08 March 2014

Lesson Number One | Cinnamon Rolls for the Year

Let us repeat lesson number one of living with food allergies: You will not be fed. Ever.

So get used to it and plan ahead. You will save yourself time, money, and headache. If you learn anything from reading this blog, this is the lesson, hence why I repeat it so often. If you learn anything else, it's that with a little planning and thinking, being vegan and gluten-free can be as normal as breathing oxygen.
“Are you foodrude?” This article from XOJane makes a valuable social point about life with food allergies: there are (arbitrary) rules governing social interactions. When I first became vegetarian, when offered animal products, I said, “No thanks, I’m vegetarian.” Which is kind of rude, according to the article, to point out my differences. Mentioning being veggie didn’t last long; by the end of freshman year, I didn’t bring it up except when asked (and I ate a lot of unsatisfactory meals in the process, as a consequence not speaking up for myself).

Ahh, tension: politely declining proffered provisions yet also making clear one’s dietary restrictions. Sara Kaye’s beef with food rudeness is with those who preach when offered something that doesn’t fit their religion diet.

From the beginning, for me, what you put in your mouth is your business, and what I put in my mouth is mine. It’s what comes out of your mouth that’s more important. Moreover, I cannot control your reaction. I control mine (or try to). For example:

Host: Would you like some egg rolls?
Q: No, thank you.
Host: They’re vegetarian and organic!
Q: No, I’m good, thanks.

Pause. Paws!  To use the Miss Manners criteria Kaye cites, is what I’m saying necessary? Yes, answering a direct request. Are my words kind? Well, they’re not insulting.

I would also have the option, if I know my host enough, to say, “I’m vegan,” if s/he is the type of person who doesn’t take no for an answer (and say I keep repeatedly refusing hors d’oeuvres.) Sometimes I tell servers at events when I’ve refused a few plates of passed hors d’oeuvres that I’m vegan and gluten-free and they don't need to offer anything to me. Sometimes they help me out and point out a vegan and gluten-free option.

At restaurants, it’s a different situation. Let your server politely know you have food allergies, or if you’re making a reservation, ask ahead of time if the restaurant might be able to accommodate your needs. For the love of cats, though: if you, the food-allergenic person are making the reservation or choosing where you and your friends/family/guests are going, pick somewhere you can eat! Stand up for yourself. When I’ve been in bad moods, I’ve given up and had unsatisfactory meals at places because I didn’t speak up to my dining companions. With dietary restrictions, whether you chose them or you developed them, you must assume that you will not be fed. The positive to that negative is that you must learn to advocate for yourself.

You set your boundaries in order to help yourself live a better life, and keeping sight of that ultimate goal can help you maintain your boundaries. Yes, maintaining boundaries can be difficult, never mind setting them is difficult enough, but there are quality-of-life payoffs in avoiding allergenic/inflammatory substances: no headaches, rashes, digestive upset, joint pain, throat itching, accidental death…

Another difficulty in life with food allergies is lack of convenience. Well, with allergy-free food being a burgeoning market these days, there are some options and prepackaged meals/treats/bread/meat substitutes, but they cost a pretty penny (both for transit/shipping and for the item itself). Hey wait, let us adjust our sets: convenience foods may be standard fare for people without food allergies in modern times. However, convenience foods also contain preservatives, genetically-modified ingredients, and foodlike substances made in labs, i.e., chemicals that are going to hang around in your adipose tissue for who knows how long. What’s a food allergenic person jonesing for a cinnamon roll going to do? Not buy one ze can’t eat, that’s for sure.

Revolutionary idea: make your own. The Vegan Taste is an online magazine that thrives on that idea. DIY or die (OK, so not having a cinnamon roll is not as harsh as all that—or maybe it is!)

Masala chai cinnamon rolls—as soon as I saw the recipe, I copied it to my “MAKE” file. Since I had time to make it on my Audrey, Jr. feeding day, I made them sourdough. The Namaste GF Flour blend which I despise worked well here...for the first 8 hours. Overnight in the fridge the rolls hardened and dried out. Until then, though, a proper gooey texture prevailed.

Masala Chai Cinnamon Rolls with Raisin Vodka Glaze
Modified from The Vegan Taste (formerly The Vegan Culinary Experience), December 2013 Newsletter

1 cup teff sourdough starter, fed

1 cup nondairy milk (I used regular hemp milk)
3 tablespoons vegan margarine (I used a combination of Earth Balance vegan buttery stick and coconut spread throughout all margarine instances in this recipe)

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon coconut sugar

3 cups Namaste GF all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup white rice flour (for rolling)

1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons vegan margarine, melted, for brushing shaped rolls

1 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash allspice
Dash ground cloves
A few tablespoons raisin-infused potato vodka

1/4 cup slivered almonds

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the nondairy milk and margarine until the margarine has melted and bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.  Sift the flour blend and salt into a large bowl.

When the nondairy milk mixture is warm, not hot, add the yeast and coconut sugar and set aside to proof. In about five minutes, the mixture will have bubbled slightly and it will smell alcoholic.  Stir in the sourdough starter and fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix well. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

After one hour, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and melt the next round of margarine (1/4 cup plus two tablespoons). Mix 1/4 cup of the melted margarine with coconut sugar, almonds, and the spices. Lightly grease a 7*11-inch glass baking dish.

Dust a work surface and rolling pin with white rice flour.  Turn the dough out onto the prepared surface and roll it out to 12*20 inches, approximately. Spread the filling mixture over the top of the dough. Roll the dough into a spiral, short side to short side for big rolls or long side to long side for a lot of small rolls. With a wet knife, cut rolls to fit the dish of your choice (I made about 10).  Pour the rest of the melted margarine atop the rolls.

Bake for 25-29 minutes or until the edges of the rolls are firm and the centres have set.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.

To make the glaze, blitz the coconut sugar, arrowroot, and spices in a blender until powdery.  Pour the powder mixture into a small bowl. Add raisin vodka by the half-tablespoon until desired texture is attained. Pour the glaze atop the hot rolls.

Plate a somewhat cooled roll on a cupcake plate.

Parting Shots:

Meal prep! Kalamata hommos, raw broccoli, figs, kitchari, roasted rutabaga, and chili garlic sauce for lunches.

This was a week of remakes.

Began the week with Embassy Treats, to use up some old brown rice puffs I bought in August!
Chocolate part, made with coconut butter and cocoa instead of chocolate.

Lemon squares, which turned into mystery bars because I used lemon and lime juices and ginger to make the filling.

Buttery crust.

Soaking agar agar for the filling.

Filling tastes like apples. No clue why.

Brought it into work and I ended up freezing and eating most of it myself. Sad face. One of the many reasons why TC and I work together is that, though he is not and will not be vegan or GF (not that I ask), is that he tells me to my face that he doesn't like or want what I made. That way I can reevaluate the recipe or adjust my expectations. It's kind of like breaking up with someone, another form of rejection: dropping off the face of the planet is far more mysterious and painful than a proper argument and severance.

Think about it!
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