Spring has finally sprung here on Cape Breton and along with the first garden and wild greens have also come a series of guests who observe a gluten-free diet.
Rice cakes for breakfast go only so far until they become oh so boring. So I finally screwed up my courage and attempted to bake a loaf of gluten-free bread. Just reading the ingredient list is a challenge: xanthan gum? tapioca flour? potato starch? Never mind where I might find these on this island that at times feels like it’s located at the end of the world…
But after a bit of research I discover the place that carries all the needed items – hurray!
Once I get started I notice the recipe calls for eggs. Now, what about the gluten-free vegan guests? With them in mind, I decide to use my favorite egg substitue instead: ground flax seed mixed with hot water and allowed to gel.
So, how did the bread turn out? It smelled heavenly and had a nice crust. It was a bit on the heavy side and definitely needed to be toasted. But it’s crunchy and it’s satisfying for someone like me who is oh so bored with rice cakes.
As far as the early wild and garden greens go – how about trying this lunch suggestion:
On the next sunny morning, take some time off and go out in the woods – it’s fiddlehead time. My neighbor, Joan, brought over a bunch of them the other day. These tasty morsel are really the unfurled heads of an Ostrich fern (so called because the leaf of this fern resembles an upright ostrich feather). They push their way up through the wooded soil in April and May and are best harvested when they are about an inch or two tall. One work of caution: be sure that you are picking the correct fern heads as other types of ferns are not edible.
To repare, wash, then steam them for about 10-15 minutes – don’t overcook; they are best when bright green and a bit crunchy. Serve with melted butter and a dash of white pepper.
We recently served them with a brown rice salad:
To about 2 cups of left-over, cold brown rice add:
3 T chopped chives or scallion
1/4 c diced celery
4 T dried cranberries
2 T toasted Sesame seeds
3 T toasted sesame seed oil
4 T orange juice
1/4 c grated carrots
1/4 t curry powder
salt to taste
Mix well and serve.