Elana’s Pantry


Although I love Chinese tea, and get an occasional craving for a sweet and milky cup of tea – I AM A COFFEE ADDICT.  I don’t deny it, in fact in the midst of all my food eliminations I adamantly told my naturopath that I wouldn’t be giving up my coffee.  Fortunately, for me, the acidity of the coffee may actually be assisting my body and as such she not only agreed, she encouraged me to continue drinking coffee.  That’s what I find so interesting about my sudden desire to make tea cookies.

I’ve been on the look-out for Matcha for quite some time, however every time I see some, my thrifty side comes out and I convince myself that I will be able to find it for cheaper somewhere else – at least while I decide whether its something I want to make a regular addition to my pantry.  Yesterday, my persistence paid off and I am now the proud owner of some Matcha from a Japanese company, Ujinotsuyu (note: I can’t seem to find my product on the website).  I always seem to think I can make it through a week or even a weekend without baking, but then something like a chance encounter with affordable matcha occurs, and I’m back in the kitchen agian.

After some searching I decided to use Elana’s Butter Cookies (namely splitting the dough in half and making both matcha and chai tea cookies) taking into account Lovescool‘s Green Tea Sweets, which is cross-linked all over the web,and create some gluten-free tea cookies.  As I searched for my base recipes, I discovered that tea cookies could be made with any tea; all I had to do was grind the tea to a fine powder and experiment.  The white chai tea I had recently purchased, quickly came to mind and I knew I had to try it.

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I made a few adaptations to Elana’s recipe, but there’s definitely still some more refinements to be made until they taste just right.  I love the blanched, sliced almonds on the green tea cookies, I’d like to top the chai tea cookies with something too – perhaps just cinnamon.  I’m also still awaiting the re-introduction of refined sugar to my diet – I won’t use it like I used to, but I’d love to coat these cookies in castor sugar, or perhaps even dip them in some white chocolate.  Mmmm, just the thought is making me salivate.

I’m finally beginning to realize, that this process; working with a recipe, slowly changing it, evolving it to my own tastebuds – I’m only just realizing, that I love it.  I learned to cook from my Dad; Asian cooking is about feel, colour, texture.  There’s often no written recipe, just the video in my mind and the familiarity in my senses that tells me how to cook: won tons, beef and broccoli, fried rice, sweet and sour pork, steamed pork – all of my Asian favourites. 

But I always shied away from changing a recipe when I baked.  Yet, I’ve never been a precision baker, my measurements are always “close enough”, often measured using the wrong tools, yet despite the lectures in food class promising utter failure for such actions, my goodies nearly always turned out delicious.   Learning to live the gluten-free life, I’ve finally been stepping up to the challenge of adapting my old recipes to suit my new gluten-free needs.  Now I realize, not only am I not intimidated, I’m excited.   Times are changing, meals are changing and most importantly, attitudes are changing.

 All that being said, I know the that’s not the case for everyone.  I mentioned a friend a while back, who by a stroke of luck, ate my food for a few days, only to discover that gluten may be one of her hidden enemies.  She’s been reading and commenting around here however, although she loves to eat my food, I know that she likes things a lot simpler in her kitchen.  She was so excited at her purchase of a pre-mixed gluten-free flour – finally something she could just substitute into her normal cooking.  Knowing that she too loves words, I have invited her to guest blog and share her perspectives.  Hopefully this will encourage her and you will all have a chance to hear from her soon.

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When I found out I had to drastically alter my diet, I immediately looked to the Internet. I searched and clicked, reading and discovering everything I could, about Gluten-Free eating. I spend hours looking at recipes and reading articles, sometimes I feel like I’ve found so much wonderful information, there can’t possibly be more. But there is more. There’s always more. A new keyword to search, a link from a friend or a blog, or sometimes sheer luck. Regardless, I consistently find new GF discoveries hidden throughout the Internet.

You may notice, I updated my sidebar, with a couple of new food blogs – I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss a few of them for so long.

Elana’s Pantry is full of delicious recipes, in fact I’ve already made two of her recipes – in the last 3 days. I made her power bars only I used almonds AND cashews for my base, and melted unsweetened chocolate (with a handful of chocolate chips) to top my bars off. They were so delicious, I had to pack a few up and throw them in the freezer for fear I would eat them all before the weekends end.

My house is filled with the sweet aroma of vanilla, almonds and raisins, as I made my first batch of Elana’s granola just this morning. I used 3/4 cashews and 1/4 pine nuts in place of the macadamia’s, added a 1/4 cup of coconut and drizzled with brown rice syrup. Now cool, I tested the granola on some plain probiotic yogurt – delicious!! Next time I may add some fruit, or even try applesauce instead of raisins, but for now, I will just enjoy.

I will warn you now, if you are allergic to nuts, Elana’s Pantry may be a disappointment. Elana and her family can obviously tolerate nuts – the majority of her recipes call for almonds or blanched almond flour. Personally, I can eat nuts, the recipes I’ve tried have been delicious and I’m eager to try many more of her recipes…

I also found Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks, her site is well organized making it easy to find her very full listing of 101 Cookbooks: Gluten-Free – I can’t wait to try the recently posted, amazing black bean brownies