Why, Yes! That Gluten-Free Pasta Is Made With Mesquite Flour!

Mexican Chocolate Filled Vanilla Bean Mesquite Ravioli With Caramel Sauce

mesquite chocolate ravioli3

I recently taught a gluten-free pasta-making class , in which one of the attendees recounted her growing up years, when she and her siblings gathered fallen mesquite pods from the ground to be given to a Hill Country rancher who used them to feed his livestock. For most of its existence in Texas, however, the tenacious mesquite tree has been the bane of Texas ranchers and farmers. The mesquite tree spreads like a weed, absorbs much of the water from the ground in which it grows, and causes other vegetation to die. Long before this hearty tree gained its bad reputation, the mesquite tree was valued as a important food source among ancient peoples in South America, Mexico, and the Southwestern region of the United States. As I explained in past post about mesquite flour, these people used the dried, ground mesquite pods and beans for drinks, as well as for breads, tortillas, and porridge. Continue reading

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Surprising Wide Variety of Gluten-Free Offerings at Walmart Neighborhood Market: Yes, Walmart!

One cannot begin a blog post praising Walmart without observing that many people have many objections to the

manner in which this giant retailer operates. Some of the grievances may be valid, some may not be. When someone, some organization, or some company gets something right, no matter how many righteous complaints people have about that entity, that object of indignation deserves a bit of praise so that it may be encouraged to continue moving the right direction. In the past couple of years, Wal–Mart has rolled out a series of smaller stores, to which it refers as neighborhood markets. These stores sell groceries, and not much else. Recently, a Walmart Neighborhood Market opened on DeZavala, in NW San Antonio. I usually do not do any of my grocery shopping at Walmart; anyone who has to eat gluten-free probably doesn’t. Out of curiosity, as I was driving past the store last week, I stopped to see what gluten-free products I might find in that store. I was really surprised at what I found. Not only does this little market have a wide variety of shelf-stable name-brand gluten-free products, it prices them so decently that that even people who have to eat gluten-free on a budget will be able to splurge. Following a gluten-free diet is expensive, and not everyone who has to eat gluten-free has an income that easily supports their dietary necessity. Here is where we have to give Walmart a kudo for making a gluten-free diet a little less financially painful. Continue reading

Celebrate (A Gluten-Free) Labor Day In Austin

As the long Labor Day weekend arrives, our thoughts turn to the end of yet another summer, the rhythmic and dependable change of seasons

Guacamole with pumpkin seeds and cojita cheese

Guacamole with pumpkin seeds and cojita cheese at Jack Allen’s Kitchen

marked by such natural signs as the end of peach season, and such human signs as the beginning of a new school year. The end of peach season and the beginning of the new school year each bring with them a certain melancholy, for nothing tastes quite as magically and sweetly as a perfectly ripened peach plucked at the  height of the season, and nothing feels as quite as delicious as summer days void of the burdens that school schedules and responsibilities add to family life. Labor Day, the official end of summer, gives us the opportunity for a last gasp at holiday as another lazy summer slips into the past. Unlike most holidays, Labor Day lacks association with traditional foods, and with temperatures still in the triple digits, a nice way to celebrate Labor Day is to stay out of the kitchen. For gluten-free people spending their holiday in Austin (either as a visitor for the long weekend, or enjoying a “stay-cation”), I recommend two restaurants: Jack Allen’s Kitchen and Milano’s Cafe. Continue reading

Crab and Cream: A Heavenly Combination

Gluten-Free Pasta with Creamy Crab Parmesan Sauce

“A connoisseur of gastronomy was congratulated on his appointment as a director of indirect contributions at Periguex: and, above all, in the pleasure there would be in living in the midst of good cheer, in the country of truffles, partridges, truffled turkeys, and so forth. “Alas!” replied with a sigh the sad gastronomer, “can one really live at all in a country where there is no fresh sea-fish?”
(Jean Antheleme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, 1825)

“Pasta doesn’t make you fat. How much pasta you eat makes you fat.” (Giada De Laurentis, Every Day Italian)

Yes, one really can live in a country where fresh sea fish, and fresh seafood of all types, is unavailable. And here we live, in San Antonio, some 2.5 hours (give or take) from the nearest  coast, and thus from the nearest fresh seafood. When we want to cook seafood, then, we must resort to the previously frozen fish or other seafood we “catch” at HEB, HEB’s Central Market, Whole Foods, Costco, and other such grocery stores. When I decide to serve crab for dinner, I do my crabbing at Costco. Continue reading