Saturday, December 29, 2012

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

...or also known as "rump roast", I made this for the first time last night in the new crockpot we got for Christmas (yay!).

No recipe this time as it's naturally GF and you can find the recipe simply by clicking here.  It came out very nice and tender.  Improvements we want to go for next time would be keeping more of the juices in it (I browned the meat before putting it in the crockpot, but I'll brown it with a coating of flour next time), and upping the amount of herbs/spices we rub into the meat for more flavor.  Here's a pic of how it turned out!  :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fluffy GF/DF Pancakes

You may remember when I made my first recipe for fluffy pancakes this past June.  Though it works, I wanted to have a mix that didn't even need a milk substitute (gets expensive) and still tasted great.  Being that Bisquix was part of what my family used for our pancakes while growing up, I decided to research the ingredient list of Bisquix, and found several ingredients to add and experiment with (including that one of their ingredients is powdered sugar - how did I not know this?)

After about 5 batches of experiments (and wolfing, I think we have a winner!  Tapioca flour for fluffiness, sorghum for a bit of sweet, flax for fiber, and a dash of oil and honey for moisture, make these the healthiest and yummiest  morning indulgences you could have! These pancakes would be GREAT for xmas morning brunch (hint hint...).  I know that's what I'm doing!  (and sausage!)  ^_^

You'll Need:

- 3/4 cup tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup sorghum flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- dash of cinnamon
- sprinkle of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp flax seed meal (plus 3 tbsp warm water for flax to soak in - use separate bowl) - or 1 egg
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3/4 cup water

* yields approx 14 pancakes.

To Start:

- in a small separate bowl, add the flaxseed and warm water together and let is soak off to the side
- in a second bowl, combine all dry ingredients
- add the wet ingredients to the dry, except for the water. (olive oil, flaxseed mix, honey)
- gradually add the water while mixing.
- fire up your griddle and spoon out the pancakes (about 5 inches width).  once you see the pancake looking like a moon crater, flip it over (should be a golden brown on the opposite side).  pancakes should be done on the opposite side in approx another 30 secs.
- use all batter and serve.

Enjoy!  Merry Christmas!

LOTR (furniture-less) Party & "The Hobbit" Review

If you remember in this post, that is what our living room looks like.  Couch and chair-less.

2 weeks ago we proved that you don't need a finished living room, let alone furniture to have a party.  ;)  we hosted a Lord of the Rings movie trilogy that lasted 3 days, one day for each movie, as a precursor to the premiere of The Hobbit a week later.  We were hoping that our couch would arrive in time for the party, but alas, we found it wouldn't even be shipped until the 19th (which means it's on it's way as I type this!).

So I wrote this on the event page:

"...just to make things more interesting, we have learned that we will NOT have our couch arriving in time for the party (we're currently using lawn chairs in our living room). we have some dining chairs, but in case more people show up than we have chairs for, we can do a "BYOC" (bring your own chair) with a cloth travel chair if y'all are willing. it'll help give you a feeling of camping right along with the Fellowship, right? maybe we should get a fire pit going in the middle of the living room for the full effect? :-P "

Everyone was a super-good sport about it, some adding jokes.  We had a great time and made some good memories, even without a proper living room (go figure, right?  ;-P)

As of last week, we went to see The Hobbit with friends - here's us outside the theater after the movie:

What did we think of the movie?  (Spoiler alert ahead!)

General consensus was that we felt conflicted.  There were some good scenes and a great cast, but too many unnecessary things were added - having Galadriel appear at Rivendell, bringing back Azog/the white orc, etc.

The Good: 
It was a relief that we were given a sense throughout the movie that Bilbo was becoming less timid and finding his own source of courage and camaraderie with the dwarves, which is an important aspect of the book.

Whittling it down to scenes now, scenes we liked were all that took place at Bag End (both with Frodo & Bilbo before the party, as well as younger Bilbo being invaded by the dwarves and making the decision to join them), the history of the dwarves from the Lonely Mountain, and the encounter with the Trolls and the finding of Sting.  After that the film seemed to go downhill, slowing in pace and stumbling around a bit for a storyline until the "riddles in the dark" between Bilbo and Gollum.  It felt like they're really trying to stretch out the money-making ability of the story by having 3 films, versus 3 for the purpose of fulfilling the storytelling and fleshing out the characters of the book as they claimed, which is a big disappointment and makes me have less faith towards the next two movies.

The Bad:
The subtitles seemed overused and were very distracting. For example, did we really need to have subtitles for the orcs? We could have gathered that they were calling for an attack without the subtitles. By the way, they spoke english in LOTR, so why the sudden use of their dialect versus the common tongue of the land??

The Ugly:
We had a big problem with the CGI: SO many characters were animated versus having real actors in costume/makeup (such as the orcs).  It took away from the textile "real" feel to the world of Middle Earth that LOTR had provided. In fact, we were commenting during the LOTR trilogy party about how even a decade later, the CGI stands up brilliantly. But in The Hobbit, a lot of the CGI felt unfinished or forced.

Oh...and the giant stone men who throw boulders at each other, and the poorly animated non-threatening necromancer.  Nuff said there. 

Frames per second: Jackson has been talking about the 48-fps technology in this film for awhile now, so as most, we were curious to see how it'd look.  After seeing it, I'd say the 48-fps worked better in the action sequences and should have only been used there, and used the 24-fps for the rest of the film.  The film, again, looked especially artificial in the non-action sequences.

Characters (or lack there-of):  I never got to know each of the dwarves, let alone by name - they all seem to melt into one massive blur.  There was no emotional attachment to any of them except the dwarf we did get to know, Thorin.  I went into the movie with the expectation that'd I'd walk out knowing each of the dwarves, but alas, they remain an unindividuated lot.  All I had to go on when referring to a dwarf after the movie was "the long white bearded one", "the two young good-looking ones", and the "monkish one". (plus, you shouldn't need a flow-chart to figure them out).  That makes me sad.  One of the great things about LOTR was that despite a party of nine in the Fellowship, you got to know each of them and their personalities, and then additional characters in the story besides.

...Overall, we were disappointed in the movie.  We wanted to like it, truly did, but we felt it could have been so much better, and that Jackson was wasting the talents of his cast in exchange for blow-your-mind CGI and 3D.  I'm glad he's taking this revolutionary approach to filmmaking, because it is amazing technology when used correctly, but it shouldn't have been used in The Hobbit.  We lose all tangibility of the world of Middle Earth, and lose out on a great cast's ability.  I give it a 6.5/10.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Treats: Russian Tea Cookies (GF/DF)

Sorry for being away awhile!  Karl and I were both stuck at home with bad colds all last week (boo).  Now that we're no longer carrying tissue boxes from room to room with us, I'll be catching up and sharing the many changes we've made around the house in the last 2 weeks, including the newly renovated bookshelves!  Buuut...Christmas cookies first!

This is the first cookie recipe I tried to convert into GF (and succeed!) about 2 years ago.  These yummies were one of the cookies I had grown up anticipating to appear each Christmas-time from my mom.  Therefore much to Karl's disappointment, I make these just at Christmastime as well.  :)  Now it's your turn to share in these morsels this Christmas!

These cookies are easy to make (no messing around with spritz pumps or cookie cutters), and they go fast! *peers suspiciously at Karl*

You'll Need:

- 3/4 cup olive oil (1 cup softened butter if you're not DF)
- 1/2 cup powder/confectioner sugar for cookies, then another 1 cup to roll the cookies in after baked
- 1 inch of a vanilla bean pod (or 1 tsp of almond or vanilla extract) - here's a "how to" extract a vanilla pod
- 1 & 1/4 cup sorghum flour (bob's red mill)- 1 cup brown rice flour (bob's red mill)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 finely chopped walnuts

*yields 4 dozen

To Start:
- heat oven to 400 F
- in bowl, mix oil (or butter) and powder sugar together
- mix in flour, salt, and walnuts until dough holds together (best mixed by spoon)
- shape into small bite-sized balls on cookie pan 
- bake 22-25 mins or until a slight golden color
- prepare a bowl or plate with approx 1 cup of confectioner's powdered sugar to roll the cookie in once out of the oven
- after removing pan from oven, let cool.  while cookies are still semi-warm from oven, roll balls in the powdered sugar and let them sit on a cookie rack.  after a few mins, roll them for a second coat of the powdered sugar.  
- let them cool completely before storing (if you don't eat them all before storing, that is)

Thanks vegetarianmama, glutenfreehomemmaker, wholeintentions, notjustahousewife, and simplysugarandglutenfree for the feature!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bookshelf Peak & Groupon Win

Making more progress on the bookshelves today!  Aiming to have them done by mid-week!

Also this weekend we scored a great pair of chairs for $89 ($94 w/ tax, free s/h) on Groupon.  I've been looking for a pair of these to go as the head chairs in the dining room, and most upholstered dining chairs I've seen run in the range of $100-$200 each.  So as you can imagine, I snatched these babies up when the deal was on!  The leather is not what I was looking for, but they'll do as I'm thinking I can reupholster them down the road (hoping the leather wears out fast, hehe).  I may even use them in the living room for now too.  We'll see.  Either way, yay for some chairs!  (they may arrive before our sofa does, hah)

Speaking of the sofa, we may just barely get our sofa in time for xmas.  It'll be close!  I spoke with our sales clerk this weekend, and she said the sofa is scheduled to be shipped Dec 19th, so we're crossing fingers!  :)

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