Posts Tagged ‘dairy free’

The Adaptable Pumpkin Pie



Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

   The daily management of meals is complicated for families with multiple food allergens.  When the holidays arrive, the stresses of meal management multiply to seemingly a thousand-fold.  This year our holiday meal issues will include managing for the following foods issues: 2 people who are allergic to milk and bananas, 1 person who can’t eat foods with gluten, 1 person who’s allergic to soybeans and avocados, 1 person allergic to strawberries and 1 person who’s diabetic.  This traditional pair of Thanksgiving recipes is written toward persons with these food allergens and with substitution suggestions for the diabetic too.

A Little Schoolhouse On the Prairie Moment (aka An After-schooling Lesson):  Allow your children to help you with your holiday baking.  The youngest toddlers will have fun with a bowl and wooden spoon, older toddlers and preschoolers can help w/ cookie cutter decorations and stirring.  Older kids get an arithmetic lesson in measurements and fractions when they help measure and stir the ingredients together and can practice understanding temperature by setting the oven to preheat at the correct temperature.  Ask your teenagers/preteens to convert temps F to C and measurements to metric system for fun or research for the family the origins of various holiday foods to share this information with the family during the meal.

Traditional Pastry Crust

(A Gluten-Free/Soy-Free/Dairy-Free

adaptation of my grandmother’s pastry crust)

*This recipe makes a 2 crust pie or 2 one crust pie plus extra to be used for decoration

1 cup Spectrum Palm Shortening (or lard… grandma always used Crisco, plain or butter-flavored)

     *if using lard, chill it in the freezer for an hour or two prior to use.

 3 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour blend w/ xanthan gum already in it (I like Jules Gluten-Free Flour or Namaste Perfect Blend flour) or more as needed

    *amount of flour needed will vary due to natural moisture in the flour blend and the type of “shortening” used, lard is softer and will need more flour to make a good crust, however, it’ll also make a little bit larger batch.

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cider or rice wine vinegar

Ice water

   Place  flour, salt and shortening in a large mixing bowl.  Cut the flour mixture into the shortening with a fork or pastry blender if doing it by hand.  I prefer a more mechanical method for the sake of speed.  I place these ingredients in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and cut the shortening into the flour using the whisk attachment.

Add the vinegar and mix well (many of the gluten-free recipes I have come across in the last 2 years for baking have contained a small amount of vinegar with the explanation that it helped somehow activate the xanthan gum that is used as a binder to replace gluten???  Not sure if that’s right or not, as what I know about xanthan gum is that it activates in most liquids, but I liked that the tiny amount of vinegar gave the crust some pleasing  flavor, as it was otherwise a little blah to me after using butter flavored Crisco for many years.)  Add the ice water very slowly by the teaspoonful, mixing well between additions.  You will find this recipe needs less liquid than your typical wheat-flour based pie crust, especially if you use lard in place of shortening.

Once mixed, divide dough into 2 portions.  Form into 2 discs and wrap in parchment or wax paper and chill dough for several hours in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge.  Line the surface on which you are rolling out your dough with parchment or waxed paper.  Sprinkle the paper with tapioca flour or cornstarch.  Place your disc of dough in the center of the paper and sprinkle this with tapioca or cornstarch too.  Place another piece of parchment or waxed paper on top.  Using your rolling pin, roll out dough into a thin sheet.  Remove the top layer of paper and gently lay your pie plate on top of the dough upside-down.  Carefully and gently flip the plate and dough over together.  Press the dough down into the pie plate gently then cut away excess dough with a knife.  Crimp or flute the edge of the pie using your favorite method.  Shapes may be cut out of excess dough using cookie cutters to place on the pie after it is filled with it’s filling.  Try leaves, pumpkins, acorns etc for Thanksgiving or stars, mittens, trees, reindeer etc. for Christmas.

*For a 2 crust pie, repeat the dough rolling instructions for the 2nd crust after filling the pie with it’s filling, then crimp or flute and decorate.

** For a pie shell that is to be filled with a chilled filling, place the  crust in the pie plate, prick crust w/fork to prevent air bubbles, then cover with foil and fill the crust with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake at 350 F for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven).  Cool and fill with chilled filling or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie


with low-sugar suggestions

Pie Filling:

1 (15 oz) can solid pack/pure pumpkin puree (or if you prefer, roast a pie or heirloom pumpkin in your oven, scoop out flesh and use this in place of canned pumpkin– directions to follow at the end of the post.)

1 cup sugar (or 1 cup Splenda/Sugar blend or 1 cup Stevia in the Raw, if using sugar substitutes, plan to keep this pie chilled in the fridge to prevent it from molding if making it ahead or if you have leftovers)

1 can (15 oz) coconut milk (unsweetened)

3 eggs

2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (to taste)

1 tsp.ground  allspice

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg or mace

In a large mixing bowl, mix sugar (or substitute) and eggs with a whisk until well blended.  Add pumpkin puree and whisk until well blended. Pour in coconut milk and once again mix in very well with a whisk.  Stir in spices until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into your prepared pie crust.  Decorate top of your pie as desired, sprinkling top of decorative crust pieces with a little granulated sugar or colored sugar sprinkles for sparkle.  Bake at 350 F for approx. one hour (or maybe a little longer… you want to bake until the filling appears to have set up since this is a “custard” type pie) depending on your oven.  This crust does not brown quite as much as a wheat flour based crust, so personally, I’ve been able to skip the step of covering the edge of my crust with foil and baking at 2 different temperatures.

To Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree:

    Choose pie pumpkins or small to medium sized heirloom pumpkins (the green Jaradale and the light orange and dark red-orange “Cinderella” pumpkins are among my favorites for this).  Depending on your timing, you can cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a baking pan with a little water in it and bake for 30-60 minutes (depends on size of pumpkins) or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool.


knock the stem off your pumpkin(s), wrap the whole pumpkin(s) fully in foil and heat your oven to 200 F, place wrapped pumpkin(s) on a cookie sheet(s) and place in the oven before going to bed, allow pumpkin(s) to slowly roast ovennight. Check to see they are tender first thing in the morning and remove from the oven to cool.  When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the seeds.

For both continue as follows…

Scoop out flesh with a large metal spoon and place into a large bowl or the bowl of your food processor (this may need to be done in several batches).  Mash puree by hand with a fork or potato masher or puree in a food processor.  Set aside the amount needed for your pie or other recipe.  Portion the rest out into 1 qt. freezer bags and freeze for later use.

This roasting, mashing and freezing process also works with other types of winter squash and is an excellent way to preserve the squash crop from your garden.  (Summer squashes can be grated raw and frozen for later use as well.)


March 19, 2012 is our 1st Mystery Recipe Monday

Starting today, we shall try to post a Mystery Recipe every Monday if possible. If you are a follower here, please stop by our Facebook Page and give us a like over there.  We are going to let everybody know when we’ve added a mystery recipe over there on the Modern Pioneer Family Facebook page before we publish it on here, so you all will be on the look out for our Mystery Recipe Monday posts.

Why, you may ask?  Well, to start that discussion, our recipe posts have been some of our more popular ones and some of our friends are asking for more recipes, maybe as a “regular feature” on certain days.  Another reason is if the recipe is posted as a “surprise recipe” perhaps curiosity will encourage more folks to stop by and check out this new blog.  SO… you ask “why” and I answer “why not”, sounds like fun.

And so… drum roll, please!  Without further ado… our mystery recipe for March 19, 2012 is:

Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter


You will need a mid-sized mixing bowl, a rubber/silicone spatula, measuring spoons & cups, a dish-towel and a clean glazed stoneware type crock w/ an old-fashioned bail top (those wire lid closing things like on antique canning jars) or a 1 qt. canning jar with a new lid and band.


1 1/2 cups white rice flour (you can also use all brown rice flour if you prefer whole grain breads/rolls, or do what I do, make one of each.  I don’t recommend blending the flours in your sourdough starter, it’s easiest and works best if you keep it simple.)

1 TBSP sugar (use white, brown or maple sugar as you like.  This is not the place for sugar-free sweetener type products. Honey is also not a good idea here, as you could potentially get a botulism contamination problem going in your starter, you don’t want that. If you want to use honey, use it later in your bread recipe after you have doubled the starter and returned 1/2 to the sourdough crock.)

1 TBSP Dry yeast (go ahead and buy it in the jar or in bulk, if you are going gluten-free, chances are you will be baking lots of your own breads, rolls, buns and more. It will cost less in the long run NOT to buy the little packets.)

1 cup water (if you don’t like your tap water or if you have chlorinated water, use bottle drinking/spring water.)


In mixing bowl, stir rice flour, yeast and sugar together.  Mix in room temperature water.  Set in a warm (but not hot) place to incubate overnight.  Check it occasionally and stir if necessary, just so it doesn’t try to climb out of the bowl and overflow (why create an extra mess to clean, right?)  If you like that real sourdough type taste, you can incubate the starter 1-3 days longer before parking it in your fridge. I like mine at the point it makes my bread actually taste like bread (and still neutral enough to make cinnamon rolls and the like) but that is only a personal preference.  And if you are feeding your bread to kids, when in doubt go with what they will eat… you can always slowly increase the “sour” quality so they slowly adjust to more grown-up flavors.

Pour your starter into a very clean crock or canning jar, put on the lid and place it in your fridge, until you are ready to bake bread, rolls, etc.

Care of your starter if not being used for a while:  If you know you won’t be using the starter for a while (say you are going on vacation for several weeks), get it out and let it warm to room temp and feed it 2 tsp. sugar and 2 TBSP of rice flour (add a bit of water if you think it looks too thick.)

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Pumpkin Bread

Wow! What a busy day today!  Stopped at the electric co-op to pay that bill (that was pretty scary… they hit us with both a rate and a tax increase… bill was almost double what it was a year ago at the same time.)  Then to the thrift store (while waiting for the bureaucrats at the Social Security Admin Office to get back from lunch… I dinked around until 1:30 at the thrift shop, I was the ONLY person in there and it still took them 25 minutes to wait on me… seriously these people only work 5 hours a day, 4 days a week and are taking money out of our pockets in the form of taxes to pay their salaries… so you’d think maybe they could work a little harder???  Annoying.)

Anyway, my oldest Farmer Boy Charles, has suddenly outgrown nearly every pair of pants he had (around the middle, as he’s a stockily build laddie, just like his grandpa (my dad)… very likely will be much taller and broader than his father, as our Pioneer Pa is rather short with an average frame.)  Some of Charles’ dietary issues cause him to tend to bloat in the afternoon and that makes fitting clothing tricky.  Right now he just went from a size 12 husky to a 14 husky around the middle (of course at 8 years old, they are a mile long and must either be hemmed, but not cut off so we can let them out when he gets taller, or roll them up so that he doesn’t walk the excess length off his jeans.  So, I was at the thrift shop looking for him some pants.  Only found 1 pair of jeans in his size, so I snagged them and several pair of sweats/athletic type pants and found a couple pair for his little brother too.  Anna picked out a couple toys ( a rattle, a stuffed frog and a bucket & shovel) and a pair of sneakers to wear outdoors in the garden.  I found a couple chapter books I thought the boys would enjoy reading aloud, a beginner’s knitting book that I got as a gift for a friend and several nice old cookbooks (have I mentioned my cookbook collection yet???  Well, that is a long story for another night.)  Then over in the housewares, I found a couple nice glass bottles for making my own flavoring extracts, 2 stainless steel travel mugs for Pa and a syrup pitcher.

Then the stop at the SS Admin to just get Anna’s SSN (I know I have the card someplace, I remember it coming in the mail, I remember putting it away somewhere where I was supposed to remember WHERE I had put it… unfortunately, I can’t remember WHERE THAT WAS…  Is 36 years old, old enough to start having senior moments?  I wonder???)  Well, I just needed my little pioneer girl’s number so that I could finish my Fed. tax returns and get that sent in to the IRS.  That took OVER AN HOUR  and I wasn’t even applying for a replacement, doing a name change or anything complicated like that.  Dealing with the government drives me crazy.  (So tomorrow, I am cleaning house and spending quality time with TurboTax, until it’s time to meet the boys as school for their 1st 4-H meeting in their new club afterschool… have to fill out some paperwork to change counties.  Our old 4-H club was too inconsistant, always cancelling meetings or planning them at the last minute.  It didn’t work for Charles, he needs consistant and predictable time and place to be able to participate funcionally.)

After my oh so fun afternoon with the government employees at the SS Admin, then had to do my grocery shopping.  Stock up on staples we were out of and get some friuts, veg and meat (I hate buying meat in stores, but we are low on beef w/ 6 mos. to go before, Little Hector, our steer is ready for the freezer, low on cabrito, since we’ve not had an extra buck kid in 3 years, out of lamb and chicken and the hog we are buying from a friend won’t be ready until after Easter.)  Then arrived home about 15 minutes before the school bus.

After going through the backpacks, found out that spring pictures were rescheduled for tomorrow (got cancelled by a snow day).  So two young laddies had to have hair cuts.  Oldest wanted to keep the back of his “long” (it’s almost down to his shoulders right now)… Pioneer Pa was horrified that the boy wanted a MULLET, it was such a late 80’s/ early 90’s thing and considered such a redneck-rocker thing.  I didn’t care, Charles was good and he was happy and there was no screaming or freaking out about having his hair cut. (Big area of sensory issues in the past!  I’m totally proud that he’s come so far and cares enough about his person now that he’s even interested in choosing a hairstyle… I might have drawn the line at a purple mohawk though.)  After a long busy day and getting two boys ship-shape and bathed, then myself too… after 2 haircuts I was so covered in hair, I’d never be able to sleep for the itching… it feels fabulous to sit here and write and wind down for sleep.

So here it is (after all of my rambling on and on)  the promised recipe for my Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Pumpkin Bread that I baked yesterday.  Yeah that loaf is already totally gone! (My 3 fellas polished off the last of it for breakfast)

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Pumpkin Bread

1 (15 oz) can Solid Pack Pumpkin Puree

1 stick of Casein-Free Margarine (BestLife and Earth Balance both work well)

1 cup of sugar

3 large eggs (or equivalant of egg replacer)

1/2 cup canola or safflower oil

2 TBSP ground flax meal

2 -3 tsp. ground cinnamon (to taste, I like lots of spice)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1  cup sweet sorghum or millet flour

1 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum

1/2 cup soy flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup your favorite chopped nuts (optional)

1/2 chopped dried cranberries  + 1 tsp. granulated orange peel (optional)

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs or egg replacer and mix well.  Add pumpkin, oil, flax and spices and mix well.  In another bowl, stir together flours, leavening, salt and xanthan gum.  Adding a 1/2 cup at a time, slowly stir in dry ingredients (do not worry about over mixing, as you would with wheat flour quick breads).  Stir in nuts and berries if using them.

Spray a standard sized loaf pan with Pam-type spray (or you could make these as muffins by lining muffin tins with cupcake papers and proceeding) and fill with your batter.  Bake in the oven at 350 F for approx 1 hour to  an 1hour and 15 minutes (your oven may very from mine which took an hour and 10 min).  Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer as you normally would.  When done remove from oven.  Cool in pan for approx. 15 minutes before trying to remove the pan and coolng the bread on a cooling rack or cutting board.  Slice carefully and serve with butter (or jam, apple butter etc) toasted or untoasted as per your preference.

From Home Dairying to Home NON-Dairying: Making Coconut Milk Yogurt


We started our adventures in home dairying in 2004 with 2 newly freshened Toggenburg dairy goat does (much like the one pictured), named Cafe au Lait (which means “coffee w/ milk” in French) and her twin sister, Cocoa, and their 1 month old daughters Mocha and Vienna.  Within 2 months we were not only milking for goat milk but also making yogurt and both fresh and aged goat cheeses for cooking.

Fast-forward 7 years or so to when we realized we had a major problem with our son Charles and dairy products.  I began making “ice cream” with soy, almond or coconut milk and buying “Rice Shreds” mozzarella subsitute for family pizza night (it still had a little bit of casein, but it was the only thing close our local natural foods grocer could get his hands on for us… thus it was maybe a twice a month type treat to have pizza.)  Charles really wouldn’t eat yogurt and didn’t care for cheese except on pizza… so for a year and a half my stash of home dairying “cultures” (the bacteria used to create yogurt, cheese and other yummy things) sat unused in the back of the freezer waiting…

Anna was born also with a casein allergy issue, but at 6 months old I really felt we should introduce some probiotic foods into her diet, especially when the whole family came down sick with first RSV virus, then secondary bacterial upper respitory infections and everyone got put on antibiotics (they have their place in treatment of bacterial infection, but they wreak havoc on your digestive system, killing off beneficial “good bacteria” the body needs to properly digest foods.)  So I started researching “yogurts” I could make using some of the alternative plant-based “milk” products that are available.

After looking at a lot of recipes and combining several I thought would work best I came up with the following: (For the sake of simplicity, we will assume you have a yogurt maker device and know how to incubate yogurt in it.  If you don’t have such a device and don’t know how to make yogurt with improvised tools, please search the Good Eats archives on, Alton Brown did several good episodes on this topic.)

Coconut Yogurt Base

2 cans of coconut milk (full fat is best)

1 envelope Knox gelatin

1 pkt of yogurt culture (some good sources are and New England Cheese Making)

Upto 3 TBSP Stevia in the Raw or Raw Sugar to taste (optional, to make this “savory” yogurt base for dips and such omit sweetner and proceed as directed)

Open both cans of coconut milk.  Pour the 1st one into a mid-sized mixing bowl or 4 cup pyrex measuring cup (leaving plenty of room to add the other can of coconut milk later and stir it well). On top of the room temperature coconut milk in the bowl,  sprinkle the dry Knox gelatin and allow to bloom for at least 5 minutes.  Pour the second can of coconut milk into a saucepan (add your sweetener if using) and heat this to a boil stirring constantly to prevent scorching the  coconut milk.    Pour the hot coconut milk into the cool coconut milk slowly while stirring.  Stir until the gelatin completely disovles.  Allow to cool on the counter top (cover with foil or plastic wrap if you like) back to almost room temp (between 70 and 0 degrees F).

At this point the gelatin may have cuased it to thicken somewhat.  Gently stir in the pakcet of yogurt culture with a plastic or wooden spoon (do not use metal, as it can react with the culture and the milk and prevent your yogurt from setting).  Pour the coconut milk blend into a very clean 1 quart wide mouth canning jar fitted with a plastic “storage” lid.  Place your jar of yogurt into your yogurt maker and follow the manufacturers directions, incubating your yogurt at approx 110 degrees F for 8 to 12 hours depending on how tangy you like your yogurt… the longer it cultures the more tangy it becomes.  It may not look like it will “set”, this is why we added the gelatin (we all know jello sets up in the fridge when it cools, coconut milk also thickens up when refridgerated to a point… together, when this yogurt is refridgerated it thickens up into a beautiful custard-like consistancy… think Yoplait’s custard type yogurt).

You can combine the yogurt with fresh or pureed fruit and vegetable combinations to your heart’s desire and serve as you would any flavored yogurt for breakfast, snacks or dessert.  Savory yogurt you can combine with your favorite herbs and seasonings to make delicious dips for veggies, chips etc or as a sauce on fish, poultry or game meats.  A favorite use in our house is to set the yogurt out to warm for an hour or so and use it as a buttermilk substitute in our favorite gluten-free/dairy-free pancake or waffle recipes.

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