they have upcoming assignments on climate change contribution, climate change impacts, and climate change mitigation and adaptation for their respective countries.  These assignments will culminate in a sort of in class United Nations discussion/debate on policy.

Okay, now you know what I want.  I imagine this colorful space where students can create their own page for their country, covering the four parts of the project.  I imagine a space where I am the center of control and can have the latest reading or announcement for them as the first thing they see, but the pictures for the countries in there peripheral view that they can click on.  (I also want those countries organized in their groups.)  I think having this be public would be fun, but not required. 

I have experience with pbworks wikis, blogging, and most commonly I just write my own html for course webpages.  I need a space where introductory level students can add material without having to code.  I want it to be pretty, welcoming, easy to navigate, students spending lots of time there because they keep finding more information to check out and comments to make.  Any thoughts?  Can I have that much control on a blog?  or does the newest post HAVE to appear on top?  A wiki is not as pretty as a blog and I think they are not as intuitive to use.  I'm about to dive into a bunch of peer reviewed literature on the topic and am hoping to find some ideas and current class blogs or wikis, but any help you have now will save me time!  If you were my student, would this whole idea of public publishing of class work freak you out?  Would it make you try harder?  I tried experimenting with this blog on how much control I have over content placement on the main page... I have no control.  Help!  What platform would be ideal?