Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas The Night Before Gluten Free Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas…well, actually it was four o’clock in the morning, but technically by the calendar, the night before Christmas. Not a creature was stirring… except Marty and his computer mouse. The children were not all snuggled in their beds; rather, Marty was wide awake talking online to his “Sleepless in Spokane” friend. I woke up, and the lights downstairs were all ablaze, so I sprang from my bed to turn the lamps off. The moon cast long, lavender shadows in the yard below. Tom was wide awake, so I commented on the beauty of the night. With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, he said, “Let’s go for a walk!” Hearing the word “walk,” Chester sprang to his feet, and down the driveway he flew like the down of a thistle. He would have liked nothing more than to have scared up some reindeer.

Down Ames Hill Road we sauntered in the 16-degree cold, under the light of the moon and crunching snow. Chester barreled ahead, and every so often we gave him a whistle so as not to awaken the neighbors, sound asleep with thoughts of sugar plums and credit card debt in their heads. We turned around at Fox Road and walked back to the top of the porch, through the stone wall. Back inside, we stoked up the fire and had a marvelous early morning breakfast of Against The Grain Dairy Free bagels and eggs. By 9AM, Tom climbed back into bed and shuttered the sash. Although it was Christmas Eve, I’m still a slave to gender stereotypes, so I went down to the basement to put in a new load of wash. In the quiet of the half-sleeping household, I accidentally snapped the dryer door shut with a “pop.” Much to my astonishment,

Up in the living room, I heard such a clatter.
I sprang upstairs to see what was the matter.
When, what horror to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Chester crouched, quivering on the stairs with fear

Strewn across the carpet was the eight-foot tree
The lights all askew, the ornaments thrown free
His eyes how they rounded, his hackles so hairy.
His tail between his legs, and countenance so scarry.
His droll little mouth was as wide as could go,
The color of his nose, blanched like the snow.

Best I could deduce was that the dryer door startled Chester, asleep by the tree. He must have jumped up, entangled himself in a dangling LED strand, panicked, and took the tree with him. Alex was upstairs, so I called out to him for help. He came down the stairs and viewed the wreckage.

“I need some help,” I said, mopping up the tree stand water with multiple dish towels.

“Let’s just throw it back in the woods!” Alex said indignantly, referring to the fact that it has been a family tradition since moving to Vermont, to cut our Christmas tree off our land.

As far as he was concerned, the tree was now “damaged goods,” but he reluctantly held it up for me, as I readjusted it in the stand, and wired it to the wall with some floral wire (no way that puppy is going to fall again, I thought, as the crashing tree was already on the verge of ruining Alex’s Christmas.) I picked up the remarkably intact glass ornaments that skidded to a stop across the room, and in no time at all, had the chaos restored to normal. Chester wouldn’t even enter the room for hours, and still won’t venture within five feet of the tree.

Somehow, when we drift off to sleep tonight with visions of dairy free bagels dancing in our heads, it will seem anticlimactic. Christmas Eve 2010 will be the year we took an invigorating walk in the moonlight, and the tree took an invigorating spill, all before the day got started. Okay, so I have a psychotic dog and a lop-sided Charlie Brown tree, but we have so much more to be thankful for.

Happy Holidays from Against The Grain!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gluten Free-Dairy Free Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Pudding

It is trying to snow outside this morning, but it is rapidly turning to rain. It is kind of odd that it is mid-December in Vermont, and the ground here in the southern part of the state is bare. What better thing to do on a damp, rainy day than to bake a traditional favorite that will warm the house with the smells of times past: bread pudding. Bread pudding is an old-fashioned dish that was developed mainly to use up the stale ends of bread, back when bread used to be all-natural and not loaded with anti-molding agents and preservatives.

This bread pudding recipe has a few twists, though. It is gluten free, dairy free, and made from our new gluten and dairy free cinnamon raisin bagels. They’ve been on the market only a few weeks, but boy will you want to seek them out. In our household, where we can choose among all of our bread flavors for breakfast, the cinnamon raisin bagels have risen to the top. For me, a toasted bagel with my homemade rose petal jelly is simply a divine way to begin the day. But I am digressing. For all of you out there who cannot eat dairy, this Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Pudding is the ultimate bread pudding treat.

The following recipe includes an optional ingredient: bourbon. It adds a richness and complexity to the dessert if you want to wow your guests, but it is excellent without it. If you choose to include the bourbon, reduce the coconut milk by ½ C. Move over Paula Deen!

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Cinnamon-Raisin Bagel Pudding

1 Bag Against The Grain Gourmet GF/DF Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (6)
1 C raisins, pre-softened in boiling water (or soaked overnight in 1 C of bourbon)
3 C unsweetened coconut milk
¾ C brown sugar
2 Tbsp pure VT maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs
1 cup toasted coconut (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Slice bagels into ½ to ¾ inch cubes. Toss with raisins and cinnamon and cover the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
3. Heat coconut milk, water, and sugar in saucepan until it begins to foam.
4. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and vanilla.
5. Wisk eggs into mixture, beating constantly until uniformly blended.
6. Pour mixture over bagels and top with toasted coconut (optional)
7. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
(To toast coconut, spread in large skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often until coconut is evenly browned.)