Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gluten-Free S'mores

I've had a s'more everyday after work this week!  I get home, feed the cats, make a s'more and resist the urge to make a second - they're sooo good!  

I usually make gluten-free s'mores with gluten-free cookies (store bought or homemade), but when a s'more craving hit me at the grocery store last weekend I decided to try Kinnikinnick's S'moreables Graham Style Crackers (they do contain a little bit of soy lecithin, which I can occasionally tolerate in small amounts so I decided to give them a go).  

The graham crackers are really good, but they remind me more of shortbread cookie than a traditional graham cracker.  They actually hold up better than the graham crackers I remember eating a few years ago, they're sturdier! In case you're wondering, I've been making my s'mores on the stovetop, just turn a burner on medium-high (or high if you're in a hurry), stick your marshmallows on a fork and toast them!  Easy and delicious!     

Cap City Fine Diner and Bar - Grandview Heights

Cap City Fine Diner and Bar is my favorite restaurant in Columbus!  They have an excellent gluten-free friendly menu, wonderful wait staff and delicious drinks and dessert.  This is one of our usual picks when going out for a special occasion, as it was when we visited two weeks ago for our third wedding anniversary!  We've also gone to Cap City to celebrate birthdays, holidays and other big events.  It's also a great restaurant to take friends and family to when they come to visit us in Columbus.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mumford Mania in Troy, Ohio

Mumford & Sons will be playing in Troy, Ohio next weekend as part of their Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Tour in the US! Troy is just south of my hometown, Piqua, and while we are bitter rivals in high school football, I'm really excited for Troy and everyone who will be at the concert.


Thursday, August 22, 2013


Inniswood Metro Gardens

Inniswood is one of my favorite Columbus Metro Parks!  This 123 acre metro park includes themed gardens and collections (roses, hostas, daylilies, herbs, daffodils and a rock garden) and three miles of trail, some of which pass over streams and go through wooded areas.  It's a very peaceful park, perfect for couples and families!

Monday, August 19, 2013

PB + Chokecherry Jam

My wonderful sister, Brittney, bought us some chokecherry jam at a farmers' market when she and her boyfriend, Cam, were in Vermont few weeks ago!  Chokecherry is a small tree which is native to the northern parts of North America and has an edible berry.  The jam is really good! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Gluten-Free Pizza!

This was the best take-and-bake pizza ever!  Kenneth brought home a gluten-free Donatos take-and-bake pizza tonight and added fresh tomatoes, oyster mushrooms and basil - it was delicious!  The pizza is made on an Udi's gluten-free crust and is prepared in a gluten-free facility.  Delicious and safe!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pink Nose

I've never had a cat before Amelia who looks like her eyes and her nose are lined with eyeliner... isn't she cute?

Aladdin's Eatery - Grandview Heights

Aladdin's Eatery is a casual Mediterranean themed restaurant chain that can easily accommodate meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free and nut-free diners.  Kenneth and I had dinner at the location in Grandview Heights over the weekend.

Pure Imagination Chocolatier - Grandview Heights

Over the weekend Kenneth and I stopped in at Pure Imagination Chocolatier in Grandview Heights.
We've tried their chocolates once before at the North Market and really enjoyed them.  This time we each chose three chocolates to sample, Kenneth picked out the Aztec Caramel, Strawberry and Tahitian Vanilla Bean chocolates.  I tried the Key Lime, Theobroma and Lavender Honey Citrus chocolates.

Water Fire & The Moonlight Market - Downtown Columbus

Last month Kenneth and I enjoyed an evening in downtown Columbus for WaterFire and the Moonlight Market on Gay Street!

Since we arrived a little before WaterFire was to begin, we walked through the Moonlight Market first.  Vendors were set up on the sidewalks and several shops stayed open late between Front and 3rd Street.  The market was pretty busy and we saw lots of great work offered by the vendors, including crafts, artwork and other home items, clothes and lots of delicious food!  We sampled some fantastic salsa from Game Time Salsa and I enjoyed an amazing cucumber-lime-mint popsicle from J Pops!  Check out all of the creative J Pops flavors and the story behind the company (it was founded as a way to raise money for relief efforts in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami) on their website.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bee Buzz 2 & 3

Bees are awesome!  In addition to making honey, they also pollinate a ton of food we eat, from apples to tomatoes to buckwheat!  They're also beautiful insects - check out these amazing images of native American bees from Wired Science

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Three Years!

Today is Kenneth and I's third wedding anniversary!  We celebrated by going to one of our favorite restaurants, Cap City Fine Diner, and taking a walk at Chadwick Arboretum.  It was a lovely evening!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gluten-Free Mini Corn Quesadilla + Recipe

Kenneth made these delicious little quesadillas last night for dinner and I asked him to make them again tonight - they're delicious!  He likes to play with ingredients and doesn't usually follow recipes, but I asked him to tell me how he made these for my blog.  Now, all we need are giant (ok, regular sized would do), gluten-free corn tortillas!  We can only ever find the tiny ones at the grocery store, they're only five and half inches across!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gluten-Free Black Magic Muffins + Recipe

This is the first recipe I've made with the elderberries I got last week!  The dark purple elderberries give the muffins a slight crunch and compliment the chocolate nicely.  The muffins are 'black magic' muffins because the elderberry shrub is believed to have magical properties in both ancient and modern times (Harry Potter fans may remember the powerful Elder Wand, which was made from an elderberry shrub).

If you plan to cook with elderberries, be sure that you have berries (or flowers, which are also edible) from the Common Elderberry (Sambucus nigra).  The berries should not be consumed raw, but must be cooked first.  For further reading on elderberries (which grow well here in Ohio), I recommend the following resources:

USDA Plant Guide - Common Elderberry
Common Elderberry from "Wildman" Steve Brill
Elderberries: Red, White and Blue from Eat the Weeds

And here is the recipe!  You could use another black berry in place of the elderberries - they'll still be tasty, they just won't be magic!

Black Magic Muffins (Gluten-Free)
Makes 12 muffins 

¾ cup sweet sorghum flour* 
¾ cup brown rice flour* 
½ cup tapioca flour* 
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 
½ teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons cocoa powder 
⅔ cup brown sugar 
¾ teaspoon espresso powder 
1 teaspoon xanthan gum** 
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
½ stick melted butter 
1 cup milk 
1 ½ cup fresh elderberries 
½ cup dark chocolate chips 

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, brown sugar, espresso powder, xanthan gum in a bowl and mix until combined. Stir in the egg, vanilla, melted butter and milk. Add elderberries and chocolate. Stir well and spoon batter into muffin liners. Bake for approximately 20 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the muffin pan, then remove.

*Use 2 cups regular all purpose wheat flour, if not baking gluten-free.
**Omit if not baking gluten-free.

Ohio History Center

Last month I visited the Ohio History Center.  It was a short visit and I intend to go back soon, but I was able to check out a few of their exhibits including The Nature of Ohio, Ohio: Centuries of Change, Follow the Flag and Connecting to Your History.  I also visited the Ohio Village to see friends who are costumed interpreters this summer.

I spent most of my time in The Nature of Ohio and Connecting to your History exhibits.  The Nature of Ohio exhibit is fairly large and focuses on the plants, animals, geology, geography and climate of Ohio.  It features extinct animals that used to live in the area - including a huge mastodon skeleton!  

I was most interested in the plants section of the exhibit and I loved how some of the plants are displayed - especially the framed herbarium specimens.  I worked in the Floyd Bartley Herbarium at Ohio University when I was a student and spent a lot of time preparing plant specimens like the ones on display.

My favorite exhibit I visited was the Connecting to Your History exhibit, which is all about family history and genealogy.  I'm very interested in my own family history and use to do research.  This exhibit allows visitors to do the same - there is a computer in the back corner of the room with set-up and pencils and paper to make notes of what you discover.  There's also a display that includes tips on how to preserve family heirlooms and a map where you can place a sticker for where you were born, where your parents were born and where their parents were born (there were a TON of stickers on Ohio!).  The state of Ohio is featured by itself on the map so local visitors can be more exact in their placement of stickers.  

I loved the tree in the room - its leaves have old family photos on them, making it a real 'family tree!'  

There are certain spots throughout the museum that encourage visitors to snap a photo of themselves and share it with the Ohio Historical Society Group on Flickr.  I don't have a Flickr account, but I snapped a few shots of myself in the Ohio: Centuries of Change exhibit.  Check out the photos in the Flickr group - there are some very talented photographers contributing their work!

I visited about a week before the newest exhibit, 1950s: Building the American Dream, opened (unfortunately I'm posting this review pretty late, the exhibit opened on July 13th!). I will definitely be back to check this exhibit out! Here's a video about the exhibit: Exhibition takes immersive look at 1950s.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Heaven & 'Hops'

American Hophornbeam Fruits

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” - Henry David Thoreau

Kenneth and I visited Inniswood Metro Gardens today and explored the woods and a secret garden (a post about our visit will be up soon).  The secret garden has quotes about nature and gardening imprinted on low, brick walls, one of them was by my favorite transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau.  I don't agree with everything Thoreau has written, but the above quote rings true for me, especially after a lovely day enjoying the gardens.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Paper Sparrows

A collage I made while in college (that's nearly a tongue-twister!) - the frame is a small wooden frame but the picture itself is collaged onto a Dominos pizza box lid!  Reduce - Reuse - Recycle! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Peaches, Elderberries & Tomatoes - Oh My!

These beauties will be making their way to the straight table or into some muffins or cakes soon!  I love the fruits and veggies of August!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The End of the Ash Tree?

Have you ever heard of the word 'invasive species?'  What about the emerald ash borer?  I ask students and summer campers these questions when telling them why we can't let the tropical rainforest butterflies out of the South Pacific Island biome at work (they, like the emerald ash borer, could become invasive if allowed outdoors).  I'm often surprised (and saddened) by how many kids have heard of this beetle and can tell me more about it.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Gluten-Free Millet Banana Bread + Recipe

This is the banana bread recipe we made with the summer campers a week ago.  I adapted it to be gluten-free with extra millet (flour)!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cookbooks & Passports in Australia

Lemon Punch

Today was the final day of Cookbooks & Passports summer camp - we ended our culinary journey around the world in Australia!  We began the day by reading Are we there yet?: a journey around Australia by Alison Lester and If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche.  The campers really enjoyed both books - they tried to guess what country each house was from in If You Lived Here and were correct quite a few times! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cookbooks & Passports in China

Flowering Green Tea - Shooting Star

Today was a super busy day in Cookbooks & Passports!  We visited China!  We started the day by reading What's for lunch?: how schoolchildren eat around the world by Andrea Curtis and Yeh-Shen: a Cinderella story from China by Ai-Ling Louie (other books I checked out from the library for today include The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine, Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim and Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin).  What's for lunch? showed examples of school lunches from all over the world - and it made the campers hungry!