I’ve had this post on my to-do lists for weeks but kept putting it off, partially due to post-holidays exhaustion followed by a trip to Big Bend this past weekend, but mostly because my focus here at Small Comforts Kitchen is shifting in ways that have been challenging for me to articulate up until now.
On the whole, I’ve been so thrilled by the response to the work I’ve done here in 2017. Through this work, I’ve discovered new favorite bloggers, connected with some really lovely and supportive people both in Austin and in the Instagram community, and become more and more confident in my skills as an amateur baker and photographer over the past year.
I’ve been feeling a little creatively blocked lately when it comes to cooking. Part of this is for financial reasons.
I don’t think people are honest enough about this in the food blog and maker communities: When you are testing out concepts, it gets expensive. Especially if you’re someone who’s gluten-free, and you often need to use multiple types of sometimes-pricey flours.
I work for a nonprofit, so I don’t make a huge salary, and my finances are a little out of whack due to some travel and the fact that I am honestly kind of terrible at budgeting. So it’s been especially hard these days to justify recipe development that falls outside of my uber-cheap meal plan strategy. Eating on the cheap when gluten-free is definitely something I want to cover in future blog posts, but it’s not what feeds me (no pun intended) creatively right now. I mostly want to make like four thousand desserts, but sometimes recipes fail, and the fear of losing money on an unsuccessful recipe attempt has been preventing me from trying out much lately.
This week, if I wanted to post a recipe at all, I had to give myself permission to take a risk with my grocery list. So I went to the farmer’s market.
You wake up on an October morning, and the air is so crisp you can smell it. Outside your window is a mosaic of of gold, russet, and orange. You bundle up in your favorite light sweater, go outside with a warm drink in hand, and enjoy the sound of your boots crunching in the leaves.
Yeah, so I live in Texas. None of that is a thing. I am literally sitting outside a coffee shop and am drinking ice water while wearing sandals and a tank top right now.
As someone with celiac who also values having memorable dining experiences when she travels, finding good restaurants can be . . . difficult for me. I can vacillate between being in total awe of the options/care taken at one restaurant and completely frustrated by the ineptitude of another, often in the same day. It’s hard to find up-to-date information about gluten-free options in any given city, because the restaurant scene is constantly evolving. I can also kind of be a picky customer — I don’t want to just eat a slice of gluten-free bread that I could eat at home, and I don’t really want to just “fuel” myself for the day. I want creative, interesting options.
So, with the mission of putting some more up-to-date information out there for food-savvy folks who also happen to be gluten-free, I thought I’d do a run-down of all the places I ate at and enjoyed during a recent visit to Chicago.
Y’all, Chicago takes care of its gluten-free eaters. Not only did I find a wide variety of options across the city, but I was also incredibly impressed by the city’s waitstaff. When you have celiac, you need waiters who are both kind and knowledgeable. In Chicago, multiple waiters immediately asked if I had celiac or not, and then went of their way to make sure the kitchen avoided cross-contamination. Even aside from their gluten-helpfulness, the waiters in Chicago all seemed lovely and genuinely interested in ensuring I and my family had the best meal possible. We talked about this phenomenon to a friend who just moved to Chicago from Austin and he’s had the same experience — the food culture in Chicago is one of real friendliness, information, and care, no matter your diet.
I took about a month off for travel/work crazy, but I’m baaaaaack. Hello!
Not gonna lie, recipe developing has been A Very Large Challenge of late. I live in a beautiful duplex in Austin, Texas, in a neighborhood I’ve always wanted to live in, but our apartment, despite its many cuteness-es, has Some Faults. We don’t have a dishwasher — kinda awful when you decide to bake four things in one day. Instead of central air we have FREAKING WINDOW UNITS — a crime in Texas. Never before have I experienced such distaste for my oven and stovetop. My kitchen could technically double as a sauna. I’m trying to keep up with making meals at home, but when it’s hot as balls, what can you do?Read More
There’s something so gratifying about using an entire vegetable.
A few months back, my boyfriend and I tried out several meal delivery services. While they didn’t end up being the right fit for us (I like coming up with my own recipes way too much to have them pre-determined for me), I did pick up one or two tricks that I’m still using. One tip from a Plated recipe was to use the stems of leafy greens like Swiss chard in your cooking, instead of throwing them out. You remove the stems from the greens, then finely dice the stems. Throw them in pan with some oil and maybe some garlic or onions. They’ll soften beautifully and add a unique flavor. Then add your greens, let ’em wilt, and voila. You just used a whole plant! This tip is also awesome for using up those so-often-wasted beet greens.
Breakfast holds a special place in my heart. The act of slowing down to make it may have saved my brain. A few months ago, during a period of major depression, I could barely get out of bed in the morning. After much trial and error, I discovered that telling myself “if you get up, you can make a nice breakfast,” was the only way I could wake up at a reasonable hour. Right now, I’m working on a project around slow breakfasts that I’m hoping to roll out in August, so stay tuned for that if you’re looking for a way to reset and ground going into the end of the summer season. Until then, make lots of granola!
Happy Wednesday, everyone! I felt fully convinced that it was in fact Tuesday this morning, thanks to the long weekend. Anyone else feeling a little disoriented?
For Memorial Day weekend, we drove out to Big Bend, which was both gorgeous and ill-advised considering the heat and crowds of other humans. After several days of road food, I came home wanting something super nourishing for my breakfasts this week — something full of fiber and, possibly, probiotic. And, if it had apricots in it (my favorite of late spring fruits) I wouldn’t complain. With these requirements in mind, I came across a New York Times recipe for blueberry buckwheat muffins that looked promising.
First blog posts require a little bit more introduction, so…hi! I’m Jordan. I live in Austin, TX, and I’m a gluten-free home cook and baker. A Texas native, I’ve always loved food, but when I was diagnosed with celiac in 2012, I had to relearn how to find joy in eating. Now I’m ready to share what I’ve learned. My goal with this blog is to celebrate the small but meaningful comfort that comes with making a meal.
In addition to launching this food blog, I work for a writing non-profit and previously dabbled as a yoga teacher. And while I am gluten-free, I plan to make recipes that will delight even the most devoted of wheat-eaters. I’ll also do my best to accommodate other special diets whenever possible — solidarity, sisters. Thanks for stopping by!
Now on to what you’re really here for: mother-effin’ delicious pie. I dreamed up this pie on a day not unlike this one. It was stormy and gray, which is not my favorite kind of day, and I needed some chocolate, stat. The look of this pie — swirls of chocolate and white — came to mind before I pinpointed exactly what the ingredients were. The name came quickly, too, making me feel very Jenna from Waitress. And then I realized that, obviously, a such a dreary day required not only chocolate, but a teeeeensy bit of booze.